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Ukraine: CIA coup, geopolitical analysis, and WWIII

Posted in activism, American politics, analysis, Barack Obama, books, Brzezinski, Bush, class, corporatism, coup, democracy, elite, empire, fascism, freedom, geopolitics, Global War on Terrorism, globalism, globalization, imperialism, money, Obama, peace, police state, policy, political economy, politics, politics of oil, right, Russia, sovereignty, U.S., war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2014 by jtoddring

Important facts about Ukraine, 2014 – that the major media won’t tell you

 

We often hear, at least from the more reputable businesses out there – and there are some, despite the trends in the opposite direction, led by the ruling corporate oligarchs – that you should “do your research before you buy.” How much more important is it that we do our research before we buy the official story told by political elites and their media presstitutes, than doing our research before we buy a new car? We need to look behind the headlines and the sound-bites – and this is arguably more important with regards to the situation in Ukraine, than it was even before the launch of the war in Iraq. We saw what a fiasco the war in Iraq turned out to be, what a quagmire it became, and what lies were spun to rationalize and justify the US invasion of a sovereign nation – over oil reserves and corporate profits for the already astronomically rich ruling 0.001%. Over a million people were killed in Iraq – mainly women, children and innocent civilians – as a result of war, devastation of critical infrastructure and brutally inhumane sanctions. The case with Ukraine is even more ominous. Ukraine could become the flash-point, quite literally, for WWIII. We, the people, absolutely must be aware of what is really going on there. The stakes are immeasurably high, and the situation is in a critical state, right now, as we speak.

When I first saw headlines and images about popular protests in Ukraine, I thought, “Wonderful – the people are standing up for democracy in Ukraine, and exercising their democratic power;” but I immediately thought afterward, “We’ve seen events misrepresented and completely distorted in the Western media many times before, so I will not assume anything, until I look into it more deeply for myself.” Being busy with a number of things already, and it being an impossibility to follow every event, or even every major event, in every country around the world, it took me some time to get around to digging behind the headlines of the mainstream media. When I finally did, I was not surprised at what I found; but what I found was troubling, and very disturbing, to say the least. Here are my findings from a first look behind the curtain of the media spin machine.

But from the outset, let me say this. The more I look behind the headlines into what is actually going on in Ukraine, the more I wonder if the neo-cons who still rule Washington – Obama being the leading offender and buffoon-in-chief – are actually trying to create a war between Russia and NATO: which would be, of course, the beginning of WWIII. They may just be that mad. Certainly, they are risking the outbreak of world war, whether that was the intention or not. This is sheer madness. And the Western media will give you no honest information about it.

 

Important facts about Ukraine, 2014:

1. The United States and Western Europe – or at least, the business, financial and political elite who rule this part of the world – have been trying to restore Russia to its traditional role as a purposefully underdeveloped backwater colony of the West – a resource base and source of cheap labour – ever since the Russian Revolution of 1917. And ever since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Western powers have been encircling Russia militarily, as NATO has encroached further and further East, swallowing up 12 nations into its sphere of influence that had formerly been aligned with Russia. Now, in Ukraine, the Western powers are on Russia’s doorstep, and Russia is not very happy about it, and with good reason. If we do not understand this larger context, then we understand nothing about what is happening in Ukraine, or anywhere in Eurasia, for that matter.

2. The basic game, the primary motives and modus operandi for the American Empire, for the European great powers, and for the Western corporate empire, which has now swallowed both of the former, has not changed. Money rules, and the prime concerns are the pursuit of ever greater wealth and power for the few at the top – the richest 1%, or more accurately, the 0.01% who are the plutocrats, the oligarchs, the business and financial elite who rule the Western world, and who dominate the globe – with no concern and nothing more than rhetoric, pretty speeches and public relations gestures for the overwhelming majority of the people, the other 99.99%, the environment, or the future of life and human beings on Earth.

Obama took the neo-con agenda of the Bush-Cheney regime, and took their core two policy goals – increased militarism and imperial warfare abroad, in order to further the interests of the ruling corporate elite; and a full-scale attack on democracy and freedom, not just around the world, in pursuit of ever greater riches and power, but even more critically, at home, in the heart of the empire, with a full frontal assault on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, civil liberties, democracy and freedom in the United States, in order to protect the ruling plutocrats and their political prostitute cronies from the increasingly restless and discontent populace, by creating a quite literally fascist police state at home.

(See Jonathan Turley, American Constitutional law expert, or Naomi Wolf, Michel Chossudovsky, Paul Craig Roberts, Chris Hedges or Gerald Celente, among numerous other solid and thoughtful observers.)

“Let’s call it like it is – it’s fascism.”
 – Gerald Celente, the world’s leading trend analyst

With the passing of the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act, the United States ceased to uphold the Constitution or Bill of Rights, or any meaningful, substantive sense of either democracy or freedom, and descended into what is, by any legal definition, a fascist state.

The pretense of freedom and democracy still remain – but that is to be expected. The United States is now an Orwellian society run by and for the business elite of Wall Street and London. For the moment at least, democracy in the United States, is dead.

When habeus corpus is suspended, and even the Magna Carta overturned, throwing out 800 years of rule by law, along with all civil liberties and the very foundation of all human rights and freedoms; when arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention become permitted and routine, when torture is made legal and becomes institutionalized, when universal and global surveillance becomes the established norm, and when extrajudicial summary execution, either through drone strikes, illegal and unconstitutional police or security force actions, mercenaries, military tribunals or CIA black sites, then there is no other word for it: this is fascism.

So no, we should not expect something different from Obama than we what saw from Bush. In fact, Obama has expanded Bush’s wars abroad; he has intensified the Bush-Cheny/neo-con/Wall Street attack on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil liberties, freedom and democracy at home; and he has escalated and accelerated the drive towards a police state in America. This is your champion of “hope and change.” He is a Wall Street hireling – a whore to the military-industrial-security complex and the bankers who rule the land.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. By his actions – pretty speeches notwithstanding – Obama is at least as bad as Bush and Cheney, if not worse. He is a crypto-fascist, working hard to ensure the continued rule and ever-expanding wealth and power of the ruling business elite – the people, the Constitution, freedom, democracy and the Earth be damned.

We should not be surprised at cynical, deceitful, Machiavellian or Orwellian maneuvers, regime changes and power plays undertaken by Washington under the figure-head of Obama’s “presidency.” The real rulers, the Wall Street and international banking and corporate elite, are still in charge – and their game plan has not changed: it is still, divide and conquer, subjugate and rule. Or as Adam Smith called “the vile maxim of the masters” – “All for us, none for anybody else.”

Fascism won’t come to America dressed in swastikas and accompanied by goose-stepping soldiers in the streets. It will come draped in the flag, wrapped up nicely in ribbons and bows, all smiles, as loveable and American as mom and apple pie – Orwellian to the core, and deeply camouflaged. It will be the full institutionalization and consolidation of a global corporate rule: and the well-paid public relations industry, and its most influential arm, which is the major media networks and the media prostitutes which staff its rank ranks, will put a happy face on it, and make it look sparkling and wonderful to any and all who are foolish enough not to look behind the thin veneer which covers over the ugly truth.

And fascism is not coming to America – it is here.

Obama is just the latest pawn, the latest face of the now globally dominant Western corporate empire. And he does not take his direction or his orders from the American people, anymore than he has any genuine concern for freedom, democracy or human rights anywhere on the planet – including at home, in the United States, much less in Europe or Ukraine.

3. The recent events in Ukraine were portrayed in the Western media as a popular democratic uprising against a corrupt political leader, and a yearning by the people to have stronger ties with the EU. It is true that a large percentage of the people of Ukraine felt this way, although it seems that this may have been a minority opinion; but in any event, that is a small part of the picture. There is also a large element of neo-Nazis that were involved in the protests and the ouster of the democratically elected government – neo-Nazies who trace their histories back to the Nazi sympathizers who murdered up to two million Jews, Communists and Russians in Ukraine during WWII.

And in case anyone is inclined to dismiss this element as fringe and inconsequential, it should be noted that the newly installed government in Kiev, under Wasington’s direction, has put the leaders of the neo-Nazi parties, Svoboda and the Right Sector, in charge of the military, the police and the judicial system. The neo-Nazi element, therefore, is in power. They are holding the big stick. And they have made it clear that they are not afraid to use it.

“For anyone in the Western propagandistic presstitutes from James Kirchick for the Daily Beast to the BBC to the Washington Post to Foreign Policy to the Guardian, as well as the Western regimes who have tried odiously over the last three months to whitewash the Right Sector (Ukraine’s Far Right paramilitary group that played a part in toppling the government), I give you their young, intelligent, eloquent, photogenic, charismatic, fluently English-Speaking, philosopher and press spokesperson – Olena Semenyaka – an open, proud, unrepentant, Nazi Swastika-waving, Hitler-saluting fascist.”
– Occupy London
(When I learn how to overcome my all-thumbs approach to digital technology and know how to use WordPress better, I’ll include the photo of Semenyaka proudly waving the Nazi flag and giving the Nazi raised-arm salute. Until then, you can easily find it on OccupyLondon’s facebook page.)

This large neo-Nazi element is, of course, anything but democratic – not to mention, racist, fascist, antisemitic and violent. And this is the element that US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was recorded in a phone call as saying she wanted intimately involved the US putsch which just occurred in Kiev.

Yes, what just happened in Ukraine was “a text-book CIA coup” – according to former CIA analyst and specialist on Russia, Ray McGovern; as well as the University of Ottawa professor of economics and founder of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Michel Chossudovsky; and Francis Boyle, professor of international law in Illinois.

We have seen such regime changes over and over, ever since the US staged a CIA-orchestrated coup in Iran to install the Shaw – and the CIA even has a manual on how to go about such things. And yes, the US political and business elite will work with anyone who will get the job done for them, and act as puppets in their grand imperial game.

Look at the US support for Al Queda in Syria, in the efforts to overthrow the government there, or in Lybia, where US-backed Al Queda forces successfully overthrew that regime. The fact that neither regime is or was desirable is not the point – the point is that the US business and political elite will work with any goons they find useful to their purposes, and who will help them overthrow the governments of their choosing. Imperial ambition has no scruples, and will resort to dirty means and dirty allies and pawns, whenever it is expedient to do so. The US and Western business and political elite, and the new global empire they rule over, are no different. As Chomsky said, “International politics haven’t changed significantly since the time of Ghengis Kahn.”

It was the leaders of the US-backed neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine that turned the peaceful protests into a violent confrontation and a putsch to overthrow a democratically elected government. Worse yet, the leaders of the neo-Nazi parties in Ukraine have openly made death threats against the “Jewish-Russian” conspiracy, and have said that they will gun down the Jews, Communists and Russians in the streets. With over half of the people in Eastern and Southern Ukraine being native Russian speakers – to say nothing of political and religious freedoms, or the appalling renewal of antisemitism in Europe – we are talking here about very real threats of genocide. And these are the goons that Washington and the Western business elites have decided to make their allies and puppets, for the sake of imperial ambition and power politics. We should be deeply alarmed, and deeply concerned.

4. The tipping point in Ukraine came when the democratically elected president – a fact never mentioned by the Western press – who was thrown from power by a Washington-orchestrated coup – another fact which is never mentioned in the Western press – with the critical aid and allegiance of neo-Nazis – which is a third fact that is not mentioned in the Western media – President Viktor Yanukovych, reversed his former decision to accept a trade deal with the EU. That is when the gloves came off, and the coup was set in motion by Washington and its allies in Europe.

The reason that Yanukovych reversed his decision and rejected the trade deal with the EU, from all indications, is two-fold. Firstly, the billionaire oligarchs of Ukraine realized that if this deal went through, then they could quite reasonably fear that the bigger, badder, and more powerful billionaires of Europe, and the corporations they control, would move in and carve up Ukraine, and leave them with only a few remaining crumbs – so they pulled out their support for the deal.

The second major reason was that there was a little known clause in the trade deal, which would in the end, bring Ukraine into the NATO alliance – which would mean a tectonic shift of allegiances for Ukraine, from Russia and the East, where it has traditionally been for centuries, to Europe and the West: and Yanukovych apparently decided that that might not be the best move, all things considered.

So, Yanukovych killed the deal – Yanukovych had to go. The putsch was on.

It was a very similar, almost earily similar pattern to what we saw leading up to the war in Afghanistan. And in both Afghanistan and Ukraine, a critical factor was a pipeline, and a deal that fell through, with dramatic reprecussions. (Keystone XL activists, make note of this. The oil giants are ruthless and vicious. Be unafraid, be brave, be bold, but do be alert.) The Taliban had been best buddies and allies with Washington, and there are photos of a grinning Donald Rumsfeld, I believe it was, shaking their leader’s hands – or was that Saddam Hussein? I’m making a joke, but it is deadly serious. Rumsfeld and his neo-con cronies were the best of friends with the Taliban, just as they had been with Saddam, and armed and funded them both, for various economic and geopolitical reasons. But Saddam got out of line, and forgot who buttered his bread and who ruled over him, so his masters in Washington took him out.

It’s a familiar pattern. Noriega in Panama was on the CIA payroll – until he disobeyed orders, and had to be taken down. The Taliban were favourite allies of Washington, until they refused the offer of large sums of cash in return for protecting a US oil company’s pipeline (UNOCAL) which was to run from the Caspian Basin through Afghanistan to the sea, for shipment to Chinese markets. The talks between US government representatives and Taliban leaders were transcribed and leaked, and the negotiator for Washington was recorded as saying, just before the US invasion of Afghanistan, “You either accept our offer of streets paved with gold, or we will bury you.” The Taliban refused, and the rest is history.

Former National Security Adviser under Jimmy Carter, “Zbig” Brzezinski, even bragged, in an interview in Paris, abut how he created the Islamic terrorist networks based in Afghanistan. It was a plan, he openly stated, to draw the Soviet Union into “their own Vietnam,” in order to weaken and destabilize the USSR. And he was proud of the fact that the plan worked, and lead to or at least contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union, and he scoffed at having created a rabid terrorist network in the process, saying, “What’s a few worked-up Muslims?” That’s bloodless geopolitical power politics for you.

So yes, the US, or rather, the Washington political elite, and the business and financial elite for whom they work, have been engaged in highly deceitful, duplicitous coups, treachery and regime changes for a very long time. Yanukovych is merely the last in a very long line.

According to William Blum, who used to work for the US State Department, but resigned in protest over the war in Vietnam, and author of Killing Hope – a history of the CIA: the US has engaged in coups or regime changes, putsches and the like – however you prefer to call the overthrow of a foreign government – 77 times prior to this latest putsch in Ukraine.

The CIA is now very good at this sort of thing. However, freedom and democracy are always the victims, along with the people, and the blow-back is usually severe as well. Such wild, brazen arrogance on the part of the US is making the American people less safe and more in danger, because of the hate it creates, and it is simply morally appalling and utterly unacceptable, as well as a straight up violation of international law, all democratic principles and principles of freedom, and all basic human rights, of course, at the same time.

The idea with the trade deal with the EU was to plop this economic basket case of Ukraine onto the EU’s lap, in order to a) bring Ukraine and its assets into the control of Western bankers, plutocrats, corporations and business elites; b) more specifically, to overturn Russia’s control of critical gas pipelines through Ukraine going into Europe, for greater control over, profits from and security of energy resources; and most critically, to sever Ukraine from Russia, not just economically, but also militarily, in order to further weaken, surround and isolate Russia.

But, again, Yanukovych killed the deal, so he had to be removed. The fact that neo-Nazis were chosen as the pawns to do the job, and to effectively replace him, makes no difference in the eyes of the Western imperial powers. They are used to such nefarious allegiances. They are the world’s leading terrorist powers, as Chomsky has said, and has documented in great detail. Why would they quibble or wince at working with, or putting in power, some small-fry terrorists in Afghanistan (the Taliban), or a thug in Iraq (Saddam), or neo-Nazies in Ukraine? It’s all just business as usual to them.

And again, of course, the Western media and their loyal presstitutes will tell you nothing of these critical details, the history behind them, or their critical significance in the events of the past few days and months in Ukraine.

5. Ukraine literally sits on top of critical pipelines bringing natural gas from Russia to Central and Western Europe. The big Western oil giants are looking to unseat Gazprom, the giant Russian national oil and gas company. We are looking at another battle over control of the world’s energy resources. In a nutshell, Russian billionaires are competing with Western billionaires for control over the multi-billion dollar fossil fuel sales in Europe.

We have seen, across the Middle East, what lengths the Western oligarchs are prepared to go to secure such riches and power. Over 1 million people have died in Iraq alone in the bloody wars over oil and gas. The Western plutocrats have no conscience – mass murder does not faze them; and of course, they have no interest in either democracy or freedom, grand rhetoric aside. The Russian oligarchs have acted no better – although they are primarily concerned, as Putin is, with stablizing and securing their empire, and not expanding it, as the Western powers seem intent on doing. In any case, a confrontation between billionaires from the East and those from the West, would be anything but peaceful or pretty, if it comes to a head: it would be, quite literally, WWIII.

That being said, the Western expansion Eastward, economically and also militarily, through NATO, its encircling of Russia, and its recent putsch in Ukraine, is not just about oil and gas profits, as enormously significant and motivating as that may be for the Western plutocrats – and is. It is also about global geostrategic dominance, and global hegemony for the West.

The Western elite seem hell-bent on an extraordinarily dangerous gambit, and seem to want to retain and consolidate their present global dominance, by any means necessary or expedient – even at the risk of global war and the extinction of humanity. The madness has no equal, either now, or at any time in the history of humankind.

As Chomsky clearly elaborated in one of his many major works, Hegemony or Survival, the dangers of this current path which we are being led down, cannot be overstated. We face a critical juncture for humankind. Either we swear off of empire and all its grandiose and horrifying games of power politics, or we watch as the power-mad destroy the world, and all future for human beings on Earth. Our choices have indeed become that stark.

7. Russia will not, and furthermore, feels it cannot, back down. Russia not only has deep, long-standing historical ties with Ukraine, but further, the Eastern and Southern portions of Ukraine were historically a part of Russia, and 60% of the inhabitants of the region are native Russian speakers who still retain strong ties to Russia.

And the bonds of allegiance go both ways. Ukraine, and especially the Crimean Peninsula, are very close to the hearts of the Russian people, for reasons of history, and also because the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea is the principle Russian vacation land and Club Med. Watching the West and NATO make gestures towards moving Ukraine, or even the Crimean Peninsula alone, into the sphere of Western dominance, would be something akin to Russia taking over Florida and Ellis Island at the same time. One could imagine what kind of response that would arouse among Americans. The analogy is, of course, imperfect, as all analogies are, but the point remains. Both Russia and also the people of Eastern and Southern Ukraine wish to keep their close ties with one another, and no threat to this long-standing relationship will be easily endured.

Ukraine is also, to repeat, the major route for Russian oil and gas pipelines to Europe. Russia will not surrender one of its most vitally important export routes, for one of its most vitally important industries.

Furthermore, Russia has critically important strategic naval bases on the Crimean Peninsula, giving them vitally important access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. And again, after watching NATO and the Western powers expand East and encircle Russia militarily, while taking away important economic allies, piece by piece; and with Ukraine at Russia’s southern border and doorstep, and further, being in a strategically critical geographic location, Russia was bound to draw a red line in the sand.

The Russian people back Putin in his move to put troops into the Crimean Peninsula in order to prevent any moves by the West to encroach any further, and also, to protect the Russians living in Ukraine against the neo-Nazis in Kiev who have made public death-threats against them. Putin had no choice, politically, according to Russian specialist, Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus from NYU and Princeton. Had Putin not made this move, his credibility in Russia would go from low, to shattered. Russia will not allow the West to take Ukraine. That is, and should have been, as Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and another specialist on Russia has said, “a known-known.”

As the leading intellectual and long-term geostrategic planner for the Western elite for the past forty years, “Zbig” Bzrezinski has said, Central Eurasia has always been critical to control, if the Eurasian continent is to be controlled. And since the Eurasian continent contains the majority of the people, markets and resources on the planet, it is critical to control Eurasia, and hence, Central Eurasia – if, like Bzrezinksi and the Western elite, one is above all concerned with global dominance.

All imperial strategy rests, centrally, upon control of this strategically critical area of the world, as the wars in the Middle East indicate and make clear – yes, they are about oil, but more importantly, they are about global geostrategic hegemony and control.

Central Eurasia is the linch-pin. As “Zbig” said, in The Grand Chessboard, historically, whoever controls central Eurasia, controls the continent, and whoever controls the continent, dominates the world.

That is why Brzezinski argued for the “projection of force” in the Middle East, why he argued for the necessity of a large crisis in order to get the American people to agree to or at least tolerate such “projection of force,” and why he armed, funded, trained and created the Islamic terrorist network based in Afghanistan, to use as a puppet in the region – the same terrorist network that is alternately an official enemy, say, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, after the pipeline deal went sour, that is, or, in Libya and Syria, unofficial friends, who suddenly become recast as “freedom fighters” – exactly as the Taliban were called, before they became official enemies, and while they were still loyal allies and puppets.

Does all of this sound confusing? It is straight-forward, when you understand the operating principles: anyone we control, is a friend. Anyone we can’t control, is an enemy. Simple as that. Sometimes Al Queda can be used and manipulated for our own imperial objectives – and by our, I mean Western business elite objectives – in which case they are eagerly embraced and gladly used, and are official or unofficial friends and allies. Sometimes they get out of line, as servants sometimes do, and then they become official enemies, and must be decried, shot like disobedient dogs who turn on their masters, or simply cast to the wayside, or thrown in prison, like Noriega. It all depends on whether they are considered useful, or in the way – and that can change, literally, from one day to the next.

Yes, central Eurasia is considered geostraticially critical, and Ukraine is in the heart of it. Putin certainly knows this, as do the Western oligarchs. That is yet another reason why Putin is not going to give up Ukraine, or access to the Black Sea. The balance of power globally may well rest upon it.

Putin is trying to secure and stabilize a great nation, Russia, that is, of course, which has collapsed twice in the past century: once in 1917, and once in 1991. His aim, from all evidence, is not expansion, but protection of Russia.

He may be vicious and corrupt, and he is. He was head of the KGB, after all, so what else would we expect? He was the head of the Soviet goon squad. But, what is important here to note, is not his character, or his domestic policies in Russia, but his international relations: and his primary interest, from all indications, is in stability and security for Russia, not the expansion of its territory. And Putin has every reason to be concerned with Western powers staging a coup on his Southern doorstep – clearly. He would have to be a fool not to be concerned; and Putin may be many things, but he is no fool.

Considering the recent expansionist actions of the West, which go back decades and even centuries, the Russian people are rightfully concerned about having Washington, NATO and the Western bankers and oligarchs on their doorstep, and staging yet another regime change – this one, as close as it could get, without actually crossing the Russian border.

Putin will not back down. He can’t. The US and the EU can back down, and have or foster a cooperative relationship with energy-rich Russia, but Russia cannot back down. The expansion of Western powers has now reached its limit. Any further, and there will be world war. I don’t believe there is any question as to these most essential facts.

The neo-cons and their plutocratic overlords and masters in the corporate and financial world, who, it must be repeated, still control Washington, hopefully have some trace of sanity left in them. So far – with Russian troops deployed in the Crimean Peninsula, protecting the Russian people of Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as well as their naval bases on the Black Sea, facing down the very real threat from Western-backed neo-Nazis in Kiev – not a shot has been fired. A diplomatic resolution could still be reached. But this could change at any moment. If this turns into a shooting war between Russian forces and a Western-backed proxy army of neo-Nazis, Al Queda forces, or whomever the West deems its latest favourite pawn, then, as Stephen Cohen has said, “All bets are off,” and anything could happen – including the unthinkable, which is the extermination of the human species on Earth. Pray that sanity prevails.

6. As Stephen Cohen said recently, US options are “Zero. Zero options, unless they want to go to war. Russia is holding all the cards.”

Russia holds all the cards politically, since, a) the Russian people back Putin in drawing a line in the sand against further Western expansionism on Russia’s doorstep – as it is quite rightly perceived; and more essentially, because b) the people of Eastern and Southern Ukraine are primarily native Russian speakers, with strong historical ties and a strong allegiance to Russia, as well as a very legitimate fear of what the neo-Nazis now installed in Kiev might unleash upon them, in the form of literally genocidal acts, not to mention oligarchic and despotic rule; and c) the evidence is clear that the newly installed government in Kiev was put in place, installed, that is, by the US and its Western allies, through a Washington staged regime change, a coup, and therefore has no legitimacy.

Russia also supplies 30% of Europe’s natural gas. The EU will not likely press the matter, believe me. Russia could simply turn off the taps, and Europe will freeze. Europe is now arguably far more dependent on Russia than Russia is on Europe.

The global balance has shifted. Just as China now holds the US by the purse strings, holding its debt and being its principle banker, as well as having American trans-national corporations deeply dependent upon Chinese manufacturing plants, and with the Chinese economy about to surpass that of the United States as the biggest economy in the world, Russia is fast-arising as a global economic super-power, while Europe is on the edge of insolvency, and is struggling economically, to put it mildly.

Europe and the United States are sinking, at least in relative terms, if not also in absolute terms, while the BRIC nations, and especially Russia and China, continue to soar. Europe is in no position to play it rough.

Europe is a sinking ship, as is the US. These declining world powers can no longer afford to engage in boyish imperial games, much less hollow sabre-rattling. The world is increasingly interdependent and also poly-centric. If Washington and the Western elite persist in pursuing 19th century policies in the context of 21st century realities, to paraphrase the hopelessly hypocritical John Kerry, they will not only harm others, but will very likely destroy themselves, and quite possibly all of humanity along with them.

And it is not just in terms of energy and gas that Europe is far too dependent upon Russia to do anything more than bellow in idle gesturing. Russian billionaires and plutocrats now store their money and riches in Europe – in Swiss bank accounts, London real estate and secretive Jersey Island financial havens for the world’s super-rich. Europe’s big money is now intertwined with Russia’s big money – and Russian billionaires have more mobility, by all indications, at least in terms of this relationship is concerned. The European oligarchs don’t dare to press the matter, or any matter, for that matter, with the great and increasingly powerful Russian bears.

Europe is simply far too addicted to Russian gas and Russian wealth to do anything more than make hollow public relations statements, which will in all likelihood amount to absolutely nothing more than PR. And without European Allies, a weakened American empire with a struggling US economy would be foolish in the extreme to press the matter – even more foolish than if they had the full support of Europe, which they most decidedly do not.

As Ray McGovern said, anyone who had any understanding of Ukraine and its place in the relationship between Russia and the West, could have known that Russia will not back down and allow its most critical satellite and borderland to fall into the Western military and economic orbit. In McGovern’s words, this was “one regime change too many,” and Washington “has bit off far more than it can chew.”

The putsch in Ukraine is a classic case of imperial hubris and imperial overshoot. Declining empires always tend to behave the same way, and such foolish arrogance tends to put the final nail in the coffin, and seal the fate of the decaying empire. We will see what Washington chooses to do, but it would be wise to acknowledge the facts, and bow out gracefully, to return to the business of rebuilding its own economy and its own crumbling infrastructure and decimated industrial base, and forget about ruling the world or changing regimes around the globe – which will be the end of the nation as well as the empire, if they persist in it.

Obama’s only options now, as both McGovern and Cohen have made clear, are to back down, and quietly acknowledge the mistake, even if it means demonstrating the growing weakness of the United States and its Western allies; or, start what may well be the beginning of WWIII. Let us hope that some shred of remaining sanity prevails.

 

A final note on the US – being the principle antagonist in this very dangerous, still unfolding situation in Ukraine:

The US has more than enough problems of its own for it to be meddling in the affairs of other nations. Are the Washington elite and their Wall Street masters on crack? The US has been de-industrialized through corporate globalization. It has decimated its manufacturing base, and its economic base, through off-shoring of production and profits. It has a trade deficit running into the billions of dollars a day. It has gone, in a few short decades, from being the leading creditor in the world, to the leading debtor. It has squandered its natural resources and stripped itself of its economic powers, through a short-sighted greed by the ruling few, at the expense of the people and the nation. The end of American hegemony is clearly in sight, if it is not already here; and yet, the ruling elite continue to push as hard as they can towards full, unbridled disaster.

Poverty and inequality are skyrocketing across the US – as a result of globalization and the off-shoring of production and profits, and the extraction of wealth from the many to the few, in what can only be described as a conscious and systematic class warfare, waged by the super-rich against the nation and the rest of the population. Meanwhile, while the middle class is being eviscerated and liquidated, and driven into the growing sea of an underclass.

There is more poverty, and also greater inequality, in the US now than at any point in its history – even during the Great Depression. Half of the people in the United States now live below, at, or just above the poverty line – and poverty continues to rise daily. Living conditions in most US inner cities are now worse than many of the poorest third world nations.

For any country, and especially for the richest country in the world, this state of affairs would be an utter disgrace – and it is.

The United States continues to spend over a trillion dollars a year on the military-industrial-security complex, on war and war preparations, on foolish imperial stratagems and adventures, and on the build-up of a police state at home – more than enough money to rebuild the crumbling economy and infrastructure, create jobs for all, eliminate all poverty in the nation, and put the country on track towards true environmental stability and sustainability. But the military-industrial-security complex must be fed – even if it is with the people’s own blood, and the blood of their daughters and sons: it is demanded by the ruling super-rich, so the folly must continue, it seems – at least until the American people rise up and say, “No more.”

Meanwhile, the richest 1% have grown ever richer and more powerful, while the other 99% face ever-increasing material insecurity and disenfranchisement, their voices silenced and their future raped of all hope, as the political elite in power continue to serve the ruling robber barons and the Wall Street plutocrats – or kleptocrats, as they should more accurately be called. This situation is reaching a breaking point, and rapidly so. America should take care of America, before it goes telling, or imposing on others, its magnanimity and wisdom. Put your own house in order, Washington.

And this is just an overview of the severe and growing economic and social problems in the United States, to say nothing of the deepening political crisis. America, under the rule of Wall Street and the corporate oligarchs, has gone from freedom to fascism in short order. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are in tatters and flames. The people of America grow more weary and more frustrated daily, not only with the rapidly increasing inequality and poverty which they face, not only with the bankrupting of the nation by an imperial fetish among the reigning elite that is out of control, but even more so, by the increasing attack on freedom, civil liberties, democracy and basic human rights at home. They will not take much more, I assure you.

The US is truly a powder keg, and revolution is brewing, as leading trend forecaster Gerald Celente and others have said. But the Wall Street oligarchs and their political prostitutes carry on merrily, singing a chorus of “Let them eat cake.” This hubris we have seen before, and we know where it leads.

Revolution is not always pretty, but it is sometimes unavoidable, and moreover, simply necessary. And the ruling elite in the US are making sure that it is, in fact, unavoidable: through sheer arrogance and contempt for the people. I pray that it will be peaceful, but that it will come, is by now, a virtual certainty.

Mr. Obama, you have more than enough work to do at home. Stop meddling in the affairs of other nations. If you persist in this madness any further, it will be the end of America. Enough is enough. It is time for peace, and for prosperity and freedom for all.

No more regime changes. No more games of empire. Take care of your own people – or step aside, and let the people renew their own democracy, and their land.

Conclusion: On empire or survival

Empires have always been brutal, bloody, aggressive, violent, war-like, and inherently anti-democratic, oppressive and tyrannical; and there have always, therefore, been good and strong reasons to resist and oppose them. At this point in time, however, empire is no longer just an extreme offense to every decent human value and an oppressive weight on human beings. At this time in our history, the nature of empire has become quite simply suicidal.

The present rulers of the world, the oligarchs and plutocrats of both East and West, believe that they are engaged in what they call political “realism.” It is anything but. What they are engaged in, is imperial folly, which has been shown in every age to be a fool’s errand, a lust for power which harms and oppresses human beings widely and profoundly, and an enterprise which, in the end, always turns to dust.

The mongers of empire are engaged in deep self-deception, and in delusions of grandeur. It is the values of freedom, democracy, the self-determination of peoples, and the love of one’s neighbor which are the basic tenets of both, basic sanity, and also a sane and truly sustainable, as well as a just and free society.

At this point in human history, we either re-assert these principles of basic sanity and common sense, or we will simply cease to be. This is realism. The rest is pure fantasy, pure delusion.

Madmen now hold the power, but the greater power always resides with the people. When, and if, the people stand up, and stand for their rights, then, and then alone, will the world have a chance at true peace, at justice, at real freedom, at democracy, and at simple survival.

We are now faced with a clear choice: end the age of empires, and let democracy and freedom truly reign; or let the errors of our past be repeated in new and more hideous ways than ever before, sowing, not only a dark age, but our own self-destruction, until human beings are no more, and the light goes out for the entire human race.

Our choice is clear. There is no choice. Empires must end now. This madness must cease, or humanity will simply cease to be.

Again, the billionaires of the East are battling the billionaires of the West for oil and gas money, and the domination of the globe. And I have to say to that, “You childish, reckless, mad putzes – stop endangering us all with your foolishness and utter insanity. Are you completely mad?”

This is a richly abundant planet, and as Gandhi said, “There is enough for everyone’s need, but for no one’s greed.”

It is time for these games of greed, power lust, empire and egomania to come to an end – and now.

The situation in Ukraine could end up being among the final notes of our collective demise, or it could be a warning call that awakens the people of the world, and catalyzes the movements for democracy, freedom, and a better world for all. The choice, is entirely up to us.

The power is always in the hands of the people. Let us use it wisely – and now.

No more war. No more empire.

Stop the madness now.

Stand.

J. Todd Ring,
March 5, 2014

 

For further details please see the references below. The first rule to finding out or knowing anything about what is truly going on, is to turn off the major media – both the corporate and state media. The second rule is to read widely, and dig for verifiable information. The third rule, is to seek out and discover selectively chosen, reliable sources, that you have learned from experience and from verification with both reason and evidence, to be highly accurate, if not at all times perfect.

As to reliable sources, you must think for yourself, and discern for yourself. Take no one’s word on anything. As the Buddha said, examine things for yourself. But as a starting point, I would recommend a few, generally excellent sources. They have their faults and their blind spots, but generally they are excellent – and certainly they are in an entirely different league, many leagues above and beyond the major media outlets. Among the best sources for news and analysis that I have found, are the following. Most of the rest, with few exceptions – and even those that portray themselves as “alternative media” or “independent media” or “public broadcasters” – either chronically miss the heart of the matter, and skirt about the surface of things merely, or else offer pretty much the same spin, PR, lies and illusions as you would find in the thoroughly corrupt corporate and state-run media. But again, above all, think for yourself. Examine things for yourself.

Trends Research / Gerald Celente

Centre for Research On Globalization / Global Outlook / GRTV

Project Censored

Z Communications / Z Magazine

The Kaiser Report

Dandelion Salad

CounterPunch 

A few excellent articles on the situation in Ukraine (my apologies that this is not more neatly presented – time seems like it may be critical):

Ukraine – Recent developments and contextual analysis:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/05/chronology-of-the-ukrainian-coup/
http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/is-the-u-s-backing-neo-nazis-in-ukraine/
http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/ukraine-one-regime-change-too-many/
http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/u-s-has-zero-options-in-ukraine/
http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-was-a-playbook-cia-coup-detat/5371296
http://shar.es/RnwvN
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-backstory-to-the-russia-ukraine-confrontation-the-us-nato-encirclement-of-russia/5371776
http://shar.es/RnjiU
http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/lighting-the-fires-for-chaos-in-ukraine-by-bruce-gagnon/#more-158787
http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/ukraine-the-dangers-of-dealing-with-delusional-western-leaders-putin-holds-aces-obama-deuces/
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/03/russia-vladimir-putin-the-west-104134.html

(The last article is the weakest, but I will include it, since it does add some important points on Russia’s wealth being stored in Europe, and on the hypocrisy of Europe’s ruling elite – and because of the lead photo of Putin staring down Obama, and Obama trying hard not to blink. Two thoroughly corrupt oligarchs posturing like they are the saviours of humanity, and looking like two pre-pubescent school boys caught up in childish bravado – such is the current state of the world, and this photo sums it up.)

A few excellent books for an overview of the state of the world:

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions – Chomsky

The Ecology of Freedom – Bookchin

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Mutual Aid – Kropotkin

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

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

Occupy Wall Street: The emerging global pro-democracy movement, where it stands, what it means, and where we go from here

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, civil liberties, class, common ground, consciousness, conservative, conservatives, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, currency, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, ecology, economic collapse, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, human rights, imperialism, inspiration, labour, left, liberal, libertarian, libertarianism, Media, media analysis, money, must-read, oil, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, psychology, resources, right, right wing, social theory, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the right, the world's other superpower, Uncategorized, war, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2011 by jtoddring

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which has already become a global grassroots populist pro-democracy movement, if we have eyes to see, has clearly already won a broad and growing base of support. What is needed now, I believe, is to further clarify and crystallize the issues – and I would say that many people now realize that the central issue is the question of whether we live in a plutocracy or a democracy, whether we have rule of the people, by the people, for the people, or rule by the super-rich 1% and the corporate elite. The second urgent task is to further broaden and build the emerging world-wide pro-democracy movement, and create a popular coalition that can reclaim democracy from the ruling corporate masters who are looting and pillaging at will, and who have usurped far too much power, politically, economically, and in the media. To this second aim, this brief reflection is geared. Unite the people now.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, or more accurately, the fast-growing global pro-democracy movement, has broad support from progressives, the left and labour, considerable support from students, youth, the environmental and peace movements and the liberal centre, and also, although it may be surprising to some, considerable support from the grassroots right.

What many do not understand is that the grassroots right is increasingly wary of and outraged by the same ruling corporate elite that the left has fought against for generations. A growing number of people who consider themselves conservatives are now highly aware that big business and the super-rich have taken over the political process as well as the economy and the media. They are not happy about this fact, to say the least.

There is common ground here, between left and right, liberal, conservative and progressive, and we should not be fooled by the corporate-dominated and corporate-owned media who always want to spin and sow division among the people. The power-hungry have always known that divide and conquer is the best and first line of defence of their vested interests and imperial powers. We should not be surprised when the corporate-run media both inflames and also inflates and exaggerates the divisions which do exist, and severely downplays the common ground that could unite the people. When the people unite, democracy will rule, and the ruling elite will be deposed from power – the elite know this very well, and therefore do everything they can to sow division and discord among the people. Do not let them win!

*

At the level of the grassroots, many people are fiscal conservatives, and many fiscal conservatives realize that spending $1.5 trillion a year on imperial wars, the military-industrial complex and CIA black ops – and this is the figure that has been acknowledged by the U.S. government, by the way – is completely unsustainable, and is in fact, economic suicide. While there are major differences of opinion and views between right and left, there is also strong common ground – common ground that is routinely overlooked, and that is vital that we acknowledge and come to realize. Many fiscal conservatives realize that the vast sums spent on war and empire are leading to a collapse of the currency and a bankrupting of the nation. Many also realize that it is the vested interests of the corporate elite – the big oil companies and military-industrial contractors, for example – that drive the wars and the imperial hubris and sheer insanity.

The grassroots right and conservatives are not as out to lunch as most liberals, progressives and people on the left tend to believe. Neither right nor left has a monopoly on truth, on intelligence, or on moral high ground. The sooner we realize that none of us are infallible, that we can learn from one another, and most importantly, that we have a strong basis of unity in common ground, the better.

If the left and progressives and liberals can get over their long-standing self-righteousness and presumed superior moral high ground and intelligence, they will find that they have allies in surprising places. If the right will overcome their habitual paranoia and rabid, overly zealous partisan hatred and hostility toward the left, and realize that the vast majority of people on the left today are neither Stalinists nor statist authoritarians, they too will realize that they have allies in surprising places. We need to realize this now: there is common ground; and unless we find it, we are all in for a very dark time ahead. Divided we will fall – make no mistake about it.

The right and the left may forever disagree, and disagree strongly, on many major issues; but when it comes to the core issues, the most central and fundamental of issues, most people on both right and left are in favour of constitutional democracy, limited powers of the state, civil liberties, freedom and authentic democracy, and are opposed to any form of elite rule. This fact, and this common ground, is critically important for us all to realize now.

*

On another line, many on the grassroots right and many who would call themselves conservatives, are libertarians. Traditionally, libertarianism has been a term that has been co-opted by the libertarian right. The libertarian right has traditionally been wary – rightly so – of excessive powers of the state; and it has also traditionally been laissez-faire, or willfully ignorant, as to the dangers of excessive powers in the economic realm. But this has been changing over the past two to three decades, and libertarians that were or are conservatives or rightist, have begun to realize what Thomas Jefferson knew very well two hundred years ago: excessive concentrations of either economic or political powers will result in tyranny.

A growing number of libertarians are now highly aware that in order to preserve constitutional democracy, civil liberties and freedom, the corporate elite must be pushed back, and firmly reigned in. Again, there is a good deal of common ground here between conservatives, liberals, progressives, right and left now, at least at the level of the grassroots.

Of course most politicians are partisan zealots: they have to uphold the charade that they represent widely differing views between widely differing political parties, and to mask the fact that both of the major political parties in the U.S., and most of the major political parties around the world, are bought and paid for by the same ruling corporate elite.  As George Carlin put it, “The politicians are there to give you the illusion that you have a choice. You don’t have a choice – you have owners. They own you. It’s a big club folks – and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the club. And by the way, it’s the same club they use to beat you over the head with every god-damn day, telling you what to think, what to believe.”

We are presented with a false set of choices, and asked to choose between corporate lap dogs A, B, or C. More and more, the people are aware that this is no choice at all, and that the entire system is failing us, and has been co-opted, high-jacked, by the same 1% who control and dominate the global economy and the major media, and are pillaging the earth and the people.

It is time for the people to fully see through the smoke screen, to recognize that the central question at hand is whether we have a plutocracy in which the richest 1% rule over the rest, or whether we have government of the people, by the people, for the people, and to reclaim our democracy, our lives, our world and our future.

*

Environmentalists are coming to realize that there will be no serious action to protect our environment or save our collective asses until and unless we depose the ruling corporate powers from their dominance over the political process, the economy and the media – that is, until we the people take the power back and reclaim our democracy and our future.

The progressives and the left generally realize that there will be no justice and no authentic democracy until and unless the people reclaim their power, take back their democracy, and push the corporate elite to the side, reigning them in and allowing decisions to be made, as they should and must, by the people, and not by the super-rich.

The labour movement is coming to realize that perpetual rear-guard action is necessary, but entirely insufficient to create a just and equitable society – that the goals of jobs, decent working conditions and pay, and a decent life for all, are impossible to attain until and unless the people reclaim their power and their democracy from the corporate elite who have usurped these.

The peace movement is beginning to realize that imperial warfare will never end until the military-industrial complex and the big oil companies, and more broadly, the reigning corporate elite, are deposed from power, and the people reclaim their democracy.

The traditionally wishy-washy and banal centre is coming to realize that the middle class dream of a peaceful, reasonably just, free and democratic society in which they and their children can do well and prosper, is a dream that is systematically being destroyed, that the middle class is being eviscerated and is falling into the underclass, and that these goals and values briefly exposited above are by now an impossibility until and unless the people say no to the corporate giants and the financial elite who have overstepped their bounds and come to dominate the entire political process, the economy and the planet. The habitually somnambulent and deferential centre is beginning to awaken.

This is already a broad coalition of interests, people and movements, and it will be even broader when the grassroots left, right and centre realize that they have a common foe: and that is the super-rich 1% and the corporate elite who are destroying democracy, civil liberties, constitutional rights and freedoms, waging unending, murderous and economically bankrupting imperial wars, and endangering all our lives and futures by continuing to disregard the environment in the pursuit of short-term profits and rape and pillage economics.

On the right, there may be 10-20% of the population that is authoritarian and quasi- if not wholly fascist. On the left, there may be 10-20% that is naively, cynically or stubbornly elitist and authoritarian. The 60-80% of the people who are in between these two extremes of right and left prefer and strongly are in favour of constitutional democracy and the rule by the people – and opposed to rule by any kind of elite. This is the majority which we must now unite, and this majority which supports constitutional democracy and is opposed to any form of elite rule, spans both the left and right, liberals, conservatives and progressives. We can and must unite the majority now, and reclaim our democracy from the plutocrats and the – frankly speaking, and to put it plainly – crypto-fascists.

Act now. The time is late. And the time has come for a change.

Unite the people. It is time for the people to take back their democracy and to renew the world.

JTR,
October 19, 2011

The system is broken: strategic voting, coalitions, and the political regime under which we live

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, Chomsky, class, collapse, common ground, communism, conservative, Conservative Party, conservatives, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, Democrat, elite, empowerment, Feudalism, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, good news, inspiration, left, liberal, Media, money, nation state, national democracies, Noe-feudalism, people's movements, philosophy, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, propaganda, reading, Republican, Republican Party, resources, right, right wing, social theory, sovereignty, the right, tipping point, truth on May 28, 2011 by jtoddring

While I can of course see the rationale for strategic voting, there is much to be said for voting with one’s conscience. When we consistently choose the lesser of two evils, our choices are reduced to evil, and the results are evil. When everyone holds their nose and votes, essentially, for one of the parties or candidates of the status quo, believing no other option is feasible or can succeed, this collective act of despair becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: and low and behold, all other options are nullified – by our own act of choosing not to support them.

Put the blame where it belongs: the dominant parties are ensconced through the powers of the major media, which are controlled by the business and political elite who are in turn in bed with the party elite of the major parties: if we had a free press, and not a propaganda system, the people’s representatives would more closely resemble in action as well as words the views and values of the people, the great majority of whom by clear and consistent polls wish for more justice, equitability, sustainability, peace and compassion in the land and in the world.

How does a new party or a minor party build itself to a major force in politics? Certainly not by people choosing between the lesser of two evils and voting “strategically.” I’d almost be inclined to say that voting strategically is voting idiotically, for it is a vote of despair, a fatalistic action that presumes no major change is possible. While this is not entirely true, there is a great deal of truth to that picture painted. Maybe we should trust our conscience and common sense more often, and leave the horse racing to the track. This is not a game: it is our future.

Would it be better to vote for the devil if we thought he had a better chance of winning? Have we lost our reason and our faculties, our moral compass altogether? Politics is not about winning: it is about doing something virtuous in the world, for the benefit of all – or else it is truly a devil’s bargain, and we are both the prisoners and the captors ourselves. A vote is never wasted if it is the expression of our voice and true belief. Moreover, if it is an expression of our common sense and humanity, it would be a waste to thwart that and conceal it behind a shroud of “realpolitique” or imagined “realism.” When everyone defers to the present norm and the dominant powers, the present norm, no matter how profoundly abnormal or even pathological, becomes further entrenched, and real change, intelligent change, humane and sane and good-hearted change, becomes pushed ever farther off.

At the very least, we should make our views and values known, otherwise, democracy cannot function, and is reduced to a reification and endorsement of the existing structures of power and the dominant players. That scenario is dismal, to say the least. Let’s break it open. It is time to broaden the debate, broaden the discourse, and look to our options in a much wider field. The future is only as narrowed as our minds.

As to the dominant political parties in North America, they are all – Republican and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal – beholden to the corporate elite who rule this continent. Whoever wins of this pack of four cronies and lapdogs, we get corporate rule; and whichever of them wins, we get either the fast-track or the sugar-coated program for bringing us a global neo-Dickensian corporate feudalism in which the elite rule, the privileged servile few prosper, and the rest suffer in misery and disenfranchisement. If we are serious about social change, then we need to break out of this stranglehold. A coalition is one way to break the hegemony of the forces of corporate power and their political lackeys, and that is something I would like to see emerge sooner rather than later.

What I believe could work, is now truly viable, and perhaps is our only hope within the arena of formal party politics, is a coalition that spans left, right and centre: it would be a coalition of everyone who prefers authentic democracy and rule by the people, to corporate rule and the rapidly emerging neo-feudal order. I will leave that to the organizers and political strategists to ponder, and hope that the call does not go unheeded. Our future is waiting.

For myself, while I admire the best and brightest of party activists, representatives and candidates – few and far between as they are – I have very little faith in the existing electoral and political system, for reasons of money and media corruption, and so, choose to focus my energies elsewhere. The system is broken. Everyone by now knows it, and the polls world-wide show a dramatic and profound crisis of legitimacy and loss of confidence in the political and economic structures and powers that rule us. To change this, the media monopoly must be broken, and serious, major and fundamental electoral reform brought in. However, the existing media powers and electoral financing system benefits the dominant political players and parties, so they are not willing to do what needs to be done, hence, the broken system perpetuates itself, via a self-serving political and business elite who dominate the political, economic and media spheres which are by now fully intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Choice under this political-economic system is largely an illusion: a small elite rule, and have for a very long time. As George Carlin so aptly put it, “You don’t have any choice – you have owners.” Or as John Lennon said, “You’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.” Democracy is a dream yet to be fulfilled. (See C. Wright Mills, David C. Korten or Noam Chomsky if this is not immediately self-evident.)

A break must come somewhere, and the growing and deepening global crisis of legitimacy of the ruling powers and systems guarantees that it will come. Remember the collapse of the Soviet Union and the entire Communist bloc just a few short decades ago: when a crisis of legitimacy reaches its culmination, a breaking point occurs, and the game is over: the entire edifice collapses, and something new – depending upon what the people do, arises to replace the old order. “Let them eat cake” did not stave off the demise of the old regime. In fact, such smug and cold arrogance hastened the coming change, and every repressive action in defence of the old and dying system, fuelled the fires of the imagination, of indignation, and of revolution. Stay tuned, stay alert, and keep your good heart. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over `till it’s over.” Remember Ozymandias. This is not the end of history, and democracy is yet being born.

J. Todd Ring,

May 27, 2011

Libertarianism, Anarchism, Socialism and Democracy

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, anarchism, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky, Jefferson, Kropotkin, libertarian, libertarian socialism, libertarianism, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, right, right wing, Ron Paul, social theory, socialism, sociology, the right, Thoreau on April 19, 2011 by jtoddring

Fundamental questions

And

The future of humanity on earth

Or,

Further reflections on political economy in the real world


The questions of philosophy, and in particular, political philosophy, are of course large: and the implications of our responses, vast, far-reaching, and profound. We must take a moment to gain, as much as we can, a fresh look at things. From this freshness of perspective, we can gain a basic clarity of view. It is that basic clarity of mind, combined with a basic and shared goodwill and a courageous spirit, that we shall prevail; that victory over injustice and tyranny, as well as the madness of ecological self-destruction, shall be won; and we shall have, as human beings on this earth, and our children shall have – even more importantly – a better and brighter future than any of us might have dared to imagine, or dream of. It starts with clear-eyed and honest, thoughtful reflection. It starts here, now, in this moment, as in every moment. The future is wide open, but to create out of this vast openness, and not out of precluded possibilities or blinkered, presumptive, shallow thinking and narrow prejudice, requires our full attention and our well-considered thought. Let us dive in. There is much to discuss, and much to reflect upon. We can afford, and must demand of ourselves, a few moments of reflection, or else we will continue to rush madly and headlong into our own enslavement and self-destruction – which is the path we are currently drifting upon, and drifting with increasing speed, toward that cliff which approaches now. Let us stop for a moment, pause, and consider or reconsider, our groundwork assumptions, in a little more depth perhaps than we are ordinarily inclined, so that we can muster the clarity with which to act in the greatest interests and for the greatest benefit for all, including for ourselves, for our children, and for our children’s children.

*

I heartily agree with Thoreau on most subjects, including his views on government: he is at once a far-sighted idealist, and also a very clear-eyed pragmatist, with his feet firmly on the ground. His thought is always refreshingly lucid, frank, honest, good-hearted and direct, and he is a definite kindred spirit. A quote from him will open this short essay on political philosophy:

“I heartily agree with the statement, “That government is best which governs the least” – and I would like to see it acted up to more readily and more completely; and I would extend it to say this: that government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that is precisely the kind of government they shall have.” (Emphasis added.)

Thoreau here makes it clear that he is a kind of grassroots Jeffersonian democrat, with strong anarchist inclinations. He goes on to clarify precisely what he means, however, in order that we have no confusion or misunderstanding in our minds: “But I would not count myself among the no-government men. I do not call, at once for no government, but at once for a better government. Let every man state what kind of government would command his respect, and that shall be one step towards attaining it.” In other words, anarchism is the long-term ideal, but men and women are not likely ready for it just yet. In the meantime, let us have the least heavy-handed government possible, and also the most noble that we can create. Thoreau is, in a word, eminently sane. (The very well-considered views of Chomsky and Bertrand Russell echo Thoreau on this point as well, and both are of a rare lucidity, generally speaking – though naturally no one is infallible.)

All forms of elitism and authoritarianism are based in the urge to control and repress. The impulse to control and repression is based, clearly, in fear. The problem with control complexes – be they in personal life or the political sphere – is that they tend to compound problems, and end up creating more problems than they solve. As the old sage and first philosopher of Taoism, Lao Tzu said, “If you want to control the cattle, move back the fences.” He continued to say, with emphasis, “The greatest danger is the excessive use of force;” “Trust them: leave them alone.” And, as Jefferson said, piercing the Hobbesian delusion to its core, “If you can’t trust people to govern themselves, how can you trust them to govern others?” We would be wise to ponder these statements at length, and in depth. Or as Chuang Tzu, the second major thinker and sage of Taoism has said, “You should govern a large country like you cook a small fish.” That is, lightly.

Jefferson, Thoreau, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and others of like spirits – such as Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky, Bookchin, Rianne Eisler, David C. Korten, Ron Paul, Kropotkin and Etienne de la Boittee – I would say, are all in a mode of mind which represents a basic clarity with regards to political life and human society. We might want to look more into these thinkers, for they have much to offer us today in light of our current social issues and global crises. We are running headlong into a kind of global neo-fascist corporate feudalism, and that spells the end of both freedom and democracy if we allow this trend to reach its chilling final conclusion. A little quiet reflection is sorely needed now, to avert disaster of the greatest magnitude, to defend over 800 years of rule by law and constitutional due process, to prevent us from being thrown back into “a more brutal age of empires” (as Zbig wishes for us), and most essentially, to secure a future of well-being and freedom for all.

*

From my own perspective, I would be happy, in the short term, with a form of democratic socialism, with the emphasis on democratic – and for this or any kind of democracy to be just, it must be a constitutional democracy or republic, with the rights and freedoms of all individuals enshrined in and protected by constitutional law. I would be even happier with an environmentally conscious social democracy, or what can be called a red-green democracy – again with the critical emphasis on constitutional democracy, freedom and civil rights for all.

With regards to socialism however, I would have to state clearly that questions of wealth pale in significance to questions of power. Therefore the vertical axis of political thought, which ranges between libertarianism and elitist authoritarianism, is far more important than the more commonly focused-upon horizontal axis of right and left. The vertical axis indicates relations of power, from decentralized to totalitarian. The horizontal axis chiefly emphasizes relationships, dynamics and distribution of wealth, from communal to hyper-individualistic. Wealth shapes power, if it is allowed to do so. The converse is also, and even more fundamentally true: the distribution of power determines the distribution of wealth. Therefore, if we are concerned with equitable distribution of the fruits of the earth or of our labour, we should be concerned first and foremost with the distribution of power. Libertarian socialists understand this; most Marxists and state-socialists seem not to. And in any event, and much more importantly yet, any society that claims to be just or free, but in reality concentrates power in the hands of the few while disempowering and making slaves of the many, is anything but just or free, no matter what it calls itself, or what grand rhetoric it invokes.

There are major questions with regard to economic systems, and above all, with questions of economic democracy, or the lack thereof, which fundamentally pertain to the subject at hand, but these are beyond the scope of this short essay. For excellent reflection, analysis and thought on these subjects, see Bertrand Russell’s Roads To Freedom, along with the writings of Kropotkin, Bookchin, Chomsky, Joanna Macy and Michael Albert.

I would be happy with either a right-leaning or left-leaning democracy, whether it be conservative or liberal, republican or democratic, libertarian or progressive, socialist or capitalist, or any blend of the above, so long as it is a true and functioning democracy, with constitutionally protected rights and freedoms for all individuals, and above all, true rule by the people – unfortunately, such a thing is still very rare anywhere in the world at present: but this is certainly open to change, and change – real change – is coming, and is emerging now, rapidly, all over the world. The tide is turning in Latin America, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and also, though it is still gestational and yet to blow the lid off, so to speak, in North America and Europe. Real change is on the rise, I assure you. Freedom and justice are at hand. Democracy is coming.

*

To further clarify the fundamentals of democracy and political economy, let the following be stated and the subject matter elucidated. The word democracy is beautiful, meaning, from the Latin, demos kratos: people power, power to the people, power of the people, or rule by the people themselves. The word or idea of democracy must be clarified however, so that it is not abused or misunderstood. Most essentially, for a democracy to be just, noble and free, or even for it to be effectual, intelligent and to function at its best, it must be a constitutional democracy or republic, in which rule by majority vote is held in check and balanced against certain basic laws which are enshrined in a constitution, in order to protect the freedom, rights and well-being of all individuals, and in order that the voices of all may be heard and considered. Without such constitutional safeguards, democracy degenerates into that ugly description of its dark side or dark potential: two wolves and a sheep sitting down at the table, and deciding what to have for dinner. “Tyranny of the majority” is not just a phrase: it is often the reality. This is why democracy requires a constitution, with protection for the voices, rights, freedom and well-being of all individuals.

Another critically important note must be made here: that constitutional democracy and corporatism are fundamentally and unequivocally at odds. The one grounds power in the hands of the people; the other silences and marginalizes the people, nullifying any genuine substance to democracy, quietly or overtly eviscerating both democracy and freedom, along with the destruction of constitutions and rights, while concentrating all power, increasingly and steadily, by coup or slow stealth, in the hands of a reigning financial or economic elite. The one values, safeguards and upholds the well-being, rights and freedoms of all individuals, while the other is a deception: pretending that corporations are real persons, when clearly they are not, so that the corporate powers can trump and triumph over the people. In short, the rights and freedoms of individuals apply to real people, and cannot be applied to or appropriated by corporations. When the latter happens, democracy and freedom are dead or in peril, and nothing but slavery is on the horizon. Failing to understand this antagonism and fundamental difference between democracy and corporatism is the reason that democracy is in peril now (though many, amazingly, still do not realize it) and freedom is facing its darkest hour.

*

It must be emphasized, that while democracy is the best form of government – that is, rule by the people, and not by any self-proclaimed elite – for democracy to be at its best, or even to function properly at all, it must be bound to constitutional law. In order that democracy may function as the rule of the people, and do this in the best possible way for all, it must be open to the voices of all. This means that a constitution is required in order to provide the grounding of fundamental laws protecting, at the very least, the freedom of the individual from arbitrary arrest, detention, torture or summary execution, along with other basic freedoms and rights, such as the freedom of speech, freedom of thought and belief, and the freedom of expression and assembly of all individuals. Without such protections and safeguards to freedom of person, speech, thought, assembly and expression being constitutionally enshrined and upheld, individuals and minority groups can and often are silenced by the majority, and democracy becomes both far weaker and far less just. Without the safeguards of basic laws enshrined by a constitution which protect and defend the rights, civil liberties, freedom and well-being of all individuals, democracy reverts to a kind of crass and blind rule of the majority, which often and easily degenerates into a tyranny of the majority. For democracy to function well, the voices of all must be heard and not silenced or marginalized; and for democracy to avoid becoming a simple-minded tyranny of the reigning majority, a constitution must enshrine and defend and protect – even cherish – the well-being, rights and freedoms of all individuals. So when we say democracy, let us understand that this must mean constitutional democracy, and not simple majority rule, so that the well-being and freedom of all individuals is upheld and promoted.

It must also be emphasized that for democracy, freedom or justice to be real and to prevail, not only political power, but also economic power must be addressed. As Chomsky put it, cutting as usual to the very heart of the matter, “It is an axiom that power follows property.” If we allow economic powers to become so staggeringly concentrated, as they have over the past 200 years with the rise of the corporation, then we will naturally see the eclipse of both freedom and democracy, all justice will be gone, and we will, once again, be peasants under the boot of feudal lords. If this sounds familiar, it is because we have left unchecked for too long, the staggering growth of economic powers: we are now serfs, and are rapidly becoming slaves. It is not too late, but monopolistic or oligarchical, plutocratic powers of excessive concentrations of financial or economic power, must be checked.

The powers of finance, corporations and the economic realm in general, cannot be permitted to continue to encroach upon, dominate, or functionally eviscerate the democratic process, as they are doing now. This is a basic requirement for democracy and for freedom, as well as for justice – in fact, given the ecological crisis, it is a requirement for any future for humanity at all.

If Tom Paine were alive today, he would be urging revolution, now as then. And he would not be speaking in denunciation of a king, but of a far more grotesque, more pervasive, and all-encompassing form of tyranny than King George could ever have imagined. He would be speaking truth to power, and urging us to resist, to defy, and to overthrow that unjust, undemocratic and tyrannical power which is oppressing and exploiting us, and holding down the freedom, creative power, imagination and true potential of humanity. The power he would today be decrying and urging resistance and revolution against, is the new money powers of the corporate aristocracy and the global corporatist empire, which has arisen over the past 200 years, and which now threatens to swallow up the dreams of humanity, along with our freedom and civil liberties, our democratic process and governments, our wealth and potential and very future on earth.

Thomas Jefferson saw this danger 200 years ago: the very real, and even then, imminent danger of “the new monied aristocracy” and rising corporate powers usurping the powers of the people and of democratic government, and leaving in their place a new kind of slavery and tyranny over the earth. We have failed to listen for nearly 200 years, and so are at a very dark hour. We had better listen now.

*

To further state my own views as to political philosophy, I would say that I am libertarian, or more simply put, anti-authoritarian. I am not opposed to the term anarchism, but prefer the less misunderstood term of libertarianism, since the elitists, globalists, authoritarians and corporate propagandists have made such a successful attack on the term anarchy that it immediately strikes fear in the hearts of otherwise intelligent people, rendering them blinkered bleating fools, incapable of any kind of rational thought.

It is a libertarianism of the left that I am speaking of here, and not the laissez-faire capitalism which constitutes right-wing libertarianism. Right-wing libertarianism is an oxy-moron, as far as all evidence and logic would indicate. Socially or fiscally conservative libertarians must understand, as many do, that both economic and political powers can and do threaten our basic freedom and well-being; and therefore, it is imperative that both political and economic powers be kept in check and within certain bounds, so that freedom, democracy and the well-being of each and all can be secured and promoted.

Presently, big money is a far greater threat to freedom than is big government – and while I am a fan of neither, I am interested in choosing my battles intelligently: first things first. Reign in the corporate elite, restore the rule of constitutions and democracy, return the power to the people, and then we can go from there.

In order to accomplish these most critical and urgent aims, the people must unite: this means that we must begin to realize that the primary battle is not between left and right – it is between freedom and democracy on the one hand, and the rule by an unchecked and anti-democratic, arrogant and tyrannical, self-serving elite on the other.

The real battle is not between liberal and conservative, nor left and right, but between the people and the would be “masters of the universe.” Let’s get things straight: if we do not come together on the fundamentals – the preservation of freedom, democracy, and rule by the people, there will be nothing left to debate, for we will all be slaves, and democracy shall be no more. It is time for the people to unite. Unite!

*

We could also call left libertarianism by other terms (hopefully, without frightening too many people into irrationality, or into fits of rage or frothy-mouthed vitriol, or glazey-eyed unthinking presumption, or name-calling stereotyping, or bleeting group-think, or asinine guilt-by-association absurdities, or glib, smug, thoughtless reactionary jingoism, or else into a terrified grab for the remote control and the soft pain of somnambulant self-medication through the great grey tube of the tv and the virtual enslavement system of the mass media trance – the shot in the arm of the digital opiate). To speak in broad terms, a libertarianism of the left can also be described as, or at least closely related to, that which has been called variously, libertarian socialism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism or democratic communitarianism. To put it most simply and directly however, let us say that left libertarianism is most readily and easily, and also most accurately understood, as this: grassroots democracy, with an emphasis on sharing, cooperation and mutual aid.

It is hard for anyone of sound mind and good heart to argue against such a position as this: Jesus meets Jefferson, you could say; or the Buddha meets and meshes with the Enlightenment values of freedom, equality, solidarity and democracy. Left libertarianism evokes our better selves, our higher impulses and thoughts and motivations, and aspires to our highest values as human beings on earth: love and compassion, freedom and democracy, mutual aid and caring, justice for all, and a basic instinct towards peaceful coexistence, cooperation and sharing. Who dares denounce such values openly? I dare them to profess aloud that they despise these things.

Are these values and views out of touch with reality? Are they childishly naive or whimsically idealistic? Hardly. History shows that such a view as this, which is deeply sceptical of all forms of excessive concentration of power in society, is the most lucid, the most sober, and the most prescient and prudent. One need not be an optimist about human nature to agree with a left libertarian view. If one is sceptical about the darker potentials of human nature, then one should all the more be a democrat, and, a democrat in the populist sense, the Jeffersonian sense, or the libertarian sense, for we have seen all too often, too repeatedly, and too gruesomely, that power does indeed corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Therefore, if we are sceptical as to human nature, or at least as to human fallibility, as Hobbes was, we should, unlike Hobbes, be rational, and prevent any one person or group of people from acquiring too great a power in human society. This means, taken to its logical conclusion, that we are strongly in favour of grassroots participatory democracy, constitutional checks and balances and limits on all forms of social power, including, not only political power, but also economic and cultural power, such as media powers or church powers or financial or corporate powers, so that freedom can prevail, and so that no one group or individual can dominate the rest, and so that tyranny, exploitation, oppression and injustice can be averted and avoided, to every extent possible. In short, if you are a democrat, and are rational and lucid, or have given the subject clear-eyed and in-depth thought, then you are a libertarian democrat, or a grassroots democrat, or a Jeffersonian democrat, however you wish to phrase that basic clarity of mind.

This does not mean that one must be socially or even fiscally conservative with regards to political economy or political philosophy. What it means, is that all forms of excessive concentrations of power are regarded with a serious scepticism, and that freedom and democracy are valued, not only in rhetoric, but in policy and action.

To be a true democrat, one must value, in thought, speech and action, democracy and freedom – that would seem to be self-evident, but alas, it is rare. What this entails is this: to be a true democrat (or republican) one must be anti-authoritarian and anti-elitist. And to be a consistent – or one could even say – an intelligent democrat, one must address not only political power, but also economic power. To address both political and economic power, along with a valuing of freedom, justice and truly authentic, substantive participatory democracy, requires one to be both a democrat and also a libertarian. Anything other is simply self-contradictory, irrational, or else either disingenuous or flatly undemocratic.

“‘Rugged individualism’ has meant all the ‘individualism’ for the masters, while the people are regimented into a slave caste to serve a handful of self-seeking ‘supermen.’ America is perhaps the best representative of this kind of individualism, in whose name political tyranny and social oppression are defended and held up as virtues; while every aspiration and attempt of man to gain freedom and social opportunity to live is denounced as ‘un-American’ and evil in the name of that same individuality.” – Emma Goldman

As Chomsky so aptly and cogently summed it up: “You’re either an aristocrat or a democrat.” There is no third choice, in reality; and all aristocratic sentiments and notions are anti-democratic and ultimately tyrannical, if not simply mad. The aristocratic notion of political philosophy or ideology amounts always and most essentially to this one simple-minded thought: I, or else me and my buddies, should rule supreme over all. The infantile grandiosity and megalomania should be readily self-evident to all. To be a genuine democrat is to resist and reject all such notions of elite rule, in favour of a genuine rule of the people, by the people, for the people. In short, you can choose freedom and responsibility, which are a package deal, or you can choose a childish dependency upon a supposed benign parental figure of elite rule, and hope that your slavery is pleasant, or at least not too damaging. I would say in conclusion, we are left with a choice of sanity or madness, and the path of democracy and freedom is the only path aligned with the former.

J. Todd Ring,
March 17, 2011
http://www.jtoddring.wordpress.com
Prajnaseek on Youtube

See Chomsky, Bertrand Russell, Rianne Eisler, Bookchin, Kropotkin, Aldous Huxley, Erich Fromm, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Emerson and Thoreau for similar views on society and political philosophy.
(See the Nolan Chart for the four dimensions of political philosophy – there are more than two.)

Ron Paul: The World Is Watching

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, Chavez, civil liberties, common ground, conservative, corporatism, crisis of democracy, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, Dennis Kucinich, empire, FDR, fiscal conservative, Giuliani, Global War on Terrorism, globalism, globalization, imperialism, libertarian, libertarianism, people's movements, police state, political economy, politics, Republican Party, right, right wing, Roosevelt, the right, U.S., war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2008 by jtoddring

As a Canadian, and a neighbour to the most powerful nation on Earth, I watch, as most Canadians and many around the world do, U.S. politics with trepidation and skepticism, and with the emergence of Ron Paul, with some hope.

I can tell you this. Many, many people in Canada and world-wide would be delighted and profoundly relieved to see a U.S. president come to office who decisively and firmly renounces imperial warfare as well as the rapid slide into a transnational police state of profoundly anti-democratic corporate oligarchy.

Every intelligent and informed observer now knows what is no longer deniable. The drift toward the destruction of freedom and constitutional democracy is conscious, deliberate, multi-national and definitely real. Ron Paul is the only US presidential candidate with any integrity in terms of these two most critical issues: protect constitutional democracy, and end imperial warfare. It is inspiring that he has generated such enormous grassroots support.

It seems Ron Paul has proven the power of the internet. Through the net, a grassroots political campaign can generate tremendous popular support, and also raise enough campaign funds that corporate boot-licking can be done away with. I sincerely hope he wins. And by the looks of polls and grassroots fund-raising, he just might. He gets it right on the two most critical issues. That makes him hands down the best candidate. The rest are sadly, corporate hacks. If in doubt, watch these two videos.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/3/vote_for_change_atrocity_linked_us


or

It seems the world is indeed watching, and surprisingly, the support for Ron Paul has started to go global. While Clinton, Obama and other US presidential candidates inspire tentative hope at best, if not profound skepticism or dread aversion, Ron Paul is inspiring a passion for true democracy around the world.

I should say that I am not a supporter of the Republican or Democratic parties of the US, as they are two wings of the party of, by and for the corporate elite. This man, however, is an exception to the rule. In terms of rigid categorical thinking, and the ability to recognize exceptions to the rule, I think of a statement by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Ron Paul is an exception who merits strong support, whatever your habitual allegiances may be. If constitutional democracy is not protected, the possibilities for a liberal, democratic, or left-inspired future of solidarity and justice are narrowed. Wherever you are on the political spectrum, right, left, liberal or conservative, if you value democracy or freedom, take a look at Ron Paul.

I would prefer a New Deal populist democrat who realizes the need to get firm with the corporate powers in order to preserve democracy, freedom and the well-being of the people – someone closer to a Hugo Chavez, but the US presently has no such figure on the horizon. Given what we have to work with, preserving constitutional democracy against the encroachments of corporate power, and stopping the mad and potentially apocalyptic thrust of imperial warfare, become the most urgent of concerns. All other issues become secondary in light of these. I would even say that I think Ron Paul’s vision is very limited. It is still the case, however, that he is the only candidate in this possibly pivotal election that will uphold the basics of constitutional democracy and freedom from imperial or police state warfare. First things first.

The only candidates that I have seen that inspire any sort of confidence in me personally, for the two primary reasons stated above, or for any criteria, are Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich and Republican candidate Ron Paul. Kucinich, like Ron Paul, is the exception to the rule. These are the only two that voted consistently against war in Iraq, as well as against the crushing of democracy through the Patriot Acts and Military Commissions Act. Both have won in all polls following debates – which shows where the hearts and minds of the American people lie. A decent Republican – yes Dorothy, there apparently is such a creature – and a decent Democrat – also a rarity: maybe these two should be running mates – it’s not the right versus the left that is most central, but democracy versus corporatocracy.
Ron Paul may be one more spark, and possibly a critical one, in a new global spirit of democratic revolution. Yes, I said revolution. what we need now is a new wave of democratic revolutions, world wide. Corporatocracy is taking deeper hold. Its credibility is shattered globally, thus it seeks to consolidate power while it can. What that entails should be obvious to any who know their history. Speak now, or watch the horror. Get informed. Get behind him. Support authentic democracy in the world’s remaining superpower, or bear the consequences. The choices are becoming rather stark.

Copy, embed and share these videos. Speak up my friends. The alternative is interrogation centers, destruction of democracy, and a brutally integrated global corporatocracy. Imagine Charles Dickens’ era, wedded to an Orwellian dystopia. This is where the global corporate elite are taking us. Ron Paul is one possibly major bulwark against the current drift, and a spark toward a world worthy of the future.

“Whether it’s the war against poverty, drugs, terrorism, or the current Hitler of the day, an appeal to patriotism is used to convince the people that a little sacrifice of liberty, here and there, is a small price to pay. The results, though, are frightening and will soon become even more so.”
– Congressman Ron Paul, December 9, 2003

Please watch these video shorts. The American empire is too powerful to ignore. We must take an interest.

Bill Maher’s new hero

Experience and knowledge with integrity: macroeconomics

Ron Paul Rising

Stop Dreaming

Lest there be any question as to the stakes:
Olbermann: The Death of Habeas Corpus

Related essays and posts:

Ron Paul: Honest Abe Lives
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/ron-paul-honest-abe-lives.html

An Outbreak of Democracy in America?
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/05/outbreak-of-democracy-in-america.html

My Buddy Obama
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-buddy-obama.html

On Libertarianism: Right and Left
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/on-libertarianism-right-left.html

Supplemental:

Earth 101: Essential Reading
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/earth-101-essential-reading.html

The Right Kind of Confusion: Conservative Divisions and the Collapse of the Right

Posted in American politics, Bush, Canada, Canadian politics, capitalism, Clinton, conservative, Conservative Party, conservatives, corporate rule, corporatism, debt, deficit, Democratic Party, election, FDR, fiscal conservative, Global War on Terrorism, Harper, Hilary, Hobbes, Keynesian economics, liberal, libertarian, Martin, Mulroney, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, New Deal, Obama, politics, Reagan, Republican Party, right, social conservative, Thatcher, Trudeau, U.S., Uncategorized, war on democracy, War on Terror on May 16, 2007 by jtoddring

The Conservative Party seems to be a strange mixture of competing and conflicting ideologies, as Devin Johnston pointed out in Countdown Until the Conservative Party Disbands Again. His post sparked reflections on the state of conservative parties and alliances in Canada and the U.S. Here are a few thoughts. To begin with, I think it’s helpful to distinguish some of the ideological or philosophical currents that are lumped together under the label of “the right” or “conservative”. The first that comes to mind for many is crass servility to corporate power, however, there is of course, much more complexity to the right than that.

One element within that loose category called “conservative” or “the right” is the current which comprises social conservativism. As Devin again, nicely summarized: “Social conservatism is the premise that there is one “right” way of living in a community and one “right” set of values, beliefs and ideals. Social conservatives advocate the suppression of the rights and freedoms of minorities through the state imposition of white male Christian heteronormative values. [In Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, it would be Arab male Islamic heteronormative values; and in both cases, class prejudice and class warfare are more than a little present – they are in fact central.] Classical liberals precisely reject any attempt by the state to dictate beliefs and values to citizens.” Well put. You could say it is Thomas Hobbes versus Thomas Paine.

Another current is populist, with strong values of grassroots democracy. Closely related but more emphatic in its wariness of centralized power is the libertarian current. Populists may be social conservatives, although there is an uneasy tension in this inherent contradiction; but any genuine libertarian will disavow state interference in the lives of citizens, including same sex marriage, de-criminalization of marijuana and other hot-button issues for social conservatives.

Classical liberalism places a high value on freedom, and distrusts what libertarians call the “nanny state.” Libertarians therefore have an uneasy alliance with the right, as the right is uncomfortably full of social conservatives who want to regulate everything from who you sleep with to how you brush your teeth. Libertarians can for these reasons be found forming alliances with the left when conditions are right. (No pun intended.) It is not necessarily that they are fickle, but more that they are looking for political representation within a system and political climate that is far more statist, centralist, elitist and authoritarian than they would like to see. Depending upon the policies – or promises – of the right or left, they may go either way, and this can at times be an informed and intelligent choice.

Thus, libertarians have more in common with classical liberals – or even left libertarians, who are in truth their estranged cousins – than with social conservatives. It is the espoused values of limited government, freedom, populism, and fiscal conservatism of the right that has attracted the support of libertarians, but if we look to the actual record of the right in Canada and the U.S. we can see that these values were only for public consumption, not for actual practice. Libertarians, populists, fiscal conservatives and advocates of freedom have been sold a bill of goods. More directly, they have been lied to.

The U.S. became the world’s biggest debtor under Reagan, who ballooned the debt to record levels with his tax cuts for the rich and corporations, combined with massive military spending, which is piped through the Pentagon system to form what amounts to corporate welfare for the military-industrial complex – all the while praising the free market, fiscal prudence and shrinking big government. Orwell would nod to Reagan’s handlers. Bush I carried on the tradition, and Bush II has pushed the debt up to $8 trillion – to the point where the dollar, the U.S. economy, and likely the U.S. government will soon collapse, as leading economists have noted with urgency.

All the while, throughout this spending spree by the right in the U.S., government got bigger and bigger, encroachment on personal lives and liberty grew, and erosion of civil rights and freedom is now at crisis point: the constitution itself is at question. It is not clear that democracy will survive in America. The merger of the state and corporate world has been taken to near complete lengths. Eisenhower’s warning has become stark reality.

Both of these trends – wildly indulgent corporate welfare, bringing the nation to the brink of bankruptcy, and grossly inflated powers of government encroaching on civil liberties and freedom – disgust and revolt the libertarians who have in the past supported the Republican and Conservative Parties.

In Canada, Mulroney took the conservatives into the realm of Thatcher, Reagan and neoconservatism – a flat betrayal of the history and traditions of the party. It was under Mulroney that the deficit and debt ballooned, while Trudeau is wrongly blamed. Trudeau and the Liberals faced recession and the OPEC crisis, Mulroney simply sold out the country to the corporate barons. I am no fan of the Liberal Party, but the truth must be told. It was not spending on social programs that drove up the debt, as the right wing media and “think tanks” (read corporate propaganda tools) convinced many to believe.

It was a combination of deliberate slashing of government revenues under Mulroney and successors (including Martin) by way of lavish corporate tax cuts, combined with the strong arm tactics of the international financial community which held our national debt and demanded increasing returns on “investment” by way of interest payments, which created the inflated deficits and growing debt. In the U.S. and Canada, as well as Britain and other Western nations, Keynesian economics and New Deal policies was blamed for fiscal imbalance, cynically and dishonestly, while the real culprit was welfare-state capitalism: hand-outs and tax breaks for the rich and the business elite – with a roll-back for ordinary people of all the gains made over decades and generations, with wages falling and social programs slashed.

This is the true story of the `80’s and `90’s in Canada: cut social spending by claiming a debt crisis – a debt crisis that was created consciously by slashing corporate taxes. It is a win-win situation for the corporate sector: greatly reduced taxes, and a disintegrating social safety net which means people are increasingly desperate and will work for less and less pay. Wonderful for corporate Canada. A tragic betrayal for the people of the country. And this scheme was authored and orchestrated by both Liberals and Conservatives from Mulroney on, all the while speaking of fiscal responsibility and loyalty to the people of Canada. Sickening deceit is what it is.

What we have in the Liberal and Democratic Parties, is a divide between traditional liberals and neoliberalism. Traditional liberals value freedom, democracy, and at least some measure of equality. Neoliberalism surrenders all values to one: compliance with the corporate masters. In the Republican and Conservative Parties, we have a similar division: between traditional conservatives and neoconservatives. Neoconservatives, like neoliberals – being two sides of the same boot-licking serve-the-man philosophy – have surrendered all values to the one over-riding principle: don’t bite, but fervently serve the hand that feeds you – that is, corporate America, or in Canada, Bay Street.

The conflict between social conservatives and libertarians within the broad realm of the right makes political alliances on the right tenuous at best. When you add in the split between genuine fiscal conservatives on the one hand, and on the other hand, neoliberals/neoconservatives (two sides of the same coin) who dominate the party leadership of the right in both the U.S. and Canada (along with all of the major parties), and who speak of fiscal responsibility while engaging in patronage, pork-barreling and corporate welfare to obscene degrees and in grossly hypocritical if not Machiavellian fashion, you have a potential rift that can quickly turn explosive. Witness the present meltdown of the American Republican Party. These divisions are tearing the party to pieces, and not even the most shrill and Orwellian fear-mongering or GWOT rhetoric can keep this machine from flying apart.

Social conservatives are fleeing the Republican Party, as are fiscal conservatives. Libertarians are simply appalled, and feel they have been lied to and betrayed. Republicans under the neocons have alienated the Christian right, the traditional conservatives and the libertarians. All that is left is a few scared suburbanites and the handful of super-rich who are the real constituency of the neconservatives. The party is disintegrating. The game is now open. The political landscape in the U.S. is shifting rapidly.

A maverick like Ron Paul could potentially seize on this disruption in the Republican Party, and capture support that would normally go to someone like Bush or Giuliani. With the Democrats making themselves the party of spineless non-opposition to the horrors and corruption of the neocons (Hilary and Obama being two cases in point), the dark horses like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich actually stand a chance.

Not that I place much hope or even interest in electoral politics in the present or immediate future, believing that they are largely irrelevant by virtue of a general vacuity of both vision and courage, and viewing grassroots movements as the real source of social change, both historically and in the foreseeable future; but some basic sanity and human decency in the realm of parliamentary politics would be a refreshing change.

Getting back to Canadian politics, if the rhetoric versus reality chasm is exposed more thoroughly in the case of the Conservative Party, and the already existing internal divisions made clear, so that a healthy debate among conservatives can occur, the results will likely be the splintering of “the party” but also the resurrection of democracy among the right. That would not be a bad thing.

Basically, the Conservative Party in Canada, as well as the Republican Party of the United States, are parties of, by and for big business and the corporate lobby, but they have to get elected by voters, and not simply gather “donations” from the business elite to get elected; thus they have to lure social and fiscal conservatives, populists and libertarians into thinking that these parties actually have some substantial allegiance to something other than the pursuit of money and power through service to the corporate elite. This is the primary flaw and fatal internal division within the parties of the right: they are built upon a lie.

Of these five elements that we have identified within the right – social conservatism, fiscal conservatism, populism, libertarianism, and service to corporate power – it is almost without exception the one single principle of service to the corporate elite which consistently wins out; all other values are for rhetorical purposes only – they can, will be and have been dispensed with whenever they conflict with the over-riding principle: serve the masters.

Show the people the lie, and the façade falls apart. Then you have a party exposed for what it is: neoconservative, not genuinely conservative – which is a party of class warfare: serve the moneyed aristocracy, as Jefferson decried, and fool the people into serving themselves up on the altar of mammon.

Devin Johnston hits the nail on the head when he says, “At any rate, it is clear to me that the Conservative Party is a pathetic attempt to unite people who are in fact completely at odds with one another in order to destroy a common enemy: godless socialism.” (At least that was the case up until the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the official enemy.) It can be added however that polls in Canada as well as the U.S. show consistent and overwhelming popular support for socialist-leaning policies and views. There is in Canada and the U.S. overwhelming popular support for universal public health care. Overwhelming support for universally accessible education. Overwhelming support for a guaranteed social safety net to protect the poor, ill, injured, disabled and elderly from the ravages of an unfettered monopoly capitalism. An overwhelming majority – generally approaching 80% – believe that the economic system is inherently unfair, the gap between rich and poor is widening, and that the rich get richer while the poor get…..something other. (This latter point by the way is not socialist, but simply a matter of the intelligent or merely common sense observation of the undeniable facts.)

In a nation-wide poll of American citizens the core socialist dictum of “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need” was felt to be such a matter of common sense and common human decency, that over 70% of Americans believed it must have come from the U.S. Constitution. It was, of course, a statement made by none other than Karl Marx. This is why the New Deal policies of FDR in the U.S. Democratic Party and Trudeau in Canada, were so immensely popular: they approximated the ideals of fairness, justice, equality and compassion, even though they were watered down by virtue of existing within an fundamentally unchallenged economic framework of monopoly capitalism. The populace leans left, as it has for generations, while the economic system maintains power in the hands of the few, with the results that political parties have done more to serve the interests of the powerful than those of the people.

If the rhetoric is cut through, the popular support vanishes; and all that is left of the parties of the right in Canada and the U.S. is a servile allegiance to corporate America and Bay Street. Poke the balloon. The time is right to burst this bubble of delusion.

The only other prop holding up this rape and pillage party apparatus of the right is the scare tactics of the Global War on Terror; and that too, is failing. A whole other discussion would be necessary to dissect this campaign of state terrorism which is in effect, and by design, a war, not on terror, but on democracy. For the time being, let it suffice to say that this is not a war that the power elite – being the corporate elite and their political servlings – can win.

When it comes to dismantling the basic structures of democracy, disemboweling the safeguards of basic human rights and freedom, and nullifying a two-hundred year old tradition of constitutional democracy, they will fail. The values of democracy, freedom and human rights have been too deeply imbued in the people of the Western world for these to be given up without a fight – in fact, without a powerful resistance movement.

600,000 or more dead in Iraq to “fight terrorism” and “sow democracy” – in truth, as most now admit, to fight imperial wars for control of world energy supplies – this is terrorism at its finest; or most brutal. The anti-terrorist legislation of post-9/11 paranoia and propaganda, most notoriously the U.S. Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act: this is not the safeguarding of “our way of life” – this is not the “defense of liberty and freedom.” This is the destruction of constitutional democracy and civil rights. This is the criminalization of dissent. This is a Machiavellian lie of the greatest proportions. And this is becoming evident even to the staunchest defenders of the “war on terror.”

The propaganda war that upholds corporate power now, after the red scare days have passed – the tactics no longer effective with the absence of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc – the only rhetoric that upholds this fragile and crumbling edifice of corporate power, short of brute force itself, is the lie of the war on terror. Frighten the people, and they will support “strong leaders” and repressive measures at home, as well as imperial warfare abroad, disguised as self-defense. But the propaganda war is failing. Either there will be another terrorist incident, which will bolster the effectiveness of the propaganda, and again rally the people into supporting their own slavery, the surrender of their rights and freedoms, and the wars of empire around the globe, or the propaganda campaign will collapse, and with it, the power elite that serves, and is in power to serve, the power of the rich and the corporate world. The latter is not likely to be allowed to happen, so watch out for the former.

In the short term, a renewed campaign of what the political elite and agencies like the CIA call “political warfare” and “psychological warfare” – what used to be called propaganda when there existed a bit more honesty in the political arena – is likely to be invoked; and in the short term, there may yet be temporary, Pyrrhic victories for the corporate elite and their servants who present themselves as popular leaders of the right (or the center or left, a la Clinton, Martin, Blair). This is, or should be, a cause for concern. In the not too distant future however, and in fact, in the very near future, such Machiavellian machinations as are won by acts of great deception are unsustainable, and will collapse. They are indeed collapsing as we speak. We need to hasten the demise of these dangerous delusions – at least, that is, if we are at all alive to our human hearts and minds, and care not to see unnecessary suffering, madness or destruction on this small and beautiful, fragile planet. We need to break open these bonds of confusion, examine them, and tear them asunder. They will collapse upon examination. All that is required is the light of day.

 

J. Todd Ring

May 16, 2007

 

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