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 9, 2013
I was shocked by the result of Initiative 522 in my state of Washington. I expected that the multinational corporations would put big money in the campaign, and this became evident by the political ads featuring mostly actors posing as farmers and experts to state authoritatively that labeling foods as to their genetically modified ingredient content would raise food prices, and other such ridiculous nonsense. However, judging by the number of ads promoting a "yes" on the initiative, which I judged to be adequate, I really felt that it would pass. After all, this issue cuts across all classes of people.
But, as you can see, I-522 failed--hence my state of shock and subsequent state of depression. Given that the issue is always given overwhelming support in public opinion polls, such TV campaigns by transnational corporations is obviously extremely effective in influencing people to vote against their own desires and interests. Hence, I've concluded that such voting results are really a measure of gullibility of ordinary people. And, I have to conclude that my fellow Americans are still, indeed, highly gullible even after all the banking scandals we've experienced.
Perhaps more importantly, it is an excellent illustration of the power of the One Percent ruling class to control the capitalist electoral system. (Please ignore Madow's usual framing of the issue as Democrats versus Republicans.) What most people fail to realize is that they fund everything of importance in society and thus control everything of importance: education, health, welfare, food, media, and all branches of government.
The author's subtitle for the article summarizes her answer to the question posed by the title:
With budgets and voices so loud, professionals’ messages overshadow the call for uprisings coming from the trenches.I have not been familiar with this organization, but I offer this article, some links, and other information to get us acquainted with it. My impression is that it is well-connected with some of the most vulnerable grassroots people across the US who are fighting for their lives in the war waged against them by the One Percent ruling class. They are also well-connected to the Seattle-based tech-collective called Riseup.
AlterNet's website provides this information on the author, Henia Belalia:
Hénia Belalia is on the National Coordinating Committee of Deep Roots United Front, and the former director of Peaceful Uprising. She identifies as a climate justice defender, theatre director and day dreamer of collective liberation. Her work is rooted in a constantly evolving practice of allyship to frontlines of struggle, with a focus on the intersections of environmental and social justice.Non-profit organizations are largely funded by One Percent donors who want to restrain grassroots organizations from doing any harm to their interests. They do this through co-opting young professionals using nice offices and salaries as bait. It's very difficult for these people to resist such temptations; and once they are hired, to resist their bosses directives is often at the risk of losing such jobs. Hence, it is up to the rest of us to support organizations well grounded in the grassroots, not in the charities or the non-profit activist organizations of the One Percent.
I haven't had a chance to read this article in its entirely until today, and I try very hard not to post articles or videos which I haven't read or listened to myself. In short, I highly recommend it as an excellent overview of the history of anarchism in all its complexity.
It's clear why anarchists are always targeted for abuse and even violence: it's because they eschew all hierarchical associations. This, of course, offends so many: from those in ruling classes and to those in left oriented anti-capitalist organizations that function in some sort of hierarchy whether overt or disguised.
Marshall also deals with probably the most common articulated objection to anarchism propagated by those who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in hierarchical thinking:
The most common argument against anarchism, from those who typically do not understand what anarchy is, is that without some form of "authority," the world would be chaos, people would be killing each other, and we would have disorder and destruction.
The simplest answer to this, is to ask the person what we have in the world today: we live in a world of extreme authority, of more globalized authority in every sector of human action and interaction than ever before in human history, yet so much of the world is in chaos, disorder, destruction, war, starvation, decimation, division, segregation, exploitation, and domination. It is not a lack of order and authority that has brought this to be, but rather the exercise of authority in the name of order. People see anarchy as a paradox without acknowledging the paradox of the ideology versus reality of the world we currently live in.
This author give us a well-documented and concise update on some of the evolving characteristics of the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%). His assembled evidence confirms my view that they are assuming a trans-national based class identity, and at the same time becoming even more insular with regard to other people in general.
As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they've convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortunes.Of course, this liberal view ignores the system (after all, "there is no alternative"!) created by the ancestors of this socioeconomic class that made their fortunes possible. Capitalism is a system that established individual "owners" of an economy that is primarily social in nature, gave the "owners" the right to appropriate as much wealth as they could through the exploitation of slaves, wage-workers, and the environment, and gave them the right to pass on this wealth down to succeeding generations of their families.
Friday, November 8, 2013
The video speaks for itself.
Against all logic - and standard security protocol - the two Secret Service bodyguards closest to Kennedy were told to stand down. Minutes later Kennedy was shot.
This footage was suppressed for many years after the assassination.
The "conspiracy theorists" who believe Kennedy was murdered by a lone nut who was in turn murdered by another lone nut have never addressed this footage.
As mainstream media appears to have a number of videos and other reports on the Kennedy assassination ready for popular consumption, you can be sure that none of it will seriously question the official version of what happened.
Ha-Joon Chang argues that higher wages are good for workers and businesses alike. He's wrong.Tip: it all has to do with the control of surplus value created by workers.
I learned in school that the post-WWII years were a period of decolonization which I later learned was actually a period which morphed the old style colonialism into neo-colonialism, a new and improved version of colonialism. Also in my young adult years following formal
The author explains what this latter event, commemorated as Nabka Day, means to Palestinians and Arabs throughout the region. ("96" apparently refers to 96 years after the Balfour Declaration which I read some time ago was a reward to Jewish bankers for loans given Britain in WWI. See this and this.)
Thursday, November 7, 2013
All systems of inequality and exploitation require violence. When we peer into the past, such a statement is not controversial; it is only when we turn our attention to the present that selectivity is applied.
Capitalism, however, has weaved a vast web of mythology about itself.In this extract from his forthcoming book, Dolack gives us a glimpse of the historical roots of capitalism which included the use of force in the form of violence or the threat of violence against working people.
From anthropologists we have learned that the division of societies into classes occurred after humans started creating permanent agricultural settlements. Permanency in place based on agriculture permitted the accumulation of goods beyond the needs necessary for survival, which in turn encouraged the development of trade with adjacent societies. But, the surplus wealth also attracted the attention of members of society who, because of physical strength and/or superior weapons and a weak social consciousness, sought to obtain this wealth for themselves through violence rather than through their own productive labor.
The violence used to obtain wealth was likely first perpetrated against neighboring peoples which could more easily be de-humanized, and thus, the violence justified. But after a time, the rewards of taking surplus wealth from members of their own society was too tempting to resist for these early sociopaths. To accomplish this, the latter always needed to create belief systems that would justify their crimes. Soon there appeared religious myths and organized religious casts and priests which promoted myths that justified exploitation backed by violence in its various early forms: slavery, serfdom, usury, tribute, etc.
In a nutshell, I think that this is the origin of class-structured societies. Dolack enters this history where a new class called capitalists started taking control of societies through the use of violence, and this article provides an introduction to explain how they accomplished it.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The author's views are very representative of left thinking in the US. There is an awareness that "the thin veneer of democracy will be ripped away, to be replaced by a despotic technocratic rule"; but, like others, this author categorically insists that our opposition must always be non-violent.
I have encountered this theme so many times in left circles--even in the most benign of political organizations--that I've come to wonder if at least some of these people weren't actually in the employ of the ruling One Percent. Chris Hedges has been the most outspoken propagandist for this position, and a 51:47m video inspired by a book by Hedges is featured in the article.
The video exhibits a very shallow political understanding of the evolution of capitalism to the stage where we are today--a threatening totalitarian state. According to the video, it seems that capitalism's virtues turned sour after WWII when the capitalist class suddenly realized how profitable war was, and the concomitant development of propaganda to manufacture consent for war.
In this view, corporations are the "evil-doers" who are trashing the democracy we once had because government lost control over corporations. This view is shared by exponents of liberal capitalists across the existing political spectrum. And, their only remedy is mass civil disobedience.
The video co-opts the language of the radical left by using words like "capitalism", the "dynamics of capitalism", and "empire". Throughout the video the future is seen as a horrific representation of a dystopia that looks like an updated 21st century version of the "Brave New World". However, the narrator makes clear that we must use non-violent "acts of resistance not because they are effective, but because they are moral." Such acts could be effective if our masters were moral human beings instead of sociopaths whose primary commitment is to wealth and power.
While the narrator correctly argues at one point that the indoctrination agencies will try to keep us in a state of passivity, it seems to me that his portrayal throughout the video of a juggernaut of a terrifying totalitarian state against which "rebels" fight back with ineffective, but moral acts of resistance would leave most viewers with a sense of helplessness and passivity.
This document authored by activists in Philadelphia reflects the abysmal state of revolutionary politics in the US, but also, in a more positive vain, a desire to confront this reality and to offer a constructive way forward. Their focus is on the scene in Philadelphia, but their observations clearly apply to urban areas across the country.
I read the article with a great degree of discomfort at the article's descriptions of the low level of political activity and consciousness. I have been a life-long anti-capitalist with mostly discouraging experiences dating back to the Civil Rights Movement. Having reached an advanced age, I've become disengaged from nearly all revolutionary oriented groups most of which have degenerated into insular groups with a narrow focus and with ageist prejudices. And, I have no interest in participating in reformist organizations. In spite of my own experience and observations, I had hoped for a more advanced activist left than what is described here.
The low level of class struggle in the U.S. is reflected in the acceptance of a very mediocre level of struggle among the left. Every recent major struggle has ended in defeat, while campaigns against particular policies have produced limited reforms, but no significant upsurges. While there exist small insurgent layers of the working class that are willing to fight, most of the left organizes for reforms within capitalism.Nevertheless, we must face reality and start from that reality to build something effective in preparation for the imminent degeneration of a liberal capitalist society into an overt, oppressive police state. This article make a valuable contribution toward that effort.
All signs point to a deepening of the economic crisis in the coming years and decades. Contrary to what bourgeois economists claim, the global economic downturn is just beginning. Based on our assessment of the historical moment we find ourselves in, we believe that more outbreaks are coming which could be much larger and more radical than anything we have seen. To contribute to the coming struggles as effectively as possible, we believe militants...should develop...more revolutionary organizations. The clock is ticking. This will be an uphill battle, requiring perseverance, dedication, intellectual rigor, political understanding, and organizational sophistication. So far our generation has been unable to meet this challenge. Will we rise to this task before it is too late?
The global day of action staged by Anonymous is a testament to the growing strength of peer-to-peer direct action. And it is only just the beginning.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
This very perceptive author assembles more evidence in support of a growing consensus about the Empire's "war on terror": it's a scam that has caused so much fear, so much suffering, so much devastation, and so many millions of deaths. In a nutshell the "war on terror" and the terrorist army for hire, Al Qaeda, were created by Empire directors to further their aims of world domination.
However, it's latest terrorist application in Syria is clearly not working to the directorate's satisfaction. What's worse is that their Medieval puppets who make up the Gulf Cooperation Council and even Israel are defying the directorate's participation in the Geneva 2 negotiations over the Syrian crisis, their past refusal to protect the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, and lack of aggressive actions against Iran (see this, this, and this for more details).
Clearly, crawling in bed with such despicable bed-fellows has its problems, and Sec. of State Kerry's visit to the region is an attempt to mollify them. Where this all ends is wide open to speculation. It could be a major turning point in world affairs.
The author argues that the real character of Saudi Arabia's medieval kingdom is starting to surface in spite of favorable propaganda from the West's media machines. The rogue actions of their rulers might seem irrational, even suicidal given the propensity for secret agencies of the Empire to engage in regime change whenever their puppets go astray; however their hubris in defying the Empire might be because they know too many dirty secrets that the Empire's directorate can't have revealed.
The ruling family of Saudi Arabia used public wealth (generated from sales of public natural resources) and strategic alliances with some Western countries to create the Kingdom of virtual moderation. The alliance with the U.S. provided the Kingdom with diplomatic, military, and political covers that have helped it project power and influence far beyond its actual size. Importantly, it was able to cloak its genocidal sectarianism, conceal its abusive treatment of women and foreign workers, and escape any expectation of representative governance.
Monday, November 4, 2013
This article reviews a recent debate between Thomas Piketty and David Graeber in order to clarify the position of this organization. Essentially, the authors conclude that both debt cancellation and more aggressive taxes on capital should be demanded.
I will immediately dismiss the position argued by the social democrat, Piketty, who is merely concerned about creating a kinder form of capitalism. However, because the original debate appears to be available only in French, I am unable to determine exactly what Graeber is arguing in this statement:
...Graeber stresses the fact that cancelling all or part of public or private debts has repeatedly occurred in the history of class struggles over the past 5,000 years. Considering that debt is a central instrument in capitalist domination today, he does not see why it should be any different in the coming years.Surely, this can't be the basis for his position. I think the authors' description of the debate is very misleading. Graeber can't seriously regard debt cancellation as achievable under the system of capitalism since he argues here that it "is a central instrument in capitalist domination today" and in the future. I think he must be arguing for cancellation of debts as a political organizing strategy to build an effective revolutionary opposition to the system of capitalism. If my interpretation is correct, then this is a debate between a social democratic position versus a revolutionary position with regard to debts.
On the other hand, maybe their position (CADTM's) does actually see the ultimate necessity of revolution. A careful reading of the final paragraph might indicate that they differ from Graeber only with regard to which issue is used to revolutionize the people. They see both as useful, whereas Graeber sees only debt cancellation as effective.
Beyond our differences – less significant with Graeber, more profound with Pikkety – which we have just made clear, we are of course prepared to go along the path of illegitimate debt cancellation AND that of a progressive tax on capital. Once we come to a point where one of the paths indicates a way out of capitalism, we will have the choice, all together, to take up the discussion again in the light of the lessons we have learned.
The resumption of negotiations in Geneva on the Iranian nuclear programme is a crucial moment for world peace, argue a group of seven former senior UN, UNESCO and ILO officials in this open letter in which they stress that "the West must understand countries are inhabited by people possessing our common humanity, with the same right to live, and must choose realism that unites over ideology that divides".
The retired sociology professor warns us of the intensive efforts by the Zionist component of the Empire in "sabotaging the US-Iran peace negotiations" that have only recently started with the first session. Aside from three paragraphs where he specifically focuses on recent and current Zionist efforts to damage the talks, he mostly provides an historical framework for the corruption of the Congress and the executive branch by Zionist forces, many of whom have had dual-nation citizenship.
The strategic question is how and why this one-sided relation between the US and Israel persists for so long, even as it goes counter to so many strategic and elite US interests? The more immediate and pressing question is how this historically lopsided relation effects contemporary US-Iran sanctions and nuclear negotiations?
The article provides updated and valuable data on the production of fossil fuels which puts the lie to propaganda about efforts to curb its use. One surprising finding is about the worst fossil fuel of all--coal:
In 2012, coal remained the fastest-growing fossil fuel globally....
Climate change will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply in coming decades, potentially undermining crop production and driving up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar, scientists have found.
.... The warnings come in a leaked draft of a report under development by a United Nations panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
It's good to see people on the web waking up to the ongoing construction of a global capitalist empire, controlled by a tiny minority of "owners", and devoid of any meaningful influence by the vast majority of people. Whether sufficient numbers of people will wake up and see the necessity of fighting for their very lives is still unknown.
I only have some rather minor criticisms to make of the article which is informed by a view that is typical of so many recently awakened people. It is a view which implies that capitalists, or the "global corporatocracy", have, only since the advent of neoliberal trade treaties, been planning to remove democratic control of our countries. Such a view is suggested by the following statements in this article:
...the new generation of trade treaties go far beyond what was envisaged for NAFTA and GATT. What they ultimately seek is to transfer what little remains of our national sovereignty to the headquarters of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates. In short, it is the ultimate coup de grâce of the ultimate coup d’état. Not a single shot will be fired, yet almost all power will be seized and transferred into private hands — and all of it facilitated by our elected representatives who, by signing these treaties, will be permanently abdicating their responsibilities to represent and protect the interests of their voting constituencies.In reality, as I have argued many times (most recently here, here, and here), this evolution of capitalist control over individual societies (which always had a thin veneer of "democracy" in the form of managed elections), and now the world, has been steadily developing ever since capitalists toppled the rule of monarchs and the aristocracy in the 18th century.
As I see it, this evolution has occurred in roughly six stages: 1) the development of industrialization and imperialism in the 19th century, 2) followed closely by the vast concentrations of wealth at the end of the 19th century (the "gilded age"), 3) the world wars of the 20th century in which national capitalist classes competed over control of resources and markets, 4) the slow erosion and subversion of labor unions following the WWII, 5) the development and hegemony of the US Empire which everywhere fought social policies and radical-revolutionary groups, and 6) finally what we are witnessing today: the construction of a capitalist world free of national barriers (for capitalist operations, otherwise known as neoliberalism) managed by a tiny trans-national capitalist elite.
The fact that this "threat to democracy" has been suddenly recognized by contemporary intellectuals and political analysts, is a dramatic testimony to the power of the ruling class's indoctrination agencies.
I've often been critical of Hedges' articles in the past largely because of his dramatic condemnation of Black Bloc tactics which I don't think he ever understood, and it appears, he still doesn't understand. In this article as in an earlier article, he continues to refer to Black Bloc tactics as anarchists. In the article published last year, he condemned anarchists who use these tactics as "the cancer of the Occupy movement.”
In this piece he appears to be making overtures of reconciliation to people and anarchists who have used such tactics. He goes even further by extensively quoting an earlier anarchist, Alexander Berkman, and making favorable references to many other important anarchists throughout history. Apparently, it was okay for Berkman in 1892 to attempt to assassinate businessman Henry Clay Frick.
He refers to himself as an "activist", but one who is doing the intellectual work of undermining ruling class ideology (the "invisible revolution"). I will grant Hedges the importance of undermining ruling class's ideology of capitalism, and I hope he continues this work. I also hope he spends more time condemning the violence perpetrated everywhere and at all times by ruling capitalist classes, increasingly against even peaceful protestors; by not doing this, he makes many people wonder which side he is on. In any case, I think he should make a public apology for last year's article, and at the same time, recognize the importance of learning tactics of combat against the enforcers of the ruling class. This knowledge will be extremely valuable when the time comes for the resistance to translate into revolution which he acknowledges in only one sentence: "[revolution] is where we are headed". The latter sentence is followed by a lengthy argument filled with his usual warnings about violence.
For another critique of Hedges' article, I suggest you read "Chris Hedges: Half Right and Half Dangerously Wrong" by John Spritzler.
So who is responsible for "disorder" in Iraq ? Who created it? Who must "save" Iraq (whatever that may mean)?The Zionist component of the Empire must be ecstatic about what is occurring in Iraq, in Syria, in Egypt, in Libya, etc.
Not the New York Times which spread the propaganda about weapon of mass destruction in Iraq and pushed the U.S. public to accept a war on Iraq.
Meanwhile, Al-Maliki came to Washington to plead his case for continuing in his role as satrap for the Empire.