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, January 30, 2010
[referring to an FDR speech that was never broadcast] It is hard to imagine any circumstances in which Obama could put forward such an agenda, I suggest. Moore disagrees.It is clear from this and other comments that Moore has made that he, along with most Americans, simply does not understand how a class system of power, especially the capitalist system, functions. Obama was carefully vetted for this job which is essentially a public relations position representing major sections of the ruling class, the ownership class. Their system of capitalism is what gives them so much power, profit, and privilege. If Obama somehow had a change of heart and wanted to pursue actions that were not in the interest of this sponsoring class, he would be removed--one way or another. I am astounded that Moore and so many others simply just don't get it.
"He could make that speech."
And survive politically?
"He has told people he's going to operate these four years not with an eye on getting re-elected but on getting things done. I have been very happy for the last year. We came out of eight dark years and his election was – what's the word? – the relief I felt that night, I've been filled with hope since then. Now my patience is running a bit thin. He hasn't taken the reins and said: I'm in charge here, this is what we're doing. Do it. I can understand he's afraid but he's gotta do it."
Friday, January 29, 2010
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the "swift and crude" appropriation of earthquake-ravaged Haiti by the militarised Obama administration. With George W. Bush attending to the "relief effort" and Bill Clinton the UN's man, The Comedians, Graham Greene's dark novel about exploted Haiti comes to mind.
Over the last six months, Plane Stupid has been targeted by a campaign of police intimidation and intrusion. Some of us have been approached to inform on the rest of the group; others have been arrested for perfectly lawful protest, including one elderly protester who was interrogated and held in a cell overnight for writing ‘you fly, we die’ in the snow. Add this to the picture of routine violence and harassment handed out to Climate Campers at the G20 and elsewhere – and the “intelligence led” pre-emptive arrest for conspiracy of 114 activists in Nottinghamshire – and it is clear that the emerging climate action movement has been singled out by the police for some very special treatment. The question is, why?
The New York Times: Home of Disgraced Editors, Shady Reporters & Agenda-Driven Foreign Correspondents?
There are many different ways that the corporate media continues to misrepresent the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. Many critics of this biased media coverage have directly challenged the demonization of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but very few critics, if any, have exposed the media’s virtual erasure of the vibrant and growing participatory democracy in Venezuela.
Democratising economics as well as politics is essential for ending irrationality and discrimination as part of the struggle for social and environmental justice, said participants at one of the panels of the seminar assessing the World Social Forum's (WSF) first 10 years.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Gerald Epstein is Co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and Professor of Economics.He received his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. He has published widely on a variety of progressive economic policy issues, especially in the areas of central banking and international finance, and is the editor or co-editor of six volumes.
Combining grassroots organizing, legal action, pressure on the banks and eviction-day sit-ins, activists in East Boston are winning the fight to keep people in their homes.
The release of the latest audio message claimed to be from Osama bin Laden has got tongues wagging again as to his status and whereabouts. The failure of technologically peerless American intelligence to find any trace him for nine years leads to speculation whether the United States is keeping bin Laden alive for strategic convenience.
The “deny Al-Qaeda a safe heaven” justification opens up nearly infinite new potential fronts in the global “war on terror,” a term that has been dropped from White House press releases while its aggressive and counter-productive mentality remains in place.
The ruling stems from a newsroom dispute that began in mid-2006. Nearly every top editor at the paper quit in protest over what they said was the owner’s interference with news coverage.
60,000 acres increase in a farming system that does not use chemical pesticides, and is also phasing out chemical fertiliser, that too in matter of few months, is a record of sorts. Ten years from now, in 2020, when we try to look back, Indian agriculture can be transformed into a healthy and vibrant system where farmer suicides have been relegated to history, where distress and despondency has been replaced by the lost pride in farming, and where agriculture becomes sustainable in the long run and does not result in climate change.
Ignore the delusions for a short time, and you’ll see we’re headed for a correction. At this late juncture in the industrial game, hoping for anything else requires a massive dose of wishful thinking.
Even a correction seems unlikely, unless by “correction” you mean “crash.”
Absent from the meeting was any representation from our political leadership who are currently busy:1) denying there is a problem; 2) trying to spend our way out of the recession; or 3) simply overcome by the pace of events and do not want to rock the boat by speaking publicly on such matters before the next election.
With the Senate set to take up major sanctions legislation against Iran by mid-February, neo-conservative and other hawks are calling on the administration of President Barack Obama to pursue a more aggressive course of "regime change" in Tehran.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
"We are living in an exciting and scary time of a shift in the prevailing paradigm," Johanisova told IPS. "The Western Enlightenment dream (of which both capitalism and Eastern European communism are outgrowths) of eternal human material advance under the banner of reason, science and fossil fuel-powered technology is literally running out of steam."
Factory animal farming...has delivered enormous growth in global meat production over the last three decades, with consumers persuaded to buy its cheap products with the same ease as they were getting the freely-offered loans of the financial boom, without asking any questions on how such consumption could be sustained or what the eventual consequences might be. It is, therefore, not surprising at all that the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico is linked to industrialised farming methods designed to provide cheap food for consumers.
FORGET PEAK OIL. Forget climate change. Peak water is where it’s at, according to Scottish journalist and broadcaster, Alexander Bell, who has just written a fascinating book, Peak Water (Luath Press, Scotland).
Heinberg concludes that coal is sufficiently abundant to have a substantial impact on the climate but not to the extent that it will be able to replace other fossil fuels in the long term once they have started to decline. In this context he envisages three scenarios, while being aware that reality will be more complex and differently nuanced.
He also announced that ALBA has decided on a comprehensive plan that includes an immediate donation of $20 million to Haiti’s health sector, and a fund that, Chavez said, will be at least $100 million “for starters.”
Oil-rich Venezuela is the economic heart of ALBA, which also includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Haiti is among several countries that send observers to ALBA meetings.
When listening to the State of the Union speech, one should ask just which economy Mr. Obama means when he talks about recovery. Most wage earners and taxpayers will think of the “real” economy of production and consumption. But Mr. Obama believes that this “Economy #1” is dependent on that of Wall Street. His major campaign contributors and “wealth creators” are in the FIRE sector – Economy #2, wrapped around the “real” Economy #1.
Economy #2 is the “balance sheet” economy of property and debt. The wealthiest 10% lend out their savings to become debts owed by the bottom 90%. A rising share of gains are made in extractive ways, by charging rent and interest, by financial speculation (“capital gains”), and by shifting taxes off itself onto the “real” Economy #1.
...the system of capitalism is based on the appropriation of communal property. The theft of land held in common made the rise of capitalism possible.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The most recent data on human use of biocapacity sends a number of unfortunate signals for believers in the possibility of unrestrained growth. Our global ecological footprint is growing, further overshooting what the biosphere can provide and absorb, and in the process, like two trains heading in opposite directions, we appear to be actually shrinking the available biocapacity on which we depend.
Given that the scientist who blew the whistle on the false claims about Saddam Hussein's WMDs is also officially claimed to have committed suicide, but vital information about his cause of death is being sealed for 70 years, isn't there something just a tad fishy going on here?
The fantasy seems to suit the country better; then again, who ever thought that "Tomorrowland" would refer not to a bright and shiny Disney attraction, but to a boarded up, vandalized, abandoned and crumbling never-occupied housing development?
From pre Hubbert's Peak Oil chart towards Transport and travel in a world where transition has taken place. A positive animation look at the future of traveling without oil fuel, in this climate changing world to where we will again be able to hear the sound of birds.
In his latest book, The Value of Nothing, Raj Patel explores the failures of so-called free market capitalism, and highlights some of the ways people are changing the democratic system.
...the commons have always been a way that the community can value and manage resources together in a way that doesn't rely on markets, but does rely on a more engaged kind of community democracy. The commons [also] offers a great way of internalizing externalities. If you live with the consequences of your actions, then your learn from your actions in the future and modify them to make your actions sustainable. At the moment our food system is entirely unsustainable, and we do need to be living within our means. And I think the food movement is kind of heading that way much faster than any other sector of the economy.
We live in an extraordinary age – an age of both mortal danger and unprecedented opportunity, if only we can understand what’s happening and why. Our capacity for destruction, both military and environmental, is vastly greater today than it was half a century ago, and will be greater still tomorrow.
It seems as if this mortal danger is forcing us to take a great leap in our evolution that we might never have made, were we not driven to it by the crises facing us. This leap consists of an expansion of human consciousness; a shift from seeing ourselves as the dominant species on this planet with a right to exploit its resources for our own needs, to seeing ourselves as utterly dependent for our survival on an extraordinary living web of planetary life. This great web of life, formed over countless millions of years, will not survive unless we respect the interdependence of its living systems.
The communal complaint: their long self-sustaining community will on government orders soon be converted into an 18-hole golf course, luxury hotel and top-end residential developments, and the compensation on offer to relocate is well below going market land prices.
...As the economy transitions towards more market driven economics, the landlocked country has undergone a quiet economic boom in recent years, with average gross domestic product growth averaging around 6%.
The West wants to direct billions toward protecting forest lands, but the lack of any standardized rules and enforcement methods could lead to disaster. Experts warn that the wrong people might benefit from the money and argue indiginous peoples, not bureaucrats, should watch over the rainforests.
...Mr. Bernanke’s money drop seemed to land only on Wall Street. Now that it has emptied out the government’s credit in an unparalleled deficit, Mr. Obama is saying, “No more. I’m drawing the line. No further deficit.” There goes any hope for stimulating the “real” economy. Treasury apparatchik Tim Geithner, backed with his armada of administrators on loan from Goldman Sachs, is unlikely to support indebted labor, consumers or their companies in any way that does not benefit Wall Street first.
A call issued by social movements to evolve towards a more active role in generating concrete action marked the opening session of a seminar assessing the 10 years of the World Social Forum (WSF) Monday in this southern Brazilian city, the birthplace of the annual global civil society gathering.
The movements that emerged in the New World Order ―whether they are parodies of initially anti-systemic movements (e.g. feminist, green, etc.) currently fighting for rights or for single issues respectively (rights of women, movement for a “green capitalism” etc.), or new “anti-authoritarian” movements which fight for the rights of minorities (e.g. the rights of immigrants, ethnic minorities, gays, etc.)― have one common feature: the lack of anti-systemic universalist projects which they consider either “obsolete” or potentially “totalitarian”. For these movements, there is no need for an anti-systemic movement, but rather for a struggle against the power relations that turn up in various social practices.
…these movements are fully compatible with the New World Order, playing in practice the role of the left boot of the system. This is because the system does not need the active support of these movements, but only their fellow-traveling, which obscures the real goals and essentially disorients activists in struggles for rights and civil liberties, instead of anti-systemic struggles against the New World Order. Clearly, such struggles have no chance at all in creating anti-systemic consciousness, and, even more so, the conditions for the transition to a society of equal distribution of all forms of control/power among all citizens. In this sense, these movements and the “anti-authoritarians”, who support them, play the game of the transnational elite and its supporters.
Monday, January 25, 2010
..."democracy disperses power" and "corporations concentrate power." And property as power accumulated in the hands of a few, inevitably becomes power over the majority, power over their thoughts, their livelihoods, their communities, their government and their environment, both physical and cultural. Natural persons, human beings, are fast becoming faceless commodities, mere human resources to be consumed by shareholders hiding behind the powerful shield of property, the faceless, artificial persons also known as corporations.
Even those among us who can see, who can observe the hardening condition induced by the enemies of human liberty and well being, feel powerless in the face of this darkening and omniscient order. Despite the quadrennial claims of our political parties during national election years, no savior has arrived and none is coming. No Obama, no miracle of "green science," no national genius will emerge to lead us. We have only the simple, direct, undeceived intelligence of ordinary men and women to rely upon. We must regain respect for the seemingly meager and often lonely powers an individual does have, and choose work and a way of living upon which we can all rely.
General Stanley McChrystal hints that negotiations in London could see Taliban leaders join new Kabul government
As we have seen since Obama's inauguration however, rather than cleaning house--and settling accounts--with the crimes, and criminals, of the previous regime, the "change" administration chose to retain senior- and mid-level bureaucrats in the security apparatus; employing officials who share the antidemocratic ideology, penchant for secrecy and ruthlessness of the Bush administration.
Nearly a decade after its inception, and in spite of some reverses, on balance the World Social Forum (WSF) has proved a resounding success as a platform for planet-wide debate, from the point of view of the people most affected by the world's problems.By the way, the World Economic Forum is holding its annual meeting this coming Wednesday through Sunday in Davos, Switzerland. According to Wikipedia:
This is the conclusion derived from a close reading of texts by the principal activists and promoters of the forum for another world, which began in January 2001 as a counterweight to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual meeting of top business and political leaders and invited guests.
The Annual Meeting has also been decried as a “mix of pomp and platitude” and criticized for moving away from serious economics and accomplishing little of substance, particularly with the increasing involvement of NGOs that have little or no expertise in economics. Instead of a discussion on the world economy with knowledgeable experts alongside key business and political players, Davos now features the top media political causes of the day (such as global climate change and AIDS in Africa).
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Enough Is Enough: Why we can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for regime change in Iran.
Note that the article presents two points of view: a realist and neo-conservative. The former has to do with more indirect approaches to promoting the interests of capitalists, the latter is the former plus a large dose of Zionist interests. The latter make use of much more aggressive strategies, and I fear that this may lead us into more military adventures in the Mid-East.
1. A Business as Usual (BAU) Scenario, as perceived by the press and EIA
2. A Scenario constrained by fossil fuel resource limits only, assuming that there are no issues with Liebig's Law of the Minimum, or reduced demand because of high prices, or international credit issues. It is assumed that wind, solar, and nuclear will continue to grow, at the rates assumed by EIA forecasts. I also show a related scenario with coal phase out.
3. A Crash Scenario, in which some combination of credit collapse, reduced demand because of high prices, and Liebig's Law of the Minimum (relating to oil) cause demand to collapse very quickly.
like rightwing populists the world over, Piñera wooed the masses with endless promises of “a strong hand against crime”, a “million jobs”, spectacular economic growth and spurious stories of his rise from rags to riches.
Voices of Participatory Democracy in Venezuela: A Review of Venezuela Speaks! Voices from the Grassroots
The authors recognize the interviewees “conflict and frustration” with the government, but they argue that “rather than let their criticisms of Venezuela’s political process fill us with disillusionment, these testimonies should provide us with inspiration in knowing that so many people are actively engaged in constructing their new society, regardless of setbacks.” This point is clearly the dominant theme throughout the book, with the authors boldly asserting that “beyond the social programs, economic projects, and anti-neoliberal policies promoted by the national government, truly profound change will only come from the active debate and dialogue between organized peoples and the government. It is this debate and dialogue that has set Venezuela apart from many national liberation struggles of the past, and if Venezuela is to succeed where others have failed, then it must continue to strengthen this relationship.”
See also Part 2 (4:55m video) to examine the impact of free trade policies on the devastation caused by the recent earthquake.