Having SEIU officials — fresh off endorsing the Obama re-election campaign — shape, fund, dictate and decree an anti-GOP, pro-Obama march is about as antithetical as one can imagine to what the Occupy movement has been.I was shocked to see Mary Kay Henry of SEIU make her pro-Obama statements the other day on TV (see this video and interview on MSNBC. Surely the American people are not so politically naive as to fall for this brazen attempt at using the Occupy movement to support a ruling class puppet. Because it is hard for me to believe this mainstream union official is completely out of touch with reality, I am left with the only other alternative: she is making a colossal blunder by making such an obvious attempt to function as a political operative of the ruling class. Surely, this will backfire on her to the discredit of all such union officials.
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 19, 2011
Humans are by nature peace loving, cooperative, and desire to produce goods and services for the well-being of their families and communities. Thus, in order to prepare its young people to serve as enforcers of a system of oppression and exploitation, a ruling class must carefully eliminate such impluses and cultivate fear of others through comprehensive campaigns of indoctrination in the family, in education, and the media. This article illustrates how such indoctrination functions in Israel to brutalize their young people who, in turn, brutalize and dehumanize Palestinians.
Through an organization called Breaking the Silence, former Israeli soldiers are attempting to recover their humanity by speaking out about their experiences.
Full of tales of abductions, humiliation within homes and the beating of children perpetrated by soldiers, the testimonies make for shocking and at times harrowing reading. In doing so they uncompromisingly reveal the day-to-day of life under occupation for Palestinians - subject to measures justified under the banner of 'security' - from the unusual perspective of those meting the treatment.
The author challenges the capitalist assumptions that serve to justify industrial agriculture.
The arguments are based in flawed assumptions, obfuscated by fancy charts, big words, and complex calculations.
Neo-Paramilitary Gangs Ratchet Up Their Threat to Colombian Civil Society and the Long Term Survival of Civic Rectitude in the Public Arena
This article brings us up-to-date on affairs in Columbia. It seems that nothing has changed since Uribe's administration (see this, this, and this for details). The Empire's satrap in South America continues to use paramilitaries to terrorize any opposition to the military clique trained and indoctrinated in the US.
Likewise, contrary to earlier reports in 2008 after a Colombian army raid on a FARC camp, this article reports that FARC seems to be alive and well.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The British Occupy movement demonstrates more creative militancy by entering a new phase of struggle--occupying capitalist property.
Occupy London demonstrators have opened up a new front in their campaign against the banking industry and the government's response to the financial crisis by taking over a complex of buildings owned by a subsidiary of UBS bank just north of the City of London.
The demonstration, dubbed as the "Friday of One Demand," was called in response to a document of "supraconstitutional" principles floated by the government which declares the military the guardian of "constitutional legitimacy", suggesting the armed forces could have the final word on major policies even after a civilian parliament and president are elected.
The first phase of revolution in Egypt happened when the people ousted Mubarak, but now the second phase begins with the conflict against the Empire's satrap in Egypt, the military council. This contest will be much more difficult to pull off; but Egyptians, like most other people in the world, have no other choice but to fight to stop further descent into fascism and barbarism. People everywhere must continue to join the Occupy movement if we are to reclaim control of our lives and that of future generations.
We are now in a critical period of this struggle. The Empire is both attempting to take advantage of the chaos and trying to divert attention away from the struggle. I am referring to the increasing vitriolic propaganda attacks on Iran and Syria, and the further extension of military bases in Africa, Australia, and Asia. FireDogLake has also noticed this--read their brief article entitled, "Trainers, Marines, Troops Everywhere; More US Deployments Around the Globe".
...the history of oil in Africa has so far been a tumultuous one. A recent EU report found that the negative impacts of the oil industry in sub-Saharan Africa were a major concern, for the health and livelihoods of local communities.As more discoveries of oil occur in Africa, many worry about whether such discoveries are a blessing or a curse given the history of oil on this continent. Perhaps there is some connection between these discoveries and the new US military mission in the heart of Africa. See especially this article entitled, "Scramble for Africa", for much more background on the involvement of Western countries and China in the continent.
It also stressed the need for better accountability, transparency and governance, and came hot on the heels of the United Nations findings highlighting the impact of oil spills in the Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta is said to be one of the most polluted sites in the world with oil spills over the last 50 years, having a devastating impact on human and wild life. A clean up is estimated to take 30 years at a cost of around one billion dollars, according to the U.N.
Although the US is not a member, the Obama Administration is now leading an effort to invalidate what modest effect the CCM treaty has had. It has proposed a treaty, as part of the CCW, which would allow the use of all cluster munitions made after 1980 for twelve years after the treaty comes into force. This covers practically all the stockpiles of cluster munitions, as weapons older than 1980 are past their service life anyway. Moreover, all recent usage of the weapons has been with models made after 1980.Meanwhile, the US military-industrial complex is constantly developing more weapons with which to impose its domination over the world. See this for the latest weapon.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Through our experience with numerous community projects, we’ve come to see how deeply contemporary society is immersed in the market mentality. So long as market fundamentalism remains the lens through which most Americans see the world, it will be very difficult for people to envision a commons-based society, let alone work to revive actual commons that are under threat in their communities.The authors suggest that a revolution in consciousness is mandatory if we, the people, are going to survive the attacks on our families, communities, and society. People are beginning to see the necessity of recovering the values of the commons which sustained humanity for more than 98% of its historical existence.
This realization led us to examine how people’s social, political, and even personal consciousness is conditioned by their belief in the market as the only efficient system to organize society, and to look for points of entry for introducing commons-based ideas to the wider public.
The author deconstructs an opinion piece about the economy published in the NY Times and reveals what many in the OWS movement are now understanding: the one percent are hoarding and denying the fruits of technological wealth created by working people to working people--unless or until they can derive sufficient profit from it.
The earth is a great casino for the owners, nothing more, and human society will be allowed to fall to the dark ages if the species becomes no longer profitable.
Those who see the Syrian popular struggle for democracy as having already been hijacked by these imperial and pro-imperial forces inside and outside Syria understand that a continuation of the revolt will only bring about one outcome, and it is not a democratic one....This assessment of current Syrian events makes so much sense given everything else we know about US foreign policies in the region--both overt and covert. Apparently the US-friendly Oman ruling family's sponsorship of this media source has not yet limited the opinion pieces that they allow to be published.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
...we have to understand that there's always been an enormous gap between what those ruling America mean by "democracy", and what that word means to almost anyone else. According to the official version, of course, "democracy" is a system created by the founding fathers, based on checks and balances between president, Congress and judiciary. In fact, nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or Constitution does it say anything about the US being a "democracy". Most defined democracy as collective self-governance by popular assemblies, and as such, they were dead set against it, arguing it would be prejudicial against the interests of minorities (the particular minority that was had in mind here being the rich).So true! The new capitalist class of North America were profoundly fearful of the town meetings and other popular assemblies. They countered such democratic tendencies by establishing huge voting districts or even state-wide candidates for the election of representatives. Given that roads were poor and the means of communication were rather primitive, it was difficult for ordinary people who might have the right to vote, such as small farm landholders, to organize any effective political action. (Nowadays, ruling class control of all major media insures their continued rule.) This new ruling class found that such an arrangement encouraged voter apathy since only the wealthy were known by most of the people in these huge districts. Some people of the ruling class even went so far as to claim that this was America's single greatest contribution to political theory.
Originally the gathering of the young nation's ruling class in 1787 was publicized as intended only to reform or revise the Articles of Confederation which was the constitution of the 13 colonies. Instead, this new landed and commercial aristocracy decided on a revolutionary course of their own design by crafting a whole new Constitution which centralized control over the nation under their supervision. Only by tacking on the Bill of Rights and the use of political chicanery, could they get the state assemblies to ratify it.
Contrary to official doctrine, the designers of the Constitution intentionally structured the government into three branches (a so-called system of "checks and balances") not to impede the development of authoritarian rule, but to serve as a bulwark against democratic influences from below. (One of the best single sources for further study on this subject that I know of is historian Woody Holton's book entitled, Unruly Americans.)
The eurozone is now in fact run by an eight-member politburo. What a sterling job. This Gang of Eight is accountable to no one, except mythical Zeus with his trademark thunderbolts. In the liquid modernity era, Zeus goes by the name of the God of the Market. The only thing that matters to the Gang of Eight is what financial markets -- run by the God -- want; mere mortals, as in European voters, are at best a nuisance.Could it be that the capitalist "politburos" really want to balkanize Europe--the better to control it? The author uses his typical sardonic writing style to suggest not only that capitalists are dropping the usual pretenses of "democratic" processes by openly using politburo-like panels to impose their interests, but may have decided to break up the European Union into something more manageable.
Ergo, eurozone national governments are totally meaningless. The shots are called by a troika formed by the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). All of them gloriously unelected.
Better-off Occupy Wall Street protesters are learning something about the relationship between citizen and state
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
With the removal of European leaders elected in ruling class managed elections, it has become even clearer what "democracy" is to the ruling elites: merely a facade for them to hide behind. When the facade no longer serves their purposes, they ignore it and show the reality of capitalist class rule.
Having pushed through “technocratic” regime change in Greece and Italy, the EU is paving the way for the diktak of an unaccountable clique of bankers.Paul Feldman in his article entitled, Goldman Sachs adds Italy and Greece to its portfolio, reports
that the newly appointed puppets on stage are connected with Goldman Sachs--hence, he makes the argument that the puppeteers who are directing the stage play from behind the curtain in Europe are Goldman Sachs.
He concludes his essay with some hopeful comments:
As the present political system is ossified, alienated and generally in someone else’s pockets, then it follows that entirely new forms of democracy are needed. The assemblies that have been a feature of 2011’s uprisings are an experiment in democracy that actually works.
Democracy here is not an add-on, to obscure some other power relations, but a conscious effort to do things better. The general assemblies have the potential to go further than the spaces they currently occupy. People’s Assemblies can become not just the voice but also the power of the silenced, disenfranchised 99%.
They could reach out to neighbourhoods and communities and offer new forms of representation, participation and direct democracy. A network of assemblies could begin to draw up strategies and plans for a democratic alternative to the power and rule of the market capitalist economy.
I find the author's writing style--his use of lengthy, complex sentences--rather difficult to read, but in this piece he provides considerable evidence of NATO's penetration into the MENA region. While he offers no specific evidence, he provides a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest that NATO is now targeting Syria as their next victim and addition to the Empire.
If indeed Syria becomes the next Libya and a new Yemeni regime is installed under the control of the Gulf Cooperation Council, then the only nations remaining in the vast stretch of territory known as the Broader or Greater Middle East, from Mauritania on the Atlantic coast to Kazakhstan on the Chinese and Russian borders, not tied to NATO through multinational and bilateral partnerships will be Lebanon (see above), Eritrea, Iran and Sudan.
...the loans propped up the economy as it was being gutted under an IMF-supervised privatisation programme from 1990 on, allowing foreign companies and Mubarak cronies to pocket hundreds of millions of dollars and spirit them abroad. Meanwhile, what investment that trickled down from the loans went to financing prestige infrastructure projects like the Cairo airport expansion, which was riddled with corruption and serves only the Egyptian elite. Virtually all the loans from this period should be considered liable for writing off.Egypt is only one illustration of how international banksters have placed citizens of entire countries into debt slavery.
This article essentially announces what many others have sensed during the past several months--Al Jazeera has ceased to exist as an independent Arabic news source.
This morning I was surprised to find a video on their site entitled, "The US and the new Middle East: The Gulf" with a descriptive sentence following it that reads "Fault Lines travels to Bahrain and asks why the US backs democracy in one Arab country, but not another." Hence, I was intrigued to find out what kind of spin they put on this subject. I wondered if the reporter didn't spin it well enough because the video doesn't function on my computer.
Dishonesty, in its various incarnations, is not an admirable trait. But in moments of desperation, a lie can seem like the only option. Anita McLemore, a Mississippi mother of two, faced one of those unfortunate moments when filling out her application for food stamps — and now she’ll pay the price, by spending three years of her life behind bars in federal prison.
Monday, November 14, 2011
In this piece Corseri, my favorite wordsmith, captures the very essence of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread across the US and Canada. Little did the New York City enforcers of the ruling class know, when they took the sound equipment away from the Occupiers at Liberty Park, that the latter would create an even more powerful sound system.
This is how it begins:
When in the course of human events
WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS
It becomes necessary for one people
IT BECOMES NECESSARY FOR ONE PEOPLE
To dissolve the political bands…
TO DISSOLVE THE POLITICAL BANDS…
Using the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a vehicle, global capitalist elites began a campaign several decades ago to establish multinational "free trade" agreements. To counter this, the Anti-globalization Movement engaged in many protests at WTO meetings across the world, one of the most notable was here in nearby Seattle in 1999. As a consequence of so much global opposition, capitalist elites began to use another strategy-- bi-lateral "free trade" agreements. As Professor Martin Hart-Landsberg explains in this interview, these agreements are accomplishing the same purposes--undermining the ability of governments to impose any control over capitalist practices and weakening workers rights.
Using the recent bi-lateral agreement with South Korea approved by Congress as an example, Hart-Landsberg provides a very clear understanding of what such agreements actually contain. He explains how economists try to rationalize these agreements under the theory of Comparative Advantage to hide the reality of a stealth attack on workers and their governments to control out-of-control global capitalist elites.
This provides very good coverage, including videos, of recent OWS scenes, mostly focusing on Portland, Oregon.
In addition, I highly recommend more detailed coverage of the Portland events in this article by Ben Schreiner from Dissident Voice.
...although ultimately cleared out of their encampments, Occupy Portland demonstrated its continuing relevance as a vibrant and powerful movement. For if nothing else, the battle Saturday night and early Sunday morning confirmed that the movement has strong support within the city and is more than capable of mobilizing sizable masses to stymie police action. Beyond question then, Occupy Portland will continue to be a force in the national Occupy movement.For more general coverage of OWS events across the US, I suggest you read this piece by David Walsh of the World Socialist Web Site.
City governments and police across the US have stepped up their attacks on Occupy movement encampments. Using a variety of pretexts—ordinances against sleeping in city parks, alleged health and sanitation violations, unrelated crimes, etc.—the authorities are attempting to criminalize the protests.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Canadian educators are providing a critically important role for the Occupy movement by informing ordinary citizens about the underlying factors that cause so much havoc for the economy.
Protestors want to know why out-of-luck banks got bailed out, while bad-break mortgage holders got evicted from their homes? Are unemployed college graduates struggling to repay tens of thousands of dollars in students loans undeserving of debt relief? And the big question: who allowed public money for bank bailouts to end up as bonuses in the pockets of bank executives?The author shows how private banking creation of money provides them with huge profits (30% of all profits generated by the economy) which they use to control government and control who gets money (credit).
The focus on bankers, a.k.a. banksters, is appropriate. Banking and finance is where power lies: power to satisfy individual greed, or power to act in the general interest.
Recently at a teach-in at Occupy Toronto Jim Stanford provided further clarification about the private banking scam of creating money-out-of-thin-air, what the banksters do with all their profits, and finally, what needs to be done so that money serves the public interest. Here is an excerpt from his teach-in lecture.
They produce paper. And then they buy and sell paper, for a profit.
Here's a little economic lesson. You can't live off paper. You need food, clothing, and shelter to survive -- not paper. And since we are human beings, not animals, we need more: we need education, and culture, and recreation, and entertainment, and security, and meaning. Those are the fundamentals of economic life. Not paper.
What is paper actually good for? You can wallpaper your house with it. You can line your birdcage with it. In a pinch, you can wipe your butt with it.
But other than that, paper is just paper. It is not concretely useful in its own right.
How do banks create that paper? Let me put it bluntly again: They create it out of thin air.
It is not an economic exaggeration to state that the private banking system has the power to create money out of thin air.
Not cash. Not currency. Only the government can produce that.
But most money in our economy -- over 95 per cent of money in our economy -- is not currency. Most money consists of entries in electronic accounts. Savings accounts. Chequing accounts. Lines of credit. Credit card balances. Investment accounts.
In that electronic system, new money is created, not by printing currency, but through creating credit. Every time a bank issues someone a new loan, they are creating new money.
It's like a big magic machine, creating money out of thin air. And it's called the private credit system.
One of my favourite economists, John Kenneth Galbraith, put it this way: "The process by which private banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled."
How do they do it? They start out with some capital. Let's say a billion dollars. Then they lend it out. Then they lend it out again. And again. And again and again, 10 or 20 or 50 times over.
Each new loan, is new money. The economy needs that money, let's be clear. Without new money, we wouldn't be able to pay for the stuff we make. So we'd stop making it, and we'd be in a depression.
So the creation of new money (or credit) is as essential function for the whole economy. It's like a utility. But we've outsourced that crucial task to private banks. We've given them a legal license to print money -- and the freedom and power to do it on their own terms.
Their goal is not providing the economy with a sensible, sustainable supply of the credit we need. Their goal is using their unique power to create money out of thin air, to maximize the profits of the banks, and the wealth of the shareholders.
How does this system work, creating money out of thin air? It only works if:
Number 1: Not everyone comes to the bank to withdraw all this imaginary money, in the form of real cash, at the same time. And if...
Number 2: The banks keep lending to each other, which is essential to make sure each one has the cash it needs for withdrawals.
We can immediately see that this system is inherently fragile. Banks create new loans many times larger than their capital, profiting off the interest they earn. But the money was created out of thin air. It's not actually there, if people want it at the same time, and if the banks won't help each other out.
So Canada's banks are fragile, too. True, our banks only lent their capital out 20 times over, not 50 times like the Europeans did. That's because Canadian regulations capped the leverage at 20. But they've still got 20 times more loans out there, than they actually have money in the bank.
Confidence is essential to the stability of the whole system. But confidence is intangible and impossible to predict. If confidence went south, Canadian banks would collapse as surely as Lehman Brothers or Dexia did.
Now, what do the banks do with all that money they created out of thin air? They lend it out. Some of it flows into the real economy, to pay for homes and cars and capital equipment. But not enough goes there. That's why our real economy is stuck. That's why there are 2 million Canadians unemployed, official and unofficial.
What about the money that doesn't flow into the real economy? Unfortunately, the banks use enormous amounts of it to place bets, enormous bets, buying and selling the paper assets that are created and traded in these towers. It's gambling, not production. It's legalized, subsidized gambling, all protected by the state.
The interaction of the private credit system, together with the speculative motive, that creates such turmoil and destruction, with each successive financial bubble. Without massive injections of new credit, the asset bubble could never expand so far -- whether it's sub-prime derivatives, dot-com stocks, or rare earth futures.
If speculators had to spend their own money on these asset bubbles, the prices could never rise to such precarious and destructive levels.
Now, there are two key problems with the operation of this private credit system, and its interaction with speculation, that we must understand in order to fight for change.
First, the flow of credit -- created out of thin air by these banks -- is like a roller-coaster, all depending on the mood swings of the bankers.
When their greed overwhelms their fear, they will lend to anyone with a pulse. But when their fear overwhelms their greed, and they want to hoard every penny possible against the feared run on the bank, they pull back loans even from their most reliable customers.
This roller-coaster, called the "bankers' cycle," is an inherent and destabilizing feature of the private credit system. And since the whole economy depends on the flow of new money, the flow of new credit, we are forced to follow the same roller-coaster.
The second problem is that there's nothing underpinning the paper valuations of financial assets, when they've been pumped up by the combination of speculation and irresponsible credit creation.
Then, when speculators' moods switch polarities, the whole thing comes crashing down. Quoting Galbraith again, "A popped balloon never deflates in an orderly manner."
And then we all pay the price for a crisis we didn't cause. And we all suffer the hangover from a party we weren't invited to.
This cycle of paper expansion and contraction, euphoria and panic, is hard-wired into the DNA of the deregulated private financial system. The cycle has happened before. And it will happen again. The current crisis was no unfortunate accident, no "perfect storm." This crisis is simply par for the course, for a system that values speculation over production -- and that gives the private credit system free reign to throw gasoline on the fire, through unlimited, unregulated credit creation.
It will happen again and again, until we change the rules of this pointless, destructive game.
So what do we do?
First, tax them. That's the idea behind the Robin Hood Tax, that we are fighting for today. Make them pay a little bit, with every pointless, unproductive transaction, to help clean up the mess they left behind.
A transactions tax alone won't solve the problem. It won't stop the process. But at least it will support the public services that we need, all the more so in the wake of each financial meltdown.
Same goes for corporate tax cuts. Let's reverse them. Put the federal rate back to 18 per cent for the financial sector alone, and we'd raise $1.5 billion per year for essential public services.
Taxing the banks is important. But taxing the banks is not enough.
So, second, we must control them. Put in place rules that require them to use this immense power, the power to create money out of thin air, to use it sensibly and productively. Prohibit the gambling. Make sure loans are aimed at sustainable, productive purposes.
The new measures being promoted internationally by Mark Carney are a step in the right direction. But a tiny, tiny baby step. We need more powerful restrictions.
And friends, even controlling the banks is not enough.
What we ultimately have to do is take them back. There's nothing magical about creating credit out of thin air. There's no special technology or knowledge needed. Just the legal power.
We can create credit out of thin air, just as well as any private bank can. Ultimately, we need a public, democratic, accountable banking system. One that serves the Canadian economy, not the wealth of those who own banks.
If we can create money out of thin air to buy and sell sub-prime mortgage bonds, then by god we can create money out of thin air to pay for affordable housing that could end homelessness.
If we can create money out of thin air to buy short options on Greek sovereign debt, then we can create money out of thin air to invest in a green energy system to stop global climate change.
If we can create money out of thin air to speculate on international currencies, we can create money out of thin air to buy needed medicines to prevent hundreds of millions of needless deaths from disease in the Third World.
There's no magic to it. These ideas are prudent and rational and economically sound. Because like we said at the beginning, it is work and production and sharing and sustaining that supports our real economy. Not gambling with paper.
These towers look powerful. But ultimately they are built on paper.
We've got the real power, with our ability to work and produce and share and sustain. We've got the power to build something new. We've got the power to replace these towers with a system that works.
And that's exactly what we've started to do with this movement. Thank you for what you are doing! And let's get on with the job!
Let me be clear--I am not posting this article because I think it is a good one. I was astonished to read it--not by the article itself posted in this ruling class online magazine, but by the huge gap between the imperial views expressed in the article regarding Iraq and the cynical reactions of the people in the comments section following the article. Could this be evidence of a widening gap between the ruling one percent and the ninety-nine percent? Should this apparent gap continue, what does it suggest about the legitimacy and durability of our governing capitalist class?
The Israel Lobby is one of the most powerful and pervasive special interest groups in the United States. It began its activities many decades ago and played a major role in the creation of Israel.I'm not sure that AIPAC serves Israeli interests at the exclusion of US (imperial) interests simply because I think that there is a convergence of interests. I think that Israel serves the West's ruling Anglo-American ruling class as a fortress outpost in the oil rich Middle East. But, I acknowledge that a good argument can be made for Zionist interests being the dominant party as does this article. On the other hand, the fact that the US has not (yet) gone along with Israeli's insistent desire over the past decade to attack Iran suggests otherwise.
It consists of a multitude of institutions, many of them extremely well-funded, that work to influence Congress, the Presidency, academia, the media, religious institutions, and the American public on behalf of Israel. It also includes influential individuals.