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, November 13, 2010

Liberal Environmentalists Have Hit a Dead-end

by Ron Horn. 

After reading the latest articles put out by noted climate change/resource exhaustion specialists, it appears to me that they have reached a dead-end. They are looking at the upcoming climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico with despair. Albert Bates in his article entitled, Slouching Towards Cancun, writes:
In Copenhagen, the NGOs had displays and presentation rooms right at the Bella Center, the Ground Zero of the UN meeting. That ended the snowy December day Obama arrived, when, suddenly, NGOs were rationed passes, and then thrown out into the cold, quite literally. This year the host country is starting at the point of last year’s exclusion, dividing the delegate deliberations at the Moon Palace Hotel from the Civil Sector Sideshow at the Cancun Messe, 5 miles away. KlimaForum10, an off-site alternative congress continuing from this past April’s World Peoples' Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, is even farther away, across impassible swamps and pedestrian-inadvisable highways.
Richard Heinberg writes at length about the effects we will see if we continue with "business as usual":
  • The depletion of important resources including fossil fuels and minerals;
  • The proliferation of environmental impacts arising from both the extraction and use of resources (including the burning of fossil fuels)—leading to snowballing costs from both these impacts themselves and from efforts to avert them and clean them up; and
  • Financial disruptions due to the inability of our existing monetary, banking, and investment systems to adjust to both resource scarcity and soaring environmental costs—and their inability (in the context of a shrinking economy) to service the enormous piles of government and private debt that have been generated over the past couple of decades.
They keep presenting basically the same arguments and data that clearly indicate that societies cannot keep on the same growth path that has occurred up to now. Some are beginning to see the futility of merely presenting the same arguments against growth. George Monbiot writes:
How should we respond to the reality we have tried not to see: that in 18 years of promise and bluster nothing has happened? Environmentalists tend to blame themselves for these failures. Perhaps we should have made people feel better about their lives. Or worse. Perhaps we should have done more to foster hope. Or despair. Perhaps we were too fixated on grand visions. Or techno-fixes. Perhaps we got too close to business. Or not close enough. The truth is that there is not and never was a strategy certain of success, as the powers ranged against us have always been stronger than we are.
They all point to the effects of the growth model of our economic system, but refuse to name it or even suggest that this system of capitalism is the cause of unrelenting pressure to grow regardless of all the disastrous environmental and human consequences. Heinberg seems to think that economists are to blame:
Economists are merely generalizing from their experience: they can point to decades of steady growth in the recent past, and they simply project that experience into the future.
At least George Monbiot seems to recognize that liberal environmentalists have reached a dead end and need to come up with some new ideas. He concludes his article with this important question and statement:
So what do we do now?
I don't know. These failures have exposed not only familiar political problems, but deep-rooted human weakness. All I know is that we must stop dreaming about an institutional response that will never materialize and start facing a political reality we've sought to avoid.
Yes, I agree! And the political reality is the ruling class that is addicted to profits provided to them under the system of capitalism! 

Academics and others are still too intimated to do this. They fear for their careers if they do. You see, back in the 1950s during the McCarthy period of witch-hunts, there was a great purge in the US of leftists in Hollywood, the unions, educational and media institutions. The effects of this purge is still felt today even though most people don't remember the origin.

Don't blame Joe McCarthy for what happened. He was mentally unstable, but a "useful idiot" to the ruling class at the time. It was only when he began to attack generals in the US Army with his crazy "commie" claims that the ruling class got rid of him.

The Rich Still Love a Good Game Party

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair.

The author does us a great service by keeping us in touch with our fellow Americans. I'm sure we have much in common with them. So, let's take a peek into their lives today to see what they are up to.
At about this time each year, invitations begin to arrive in upper-class inboxes for what is perhaps the most enduring of all elite social traditions: the seasonal game dinner. In elegant town houses and on sprawling estates alike, grandees are hosting feasts to celebrate the long-standing relationship between the aristocracy and open land.

Friday, November 12, 2010

‘Dancing with Dynamite’: The Future of Latin America’s Leftist Movements

Article by Kari Lydersen from In These Times. (a book review)
In his captivating book Dancing with Dynamite, to be released in September or October, Ben Dangl explores the complicated choreography between unfettered popular struggle and the state institutions that are necessary to a functioning civil society—yet by nature are forces of moderation, compromise and cooperation.
The book's author is rather critical of Kirchner's government in Argentina because it essentially preserved the capitalist system and the Argentine ruling class.
Kirchner effectively demobilized and bought off the middle class…After applying these divisive, demobilizing, and repressive tactics, the government used the simple strategy of patience and attrition while public activism died down
On the other hand, did not Kirchner pursue a better course than most capitalists by first refusing and finally renegotiating the IMF and World Bank debts? See this. Should the working class have fought against this government? Things can get rather complicated at times.

A similar situation existed here in the US during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Memories of the Soviet revolution were still fresh in the minds of many people both on the left and right. The US ruling class was nearly hysterical over the event. There was no unemployment in the Soviet Union and they were making rapid strides in developing their economy under central planning. Little was known at the time as to the authoritarian methods used in this command economy. 

Hence the ruling class opted to allow Franklin Roosevelt, a member of the capitalist aristocracy and old wealth section of the class, to lead the government. He introduced a lot of social democratic measures to divert much of the pressure from left wing movements that wanted more radical changes. Many leftists at that time were enthusiastic supporters of FDR. Left historians like the celebrated Howard Zinn admired FDR and was essentially a social democrat.
Roosevelt and the New Deal created jobs for millions of people. And, oh, there were people on the—you know, out there on the fringe who yelled “Socialism!” Didn’t matter. People needed it. If people need something badly, and somebody does something for them, you can throw all the names you want at them, it won’t matter, you see?
Democracy is social movements. That’s what democracy is. And what history tells us is that when injustices have been remedied, they have not been remedied by the three branches of government. They’ve been remedied by great social movements, which then push and force and pressure and threaten the three branches of government until they finally do something. Really, that’s democracy. 

The Fight to Save Social Security Begins

by Shamus Cooke from Global Research

As is revealed in the article, it is not only Social Security that is targeted, but many other attacks on working people are being made ready to be launched. Now that the distractions of the election circus is over, the ruling class will proceed to take away more from working people so that their class can accumulate more wealth. 

With capitalist enterprises pushing on the ecological limits of the Earth, the world economy has taken on the characteristics of a "zero-sum" game. Actually, I believe that we are now seeing the "sum" part of this phenomenon decreasing. The implications of this is that the capitalist ruling classes will be aggressively attacking working people more than ever before. This is what we are witnessing now in many parts of the world due to the economic collapse.
With national elections barely over, Republicans and Democrats unveiled their real political agenda, in the form of Obama's Deficit Reduction Commission. The bi-partisan commission has a nightmare vision for working people that, if implemented, will remold American society to mirror the current ruler of U.S. politics -- the corporations and wealthy.

Climate scientists plan campaign against global warming skeptics

by Neela Banerjee from the Chicago Tribune
An analysis by a liberal think tank found that half of the more than 100 new Republican Congress members are skeptics on global warming.
The American Geophysical Union plans to announce that 700 researchers have agreed to speak out on the issue. Other scientists plan a pushback against congressional conservatives who have vowed to kill regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.
The right-wing of the capitalist ruling class is going after the environment as well as working people in order to extract more profits.

Protests precede Seoul G20 summit

Article & video from Al Jazeera

This is typical of how working people greet the world's capitalist leaders wherever they go in the world to meet.

More pictures here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chilean Miners: What Was the TV Show Hiding?

by Michel Collon from Dissident Voice

Gradually the real story of the mine disaster in Chile is leaking out.
His face appeared constantly on every screen: the Head of State—smiling, focused, concerned for his fellow citizens. But was this idealised image perhaps a little too smooth? Who is the real Sebastián Piñera, elected President in 2009 with 51.61% of the vote?

Strengthening Our Health

by John de Graaf from Solutions

I certainly agree with everything in this article. Unfortunately, the author is much too naive to understand that these solutions are not possible in a society that is designed to serve the profit addiction of a few people. 
  • America has the most expensive health care system in the world, yet Americans rank 50th in life expectancy, just below Bosnia and above Albania.
  • We can fix this system by taking a more holistic approach to good health.
  • We should start by improving children’s health by focusing on prenatal care and providing at least three months or more of paid leave to all parents of babies or very young children.
  • We can improve our lifestyle by reducing working hours to give Americans more time for exercise, sleep, and healthy eating.
  • And we can reduce stress by re-instituting tax policies that narrow the gap between rich and poor and guaranteeing vacation time and paid sick days.
While his recommendations would benefit that vast majority in the US, capitalists would actually lose some of the profit supply that feeds their addiction. Because capitalists rule, they make the rules to serve themselves. 

Until progressives in the US grow up, they will never see any progress. Instead they will encounter an increasing degradation of economic conditions for the vast majority of the population. 

South Africa in 2010: A History That Must Happen

by Trevor Ngwane from the Socialist Project

The author describes what has been happening in South Africa after the capitalist ruling class decided it didn't really need apartheid to survive. Capitalists are always very creative in their methods of containing opposition so that their rule can continue without interference.
The Freedom Charter, a document that inspired the struggle in South Africa for decades, stated clearly that the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy would be nationalised in order to benefit everyone. It was not to be, as on the eve of independence, the ANC, the SACP and COSATU, members of the Tripartite Alliance that was to govern the newly independent country, opted for the capitalist route to development. Instead of a struggle against capitalism, a policy of class collaboration between the working class and the capitalist class was adopted. It was in this context that the idea of encouraging the growth of a black ‘patriotic’ bourgeoisie was adopted as state policy in the form of the BEE.

Ben Bernanke: The Chauncey Gardiner of Central Banking

The democratic republic of the Congo (DR Congo) after reaching the completion point

by Victor Nzuzi from CADTM

Western elites use the same strategy to plunder the resources of 3rd world countries all over the world. Basically it is this: Sponsor and corrupt local leaders, bribe them into accepting huge loans from the World Bank, IMF, or Western banks, use the money to serve Western corporations, to pay for more corruption of local war lords, arm local war lords to fight each other to create chaos, use Western aid agencies and sometimes Hollywood celebrities to provide good public relations to cover the above crimes.

The problem with liberal organizations such as CADTM is that they want to treat symptoms such as cancer with aspirin to relieve the pain instead of curing the underlying disease of economic imperialism. Or to change the metaphor, their mission is to train wolves to become vegetarians so that they stop preying on sheep. Capitalism is a system for wolves, for human predators.

Worrying signs from Venezuela to Ecuador – Latin America loses precious time

by Sergio Ferrari from CADTM.

Eric Toussaint (Belgian historian) in an interview with Sergio Ferrari gives his perspectives on political developments in Latin America.
Latin America seems to be going through a democratic springtime threatened by growing clouds. More specifically because of the “risk of accumulating frustrations. These processes and experiments, these strategic programmes and alternatives that are not yet implemented – such as ALBA and the Bank of the South – can lead to fresh frustration”.

“The events in Ecuador at the end of September, the latest elections in Venezuela, the huge popular expectations that have been shelved in Brazil over the past eight years, the coup in Honduras last year, the election of the right-wing candidate Sebastián Piñera to the Chilean presidency, are signals that cannot fail to raise concern,’...."

US declares financial war on world [10:54m video]

This is an interview with Michael Hudson on RT (Russia Today) in which he presents his perspective on how the US has used its world currency (resulting from WWII) to dominate economic relations with other countries. This arrangement, according to Hudson, has reached its limits and will soon come to an end--and he explains why. He sees the current G-20 summit in Korea as a turning point in the US hegemony of world economic affairs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Banks to Cash-In Again on New Fed Plan [2 videos]

This is a two part interview with Yves Smith (of Naked Capitalism website) from Real News Network. Paul Jay does an excellent interview to draw out Smith's understanding of this latest creation of money by the Fed (QE2). Smith has had an extensive career in the financial services industry and knows a lot about the system. She has not yet reached the point of rejecting the system itself, rather she still believes that Wall Street or some group of people are ruining the system. She is an honest, knowledgeable person who wants to save it.

Part 1 (12:28m) 

Part 2 (11:41m) 

UK students protest university fees

from Al Jazeera.
Tens of thousands of students are protesting against plans by the British government to raise university tuition fees [and cuts to education funding], smashing windows and lighting fires in London, the capital.
Also, a video report from MSNBC:


Two Animated Videos that Illustrate the Contradictions of Capitalism

The Ultimate Roller Coaster Ride: A Brief History of Fossil Fuels [5:39m]
by Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute. 

This should be subtitled "A brief History of Fossil Fuels and Capitalism". But, of course, it is taboo in the religion of capitalism to name the system.

The Economics of Happiness [trailer]
by the International Society for Ecology and Culture.

At least in this trailer of a film currently being produced, the spokespeople talk about the problems with the "system", nevertheless the producers of the film frame the problem as one of "regulation".
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.


The E-Waste Issue Versus Profits

‘The Story of Stuff’ 2.0: An E-Waste Sequel [7:47m video & article]
The essence is that the same people who have brought you notebook computers that can download a novel in two minutes or cellphones that can locate the nearest French restaurant could certainly do a better job designing products that a) use safer materials and b) can be upgraded rather than thrown away.
So we citizens are being asked to force corporations to do the right thing, the thing which cuts into their profits which is why they exist. No mention is made of the system which places the private accumulation of wealth as its highest priority. Citizens who are facing unemployment, often foreclosures on their homes, cutbacks in education and all public services are also being asked to take up another struggle to keep the overpowering juggernaut of capitalist enterprises from destroying their health and environment.  WHY NOT TARGET THE SYSTEM?

Also, check this out:
Lessons Learned on an E-Waste Odyssey from the NY Times.
...you have to be pretty motivated to recycle e-waste. You have to be willing to drive the stuff somewhere -– often at a designated hour -– or to pay someone to take it away, for starters. ...But, like many of you, there is a limit to the effort and money I am able to devote to throwing stuff away.

Obama Lawyers Defend "Kill Lists"

by William Fisher from IPS
"The full contours of the government's position would allow the executive unreviewable authority to target and kill any U.S. citizen it deems a suspect of terrorism anywhere," CCR attorney Pardiss Kebriae told IPS.

"As the government would have it, while non-citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay can challenge the deprivation of their liberty by the United States, a U.S. citizen could not challenge an impending deprivation of his life by his own government."
It seems that the ruling class will use the cover words "terrorism" or "terrorist" to violate all human and civil rights, to justify invasions of other countries and violations of international laws. The preparations for a police state to protect capitalist rule continues at the center of the Empire.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Obama's Peace Dividend: War Profiteering in the land of Gandhi

by Chris Floyd from Empire Burlesque

The author contrasts Obama's recent trip to India, where he was peddling more weapon sales, to comments from Arundhati Roy whose report suggests that many of these weapons will likely be used by the oppressive Indian military against the people of Kashmir and other areas of India.
The Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama, who in his prize-claiming speech boldly claimed the mantle of Mahatma Gandhi, is now visiting India. And why has he made this pilgrimage to the homeland of his spiritual mentor? Has he come to drink more deeply of the wellsprings of satyagraha, to steep himself more thoroughly in the Gandhian principles of courageous, active, non-violent resistance to evil, to the Mahatma's ceaseless dedication to the poor and the outcast?

No: he has come to seal the deal on the sixth largest sale of war weapons in the history of the United States: $5 billion for the bristling, burgeoning Indian military, currently waging war on millions of its own people in Kashmir and the poverty-devastated state of central India, where the despair is so deep that suicide among the poor is epidemic.

Becoming An Empathic Civilization [10:40m animated video]

by Jeremy Rifkin

The author uses his animated presentation to illustrate new scientific evidence which supports the notion that empathy is an important feature of human nature. Capitalism views human nature as mostly motivated by selfishness, aggressiveness, need to dominate others; and at other times when describing working people capitalist defenders often emphasize laziness and heartlessness.  Rifkin's exposition argues that capitalism has tended to distort innate human nature that has often resulted in the expression of negative traits.

A pandemic made by capitalism

by Joe Allen (a diabetic) from Socialist Worker.
...the unhealthiest places in the United States--Logan County, West Virginia. With a population of 36,000 people in 2008, the Centers for Disease Control put the estimated rate of diabetes in Logan County at 14.8 percent, the highest in the U.S.

Here, the causes were much clearer. Among them are the 36 fast food restaurants in Logan County--one for every 1,000 residents. Obesity and diabetes go hand in hand. Some have proclaimed Logan County the "diabetes capital" of the U.S., but there are counties in Mississippi that are in nearly as bad a shape.
For more information on how industrial food is making Americans sick, I highly recommend that you read the book by Michael Pollan entitled, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. After reading this book, you will never look at food the same way again.

Pushed to the brink by disaster and war

by Saadia Toor from Socialist Worker

From my understanding of Pakistan's politics and their relation to the war in Afghanistan based on a number of reliable sources, I think that this article offers considerable insight into this tragic region. 

It's clear that US's relationship with Pakistan is modeled after their typical relationships with the countries of Latin America in the 1970s and 1980's--the use of corruption to control the nation's military in order to control the nation. This practice continues today especially in the smaller countries like Honduras and Guatemala. In Pakistan it appears that the control is working both ways between the US and Pakistan's military. It is the people of this region that suffer the consequences.

The author describes in some detail, which has been mostly ignored in US media, the recent devastating floods that has exacerbated the misery of Pakistanis. The author provides an excellent context to understand the poor response by their government to provide aid relief to the victims.
In reality, the crisis is so enormous that no state would have been able to rise to the challenge. And the Pakistani state, for various reasons, was even less prepared to respond to the crisis.

The Pakistani state today is a state hollowed out by neoliberal reforms as a result of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank conditionalities. These conditionalities came as a part of aid agreements brokered by successive military governments. The result is that Pakistan has become a cash cow for imperialist and domestic vested interests.

The IMF has sucked billions out of the country in the form of loan repayments. The aid has gone directly into the pockets of the ruling elite, especially the military establishment. As a result, the state as a result lacked the basic infrastructure to respond to this crisis in the appropriate fashion.
Also, see Christian Parenti's excellent, intense documentary entitled, "Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi", which supports the views of this author regarding the relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's military.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Money Party Deficit Reduction Scam and Social Security

by Michael Collins from The Economic Populist.

In this piece the author provides the details of the looting of Social Security and current plans to slash retirement pensions. 

Yes, the ruling class has also been borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund that all working people pay into all their lives for their retirement pensions. The Fund which in the past decades has collected large surpluses, will now need those surpluses to fund worker pensions of those retiring in the coming decades. But the ruling class doesn't want to raise taxes on itself to pay back what they owe the Fund.
President Obama announced the new National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform on February 18 to address astronomical federal budget deficits. There has been considerable speculation that this commission will target current and future benefits for Social Security recipients to achieve its goals.

Why would this be the case? We need look no further than the treatment of major retirement funds over the past 20 years to get the answer. When the mob needed cash, it looted the Teamsters retirement fund. When large corporations or government entities get in trouble, they effectively borrow from their employee retirement funds by delaying required payments or otherwise gaming the programs.

Debacle of America's Democratic Party, Demise of the Left-Center Left, A Worldwide Trend

by James Petras from Global Research.

The author provides a good overview of recent economic events in Western capitalist countries in an attempt to draw out their implications for political trends. Europe's social democratic type of capitalism and US's more anemic version, what Petras refers to as governments supported by center/left-left collusions with the capitalist ruling classes, is being completely discredited. The left-wing union and political leadership that are tied to this structure have failed to act effectively, leaving angry ordinary people to fend for themselves. This has encouraged right-wing, fascist leaning political forces to step up their policies. 

This drama is only in its first act and nobody knows how it is going to play out. Will aggressive leadership and organizations arise from the many millions of struggling workers? Or will we see working people resigned to be sheep for the capitalist sheepherders who intend to lead them into ever smaller pens and ultimately the slaughterhouse. Will working people allow this barbaric system to destroy the environment that sustains human and other life forms? One thing appears certain--the old social democratic left is dead. Maybe that was a necessary step before working people wake up and take matters into their own hands.
The Left-Center Left regimes are paying a high electoral price for sacrificing the working class in order to save the bankers: Obama’s recent electoral defeat is only a forerunner of future losses for the Spanish, Greek, Portuguese Socialists and other L-CL regimes. Their austerity policies have led them to ‘fall between two chairs’: They alienate workers and strengthen the capitalist class, which already has its own “natural” conservative capitalist parties. The “hard right” everywhere is advancing, sensing the debacle of the center-left as an opportunity to deepen and widen the frontal assault on labor rights, social welfare and any semblance of legal protection.

One million march in eighth national protest against Sarkozy’s pension law

by Antoine Lerougetel from World Socialist Web Site

It is very encouraging to see the French people continuing their fight against their right-wing government's plans for more social spending cuts. 
Over 1 million people marched Saturday in the eighth national day of action against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts.
     Amiens: The banner reads: "Solidarity between generations"

This on-the-scene report of the French protests appears to support Petras' thesis that the left politicos and union leaders are impeding the fightback. See also this analysis.

A Ghost Agreement

by George Monbiot from his blog

People who write articles like this simply do not understand, or refuse to understand, the fundamental contradictions between the dynamics of capitalism and ecology.
When they meet to consider the gradual collapse of the natural world, they send their office cleaners and defer the hard choices for another ten years, while the media doesn’t even notice that they have failed to produce a written agreement. 
"They" and the "media" are one and the same--just different components of the capitalist system.

Time to end war against the earth

by Vandana Shiva from The Age (Australia). 
When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits - limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration.

A handful of corporations and of powerful countries seeks to control the earth's resources and transform the planet into a supermarket in which everything is for sale. They want to sell our water, genes, cells, organs, knowledge, cultures and future.
Of course, the Earth will survive, but we humans and many other species will likely not.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where is the Venezuelan Revolution going?

by Alan Woods from In Defense of Marxism

The is a fairly lengthy, highly intelligent critique of the progress of the Venezuelan Revolution. Alan Woods has spent a lot of time in Venezuela and is a friend of that revolution. But he, too, is becoming rather skeptical of, and concerned about, its continued progress toward removing the scourge of capitalism from the country. 
If we wish to understand the reasons why people who support the Revolution abstain in elections (and this is a vital question for the future of the Revolution), we must begin here. When a Bolivarian worker sees that his wage is not enough to last to the end of the month, and that prices are rising, whereas the rich are getting richer, he begins to lose confidence in the Revolution. This is the fundamental question that needs to be addressed.
The main problem I have with Marxists is that, although they always talk about democratic control, they too often in practice tend toward an elitist orientation, a "vanguard" type of leadership. I am much more of an anarchist in having all power based in small geographically organized groups. (See the "alternatives" in the upper right-hand corner of this blog.) Marxists have their place along with other politically informed people in a revolution as intellectuals whose ideas can influence actions, but the actions must stem from, and be controlled by, the base.

Because intellectuals and highly trained people have served such an important role to support capitalist enterprises, they, as a class, tend almost unconsciously to feel that they should be in charge of revolutions and society. It's almost like they feel a modern version of "Divine Right" to rule.

The Grassroots of Resilience

by Kate Bodi from Culture Change

This is really two inter-related articles.
This report starts with the U.S. and concludes with a presentation by a witness to Argentina's financial collapse and community-based response a decade ago.
And both relate to community organizing in this time of growing economic distress. The Argentine experience (the 2nd article) offers lots of ideas and is particularly interesting.

Murdoch drums up “war” where propaganda collides with truth

by Stuart Littlewood from Redress

The author provides an antidote to Rupert Murdoch's rhetorical ass-kissing of a Zionist organization.
Stuart Littlewood analyses Rupert Murdoch’s speech to the US Zionist hate peddling Anti-Defamation League, in which the media magnate regurgitated Israel’s propaganda lines. He argues that Murdoch’s imaginary “war against the Jews” is “merely the flashpoint where propaganda lies finally collide with the sickening truth about Israel”.
It's a sad truth that Murdoch's Fox News media organization has a tremendous propaganda role in shaping ordinary American opinions about the Empire's wars in Eurasia, the economic collapse, and neo-liberalism.
This is how the ruling class manages anger:

The Becoming of Social Democracy in Venezuela

by Rosa Tristan from Venezuela Analysis

I am posting this today mostly because the author provides a very good, concise explanation of the concept of "social democracy". You see, here in the US the political IQ of the average person is very low. And because of this, it is very difficult to have an intelligent conversation regarding political issues with my fellow Americans. 

No, this is not because Americans are stupid because they eat engineered foods made from genetically modified corn with which US agri-businesses feed them. It is because capitalist organs of indoctrination--mainstream media and education--have deliberately confused political concepts. You see, they know that if American were ever able to really understand how their society is governed, they would immediately overthrow capitalism. 

Most Western capitalist ruling classes have chosen the methods of indoctrination to induce obedience to the existing order rather than the use of a police state regime. However, if such methods are unsuccessful, they would never hesitate to resort to using fascist governments and police state methods as they did in Germany, Italy, and Spain in the 1930s. The infrastructure for a police state has already been largely completed in the US in case it is needed. (See this, this, this, and this.) 

So, please read how the concept of "social democracy" has manifested itself in Venezuelan history. (You will be tested on it.)

Is the Gulf of Mexico safe?

by Dahr Jamail from Al Jazeera
Experts, fishermen and residents disagree with federal agencies' claims that the Gulf and its seafood are safe.
I expect that ten years from now mainstream media will be quietly reporting a high incidence of cancers, birth defects, and other strange diseases in the Gulf region. Following these reports you will see experts saying that more research is needed to find the causes.

Nationalise the banks to save the future

by Peter Boyle from Green Left

Look at what the left in Australia has learned about privately owned banks:
Under capitalism, competition leads naturally to greater concentration of ownership and market domination. And the objective of each competing capitalist enterprise, in engaging in such competition, is to increase its profits.

The obscene inequalities that have arisen through this process are just one issue. The bigger problem is that these giant banks — unashamedly running on the principle of insatiable profit greed — are using the collective savings of our society (and bad debts the public may one day be expected to “socialise”) in a totally irresponsible way.

Instead of directing these funds to the urgently needed transition to renewable energy, to public transport, health, housing and education, they are directed to expanding dirty coal and other fossil fuel industries, to enriching mining magnates, and to destructive speculative ventures.

Our society cannot afford to have these decisions carried out on the basis of what makes the big four the most profit. This is why, as socialists, we say: nationalise the banks and democratically run them in the community interest.