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, June 26, 2010
An examination by Nebraska Watchdog has found that Big Oil and Electricity have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the three Nebraskans on Capitol Hill who have voters in the path of a controversial oil pipeline.
Patel’s solution is one of radical democracy, but radical only when compared to our current celebrity political culture. Instead of voting for our favorite overlord every four years, citizens should be organizing and taking an active role in establishing the rules that govern their own lives. These kinds of societies have existed before, and exist today. Patel’s primary models are ancient Athenians and the contemporary Zapatistas. For the Zapatistas, democracy is a way of life, rather than a rare and unpleasant ritual.
While one function of the U.S. government (perhaps the main function in recent decades) is to facilitate capitalist accumulation on ever-greater scales, another function, more a necessity growing out of the pain and dislocation that wealth accumulation creates, is to legitimate rule, oftentimes by stabilizing an otherwise brutal socioeconomic structure.
...on Saturday these AstroTurf town hall meetings, occurring in 19 major cities and dozens of other locations, will provide cover for what is otherwise a foregone set of conclusions that include recommendations that the Congress and White House cut and privatize many social programs.
Now, as far as EPA, OSHA, NOAA, BP, and the federal government , they every one of them’s in collaboration with each other. That comes from someone at the top of NOAA. That’s who I’ve been talking to. They gave me someone at the top of NOAA. But, they’re all in collaboration with BP.
Curiously, individuals—ordinary people—are being supervised and regulated more and more stringently. Yet at the same time, corporations are becoming more and more free to do as they please. No one notices how strange this is—we have even lost the social framework to even talkabout regulating and supervising corporations, because too many foolish pundits equate supervision and regulation with Socialism. Yet curiously, personal freedom is being chipped away, day by day, without a peep from these self-same "freedom-loving" pundits.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Some people are about to learn that the laws are for the "little people" not the corporations, not for the ruling class. They are about to learn who the real government is in the US. I think that's good.
If working people are going to build an alternative to this current criminal capitalist system, they must make the effort to uncover their real history as opposed to the contrived history they get in the media and educational institutions
If one thinks about it, one should not be surprised by the US practice of assassinating its own citizens. They have practiced this for a number of years on opposition leaders in other countries, and they continue to do so, both here and abroad. They made several hundred attempts to kill Castro. The character of this ruling class has taken on the qualities of the Mafia with whom they do business when their services are required.
They don't take out people like Dr. Pepper because he has been effectively silenced in that no mainstream media will go near him, and they need to maintain the fiction of "freedom of speech", etc. Police states are much more expensive to operate. Nevertheless, the US is definitely headed in that direction with its elaborate prison system, surveillance of communications, more aggressive control of protest demonstrations, etc.
Such people are concerned about threats to their beloved system, capitalism, resulting from the social cataclysms in the offing due to austerity cuts, the attacks on public spending and social safety nets. These people largely represent the old, more secure aristocracy of capitalists who largely inherited their wealth and who know that unbridled greed could create a powerful backlash that can destroy the system.
The overhaul, which still requires approval from the full Congress, won’t shrink banks deemed “too big to fail,” leaving largely intact a U.S. financial industry dominated by six companies with a combined $9.4 trillion of assets. The changes also do little to solve the danger posed by leveraged companies reliant on fickle markets for funding, which can evaporate in a panic like the one that spread in late 2008.Is anyone surprised? Our government is owned by these companies. The challenge for the ruling class is to camouflage what they are doing behind some sort of democratic process.
Meanwhile, increasing numbers of working people are thrown on the garbage heap of unemployment without any safety net.
The headline hits the nail squarely on its head. It makes the point that few Americans understand. The mega-oil corporations are in charge and they have been trashing the planet with impunity for years. The most egregious examples are Nigeria and Ecuador, with the US only now joining the list of victims.
As it happens, the enthusiasm for drones is as much a fever dream as the one Bush and his associates offered back in 2002, but it's also distinctly us. In fact, drone warfare fits the America of 2010 tighter than a glove. With its consoles, chat rooms and "single shooter" death machines, it certainly fits the skills of a generation raised on the computer, Facebook and video games. That our valorous warriors, their day of battle done, can increasingly leave war behind and head home to the barbecue (or, given American life, the foreclosure) also fits an American mood of the moment.
The entry of a Swedish-led oil consortium into southern Sudan in 1997 triggered civil war and crimes against humanity, claims a European coalition of aid agencies.
The energy industry is freaking out about this film.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Those among the public and media that still harbor the illusion that government is there to serve the people, despite seeing so much evidence to the contrary, speak of a national “malaise,” a loss of purpose, a temporary failure or flaw in the national character. What nonsense!
The strength of the article lies in his observations about the essential nature of human beings and how this is incompatible with current social organization. He produces some real gems in the section, "What are we?". For example:
...tight community organization is an evolutionarily-engrained social construct of our species. And I think it is important to note here that this evolutionarily-mandated proclivity towards tight communities is the antithesis of the atomizing industrial social organizations increasingly being thrust upon us.But, once again like so many other observers of contemporary matters, he is unable to name the system which has prevented humans from realizing their potential--capitalism. He keeps using terms like "industrial", as if the mechanization of production powered by fossil fuels was the same as social organization. Is he merely playing it safe in a capitalist society that punishes critics of its system, or has he been brainwashed? In any case, until we identify the core problem, we will never find a solution.
The disgraced former Telegraph owner Conrad Black and the Enron fraudster Jeffrey Skilling have won fresh hope of early release from jail....
"I've not written this book because I get off on talking about conspiracies. I've written it because, until we face the terrible reality of the assassinations and the governmental drug dealing and the stolen elections and the rest...until we look at how, slowly and insipidly, the most venal of men took control of our nation, we don't stand a chance of putting things back on track."
The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order: The Technological Revolution and the Future of Freedom, Part 1
This series on "the global awakening and the new world order" has taken on the ambitious task to assess where the world's people, the elites vs ordinary people, are from an historical and future perspective. It is clear that the governing classes have greatly benefited from globalization, but the advances in technology, particularly in communications, have brought people closer together and have created threats to the continued rule of capitalist elites. What will come out of this clash of opposing forces? The elites, people like Brzezinski, are clearly worried, but I wouldn't count them out.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I heartily agree with the general thrust of this article, but I don't believe that the author understands what any real change is up against. Like many other social critics, he is unable to name the system, but keeps referring to the need for systemic changes. If change is to be possible, we must understand the system and the class it serves. Still I highly recommend reading this article.
The case for fundamental change is underscored especially by the urgency of environmental conditions. Here is one measure of that problem: All that human societies have to do to destroy the planet’s climate and biota and leave a ruined world to future generations is to keep doing exactly what is being done today, with no growth in the human population or the world economy. Just continue to release greenhouse gases at current rates, just continue to impoverish ecosystems and release toxic chemicals at current rates, and the world in the latter part of this century won’t be fit to live in. But, of course, human activities are not holding at current levels—they are accelerating dramatically.
Manhattan’s Welfare Kings: How Billionaires Turned Farms Into Personal Tax Havens and Petty Cash Machines, Allowing Them to Give Less, While Taking More
Most people know next to nothing about this $20 billion-a-year welfare for the rich program, probably because the billionaires want it that way. Why get the masses worked up? Best to let them think the $200 billion they spent from 1995 through 2006 went to friendly farmers with cute farmhouses, rather than to Chevron or Kenneth Lay. Better to let urban entrepreneurs call themselves backyard farmers and toil away for the locavore movement, than to realize that their rich neighbors are reaping actual “farm” subsidies.
O’Reilly promised then that his firm [Chevron], like the other energy giants, would do whatever it took to secure this “difficult energy” to satisfy rising global demand. And he proved a man of his word. As a result, BP, Chevron, Exxon, and the rest of the energy giants launched a drive to obtain traditional fuels from hazardous locations, setting the stage for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and those sure to follow. As long as the industry stays on this course, rather than undertaking the transition to an alternative energy future, more such catastrophes are inevitable, no matter how sophisticated the technology or scrupulous the oversight.But, you see, capitalist regimes have no choice. Their system is built upon fossil fuels, and alternative energy sources cannot provide the every increasing energy needs of this system.
It's the goddam system, stupid!
This and other sources frame the conflict between McChrystal & Obama as one of civilian vs military control of foreign policy. I don't see it that way to any significant extent. The military and civilian elements are so intertwined in the US ruling class that such a distinction is irrelevant. What is much more likely is that the war adventure in Afghanistan is clearly going awry, its legitimacy is increasingly thin, NATO allies are jumping overboard and withdrawing their troops. Hence, all war parties in the ruling class are at each others throats.
Such a situation of extreme frustration can be dangerous. I worry that they might make a dramatic miscalculation such as attacking Iran in hopes of salvaging some kind of victory from the ashes of their defeat.
Is it much of a stretch to see that Osama Bin Laden's strategy to draw the US into a war in Eurasia is now reaching its goal--bankrupting the US as it did for the Soviet Union?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
This is what a failed democracy looks like: After years of avid public support for Net Neutrality – involving millions of people from across the political spectrum – the federal regulator quietly huddles with industry lobbyists to eliminate basic protections and serve Wall Street’s bottom line.I would put it like this: This is what fake democracy looks like....
On the other hand, maybe there is hope for the internet. Read this.
The issue here is causation, not justification. The great contradiction of American foreign policy is that the very actions endlessly rationalized as necessary for combating Terrorism -- invading, occupying and bombing other countries, limitless interference in the Muslim world, unconditional support for Israeli aggression, vast civil liberties abridgments such as torture, renditions, due-process-free imprisonments -- are the very actions that fuel the anti-American hatred which, as the U.S. Government itself has long recognized, is what causes, fuels and exacerbates the Terrorism we're ostensibly attempting to address.There is no contradiction when you get the underlying cause correctly--the desperate need for capitalists to control access to the remaining resources in the world. When people fight back, the ruling class media go to work by citing terrorism as the problem. This deliberate reverse reasoning obfuscates the real problem and provides justification for the criminal wars.
This is a transcription of an interview with a union activist at a state owned coffee company in Venezuela. This could have been a great opportunity to learn about progress of workers in a state controlled company, but the union leader talked mostly at great length about political theory. Little of substance was discussed about his particular plant or in the wider worker struggles. Mostly the changes in worker conditions appear to be that of freedom of speech. Thus they can talk and talk about radical ideas, but otherwise little appears to have changed under Chavez other than talk. I think that this may reflect the attitude of most working people in Venezuela: they still hold out hope, but real progress is minimal, and they hate to admit it especially to an outsider. These two paragraphs represent the entire interview:
In order to guarantee the triumph of this revolution, its authenticity, exploitation of the working class has to end, and workers have to have self-governance. This is the fundamental criteria of the revolution. Socialism is a society in which participation, ideas and politics have to come from the grassroots, from the workers. Chávez has declared his commitment to this, but at times he makes deals with segments of the private sector, and this isn't our idea of revolution, this isn't what we truly want.
Therefore we need to build an alternative to negotiating with capitalists, another form of pushing the revolution forward, pushing consistently for the control of workers from below. Chávez came to office in 1999, and over ten years later the concrete advances toward workers’ control have been very minimal.
Oliver Stone's New Documentary Explains Progressive Governments in Latin America, Exposes Adversarial Media Bias
...viewers are provided two starkly different portraits of Latin American contemporary history as it unfolds. He does this by juxtaposing two diametrically opposed viewpoints: that of private media outlets in both the U.S. and in Latin America and those of leaders in the region, those responsible for creating the "pink-tide."
Fenner blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise.
He said: 'We'll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island.
'Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we're seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.'
“Fracking,” as it’s colloquially known, involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals, many of them toxic, into the earth at high pressures to break up rock formations and release natural gas trapped inside.
Environmentalists had argued that there might be a risk of cross-pollination between genetically modified plants and neighbouring crops.Also, read this regarding another Supreme Court ruling.
They also argued over-use of the company's weedkiller Roundup, the chemical treatment the alfalfa is modified to be resistant to, could cause pollution of ground water and lead to resistant "super-weeds".
Real solutions do exist! This workshop will begin with discussion of false solutions and their direct impacts on our communities, and then turn toward a collaborative and wide ranging discussion of genuinely renewable, community-centered solutions, rooted in the principles of climate justice. This is part of an ongoing effort to build a “People’s Vision” for U.S. climate action that is just, effective, realistic and potentially transformative.
In the wake of the failed Copenhagen summit, prospects for cutting global CO2 emissions are worse than they’ve been in years. With talk of mandated cuts now fading and with countries exploiting loopholes, the world appears headed toward a flawed agreement based not on science but on politics.See also from Foreign Policy how it's back to drilling as usual.
Sales of yachts in the United States were up 30% in the first quarter of the year, a sign that the world's wealthiest people are starting to spend freely again after hunkering down during the recession.
According to the Merrill Lynch survey, demand across luxury goods picked up in the second half of 2009, with the biggest share of what the bank describes as "investments of passion" being spent on collectibles including cars, yachts and jets.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The author bemoans the fact that there are so few opportunities for Americans in scientific fields after receiving costly Phds. Articles like this completely amaze me. They waste so much verbiage wringing their hands over the fact that American scientists are getting the shaft, that it just isn't right, etc, instead of looking at the system itself which rewards only profit not patriotism, not commitment to one's fellow citizens, communities, neighbors--no, profit über alles! If you accept the system, then you have to accept the consequences.
Many of my colleagues on various Western newspapers would ultimately risk their jobs if they were constantly to challenge the false reality of news journalism, the nexus of media-government power.You mean, like Helen Thomas and Peter Arnett?
The article supports my long held contention that Obama was carefully selected by the ruling class for the 2008 show elections to defuse all the popular anger against Bush, the wars, and the economic collapse. They were right--much of the anger was defused, and the leftover has been mostly directed against immigrant workers. He was the perfect candidate to "pull the wool over the eyes" of the American people. Even with this Gulf oil spill disaster that was caused in large part by the Administration's waving of environmental checks, you can be sure that he will be well protected by mainstream media.
I am forever amazed at the gall of these ecocidal corporations that insist on selling us a product we simply don’t want. Can you imagine Ford getting laws passed to require people to buy its failed Edsel? How bad must the product be if the only way they can sell it is by forcing people to buy it? Is this mafia capitalism?
Despite Egypt’s reported refusal to block the canal to Iranian boats, the clearance for the American-Israeli fleet may be a warning to Iran it may face military opposition if the Iranian Red Crescent ship continues on course to Gaza.
Paul Jay interviews Deane Baker who is the co-director of The Center for Economic and Policy Research. Unfortunately, Jay and his guest seem to believe that the US managed elections can change anything. Otherwise the comments by Baker clearly indicate that the ruling class is following the theme expressed by Rahm Emanuel: "never waste a crisis", or something to that effect. In other words, the economic crisis is maintained precisely to do away with, or cut back, on Social Security, Medicare, etc. I have little doubt that the crisis was allowed to happen, in addition to bubble induced profits, precisely for this reason.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident – it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism
The ruling class has been pilfering the Social Security funds for a number of years. As they go global for talent, as they offshore more industry and services to countries that corporations can "manage" in order to get cheap labor and material without those obnoxious environmental laws being enforced, younger Americans will earn much less and will no longer be able to contribute much to the Social Security fund as they have in the past. Hence, by pursuing the imperatives of a profit driven system, the capitalist ruling class will bankrupt the fund.
So, contrary to what this liberal author writes, I believe that the Obama administration is rationally looking to cut Social Security and other social spending. And public opinion? Well, the ruling class is very adept at managing that. With nearly complete control over all information that is delivered via the media and educational institutions, this shouldn't be too hard for them to do.
Forget national boundaries in this capitalist globalized world. What lies in the future, if we the people allow it to happen, is that boundaries will mean little except to exploit as issues to divert working people's attention away from the real issues. We will have islands of prosperous people living behind well guarded, gated communities surrounded by vast seas of poverty.
It's the goddam system, stupid!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Ain’t imperialism grand?
A true alternative would be to design an economy to serve the needs of people (as a society) as democratically determined by them.
The dialogue about multitasking and distraction is part of a larger battle over consciousness, and the corporate sellers of junk technology are winning that battle as they colonize the minds of younger generations. Those of us who envision a new reality that is free of corporate parasitism would do well to take note of this development. It isn’t just tv and the internet. It’s a whole consumption constellation of corporate-produced distractions that have totally captured the attention and energies of young people. The digital ghetto they live in isolates them from older generations and cultivates contempt for any reality other than the one they have been sold. Why visit with neighbors or learn to garden when texting is so much more fun and easy?
U. S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood may soon be nominated for heresy-of-the-year award for an impromptu speech at the 2010 National Bike Summit in March. In that speech he said federal transportation policy will no longer favor automobiles over bicyclists and walkers.
Mark Weisbrot, CEPR co-director and South of the Border co-writer, responds to Stephen Sackur’s article in The GuardianThe author deconstructs an article in the Guardian, a liberal British news source, to illustrate how capitalist media is unable or unwilling to provide any kind of reasonable coverage of government figures if they are in opposition to the capitalist system or if they criticize it.
The next time someone tells you that Marx or Marxism is outdated because capitalism is not as exploitative as it was in the 19th century, just crack open your copy of Capital, turn to the chapter on the working day, and compare its vivid depiction of the brutalisation of the British working class to the state of the working class in China today.