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, May 20, 2017

A revolutionary model: an introduction (part 1 of ?)

by Ron Horn -- edited for clarity at 8 PM on Sunday, May 21, Seattle time. (Edited for clarity again on July 14th.)

In this series of articles I am proposing a potentially revolutionary project: an independent US media organization to serve the needs of North American audiences for the truth about foreign and domestic actions and policies. More and more North Americans are becoming aware of the issue of "fake news" reports issued by media corporation. Thus I think the time is ripe for a more aggressive effort to present news and analysis of critical issues that now threaten the very existence of humans. But first I need to introduce my political and philosophical beliefs for this project to insure that it is rational and offers a reasonably good potential for not only averting the twin threats of a nuclear war conflagration and climate destabilization, but also offers the potential to lead to more peaceful relations and environmentally sustainable progress.

What we have experienced since the dawn of capitalist rule starting about four to five hundred years ago is the increasing power and wealth of a decreasing proportion of humans. Capitalism is based on the private ownership of an economy, and the inevitable logic of the system is the ever increasing concentration of wealth by fewer and fewer people.  But what I wish to emphasize in this essay is that the system has a much worse consequence for the vast majority of humans:  concentrated wealth serves a distorted psychological need of domination and control by only a tiny class of owners of economic property which leaves the vast majority of humans feeling powerless. The solution is constructing a revolutionary model that increases the influence of people over their own lives.
 

To be sure, there are a number of other consequences resulting from this type of rule as many critics of the system are well aware: many wars (which now appear never-ending), periodic economic crises, widespread poverty, alienation in the workplace, etc. Probably worst of all is the additional specter that is now haunting humans: the likely destabilization of the Earth's climate because of the contamination of the atmosphere and oceans with accumulating carbon, due to the mad pursuit of profits, that will end in the extinction of humans.

However, to construct a proposed revolutionary model to prevent all these consequences from interfering not only with the potential for human happiness but to preserve us as a humans species, I think we need to go further back in our history to discover what constitutes our essential qualities as humans as a foundation upon which to build a successful revolutionary model that frees us from all ruling classes.

We know from recorded history (roughly starting about 10,000 years ago) that we humans have suffered to live under oppressive class rule since the beginning of civilization. Because this period of class rule, which was brought about initially by violence or the threat of violence, and supplemented thereafter by all sorts of ruses ("divine right", "there is no alternative", etc.) has continued so long, most people now believe that class rule is the natural order of societal arrangements. Most people are completely unaware the extent of the damage this has done not only to their material well-being but to their mental capacities. Most people simply accept the false notion that they must look to leaders in the ruling classes to govern them otherwise chaos and mayhem would reign in which societies would descend into some kind of law of the jungle. This notion, of course, is based on capitalism's concept of humans as essentially self-seeking individuals.
 

Most people have completely forgotten about their natural abilities as creative, social beings capable of ruling themselves. These natural abilities sustained them throughout roughly 98% of human existence (use the label "human nature" to find articles in my website that support this concept).  Many anthropologists remind us that originally humans lived in small groups of hunting, fishing, and gathering societies where all adult members participated in decision making. However since the dawn of civilization when people permanently settled in agricultural communities, some people using violence, or the threat of violence, started taking control over others which led to control of entire societies which, in turn, over time deteriorated into masters and subjects, tiny ruling classes and the subjugated vast majority. Since then, the participation of humans in decision-making, otherwise known as real democracy, has been only a dream of ordinary people. (Have you noticed how capitalists love to use the word "democracy" in their propaganda?)

The ability to have influence over one's life is a key feature of human nature, but its perverted form is the power to control others for one's own benefit. This perverted form is expressed with a contemporary meaning by author Peter Robb who wrote in his book Midnight in Sicily:
The colossal wealth brought by the drug trade brought no improvement to the lives of those who risked their necks for it. The furtive enjoyment of a fast car or a gold Rolex or expensive clothes was cold comfort in a life of hiding, sexual misery, mistrust, the constant fear of betrayal and death. The old mafia reward hadn’t been wealth but power. ‘Giving orders is better than fucking,’ was an often-heard mafia saying.
Mafia, or organized crime, is only a crude form of capitalism. All ruling classes ultimately rely on violence, or the threat of violence, most of which is buried in the recorded history of not only capitalist societies, but since the beginning of ruling classes shortly after civilization was established.
 
This power over people and the self-centered drive to accumulate wealth are both found in exaggerated form in capitalism, however power is a far more addictive drug than wealth accumulation. I've also found this to be true from personal experience I had with a very wealthy family headed by a CEO of a transnational corporation. The CEO had everything he and his family could want, but he only enjoyed the thrill of decision-making, much like the "high" of a powerful drug, rather than the enjoyment of his wealth. (This was also argued by Jim O’Reilly, a retired banker, educated in Britain, and now resides in Colorado, whose blog I followed back in 2011-2013.) 

Wealth is mostly used in today's capitalist societies as a means to exercise power over others. Today we see billionaires who use their wealth in various ways--some even criminal--to influence not only people in government, but throughout society. Wealth used as power can be seen in the very legal framework of corporations (a quintessentially capitalist institution): the owners' formal influence, as stockholders, varies according to the number of corporate shares owned by them. But I argue that they mostly use this wealth in combination with other capitalists to control the rest of us, and in the capitalist countries that make up the US-led Empire, by insuring we are well indoctrinated in the virtues of capitalism through their control of education, media, and entertainment. 

Our ruling masters in this transnational ruling class nowadays reserve the use violence (or the threat) on not only those who resist their rule (whether domestically or on foreign countries), but on nations and people who wish to pursue an independent course of action. Accordingly, we see daily reports of wars: wars by proxy terrorist armies, well hidden ("in the interests of national security") subversive attacks to destabilize nations, and outright invasions and occupations. Domestically we see the armed guardians of capitalist rule killing mostly minorities with no accountability to any system of justice; and those they don't murder, they lock away in a vast prison system.

The damage of roughly 10,000 years of class rule has had a deleterious effects on the vast majority of humans to sustain themselves psychologically as well as materially in a healthy and just manner, however I argue that these capacities still exist, but only need the removal of class rule and time to blossom once again. 

But there is far more at stake than simply the full expression of our humanity. Those alive today, mostly the young adults, are tasked with saving our human species from the twin possibilities (some say probabilities) posed by the imminent threat of a nuclear war and/or the eventual extinction of humans due to ravages imposed on our habitat by the compulsive drive of capitalists to grow on a finite planet.


(This continues in Part 2a)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Special Council Inquisition - Bad For Trump - And All of Us

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama
This is bad and the Trump administration should have pulled all strings to prevent it. Such investigations NEVER stick to their original, limited tasks but extend further and further. The order the Acting Attorney General wrote includes language which allows for nearly unlimited digging in "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” It will thereby continue until -inevitably- some dirt will be found that can be blown out of all proportion and lead to prosecutions or impeachment.
And he concludes with this ominous statement:
Trump believes that better relations with Russia are important for the well-being of the United States, Pence would likely pursue an anti-Russian policy.

That, I believe, is the real issue here. There are no unbeseeming relations between Trump and Russia. Russia had little, if any, influence on the 2016 election. There was no "Russian meddling". But Trump's somewhat more friendly behavior towards Russia, which he campaigned for, is disliked by the-powers-that-are.

We can now expect a very long drawn special council investigation with lots of media leaks and reporting. It will drown out all other important issues. It will likely end badly for Trump and badly for peaceful global power relations.
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Pathologization of Dissent

Click here to access article by C. J. Hopkins from CounterPunch

With this post I am departing from my practice of posting (and commenting on) only current articles (less than one month). While perusing the web this morning, I found this piece (which I missed back in October) by one of America's most erudite and politically perceptive writers. It struck me as most illuminating,  and not at all out of date. It's as relevant today as it was last October 27th when it was published. 
The corporate media is sending a message … a message aimed at a much broader audience than undecided American voters (assuming such creatures really exist). The message is, “get with the fucking program, or get stigmatized as an anti-Semite, or a racist, or a Russian spy, or whatever.” The message is, “drop the populist rhetoric, shut the hell up about the Wall Street banks, and the corporations, and the ‘one percent,’ and … actually … forget about politics completely, except for identity politics, of course. Go ahead and knock yourself out with that.” The message is, “you’re either with us or against us … and it doesn’t matter why you’re against us, or what it is you think you’re for. Right, Left … who gives a shit? It’s one big Basket of Deplorables to us.”
This piece is about the accelerated war on truth which I see has having started after 9/11, the most politically pivotable event since WWII. I also see this accelerated, desperate war on truth as an early sign of the disintegration of the US-led Empire, a transnational capitalist empire that is ruled by a network of major capitalists from countries aligned with the US and Britain and formed after WWII. 

However I don't take any consolation in my view that it is a sign of its disintegration. I see that this ruling network is so addicted to wealth and power that they, like many ordinary addicts, will seek self destruction (and ours) in a nuclear conflagration in a final effort to maintain their addiction. I also look around and see the vast majority of us as either too powerless, ignorant, confused, isolated, or too co-opted codependents to stop this final genocidal conflagration. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Guns and Butter, May 10, 2017, F. William Engdahl and The Gods of Money

Click here to access an interview with F. William Engdahl on Bonnie Faulkner's Guns and Butter program broadcast from KPFA in Berkeley, California. (Note: This interview is used as a fund raising event to raise money for the station and the program. Thus the actual interview is interrupted in the middle for 12 minutes and for 3 minutes starting at about 50:00m, followed in the final 7 minutes with Faulkner reading passages from Engdahl's book. Thus the interview lasts only about 38 minutes.)

Faulkner interviews Engdahl about his book The Gods of Money in which he focuses most of his comments about the historical highlights of the private control of US money through the central bank (The Federal Reserve) and the powerful impacts that this had on US history.