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, December 15, 2012
The author reminds us of the many past "mistakes" made by our masters in the One Percent lest we fail to recognize what is happening during the service of the One Percent's current public relations officer, err, "President" who many compulsive liberals love to forgive.
Recently I have been noticing numerous members (or their agents) of the One Percent who now label the invasion of Iraq as a "mistake". See this, this, and this.
I am quite reluctant to post alarming articles without having determined that they are based on reasonably solid evidence. I spent a couple hours this morning checking out information contained in this posting. On the whole I have concluded that there is a sound basis to their claim that the US ruling class is preparing for massive civil resistance.
For a while I was concerned about the number of error links contained in this posting and the linked postings. The errors for all those from Alexander Higgins' blog was explained by damage sustained from Hurricane Sandy. The others were unexplained errors on YouTube website. (Two examples: "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39xn1VkrHVQ"; and a sub-posting link (the activation of FEMA detention facilities) contained in the linked article entitled, "From America to Amerika: The End Game" from this link, "There are 300 or more FEMA camps distributed around the country".) However, there are numerous postings of YouTube videos featuring the FEMA camps.
From my observations the ruling One Percent through its control of the government will always do what they want regardless of its legality, but they always prefer to cover themselves with at least some veneer of legality. (Example: the lockup of US citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII.) This is what I think they are attempting to do with the two bills discussed in this article: "The Defense Authorization Act" and H.R. 6566 “The Mass Fatality Planning and Religious Considerations Act”. In other words, there is considerable evidence that they are already prepared to lock up mass numbers of Americans when circumstances against the interests of the One Percent require it. Passage of the two bill would only provide the necessary legal cover.
(By the way, neither bill has yet to pass both Houses of Congress and signed into law. A good way to track them is through the website--govtrack.us.)
Friday, December 14, 2012
Roos describes the horrifying reality in graphic detail facing many of Spain's 99 Percent.
Apparently not everyone is unhappy. As the NY Times reports, European capitalist elites are enjoying signs of "healing" of the European economy.
In its twice-a-year report on financial stability, the E.C.B. noted a number of indications that the euro zone is starting to heal. For example, borrowing costs for troubled countries have dropped substantially, and banks in Portugal and Ireland have regained access to money markets.
Countries including Spain and Italy have been able to increase their exports because labor costs have fallen, improving their competitiveness, the E.C.B. said.
The fact that the Justice Department refused to prosecute HSBC because of the effects it could have on the financial system should be a clear sign that the financial system does not function for the benefit of people and society as a whole, and thus, that it needs to be dramatically changed, cartels need to be destroyed, banks broken up, criminal behaviour punished (not rewarded), and that people should dictate the policies of society, not a small network of international criminal cartel banks.This latest banking scandal illustrates once again that class structured societies will always function to serve the class that rules over the society. Hence, given the structure of existing powerful societies ruled over by capitalists, decisions of any significance will be decided in favor of their class, sometimes known as the One Percent. In this sense what judicial authorities decided was rational from the standpoint of their class. Of course, for the rest of us such judgements and decisions are irrational and unjust; however, because they are endemic to any class structured society, the only real, rational, and just solution is revolution and the establishment of inclusive, classless societies.
But then, that would be rational, so naturally it’s not even up for discussion.
The is the most well balanced, clear description and interpretation of recent events within Egypt that I have seen.
The reality is that politics is not as simple as being either secular or Islamist—many Egyptians do not identify as either, and have very different ideas about what they want Egypt to become. By fixating on labels and the problematic rhetoric they inspire, we continue to deepen class and ideological divisions at a time in Egyptian history when people should be united.However, she ignores outside forces, specifically the US, that may be influencing events in Egypt. To fill in this omission, I suggest you watch this 4:25m interview with F. William Engdahl from RT.
Grappling with Phantoms: The Financial Cliff, The War On Christmas, And Other Dim Tidings Of Political Disconnect
For me, Rockstroh best creates with his creative word-craft the conscious experience of living in today's America.
This liberal writer makes the startling (to him and other liberals) assertion that neo-liberalism is not what it purports to be, that it is essentially a dogma to hide the power grab by plutocrats to gain control of more wealth. Of course, what liberals want is a return to the "golden age" of government controls and regulation which restrained the anti-societal actions of the rich and their ruling classes.
It's nice to see that liberals are finally getting worried about the increasing and self-serving grip of plutocrats over societies, but they still fail to see that this development is only the natural course of capitalism, the religion of our ruling class that cannot be questioned (besides, "there is no alternative"). Thus, we still see liberals like Monbiot who refuse to question their religion apparently fearing excommunication which might impede their own pursuit of wealth and influence in capitalist media circles. Still, they like to make radical sounding statements like this which those of us who do question can take more seriously:
...the struggle against climate change - and all the crises which now beset both human beings and the natural world - cannot be won without a wider political fight: a democratic mobilisation against plutocracy.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Very revealing, and supported by excellent documentation in support of his thesis that the Muslim Brotherhood has a long history of collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes and Empire secret agencies.
The complexities of the Arab Spring and the struggle for political freedom throughout the Arab world should not obscure what has now become an absolutely essential understanding for all anti-imperialists: the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most powerful weapons of the Western ruling class in the Muslim world.
The author presents some excellent arguments against the takeover of universities by the latest stage of capitalism, a capitalism on steroids known as neo-liberalism. The only problem I have with his view is that it assumes that during previous stages of capitalism, universities were ideologically free to pursue truth and that these stages represented "democracy". Hence, the takeover of neo-liberalism represented a "revolution" rather than simply a natural progression of capitalism into an advanced stage.
This is very typical of politically liberal critiques that we see presented in various media. Such a limited critique is acceptable to, and tolerated by, the ruling One Percent because it doesn't truly attack the capitalist system itself, a system that requires private ownership and control of a society's economy.
...it was the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 that signaled the beginning of the neo-liberal revolution that would dramatically re-shape the society we know today and establish a new “common sense”. This was a revolution that saw the financialisation of the economy, the emergence of a credit-fuelled consumer culture, and large-scale privatisations of utilities and services.Apparently the author has forgotten that in the 1950s left-wing intellectuals, artists, etc. were purged from US unions, Hollywood, government, business, and the universities. Are we to believe that the history of the British ruling class has been radically different since WWII? He needs to read this and this to refresh his memory about conditions in the US.
In this climate it was assumed that higher education should also be subjected to the purifying discipline of market competition.
The author provides some well-reasoned arguments to support the headline thesis.
Also, check out this link, entitled "Ex-diplomat: I was beaten by Brotherhood" by a former Egyptian diplomat who opposed the Mubarak regime, tells of his beating by Muslim Brotherhood thugs.
“They captured me, they dragged me and beat me all the way,” Yehia Negm, 42, said on Tuesday as Egyptians protested for a 19th day against President Mohamed Morsy, the Islamic-based Brotherhood and a rushed referendum on a proposed constitution.
Eight people died, and more than 700 were injured outside the palace a week ago before army troops and tanks restored order.
Let me see...I wonder if I understand this issue. According to Al Jazeera, HSBC is a bank "...which operates in 80 countries and which made pre-tax profits of $21.9bn last year...." They get fined $1.9 or about 10% of only one year's income.
Fareed Zakaria of Time Magazine made some observations about people under some form of correctional supervision during this period of the "War on Drugs":
Drug convictions went from 15 inmates per 100,000 adults in 1980 to 148 in 1996, an almost tenfold increase. More than half of America's federal inmates today are in prison on drug convictions. In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or larceny charges. And 4 of 5 of those arrests were simply for possession.I wonder if the drug offenders were ever given the option of paying a fine of 10% of their income. From my reading, I know that HSBC isn't the only bank that engaged in this lucrative business.
It also appears from Zakaria's data that the War on Drugs has been good for banking business.
I agree with the author that crime pays if you are a bank. Hmmm, maybe that is why the "War on Drugs" has lasted so long.
Given the potential profits of criminal behavior and the unlikelihood of personal consequences for the executives directing it, the message is clear: Crime pays. This will inevitably lead to more reckless risk-taking that will further undermine systemic stability and lead to an even greater financial meltdown down the road.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Egypt was once again making world history; millions of Egyptians across the country were engaged in open popular revolt against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, almost literally the mother of all modern political Islamist movements, not least the dread Al-Qaeda....The author offers two reasons for this blindness. The second reason should be easily understood by anyone following events rather closely in the Middle East. But, the first one was, for me, eye opening.
So remarkable was this new wave of the Egyptian revolution, its reach extended from the heartland of Brotherhood-support in Upper Egypt to Mediterranean Alexandria....
It was, moreover, the first ever popular uprising against a ruling Islamist movement, much wider in scope, intensity and social composition than any of the revolts we’d seen hitherto against the Ayatollahs’ rule in Iran.
And yet, the Western media seemed unmoved and uninterested. “They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see.”
Neureiter comments on a recently published book by Fred Pearce who "examines the dynamics behind large-scale land acquisitions and their social, environmental and developmental effects" around the world.
In the book, the reader is taken on a whirlwind tour around the globe to witness, through Pearce’s eyes, a new kind of colonialism driven not by countries, but by powerful private capitalists. We encounter figures such as George Soros and Richard Branson; we learn about the effects of the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia; we find out why President Robert Mugabe's land seizures in Zimbabwe were not so bad after all for small-scale farmers; and we see how the global financial crisis and the intricate mechanisms of stock market speculations in commodities exacerbate the problem.
The author makes a valiant attempt to unravel the mysteries of all the costs that burden American taxpayers in order to construct, maintain, and staff over 1000 foreign military bases (and growing). I assert a "valiant attempt" because the Pentagon uses all sorts of accounting and other gimmicks to hide these costs from the American people. It should also be made clear that he is only focusing on one sector of military spending, not on all the weapons production that supports the military-industrial complex and kills people in foreign lands.
How much does the United States spend each year occupying the planet with its bases and troops? How much does it spend on its global presence? Forced by congress to account for its spending overseas, the Pentagon has put that figure at US$22.1 billion a year. It turns out that even a conservative estimate of the true costs of garrisoning the globe comes to an annual total of about $170 billion. In fact, it may be considerably higher. Since the onset of "the Global War on Terror" in 2001, the total cost for our garrisoning policies, for our presence abroad, has probably reached $1.8 trillion to $2.1 trillion.To support all these costs, it's clear why our masters in the ruling One Percent need to cut back on spending for sustaining retired people at a subsistence level, providing medical care to its indigent citizens, food stamps and income benefits to the unemployed, bigger classroom sizes, fewer teachers, fewer library hours, etc.
...vested interests cynically undermine public opinion while lobbying political interests. Exxon, the world’s largest oil company was warned by the Royal Society of London to stop funding climate change misinformation campaigns. The richest men in the world, the Koch brothers, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying, funding and undermining democratic institutions to weaken emission regulations. They and others are linked to dozens of front groups around the world subverting scientific consensus on climate change.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
There was more detail here than I wanted to know, but the main point (for me) was well developed:
“Is it normal in a crisis for the private banks, who are usually financed at 1% by the Central Banks, to benefit from a rate of 0.01%, when in times of crisis certain States are obliged to pay rates 600 or 800 times higher?”Given that the "central banks" are privately owned by the reigning One Percents, these differential interest rates and the resulting debts (owed to the One Percents) being piled onto nations' citizens is a prime illustration of the current class war in the West. What is so sad, even tragic, about this is that most people are unaware of its nature, particularly here in the US. This situation also illustrates the brilliant success of the One Percents' indoctrination programs and their management of media coverage.
It seems to me what we are seeing in this crisis is another example of factional or tribal organizing. In this case the Muslim Brotherhood, who suffered many years of suppression by the Mubarak regime, won a narrow victory in the recent elections. This apparently was due to the fact that they maintained a highly organized structure whereas most of the rest of Egyptian society was unorganized. But, given a narrow sectarian outlook and having attained power, they now wish to impose their views and interests on the rest of Egyptian society. With political power as a self-reinforcing dynamic, they then went for more power by securing the backing of the US Empire and its leading financial weapon, the IMF.
So long as people organize around factional, sectarian, or tribal interests, they will always end up fighting other such interests; and worse, they will be encouraged in this inter-factional conflict by agents of the Empire who love to use the old tried and true method of divide and conquer. Thus, the basic lesson that 99 Percent humanity needs in order to survive and prevent the descent into barbarism is to learn how to organize on a completely inclusive and universal basis.
- "The decline and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood" from Ahram Online.
- "On the current crisis" from Al-Ahram Weekly. (I don't get the author's "troika" concept when all three represent the Muslim Brotherhood organization. Freedom and Justice Party is the name of their political party.)
- "In Tahrir, the beginning and end of a Pharaoh" from Reflections on a Revolution.
- "The Battle Over Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum" from Muftah.
The Fiscal Cliff and all its variations are called "austerity" in most countries. Austerity means raising taxes, burdening people and enterprises already hurt by years of crisis. Austerity likewise means cutting government spending that hurts those losing government jobs and business. Politicians now negotiating about the Fiscal Cliff are, in fact, dickering over the details of austerity for the US.The author's "Plan C" is remarkable coming from a US academic. This plan implies, but does not state, public ownership of the economy. Such a thesis is truly radical and revolutionary, and it is very daring of him to advocate this.
This discussion was held before today's action by the Michigan legislature which passed anti-union legislation.
We're having an all-out assault on Michigan's working class. We're having an all-out assault on the urban centers in Michigan. We're having an all-out assault on education. It's a general—if there was ever talk about class warfare, we are seeing class warfare.
I wonder if this is going to be a weekly series from this source--that would be a real indication of entering a new era of climate chaos. The article and photos cover mostly two items that I saw little of in mainstream media: a major typhoon (Asian for "hurricane") related disaster in the Philippines and unusually warm weather in the mid-west of the US.
In the Philippines, the death toll continued to rise this week. Over 300,000 people lost their homes....
Monday, December 10, 2012
It's clear that there is nothing radical about this presentation, but it does cut through all the deception and obfuscation that occurs in any mainstream reporting of military expenditures. This presentation is also very timely in view of the current propaganda war going on about the so-called budget crisis widely advertised as the "Fiscal Cliff", the purpose of which is to convince you that cut backs are needed on all social spending--Social Security, Medicare, education, welfare, unemployment compensation, etc. The hidden purpose is to enable our masters in the One Percent ruling class to spend more on war.
As people of the world look forward to three, four or even five degrees (centigrade) of warming in the next 50-100 years, one observer at the conference noted that...
Countries are mainly influenced by the corporate sector and civil society has very little interaction or influence there....According to the author this is what mainly occurred at the recent U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change:
Developing countries wanted a new institution and framework to deal with loss and damage, but the U.S. was opposed to any new institution. The compromise is for a “new mechanism” to be created in 2013.
A new second phase of the Kyoto Protocol will run from 2013 to 2020. Getting this second phase or commitment is considered very important by developing countries because it has hard-won legal terms that commit countries to making cuts as well as methods for measuring and verifying emission levels.
However, only the European Union, Australia and a few other countries are involved, representing just 12 percent of global emissions. The U.S. has never participated, while Canada and Japan have opted out of the second phase.
The experience of Hurricane Sandy evokes some profound thoughts and insights for this author. Here is only one:
Our capitalism. It churns like a hurricane across national boundaries. It freezes nature under the sign of commodity. It forces hungry peasants into the city, where it sifts them for the lowest wage for the longest hours. It lifts up a bourgeoisie, who in turn hire the media to unleash a cascade of ideology that saturates the people. But if workers organize and demand higher wages, capitalism spirals up and away to another place with hungrier people. Left in its wake are men and women who sell their bodies, beg on street corners, who dream of what they can’t have, who want things.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
This dedicated specialist in all things energy provides two very disturbing observations: China's success is to a great extent based on their increased use of coal; and evidence all over the place, in spite of mainstream hoopla about new shale fracking sources, that these increasingly expensive and diminishing fossil fuels will place a huge burden on existing economies.
Unfortunately, she like many others, are unwilling or unable to imagine a different way of organizing our societies other than capitalism. The best she can come up with is questioning the current phase of globalized capitalism otherwise known as neoliberalism:
Does it really make sense to continue on the path to increasing globalization? We will need to quit a some point, either because of a choice to move away from fossil fuels, or because oil supply becomes even more constrained, and the ensuing financial problems cause us to cut back.
Policymakers and economists assume that the only path forward is increased globalization, and have not really examined any other path. In a world with limited resources, the path away from globalization is more sustainable one. The big concern is how much population it can support.
All nations, all peoples, I think, have dreams of themselves, of their better selves, of the people they imagine they could be. They are not rational and are often not even true. But then again dreams do not have to be true. We just have them. Or perhaps they have us. But those dreams have been dying recently. The dreams of whole nations have been withering and dying. As if some disease of our imagination’s immune system were turning hope against us. And we find ourselves collectively adrift, mourning for the people we thought we could be.Yes, it is necessary to dream when one lives in a society wracked by class rule and injustice, where a few people have every advantage imaginable while other "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." You see, modern humans evolved over their 175,000 years of existence by taking care of one another. More recently, say 10,000 years ago, something started to happen in which a few people began to take control over the lives of others through violence, more recently through laws and violence, and now they seem to be returning to using mostly violence or the threat of violence.
By violence I wish to include humiliating treatment of various kinds which assault our sense of dignity on an almost daily basis: the numerous difficulties that prevent us from participating in an economy that can sustain our lives in a reasonable manner and all that this implies: denial of health care and education, treatment as dispensable human beings that are forced to live in tents or locked up in hellish prisons.
This period we are living in is the final stage of capitalism called neo-liberalism, which has divided up the world between those few who "own" our means of existence and the vast majority, many of which are becoming expendable. This has produced a huge chasm between the few who live lives of splendor and the rest of us. It is a nightmarish world we are entering: Orwellian police states, prisons, starvation, and wars. It is very difficult in such a world to go on dreaming, to believe in the usual adult fairly tales which tell us that we really are better than what we have become.
Yet, the end of the story is still to be played out. I am betting on our long suppressed better natures: the deep sense of justice, fair play, and commitments to each other which has sustained human beings over the previous 165,000 years before we took this wrong turn. What I mostly worry about is time--the time remaining before this system of capitalism with it ravenous appetite destroys our planet's ability to sustain our lives.