Archive for the empowerment Category

New studies show babies have basically decent impulses and are strongly driven by moral imperatives

Posted in analysis, anarchism, anthropology, books, class, common ground, consciousness, democracy, elite, empowerment, freedom, Hobbes, inspiration, Kropotkin, libertarian, libertarian socialism, must-read, people's movements, philosophy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, psychology, reading, science, social theory, sociology, the world's other superpower, truth with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2013 by jtoddring

More research shows once again that compassion, empathy and mutual aid, and an instinct toward cooperation, are innate in human beings, confirming what the great Russian biologist and anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin had already amply demonstrated over a hundred years ago, in his monumental work, Mutual Aid. My but our cherished ideological self-deceptions die slowly.

The dark view of human nature presented by Hobbes and many others, is still alive and well, despite the growing mountain of evidence to the contrary. The ideology of social Darwinism, hatched by Herbert Spencer, and not, emphatically, by Darwin himself, still holds considerable sway, especially among the power elite, to use C. Wright Mills term, who use this grand self-deceit as a rationalization for their callous and frankly sociopathic behaviour.

But, as Chomsky has said, the great majority of people have basically decent impulses. Since this is the case, and since those who gravitate to positions of great power tend to be power-mongers and sociopaths, far more often than altruistic benefactors or true leaders, we should question our learned obedience to government and other elites and power structures, and trust our own common sense, and ourselves, far more.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/as-babies-we-knew-morality/281567/

J. Todd Ring,
November 18, 2013

The Lion’s Roar: Cutting through illusion to the heart of the matter

Posted in analysis, books, common ground, consciousness, cosmology, empowerment, epistemology, freedom, inspiration, must-read, ontology, peace, philosophy, political philosophy, political theory, psychology, quotes, religion, religious philosophy, social theory, spirituality, truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2013 by jtoddring
“There is no difference between theism and non-theism, basically speaking. Declaring an involvement with any kind of ‘ism’ turns out to be a matter of self and other. In fact, the whole question of self and other can then become very important. But if you really pursue any spiritual path, you will discover, surprisingly, that self and other are one thing. Self is other, other is self.”
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Speaking of Silence

It is extremely rare to hear anyone speak of spirituality or philosophy who actually gets to the heart of the matter, and does not merely flit about the surface. Chogyam Trungpa and a handful of others are the exception to the rule. In a sea of noise and dross, confusion and illusion, such voices of basic sanity are profoundly refreshing to hear.

The atheists and the theists are both off the mark – the former probably more so than the latter, admittedly. But that is alright. They will figure it out sooner or later. Reality will dawn on all, eventually.

“The number of minds in the universe is one.” – Erwin Schrodinger

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

More from Trungpa Rinpoche:

GREAT COMPASSION IS PAINFULLY REASONABLE

“With great compassion, because you have developed clarity, you do not have doubts and you are not unreasonable. You realize that the best way to be skillful is to be reasonable. When you are fully reasonable, actually reasonable—and to a certain extent, painfully reasonable—you begin to experience the genuineness of situations and act accordingly, in a way that is appropriate to the situation.”

—The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume Two, by Chögyam Trungpa http://www.shambhala.com/the-bodhisattva-path-of-wisdom-and-compassion.html

The second central truth to all authentic spiritual paths, is that, since self and other are intimately related, interconnected, interdependent, and in truth, one, therefore, love, kindness and compassion are not just nice, pleasant, virtuous or noble, but simply a matter also of enlightened self-interest.

If we are awake, then we will live with compassion. That is the central teaching of all the great religions. It is also the central premise of the Enlightenment – the central underlying value which underpins and is the foundation of the core Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, solidarity and democracy. This is the foundation for an enlightened life, and also, an enlightened society.

J. Todd Ring,
November 13, 2013

For further reading, see Ken Wilber, No Boundary; Alan Watts, The Book; Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy; Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe; Renee Weber, Dialogues With Scientists and Sages; Holgar Kalweit, Dreamtime and Inner Space; Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self; The Diamond Sutra, The Heart Sutra, The Prajnaparamita Sutra, The Uttaratantra; The Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu; The Gospel of Thomas, Marvin Meyers Transl; Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Harvard Divinity School Address; and the writings of Chogyam Trungpa – as a good start.

NAFTA, “Free Trade” and the TPP: Fast-Track To Full Corporate Rule

Posted in activism, analysis, Canada, capitalism, Chomsky, civil liberties, class, collapse, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, deep integration, democracy, democratic deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, FTAA, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, imperialism, jobs, labour, Mexico, money, Mussolini, must-read, NAFTA, nation state, national democracies, NAU, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, politics, Security and Prosperity Partnership, sociology, sovereignty, SPP, sustainability, tipping point, trade, truth, U.S., war on democracy, WEF, World Economic Forum, WTO with tags , , , , on November 6, 2013 by jtoddring

The TPP In A Nutshell: Growing corporate power and the death of freedom

The FTA, NAFTA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, and now, the TPP – it is all a further drive for increasing global corporate power, and we should be very concerned. This should not need to be spelled out. The situation is becoming critical. Here is some background and context.

“Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law. At the time, advocates painted a rosy picture of booming U.S. exports creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and economic development in Mexico, which would bring the struggling country in line with its wealthier northern neighbors. Two decades later, those promises have failed to materialize. U.S. trade deficits with both Canada and Mexico have surged, crippling domestic industries, prompting massive job displacement and the replacement of living wage union jobs with jobs in sectors with low pay, minimal benefits and no job security.”

– Expose the TPP

 

What have been called “free trade” agreements are more accurately called corporate rights agreements, as Chomsky and others have said. And these agreements have helped to de-industrialize the US and Canada while shifting production to Mexico and other cheap labour offshore locations, such as India and China, wiping out the bulk of the middle class at home in the process, while leaving the great majority around the world in poverty as well, and generally benefiting only a small elite. Continuing in this course would clearly be disastrous for the vast majority of the people world-wide.

NAFTA, CAFTA, the FTAA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, the ECB and the Fed, and now, the TPP – all of these are treaties and organizational structures which represent the enthronement of the global corporate elite as the de facto rulers of the world, as the London Financial Times itself has said. They represent, in essence, a set of treaties between big business and governments, in which governments yield and cede their power to the trans-national corporate elite who already dominate the global economy, the major media and the political process and governments of most nations in the world today.

What this represents is the merger of business and the state, which as Mussolini himself said, is the very definition of fascism. What we are seeing is the destruction of both democracy and freedom, as well as human rights, constitutional law and civil liberties, under a global corporatist rule of increasingly stark neo-feudalism.

And if that were not already bad enough, we should also recognize that the people do not even benefit economically. Such moves benefit the few at the top, while the middle class is eliminated, the sea of poverty grows as the great majority of the people are driven into a growing underclass, inequality skyrockets, and a police state is constructed to keep the increasingly discontent masses silent and obedient, suppressed, subjugated, and neutralized – meaning effectively, neutered.

This is not even mentioning the utterly disastrous effects that our new global empire of corporate feudalism is having on the environment and the prospects for any kind of future for human life on earth.

Say no to the TPP and corporate rule, or say hello to a new and hellish form of Babylon, and an accelerating race towards a collective suicide.

J. Todd Ring,
November 6, 2013

Anarchism, capitalism, democracy and common sense

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, anarchism, banks, capitalism, China, class, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, health care, human rights, hybrid, inspiration, Jefferson, Lenin, libertarian socialism, libertarianism, media analysis, money, must-read, neo-feudalism, oil, Orwell, peace, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, propaganda, psychology, resources, social theory, socialism, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, truth, U.S., war, war crimes, war on democracy on October 25, 2013 by jtoddring

I am not inclined toward market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, as I see it as being both non-viable, since capitalism without restraints invariably breeds monopoly capitalism, which is no longer capitalism in the sense of a free market, but a form of feudalism, since the few end up dominating and ruling over the rest; and because capitalism is based upon a two-tiered society of the owners of production, in Marxist terms, the people who have an unequal share of economic power, and hence also, social, cultural and political power, and those who must work for them in order to survive; and thus, capitalism is based upon the need (of the many, not the few) to rent yourself out for money, which is degrading and dehumanizing, as well as antithetical to freedom.

Renting yourself out for money was called wage slavery by Abraham Lincoln and others who opposed it. A more stark and honest term for what it means to rent yourself out for money is simply prostitution.

Unless you want to be a slave – or a slave master, if you are both lucky and also supremely unethical – or you are simply lost in confused thinking and illusions, you cannot support capitalism in any form: at least, not without strong legislation such as labour laws, minimum wage standards, workplace safety requirements, environmental protocols, and above all, anti-trust legislation to prevent and break up monopolies.

If you want capitalism, if you want an economic system and a society based upon wage slavery – though I do not see why any sane person would – then at the very least, you have to put restraints on it: you have to chain the beast, or it will devour you.

You certainly cannot support a form of capitalism that strips capital, and the controllers of capital, of all restraints – unless you are either a self-deluded ideologue, or you are a member of the business elite, or a wanna-be member of this class.

So I would say that the idea of market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, is one that is propounded by two groups: the deluded, and the cynically dishonest and self-serving.

Of course the business elite like the idea of eliminating all government oversight and restraints on their actions. It would mean total freedom for them – freedom to loot and pillage at will, to play one nation, state, province and community against another in a race to the bottom, with ever lower wages and working conditions, and ever lower environmental standards, and by these and other means, to gather even more of the wealth, resources and power on the planet into their hands, even more rapidly and frantically than they are already doing.

The corporate elite also favour the elimination, not only of all governmental restrictions on their actions – although they are quite keen to push for a police state to restrain the actions of the people, and to further secure their power and their de facto rule; they also strongly favour the elimination of all social safety nets and all government programs that help the poor and unemployed.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, social programs that help the people cost money – and the corporate elite would rather their multi-billion and trillion dollar state subsidies increase; therefore, programs that help the people must be slashed and eliminated – the welfare state is supposed to provide for the rich, not the masses.

Secondly, and more essentially, the welfare state, and all social safety nets and social programs that help the poor and the unemployed, must be slashed and eliminated, so that the people will be driven to desperation, and will welcome their corporate masters, and beg to be shackled and chained for a mere few cents an hour, or a few crumbs of bread.

The business elite like to talk amongst themselves and in the business press about what they call pampered Western workers. They like Chinese workers much better, as the offshoring of production and the deindustrialization of the West make abundantly clear. They do not want to pay $30 or $40 an hour for labour, or even $10, or $7.50 an hour for a wage slave in North America or Europe, when they can get one for $1 an hour in Mexico, or $0.10 an hour in China. Destroying social programs and safety nets means that Western workers can be trained to accept Chinese standards of pay – which is to say, social programs and safety nets must be destroyed in order to make the pampered Western workers more compliant and malleable serfs.

The other means of creating an ultra-low cost labour pool is through slavery, and that is being vigorously pursued by the reigning corporate powers as well – it is called the prison system. Prison labour is a rapidly growing out-sourcing choice for large, profitable corporations. With prison labour, you can pay workers just pennies an hour, and if they get out of line, you can get the guards to beat them to a pulp.

But to return to the driving down of wages and benefits across the West…

This is the primary reason for the so-called austerity programs being foisted on the people, purportedly for their own good, and the reason for the attack on the welfare state and all social programs across the Western world: free the corporations of the bondage of having to pay wages that people can live on, by driving the people to utter desperation, where they can be more easily manipulated, and exploited on a greater scale, for the increased profits of the already astronomically rich few. It is a grand and noble vision indeed.

But the main attack on government is an attack by big business on government regulations applying to big business. (They are happy to see red tape, high taxes and bureaucratic hurdles thrown up for small business, but they want a fast-track and a back door, with zero restrictions and zero taxes for themselves. Taxes, laws and regulations are for the little people.) The business elite do not want government restrictions on their actions. They want the subsidies and the bailouts and the protection of an increasingly militarized police state and a welfare state for the rich, but they do not want any restrictions on their own actions. Fascism for the people, total freedom for the elite – that is what the corporate oligarchs who rule the world today want, and that is what we are rapidly being driven into, like corralled cattle, being herded down the cattle chute.

While the elimination of government would mean total freedom for the corporate elite, it would mean total subjugation under neo-feudal corporate rule for the rest of us, and therefore we should oppose it – vigorously and passionately.

If you want to abolish government, you had better abolish all great concentrations of economic power first, or you will not have anarchism, much less freedom – you will simply have unfettered corporate rule, and a new form of tyranny.

So no, I do not support market anarchism or anarchist capitalism. I would tend to favour libertarian socialism, or anarchist socialism, where collectivism and anti-statism come together in a valuing of both freedom and mutual aid, as Kropotkin, Rocker, Bookchin, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky and others have argued for. In the short term, however, I would be happy simply to see a government that truly is, of the people, by the people, for the people, and not simply a servant of ruthless corporate powers and the super-rich.

I do not believe that a truly free society is even attainable without a very strong degree of mutual aid and solidarity among the people, which is absolutely necessary to accomplish the goal of a free society. So freedom and mutual aid must go hand in hand. To dream of it being otherwise is sheer fantasy.

How we blend and balance freedom and mutual aid, or liberty and collectivism, is the question. Whether or not we must, is a non-issue.

*

The seizure of corporate property by the workers, or by the people otherwise, at the local level, I do see as frequently if not generally justified, and Rothbard gives some good examples, such as workers taking over any and all corporations that are tied to the military-industrial complex, since they are involved in mass murder, among other reasons.

We can also look to the example of Argentina, where workers took over factories and ran them themselves, very successfully, as the documentary, The Take, revealed.

Or we can look to the Spanish Revolution, which was a largely anarchist revolution. The anarchist experiment in Spain, which lived between 1936 and 1939, I believe, was extremely successful, and could certainly be repeated elsewhere, but it would take great international solidarity to keep it alive in the face of the predictable backlash by the presently reigning vested interests.

As Chomsky has said, what the elite fear most, is the threat of a good example. For that reason, any example of worker control or workplace democracy, of any alternative to elite corporate rule, will be viciously attacked, no matter how small or remote. We must be prepared for that; but that is not an insurmountable obstacle to real social change. The people always have the real power. They simply need to realize it, and act upon the fact.

The anarchist revolution in Spain unfortunately ended up being crushed by an alliance between Western business elites, Western governments and the Soviet Union – Bolsheviks despise worker control just about as much as capitalists do. (Lenin destroyed the worker councils immediately upon seizing power, and Kropotkin declared after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, that the revolution is dead. But the example of a successful anarchist revolution, and a proven successful anarchist-socialist model for an advanced industrial society, still lives, and it still offers a better alternative, by far, over what we have now.

But to return to the subject of appropriation – or reclamation, as it might better and more accurately be called – there are other good reasons which justify such actions, and make them entirely legitimate, aside from the ones mentioned by Rothbard.

First of all, if what is nominally called private property was gained through illegitimate means, then all claim to title is null and void. For example, if an armed band of thugs rolls into town, and steals all that the people have or possess at gun point, we would say they have no right to that property. If one nation sends in its military to seize the oil or other resources of people in a foreign land, then that nation has no legitimate claim to such property. If a slave owner amasses a great fortune by means of the labour of his slaves, then he has no right to that property, which is more justly the property of the slaves who produced that wealth – cotton for example, or sugar cane, and the revenues from it – and not the slave master who illegitimately lays claim to it. And there are less obvious reasons for the invalidation of claims to property rights, such as great imbalances of power. In essence, all of these examples involve the exploitation of an imbalance of power to acquire wealth, and the imbalance of power makes all such claims to property acquired through these means, null and invalid.

That is the case generally for large concentrations of wealth and economic powers, such as the big corporations have today – for reasons of imbalances of power, and special favours sought by means of what is essentially bribery to political candidates, through what is euphemistically called election financing, among other reasons. The claims of property rights on the part of the corporate giants are highly dubious at best, and in reality, groundless, invalid and illegitimate.

Of course, this raises fears and even terror in some, for fear that their property will not be regarded as sacrosanct. Where do we draw the line between legitimate property rights, and appropriation or reclamation of what are reasonably viewed as illegitimate claims on property or resources, is the question we must ask. We draw lines all the time, and it is not hard to imagine a reasonable balance being sought and found. For example, leaving all small and medium businesses intact, as well as all family farms, family homes and personal possessions, but endorsing and supporting an appropriation or reclaiming of resources and assets which are presently held by the largest corporations, forthwith to be held as the shared property of the people – just as we now share public parks and public roads, public libraries and public fire departments – with shares in these corporation distributed equally to the people (and full voting shares, of course).

This would break up the corporate giants, immediately strip them of their excessive powers, put some teeth in anti-trust measures, and most essentially, would bring an immediate end to the domination over the global economy, the political process and the media by the presently ruling corporate elite. And it would once again restore some semblance of equality and also accountability within our society, and would at the same time dramatically increase the justice in our society, and also the quality of life and well-being of the people, immeasurably. I would therefore urge that such steps be taken immediately.

And it does not have to be an all or nothing scenario. We could start with the worst offenders, the banks, for example. If you want to dethrone Wall Street, and reign in the banking elite, and thereby get money out of politics, as any sane person should want today, then break up the big banks. And what are you going to do with them, one might ask. Well, one option is to do just what I have described here: seize their assets, and distribute shares of ownership equally among the people, effectively turning them into democratically controlled co-ops, with dividends paid directly to the people.

You do not let such corporate criminals get away with such crimes, nor do you give them a mere slap on the wrist. They are said to be too big to fail. Well, they are too big to exist – unless they are controlled by the people. Confiscate their assets, and return the power to the people.

Six giant banks now dominate the entire American economy, as well as both major political parties. Seize these powers, and put them in the hands of the people, and you will have a revolution – and real social change.

And we can have a mixed economy. We do not have to move too fast, if that scares people. Look at Europe – mixed economies are the norm. Most European nations have universal public health care, which is essentially a socialist feature of their society, yet they have democratic governments, constitutions, freedom and civil liberties, and they have capitalist, market-based economies. Adopting a universal public health care system did not turn these countries into Communist regimes, no matter what the paranoid right may scream. They are mixed economies with essentially republican governments and market economies. We can drop the paranoia now.

Despite the red scare tactics and the misunderstandings, having a socialist medical system has not turned European nations into Stalinist regimes, or anything remotely of the sort. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Americans have wanted a Canadian or European style health public health care system for decades – and it is half as costly as the for-profit private health care system of the United States. But this is an aside.

So we could easily imagine a mixed economy where we have excellent social programs, such as universal pensions, unemployment insurance and public health care, a market-based economy, open and transparent constitutional democracy with rights and freedoms for all enshrined in law and custom, and also have large sectors of the economy run as worker co-ops or publicly owned co-ops; run, not by the state, but by boards of directors and chief executives that are elected by the people directly, with the people being the majority or even the sole share-holders.

We are talking about taking giant, unwieldy, unaccountable and undemocratic corporations which are now out of control and running rampage, and turning them into accountable, democratically run co-ops, owned and controlled directly by the people. This would make a dramatic, and much needed, urgently needed change to our society. I see no reason to delay.

So yes, re-appropriation, or a reclaiming of resources by the people from the corporate oligarchs who have seized them and laid claim to them, is not only entirely justified and legitimate – it is also highly practical, workable, and an attainable goal which should be sought without delay.

In fact, I would say that if we do not take such measures, and soon, then the corporate elite will consolidate their power globally, with the results being that we find ourselves living in an Orwellian, technocratic, neo-feudal fascist regime, and a very dark age.

We must take bold steps now, to protect the people and ourselves from the clear and mounting threats of a full-blown corporate fascism. When six banks control 40% of the wealth of America; when six corporations control 90% of American media and can effectively manipulate the public mind; when Wall Street and the Fortune 500 fund the elections and effectively choose the political puppets of their liking; and when and a few dozen corporations, mainly banks, effectively control the global economy and rule the world, as a recent Swiss study showed, in a case of science confirming the obvious, then it is time for a bold and unhesitating response on the part of the people, without question.

Furthermore, with regards to claims of property rights: abuses of any great power also render all claim to that power null and void, as the Declaration of Independence states – and this applies to economic powers, such as those held by the business elite and the corporate giants, every bit as much as it applies to kings and queens, governments and political powers. If you abuse it, you lose it. And the corporate giants and the billionaire class who control them, are most definitely abusing their power.

A tax on tea sparked the American Revolution – it was a last, final insult, after myriad insults and injuries by an oppressive and tyrannical power. Such a tipping point is fast approaching again, when the people will say, No more, and the corporate empires will be swept aside, like so many empires that have fallen and been cast off in the past.

*

So I would say no to market anarchism, or anarchist capitalism, but yes to the people reclaiming the resources and assets that are held by the big corporations: for reasons of justice and equitability, for reasons of accountability, for reasons of environmental stewardship and the survival of the human race on earth, which is now in great peril, and because the corporate powers have become, and are now, simply tyrannical, by any reasonable definition or meaning of the word, and are causing great injury to the people as well as the earth on which we all depend for life.

If Thomas Jefferson could argue that a tax on tea is overly vexatious and justifies a revolution – I am exaggerating somewhat of course, to make a point, but we get the point of it – then surely today there is every justification for revolution against the new tyrants,  who are the reigning global billionaire class of the super-rich, and the giant corporations they control – who are infinitely more injurious to the people than King George ever dared to dream.

Two hundred years ago Thomas Jefferson warned that the corporations, and what he called the new moneyed aristocracy who controlled them, were already bidding defiance to our laws and challenging our democratic government to a contest of strength. And he said that he hoped the new moneyed aristocracy shall be killed in its infancy. He did not mince words, nor did he have any illusions as to the great dangers which confronted the people. We did not listen however, and that is why we are in trouble today. By now, any further delay in putting serious checks and balances on the new ruling super-powers of the corporate elite, would be nothing short of disastrous.

The powers and the abuse of powers, of and by the King of England, pale in comparison to the powers and the abuse of powers of and by the Bank of America or Goldman Sachs alone. It is time to dethrone the new tyrants. It is time to kick the corporate oligarchs out of the palace and into the streets – certainly out of government, and out of their present position as the de facto world government, and the unelected rulers of the world, as the business press itself calls them.

(The business elite prefer to call themselves the masters of the universe – and no, I am not joking – and their demonstrated egomania, power-lust and sheer madness only adds to the reasons to throw them from power.)

Gentleness is the best general rule, but there is a time for boldness. There is a time for the ferocity of a lion. And there is a time for the overturning of tables. Throw the money changers from the temple. They have overstepped their proper bounds, and have made themselves a menace. They must be deposed. And the most direct and effective way to dethrone this newest ruling class of would-be emperors, Caesars and Tsars who are the global corporate elite, is to reclaim their assets, and thereby to strip them of the very basis of their powers.

If a person on a rooftop with a rifle starts shooting at people, you disarm that person, and stop the violence. The big corporations and the business elite who control them are now wielding vast and unaccountable powers, which is reason enough to strip them of such powers; and in addition, they are demonstrably wreaking havoc, destruction and great suffering on the earth and upon the people. Therefore, they must be disarmed. And the only way to effectively disarm them, or to reign them in and halt their drive to fully dominate and control the global economy and the resources, the wealth and the nations of the world, which they are well on their way to doing, as anyone who is paying attention can clearly see; as well as to prevent them from destroying democracy completely, and to halt their clearly suicidal onslaught against nature and the earth, is to strip them of their powers – which means, stripping them of their assets.

It must be done. The people must reclaim their power. And no, Lenin, you were wrong, and we will not repeat your mistakes. No, this time, the revolution must come from below, and power must be returned to the people, and kept close to the people, at the level of the grassroots, and not in the hands of any ruling class or ruling elite of any kind – be it a political elite, a bureaucratic elite, a military elite, a religious elite, a self-proclaimed intellectual elite, or a business elite.

Freedom will come. And it will mean more than being able to choose between Coke or Pepsi, or choosing between which slavers will shackle your legs and make you their wage-slave.

A new day is being born. The writing is on the wall.

Stand now, people.

J. Todd Ring,
October 24, 2013

Mexico City: A study in impermanence, and a lesson to us all

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, anthropology, collapse, consciousness, conservation, crash, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, empowerment, end-game, global warming, Mexico, must-read, political economy, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, social theory, sociology, sustainability, tipping point, truth with tags , , on October 19, 2013 by jtoddring

pablo lopez luz photographs the concrete waves (or carpet, as he puts it) of Mexico City

 

The unbelievably sprawling concrete carpet of Mexico City seen in these photos make me think… Gorgeous country, beautiful culture and people, horrible government, amazing capital city – but utterly unsustainable, as most cities are. Watch for the ruins – like those in Palenque or Tikal, the ruins of the fallen, once-great cities of the Maya, now covered over by jungle.

Watch for the ruins of most of our present sprawling modern cities, as the people flee the collapsing infrastructure, brought on by our own unwillingness to live in ecological balance.

Sayonara.

Return to nature? We will soon have no choice. As Matt Stein, Ronald Wright, Jared Diamond, David Suzuki and many others have told us, we are bringing on a collapse of our civilization, due to our ecological neglect. We will go back to nature, and learn once again to live more simply, as well as more richly, rest assured. Some of us will do it voluntarily, and with foresight. Others will be forced into it, by necessity as infrastructure breaks down.

Foresight is always the wiser path.

The work to protect nature and all life on earth must go on, of course, and so too must we work towards a sustainable society, both sociologically and ecologically. But we must now also man the life boats. The ship is sinking. Of that, there is no longer any doubt. Human beings will carry on, but not without some major challenges ahead. It is time to face the music, and deal with the facts as they are, and not as we wish them to be.

J. Todd Ring,
October 18, 2013

US government shutdown, and other fairy tales and examples of political theatre

Posted in American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, Canada, Canadian politics, Chomsky, collapse, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, crisis of democracy, debt, deficit, democracy, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, far right, fascism, fascist, fiscal conservative, freedom, geopolitics, health care, imperialism, money, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, police state, policy, political economy, politics, propaganda, psychology, Republican, Republican Party, right, right wing, sociology, the right, truth, U.S., war, war on democracy, wellness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by jtoddring

I’m not sure what to make of the hoopla going on in the US right now. I’m inclined to think it’s all just political theatre, as Gerald Celente calls it, designed to distract the people from the real issues – the central one being, who controls the government and the nation? Wall Street, the big banks and largest corporations, or the people? After all, both of the major parties are controlled by the same six big banks, the private banking cartel which is the Fed, the military-industrial-security complex, Wall Street and the biggest 500 corporations on the planet, so what is this charade really about? As Celente said, it’s WWF – the World Wrestling Federation: it’s all scripted; it’s all political theatre. They all work for the same people.

Some Americans, mainly on the right, and mainly the rich, want to shrink government and abolish social programs that help and protect the poor, as well as the middle class – and half of Americans are now living below, at, or just above the poverty line, so that means 50% of the American people would get badly shafted, and far more would be badly hurt.

Some Americans – the overwhelming majority, well over 70% – favour public, universal health care, such as Canada, Britain, Europe and most of the civilized world has. But Obamacare is nothing of the sort. Obamacare is Romneycare – Obama simply took Romney’s package and made it his own. Obamacare, like Obama’s entire presidency, is designed to appease and sooth the masses and post-pone real political action, popular uprising or social unrest, while continuing the facilitation of the rape and pillage of the nation and the world by the largest corporations and the wealthiest 0.01%. What is amazing is that more people do not yet recognize these facts, although a great many, and a growing number do. The Obamacare package averts public, universal health care, which the people want, props up a crumbling private, massively subsidized for-profit health care system, and will put even more money into private, for-profit health insurance and health industry corporations, with dubious benefit to the people, if any. So the entire debate is dishonest to begin with, and radically out of joint with reality.

Furthermore, for those who want to cut government debt and spending, it should be noted, and made clear, that one of the best ways to do that, along with ending war and de-funding the massive military-industrial-security complex, the imperial storm troopers, the goon squads and the surveillance state, is to switch to a public health care system. (See Chomsky for a clear-headed and honest analysis of these points.)

The for-profit private health care system of the US has been shown repeatedly to cost far more than the public, not-for-profit health care systems of Canada, Britain and Europe. So once again, the debate is a farce; is filled with deceit; and again, radically out of sync with reality.

In the face of all of this, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I tend to worry greatly for the American people, as I do for human beings and all life on earth generally; but I trust they will resolve these problems. In the meantime, I pray, and will do all I can to seek out and share the best information and ideas I can find – from the left, right, centre, and anywhere I can find them.

Will the government shut down? Hardly likely, it seems to me. If it does, it will be disastrous for millions of people – even though the US government is the biggest criminal syndicate on the planet, next to the billionaire oligarchs who control it, along with virtually every other nation and government on earth. But a shutdown of the US government probably would not last long in any case, and the big bureaucratic machine of the state will restart again, if for no other reason, than because the people who control it – the super-rich, the corporate and banking elite, rely on it as a cash cow, a welfare state for the rich, a constant source of dizzying subsidies, bail-outs and forced wealth transfers from the people to the ruling plutocrats (they call it a “stimulus” package); and as a protective hired thug which can be, and is being used to keep an increasingly unruly rabble and frustrated populace subdued and under control, so that the great global looting spree can continue unabated.

The US government has handed the biggest banks and the global banking elite $14 trillion since the economic crisis of 2007-2008 erupted – enough to pay off the mortgages of every American, and every student debt and credit card debt, and all personal debts in the US, with approximately $13 trillion left to spare: which is enough to eliminate global poverty many times over, or, enough to eliminate global poverty, and create the global infrastructure for a truly sustainable society. Other corporate sectors are receiving smaller sums, in the range of a mere few tens or hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in regular subsidies, bail-outs and props. The six biggest banks now control a huge swath of the US economy, yet they are now fully dependent on on-going government subsidies just to survive. Their profits now are roughly equal to what they are receiving in regular government “stimulus” moneys, meaning, they would be forced out of business if they had to go without massive public funding from the government. This is to say nothing of the giant military-industrial-security and surveillance complex and its over $1 trillion annual cash flood coming from Washington and the Federal budget. Do we really believe that the same people who fund and control both of the two major parties want this gravy train to end? Think again. Not on your life.

No, the true rulers, the global business elite, need the US government, and will not let it be shutdown for long, if at all. So again, I am inclined to view all of this melodrama and hyperbole as so much theatre: bread and circuses, my friends, bread and circuses.

Keep the people divided – divide and conquer being rule number one for any good power-monger; and feed them bread and circuses to keep them distracted while their pockets are picked, and to keep their eyes diverted from the shackles and chains around their necks, wrists and legs. And sometimes, soap operas, sit-coms, “reality tv,” sports and celebrity gossip are not enough – political theatre is also needed; and so, it is provided.

The reality is, there are far too many pigs that are neck deep with their heads in the trough for the government to shut down for long. The ruling oligarchs simply won’t allow it, so let’s be real here, and keep such facts in mind while the hysteria mounts.

If the US government, or either of the major parties was truly interested in reducing the debt and deficit, then the on-going wars of empire would be ceased immediately and sworn off, all foreign US military bases would be closed, the military-industrial-security complex would be radically de-funded and the global surveillance and police state apparatus shut down, with savings of close to $1 trillion a year – which would mean that were is no more fiscal crisis.

If, in addition to this, universally accessible, publicly funded not-for-profit health care was brought in, further enormous cost savings would be made, and there would be a windfall of money available for real economic recovery, job creation, infrastructure and urgently needed environmental programs.

But none of this is on the agenda, none of this is even open to discussion, for the simple reason that the ruling class of plutocrats and corporate tsars and robber barons don’t want this, because that wouldn’t benefit them.

This is the real story; the rest, a mere charade.

J. Todd Ring,
September 30, 2013

The deeper reasons for the “war on drugs”

Posted in 9/11, activism, Afghanistan, American politics, analysis, banks, Chomsky, CIA, civil liberties, class, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, detention centers, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, fascist, freedom, geopolitics, Global War on Terrorism, globalism, globalization, health, human rights, imperialism, Iraq, jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., Middle East, money, must-read, neo-feudalism, oil, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, politics, politics of oil, propaganda, sociology, sovereignty, truth, U.S., war, war crimes, war on democracy, War on Terror, wellness, work with tags , on September 30, 2013 by jtoddring

There is a deeper reason for the war on drugs, which is the central reason for the policy, even outweighing profits from private prisons and seizure of property by law enforcement officers, both of which no doubt are also significant and strong motivations for keeping the “war on drugs” going.

Nearly thirty years ago, Chomsky said that the US and other leading industrial nations are being “third-worldized” – they are being turned into third world nations, where a tiny elite owns and runs the country, a small privileged class serves the ruling few, and the rest live in a sea of poverty and destitution.

He pointed out that with the advent of corporate globalization, which began in earnest in the 1970’s, and with the off-shoring of production as well as profits – which is the central fact and pattern of globalization, of course – what used to be a large middle class work force became superfluous and obsolete.

Millions of people who used to have decent jobs would now become unemployed or join the ranks of the desperate working poor as factories closed and moved to Mexico, Indonesia, Russia, India or China. What used to be the middle class of North America are now just a bunch of discontent people who are no longer needed, and who are not only disposable, but in the way – and a threat to the ruling powers, since they are rightfully unhappy about being driven into poverty and insecurity.

“What are you going to do with them?” Chomsky asked, then answered his own question. “Well, one thing you can do is to put them in prison. Then you have what amounts to slave labour, because you can make them work for essentially nothing. I think that is what is happening.” (Sorry, I haven’t heard this clip of him saying that for over twenty years, so I may be paraphrasing somewhat, but that is the gist of it.)

So what is the real reason for the so-called “war on drugs”? To remove large segments of the population, especially discontent youth, who may turn to serious political action – following in the footsteps of the Black Panthers, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr., for example – and put them in prison, where they can be more easily controlled, and where they can be made to do forced labour for fifty cents and hour, or something like that – probably less in most cases – and in this way, make extra profits for the big corporations that are increasingly relying on prison labour, while keeping the rabble in line. It is a brilliant plan – if you’re a sociopath, and the ruling elite truly are that.

What does the future hold? Detention centres and prison labour for many more people, I am afraid, unless the ruling corporate elite are deposed and thrown from power.

Note also that keeping drugs illegal keeps street prices high, and this is a part of the real motives for the war on drugs, as Gerald Celente has pointed out. It’s not in order to benefit the small-time dealer on the street corner – it’s for the benefit of the big traffickers, like the CIA.

Illegal drugs are a $500 billion a year industry world-wide, and the CIA controls the bulk of the cocaine and heroin traffic. One of the main reasons for the war in Afghanistan, along with oil interests and a certain pipeline, was to return control of opium production to the CIA, after the Taliban had burned the crops, which instantly turned them from an unofficial friend into an official enemy. After the US invasion of Afghanistan, the opium was replanted and global heroin sales resumed, with the CIA firmly in control of this giant money-making machine (See Michael Ruppert, Peter Dale Scott and others.)

The entire US economy is now propped up by drug money, as are Wall Street and the big banks, who rely on the daily flood of liquidity from drug money laundering. (See Catherine Austin Fitts and Max Keiser.)

If we want a more sane, just and health-promoting policy on drugs, and not the present one, which destroys millions of lives, fuels organized crime, gang activity, violence and wars, and imprisons millions for non-violent “crimes” of possession of criminalized substances, then we will have to take on the new empire of global corporate rule, and defeat it. This may sound like a large task, and it is, but the tide is turning, and this is entirely possible.

We have a choice: throw the plutocrats, the corporate elite from power, or watch the continued third-worldization of the formerly wealthy nations, the continued drive toward a global neo-feudal world order, the continued growth of prison populations and prison labour, the continued drive toward a global police state, and the continued war on democracy, freedom, civil liberties and the vast majority of the people by the stratospherically rich, who, by the way, only seem to know one word, as Chris Hedges has said: and that is, “more.”

The war on drugs, like the war on terrorism, is part of a broader campaign of class warfare being conducted by the world’s ruling billionaires and their criminal friends in high places, against the other 99.99% of the population. If we don’t understand this, then we really don’t understand the matter at all.

The “war on drugs,” and the “war on terror,” have nothing to do with their stated objectives of controlling drugs and protecting the people from terrorism. As Chomsky said, if we want to stop terrorism, there is an easy way to do it: stop participating in it. What he meant was that the US is the leading terrorist power in the world, dwarfing all others combined. Official terrorism accounts for 20,000 deaths a year. Unofficial terrorism, meaning, the kind that we do, by waging murderous illegal wars around the world, for example, has accounted for over a million deaths in Iraq alone. There is simply no comparison. It’s like comparing a small-time local thug or neighbourhood bully with the Godfather.

Abolish the CIA (do we really need this criminal goon squad, in addition to sixteen other known US intelligence agencies?); shut down the CIA detention centres and black sites; close the School of the Americas – which has been the world’s leading terrorist training camp for decades, located on the Fort Benning US military base in Georgia; and stop arming, supporting, training and funding terrorist organizations and local thugs, dictators and war lords around the world. Then you will see terrorism decline to levels that are a tiny fragment of what they are now. But of course, the ruling business elite and their political allies don’t want to do that, because the present arrangement benefits them handsomely, and they are making a killing.

Likewise, if you want to reduce harm and deaths from drug use, stop letting the CIA flood the world with crack, cocaine and heroin; and put bankers in jail for laundering drug money on a daily basis and a giant, global scale.

The “war on drugs” and the “war on terror” have nothing to do with their publicly stated intentions – they are a conscious and very deliberate war on the people, on civil liberties, democracy and freedom, by the ruling few who profit from these actions greatly. They are also a part of the grand plan of turning the world into a feudal society and a labour camp – a giant pyramid, with the astronomically rich at the top, ruling over all; a few privileged ones loyally serving them, like courtesans or well-paid prostitutes; and the rest abandoned to a sea of poverty, or corralled and contained in prisons to be kept under control or used as slave labour.

End the empire of corporate rule, or watch the world go into a very dark age. These are our two, and only two real choices now.

J. Todd Ring,
September 30, 2013