We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, August 1, 2015
This same website has also developed another interesting video that is based on a Princeton research report that I haven't read, but I think you will agree that we don't need to read it.
The World Wide Web is always full of limited views of this neoliberal stage of capitalism. These critics are usually of middle and upper-middle class origins who see their lifestyle, and those of their friends and neighbors, threatened by disappearing jobs many of which have been sent to cheap labor countries, automated, or roboticized. They all want to return to a state of bliss that they experienced in the previous nation-based type of capitalism when their capitalists masters employed them at quite generous salaries.
This author is no exception, except that she, like some others, offers some very interesting insights about neoliberalism. In this piece she contrasts neoliberal propaganda with its actual results.
The European Union is an extension of the Bretton Woods institutions – The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – founded at the end of World War II. Their stated purpose was global economic integration in order to avoid another depression and to avert war. But the result was a form of economic development – based on debt, global trade and consumerism – that systematically favored corporate interests while hollowing out local economies worldwide. Sadly, many people still idealistically embrace the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as the European Union.John Perkins, who was employed as a kind of economic hit man for his capitalist masters, was one of the earliest critics by providing an inside report on these neoliberal machinations in his Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. However, he regarded this neoliberal phase only as a "mutant" form of capitalism instead of an advanced stage of capitalism.
Neither the media nor academia has focused on the role of transnational banks and corporations in promoting this economic path. Instead they continue to reinforce the notion that European “economic integration” is about peaceful coexistence among countries that would otherwise be at war with each other.
Making Money From Their Blood: Cheney's Former War-Profiteering Company Is Suing Veterans It Poisoned in Iraq
Proving there is no level of low Dick Cheney and his cronies will not go, Halliburton-linked, scum-sucking defense contractor KBR is suing 12 Iraq veterans who had the audacity to seek and win $85 million in damages for the cancer they got from burn pit smoke while guarding a toxic water treatment plant for KBR - a company which, the jury ruled, acted with "reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm" to them.
It appears to me that climate destabilization is finally being considered seriously with all the extremely hot weather, droughts, and many other symptoms that have been occurring across the country. That doesn't mean that anything significant will be done about it--like converting the capitalist system which destabilizes our climate and destroys our economy into something that sustains both. Instead of denying climate destabilization as they did in the past, we can now expect our capitalist masters, who are addicted to the profits and power that their system provides them with, will simply come up with other ruses (like: "oh, yes, we promise a technological fix!") to insure that nothing serious is done about it.
Friday, July 31, 2015
It has to be noted that Comcast, the company that owns MSNBC, is a big supporter of the TPP. Comcast hired a phalanx of lobbyists to spearhead a targeted campaign to push for Trade Promotion Authority, which recently passed. Included among the individuals it was paying was the former chief of staff for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).According to the Centre for Research on Globalization, Comcast is one of the few companies that have been brought in behind closed doors – where our elected Representatives don’t even get to go – to help review and consult with leaders about the global trade agreement.
I think this give us rather brief, but informative observations to bring us up-to-date on radical political movements in Latin America, particularly in South America. Zibechi explains that most of the previous activists organizations have been integrated or absorbed into more social-welfare oriented capitalist regimes that have themselves been integrated within neoliberal structures, but the latter have reached their limits in creating a better life for most people and fall far short by condemning most people to live as poor objects in a world governed by transnational corporations located in New York, London, etc, rather than "subjects" who are in control of their lives. It's the difference between being passively acted upon by outside forces or being an actor participating in vital decisions that affect your life and the lives of people near you. (If you need an illustration of people who insist on being subjects in a hostile capitalist world, read about the Zapatistas.) Thus, he sees a new cycle of radical activism ahead.
Progressivism in Latin America, which broke out around 10 or 15 years ago depending on which country you’re talking about, produced some positive changes. But I think that cycle has come to an end. While there continue to be progressive governments, what I am saying is that progressivism as a set of political forces that created something relatively positive: this has ended. ....
...Latin America stands at a crossroads: either it changes into a political movement advocating real change reaching the structures of society – ownership of land, tax reform targeting the rich – or these governments simply become conservative, which is a process I think has already begun.
This multi-talented author and activist has visited Greece many times in recent years and she reports on her discussions with Greek activists about what Argentinians learned about dealing with a collapse of a capitalist economy.
In this article I focus on the Argentine barter networks, both because it is a specific question that is raised repeatedly in Greece, and also because there are some very concrete forms of organization and lessons that can be derived from the experience. It is also because there are already many different forms of barter throughout Greece, from local villages trading based on history and custom, within families and family to family to an increasingly large number of activist and community organized spaces of exchange. Within this culture of barter, immediate questions are arising as to how the networks can be expanded, if they are the right base for a currency based network, and what sort of support to ask for from the government to help ensure their existence.
“In every neighborhood people were able to eat because of this barter relationship -- we were all involved – and it changed us all.” (Nicolas, sub.coop, a conversation in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2003)
The wettest rainforest in the continental United States had gone up in flames and the smoke was so thick, so blanketing, that you could see it miles away. Deep in Washington’s Olympic National Park, the aptly named Paradise Fire, undaunted by the dampness of it all, was eating the forest alive and destroying an ecological Eden. In this season of drought across the West, there have been far bigger blazes but none quite so symbolic or offering quite such grim news. It isn’t the size of the fire (though it is the largest in the park’s history), nor its intensity. It’s something else entirely -- the fact that it shouldn’t have been burning at all. When fire can eat a rainforest in a relatively cool climate, you know the Earth is beginning to burn.I live across the Puget Sound from the Olympic Peninsula, yet I've heard very little about this from corporate media which is the only media we can access for news about local and regional affairs. The talking heads they employ reported on it, but the reports were always very bland and sandwiched between local crime reports which corporate media executives love to cover in the most sensational way.
And here’s the thing: the Olympic Peninsula is my home. Its destruction is my personal nightmare and I couldn’t stay away.
As someone who is very concerned about these weather effects caused by capitalists' obsessive drive to produce and consume using fossils, I have observed in recent years the strange weather patterns with foreboding while also observing how they have been reported on corporate TV and other ruling class media. There is a dramatic disconnect.
This is not an accident. Our ruling capitalist masters do not want to alarm us by associating the scientific concern about impending climate destabilization and what is now occurring before our very eyes. You see, capitalism, with its growth imperative, and a stable climate are completely incompatible. To be sure capitalists will be affected like everyone else (but less so because they have the resources to mitigate its effects on them), but they are so drugged by the opiates of power and profits that they are incapable of acting responsibly. So, the burden of radical change lies on our shoulders.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
And in this article entitled "A 'No-Fly Zone' By Any Other Name - The 'ISIL-Free Zone' In Syria", Martinez reports on the latest Empire plan in relation to Syria and ISIL. In this report he again lifts the veil off this latest Empire conspiracy to reveal its true purposes.
Although different people have somewhat different interpretations, there seems to be some significant changes in the Empire's strategy in the area of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq that is currently occurring.
The ugly scheme involves endless wars – killing millions through violence and deprivation. Imperialism works this way – causing unspeakable human misery for power, resource control and profit.See also this piece entitle "Turkey in danger" by French geopolitical analyst Thierry Meyssan from his website.
America, key NATO allies, Israel and rogue Arab states like Saudi Arabia are allied in potentially embroiling the entire region and beyond in endless conflicts – wanting regime change in Iran, Syria and elsewhere.
Washington wants all independent governments replaced by pro-Western puppet regimes. Israel wants all its regional rivals eliminated – Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad in Syria.
While the Western Press salutes the authorisation given by Turkey to the United States, allowing the US to use its military bases in order to fight Daesh, Thierry Meyssan looks at the nation’s internal tensions. In his view, maintaining Mr. Erdoğan in power, as well as the lack of a new majority during the next general elections, will rapidly lead to civil war.
Puerto Rico’s governor may have said the commonwealth’s debt is unpayable, but that doesn’t mean Puerto Ricans aren’t going to pay for it. Vulture capitalists are circling the island, ready to extract still more wealth from the impoverished island.
You already know the drill: Capital is sucked out by corporate interests that pay little in taxes, budget deficits grow and speculators swoop in to take advantage, leaving working people holding the bag.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Referring to a metaphor posed by Benjamin that revolutions are like passengers pulling an emergency brake on a runaway train, Plested writes:
The longer the capitalist system goes on, the more it resembles the “runaway train” of Walter Benjamin’s imagining. And nowhere is this clearer than in the case of climate change.
Here we face a challenge with potentially devastating consequences – rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events, the destruction of ecosystems and an accelerating rate of extinctions. Yet the current “drivers” of the train, the world’s business and political elite, show little interest in changing track.
Reforms, half-measures and market-friendly solutions have gotten us nowhere. Only when we pull the “emergency brake” on the system, forcefully wresting power away from the minority who are currently at the controls, can we hope to avert catastrophe and begin the task of building a better, more sustainable world.
In this piece Ahmed responds to a recent post by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood entitled "It's not Climate Change--It's Everything Change" which is also worth reading as an urgent call to change our ways or we will face a dystopia and then become extinct. It looks like intellectuals are becoming worried about the approaching crisis given all the signs that it is real--and this is good, although a little late--but they are still keeping the discussion on a very abstract plane--which is not good if we humans are to save ourselves.
Ahmed does little better by targeting industrial capitalism.
The endless growth model of contemporary global capitalism is not just unsustainable — it is on track to destabilize the Earth System in a way that could make the planet uninhabitable for society as we know it.Then, as is the fashion among intellectuals, he quotes Foucault to indicate that the problem is us and that we need to change things. Unfortunately, Foucault is even more abstract.
It is not humanity, then, that is doomed — it is industrial capitalism.
The choice before us, then, is whether or not we are willing to give-up fossil-fueled endless material growth.
Given that overconsumption is driving many of the world’s most pressing problems, it may be that ethical activity today requires that we critically reflect on our own subjectivities in order to refuse who we are — so far as we are uncritical consumers. This Great Refusal would open up space to create new, post-consumerist forms of subjectivity, which is surely part of the revolution in consciousness needed in order to produce a society based on a ‘simpler way.’So, the gist of both essays is that "we" are responsible for the many crises "we" are faced with and "we" need to do something about it. It's like "we" are all participating in one grand world democracy and "we" have made wrong decisions. This sort of analysis carefully steers us away from any realities that we have been, and are currently, subject to massive forms of control by a specific socio-economic class who are committed to their system of capitalism because of their addiction to the drugs of profit and power.
I guess such essays as these represent progress because they suggest an awakening consciousness of intellectuals, a small segment of humans, but it is far from being sufficient to save ourselves from the many crises that are in our future if not already here. This tiny, compromised sub-class of intellectuals even control how we think about these crises, and these rather timid, abstract essays are a reflection of that control. They lead us into thinking that the capitalist system can be reformed or that people can be morally influenced to invest in the right things as illustrated in a current article entitled "Fossil fuel industry still winning the investment war".
Because time is fast running out, what we really need to think about is the development of revolutionary movements to counter the powerful control of capitalists over existing societies so that ordinary people can truly shape and determine their own future. While it is good to write consciousness-raising articles about the threat of climate change and, even more so, about capitalism that drives it, what is urgently needed are articles dealing with specific strategies and tactics to do defeat this class and overthrow their odious, crisis-ridden system. Too often we are seeing articles like the above and articles like this entitled "Why Some People Will Always Bow to Tyrants" posted on Uncommon Thought Journal which wallow in pity by arguing that human nature is at fault instead of exploring how class rulers deliberately try to render ordinary people powerless both psychologically and in a real practical sense.
All of these efforts that lead to the overthrow of capitalism are needed in order to provide the necessary conditions for the creation of new societies that can live in harmony with the ecosystems of our finite planet. Only then can we ordinary people truly participate in decisions about how we live. We don't need any more abstract discussions about how we are responsible for the crises.
Unfortunately, the authors of a book by this title and the reviewer, Burrowes, all believe that the US-led Empire is the problem, and like Pepe Escobar, William Engdahl, and others look to Russia and China (and others) for salvation. This despite the fact that both countries depend to a large extent on the engines of capitalism under governing elite control to drive their economies. Thus, you won't find any discussion about capitalism itself, only that of neoliberal capitalism which to these people is the exclusive characteristic of the Empire. So, I guess the "revolution" they are advocating is only a revolt against the US-led Empire.
To be sure this view will echo in the chambers of many victims of the Empire, but it is a very short-sighted one. Such a view if carried out can only lead to a nuclear conflagration by pitting the Russia and China, or maybe the BRICS, against the Empire. This goes further than Escobar and Engdahl who cherish a "multipolar world". Vltchek, Black, Koenig, and Burrowes apparently want a destruction of the Empire even though Burrowes diplomatically mentions only the "destructive forces of Empire".
The Empire has already taken over our streets and invaded our homes (where even those of us who feel least affected are still bombarded by its propaganda to infest and befuddle our minds). Will you join these three authors and me in resisting the destructive forces of Empire?
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
I regard Madsen has one of the most well informed analysts of the US's shadow government and their dirty secrets. His articles are always well reasoned and backed by sound investigative work and documentation. No doubt his background in various spy agencies in the US Navy, NSA, and contractors doing business with NSA has helped hone his skills at uncovering the dirty secrets.
The ramifications of El Chapo’s prison escape and Trump’s inconvenient referrals to the Mexican criminal immigrant problem are bubbling to the surface in a presidential campaign where the connections of the Bush family to the CIA drug trade are an issue, whether the Bushes and their well-heeled supporters like it or not.But, of course, mainstream media won't touch any connections to the Bush clan, but Madsen does in this piece. In this article he digs deeper behind the recent controversies that corporate media love to cover and finds some real significant dirt implicating various members of the Bush family. This evidence together with a number of reports from Peter Dale Scott, Gary Webb, in addition to Madsen and others might justify labeling the US as a "narco-state".
Capitalism is famous for encircling and fencing off areas of private property the major fruits of which can be mostly enjoyed by their "owners". For many decades we have witnessed the growth of "ownership" related to creative and intellectual works under this system. The owners can range from someone who is directly connected to the "property" to someone who merely purchases the ownership of that property. The latter is true because under capitalism nearly everything can be, and often is, converted into a commodity. Now we see that this is another dangerous anti-social feature of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that will accelerate inequality.
One of the defining battles in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations is whether its signatory countries will standardize copyright terms lengths to a minimum term of the life of the author plus 70 years. This would effectively set the maximum duration of copyright holders' monopoly rights to over 140 years. ....
But the world's leading economists agree that such an extraordinary long copyright term makes no sense. It provides no further incentive for creation and provides little additional income to creators or their families—except for a very small, successful minority.
This evolutionary biologist and public health phylogeographer finds considerable evidence to indicate that neoliberal practices of international corporations in Africa greatly contributed to the Ebola outbreak.
...the structural adjustment to which West Africa has been subjected the past decade included the kinds of divestment from public health infrastructure that permitted Ebola to incubate at the population level once it spilled over.
The effects, however, extend even farther back in the causal chain. The shifts in land use in the Guinea Forest Region from where the Ebola epidemic spread were also connected to neoliberal efforts at opening the forest to global circuits of capital.
Monday, July 27, 2015
This website is produced by a foundation whose official mission aspires to do good, but within the capitalist system. As such it is a reform organization. They have produced a number of videos in various languages to inform ordinary citizens how their European institutions are serving corporations as a priority. This is all good, but unfortunately they offer the conventional remedy that we in the US have long heard: contact and advise your representatives (in their case, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Thus, you will hear at the end of several videos (for example, this) the following statement:
And, so it is that big business capture the policy agenda ensuring that European laws time and time again serve the interests of large corporations above those of the people of Europe. That is, unless those people speak out.By reading this long article and viewing some of their videos you will learn all the sordid details about how their European system of government works to serve the interests of banking, commercial, and industrial corporations very much like ours do by using revolving doors, heavy lobbying, use of phony front groups to issue fake research reports, promoting secrecy for corporations while permitting their access to private information of citizens. This appears very familiar to what we experience in the US. A coincidence? I think not. I suspect that the US ruling capitalist class advisers were on hand following the devastation of WWII to guide them in setting up these institutions.
However, after reading this article and perusing some of their videos I realized that there was one difference: they did not make any mention of corporate campaign money going to their MEPs! Well, it didn't take me long to find out that they have a problem with this too! From
openDemocracy, a British-based European website, in an article entitled "European elections and campaign finance: show us the money", we learn the following:
Europe's economic turbulence in recent years has led many citizens to question the powers of the European Union and the legitimacy of its politicians. There is much talk of a "democratic deficit" in Strasbourg and Brussels, while issues of accountability and sovereignty are high on the public agenda. The elections to the European parliament on 22-25 May 2014 give these concerns a current political edge. Yet scant attention is paid to the financial rules (or lack of them) that play an important role in the election of MEPs.
This omission is important, for the role of money in European (as in member-state) politics has grave implications at several levels: the integrity of the members elected to the European parliament, the competitiveness of the European political process, the resulting quality of the parliament’s policymaking, and citizens’ perception of all these.
By serving Wall Street, the candidates, who we are permitted to vote for, seem to be doing just fine. See this article entitled "The many mansions and penthouses that the US Presidential candidates call home" from Red Pill Times. For example, here are where the Clintons live:
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Engdahl first reports on what happened in two meetings in Ufa, Russia.
The dual summits that took place in Russia’s Ufa beginning 9 July were anything but routine. In fact it may be seen by future historians as a signal event that marked the definitive decline of the global hegemony of European civilization including North America. This is no small event in human history. It’s the most significant shift in relative global economic relations since the Fourth Crusade in 1204 when the Republic of Venice emerged as a world power following their brutal, disgraceful capture and sacking of Constantinople, marking the demise of the Byzantine Empire.And, then he reports on the Empire's response to these meetings which signify the growing power of the alliances of nations, mostly BRIC nations, who are determined to be rid of the domination of the Empire.
The response of Washington and NATO to all this is a bleak, pathetic contrast to put it mildly.
The new Obama nominee to become US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, declared Russia to be America’s greatest threat in his Congressional testimony some days ago. Conveniently forgetting all about the “existential threat” from ISIS, an organization US and Israeli intelligence brought into being to spread their chaos, Dunford declared, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia.” The alarming thing is there was scarcely a peep of protest aside from blog remarks by retired Congressman Ron Paul and a few others. The tom-toms of bellicosity are pounding louder along the Potomac these days.
Since relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated so rapidly following the US coup in Ukraine, Western strategists have been working relentlessly to find a replacement to Russian energy supplies to the EU. In the immediate term, this is impossible, a reality that unnerves many in Washington and Brussels. But in the medium to long term, an assortment of countries could combine to replace Russian energy, or at least dramatically reduce Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow.As Cold War II heats up, the Empire as well as its adversaries are scrambling to line up energy sources and pipelines. It seems to me that this author provides a well-balanced survey of these efforts which likely reflects the geopolitical strategies employed by both adversaries. For example, such considerations very likely influenced the recent deal with Iran, the outcome of which is in dispute by various analysts (see my commentary with this post).
Apparently their strategy of dumping oil on the world market below market prices is having an adverse affect on Saudi Arabia's budgets. Contributing to the budget shortfalls is a costly war with Yemen. As a consequence this rich nation is having to borrow billions--the author doesn't report from where, but likely this is from Western banks and institutions.
Over the past year, Saudi Arabia – once among the richest nations on the planet – has wound up having to sell some $4 billion in bonds. It has been necessary in order to maintain levels of spending on public works and continue financing the war against Yemen. The Saudi government has also had to draw on its reserves of foreign currency. Falad al-Mubarak, who heads the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (the nation’s equivalent of the U.S. Federal Reserve), predicts “an increase in borrowing” in the face of a projected $130 billion deficit.
The primary cause is the drastic decline in the price of crude oil.
I didn't know what she referring to until I read an entry in Wikipedia which explained what "adjunct professors" were. It appears to me that our ruling capitalist class masters (via "boards of regents" who are appointed to serve this class) use tenure track professorships as a way to discipline any professors from straying too far from ruling class propaganda. Those that are finally given tenure are those who have passed years of disciplinary tests. They dump the rest in the "adjunct professor" category to cut costs and to further control those who they see as a threat to infect students with subversive thoughts that undermine capitalist propaganda, or thoughts or ideas which threaten our masters' control of society.
Finley provides a graphic description of what it is like to be an adjunct professor.
Hear what German activists are saying about the need to consider other ways of living in order to live in harmony with nature--our planet's ecosystem.
In this video, some of the scientists, activists and ordinary people who gathered at last year’s Degrowth Conferenc in Leipzig share their personal understanding of degrowth. It shows how many different facets degrowth can have. Now we have added English subtitles to it which can be activated by clicking on the little green box saying “CC” in the bar at the bottom of the video.