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, July 27, 2013

Liberating Ourselves: In Defense of Leaderless Revolutions

Click here to access article by Peter Gelderloos from CounterPunch.

The author argues that revolutions are a process, not a single event; that we should not be misled by those who support "authoritarian" revolutions which are a dead-end. In support of his argument, he provides this great quote:
“A revolutionary process is a process by which structures of power are created by a broad mass of people that allow them to eventually transform every aspect of their society — from the structure and role of the State and the organization of the economy to inter-personal relations — all with a view to eliminating all forms of oppression.”
This dedicated anarchist even takes issue with any form of a state which he views as inherently evil. It seems to me that there are semantic issues here. Surely a society organized around power structures designed with bottom-up power controls can leave the "state" as a necessary, but merely a coordinating body that serves the people.

A Bird’s Eye View of Contrived Terror–Part II : Backdrop of Terror

Click here to access article by Prof. Moti Nissani from nsnbc.
Before proving the ubiquity of state-sponsored terror, we need to take a brief look at the matrix supporting such terror.  This second posting of a six-part essay shows that this matrix (i) leads us to the false belief that the USA was once free, peaceful, just, and sustainable; (ii) viciously undermines language (and hence, our ability to think clearly); (iii) limits our access to accurate information; (iv) compels us to needlessly hedge our public discourse; shifts our attention from the handful of families who control the world (=the Syndicate or international bankers) to the dual fictions of (v) front men as powerful political figures (e.g., president of the USA, chairman of the Federal Reserve) and (vi) countries as sovereign actors (e.g., the USA, France).

A Bird’s Eye View of Contrived Terror III. The Gladio Conspiracy

Click here to access article by Moti Nissani from nsnbc

The author fills us in on important history lessons that we likely did not receive in our schools: the postwar history of the methods employed by the CIA to suppress and destroy popular left wing efforts that might interfere with capitalist agendas for post-war Europe.
This third posting of the Gladio-USA six-part essay recalls the horrors the Syndicate [=international bankers] visited on Europe in the 1960s through the 1980s.  These horrors, now conveniently subsumed under the Gladio rubric, involved killing hundreds of civilians  (“women, children, unknown people far from any political game”), the overthrow of democratically-elected governments, and assassinations of heads of state and other high-profile friends of the people.  Gladio’s shock and awe strategy, its reliance on propaganda, bribes, blackmail, fascists, and agents provocateurs, sought “to discredit left-wing groups and politicians,” confuse and enfeeble the people, and cause mayhem.  It thereby induced people to look to the very entity that terrorized them so—the state—for their security.  

Tunisia and the 'Arab Spring' Reversal

Click here to access article by Fadil Aliriza from Jadaliyya.
Now, hope is in rare supply across the region. Egypt’s elections yielded new leaders that blindly and illiberally ran the country along strict partisan lines until a military coup publicly reasserted old-regime institutions. Libya’s timid leaders and bold militias have hampered democracy, security and institution building. Syria’s revolution turned into a bloody war and a hellish game for external actors, while Lebanon desperately tries to quarantine itself from the neighboring chaos. Western observers use increasingly desperate euphemisms for Iraq’s escalating civil war. No one dares talk about Bahrain, or perhaps no one cares. Other Gulf countries quietly quarrel amongst themselves through political and economic maneuvering in neighboring proxy countries.
The author goes on to speculate about "dark forces" at work to destabilize Tunisia. He points fingers at the media and an unaccountable Interior Ministry. What I think is missing is a deeper understanding of class rule.

By maintaining class rule in Arab societies (or any society), a change of the occupants in political offices offers very little chance of making real change in how those societies are governed. A ruling class, whose power is based on the private ownership of the economy, puts its stamp of interests on every significant sector of that society. That means that this class makes sure that its members are insinuated in every important sector such as education, media, entertainment, and the police and military (the official instruments of violence). And, I have no doubt that the latter are being heavily supported by agents of the Empire to keep Arabs divided and killing each other. 

Then there are always the foreign financial organs which can use their weapons to crush any attempt to bring fundamental changes as reported in a piece from CADTM entitled "How the IMF and global finance are trying to block a democratic examination of Tunisia’s debt". Thus, bringing to nominal power a popular individual or individuals will be unable to change anything given these powerful forces already in place.

The only solution is a world-wide revolution to dismantle capitalist class rule where private ownership of socially produced wealth is eliminated in favor of classless, inclusive societies.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Totalitarian democracy

Click here to access article by Omar Robert Hamilton from Mada Masr

  A recent cover of Time Magazine issued in Egypt called Egyptians "the world’s best protestors” and “the world’s worst democrats” which suggests that elections equals democracy, a ruse used by Empire operatives all over the world to establish and legitimize governments that serve their neoliberal agenda. The author's analysis demolishes such arguments, and then concludes with these profound insights:
Bread, freedom, social justice. It is possible. The solution, though, is not simply representative democracy. Egypt requires, at the very least, a radical overhaul of the state, the dismantling of the military’s supra-state, the democratization and decentralization of local politics, extensive land reforms, cooperative partnerships with neighboring countries, a progressive policy on Israel and a completely new set of international political and business relationships, beginning with cancelling the debt accrued dishonestly by dictators.

These goals will never be achieved by any of the corrupt and compromised elite currently playing politics at the national level. These goals cannot be achieved in isolation — the domestic and international regime are so intertwined that everything has to be fought at once. The Egyptian revolution must couple with the revolutions that began across the world in 2011, and are still kicking and fighting today. The road ahead is long and hard. The revolution continues.
This last paragraph spotlights the most important insight of all--neoliberalism is a global phenomenon. Thus, the only way to defeat it is with a global revolutionary effort. The revolutionary solution to the suffering of Egyptians is inextricably connected to the revolutionary success of Greeks, Bulgarians, Brazilians, Indonesians, and the people of Detroit, etc. Although we must all act locally according to local conditions and their legacies, we must also think globally by learning from each other and coordinating efforts when desirable.

Of "Chemtrails", The "Illuminati", Global Warming, and Trayvon Martin

Click here to access article by Steven Argue from Santa Cruz [California] Independent Media Center.

Unfortunately, there are people, wittingly or unwittingly, who try to confuse and distract others from the real issues. Many are likely agents of the One Percent. Regardless of what illegitimate or nefarious purposes they serve, we must learn how to recognize and reject such thinking. This author contributes to this effort.
The idea of some devilish secret cabal other than the capitalists, comprised of Jews, Black Skull and Bones, Illuminati, and Marxists secretly running everything and in on an oppressive New World Order comes from the rantings of far right fascists who have always looked for radical sounding excuses to murder socialists and confuse the working class. 

Rise of the Warrior Cop

Click here to access article by Radley Balko from The Wall Street Journal.

When the militarization of the US is published in a ruling class source such as this, you know that the issue has become well known. I suspect that it was published as a way to promote a new normal in American life.

From my experience in watching Seattle local media over the past five years, the use of SWAT teams has been applied to even the mildest sort of suspected crime scenes, and often they have resulted in deaths both of innocents and police officers. 

Then there was a recent incident in a small  nearby town where residents were awakened to the terrorizing roar and spotlights of low flying helicopters. Supposedly military officials simply forgot to inform the town officials ahead of time. According to Bill Van Auken this has been happening across the country.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Global Power Project, Part 7: Banking on Influence with Citigroup

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from Occupy.com.

The author sheds light on the power of this banking conglomerate which, as he explains, is not merely one of the key financial institutions, but also the location of key players in the ruling class that bend all other institutions of society to support their interests including, and especially, the government.
Like all the big banks, Citigroup is heavily integrated with other dominant institutions in American and international society, which helps explain why the bank can break so many laws and get away with it. It’s not simply financial weight that makes this bank “too big to fail” and “too big to jail.” It’s the institutional affiliations that also help make it that way.

The Corporate Media’s Mass Hypnosis

Click here to access article by Margaret Kimberley from Black Agenda Report

The author provides an excellent review of the effects of the ruling class's full spectrum dominance over the media to manage the minds of their subjects.
Delivery systems and platforms for information may proliferate at blinding speed, but most Americans have no access to anything resembling the truth. They may know the names of the dead – like Trayvon Martin – but have no clue why they died. “Lies and nonsense are the standard fare for the most read and watched news sources in this country.”

Partners in Profiteering: Defense Firms and Diplomats in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

Click here to access article by Shana Marshall from Jadaliyya.

The author provides abundant evidence of the key role played by the US military-industrial complex in the affairs of Egypt, and that is not likely to change regardless of which puppet occupies the head of state in Egypt--unless, of course, the Egyptian people can mount a true revolution.
...it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the US defense industry in shaping the Egyptian-American alliance, and it is a fact that most (if not all) diplomatic missions act on behalf of their nation’s defense industries to promote exports. However, it is rare to stumble across an example of the tools these diplomatic missions use in the course of such duties.

The new Bulgarian revolution

Click here to access article by Yva Alexandrova from CounterFire (Britain).

The collapse of economies throughout the West coupled with the revolts against neo-colonial regimes across the MENA region are creating highly charged class wars that are challenging the power of Empire directors. This report focuses on Bulgaria where this war is currently being fought.
...the continuing economic recession in Europe has deeply affected the Bulgarian economy, which is highly dependent on European markets and foreign investment. The bankruptcy of medium and small size enterprises has tripled since 2011 with Bulgaria having the highest number of bankruptcies in Central and Eastern Europe. Youth unemployment is growing and is currently around 30%. The country still has the lowest standard of living in the European Union and depends on the European Commission funding for approximately two-thirds of its national budget.
For some dramatic street scenes of Bulgarians protesting their government, see this.

Rapid Arctic thawing could be economic timebomb, scientists say

Click here to access article by John Vidal from The Guardian.

While scientists are alarmed by recent evidence of the acceleration of the melting of the Arctic icecap, capitalists are gleefully busy preparing to satisfy their addiction to short-term profit opportunities.
Satellite data collated from the US National snow and ice data centre in Boulder, Colorado this week showed ice loss now accelerating and, at 8.2m sqkm (3.2m square miles) approaching the same extent as during last year's record melt. Over 130,000 sqkm of sea ice melted between July 1 and 15. "Compared to the 1981 to 2010 average, ice extent on July 15 was 1.06m sqkm (409,000 square miles) below average," said a spokesman.
Notice how the author in this liberal media source puts the emphasis on the long terms costs of this event, not on the severe consequences for humans that climate destabilization is likely to have.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Egypt Under Empire, Part 2: The “Threat” of Arab Nationalism [with a link to Part 3]

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from The Hampton Institute. (Note: I do not always re-post all parts of any series, only those which are particularly relevant to the focus of my blog. However, I've found that anything that Marshall writes about is very useful in understanding the social-economic forces that shape our world today.)

By examining many independent historical resources including declassified US government documents, this researcher provides us with the intellectual tools to understand the hegemonic thinking of US Empire directors during the post-war launching of their global empire project. Today we don't have access to current government documents because they are classified, however we can extrapolate from documents from this earlier period what informs the thinking of today's Empire directors as they continue their hegemonic policies to secure their ruling class's access to resources, cheap labor, and markets.
This is no less true today than it was when Nasser was in power. Perhaps the most important quote regarding the spread of Arab Nationalism in the 1950s - from the perspective of American imperial strategists - was when the NSC declared in 1958 that the United States should "seek to guide the revolutionary and nationalistic pressures throughout the area into orderly channels which will not be antagonistic to the West and which will contribute to solving the internal social, political and economic problems of the area." Indeed, one could imagine such a statement appearing almost verbatim in the internal documents of the Obama administration related to Egypt's ongoing revolution.
More specifically the series provides an understanding of post-war Egyptian history in relation to the Empire that has lead to 2011's massive popular resistance. It is a story where we see the effects of the policies formulated by behind-the-scenes Empire directors to "guide" the political affairs of Egypt to serve Empire interests. Read Part 3 here.

Action (and Organizing) is Better Than Hope

Click here to access article by Mickey Z. from World News Trust.

The author exclaims that we should replace the hopey-dopey Obama nonsense with action:
With rebellion rising all across the planet, let’s combine outrage with outreach and join the revolution. Let’s ditch hope and aim instead for vision, clarity, strategy, courage, creativity, solidarity, and finally: some goddamned results. 

Sectarianism in Syria: myth and reality

Click here to access article by Marwa Daoudy from openDemocracy.

This Western educated scholar, yet independent thinker, explains to us how Empire agents have cynically used sectarianism to destabilize Syria, and identifies the larger "Great Game" being played out in the Middle East.
The real divide is not religious or sectarian but geopolitical; and foreign intervention is not motivated by religious affiliations nor the promotion of democracy.  The Great Game being played in Syria is between a broad coalition of US-Israeli-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish interests on the one hand and Syria, Russia, Iran and Hizbollah on the other.
Unfortunately her Western training is evident when she fails to identify what the "US-Israeli-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish interests" consist of.

Political Islam’s Moment of Reckoning

Click here to access article entitled "Political Islam’s Moment of Reckoning" by Bilal El-Amine from Al Akhbar.

When I read an article like this which focuses on Egypt, I come to an even greater realization of the many opportunities for Empire-Zionist agents to exploit Arab sectarian differences. 

Meanwhile, Empire agents have been supporting the development of a "secularized" Egyptian army leadership with close ties to their Western military counterparts, and a leadership thoroughly indoctrinated in the Western religion of capitalism based on their ownership of large sections of the Egyptian economy. 

If this article's description of the political IQ of ordinary Egyptians is accurate, then I fear for their liberation. My faith continues to be with the ability of ordinary Egyptians to learn where their real interests lie.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

American Empire: the Feature Film

Click here to access a review of this film by Ron Jacobs from CounterPunch.
Discussing the nature of the US Empire and how it got to where it is today with most US residents is always a challenge.  Recommending books explaining it is equally so.  This is especially true when one considers that most people who live in the United States have little or no concept of what an empire is and, when explained to them, are reluctant to believe that their nation is such a thing.  I have often thought that someone should make a film that might accomplish this educational goal.  After all, film is simultaneously informative and entertaining, especially when it is well made.  
I watched about 20 minutes of this film and I was also impressed with the professional quality of the film's first of the three part series. (All three parts last about 4 hrs.) I also watched about 13 minutes of the first segment of five (total six hrs) of another of their films entitled "Counter-Intelligence " which also highly impressed me, and which I found even more interesting because it provided some material that I had not seen before.

The good news is that these films are offered free online. The bad news (for me who would much rather view it on a bigger screen in the comfort of my living room) is that this and the other films produced by this company do not appear to be available for purchase as DVDs.

War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online

Given his long held thesis that a proposed pipeline running from Iran through Iraq and Syria is the fundamental issue driving the Empire's support of mercenaries in the Syrian war, he sees European elites as stupid because they not acting in their own interests. I disagree that the European leaders are stupid.

I think what he is missing in his analysis is the fact that European capitalists have been totally integrated into the Empire. This means that they look at the entire world as their playground for dominance and exploitation. This is the essence of neoliberalism whose main purpose is to remove borders that impede the movement of money and investments by these elites. This means that they, like their North American counterparts, are globalists which means that their own populations have no priority over any other population. Control over vital energy resources is a top priority for their control and exploitation of the entire world. Thus, they are acting intelligently for their interests.

Of course, Israel is also a major factor driving events in this Syrian war. They have their own Mid-East agenda: the creation of their own sub-Empire, and their main strategy is to keep Arabs constantly fighting and killing each other. 

A Death Before Dying: Solitary Confinement on Death Row.

Click here to access article by Anthony Graves, Death Row Exonoree #138, from American Civil Liberties Union.
When I was on death row, I saw guys come to prison sane and leave this world insane, talking nonsense on the execution gurney....subjecting anyone in prison to solitary confinement is torture.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Egyptians Dispute the Meaning of Democracy

Click here to access article by Hisham Allam from Inter Press Service

There is a widespread debate among various political observers both within and outside of Egypt over the significance of the Egyptian's army's removal of President Morsi. The debate all hinges on what people regard as "democratic" rule. On one side we find the issue of democracy as seen equaling elections while the other side argues that Morsi violated so many commitments to the people and tightened the reins of government to favor his own party that the army was justified in removing him because of widespread popular demand.

The word "democracy" has been so misused and obfuscated to serve mostly nefarious purposes. The people all over the world want it, and ruling classes are obliged to present fake forms of it to pacify the people. 

This phenomenon has its source in the capitalist revolutions in Europe and the US in the 18th century when the new capitalist class was challenging the old aristocratic class for dominance over society. The former enlisted the aid of the people by promoting notions of rule by the people, the rule of law instead of "divine right" or inherited political privileges, and the "social contract" which offered legitimacy to representative government (represented by capitalists). Meanwhile, behind the new facade of representative government this new class has obsessively focused on individual "ownership" rights over any profitable sections of the economy (privatization of socially produced wealth). 

However, people the world over are now seeing that this representative form of government with elections does not in any way promote the general welfare. Far from it. What they are witnessing is the increasing concentration of wealth and power in ever fewer hands amidst huge populations mired in poverty. Meanwhile, the Earth's ecosystem continues to destabilize. The ability of the world's ruling capitalist classes to continue using their fake forms of "democracy" is everywhere being challenged. Their meaning of the word (holding of managed elections) is undergoing serious examination. 

Hopefully, the people of the world will arrive at new forms that truly empower people. Such forms, of course, threaten the rule of the One Percents. Thus, I think we can expect to see, as we are now seeing, class warfare continuing and even increasing throughout the world. It is a fight to the finish. Either the people will win and establish more legitimate forms of democracy, or we will see a global fascist order and a world of poverty, pollution, extreme weather-related disasters, diminishing species, and ever scarcer resources.

Brazil: Extractive Capitalism and the Great Leap Backward

Click here to access article by James Petras from his blog.

This retired professor of sociology examines the history of Brazil under neoliberalism. His examination offers an excellent example of development engineered by neoliberal forces in what most people regard as a "democratic" country. 

Following the military dictatorships (1964-1984) there has been a series of elected governments that increased the opening of the Brazilian economy to international capitalist exploitation. Notice that it didn't matter under what party label that the government administrations were elected, the same policies were pursued. And, look at the results as described by Petras. Do you really think that the 99 Percent have really benefited? Do you think the latter would have chosen these policies decade after decade? But their the ruling class's "representative" governments did, and they and the international capitalists have benefited.

Bradley Manning Wins Peace Prize

Click here to access article by David Swanson from RootsAction
U.S. whistleblower and international hero Bradley Manning has just been awarded the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award by the International Peace Bureau, itself a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for which Manning is a nominee this year.
Meanwhile, the Empire's main army, infamous for destroying entire countries, is persecuting this people's hero.

Occupy Homes Resistance Grows Against Foreclosures in Minneapolis

Click here to access article by Claire Glass from Occupy.com

The Occupy Movement is dead? Ask that question to activists in Minneapolis.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Are You Sure You Hold to the Philosophy of Nonviolence?

Click here to access article by John Spritzler from NewDemocracyWorld.
Before you decide that you hold to the philosophy of nonviolence, you need to know some things about that philosphy that you probably did not learn from whatever pamphlet or training session made you think you follow that philosphy.
I think this is the best argument against the moral philosophy of nonviolence that I have ever read.

80% Black Detroit Under Attack: Mr. Obama, Whose Side Are You On?

Click here to access article by John Spritzler from NewDemocracyWorld.
The conflict over what will be the future of the mostly black, and almost entirely working class, people who live in Detroit is not hard to understand. It is a conflict between the few haves versus the many have-nots.
The author follows this statement with an accurate description of who the haves and have-nots are. 

However, I must quibble with part of the headline: "Mr. Obama, Whose Side Are You On?" Why point to an individual when one makes a class analysis? Obviously he is alluding to an ironic racial issue with someone whose racial identity as seen by the public, and apparently by this author, as African-American. But this identification is quite literally skin deep. Such an allusion is, of course, another manifestation of racism. This explains why Obama only appears to be disingenuous when speaking out about Trayvon Martin in another essay by this author.

Obama was mostly raised by white upper-middle class people, primarily by his grandmother who was a (white) banker in Hawaii. He was educated in an elite private schools in Hawaii (Punahou School) and then on to Harvard and Columbia  universities. He understandably identifies with the white power structure because he has been socialized entirely in white mainstream values. It is doubtful that he experienced much racism in Hawaii (and definitely not in his early years in Indonesia) given that it is such a multi-racial state, far more so than any other state in the union. I know that from my own experience living there for five years during which time Obama was in high school.

Imported Torture Haunts Poland

Click here to access article by Robert Stefanicki from Inter Press Service

It has been a decade since the CIA airport that was used to import prisoners to their nearby dungeon has been closed, but Poles are still troubled by the use of their country for such purposes and are still trying to bring charges against collaborating members of their government. The same situation applies to many other known countries, but their ruling classes have been able to shut down such efforts. 
According to a U.S. intelligence source quoted by The New York Times, the prison in Poland was the most important of the CIA’s black sites, where terror suspects were subjected to interrogation techniques that would not be legal in the United States. The source claimed that Poland was picked mostly because “Polish intelligence officials were eager to cooperate.”

Court Guts Reporter's Privilege in One of the Most Significant Press Freedom Cases in Decades

Click here to access article by Trevor Timm from Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Recognizing that robust and uninhibited newsgathering is essential to a free press, many courts have established a common law “reporter’s privilege” which protects journalists from having to testify about the identity of their sources in all but the most extreme cases. Yesterday, in the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals eviscerated that privilege, in the jurisdiction where it is needed most.
The rule book written by the ruling capitalist class when they decided to break with England is everywhere under siege as demonstrated once again by this circuit court decision. Our current masters in the One Percent have accumulated so much power/wealth that they no longer feel the need to respect such basic Constitutional freedoms that were accorded to their subjects. This is only the latest example of many discoveries about the removal of civil liberties the most recent of which is the full-spectrum surveillance of citizens including top government officials and Congress.  
The overall effect is to provide not a slippery slope to fascism, but a well greased chute. Meanwhile, "back at the ranch", most Americans remain steadfastly and blissfully ignorant of what is happening.