Archive for economics

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think – Scientific American

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2016 by jtoddring

The great divide between our beliefs, our ideals, and reality

Source: Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think – Scientific American

 

I don’t normally post anything on my blog other than my own original articles and essays, but sometimes a rare article or video is just too important to pass up, and needs to be highlighted. This is one of them.

And once you’ve finished that short, pithy piece, here are a few more I would urge everyone to read:

 

 

Davos’ Blind Eye: How the Rich Eat the Poor and the World

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/the-davos-blind-eye-how-the-rich-eat-the-poor-and-the-world

 

“The pitchforks are coming . . . for us Plutocrats” – Nick Hanauer, Politico Magazine, 6/26/2014

 

Prospects For America: Sanders vs Civil War,
By J. Todd Ring, February 15, 2016

https://jtoddring.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/prospects-for-america-sanders-vs-civil-war/

 

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – Volume One:

Introductory Essays in Political-Economy, Social Analysis and the State of the World

By J. Todd Ring

http://www.amazon.com/Enlightened-Democracy-Millennium-Introductory-Political-Economy/dp/1481074776/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455111715&sr=1-1&keywords=ring+enlightened+democracy

 

Neoliberalism, the Shock Doctrine and Disaster Capitalism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2015 by jtoddring

Normally I post only essays that I have written on my blog, but this deserves to be an exception to the rule. This is a true Must-Watch. But before watching the video below, please take a few minutes to read my own analysis of neoliberalism, and what it means for humanity and the earth.

Naomi Klein clarifies the history of neoliberalism and the current state of the world in a few short minutes.

100,000 protests a year in China now, protests across Europe and North America, rising popular discontent with growing inequality and poverty, increasing cuts to social programs, and neoliberal austerity measures…. What is happening, and why? Watch the video below. But first, read this.

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In a nutshell, neoliberalism is the reigning global ideological orthodoxy which puts corporate profits, and corporate powers, above people, the environment, and also democracy. It is a disaster for everyone but the super-rich global investor class. It needs to be rejected, firmly and categorically, as many nations have begun to do. But first, it needs to be understood. Most people do not yet understand it, and they need to, because they are being devoured by it, and their countries and world are being devoured by it.

The advocates of the new global ideological hegemony of neoliberalism claim that it lowers debts and deficits, creates strong economies, and all boats rise on the rising tide – the traditional trickle down theory. But the reality is precisely the opposite.

Neoliberalism has created economic chaos and instability, bubbles and crashes, wild speculation, the virtual gutting of main street, bloated debts, full-scale corporate welfare, and bankrupting “bailouts” and “stimulus” packages, which are giant acts of theft from the public purse, and gigantic gifts to the robber baron class of the corporate raiders, while the people struggle and are forced to face “austerity measures”.

Neoliberalism means gigantic tax breaks and public subsidies for large corporations and the rich, with austerity programs for the other 99% of the people, as health care, education, and other programs which help the people, are slashed and burned to the ground, ripping the safety net out from underneath them, and as a result, creating more desperate, and hence, more pliable and obedient workers, and the privatization of virtually everything, meaning, the corporate take-over of everything, while destroying the economy, plundering the treasuries and the nations of the world, creating soaring unemployment, poverty and inequality, an explosion of slums, the return of walled communities, just as in the medieval era, and creating ecological disaster as well as rising social instability; and all the while, deregulating big business, and giving the corporations and the super-rich the freedom to do whatever they like, and to be above the law – but, with increasingly draconian and often literally fascist means of repression for the people, in order to keep the people under control during the increasingly precarious, poor and insecure conditions under which they are forced to live.

It is true that neoliberalism has created a large middle class in China, India and Latin America, but it has done so at tremendous cost. Firstly, there is tremendous devastation to the environment from this economic model, and the way in which wealth is being created – all questions of the distribution of wealth aside.

Secondly, it has spread the social disease of materialism and consumerism to enlist more people around the world into its ranks. The culture and lifestyle of materialism and consumerism is not sustainable for North America and Europe, and it is not sustainable anywhere else in the world. We have to be absolutely clear about that.

Secondly, while corporate-driven neoliberalism is sowing environmental cataclysm, it is also sowing wild, historically unprecedented, and rapidly growing inequality. Yes, there is now a large middle class in China, India, Latin America, parts of Africa, and much of Asia and Eastern Europe, but most of the wealth being generated under the neolibeal model is going to the top 1% – exactly as it was intended to do – while the bottom 80-90% of the people live in increasing insecurity, or are actively being pushed down, further into poverty.

So the entire economic and political model is a social, environmental, and economic disaster, with only the super-rich, and to some small extent, in some places, a small percentage of the people who are the affluent middle class, who benefit.

Meanwhile, the very policies of neoliberalism have created a flight of production and profits out of the richest nations in North America and Europe, as manufacturing is sent to low-wage, low-regulation regions. This has led to soaring unemployment, poverty and inequality in North America and Europe, and a virtual elimination, or evisceration, of the middle class on two continents. And the people in these countries are understandably very angry about this, and social unrest is rising rapidly, and coming to a boiling point.

Worst of all, neoliberalism is accelerating the corporate take-over of democracy, and the destruction of democracy, as large corporations grant themselves, through their political proxies and lapdogs, powers that supersede, transcend, and effectively over-rule and nullify, the powers of parliaments and democratically elected governments.

Neoliberalism is, in short, the creation, not just of extreme inequality, along with social and economic chaos and instability, and extreme environmental devastation, but also, the creation of a new empire, and a new oligarchy. The pharaohs would be envious of the stratospheric wealth and powers of the new oligarchs: the de facto world government of the billionaire class. But we should be very concerned, because democracy and freedom are being destroyed. If for no other reason, this is sufficient reason to reject neoliberalism entirely.

Neoliberalism is essentially a rape and pillage economic model that leads us into neo-feudal corporate rule, or corporatism, which, as Mussolini said, is the proper name for fascism. Something has to give. This program, agenda, orthodoxy or ideology – this game plan that has been foisted upon the people of the earth by the corporate elite, and which benefits only the corporate elite, has to be jettisoned, and now.

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Money and wealth are being sucked up and siphoned off by a global rentier class, the billionaire elite; and the 99% of humanity who are not among the wealthy elite are suffering under this current corporatist, neoliberal agenda – which, as Chomsky has said, essentially means “profits over people”. Meanwhile, the economy is getting more and more unstable, while debts are reaching crisis levels, and the whole order is set to implode and collapse, like a house of cards – for reasons of growing social, economic, and also ecological instability.

The neoliberal model is now in crisis because of its disastrous effects on the majority of the people, as well as the environment, democracy, and also the economy. The model was forced on Chile, under the dictator Pinochet, and even Pinochet had to abandon it, because it destroyed the economy, as Greg Palast makes clear.

In Argentina, the model was applied, as it was forced on the world, and the model also failed, as it has failed everywhere it has been imposed. In the ’90’s Argentina was following the rules, obeying the IMF, and adhering to the “Washington Consensus” of Friedmanite, Chicago School of Economics, neoliberal doctrine, and Argentina was held up as the poster child of success under that model. But 60% of the people fell into poverty, capital flight was enormous, and finally, the economy collapsed – precisely due to the neoliberal orthodoxy. So the people toppled five presidents in three weeks, and threw the neoliberals from power. Now Argentina has begun to recover economically, because it has rejected neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism is the ideology of corporate globalization, to put it succinctly. For most people today, that is enough to reject it, because, as polls have shown, the people are overwhelmingly opposed to it. A recent poll in Canada revealed that 70% of Canadians believe that corporate globalization has been bad for the country and the people. The corporate elite know that their program is wildly unpopular. that is why the “trade deals” – which in truth are corporate rights agreements – are discussed and signed in private, and in secret.

The crisis of legitimacy for the reigning business and political elite grows daily, and is rapidly nearing a tipping point, when the system will simply collapse, because the people have rejected it – just as they rejected the command and control economy and the entire social structure of the Soviet Union. But the fight is not over yet, and we should be anything but complacent.

The key reason why neoliberalism, or corporate globalization, must be rejected, among many other reasons, is that it is a direct assault on democracy by the corporate powers. As the great British Parliamentarian, Tony Benn said, “The big question today is, “Will globalization allow democracy to survive?”” We cannot afford to be complacent about that question, or to take a “wait and see” attitude.

Democracy is under full frontal attack by what Thomas Jefferson called, “The new moneyed aristocracy”. Complacency is not a luxury that we can afford.

Watch this short video by Canadian journalist and author, Naomi Klein, then see my youtube channel for more insightful videos. Look for the playlists: Must-watch, and, Economics In The Real World.

J. Todd Ring,
October 17, 2015

Corporatism, capitalism and real alternatives: On the power to choose our destiny

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2014 by jtoddring

Corporatism is simply a more virulent form of capitalism – or a late stage of capitalism: it is what happens when capitalism is left unchecked, to run its own course. First comes the tendency towards ever-increasing concentrations of money, resources and economic power under a capitalist economy, as Marx rightly predicted; then comes crony capitalism, as politicians are corrupted by big money interests; then comes the merger of business and the state, which is corporatism, and which is the very definition of fascism, as Mussolini himself said, which is the final culmination of unchecked capitalism, as the business elite or oligarchs simply co-opt or take over the government and the state, turning the capitalist economy and nominally democratic societies into a neo-feudal order of brutal and anti-democratic, tyrannical oligarchy, or rule by the business elite.

This latter stage of capitalism, by the way, the merger of business and the state, or the birth of corporate fascism, is what we are now entering, and that will be our dreadful fate if we do not act to change it, and now.

In either case, it is fair to say that either capitalism or corporatism are bad ideas; and yes, there are not only theoretically possible alternatives, but proven alternatives that offer far better results in terms of human well-being, actual functioning democracy, economic prosperity and stability, real freedom, empowerment of the people, justice, equality, peace and environmental sanity.

One example is the Mondragon co-op, which is a network, federation, or co-op of co-ops, where the workers own the businesses directly – not the state, under the control of mandarins, bureaucrats or political elites, and not corporate oligarchs or shareholder elites, but the workers directly, at the local level – and where the workers elect their managers and directors at an annual general meeting, and decide democratically what will be produced and how, and where the profits and revenues will be allocated. It’s not a perfect system, but it is vastly superior by every reasonable standard or measure, to any form of capitalism or corporatism, and it is vastly superior to what we have now.

Is there an alternative to capitalism? Of course there is. In fact, there are a number of alternatives which are not only theoretically possible, but already proven. The Mondragon Co-op has proven one successful alternative to an economy and a society run essentially by and for the rich.

And as an aside, if anyone wants to know what left libertarianism, or libertarian socialism, means or might look like, here is one version or example of it – Mondragon. And it has not only worked, but thrived, for over fifty years now.

We do not have to be daft. We can simply lift our heads and look around. Yes, there alternatives. Are they perfect? Not likely. Are they better than the system or regime we currently live under? Unquestionably, and by a wide margin.

But before anyone gets their knickers in a knot because we have gone too far in challenging the ruling orthodoxy and presumptions of our time, let us say that we have perhaps gotten a bit ahead of ourselves in discussing alternatives to our currently reigning social order. The immediate challenge we face is the take-over by big business of politics, the global economy, the financial system, the media, and effectively, the world. You can be pro-capitalist if you like, although I would not recommend it; but if we are at all sane, if we have any idea as to what is going on, then we must, in all cases, oppose and resist and actively challenge the corporate take-over of human society.

Oligarchy is not freedom, and oligarchy is not democracy. The most immediate and urgent question facing human beings today, is whether we prefer freedom and democracy, or whether prefer rule by a global business elite, and a neo-feudal order. Everyone of sound mind should find this question easy to answer. The next question is, of course, what are we going to do about it.

The question is, whether we will drift along with the current trajectory, and be led, or rather, pushed and corralled, into a kind of neo-Dickensian, neo-feudal global corporatist order, where a handful of billionaires rule the world, the middle class is destroyed and liquidated, and the vast majority of the people are reduced to peasants, serfs or slaves, with a very bleak future in a very dark age; or whether the people will reclaim their power and change course, and make the world anew.

The power is in our hands to choose. But if we choose not to choose – that is, if the people continue to drift with the tide – then our choices will be made for us, and our future will be nothing short of a nightmare.

Stand now. The power is in our hands. And we most definitely do have alternatives to choose from. Only the ignorant and the deceitful will tell you otherwise.

J. Todd Ring,
April 29, 2014

– For more thoughts on this and other subjects, see my newly released book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium, available world-wide now on Amazon.com.

Hemp Revolution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2014 by jtoddring

 

Hemp has enormous potential to help us build an ecologically sound society. It can replace most uses of tree-derived paper products and lumber, thus saving vast amounts of forests. It can eliminate and replace most uses of synthetic fibres, which are used in clothing, furniture, carpets and textiles, and virtually all uses of plastics, both of which are toxic, non-renewable and made from fossil fuels. And that is just the beginning.

And not only are products made from hemp renewable and environmentally sustainable, but they are also non-toxic. According to a recent article from TruthOut, “There are 80,000 chemicals used in commerce in the US, most of which have never been fully tested for long-term health effects. It is unacceptable that the public is being used as a guinea pig, argues Fred Guerin.” “It is time to stop allowing the chemical industry to use us all as uninformed and non-consenting research objects in its 75-year-old experiment.” (The Human Being As Unwitting Research Object For Industrial Chemistry, TruthOut, March 27, 2014)

We are swimming in a sea of toxic, synthetic chemicals, thanks mainly to pesticides, synthetic materials in virtually everything we use, and most of what we eat, and the petro-chemical industry that has foisted this toxic waste on us, calling it, “better living through chemistry.” It is not surprising, therefore, that cancer rates have skyrocketed, along with rates of autism, learning and behavioural disorders, mood disorders and degenerative diseases. We need to shift to non-toxic, safe, sustainable and renewable options, and hemp most definitely needs to be a major component of that shift.

I should say here, in case anyone is wondering, that I don’t smoke pot – just in case some are inclined to think that anyone who advocates for hemp must be chronically stoned. I am strongly in favour of legalization of marijuana, for the simple reason that prohibition doesn’t work – it doesn’t stop the flow of drugs and doesn’t reduce drug use, just as the prohibition of alcohol didn’t stop the flow of booze or reduce alcohol abuse: all prohibition does is to push up street prices, which benefit drug dealers, causing organized crime and gang activity, and the violence that comes from them, to soar. But in any event, anyone possessed of a basic common sense, and being informed of the pertinent facts, should be an advocate and supporter of industrial hemp, regardless of your views on the decriminalization of marijuana. But to continue…

Most of our clothes, our paper, our books and magazines, our furniture, our carpets and flooring, the building materials for our homes, factories, hospitals and schools, even the bodies and interiors of our cars, buses, boats and trains, can be made from hemp, and the difference this would make in terms of our ecological footprint would be monumental, and truly pivotal. And in the process, we will create new green businesses, a true, and truly massive economic stimulus program, and new ecological industry to provide jobs for all – and an enormous new, or newly rediscovered income stream for farmers, to keep family farms alive. Hemp offers a truly win-win situation, all around. And we still haven’t even mentioned many other benefits of hemp, including medical and health benefits – the hemp seeds in particular being an extremely healing, true super-food.

We should be creating a massive shift toward hemp production, hemp farming, and the use of hemp to replace tree-based wood and paper products, and fossil-fuel based synthetic fibres, laminates and plastics.

But of course, that would displease the big oil and petro-chemical companies, so first, we need to kick the corporate elite out of power and out of politics – then we can begin in earnest to make the changes which are needed in order to survive as a species, and to thrive.

Go organic, plant a garden, go off-grid, and grow some hemp. Let’s start industrial hemp grow-ops, along with organic farming co-ops, urban and rural housing co-ops, local green energy co-ops and other co-ops, around the world, and in every village, town, city, state and province, and let’s get this party started!

And dethrone the corporate elite – now!

JTR,
March 27, 2014

Bernie Madoff, Robin Hood and the present dark age

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 19, 2014 by jtoddring

Why is Bernie Madoff the only Wall St. criminal to face jail time? Because he robbed the 1%, and not the 99%.

Rob the rich, and you are attacked, reviled, vilified and quite possibly imprisoned as well, if not burned at the stake or publicly beheaded, drawn and quartered – and whether you are Bernie Madoff or Robin Hood makes no difference. But if you rob the poor and the middle class, rape the earth, despoil the commons and devastate the hopes of all future generations, in this late-stage capitalist-corporatist culture, you are lauded, and garlands are thrown ’round your neck. This is surely the dark age, and it is rapidly devouring itself. Stay tuned. This is not the end of the story.

JTR,
February 18, 2014

The new epidemic: Death cults and the culture of despair

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2013 by jtoddring

An article in The Atlantic speaks to the growing death-fetish that is gripping more and more youth. It is a bad omen for the state of modern industrial civilization as a whole, I would contend, and it indicates a broader trend toward anxiety, hopeless and despair, which must be confronted and overcome – if, that is, we are not going to collectively groan our way into self-annihilation.

There are sociological, political, economic, psychological and ecological reasons for the rapidly emerging death-cult that is now sweeping the world, and I think it is important that we address them head on.

theatlantic:

Why Does Pop Romanticize Dying Young?

Bieber with his swag, Miley with her tongue, Skrillex’s stupid haircut … There are tons of reasons to tune out modern pop music that don’t have a thing to do with the music itself.

But if you do listen—really pay attention—you might find something in today’s pop that’s a lot more bothersome. There’s an apocalyptic, we’re-all-gonna-die-anyway theme that keeps popping up—a YOLO-style message to do whatever you want right now because tomorrow you might be in a box. 

Icona Pop’s song “I Love It” is an ode to crashing cars, throwing someone else’s stuff down the stairs and essentially doing whatever the hell they want, all the while proclaiming “I don’t care, I love it.” In “Die Young,” the always-prolific Ke$ha tells someone she just met to “make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young.”

I keep seeing this: there is a death-cult sweeping the Western world, and it is growing. This is not surprising, but it is disturbing.

When we are actively destroying our future, by poisoning the air, water, soil, the oceans, rivers, lakes and groundwater, and even the food we eat, when we are racing toward self-annihilation and collective suicide, it is not surprising that anxiety and despair grow and become the unspoken, and sometimes the openly expressed norm. And when a civilization is in decay, then death cults will invariably emerge. The problem is not pop culture, but mainstream culture more broadly, which is narcissistic, quietly despairing, escapist, voyeuristic, materialistic, deeply lost and deeply alienated.

What we need is not more reckless hedonism and despair, not more of a “fuck it all, because it’s all hopeless, so let’s go out with a big bang” attitude of collective suicidal tendencies, but instead, a reconnection with one another, with our deeper selves, with nature, with our hearts and our own common sense.

What we need is to reconnect, and rediscover our hope, our courage, our determination, our inspiration, and our empowerment as thinking, feeling human beings who consciously choose to live with love and courage, and not a quiet despair – much less a loud and moaning despair.

We need not go out with either a bang or a whimper. (Does anyone now even know where such lines of prescience come from, in this hyper-distracted age of obsession with mindless drivel?) We can live, and live well, and heal this world. But only if we have the courage and the heart to do so. Telling ourselves and one another that it’s all futile and we’re all doomed, is both cowardly and irresponsible. We need hope, courage and empowerment, not more whining and foolish self-destruction.

Find your courage, and get your warrior on. We need warriors now, not whiners.

There is a great fascination now, and there has been for some time, with disaster movies and TV shows like “Survivor” – and the reason is not hard to figure out, as others have noted. We all know by now, consciously or at least subconsciously, that we are racing toward disaster, environmentally speaking, if not also in other ways. The fascination with such pop culture fluff as portrayed in these genres is a way for us to unconsciously begin to prepare ourselves psychologically for possible disaster.

As an aside, it should be noted that TV shows like Survivor give terrible life lessons and darkly negative social conditioning, basically upholding the game theory of social relations, which is a disproven theory, as studies in evolutionary biology have shown – but nevertheless they continue with it, essentially telling people in every show that deceitful narcissism and ruthless self-centredness win out in the end over honesty, loyalty, compassion and cooperation. Such messages are deeply antisocial and darkly cynical, and the message they give is not only callous and cut-throat, alienating and dividing as well as morally bankrupting, but also leads people into ultimately self-defeating behaviours.

Selfishness and deceit do pay in the short term, but in the longer term, as the scientific studies confirm, the person who behaves this way ends up alienated and alone – and alone, we are far, far weaker than we are together, working jointly in solidarity and mutual aid. Empathy, compassion, solidarity, cooperation and mutual aid are basic human instincts, as evolutionary biology has now shown, and there is a reason for this: it simply works. Compassion and cooperation makes us all stronger, and are a matter of enlightened self-interest, and not simply a matter of being “nice.” It is a matter of being intelligent.

But to return to the central point, the rising death cult is a phenomenon that is arising out of a quiet desperation, as Thoreau observed over one hundred and fifty years ago. Not only has modern society produced deep alienation, loneliness and a pervasive sense of meaninglessness and malaise, in our mindless automaton culture (sic); but we are also witnessing our civilization self-destruct, and we are living in a state of on-going slow-motion disaster. In such a situation, the best and the worst of people comes out, and also, their addiction to escapism and flights into fantasy. But what scientific studies have also shown, once again confirming the obvious, is that in a crisis situation – and we are living in a perpetual state of protracted crisis now (despite the denial portrayed on the brilliant Supertramp album cover, “Crisis, What Crisis?”) – the people who cope the best are those who stay active, those who find something to do that may have even the slight possibility of being some help.

If a plane crashes on an island and a few people survive, the ones who go and gather food and water and firewood, or comfort the wounded and the mad, tend to cope far better than the ones who sit around moaning about their terrible lot. Action matters – and not just in terms of its results, but also in terms of the positive impact it has on our minds. It is far better to do something that just might be of some small help, even if it is a long-shot and all seems hopeless, than to give up, in conscious or unconscious despair.

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I agree completely with what Thomas Merton said, “If you are afraid of writing something that might offend someone, why write anything at all.” Sometimes painful truths must be spoken.

For example, in the 1800’s, people had to say loudly and clearly that slavery is wrong and utterly intolerable, an abomination that cannot be accepted under any circumstances. In the 19th century, women and men had to say loudly and clearly, and boldly, that voting is a universal right. In the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. and the millions of people who participated in the Civil Rights movement had to loudly and clearly state that racism and segregation are obscene, supremely unethical, and utterly unacceptable. And today, we must say, that reckless hedonism and moping despair, are both unintelligent and also irresponsible, shameless and cowardly.

If you “emo” kids, goths, punks and others who parade your pain like it is a badge, and whine endlessly while doing little, are all so sensitive, then put your hearts into action, and do something that helps in some small way to bring about a better world – don’t just sit there moaning, waiting for someone to fix it for you.

You are young adults now, or soon to be – stop behaving like four year olds throwing a temper tantrum or a sulking fit. Keep your sensitivity, yes, but embrace your power as well. You are far more powerful than you imagine. Stop whimpering and do something.

The youth have traditionally, in every generation, been the questioners of the status quo and the norm, and the drivers of change. While this is still the case to some degree, many youth are now lost in a pool of their own spittle, blathering about how much they hate their lives, while watching the world burn. They should be out in the streets, not sitting idly in self-pity. Where is the fight in them? We certainly do not need any more violence in the world, but we do need action, and for that, there must be the heart of a warrior. Find your brave hearts, lads and lasses. This is your time to shine, not to whine.

Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, The World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth, countless local environmental groups, the Occupy and Solidarity movements, Idle No More, the David Suzuki Foundation and the myriad groups working for social justice, peace and real social change, need your help. Pick one, and let’s see some action. Whining about how much you hate your life is not cool – it’s just whining.

It must also be acknowledged, that a lot of youth, and a lot of children and adults, are not only quietly or openly despairing, but are clinically depressed. Depression, anxiety and despair are all at epidemic proportions now, and rising fast – for obvious sociological reasons, and not, emphatically, for reasons of brain chemistry, generally speaking. And taking a pill will only be a band-aid, temporary measure, and not a real solution. But having lived through depression and survived it, and coming out the other side, I can say this with certainty: the best antidote for depression, is action. Do something that gives you joy, and even better, do something that is truly meaningful, and the depression will subside, if not completely disappear. Sitting around and contemplating how much your life sucks, won’t help you.

But to be sympathetic and also fully real, we must also say this. What do youth – or any of us, for that matter – have to be hopeful about today? The economic outlook is grim. More and more, we can expect, as George Carlin has said, “Increasingly shittier jobs with increasingly shittier pay, and vanishing pensions that disappear the moment you go to collect them.”

What do youth have to look forward to economically? Working as a Wal-Mart greeter for minimum wage, a wage that is below subsistence level, with no benefits and no future – and that is while being saddled with crippling student debt and laden with an education that may get them a job driving cab or flipping burgers, if they’re lucky.

The middle aged and elderly have few better options, and the middle class is sinking into the underclass and being systematically destroyed. Hopelessness and despair are very understandable, given the state of our global corporate-dominated, rape and pillage economy, which benefits the top 1% while screwing the other 99 out of a hundred of us.

Ecologically, youth and also all of us, are staring down the most severe crisis human beings have ever faced: an ecological crisis which is only gathering speed, and which threatens to wipe out our civilization, if not the entire human species on earth. And we are not doing remotely enough about it for anyone to be truly hopeful at this time. That could change in a heart-beat, if the people decide to act with boldness and stop hesitating, but for the moment, despair is an understandable response.

What about politics? The youth, as well as the overwhelming majority of the people, of all ages, have lost all faith, trust and confidence in the political system, as poll after poll reveals. The youth, and people in general, have come to view the major political parties, their governments, and the great majority of the politicians, as simply corrupt, or at best, inept. They see no hope in any serious positive change coming from this morass, this garbage heap which is contemporary political life. And they are right. The major political parties, along with most governments in the world, are bought and owned by big business and the corporate elite, just as the media is, and increasingly, the schools, colleges and universities as well. What is there to be hopeful about? Again, despair is an understandable response.

But while despair may be understandable, it is not conscionable, and nor is it intelligent. To surrender to despair is to actively sow one’s own misery, as well as sowing misery for others. This is not only unacceptable, it is also stupid, and deeply unwise.

We must be brave, if for no other reason, than because we care about others and about life on this earth. If we are heartless, then we can throw in the towel, give up, and go and moan in the corner. If we have a brave heart, which is to say, if compassion and caring mean more to us than our own petty self-interest or personal comfort, then we will not only carry on: we will give it all we’ve got, and never surrender.

And if we are not motivated by love, then we should at least be motivated to seek happiness for ourselves – and that requires boldness and determination, courage and heart, and a refusal to give in to the temptations of despair.

Life is for living. And life is precious. If we have forgotten that, then we really have temporarily lost our minds, and we should sit down with a cup of tea or a quiet moment, and remember that we are alive, or watch the stars at night, or the sunset or sunrise, or the wind swaying through the trees, and remember that there is beauty and preciousness to this life. At the very least, we should not let our own personal despair turn us into assholes who care about nothing and no one. That would be about the worst thing we could possibly do.

Real change will come from the streets – as it always has – not from some elected demagogue in Washington who makes pretty speeches, then betrays every principle and every promise made, while selling out the people to the corporate elite who now rule the world. If we want change, real change, then we will have to make it for ourselves.

The people always have the power. If they choose to lie to themselves, and to pretend they are powerless, then that is their great misfortune, and their great error. If they choose to embrace their power, then anything and everything is possible.

Stay strong. As a great line from a favourite movie put it, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Don’t be wishy-washy, whiny or vapid. If you’re going to live, then really live. Give all you can, love to the fullest extent of your power, and respect yourself, always.

The power to shape our own future is still in our hands. If we want to make of this world, a better place for all, then that is in our power. We will have to come together and unite in order to accomplish this admittedly large and challenging task, but it is entirely within our power, and within our reach.

Despair is for cowards. Have some self-respect. We cannot afford to be cowardly if our hearts are still alive. We may have moments of despair, but we can never completely surrender to despair. Life is simply far too precious for such ordinary madness.

Live while you live.

As Yogi Beara said – and he was right – “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.” 

J. Todd Ring,
November 1, 2013

 

Here’s a little music for the revolution. Enjoy, and let’s see action.

 

A Little Less Conversation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx1_6F-nCaw

Let’s See Action
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPuCsosr9jM

Let’s Go
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExYsh1W22Wo

Let’s Get It Started
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKqV7DB8Iwg

 

 

Reclaiming democracy for the common good – and for the survival and future of our children: the political economy of environmental sanity and democratic renewal

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, books, capitalism, collapse, consciousness, conservation, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, debt, deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, elite, environment, Kropotkin, must-read, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, renewable, resources, social theory, sociology, sustainability, tipping point with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2011 by jtoddring

Yesterday, September 27, the Global Footprint Network declared as Earth Overshoot Day: the day that humans have used up all renewable resources available for the year. Not good. This obviously cannot continue. Limitless growth in material consumption and “production” clearly cannot be sustained on a finite planet. (We can have limitless growth in culture, the arts, science, the mind, spirituality and quality of life, but not in material production and consumption.) We are depleting our collective inheritance: which should rightfully be shared equitably, through democratic popular control of the commons to which we all share usafructory rights – despite our present unjust and unwise socio-economic, legal and cultural norms – as well as used wisely and compassionately, and not squandered. We are rapidly draining nature’s capital, to put it in crass economic terms, which are the only terms most politicians and pundits and corporate elites seem to understand.

We are racing towards ecological bankruptcy at an ever-accelerating rate, and will see our children live as beggars in an ocean of toxic waste if we don’t change our course, and fast. Of course, most people – aside from the business and political elite – understand this by now. But awareness is not enough. It is high time for much more serious action.

Addressing the present and rapidly escalating environmental crisis which humanity undeniably faces will require more of us than a simple act of recycling or “buying green.” It will require, above all, a restoration and a renewal of democracy – a reclaiming of democracy from the ruling and highly pathological corporate elite.

You don’t have to be anti-business to be opposed to corporate rule, by the way: to be opposed to rule by corporate elites is simply to favour democracy; and frankly, to call it as it is: to oppose fascism. Corporatism, as Mussolini himself defined, is the merger of business with the state. Anyone who values freedom or democracy must therefore oppose corporatism: which is the unchecked power of business elites, and an empire of corporate dominance over all aspects of society, including the economy, politics, culture and the media. To be anti-corporatist is not to be anti-business: it is simply to understand that any form of unchecked power invariably leads to tyranny and the destruction of freedom; and therefore, to be opposed to such unchecked powers by any kind of elite.

You don’t have to be anti-business to oppose the take-over of democratic government by business elites – you simply have to be sane. You can be pro-business and anti-corporatist: and anyone who truly values democracy must, of logical and practical necessity, be anti-corporatist, regardless of their views on business. I am belabouring the point because the corporate-owned and dominated media repeatedly portray any kind of critique of unchecked corporate powers as leftist lunacy. Here is breaking news for anyone who still buys into this red-scare propaganda that lingers from the McCarthy era, like a can of rotting tuna stinking up the entire house and driving the people to nausea and revulsion: people on the right and the left and in the centre politically are, by an overwhelming majority, in favour of constitutional democracy, and opposed to any kind of dominance over the democratic political process by any kind of elite, including the now globally dominant business elite.

Where once we had to wrest power from the church and the aristocracy who were overstepping their bounds, in order to secure democracy, human rights and freedom, we now must wrest power from an unwieldy and overbearing, frankly tyrannical and self-serving business elite – and everybody who is in the least way sane and rational, and who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past fifty years, knows it.

Support for constitutional democracy and checks on corporate power, and the resultant or concomitant opposition to corporate rule, now cuts across the political spectrum. The people are no longer fooled by the red-scare tactics, nor by the broader corporate spin which seeks to mask the obvious: the emperor has no clothes, and everybody knows it – corporations have usurped democratic political powers, and are far over-stepping their proper bounds. Conservatives, liberals and progressives alike now understand this, and know this quite viscerally – and are rightly concerned and rapidly running out of patience in the face of an intolerable situation of corporate oligarchy that seeks limitless powers for itself, while undermining every human value and endangering our very survival on this earth.

The reality, which virtually everyone knows, is that the democratic governments of the world are now in hoc, in debt, in dependency and in servitude to a globally dominant international business elite; and virtually all of the major political parties are now the servile lackeys to the ruling corporate empire. Meanwhile, the people increasingly see through this whole pathetic charade, and are becoming quite fed up with it.

You don’t have to lean toward the left politically to be opposed to corporate rule: and at the level of the grassroots, people from the right and the left, conservatives, liberals and progressives, are now beyond wary of unchecked corporate powers – and wish to see democracy reclaimed by the people. What is needed now is a coalition of all those who favour democracy over corporate empire and corporate rule. This is beginning to emerge, and none too soon.

The suicidal kleptocracy of our presently reigning global order of neo-feudal corporatism must end – and now, before we extinguish ourselves from this small and beautiful, fragile, little blue planet. Democracy must be restored: and with power returned to the people, where it rightfully belongs, the commons can once again be protected and shared, wisely and judiciously, for the benefit of all.

If we wish for survival, for a future worth living, or for any future for our children and the children of the earth, then it is absolutely necessary that democracy be reclaimed by the people. This is the most urgent necessity of the time. If Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Voltaire were alive today, they most assuredly would be urging it. We should heed their call, the call of their distant but ever-near voices of reason and common sense, and reclaim our power. Restore democracy now. Bring the power back to the people, and let us begin again.

Let it begin. The great turning is here. A new renaissance is being born. Let us work together to bring about a better future and a better world for all. The power is in our hands. We must simply own it, and acknowledge that it is ours.

We have run out of time for idle chit-chat, partisan zealotry and pleasant euphemisms, for polite evasiveness and meek avoidance of the realities that we face. Let us now renew and reclaim our democracy: and we shall in the process, and by this means only, renew and reclaim the commons, for the common good of all. It is this, or it is a dark age ahead – make no mistake. Make your choice wisely. Our future, and our children’s future, depend upon the choices we make now.

Be bold I say, and let us reclaim our future, and the future of humanity – if not for ourselves, then most certainly and assuredly, for the sake of the children of this earth. Their lives and their future cannot be written off, even if we are willing to write off our own. Act now.

“The other superpower” is beginning to stir: humanity is beginning to awake. And nothing, no reactionary force, can stop the rising tide of an awakened humanity. The future is in our hands. I urge all of us now to embrace that power, and to act together to reclaim our future and our world, by first reclaiming our democracy and our power.

Unite now, and let us restore democracy to its proper place – in the hands of the people. Our future and our children’s future hangs in the balance. Let us not hesitate now – we cannot afford to do so. Let us begin, or begin again with renewed energy and a deepened commitment: for we shall succeed, and humanity shall have a new day.

I would like to end this conversation, which I hope will be only the beginning of an ongoing conversation, and more importantly, the basis of strong, bold and dedicated collective action, with one of my favourite quotations, which seems ever-fitting – and especially so now:

“There is more day yet to dawn.
The sun is but a morning star.”
– Henry David Thoreau

And a second, which is equally powerful, equally apt, and equally appropriate to our time:

“It is within our power now to begin the world anew.”
– Thomas Paine

And one last quote: one that is oft-used, and yet profoundly underappreciated – and also extremely relevant to our time and to the task at hand:

“We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately….
United we stand, divided we fall.”
– Benjamin Franklin

As Arundhati Roy so eloquently and beautifully put it, another world is not only possible: she is already being born. Go now – reflect, read, ponder and discuss: then let us act together to bring in a new day and a new dawn for humanity and this earth. I urge you, act now. It is not too late, and what we do or fail to do now, will decide our future, and the future of humanity.

Above all, unite the people to reclaim their democracy. This is the most pivotal and most urgent of tasks at hand. Unite now, and let democracy reign!

The people will reclaim their power. It has already begun. The writing is on the wall. The corporate empire – the last of a series of empires that have risen and fallen through the past five thousand years of history, the clay feet that David spoke of – is teetering and about to fall. It is a wounded and dying, and still yet a dangerous beast, to be sure, but this latest of empires is now crumbling – even while it flails madly in its death throes to preserve its life and maintain its power, and flaunts its power with brazen disregard and sheer contempt for humanity, democracy and life on earth. Its legitimacy is destroyed, by its own acts of malfeasance and abuse of power; and it is only a matter of time before its final demise. The people should see and clearly recognize the opportunity, and reclaim their power and their democracy now.

Rise now and unite. It is time for the full flowering of democracy, and the healing of this fair earth and all our communities. Unite! And let us take back our democracy, for the benefit of all, and for the future of all life on earth, including our own children, and our children’s children. Act now. The time has come for a new dawn.

JTR,
September 28, 2011

(My apologies for the Surf-Canyon highlighted link on the word “clothes” – a shopping link, no doubt, and I certainly did not put that in there: another example – a mildly annoying one this time, unlike the subject of the survival of humanity – of corporate overshoot, and the over-stepping of proper bounds. Time to whack them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, and push them back. Enough is enough – in so many regards.)

See Daly and Cobb, For the Common Good, as a prime example of economics that are not insane.

See also:

The Corporation – Joel Bakan (Canadian constitutional lawyer)

Power To the People (In Suits) – Paul Bigioni on Z Net

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

Power Down – Richard Heinberg

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

The Poverty of Affluence – Paul Watchel

Small Is Beautiful- E. F. Schumacher

Year 501 – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions – Noam Chomsky

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

Global Showdown – Maude Barlow

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude – Etienne De La Boittee

The Great Turning – David C. Korten

Power to the People (In Suits) How a whole new kind of business lobby is a threat to democracy by Paul Bigioni

Fears of a corporate police state – David Sirota – Salon.com

Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics

Three Things That Must Happen for Us to Rise Up and Defeat the Corporatocracy | Truthout

Big Ideas That Changed The World : DemocracyTony Benn

Talk – David Korten – The Great Turning – YouTube

Joanna Macy on The Great Turning – YouTube

The Corporation (complete, chapters 1 to 23) – YouTube

Life and Debt [HQ Full Movie] – YouTube

The Yes Men – Trailer – YouTube

The Secret Government: The Constitution In Crisis (1 of 9) – YouTube

The Shock Doctrine (2009) — Naomi Klein – YouTube – full length film

“The End of America” Full Length HQ Film – YouTube

Jared DiamondCollapse! part 1 – YouTube

Amazon.com: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (9780743247443): Joel Bakan: Books

The Corporation Film: About the Book

#Science Earth’s Annual Resources Used Up Today, Group Says bit.ly/n8flsq

Amazon.com: For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (9780807047057): Herman E. Daly, John B. Cobb Jr.: Books