Archive for empire

Resilience: Another Lesson From The Heart Of The Renaissance

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2020 by jtoddring

It’s interesting to me to reflect on the fact that Florence and Tuscany have weathered many, many storms and vicissitudes, and have seen empires come and go. Tuscany was culturally rich and ahead of the curve when Rome wasn’t even a village on a muddy river bank, much less a city, a republic, or an empire. Florence and Tuscany remind me, among other things, that human resilience is real. We will weather the storm.

JTR,

April 5, 2020

The Sins of Assange

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2020 by jtoddring

“Assange’s arrest represents an abuse of power, highlighting not only how true journalism has now been banished in the West, but also how politicians, journalists, news agencies and think-tanks collude with each other to silence people like Julian Assange and his Wikileaks foundation who are a nuisance to US imperialism.

Assange is “guilty” of two “cardinal sins”: revealing US war crimes committed in Iraq and committing the unpardonable sin of publishing the emails of Clinton, Podesta and the Democratic National Committee, thereby revealing such chicanery in US domestic politics as the fraud committed against Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries.”

– Piereccini, American Herald Tribune:

Julian Assange Is Guilty Only of Revealing the Evil Soul of US Imperialism

Revealing the facts of US war crimes, and the fact that the Democratic Party is deeply corrupt? No, no….we kill you for that. We attack viciously and ruthlessly anyone who reveals such truths.

As Noam Chomsky said, This is a business-run, huckster society, whose cardinal value is deceit.

Amen. Thank heaven for the truth tellers. One day, if we are courageous enough, and willing, they will set us free.

JTR,

March 24, 2020

The Central Challenge Of Our Time

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American Freedom Agenda, American Freedom Campaign, analysis, anarchism, anthropology, banks, capitalism, Chomsky, civil liberties, class, climate change, collapse, common ground, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, detention centers, ecological crisis, ecology, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, freedom, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, history, imperialism, inspiration, Jefferson, libertarian, Mussolini, must-read, nation state, national democracies, neo-feudalism, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, social theory, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, Uncategorized, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2020 by jtoddring

What is the central challenge of our time? It is not what most people think it is. It is not race or gender, or climate change, or the environment broadly, or issues of war and peace, or poverty, or justice, or equality, or fighting terrorism, crime or violence, WMDs and disarmament, the arms and drugs trade, imperialism, national sovereignty and the rule of law versus aggression, “regime changes”, coups and “intervention”, or freedom, or democracy, constitutional rule or human rights. All of these things are extremely important, of course. But there is one issue which connect them all.

The central fact, dynamic or pattern, which connects all of these things, and is at the centre of them all, is the excessive concentration of power. This we must address, above all, and immediately, or we stand no chance of resolving any of these other issues, or even making any serious or lasting progress on them.

Until we address the extreme and growing, excessive concentration of power in the world, both within nations and also globally, we will have no chance at a better future, no chance at a decent future, and, in fact, little chance of a future of any kind.

*

Marx was a terrible political philosopher, it must be admitted – but it must also be admitted that he was a brilliant sociologist. That is, his analysis and portrayal of the problems of modern state-sponsored capitalism (and it is always state-sponsored, because the business elite demand it, and because otherwise it would even more quickly self-destruct) was very perceptive, honest, and revealing. We would do well to continue to study Marx – as a sociologist. His diagnosis of the problem held some considerable merit, even if his proposed solution was poorly thought out. And one of his central observations, as the clear-minded sociologist that he generally was, is that capitalism tends to concentrate wealth. And that much should be perfectly obvious to us by now.

In 1812, Thomas Jefferson warned of the growing power of the business elite, and said, prophetically and passionately, unequivocally, “I pray that we shall crush the birth of the moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it defies our laws, and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.” That was over 200 years ago. The central problem now is, quite simply: we failed to listen.

We allowed wealth, and far more dangerously, economic power, to grow unchecked, and to become astronomically concentrated, far beyond anything ever seen before in history. We placed checks and balances on political powers, but not on economic powers – foolishly, and most unwisely.

The result, is that 200 years after Jefferson’s warning, which we failed to heed, we no longer have liberal-democracy at all: we now have oligarchy – rule by the few, or plutocracy, which is rule by the rich, or as Mussolini defined it, corporatism, which as he said, is the merger of business and the state – as the business elite have grown so powerful as to take over the state – and which Mussolini said is the proper term and description of fascism.

It is called by sociologists, institutional capture.

The global business elite have captured (or effectively ruled from the start) the all of the major social institutions: including the major international organizations (the IMF, World Bank, WTO, ECB…), the financial system, the media, and the majority of the governments in the world – including all of the most powerful governments of the Western world.

The street level, plain English description is simply, a coup.

Well, the people had better recapture their democracy, or they will soon be slaves. They are already serfs – they will soon be slaves, if they do not act now, or very, very soon.

*

We now have a global situation where the largest 500 corporations, and the 2,000 or so billionaires who own or control them, have more power than the most powerful nation in the history of the world (the US, of course). A situation where the eight richest families control more than half the wealth on the planet. And the growing concentration of wealth, and far more dangerously, of power, continues to accelerate rapidly.

This is what people are referring to as the oligarchy – or plutocracy, or kleptocracy, or corporatocracy.

This is what I have described as a new world order of global neo-feudal crypto-fascist corporate oligarchy. It has already devoured democracy, and is busy devouring all freedom, all constitutional rule, and all rule of law (law is for the little people, the 99.9%, not for “the masters of the universe”, as they like to call themselves). The new global corporate empire is now, without question, devouring both the people and the planet – along with our freedom. Clearly this has to stop, or we will not only be in chains: the life-support systems of the living planet will be destroyed, and our future will be extraordinarily dark.

As I have said before, we now have one remaining choice: revolution, or a new dark age, followed by extinction, and collapse.

*

The new empire ruling the world is not the US empire, which is in decline and heading for collapse, bankrupt, and heading fast for economic and financial implosion; but the global corporate empire, which has swallowed the US empire whole, and uses it now as a puppet-master pulls his strings – mainly as a hired thug.

The new masters of the world, the new oligarchs, are an elite who are clearly drunk with power, and have become, not only insatiably rapacious, and much more dangerously, insatiably hungry for power, but also, parasitic, frankly sociopathic, rabidly anti-democratic, as well as anti-ecological, suicidal, and world destroying. We either remove them power, or they will destroy the Earth which we all share, not to mention our freedoms in the process.

*

The good news is that since 2001, it has been recognized even by the ruling elite, from their own global poll, which came back in early of that year, proving the point beyond any doubt: there is a profound and growing, crisis of legitimacy for the ruling powers. The people of the world are fed up with the power games and machinations of the ruling elite, and are hungry for change. There is a global awakening taking place.

However, the elite see the global awakening of humanity, not as a great boon, a cause for rejoicing, but as a threat.

The Davos club – what John Ralston Saul called, “the new Palace of Versailles”, and “the new royal court”, and which the world’s leading business journal, the Financial Times called, “the de facto world government” – knew in 2001, or it was spelled out to them by their intellectuals in residence, what their own global poll meant. It meant the Western power elite are experiencing the same kind of crisis of legitimacy which caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.

For the first time since its founding, the WEF meeting at Davos was not jubilant or euphoric – it was deeply nervous and glum. There were only three remaining options, in the face of the indisputable, serious and growing crisis of legitimacy: a) compromise, and give the people a New Deal of some sort; b) surrender power, or else get ready to lose power completely; or c) batten down the hatches, and prepare for lockdown, repression, fascism – a police state, and resort to brute force. The Western elite concluded very quickly that the first two options were unacceptable. You can figure out what conclusion they came to from that – and why we have been moving rapidly towards fascism ever since.

People who do not understand these central facts of the past two decades of world history, understand nothing at all. Their advice is meaningless, for they have no connection to reality.

Remember Neville Chamberlain’s foolish statement: “Peace in our time!”

No, we need more serious voices and appraisals – and advisors – now. Churchill, for all his faults, is vastly preferable, to a Chamberlain, or worse, a Vichy government, or a Quisling – and believe me, the latter are in great abundance, while the former, at this, our truly darkest hour, is exceedingly rare.

*

The first step, is for the people to unite, and to reclaim their power. That, by now, will require revolution of some manner or another, in most nations on Earth. Whether by ballot box, or, more often, by blockades and political-economic siege, it is revolution – non-violent, Gandhian-King style – that is needed now.

What we must do, is to reduce the vastly excessive powers of the international business elite, and the trans-national corporations and institutions (such as the IMF, World Bank and ECB), which they control; and to either break up these giant economic empires, as is most wise, in most cases (such as the big banks, the fossil fuel giants, the arms merchants and the media empires), or else reduce their powers dramatically by some other means, and bring them under the control of democratic processes – meaning, bring them under control of the people, so that the people rule the nations, and set checks and balances on the powers of both governments, and also corporations and other economic powers.

The alternative is that the global corporate empire rules the world, as it effectively does now; and the 99.9% of the people who are not among the ruling elite, are reduced to peasants, serfs, or slaves.

Let us not play games. These are not realities we can safely avoid, or sweep under the carpet. We either face reality, and now – both political-economic reality, sociological reality, that is, as well as ecological reality – or our future will be bleak indeed.

*

The nation-state, as Chomsky has said, is the only institution powerful enough to be a counter-balance to the powers of big money. Therefore, we must, as Chomsky has also said, temporarily strengthen the nation-state, in order to reign in the excessive powers of big business.

In order to remove the corporate elite from their current position as the unelected and unaccountable, de facto rulers of the world, we will have to temporarily strengthen the nation-state, and national democracies.  This makes libertarians of the right and the left nervous, but it simply must be done. The alternative is neo-feudalism, and global corporate-fascist rule – which anyone of sound mind should view to be far worse, than a limited form of constitutional democracy asserting its power to reign in the corporate giants and the ruling business elite.

You can talk all you like about your libertarian or anarchist views, but you will be discussing them in chains, if we don’t deal pragmatically and immediately with the present order that now rules the world. Your high ideals, in short, will have to wait. We have more immediate dangers to take care of, first.

Once the people have recaptured and reclaimed their democracy, their constitutional republics;,and the business elite, the new corporate oligarchy, has been dethroned, and also placed within very firm checks and balances on their powers, then we can look to a further decentralization of powers – which would be…nay, will be, the further evolution of democracy and freedom. But first things first: we have a global oligarchy and police state to defeat. Fascism is here again.

And let us make no mistake, we will need all the tools, short of violence, that are at our disposal – including, most centrally, the state – in order to defeat this second round of fascist usurpers and would-be Gods.

*

Note that the greatest of libertarians, Chomsky and Thoreau, have argued for exactly the same thing. They combined a rare long-range vision which was highly idealistic, very far-sighted; and yet, at the same time, an immediacy of pragmatism: what do we do now – right now, in this moment, while keeping our long-term vision, our high ideals, and our dreams alive?

To my mind, the most important piece of political literature, the most important political document ever written, is not the Magna Carta, or the Bill of Rights, the UN Charter of Human Rights, or the Declaration of Independence, though all of these are greatly important, of course. But all of them, to the last, are merely pieces of paper – unless the people stand up to protect and defend them, and what they stand for.

For that reason, I believe the most important political documents ever written are those of Thoreau and La Boite – for they urge the people to stand up for themselves and one another, and to embrace their power. The other documents mean nothing without this.

(See Etienne de la Boite, The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude, and Henry David Thoreau’s short essay, On Civil Disobedience, which has reverberated around the world for over 150 years, inspiring Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the environmental movement, and popular movements around the world to this day.)

Thoreau remarked, in his famous essay, On Civil Disobedience, (and I am paraphrasing, mostly accurately, from memory here) “I heartily agree with that motto, “That government is best which governs the least”, and I should like to see it acted up to more speedily and more fully. And I would extend it to say this: That government is best which governs not at all. And when are prepared for it, that is precisely the kind of government they shall have.” (And note his emphasis – “when men are prepared for it”.)

But, having made his views clear as a decided libertarian, he goes on to say, “But I am not among the “No government men”. I do not wish for, at once, no government, but at once, a better government. Let every man state what kind of government would command his respect, and that shall be one step towards attaining it.”

Now that, to me, as with Chomsky’s views, is what Thomas Paine might agree is a matter of Common Sense. Let us first secure our liberty in the broad sense; and seek to dispel the greatest dangers, and the greatest threats to it first – which is, to be sure, the growing police state and fascist architecture, which is being actively and eagerly created by a set of bankers and their business friends, cronies and stooges in high places.

After we have dispensed with the greatest of dangers, then we can afford to be more high-minded and idealistic in our visions. But for now, let us deal with the reality at hand. We must defeat the new corporate oligarchy, or not only will liberty be vacated, but the planet, and the people, will also be laid to waste; and the new God-kings will rule, until they destroy themselves as well.

Stand now.

It is now revolution or slow death.

Choose wisely.

To be perfectly clear, we must recognize this fact: the state and the government are going to exist for some time to come – the question is, who controls it: a handful of global bankers and an oligarchy of business elites, or the people?

Again, I would say, Choose wisely. This is the critical hour.

A shift in consciousness, culture and lifestyle are urgently needed and essential, if we are to survive as a species, much less have a good, or even a decent future – yes, that is undoubtedly the case. But no New Age revolution of mind, or any other kind of shift in consciousness, is going to be successful, or mean anything at all, unless the new would-be God-kings are deposed and dethroned, and removed from power.

If that is not yet clear, it will be soon, and in terrifying ways. Better to act now, before the reality is confirmed in starker, more brutal ways.

Heed the warning, I urge you now. We failed to heed the warning of Thomas Jefferson, 200 years ago. That was a grave mistake. And the consequences will be even greater, and far more grave, if we fail to listen now.

Stand.

JTR,
March 15, 2020

Post-Script:

Flash-Drive Revolution:

Save this or any other document, image, video, poster, film or song that you find important, or socially/politically/philosophically relevant or pertinent, to a USB flash drive, for safe storage and sharing. Censorship is increasing now. We need alternative ways to communicate important ideas and information if, as is likely, censorship increases further. Consider, at least, all of my books, essays and writings as public domain. (Other living authors will have to decide the matter regarding their own works for themselves. I would urge people to respect their rights unless they state something similar to what I have just stated here.) I would appreciate people buying my books or making donations to support the writing and research, as I am a typically broke writer; but do share my writing with others – that is far more important to me. I certainly did not become a writer, much less a philosopher, for the money. Vive la revolution! For a better world for all.

WATCH THIS – EXTREMELY IMPORTANT:

Whether this is a warm-up, a dry-run, a preamble to the big putsch, or the main event, the following short video will remain extremely important. Please watch immediately:
Celente: Police State Emerging Now        https://youtu.be/5aLiEVbNTUs

Further Reading:

Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, Class Warfare, and Year 501 (These three in particular)

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

John Perkins, A Game As Old As Empire, & The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman

Naomi Wolf, The End of America

John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World

Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns

C Wright Mills, The Power Elite

Peter Phillips, Giants

and I would recommend my two first published books:

Enlightened Democracy: Visions for A New Millennium

and,

The People vs The Elite:
A Manifesto For Democratic Revolution,
Or, Survival In The 21st Century And Beyond

 

Coronavirus Update – Panic or Propaganda? Both? Or Simply Mass Insanity? All The Above

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2020 by jtoddring

As of today, the mass media hype and hysteria over the latest exotic virus continues to spread, unabated. In its wake, mass insanity is spreading nearly as fast. Let’s step back, and look at the figures, to try and gain some much-needed perspective.

As of today, 3,200 people have died of the coronavirus globally. For perspective, that is 1/200th of the annual death toll from the flu, and a statistically zero percent of the DAILY death toll from both poverty (hunger) and obesity (poor diets).

The flu kills 650,000 a year. Hunger and obesity each kill over 20,000 people a day. The corona virus has killed 3,200.

Let those figures sink in.

Do we have reason to be concerned? It is possible. New viruses could pose serious dangers. This one has an 80% infectious rate and a 15% mortality rate, I believe. That is serious, but far from the Black Death, the Plague that hit Europe roughly 600 years ago, and killed 30-50% of the population. Could this be “the big one” – the virus that is a once in 500 year epidemic? Possible, but extremely unlikely.

Are the CDC, WHO, governments and major media reliable sources of information? Do we really have to ask that question? Both the CDC and WHO have been effectively taken over by the ruling corporate oligarchy in general, including Big Pharma, as have the majority of governments – certainly in the US, Canada, Britain and Europe. And six corporate empires control all the major media in the world – all of them in bed, one way or another, directly or indirectly, with Big Pharma. And all of them interested in a grand narrative of fear, with a clear strategy of divide and conquer. Anyone who takes his or her information uncritically from any of these sources needs their head read.

We should remember that the global pharmaceutical market is roughly on par with Big Oil, fossil fuels, and illegal drugs – each worth roughly $1 trillion a year. That is a very big trough, indeed; and we should never underestimate the power of greed – or power lust, which is even more dangerous, and ever-present, in every generation, of course.

Does anyone remember the Patriot Act? Or the military industrial complex? Or the war machine? Or the corporate take-over of virtually every government, along with the major media, the global economy, and the global financial system? Now there are some things to keep you up at night. Things to be deeply concerned about.

Re-read Orwell. And Chomsky. Perspective is critical.

From what I can see, I’d hasten to avoid lending the latest virus hype legitimacy, myself; because it looks like a psyops program, from what I can see: sow fear; divide and conquer; get the people ready to accept a lock-down – for their own protection, of course; feed the slow-motion corporate-fascist coup.

Do you disagree? Don’t be too quick to dismiss such a possibility. Look at the undeniable growth of a new global surveillance and police state, along side the equally undeniable corporate take-over of the economy, the financial system, the major media, and most political systems and governments of the world, along side the seemingly vast exaggeration of actual virus dangers. Occam’s razor would lead to the conclusion I just made, as the most likely explanation. We don’t know yet, but it is more plausible and more likely than this virus being as dangerous as it is being presented. The official narrative seems wildly out of sync with the facts. It should make us question, at least.

The known facts indicate that this latest virus represents a fraction of the danger of the flu. That may change, but it is the present reality.

The known facts therefore indicate, at this time at least, that we should be far more concerned with the ongoing, slow-motion fascist-corporate coup, which has clearly been in play since at least 2001 and the start of the “war on terror” – which has everywhere been a war on freedom, truth, and democracy, and a rationale for building a global surveillance system and police state.

Just how slow on the uptake are the masses anyway? I trust that at least a growing minority are paying some attention to what is really going on, or we are in far deeper trouble than being “plagued” by an exotic bug that is far less dangerous than the flu.

Anyone for mass quarantine?

How about voluntary (“”) house arrest? Ah, but that has already begun. The psyops war is working quite well, even if basic sanity among the people is not.

JTR,
March 5, 2020

For greater perspective, see my earlier essays: Danger and Delusion, and Reality Check

US Intervention In Syria: The Next Iraq

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2016 by jtoddring

Here is a very brief synopsis of the US role in Syria. We will, for the sake of brevity,  leave aside for the moment the obvious and documented facts of the US arming and supporting of the very terrorist groups they claim to be fighting; as well as the fact that the majority of “rebels” in Syria are associated with either ISIS or Al Queda; and the the third fact, that the reason the US is arming and supporting the very groups it claims to be fighting is in order to overthrow yet another government in the Middle East. We will instead focus on the broader picture.

It is becoming clear to any who are paying attention, and any who remember even recent history, that Syria is rapidly becoming the next Iraq – a country set on fire in an unending cauldron of violence and civil war, with no resolution and no peace in sight, and nothing but a black hole and a quagmire for all involved.

After five years of war and geopolitical battles among rival powers, half a million Syrians have now been killed, the country is in ruins, and there are now over 11 million Syrian refugees, in the biggest humanitarian disaster since the war in Iraq. And we have to ask, who is to blame?

Who is to blame for the bloodbath in Syria? This seems to be the question of the hour. Tomorrow, or soon after, there will be another bloodbath, and there will be other scapegoats, and the grand game of assigning blame will turn once more, and as usual, with all the same repeating patterns. But let us ask that central question of this present moment, at this present moment: who is to blame for the turmoil and war in Syria, and the massive human suffering that is the escalating result of it?

I don’t think there is any question that many players or factions are involved in what is going on in Syria – no one seems to want to respect national sovereignty or the self-determination of peoples, much less international law, and it seems like everyone wants to coerce the Syrian people into accepting their own particular wishes and demands for what kind of government the Syrian people should have.

Among others, there is the Syrian government, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Iraq involved. ISIS and Al Queda are of course involved, but as very knowledgeable observers have noted, they are more a symptom than the cause of the turmoil, and they are being armed and funded by other, larger powers – particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.

And we can add to the list of parties who have involved themselves in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, Canada, Europe, Israel and Russia. But there is also no question that Washington and the CIA are playing a major and pivotal role in the war in Syria, and nobody of any sound mind doubts that, for it is obvious.

And if we look to recent historical precedents in the region, we can see a clear and obvious pattern: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya….. and that is without going further back, over the past 60 years of US foreign policy, beginning with the Washington/CIA overthrow of the democratically elected Mosaddegh government in Iran in 1957 – an extremely foolish and short-sighted, as well as criminal action, which gave birth to the extremist Islamic movements in the Middle East to begin with; or much longer, from the time of the Mexican-American war in the mid-1800’s, which Thoreau detested and wrote about, and before, from the time of the Indian Wars and the colonization of what was to become the United States of America.

The US has been a rising global super-power since the early 1800’s, until its recent decline, and one with a clear case of infantile grandiosity (the doctrines of Manifest Destiny and the like make this clear) and a self-justifying messianic complex, covering, only thinly, an obvious imperial pursuit of territorial expansion, conquest and hegemony, and of course, simple wealth and power.(See Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues, for an overview of the past 500 years of Western history.)

To be fair, the US was on the right side, on the side of freedom and democracy, during WWII; and along with Canada, Britain and other nations, and most pivotally Russia, the US helped to defeat the horror of fascism. But before and since, the US has been on the wrong side of history, more often than not. And that is because the US has been ruled, from 1945 until the present, and for the better part of its history before WWII, by a political elite who have been the willing puppets and servants of big business and moneyed interests – exactly as Thomas Jefferson had warned. These are the simple, ugly facts of the matter. This can change, and it will change, when the American people are ready for it, and willing to make it happen, but at present, the US is still a dangerous rogue super-power that is ruled by Wall Street – and with truly disastrous consequences both for the American people and for the world.

And in recent history, who was the major player responsible for the utter devastation of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? The evidence is indisputable. These countries are now basket cases, and have been destroyed, and set aflame in civil wars – and it is the United States and its allies who are primarily responsible for these terrible atrocities, with well over a million dead, and nations laid to waste.

And although Washington had allies, and allies who will be recorded in history as having been actively involved in war crimes, the central player was the US government and the CIA in all three cases. The record speaks for itself.

The US government has been, and continues to be, dedicated to a policy of global hegemony, as its actions clearly and unquestionably show, and as its own internal record plainly speaks. (See documents from NSC-68 to PNAC and beyond.) And such actions are not only abominable, unconscionable, and in violation of international law, and furthermore, war crimes, under the precise definition of international law and the Nuremberg Trials; but furthermore, they create three very clear results: 1) countries are destroyed, and democracies either destroyed or prevented from arising, and with great human suffering and mass murder in every case; 2) there is inevitable blow-back, or negative repercussions, because such violent invasions and “regime changes” – that is, coups, in more honest and less euphemistic terms – create great hatred and fanaticism, and hence, more terrorism, exactly as the US intelligence community had predicted; and 3) the world becomes an ever more dangerous place as a result of such actions.

We cannot white-wash the involvement of Washington or the CIA in the Middle East, or Syria in particular. Their role has been, and continues to be, simply disastrous.

All nations have a duty to respect the sovereignty of other nations, and the right of peoples to self-determination. This basic principle, the principle of non-aggression, is the very foundation and under-pinning of international law, as well as the foundation for real and lasting peace. Currently, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Europe, Russia, and even the traditionally peace-loving Canada, along with the leading actor, the world’s dominant super-power, the United States, are all disregarding and violating these basic principles. And it is complete disaster which is the result, as all can clearly see, as well as a greatly heightened instability and danger – not just in Syria, not just across the entire Middle East, but for the world, as a conflict between super-powers looms, with Russia, China and Iran lining up on one side, and the US and its allies and proxies on the other, in an extraordinarily dangerous, and frankly insane, set of power games.

Let the madness end. The people of Syria can and will find a way to peace, and determine their own future, and what kind of government they want to have – but only if other powers in the region and in the world stop meddling and let them have the space to breath and to settle things for themselves. At present, the involvement of the US and other foreign powers is doing nothing but creating ever greater suffering and chaos, and no good will come from it.

The words of Henry David Thoreau come to mind. “If I knew someone was coming to do me some good, I should like to get as far away as possible.” I think by now, a great many people in Syria and the Middle East would like to be free of the “help” they have been receiving. Such help has been a nightmare and a horror, to say the least.

A basic respect for national sovereignty and the rule of law would be infinitely more helpful, but no one seems to be interested in that. That does not serve the underlying motives of empire fetish, and ego-maniacal, greed-driven power games.

Hands off Syria. This is the most urgent point of the matter.

If we truly want to help the Syrian people, then we should send food, emergency shelter, doctors and medical supplies, and we should take in refugees, and give shelter to those in need. Sending more arms, bullets and bombs is not going to help the situation. Indeed, it has only made the situation a thousand times worse than it already was, before our “help” arrived.

J. Todd Ring,
February 27, 2016

 

For further readings, video commentaries and analysis, see:

Noam Chomsky

Paul Craig Roberts

Michel Chossudovsky

Tulsi Gabbard

John Pilger

CounterPunch

The Real News Network

Global Research

And as a start, here is Noam Chomsky, speaking with his usual lucidity, saying clearly that if we want to halt terrorism, we have to do pretty much the complete opposite of what we’re doing now, which will only increase terrorism, not reduce it, much less end it:

http://www.actvism.org/en/events/noam-chomsky-ueber-die-terroranschlaege-in-paris/

 

 

 

 

 

Obama’s Vision and Legacy: A retrospective look at the Obama presidency – before we lose all sight of recent history, as our culture is wont to do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by jtoddring

 

Here are three short articles which I wrote between 2011 and 2015 which sum up the Obama presidency, and the Obama vision and legacy. We should remember, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let us review now the torturous two terms of “Mister Hope and Change” – the man who escalated and consolidated the Bush-Cheney program of intensified imperial warfare abroad, and the building of a police state at home – and all with a smiling face, and lofty, pious speeches proclaiming noble, lofty things.

I must say, as an aside, that the following articles were written and posted as comments, via Discus, to certain “alternative media” sources; and they present a scathing, and justifiably, fact-based, and much-needed, scathing critique of the alternative media.

In short, the alternative media, so called, and with only a handful of exceptions, provided a gloss to Obama’s presidency, and lent cover to his high crimes and his war crimes, for the first seven years of his presidency. Only recently has a sliver of critical commentary about the Obama administration begun to flow out of these generally hollowly pretentious “news” sources.

And secondly, almost all of them failed completely with regards to honest and thoughtful reporting on the crisis in Ukraine, and instead of serious journalism, simply mouthed the standard narrative, and gave further life and credibility to the lies and propaganda that the mainstream media routinely present as “the news”.

So in short, the alternative media failed utterly and completely, with only rare exceptions on the part of a few writers and a few websites, in regards to two of the biggest geopolitical subjects of the past decade: the US presidency under Obama, and its global and domestic implications; and the growing US-Russian cold war.

Having said that, and having lost most of my trust and confidence in these media sources, The Real News Network has seriously upped its game, and I would say, from what I have seen, that it is now one of the best sources of news and analysis in the Western world.

So there is hope for the alternative media. They simply have to have the courage to admit when they were wrong, and to stand up, and speak the truth, regardless of how popular or unpopular the truth may be.

And it is also helpful here for us to remember – and not just the alternative media, but also the broader public, who were, by and large, also duped by Mister Hope and Change – the words of Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Let us be willing to admit when we were mistaken, and learn from our mistakes, and let us learn from our history, before we are doomed to repeat it yet again.

*

We should also note that Obama’s legacy includes, not only expanded imperial wars overseas, and an accelerated pace of the Bush-Cheney project of turning America into a police state, but also under Obama, we saw the crash of 2008, from which the US and the world in general have yet to recover. (See Paul Craig Roberts: There Was No Recovery, and There Will Be No Recovery.)

The warm and fuzzy propaganda and spin continues to stream out of the White House and the corporate media, telling us everything is rosy, but the figures speak for themselves, and tell a different story. The middle class is being driven under and is sinking, and shrinking, and as a result, consumer spending is crashing, which means that the global economy continues to sink. It’s not rocket science. A 10 year old could understand it. It just requires a willingness to deal with the facts, and that seems rare these days.

The middle class is being wiped out, while poverty and inequality soar, and only the rich are doing well – extremely well, in fact. This is another part of Obama’s legacy – he presided over the continued and accelerating process of the rich devouring the poor, the middle class and the world. And most critically, he acted as the lead PR man to cover over and hide what is really going on, and tell us that everything is fine, while the people and the planet continue to be eaten alive. I think he should sell snake oil. It would be a more honest job.

“In order to have a thriving middle class, we need good paying middle class jobs.  Unfortunately, our economy has been bleeding those kinds of jobs quite rapidly.  For example, Halliburton just announced that it is eliminating 5,000 more jobs after getting rid of 4,000 workers at the end of last year.

During the Obama years, good paying middle class jobs have been getting replaced by low paying service jobs.  At this point, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

And there is no way that you can support a middle class family with children on $30,000 a year.

We have an economy that is in the process of failing.  We can see it in the explosion of subprime auto loans that are going bad, we can see it in the hundreds of retail stores that are shutting down, and we can see it in the tens of thousands of good paying energy jobs that are being lost.

During the Obama years, interest rates have been pushed to the floor, the Federal Reserve has created trillions of dollars out of thin air, and the size of our national debt is getting close to doubling.  Despite all of those desperate measures, our economy continues to crumble.”

– Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores
By Michael Snyder, February 25, 2016

Hallelujah. Praise be to the profits.

And let them eat cake.

JTR,
February 25, 2016

 

Obama’s brilliantly successful, and disastrous vision

A recent article by Andrew Bacevitch
which was published by Moyers and Company laments that Obama has
failed to accomplish anything of substance since taking office. This
is not true. Obama has continue the Bush-Cheney war on democracy,
freedom, civil liberties, human rights, the Bill of Rights and
Constitution at home, while carrying on with the noble work begun by
the Bush administration of creating a police state in America; thus,
hopefully, securing the wealth and power of the elite at the expense
of the great suffering and diminished wealth, security, dignity,
rights and freedom of the other 99% of the population. So yes, Obama
has accomplished a great deal. He simply accomplished all the wrong
things. And he did so, because he was working for the wrong people.
He has been working for Wall Street since the beginning. The people
simply failed to see it.

The article is excellent, but for this
point, and one other important point. The author states that Obama
has no foreign policy vision, and never did. That is untrue.

Obama inherited and fully embraced the
foreign policy vision of the neocon Project for a New American
Century and the Bush-Cheney cabal: that is, intensified imperial
warfare abroad for the sake of maintaining global hegemony in a time
of an empire in rapid decline – and, of course, for the ever-present
ultimate objective, which is ever higher corporate profits and wealth
for the super-rich, ruling elite.

So Obama has a vision – it’s just not a
vision which accords with the great majority of Americans, or people
anywhere in the world. But it is a vision which is favoured, and
fiercely, rabidly, aggressively pursued, by the foreign and domestic
elite who rule over Washington and decide its policy choices and
agenda.

Has Obama’s vision succeeded? Well, the
rich are richer, aren’t they? Corporate profits are high. Trillions
of dollars have flowed from Main Street to Wall Street, via the US
government and the US Treasury. And the billionaire class now has an
even more formidable military-industrial-security complex, and police
state apparatus, with which to protect itself from the rabble. Obama
has succeeded brilliantly, at least for the moment – he simply had
the wrong vision: and for that, we should all lament deeply. The
people were duped.

J. Todd Ring,

February 7, 2015

Discussion on Chris Floyd – Empire Burlesque 26 comments

 

And here is my response to another article from the “alternative media” which also helped to give Obama a fresh gloss and a patina of legitimacy:

New Obama Campaign Commercial Is BRUTAL!

prajnaseek

prajnaseek 4 years ago (2012)

The amazing shelf-life of Obamamania:

Half rotted, to say the least; made as appealing as possible by a dedicated PR
machine;
and now highly distasteful to a growing majority –
yet still being hocked by “progressive” media outlets nation-wide.
What gives?!

I am increasingly amazed that otherwise thoughtful, well-informed and
intelligent individuals and media outlets such as AlterNet, who seem to have
both brains and integrity, continue to support Obama. Do we have to recount his
record of actions over and over again? He presented himself – with the aid of a
powerful, multi-million dollar PR machine – as a populist, a democrat, a man of
peace, and a man of the people. I warned people before he was elected in 2008 that he
was none of the above, but merely another shill for Wall Street. His actions since
his election have proven this is in fact the case, and proven it abundantly, beyond
any shadow of a doubt. Shall we at least glance at the record? Do the facts
matter, or are we utterly swayed and won over – deluded – by the mesmerizing
powers of rhetoric, spin and pretty speeches? Do the facts matter or not?

A populist? Obama was put into office through the major backing of Wall Street,
then of course, returned the favour – “donations” from the reigning
plutocratic elite do not come free, nor without strings attached, as David
Sirota said of Obama and his backers: returned the favour by stacking his
government with his Wall Street buddies, and then handed over hundreds of
billions of tax payer dollars to his Wall Street banker friends, as part of the
greatest mass transfer of wealth from the American people to the financial
elite in history. To cap it all off, he aggressively pushed for legislation
that would permanently make his Wall Street criminal friends immune from any
future prosecution or legal action. (See Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibi for an
honest accounting of Obama.) Populist? No, Obama is Wall Street’s man – or one
of them. He is no friend of the people.

Democrat? Obama voted twice for the Constitution-, Bill of Rights- and
civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act; the second time, voting to make 14 of
its provisions permanent. He has done nothing to overturn the quite literally –
by any legal definition – fascist legislation brought in by Bush, and has in
fact greatly extended and increased it. The Military Commissions Act has not
been overturned, and Obama has not even attempted to do so, and this act alone
defines the United States now, in strict legal terms, as a fascist nation. (See
Keith Olbermann on the Military Commissions Act, for an honest and unflinching
assessment – and remember, Obama has continued to support it since Bush left office.)
Under the NDAA, which Obama also signed, the President, or Chief Executive
Officer on hire to the ruling financial elite who own the country, can now
imprison anyone indefinitely, and has sweeping unchecked powers beyond that,
including execution or assassination without trial. (Obama even brags of his
ability to kill anyone with his fleet of killer drones.) These legal undoings
of constitutional democracy, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil
liberties, along with the extreme and unchecked powers now aggregated to the
executive, by any reasonable or legal definition constitute fascism, and Obama
has supported and furthered this slow strangulation of democracy, freedom and
civil liberties, every step of the way. He has defended the use of
“extraordinary rendition,” CIA black sites, torture and
disappearances, systemic wire-tapping and a global surveillance state. To call
this man a democrat would be the most insane, or else Orwellian statement
possible. He is a crypto-fascist in populist liberal democratic disguise – and
the disguise is so thin by now that only the wilfully blind cannot yet see
through it.

Peace-lover? Obama made rosy speeches about vague sentiments and even more
vague goals, such as “hope” and “change,” but as the New
York Times said before his election, it was hardly likely he would change
anything in terms of foreign policy, and his foreign policy is, as the Times
predicted, virtually indistinguishable from that of Bush. In fact, his foreign
policy record has been worse than Bush’s, as Chomsky and others have pointed
out. He positioned himself as a man of peace, and then went on to expand the
wars in the Middle East, and to launch new wars in Northern Africa. He is now
sabre-rattling with relation to Iran, and gearing up the propaganda and
rhetoric for an attack on Iran, which would be utterly insane, as well as a war
crime under international law, since Iran is in a military and economic
alliance with China and Russia, two nuclear super-powers, and hence, attacking
Iran literally risks the start of WWIII. Anyone who would attack Iran under
such circumstances must therefore be certifiably insane, as well as criminally
negligent in the highest magnitude describable. But even aside from the
question of Iran, Obama is already, and again, quite literally, guilty of war
crimes, by strict definition of international law, and crimes against humanity,
as well as guilty of simply expanding and perpetuating the obscene and
bankrupting wars of empire, and continuing the multi-decade policy of
subservience and service towards the military-industrial complex. This is no
man of peace. This man is owned almost as much by the industrial-military
complex and the war-profiteers as by Wall Street.

So why are there still articles on AlterNet and other seemingly, and often
genuinely intelligent media outlets, coddling and massaging Obama’s image and
PR face, if not outright supporting him? If someone at AlterNet cares to
answer, I would love to hear the response.

It is 1931 Germany in the USA, as I have been saying for
some time, as a growing minority and possibly by now a majority of Americans
are aware, and as your better writers and commentators have also noted. Why
then does anyone still pretend that Obama is anything but a crypto-fascist
puppet on hire to the ruling corporate and financial elite? Why?!

Enough! End this nonsense now, and let’s get on with real
change, and the healing of this world.

Hope and change will come from the people. The leaders –
so-called – of both major parties have betrayed the people. Let’s face the
facts, and get on with it. Lead yourself, people. It’s time for a revolution.

J. Todd Ring
(prajnaseek on Twitter)

P.S.: AlterNet editors: If you wish to retain any
credibility as a progressive, or even an independent media outlet, then strip
out the references to AlterNet here – I don’t wish to single out AlterNet,
which is excellent in other regards, since the problem is widespread in the “progressive”
media – and publish this article. You
can contact me via Twitter to let me know your response. If it is silence, then
I will know where you stand: and if that is the case, as I hope it will not be,
then I must conclude that either you are blinkered partisan zealots, or else
are owned by the same plutocratic and oligarchic forces who own Obama. I am
sorry to put the matter so bluntly, but democracy in America is being drowned,
and Obama has been, and continues to this day, to be an active and willing
accomplice in that most heinous and grotesque of crimes. The time has long
passed for the mincing of words. I await your response. Please exercise courage
and thoughtfulness. It would be a shame to see your legitimacy and your aid die
along with all former hopes for Mister Hope and Change.

 

And one last response to yet another “alternative media” gloss of Obama:

The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power | News & Politics

prajnaseek

prajnaseek mmckinl 5 years ago (2011)

Well put – straight to the point. Here is my response to Parry’s “critique.”

Obama:pseudo-populist, crypto-fascist, corporatist, globalist

A rebuttal to Robert Parry’s glowingly pro-Democrat, slavishly partisan diatribe

Nice story line – for a fantasy novel… Excellent analysis, and totally one-sided: can anyone think critically about both wings of the party of the corporate elite – the Democrats and the Republicans? Some few can, but it seems rare.

Robert Parry’s article, “The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power” is a fair enough analysis of the Republican party machine, but it breathes not a peep of criticism of the Democratic party apparatchiks or the Obama administration, and expresses not even a whisper of critical thought with regard to the latter. We are forced to conclude that either he is a completely blinkered partisan, or else a willing tool of the ruling elite, playing the same old game of divide and conquer in order to maintain the hegemony of the ruling class. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume for the moment that his highly counter-productive “critique,” which further divides the people, thus thwarting any possibility of real change, is a product of his being simply out to lunch.

“Pseudo-populist?” What do you think Obama is? He’s also pseudo-democratic, pseudo-progressive, pseudo-anti-war , pseudo-pro-civil liberties and pseudo-constitutional, in case anybody still hadn’t noticed. He’s expanded war in the Middle East, stood up for CIA “extraordinary renditions” and torture, failed utterly to even attempt to repeal the literally fascist and
completely unconstitutional Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, and instead
continued to support them, to name but a few points showing him to be anything
but a democrat – and he backed the biggest transfer of wealth in history from
ordinary people to the super-rich with the Wall St. banker “bail-out.”

Spell it out: this is by definition a crypto-fascist corporatist. (As Mussolini himself defined fascism, it is the merger of the powers of big business with the powers of the state: it is corporatism.) Just
how thick does anyone have to be to still think that Obama is a democrat, a populist, a man of the people, an anti-war activist, or anything other than a whore to the military-industrial complex, the Wall St. Banking elite, and the global corporate empire? Please! This is getting rather tiring.

Nearly 60% of Americans now believe Obama should not be re-elected. Also fortunately, the majority of Americans have also lost faith in the Republican establishment as well. Fortunately, the Republican establishment destroyed its credibility with most Americans under the Bush
administration, and the Democratic (sic) establishment has destroyed its credibility with the majority of the people since taking power in Congress and the White House.

Fortunately, such wilful ignorance – of believing that either the Republicans or the Democrats are the saviours of the nation, or even the friends or allies of the people – is waning in the land. There are a few Democrats and Republicans with integrity, such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, but the two big party machines are, by all indications of an overwhelming body of evidence, bought and owned, and run by and for, the corporate elite. Of course there are rival factions among the ruling elite, but the fact is that they share a highly similar corporate agenda – “the vile maxim of the masters,” as Adam Smith called it: “all for us, none for anybody else.”

The hard reality in the United States today is that it is a one-party state: a corporatocracy run by the super-rich and the corporate and banking elite, with the nearly complete complicity and eager
servitude of both wings of the party of the corporate police state. The polls have been showing for some time that there is a deep and growing popular awareness of this fact. The crisis of legitimacy is now nearing critical mass, and will quite likely explode into revolution within a short period of time, as the CIA has also predicted.

Unfortunately, if it is a violent uprising, the ruling elite will use this as a justification for repression, and to dispense with every last remnant of democracy, freedom, human rights and civil liberties. If this happens, the Corporate Police State will have arrived in full, hideous flowering.

People are beginning to realize more and more that the corporatocracy rules both major political parties in the U.S. Real change will happen when more people drop the stunned state of denial, and face the undeniable and overwhelming evidence of this fact. When will this happen? Sooner
than one might think.

Let us hope that awareness grows quickly, the people unite in defence of their country and future against a very Machiavellian corporatist order, and the response of the people is along the lines of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, and not unthinking violent reaction.

The future is in our hands. Clarity of mind is the first step to securing a better future however. We must first know where we stand. The battle line is not between Republicans and Democrats, it is between those who value constitutional democracy, justice and freedom – true (small d, small r) democrats and republicans – and an entrenched and power hungry elite who wish for unchecked and unfettered power and hegemony over all. In short, the people must unite, or we are lost. Build bridges now, or kiss your country and your freedom goodbye.

J. Todd Ring,
June 10, 2011

Prospects for America: Sanders vs Civil War

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

(And that is not a threat, of course, but a prediction)

An analysis of the present state and future prospects of the nation

~

An open letter in response to Daily Kos,

and to anyone concerned with either justice, or peace

The article I recently wrote and published on Daily Kos, Prognosis for America: Sanders or Civil War, (January 26, 2016) seemed to cause quite a stir, and quite a backlash. I will repeat again, to clarify, that I merely made a prediction, based on sound evidence, and what are, to me, obvious and undeniable facts.

What I said was that the US now has such extreme and growing levels of inequality and internal divisions, that tensions are high and mounting, and that if real positive social change is not soon forthcoming, the country is at serious risk of descending into a nightmare of civil war.

This may be shocking to some, but anyone who is paying attention to what is going on should not be shocked in the least. These things should be obvious. Even members of the corporate elite are warning of it. They too are afraid that the country could explode into civil war.

And they should be afraid. Civil war is a horror which any sane person should wish to avoid. But it is heading for the US, I believe, if real change continues to be blocked, and long-standing and legitimate grievances among the people are not addressed.

I clearly did not, and do not advocate civil war, but urged that it be recognized as a serious risk, and that it be averted. I clearly did not say that either Bernie Sanders or his supporters are going to launch a civil war – something that should not need be said.

What I said was that the popular movement that is now coalescing around Bernie Sanders’ Presidential candidacy represents the only serious hope for real social change on the present horizon, and if that route to change is blocked, or does not bear fruit, then the country could be in real danger, due to its own unaddressed and growing internal tensions.

To repeat, I believe the tensions within the United States have reached such a high degree, that only three options present themselves.

One is revolution – and I am speaking here of the kind of revolution that Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. would launch or advocate: bold, passionate, determined, but strictly non-violent. That is the most intelligent option for the American people at present, I would say, given the circumstances, and given the fact that the corporate elite and the billionaire class of de facto oligarchs have taken over the political process, the government, the economy, most of the media, and the nation in general.

That is the response which I have been passionately urging for a long time now. But, unfortunately, I do not see evidence to believe that the American people are ready for it yet. So that option, at the present moment, appears to be closed. Things could change quickly, but for the time being, I do not think that revolution, at least in the near term, is something we should count on.

The second option is reform. And by reform, I do not mean pretty speeches that lead to no real change. Nor do I mean merely changing the window dressings. I mean real social change that comes about by political, economic and social reforms, such as bringing about serious election financing laws, invoking serious anti-trust legislation to break up the big banks and other corporate cartels and oligopolies, removing big money from politics, and returning power to the people, and thereby, at the same time, restoring some greater degree of equality and justice in the land.

There are many people, many movements, and many organizations working to accomplish such goals, but again, at present, the only serious hope for accomplishing such mild, moderate, but extremely important and urgently needed reforms in the short term, in any way that is at all commensurate with the scale of changes needed, is with the movement surrounding Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton is not going to do these things. That is perfectly clear, or at least it should be. Hillary is owned by Wall Street, to put it frankly and most bluntly. And nor do I see any other person or any other movement that at present has enough popular backing and popular power to have any hope, at least in the near term, of accomplishing these goals, other than the movement surrounding Bernie Sanders.

I do think the Green Party and also the Occupy movement, along with the co-op movement, the re-localization movement, and other popular movements for social change, show great promise; but they still do not have the necessary support of a wide enough or impassioned enough popular backing to create the necessary changes of the necessary magnitude – not yet. Maybe they will soon, and I hope they do, but at present, Bernie Sanders and the movement that is building around his leadership, is our best, and probably only hope, for real, substantial change in the short term.

The third option for the United States is to continue on its present course, without revolution, and without any serious reform, or any real change. That option will, I guarantee you, lead to disaster.

So yes, I stand by my premise and my prediction, which is, that if serious change does not occur very soon in the US, either by revolution or by reform – and Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the popular movement surrounding it, being the only real hope for serious reform at present – then the US faces a very real and growing risk of descending, or even exploding, into civil war.

*

Sometimes uncomfortable truths must be spoken. Sometimes controversial statements must be made. In 2001, it was controversial to say that invading, bombing or otherwise attacking Afghanistan or Iraq, would be morally unconscionable, a violation of international law, a war crime, and furthermore, a disaster. But these were the facts of the matter, and they had to be said, whether or not the speaking of the truth made a great many people uncomfortable. And of course, it turned out that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were all of these things, and they were a disaster in moral, fiscal and human terms.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote his landmark essay, On Civil Disobedience, in the 1830’s, it was controversial to say that slavery was an abomination, and one which must be abolished. But these controversial statements, of course, had to be made, whether they were viewed by some as controversial or not.

And and ever since that short, great essay of truly monumental import and significance, and still to this day, it has been and continues to be controversial to say that there are times when the law must be broken and civil disobedience becomes a moral obligation, because both the law as well as the norm, are in not only in the wrong, but further, it is unconscionable to obey them. And yet, it is vitally necessary that we speak such controversial thoughts, and demand that laws and norms which are unethical in the extreme be disobeyed, and civil disobedience be undertaken as a matter of moral principle.

During the Suffragette Movement, it was controversial to say that women deserved the right to vote. But it had to be said, and today most people would agree that it had to be said, and said with passion, until the message was heard and acted upon.

During the Civil Rights Movement, especially at the early stages of it, it was controversial to say that racial segregation was morally repugnant, as well as socially divisive and destabilizing, and therefore had to be overturned and abolished. But these things had to be said in any case – even if they were controversial, and even if there was a violent backlash against such statements of simple truth.

From the birth of the environmental movement, in the 1950’s and ’60’s, until the present, and especially in the early stages of the movement, it was controversial, and to many people it remains controversial, to say that human beings are affecting the earth, and all life on it, in disastrous as well as highly unethical ways. And yet, these truths needed to be spoken, and still need to be spoken today, be they controversial or not.

The movement to end racial discrimination and racially-based police violence – a movement which has long and deep roots, but which is now coming to a greater prominence – has extremely important things to say, but much of what it has to say is viewed as controversial by many people. And yet, these things must simply be said, whether or not they make some people uncomfortable.

And in the present moment, the same is true with regards to my warning that the US is in serious danger of descending into civil war. It makes people uncomfortable to say such things. It is controversial, perhaps, to some minds at least, to say such things. But it is an uncomfortable truth which must be spoken nevertheless.

Believe me, a warning is much less discomforting than a full-scale disaster – and that is what we are facing, hurtling towards us at 100 miles an hour, if we do not make major changes, and now.

“… an open society may also be threatened. … from excessive individualism.

Too much competition and too little cooperation can cause intolerable inequities and instability. …

The present situation is comparable to that at the turn of the past century. …Yet the free-market regime that prevailed a hundred years ago was destroyed by the First World War. …

How much more likely the present regime is to break down unless we learn from experience!”

– Toward a Global Open Society, by George Soros

Atlantic Monthly, January 1998

As the Dalai Lama said, “If the poor become too envious and too frustrated, the frustration turns into anger, and that anger turns into violence.” Again, this should be obvious to all. We are headed for disaster if we do not address the rising levels of poverty and inequality in our society, and in the world more broadly, and very, very soon. These are the simple facts of the matter, whether we like it or not.

*

I like what my favourite monk had to say about writing, and it is relevant here.

“If you’re afraid of writing something that might offend someone,

why write anything at all?”

– Thomas Merton

And by the way, simply because someone says something that is controversial, does not mean they are “trolling” for a fight. They may be simply saying something that is controversial, but which needs to be said.

I despise bickering, quarrelling, rancour, and especially, thoughtless divisiveness – which the popular internet expression, “troll” represents: a term that is often justly used, but at other times, frequently thrown about in a thoughtless or reactionary manner, in which case it has the effect, either intended or unintended, of deterring and thwarting any serious discussion, or expression controversial statements or views diverge from the standard media-driven narrative.

It was not “trolling” for a fight to simply speak my mind, but merely a moral obligation, to me, in the face of such extreme injustice, human suffering, and great dangers facing the people. Smarmy and smug, sardonic comments are not helpful to our discussion, nor to the people of the United States or the world. Hurling accusations of “troll”, at least in this case, simply shows that the attacker has no intelligent argument to bring to bear, but must instead resort to hurling insults. Let us try to rise above that.

If we want to look at controversial statements that could be labelled as “trolling” – and mislabelled as trolling, since they were simply sincere statements, representing an attempt to spark thoughtful reflection and discussion, here are a few by some truly great Americans which we would do well to consider. Compared to these statements, the statements I made in the above essay were very mild indeed.

“The First Law of Journalism: to confirm existing prejudice, rather than contradict it.”

– Alexander Cockburn

“I sometimes despair of getting anything accomplished by the help of my fellow men. Their minds would first have to be placed in a kind of powerful vice, to squeeze their old ideas out of them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, every US president since WWII would be hanged.”

– Noam Chomsky

“Today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that

takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government

owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

– Teddy Roosevelt

“I hope we shall crush the new moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for it already bids defiance to our laws, and bids a contest of strength with our democratic government.”

– Thomas Jefferson, 1812 (Note that he said this in 1812!)

Let us try to keep things in perspective. Not everything can be sugar coated, dumbed down, skirted or perennially avoided. Sometimes we have to speak the frank and honest truth, even if it is painful to hear, or to say.

Nor do I find my predictions for, or analysis of, the United States, to be hyperbole of any sort. I think it is quite shocking – or it would be shocking, if I did not know that many people are deeply steeped in denial – that the statements I made would shock anyone. Have a great number of people been living under a rock for the past three decades? Apparently so. The United States is not what it used to be, and it is in great danger – from its own internal divisions, above all, as well as from the corporate elite who are rapidly devouring it, along with the world, the middle class and the poor.

If stating obvious truths, or simply making controversial statements, makes some people uncomfortable, and perhaps very upset, I am willing to live with that. That goes with the territory.

But if stating obvious truths, or even simply making controversial statements, gets me banned from Daily Kos, then this journal, this forum, has some serious problems with freedom of speech and openness to diverse and thoughtful discussion – and that is quite dismal.

I suspect that the problem here, with regard to Daily Kos banning me on my first day as a member – maybe a new record – was simple partisan politics: Daily Kos is by an large a dyed in the wool and staunch supporter of the Democratic Party establishment, from what I can see, although there is some dissent within the broader forum. Hillary is the anointed candidate of the Democratic Party establishment. Any serious challenge to the Democratic Party’s chosen candidate by more genuinely democratic political movements or voices, are frowned upon, at the least, and possibly even banished from Daily Kos, as has apparently happened before. But that is beside the point. The editorial actions of Daily Kos remain a gross violation of the principles of free speech and free and open debate, and as such, are repugnant, no matter what the motivation or rationalization may have been.

In fact, if the editors at Daily Kos are going to ban me from this forum, which they did, and they have yet to rescind or reverse their decision, then not only do they have serious failings with regards to free and open discussion, and basic freedom of speech, but they do not qualify for the term “progressive”, much less the high and vaulted self-annointment of presenting themselves as the leading voice of progressive America.

But we are facing much bigger and far more important issues than the editorial policies or current state of Daily Kos, of course.

*

During the Great Depression, FDR, who I believe was a man of conscience, came to realize that there was not only a moral crisis facing the United States, but also a social and political crisis. It was realized then by the ruling elite, that tensions were high, and if serious changes were not made to address the people’s legitimate concerns, then there was a serious risk of revolution.

The political elite, and at least a portion of the business elite, knew that concessions had to be made. Smedley Butler had blown the lid off of The Business Plot, so the corporate-led fascist coup which was planned, and which Congress documented after General Butler’s testimony, seemed to no longer be an option, at least for the moment; and so, concessions were viewed as necessary and unavoidable.

(See my essay, Smedley Butler and the Business Plot, on WordPress.)

That was the beginning of The New Deal, and the beginning of major programs and initiatives to address poverty and inequality in America. And today, once again – after four decades of rising corporate powers, not only effectively having taken over the political process, government, finance and the economy, but also, rolling back many of the gains that had been made by the people over the past several decades and more – poverty is high and growing, inequality is higher than at any time in history, tensions are high, and if serious political, economic and social change is not made soon, the results are very likely to be a conflagration of one kind or another.

Again, I think these things should, by now, to obvious to just about everyone. The Occupy Wall Street movement was just the beginning. Real change is coming, and as John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

And that is not a threat. It is a prediction, and it is a virtual certainty – if we fail to make the needed changes in time. Neither JFK nor myself were making a threat: it was simply an observation of the obvious facts, and a very sound and reasonable prediction based on the facts.

I have written about these things before, and extensively, and my writing and analysis is based upon thirty years of intensive research, study and reflection. (And I will freely mention my other writing here, and quite legitimately, because it is relevant to the subject at hand, above all; and because it has merit, because it should be widely read, and because I do not have a PR or marketing firm working on my behalf, or even an agent, and so, must, by necessity, promote my work myself, if it is to have the kind of positive impact I hope for it, or any impact at all.) My recent essay, Pre-Revolutionary France and America:1785 and Now; and my recent book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium, cover the subject in greater depth.

Remember also, that I predicted the economic crash of 2008, at a time when virtually everyone was saying that things are just rosy, and would remain so for the foreseeable future. There is good reason, therefore, to take these present predictions as to the current dangers facing the United States, quite seriously, and with all due thoughtfulness.

We should note also, that people as diverse as billionaire financier George Soros, who single-handedly brought the British Pound to its knees, before finishing his breakfast one fine morning; along with South African tycoon Johann Rupert, the fifth richest man in Africa; and multi-billionaire Nick Hanauer, who recently penned an open letter addressed, “To My Fellow Zillionaires”, warning, The Pitchforks ARE Coming…For Us Plutocrats; to David Sirota, the progressive democrat, veteran journalist and activist, and author of the book, The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington; to Jacques Attali, leading intellectual in residence to the French elite, and author of the book, Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order, among many others, have all warned essentially of the same thing: a great confrontation and great turmoil is brewing in America, if not also the world, and it is plain to see for anyone who cares to look. To me it has been so plainly obvious for so long, that, again, it is almost shocking that some still cannot see it. The writing is clearly on the wall.

Peaceful change through political, economic and social reforms is urgently needed, and world-wide, or we will face a crisis of truly terrible proportions – and the US is in the lead in terms of rushing headlong into disaster, if these changes are not made quickly, and now. This should be so plain as to go without saying. It is a testimony to the fact that large segments of the population remain asleep, or stubbornly and foolishly in denial, that such things need to be stated at all.

Let’s hope serious positive change comes to the United States, or rather, is actively brought about in the United States, and soon, is all I can say. People can take these warnings, and heed them, or brush them aside. But if they choose to ignore them, I assure you, it will be at their peril.

*

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, at another time of rising crisis, “We must face the fierce urgency of now…..There is such a thing as being too late.”

Two hundred years ago, the business elite backed the democratic revolutions of France and America, because they rightly saw it as a means to break the back of the ruling monarchy and aristocracy. But ever since, they have been, at best, ambivalent about democracy, and have sought an undeclared oligarchy, with themselves as the new ruling god-kings, pharaohs or tsars. (Chomsky documents this very well, in what is perhaps his most important book, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – a book should be considered essential reading for every informed person.)

And today, after two hundred years of exponentially rising powers, the business elite is not only the principle obstacle to real and authentic democracy, and rule of the people, by the people, for the people; but they are, in fact, engaged in an aggressive and determined war against democracy, as with the people and the earth.

The business elite, who are now firmly in control, both in the United States and in most nations around the world, foolishly believe that they can have a grand global showdown against the people, and win. I would remind them that any such foolish notions and foolish responses to a very real and growing social crisis, will not end in peace, and nor will they end quickly. Such an attitude will result only in a long and protracted state of civil war, in which the toll on all sides is truly horrific, and devastating.

The stubborn, and quite foolishly smug refusal among the business and political elite to embrace change, must be overcome. And even more importantly, the excessive docility and obedience of the majority of the people, and their continued insistence on voting for the candidates of the business elite, such as Hillary Clinton, must be overcome.

I realize that there are some very thoughtful critics of Bernie Sanders’ policy platform, and I also realize that his proposed policy changes are not thorough enough or radical enough for some people. But I will say again, that Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, and more essentially, the popular movement for social change that is coalescing around it, is the best hope we have for real, substantive change at this time. And at least at this time, I think it is probably true: we have a choice between a Sanders’ presidency, or civil war for America.

Let the voters decide. But let us realize, the hour is very late, and change is needed urgently, and now.

In hope and in peace,

J. Todd Ring

February 10, 2016

 

Further reading:

“The pitchforks ARE coming” – A billionaire warns his fellow Oligarchs what is coming down the pipe

By MinistryOfTruth – Daily Kos, Friday Jun 27, 2014

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

Luxury Goods CEO Billionaire Warns Of Imminent Violent Uprising Of The Poor

By Joe Clark, July 15, 2015, Liberal America

http://www.liberalamerica.org/2015/07/15/billionaire-ceo-warns-of-imminent-violent-uprising-of-the-poor/

Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World – August 20, 1991
by Jacques Attali

http://www.amazon.com/Millennium-Winners-Losers-Coming-World/dp/0812919130/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455111111&sr=1-2&keywords=Jacques+Attali+millennium

 

The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington,

by David Sirota, 2008

http://www.amazon.com/The-Uprising-Unauthorized-Populist-Washington/dp/B006Z39Q4W

 

Six Responses To Bernie Sanders Sceptics – An excellent, short, three minute video by Robert Reich

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/02/08/6-responses-to-bernie-sanders-skeptics/

 

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think,

Scientific American,

By Nicholas Fitz, March 31, 2015

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/

 

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

 

 

 

CBS South Carolina Poll: 100% of 18-29 year-olds think Bernie is honest and trustworthy,

Daily Kos, February 14, 2016

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/2/14/1485191/-CBS-South-Carolina-poll-100-of-18-29-year-olds-think-Bernie-is-honest-and-trustworthy-Nice

 

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium: Volume One: Introductory Essays in Political-Economy, Social Analysis & 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

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