We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, January 7, 2012
In my over two years of blogging I don't think any article has moved me as much as this one. Rockstroh is in my opinion among the most profound thinkers and expressive writers in the world today. There are so many gems of insight here that I choose not to quote any. You simply must read the article...slowly...to fully digest all its nourishment for your soul.
...for unknown reasons, Congress is ignoring that SOPA/PIPA would depress the growing tech sector, all while citing the MPAA's misleading and debunked numbers on how piracy is “decimating” their industry.The author makes a strong case that laws such as SOPA do not make sense from a market perspective.
So this begs the question: why are the political operatives of the One Percent, who are obsessively market oriented, trying so hard to push this law through? Could it be that they are fearing the 99 Percent's use of the internet to counter their propaganda?
The author is responding to an essay by Alan Greenspan, one of the chief architects of the current economic disaster, carried recently in Financial Times, a key economic publication that investors follow. (Access to the link is behind a free registration wall.)
To understand Radford's attack on Greenspan's article, one must understand the difference between defined benefit and defined contribution pension programs. As I recall, this shift began in the 1990s until now whereby most pension plans are of the latter type. As one would expect, this shift has been enormously popular with the One Percent who live largely off of their ownership of corporations. Not only does this allow corporate executives to engage in more risky endeavors, but it also has the advantage of encouraging more of the 99% to identify with corporate interests.
Based on the wealth that the US corporations have accrued especially since WWII, ruling class salespeople were able to make a plausible case for selling this new pension arrangement. However, now given the instability of the economy under casino capitalism, the expected disasters related to climate change, and the diminishing supplies of cheap fossil fuels, it is very doubtful that this track record can be duplicated in the future.
A key amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act signed by United States President Barack Obama on the last day of 2011 -- when no one was paying attention -- imposes sanctions on any countries or companies that buy Iranian oil and pay for it through Iran's central bank. Starting this summer, anybody who does it is prevented from doing business with the US.The NDAA not only moved the US closer to a police state, it has enabled US and Israel to play a very dangerous game. Welcome to 2012!
Here is another small sample of bigger things to come if we continue to allow the One Percent to ravage our ecosystem in their mad pursuit of profits and power.
From Chile to Colombia to Mexico, Latin America has been battered recently by wildfires, floods and droughts.
For many witnessing the extreme weather in the region and around the world, the question that comes up again and again is whether climate change is playing a role. The response from experts: Probably.
Friday, January 6, 2012
I think that the author makes a very valid and important argument that I have not seen before. I'm surprised because it now seems so obvious:
The global financial crisis that started with the bursting of the housing bubble in the U.S. in 2007 imposed both direct and indirect costs on the working and middle class populations. The direct costs are those associated with the bail-out of financial institutions, which will ultimately be borne by the taxpayers; the indirect costs are those associated with the ensuing economic crisis and the deep and prolonged recession that came in its wake, which, again, will be mostly borne by the working class population. While both costs lead to increasing deficits, and over time accumulating debt, of the federal government, they are of vastly unequal magnitudes. [my emphasis]He hints at the solution to such crises in his final sentence:
This forces us to conceptualize an alternative that is likewise systemic in nature and goes beyond arguing against bail out of financial sector firms.(Read the article I posted below this to see how these "indirect" costs are affecting Greek workers.)
Witness the disasters imposed on Greek working people by the banksters and their money games.
This is how the austeritarian disaster zone looks like from the ground....
I am posting this article as an illustration of the way elites view the world. As you can see, it is a kind of game to them. They move money and armies around the world's chessboard in an effort to "win" the game. Ruling class intellectuals love to speculate on winners and losers in this game. The sad fact is: that which is a game to these people has devastating effects on our lives: millions of people killed or maimed, families become refugees, destitution, famine, etc. So, their games are our disasters. As long as societies continue to be divided into unequal classes of people, we will be subject to elites and their games.
However, what is clear to me now is this: given the advanced weapons that these ruling classes have with which to play their games, given that the use of fossil fuels is threatening our ecosystem, and given that fossil fuel sources are, or will, be diminishing at a rapid rate, these self-serving elites are threatening the continued existence of the human race. We simply can no longer tolerate their games! Which means that we must now take steps to eliminate class structured societies forever. They are hazardous to human existence.
During the past 45 years this author has been sleuthing the activities of what he calls the "Deep State" in the US. This concept refers to a secret state or governing body that lies under the cover of a mostly fake official government that is presented to us in mainstream media.
I would argue that all class structured societies require deception to be practiced by those in the ruling class of societies in order to maintain their rule. I would argue that human nature is essentially egalitarian, that is, people basically believe in some version of fairness in human relations. Class structured societies by definition provide upper classes with more power and wealth than the lower classes. Hence they violate the principle of fairness. This always poses a problem for the ruling classes to maintain their power. They always use some combination of coercion, persuasion, and myths to maintain the status quo.
Frequently they engage in deception and collusion to cope with this problem. Deception and collusion are the essential ingredients in a conspiracy. That is precisely why it is a current practice among mainstream media outlets to smear and dismiss all attempts to uncover the activities of a "deep state" with a derogatory label of "conspiracy theory". That is not to deny that some people like to concoct theories of conspiracy for mostly entertainment purposes, and some like to do this in order to cast aspersion on all such attempts to uncover the truth about the real governing system. In any case during the past 50 years the political operatives of the US ruling class have been very successful at creating a secret inner government while maintaining the fiction of democratic processes and the rule of law.
Especially during the past 50 years there have been many people, investigative journalists and others like this author, who have engaged in the attempt to uncover the truth. Their reports in all forms of media have been widely suppressed and/or smeared by the ruling class for obvious reasons.
Up until recently the US ruling class has been very successful at imposing its views of social-political-economic realities on the general public. As long as the ruling class could deliver large quantities of consumer goods and a reasonable standard of living for large sectors of US society, most citizens would accept their fictions. But nowadays we are seeing the effects of neo-liberal policies in the decline of living standards for most Americans, and their expectations for the future remain very pessimistic. Thus, people are becoming more skeptical about views presented in mainstream media and are more open to alternative media and alternative explanations for the poor state of today's society. The ruling class is aware of this and are moving more coercive structures into place to deal with any significant internal opposition.
I normally post current articles, but I missed this gem from November of 2011. It is an eloquent call to action that all of us need to hear.
We are at that point where the dawn finds the land; it appears as only a sliver of light and yet, the hopeful among us can see it growing. It is a dawn filled with terrible ecstasy, where the best that is inside of us confronts the worst that is inside of us. We must face ourselves and our peers and our time and attempt what many once thought impossible just a year or so ago. We must attempt to wrestle the sword from the hand of the warlord, a task of dark brutal beauty and Dame Necessity.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
This graph shows that since the early 1980s the underlying trend in the United States has been for a bigger share of national income going to corporate profits and less to employees, and now under Obama the rate of redistribution has reached an unprecedented level.
Notice after every decline in corporate profits there follows a much larger increase. The decline in worker wage share matches the entry of neoconservatives in the US government.
It really doesn't matter who is elected to the office of President, the political operatives of the One Percent are solidly in control of government. In fact, I think that after the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963 the office has largely served the function of public relations for the political operatives.
Kennedy was the only President after WWII who really functioned with any degree of independence from the influence of the political operatives of the military-industrial-financial ruling class (The One Percent). The latter wanted to invade Cuba. Kennedy refused. They wanted a preemptive war on the Soviet Union which would have resulted in a nuclear holocaust. (I'm convinced that if Kennedy hadn't been President, we would have had one.) They wanted more weapons. Kennedy wanted and pursued disarmament with Khrushchev. They wanted to expand military operations in Laos and Vietnam. Kennedy wanted disengagement. The political operatives of the military-industrial-financial complex fought him on all these issues. That is precisely why he was finally assassinated. (Read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass for all the details.)
Ronald Reagan, the super-salesman for GE and Hollywood actor was the first complete version of this new type of President as public relations officer. Every president since then knows who really is in charge, and accordingly follows their orders. Hopey-changey Obama is from exactly the same mold.
There is no popular enthusiasm either for Obama or his Republican opponents. Millions of working people have begun to draw the conclusion that neither of the two big business parties offers any solution to the crisis of the profit system. Both are committed to the defense of corporate interests and obey their real masters in the financial oligarchy, regardless of what they say to the voters in the course of an election campaign.Nowhere in the world is so much money, time, and media coverage devoted to elections as one finds in the US where they are increasingly taking on the appearance of a circus. However, the ruling class is still willing to invest so much time and money into them because they still regard these staged political events as being useful to frame all the current political issues according to their interests and to promote the appearance of democracy.
However, they are hedging their bets just in case too many of the 99 Percent start to see through all their games and begin organizing real opposition to the ruling One Percent. They are building a powerful police state with oppressive laws (see this) , equipping police forces with all sorts of lethal and crowd control weapons, building ever more prisons, etc.
In the past, while NGOs were bound by financial ties to the state, they still had some nominal autonomy to bear witness to that abuse. Now, they are increasingly tied to government funds earmarked to further Canada’s mining interests, topped up by money from the mining industry itself.I am on mailing lists of people who are tracking the activities of mining companies in Central America, and I receive almost daily horrific reports of massacres of indigenous people and other atrocities committed by US trained government police and armies in Central America and environmental pollution caused by mining companies. Such stories rarely make it into mainstream media.
Of course, there is nothing unique about Canadian NGOs. This same applies to US NGOs.
As the recession and Occupy movement encourage people to re-imagine work and how they get their needs met in the new economy, Timebanks are catching fire. They are a clever tool to circumvent the scarcity and misdirection of conventional money. Timebanks are at heart a simple concept – you work for an hour, earn an hour credit, and spend an hour with anyone in your Timebank community.This piece provides a good survey of many systems designed to replace currency and wage-based work while facilitating work that needs to get done in local communities.
This is a discussion of ideas contained in his new book by this title, other books of his, and call-in questioners. This was originally broadcast on Jan 1st, 2012.
I've only listened to about 10 minutes of it so far, but it appears to be very interesting. One could easily listen to it while accomplishing some mindless task. Also, it will be broadcast again on CSpan this Saturday, Jan. 7 at 9Am Eastern Standard Time. Or you can purchase the interview on a DVD for $29.95 on this website.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Managing the minds of their citizens has long been a major focus of ruling classes in order to enlist citizen support for wars and the illicit pursuit of profit. This excellent video uses historical material that has since been uncovered regarding the use of misinformation to manipulate public opinion in favor of government/ruling class war crimes. An increasing number of citizens are becoming aware of this manipulation and are turning to independent sources of news and analysis on the web. Now we are witnessing increasing attempts by ruling class political operatives to control this access, a prime example being SOPA. See also this, this, and this.
He provides a good description on the psychological state of many among the inactive 99 Percent. However, many in the Occupy movement are optimistic and dedicated to bringing about the liberation of the 99 Percent. We may have a clue as to his negative outlook by examining his last paragraph.
The ‘you are a leader, I am a leader’ mantra is patently nonsense, because it takes a highly intelligent, charismatic and forceful figure to galvanize and inspire. A leader must earn his status, and when he has, lesser voices will naturally defer, and if he turns out to be a fraud, he should be chucked aside. Faced with a monomaniacal, brutal and well organized enemy, we cannot just offer them a horizontal position, because they will gladly accommodate this inclination.He clearly doesn't like, or maybe doesn't understand, the bottom-up organizational methods of the Occupy movement. The paragraph suggests that he subscribes to a vanguardist type of organizing model such as we have seen so often in left movements. And often this method of organization has merely replaced one authoritarianism for another. Which is why they all failed.
Young, and not so young, activists all over the world are devoting their efforts to another model, a very radical, democratically inclusive model of organizing. Because they are starting almost from scratch, it will take some time, trials and errors, two steps forward-one step backward kind of progress. But the end result will be a powerful organization filled with people totally committed to the overthrow of the existing oppressive system serving the One Percent and the construction of a life sustaining system that serves the needs of everyone. (See also this, this, and this for more information on theory and practice of the Occupy movement.)
Without concerted political pressure for radical change, the forces of unbridled capitalism, like a plague of locust, are poised to consume all in its path. The worker has no institutional support, the Democrats being completely in hock with money, and unions having long ago sold their soul. All forces within the logic of capitalism, from ever advancing productivity to massive foreign competition point to a horribly bleak future.Under capitalism nearly everything is reduced to being a thing that is bought and sold in a market. Under globalization and the neo-liberal policies pursued by the Empire, American labor is now competing with workers for all over the world. This is hugely beneficial to global corporations and they are now sitting on mounds of cash because of this. But, where is the social justice in this development? Did not the workers through their mental and physical efforts build these corporations? Of course, but capitalism as a system was designed to serve a small group of people who laid claims of "ownership" of social enterprises, and claim the wealth created by working people. They merely rent workers. Hence, capitalism subverts any notions of social-economic justice.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
This Canadian journalist reports on her experience in Arizona covering the recent annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that brings together large corporations and conservative state lawmakers to draft model bills. She learns about American "freedom of the press"and about how police enforcers of the One Percent contained and managed protests and media coverage at the ALEC conference.
After merely carrying on a conversation with a journalist ("Beau") from In These Times, she reports:
As I say goodnight, Beau is summoned by hotel security and herded away toward the elevator by uniformed police. Why? In Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia, I was evicted from my hotel by machine-gun-toting militias as the Kosovo war began. But in America. . . ?
As I stand staring, two cops flank me: Do I know this man? Who is he?
Beau has disappeared now. Will anything I say be used against him? I square my shoulders and think of my British mother: “How dare you ask me such a question? Is this a morality charge? Are hotel guests of the opposite sex forbidden to speak in a bar? Is this Iran or the land of the free?”
We face off, not blinking. The questions continue. At last the inquisitors give in. “Ma’am, you’re free to go.”
"We need to be the ones to provide the answers to the questions of our times, because we are the main victims of the voracious policies of capitalism," says Alexis Jiménez, a 23-year-old ethnologist who has spent the last two months camping out in front of the Mexico City Stock Exchange.The Occupy movement is occurring nearly everywhere in the world because neo-liberal policies are being imposed upon most of the world by the hegemonic Empire.
Mexican activists, as activists in this struggle all over the world, are creating new strategies and tactics to combat neo-liberal policies, the Empire and its surrogates.
The so-called Youth Camp on the National Disaster and Emergency issued a declaration which established two main priorities: the strengthening of social movements in all regions and the creation of their own media.
"We recognise as a basic form of coordination and forging links with local populations the occupation of public spaces to draw the community into debates, using the tools of popular education and liberating art to generate active hope, as an engine of human happiness,"....
"It’s not easy. We’re used to following figureheads, so it’s hard to understand a horizontal movement without leaders, where all decisions are made by consensus. But this is a process, and one we hope will continue to grow and multiply," said Barousse at the camp in Coyoacán.
A very good report on the huge student movement in Chile that is fighting back against the privatization of education and the growing inequality within their country. Chile today contains the legacy of the Empire's neoliberal policies imposed on Chile after the US's subversion of Chilean democracy in 1973.
Monday, January 2, 2012
This article is an illustration of the fact that Occupy activists are carrying on their work of creating a new inclusive democratic society. It focuses on the critical need of creating a dynamic social unit which acts as a nucleus for inclusiveness. Such a unit is needed to construct the entire edifice of inclusive democratic societies. I completely agree with his notion that affinity groups are precisely that basic unit. Based on his organizational experiences, the author offers some very useful ideas on how they could function and support other structures .
I think each Occupy needs to pull people together, but then to encourage people to organize themselves into affinity groups, of between, say, 5-12 people. This sized group is small enough where people can build personal connections and make decisions that all can abide by, and yet be big enough for folks to engage in collective activities while having some in support in case of arrests, etc.
This Professor Emeritus and sociologist provides an historical look at the evolution of strategies that imperial rulers have used to acquire and maintain their empires. This has consisted of propaganda designed to justify their actions, divide and rule strategies, promoting domestic ruler clients, and finally to what we have seen more recently--the promotion of “anti-imperialist” and “pro-democracy” “grass roots movements”, also known pejoratively as "astroturf" organizations. He criticizes many on the left for being fooled by the latter ploys.
Their support for the NATO attack on Yugoslavia led to the break-up of a multi-national state and the creation of huge NATO military bases and a white slavers paradise in Kosovo. Their blind support for the imperial promoted “liberation” of Eastern Europe devastated the welfare state, eliminating the pressure on Western regimes’ need to compete in providing welfare provisions. The main beneficiaries of Western imperial advances via ‘grass roots’ uprisings were the multi-national corporations, the Pentagon and the right-wing free market neo-liberals.It may sound a bit cynical, but I would argue, that is the function that political liberals serve in bourgeois democracies: to legitimatize imperial policies among ordinary people who are concerned about human and civil rights. Liberals are often richly rewarded for their services by advancement in their careers and gaining access to mainstream media.
This astute journalist sees the Empire for what it is--an imperial, hegemonic enterprise to dominate the world. The propagandists for the Empire often use the rhetoric of freedom and democracy as a cover to legitimatize their imperial actions to mostly its own populations, but when the contradictions between rhetoric and facts become too obvious, they have no difficulty dispensing with the rhetoric.
...the right of the U.S. to dictate how other nations are governed is one of the central, unchallenged precepts of the American Foreign Policy Community’s dogma and it thus needs no defense or even explicit acknowledgment. It simply is. It’s an inherent imperial right.The only criticism I have of his essay is that he doesn't make clear when he mentions "American interests" that the concept is a reference to the interests of the ruling One Percent of Americans. This obscuring of the class structure of our society is typical of liberal critics. Also, and more importantly, it is required to have access to mainstream media.
Following the dismal results of the latest UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, this Canadian science writer looks at the future that we most likely can expect. It is not a pretty picture. It is clear that the system of capitalism that is driving us to extinction must be replaced by a sustainable system. If social-economic justice is not enough to cause most people to become active, then surely the survival of their children, grandchildren, etc. is.
From what we can glean from the geologic record, the Arctic tundra rarely experienced fires 100,000 years ago. But for the past century fires have sparked with increasing regularity and severity. The Anaktuvuk River fire in 2007 burned more than 1,000 square kilometres of tundra, in one flush doubling the amount of Alaskan tundra that has burned since 1950.
This could be just a prelude to things to come....
Sunday, January 1, 2012
The author provides some searing insights on the global domination strategy of the Empire's One Percent ruling class.
Today, wars are crafted by the upper one percent of wealthy elitists who, using non-governmental organizations, television networks, non-profit “think tanks,” and public relations firms, can declare war on nations without a whimper from elected public officials.
Their first battles they fought were of a cold war nature against the only rival left standing--the Soviet Union and its satellites. Once the latter collapsed from the weight of centralized ruling bureaucracies, only various liberation movements and independent countries remain. (Well, there is China; but they furnish cheap labor for US corporations and buy US government paper, so they must only be contained.)
The author describes the strategy presently being applied on these people, especially if they have any valuable resources or strategic importance, in order to bring them under the control of the Empire. Meanwhile, Empire's political operatives still make half-assed attempts to maintain the appearance of support for the principles of freedom and democracy within the center of the Empire; but they are clearly preparing to rule their own populations with the iron fist of fascism.
Those who seek to extend American and global elitist control over the entire planet will not rest until every acre of land comes under the firm control of the oligarchs of Wall Street, the spymasters of the CIA, and the globalist business cartels and families.
This independent journalist also confirms that the Free Syria Army includes foreign mercenaries armed & backed by very Arab League supposedly investigating Syrian violence, and the Army appears to be directed by NATO in nearby bases.
These are mercenaries and defectors armed by outside powers. These outside powers are basically from Qatar and the Emirates,” he adds. “They come and go. They are rag-tag bands, basically.
Oh, but not to worry--he "vowed to use discretion when applying the provisions", "would seek to repeal any provisions that are inconsistent with his values", etc. God, President “Hopey-Changey” is such a nice man! (sarcasm)
The document also warns of other rising air pollutants that could cause acid rain or other forms of acidification to damage lakes in Saskatchewan and Alberta, along with particulate matter that could be toxic to rivers, the landscape and wildlife.