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 9, 2016

The Wages of Whiteness is Early Death

Click here to access article by Paul Street from CounterPunch. (a "best post")

Somehow I managed to miss this important article when it was first posted last November, but it was brought to my attention today by being posted currently in Uncommon Thought Journal.

Unlike many other apparently middle class writers like David Malone whose limited vision can only see the decline of middle class life and the associated loss of "democracy", Street is fully aware of working class history and the ubiquitous myths about the existence of "democracy" in Western nations. Street brilliantly focuses on the use of racism by the US ruling capitalist class to obscure the powerlessness, poverty, and exploitation of working people in America throughout its history. Now under neoliberalism the US middle class, which enjoyed many advantages in the past, is beginning to feel what working people have always experienced. He sees another indication of this with recently released data:
 ...some remarkable data reported across major U.S, media earlier this November. “Something startling is happening to middle-aged white Americans,” The New York Times noted: “Unlike every other age group, unlike every other racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling.”

Donald Trump vs. the Mainstream Media

Click here to access article by William Blum from Foreign Policy Journal.

The main way that capitalists have always formed the dominant class in the US is with the power that their money gives them. With their huge concentrations of money they control how elections are conducted: how candidates are selected and backed with money, how political parties are funded, how mainstream media shapes the information about these candidates, and how other people are shut out of the political process. 

But this election season offered a rare new candidate, Donald Trump, who was not under the control of the current directors of the ruling capitalist class. This candidate had accumulated his own pile of money while playing in the game of capitalism. And, what he says is not carefully scripted by these directors, and mainstream media which is owned and controlled by the capitalist directorate doesn't like his maverick ways, and especially does not like the way Trump often challenges their lies. Watch the 12:40m video in the article to see an illustration of this.
Vulgar, crude, racist and ultra-sexist though he is, Donald Trump can still see how awful the American mainstream media is.

Discussing New Hillary Libya Emails on the Scott Horton Show

Click here to access a 27:31m interview conducted by Scott Horton with Brad Hoff from Levant.

Hoff offers his take on the recent Hillary Clinton emails which reveal behind the scenes creation of propaganda used in mainstream media, the use of terrorist armies in the overthrow of the Qaddafi, and some discussion of a gold-backed African currency which was seen by Empire operatives as intolerable. The control over the issuance of money is an Empire vital interest.

Media Blackout: NATO Returns to Libya

Click here to access article by Rudy Panko from Russia Insider
But then history has a way of surprising people, and it did after 1990 with the growth of a powerful China and the newly found independence of Russian nationalism. Of course the US Empire directors could not accept these new obstructive rivals to their world dominance, and thus made Russia and China a new version of an enemy.

One of the major advantages of being a NATO member is that you are allowed to conduct military operations in any country of your choosing, with minimal (or no) news coverage and absolutely zero debate.

This delightful perk is more or less written into NATO's charter. And it's been an especially perky perk with regards to Libya —once the richest, most developed nation in North Africa; now a moon crater.

What is Surplus Value, and Why Should Anti-Capitalists Care?

Click here to access article by Stephanie McMillan from Skewed News

After this cartoon McMillan gives us a lesson on "surplus value", a key concept obscured by capitalist indoctrination agencies.

Friday, January 8, 2016

In Syria Petition, an Odd “Left’ Abandoned Concrete Analysis for Demagogy

Click here to access article by Stephen Gowans from What's Left
In May 2013, a group calling itself the Global Campaign for Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution promoted a petition which called for “Solidarity with the Syrian Struggle for Dignity and Freedom.” The petition listed Gilbert Achcar, Richard Seymour, Tariq Ali, Vijay Prashad, Norman Finklestein and Ilan Pape among its supporters. 
It was shocking to read the names Gowans listed in support of ousting Assad, and then I was really upset to read the 2013 petition names which included John Holloway. However, I would award much more respect for Gowans' exposure if he had posted this article much earlier. We all know that hindsight is 20/20, and Gowans by using such a lens seems to adopt a very superior attitude. 

Still, it is a warning to especially all those who are presented with a petition that seems to support a good cause and is supported by others whose judgement we trust. It is also a lesson for activists, who desire the approval of other activists, to maintain as a priority their own critical thinking faculties. Such groupthink is very seductive and can easily lead one astray. 

Truth is the highest virtue and it is a collective effort to strive for the best truth much like everything else. It is no sin to disagree respectfully with other well-meaning activists. A collective effort to arrive at the best truth has been contaminated by living in a capitalist culture whose highest virtues stress individualism and, at the same time, conformity to those who are regarded as "in the know".

2016 Theme #4: The End-Game of Debt-Fueled “Growth”

Click here to access article by Charles Hugh Smith from Washington's Blog
The goal of borrowing and blowing trillions was to re-invigorate “growth”— any kind of “growth,” no matter how wasteful, unproductive or even counter-productive it might be: wars, nation-building, ghost cities, needless MRIs, useless college diplomas, bridge to nowhere–anything the borrowed money was squandered on counts as “growth” in the Keynesian status quo.
He continues on with charts to show that this growth is debt-fueled and the economic returns are minuscule. Indications of this are the current phenomenon of everyone having a debt-score, debt burdened consumers, sovereign debts, and wars. The debt is owned by the "One Percent" of the capitalist world who are launching wars as a desperate means of having their debts repaid by conquered territories, control of resources, cheap labor, and consumer markets.

Decommodification, Liberation, Education: Commonwealth as Aesthetic Form of an Alienation-Free Society

Click here to access article by Charles Reitz from the Heathwood Institute.

This a chapter from retired Prof. Reitz's forthcoming book entitled Philosophy & Critical Pedagogy. As such it is written for a more academically oriented audience.
The 1 percent’s enormous accumulation of private property has not led to the self-actualization of the human species or its individual constituents, as the neoliberal business utopians assert, but to the continuation of war and poverty, and to the delusions of grandeur and self-destruction on the part of our current Masters of the Universe on Wall Street. The radical goal of socialism is to reclaim our common humanity through public work for the public good. Sensuous living labor, through its own agency and revolutionary humanism, has within its power the transformation of the social wealth production process into the production of our common wealth.

A commonwealth counter-offensive is the political challenge today.

Time is money

by Max Gustafson.

New Hillary Emails Reveal Propaganda, Executions, Coveting Libyan Oil and Gold

Click here to access article by Brad Hoff from Levant Report
...historians of the 2011 NATO war in Libya will be sure to notice a few of the truly explosive confirmations contained in the new emails: admissions of rebel war crimes, special ops trainers inside Libya from nearly the start of protests, Al Qaeda embedded in the U.S. backed opposition, Western nations jockeying for access to Libyan oil, the nefarious origins of the absurd Viagra mass rape claim, and concern over Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves threatening European currency.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Balfour Declaration binds Saudi Arabia to an Alliance with Israel

Click here to access article by Nu’man Abd al-Wahid from his blog Churchill's Karma

According to Black Commentator the author's brief biography:
Nu'man Abd al-Wahid is a UK-based freelance writer (of Yemeni origin) who specializes in the political relationship between the British state and the Arab World. His focus is on how Britain has historically maintained its interests in the Arab World and the Middle East.
The writer provides what appears to be solid documentation to support his thesis that the British Empire (which has since merged with the US Empire) created the nation of Saudi Arabia (as well as other nations in the Middle East) by perfidious means, and as one consequence has bound Saudi Arabia into an informal alliance with Israel. 
...one must go back to the 1920’s to fully appreciate the origins of this informal and indirect alliance between KSA and the Zionist entity. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire by British imperialism in World War One, left three distinct authorities in the Arabian peninsula: Sharif of Hijaz: Hussain bin Ali of Hijaz (in the west), Ibn Rashid of Ha’il (in the north) and Emir Ibn Saud of Najd (in the east) and his religiously fanatical followers, the Wahhabis.
(Note: One major reference he alludes to, but doesn't furnish a reference to, is the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence. I found an excellent reference furnished by Wikipedia.)

Saudi-Iranian spat: Another skirmish in the oil war

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from RT

Referring to the Saudi's strategy of keeping oil prices low, Escobar writes:
From the House of Saud’s budget dilemma perspective, this is absolutely unsustainable. The House of Saud is the biggest OPEC oil exporter. Yet their supreme hubris is to deny Iran any leeway in exports, which will be inevitable especially in the second half of 2016. Moreover, the low oil price strategy doesn’t apply solely to Iran: it’s still part of the oil war against Russia.

Somebody though is not doing the math right in Riyadh.
You might also be interested in this post which reports that China is trying to preserve peace in the region with the current visit of Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming in Saudi Arabia.

Russia Versus Ukraine: The Court Case and the IMF

Click here to access article by Alexander Mercouris posted on Russia Insider.

This is chiefly a response to Michael Hudson's article in which he interpreted the new IMF rule changes as posing dire consequences for both Russia and China. Mercouris brings his legal experience to contribute to an understanding of this very complicated situation. 
In his article Michael Hudson worries that before long no Western court will recognise a loan owed to China or Russia, allowing states to default on loans to those countries with impunity.

One day it may indeed come to that.  However for the moment the situation is not quite as bad as Michael Hudson thinks.

Unhealthy healthcare

Click here to access article by David F. Ruccio from Occasional Links & Commentary

Ruccio, an economist, asks and answers the question: "How could you design a fundamentally unhealthy healthcare system?" He then follows up with data that indicates that we apparently have a very unaffordable Affordable Care program that provides unhealthy healthcare. He introduces his essay with the following insightful cartoon by Barry Deutsch.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Deep State Rising: The Mainstreaming of the Shadow Government

Click here to access article by James Corbett posted on his website.
...an odd phenomenon has taken place in recent years and intensified in recent months: the idea of a “deep state” or a “shadow government” controlling politics, even in the US, is becoming mainstream.
I think that Corbett has been communicating with his peers and spending time on liberal and alternative media a bit too much to come to the conclusion that the shadow government has been mainstreamed. Yes, there are a few careless remarks by such people as Hillary Clinton suggesting a deep state, journalists like Seymour Hersh exposing some truths about the deep state in obscure publications, or Joe Biden who when speaking to an educated audience does tell many truths about important subjects and these are reported in a few ruling class media such as the NY Times and the Washington Post, but such remarks are few and far between lies that are incessantly repeated in all of mainstream media and reinforced by Hollywood films. The reality is that the vast majority of Americans get their news and views from the latter. 

There is considerable evidence that most TV news and information programs are carefully controlled and monitored by the CIA: see this, this, this, this, and this. Meanwhile our opinion leaders and ideological gatekeepers sometimes recognize views that are widely discussed in alternative media, but mostly this is an effort at damage control and directed at educated audiences. As long as they can keep the vast majority of Americans believing their lies and myths, as long as they keep tight control over every institution, and maintain militarized police forces that operate with impunity, they don't worry about an educated few.

The Great Capitalist Climacteric

Click here to access article by John Bellamy Foster from the Monthly Review
I will use the term the Great Capitalist Climacteric here to refer to the necessary epochal social transition associated with the current planetary emergency. It refers both to the objective necessity of a shift to a sustainable society and to the threat to the existence of Homo sapiens (as well as numerous other species) if the logic of capital accumulation is allowed to continue dictating to society as a whole. 
Foster ends up with a challenge for humans to save themselves or else perish:
“The dream that man can make himself godlike by centering his energies solely on the conquest of the external world,” Mumford wrote in The Condition of Man, “has now become the emptiest of dreams: empty and sinister.” The result is a kind of economics of exterminism. Today making war on the planet is fought as a means to the end of capital accumulation, in which the limits of the earth itself have become invisible to the narrow value calculations of the system. Turning this economics of exterminism around, and creating a more just and sustainable world at peace with the planet is our task in the Great Capitalist Climacteric. If we cannot accomplish this humanity will surely die with capitalism. The prophesy of all defenders of the current order over the last century will then be fulfilled. Capitalism will mark the end of human history by bringing to an end human civilization—and even human existence. 

Seymour Hersh exposes how Obama supports ISIS at all costs, even ignoring advice from his own Joint Chiefs of Staff

Click here if you wish to access this video interview directly from the post on Red Pill Times

Hersh essentially summarizes his recent report entitled "Military to Military" and refuses to speculate on why the administration does not follow the recommendations of its own intelligence services. It seems rather obvious to me that the administration's policies are consistent with a general strategy of fomenting divisions among Arabs and creating chaos in order to achieve a breakup of countries such as Iraq and Syria, and control the region better to serve the interests of the Empire and Israel. I think Hersh must know this, but simply can't say it in order to preserve his neutrality and his contacts among the military.
The article, titled “Military to Military” alleges, based on sources within the military, that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency advised President Obama against an “Assad must go” policy back in 2013, fearing if Assad fell the country would plunge into utter chaos or into the hands of extremists.

When the Obama Administration seemed to ignore the advice, according to Hersh’s sources the Joint Chiefs began sharing intelligence with Russia, Germany, and Israel with the understanding it would be sent to the Assad regime and aide its fight against ISIS and other extremists groups. In the interview, Hersh discusses the implications of his story, the US’s relationship with Turkey, and why the mainstream media is quick to attack him.

Saudi Arabia Cuts Heads to Make a Point

Click here to access article by Jeremy Salt from The Palestine Chronicle.
By deliberately provoking Iran Saudi Arabia is reasserting itself as the guardian of Sunni orthodoxy. There is little or no respect for the government of Saudi Arabia and its royal family in the Muslim world but sectarianism has muddled many minds and pushed to make a choice between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the great majority of Sunnis will come in behind the Saudis. So will the US. Having persuaded Iran to sign a nuclear agreement which very much damages Iranian national sovereignty, the Americans have already begun welching on the deal by raising the possibility of new sanctions. It has criticized the execution of Sheikh Nimr but in any new standoff between the Saudis and Iran it also will throw its support behind the Saudi government. Israel – Saudi Arabia’s half covert ally – will naturally welcome the re-ignition of confrontation with the government of the Islamic republic.Saudi Arabia is in the throes of an acute multifaceted existential crisis.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Wall Street Taking Over Nonprofit Sector

Click here to access article by Dan Wright from ShadowProof

The author cites a recent Stanford study which shows an increase of people from the financial sector appearing on the boards of non-profit organizations (same as NGOs when applied to such organizations in foreign countries). 
[T]he percentage of people from finance on the boards virtually doubled at all three types of nonprofits between 1989 and 2014.
What this trend of direct control indicates, I believe, is the increasing concentration of the core capitalist ruling class over every institution of society. In the past they were satisfied with indirect control; but as their power (derived from concentrated wealth) has become so pronounced, they are taking direct control over every institution as a kind of insurance policy to see that the entire society is functioning according to their interests. This is another way of expressing the trend toward fascism in the US--the direct control by primarily financial and secondarily industrial corporations over US society. 

There is no well-defined boundary line between indirect capitalist control and direct capitalist or fascist control of a nation. The major events signaling this trend were the defeat of the Populist movement in late 1800s; the establishment of private banking control over our money with the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913; after WWII the purging of leftists during the McCarthy period and curtailment of the rights of labor unions, and the growing cancer of secret services like the CIA to shield US imperial policies from public scrutiny.

The challenge for the current capitalist directors of our nation is to maintain the facade of democratic ideology while practicing fascist control over every institution. This gulf between ideology and practice is reflected in the increasing separation from reality that corporate media provides in their coverage of world and domestic events in spite of a few heroic journalists. It is no accident that journalists are becoming a most inviting target for murder by US forces and other countries throughout the world.

The many hypocrisies of the Oregon standoff

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder.

Dolack explains how the the current event in western Oregon illustrates some insights about the neoliberal (capitalist) orientation of our ruling class and why this event is responded to differently by enforcement agencies and is covered differently by corporate news agencies than other incidents of a similar nature.
Neoliberalism equates “freedom” with individualism, but as a specific form of individualism that is shorn of responsibility. “Freedom” for industrialists and financiers is freedom to rule over, control and exploit others; “justice” is the unfettered ability to enjoy this freedom, a justice reflected in legal structures. Working people are “free” to compete in a race to the bottom set up by capitalists. This is the freedom loftily extolled by the corporate media, and this is the basis of the freedom right-wing militias and their supporters say they want.

The Business of War

Click here to access article by Asad Zaman from the World Economics Association.

Referring to Major General Smedley Butler and his classic book, War is a Racket, Zaman writes:
Butler writes that a “racket” is a deception: war is not what it appears to be to the majority of people. Only a small “inside” group knows the truth, and makes huge fortunes from war while the masses sacrifice their lives for fabricated causes. A recent article in Foreign Policy re-iterated the message that “War is still a racket” by showing how some groups are making trillions in profits from the perpetual war against terror.

The capitalist team that never loses

by Pat Bagley, cartoonist for the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Saudi Arabia’s Growing Body Count

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook

The swamp of hypocrisy exhibited by the Empire's media grows ever deeper.
That the Western political establishment and the media monopolies that serve as its voice, selectively report on and exploit perceived human rights abuses in some nations, while intentionally muting, spinning, or otherwise covering up very real abuses by other nations, illustrates perfectly the West’s selective enforcement of what it claims are its central organizing principles – democracy, freedom, and the defense of human rights.

It should be noted that the West – and the United States in particular – used military force to topple the government in Libya in 2011 on “humanitarian” grounds and that the West’s involvement in Syria has been predicated on similar grounds. Why then, has the West not moved against Saudi Arabia, who is openly declaring war on not only its own people, but on its neighbors, including most notably Yemen?

Indeed, the West’s hypocrisy goes far beyond this more recent mass execution.

How Bulgaria supplied drugs and weapons to Al-Qaïda and Daesh

Click here to access article by Thierry Meyssan from VoltaireNet.  (a "best post")

This explosive piece of solid investigative reporting by the Frenchman reveals so much about the US Empire, its criminal friends, the duplicitous operations of the CIA, Saudi Arabia and its medieval allies and their support of terrorism.
The best-kept secrets must be revealed in the end. The mafia cartel which governs Bulgaria has been caught supplying drugs and weapons to Al-Qaïda and Daesh, at the demand of the CIA, both in Libya and Syria. The affair is all the more serious since Bulgaria is a member of NATO and the European Union.

The Year the 'European Dream' Finally Caved In

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from TeleSur

Roos provides much food for thought as he briefly reviews the failure of the much lauded European Union which has turned out to be a neoliberal nightmare. 

So, what lies ahead? That depends upon the people in Europe, on us here in the US, and ordinary people everywhere. Neoliberalism is not only destructive of life in Europe, it is a cancer that is eating away at societies everywhere. Only we, the people, can stop this living nightmare from consuming all our lives.

You might also be interested in comments about the crisis of capitalism by Prof. Wolfgang Streeck whom editors of RoarMag identify as "one of Europe’s foremost economic sociologists". 

President Obama catches Netanyahu bribing republican congressmen to change their Iran votes

Click here to access article by Bill Palmer from Daily News Bin.
While it’s not uncommon for members of congress to offer each other political favors in exchange for votes on various bills, it’s an entirely different legal matter when those offers come from a foreign head of state.
I am only posting this because corporate media refuses to do so and because it conveniently lies behind a paywall at the Wall Street Journal. It is only another illustration of the subversion and corruption of the US government (no, it's not your government unless your are rich) by people with money regardless if they live here in the US or in some foreign country. Normally, the Israelis rely on all expense paid junkets to Israel where they wine and dine Congressmen and Senators to influence their votes to serve Israeli interests.

Hearing the Russian Perspective [warning below]

Click here to access article by Gilbert Doctorow from ConsortiumNews.
Without mincing words, the new Russian documentary World Order is a devastating critique of U.S. global hegemony justified in the name of “democracy promotion” and “human rights” ever since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992.

It is directly in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first repudiation of the American unipolar world issued in his speech to the Munich Security Conference in February 2007 and his further, ever more explicit exposés in a succession of speeches that challenged specific manifestations of “American exceptionalism.”

World Order, which is now posted on YouTube (in Russian) and at another site (with English subtitles), illustrates through graphic footage and the testimony of independent world authorities the tragic consequences, the spread of chaos and misery, resulting from U.S.-engineered “regime change” and “color revolutions,”
Although this post is an exception to my usual practice of only posting articles that I have read (or viewed), I agree with Doctorow and any intelligent person that we need to hear the other side and all sides to major issues facing the world. We must not be like those who practice "willful ignorance" by following only those authoritative sources given to us by our ruling class.

This film can be viewed here in the US with English subtitles by using this link which takes you to a series of 7 videos making up the film. 

8:40 PM Pacific Time zone: I have viewed the first three videos at the LiveLeak site, but couldn't find the rest. Because the Russian script was so poorly translated and the LiveLeak website where I could view the interview in English was suspicious, I regret this post and do not recommend it for viewing. The YouTube link that Doctrorow listed (in Russian) might be okay. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Reform Is Not Enough to Stem the Rising Tide of Inequality Worldwide

Click here to access article by William I. Robinson from TruthOut.

The sociology professor and author of Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity argues that the built in ownership and profit factors in capitalism makes extreme accumulation of wealth by owners and extreme inequality inevitable. He takes on people who, in order to save the system that lays the capitalists' golden eggs of power and wealth, have advocated reforms in the past, such as Keynesian policies. However in spite of the past attempts at reforming capitalism, things have only gotten worse. But we still see people today, like Piketty, advocating reforms. The problem is inherent in the system itself, and this time we must change the system.
This is what in critical political economy constitutes the underlying internal contradiction of capitalism, or the overaccumulation problem. Left unchecked, expanding social polarization results in crisis - in recessions and depressions, such as the 1930s Great Depression or the 2008 Great Recession. Worse still, it engenders great social upheavals, political conflicts, wars and even revolutions - precisely the kinds of conflicts and chaos we are witnessing in the world today.

In the view of the reformers, however, it is not the capitalist system itself, but its particular institutional organization that is to blame for inequalities. They believe it can be offset by increased taxes, social welfare programs and other reformist measures.