Archive for environment

Covid-19 In Perspective: An Open Letter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2020 by jtoddring

The following letter I wrote and sent out in response to a virtual town hall meeting this evening with our local MP and a local environmental group. I am sharing it here because I think it summarizes a contextualization of covid-19 and other major issues which is critically and urgently needed. Our society is facing a pandemic loss of perspective, above all, I would argue, and that is the most deadly and dangerous pandemic of all.

The ruling business elite don’t care about issues of public health, justice, inclusion, peace, or the environment. They have proven by their actions that they care about power and wealth for themselves, above all; and everything else, and everyone else, is expendable. That means, we must remove them from power.

That means, we either address and resist the “new normal” which is corporate-run authoritarianism, and restore constitutional democracy, or we can forget about all our dreams of justice, health, or environmental protection, for they will be nothing but dreams, while our world is destroyed, along with our freedoms, while the middle class, the poor and the Earth continue to be devoured by the billionaire plutocrats who now rule the world. This is the new normal we must face, or we can forget about having any claim to be living in the real world, much less changing it.

This is not dystopian fiction. This is the real world. This is happening. We need to snap the people out of their stupor – and now.

JTR,
June 23, 2020

 

Hello to all,

Thank you to all for your time and thoughts. Philip, I am glad to hear your support for local economies, local farms, and buy-local and buy-Canadian programs and economic shifts, in particular, I want to say firstly. Rebuilding local, regional and national economies is critical; as is the greening of our economy, communities and society. But that is not what I want to focus on in this open letter.

I want to address something that will present a difficult conversation for a number of people, and I am glad to hear that you, Philip, emphasize that such conversations are essential to have in a mature and democratic society. They are.

My views are expressed more systematically, at length and in depth in my first two published books, and in more than 450 published essays. But I will summarize briefly here, echoing what others have mentioned in terms of the need for justice and balance.

Briefly, we cannot separate issues of power, from issues of justice, peace, health, or the environment. If we wish for positive change in any of these or other areas of our society, we must, most centrally, address issues of power.

That may sound vague at first, but what I am referring to is the growing hyper-concentration of power in society – and a corresponding crisis of democracy – particularly over the past 50 years of neoliberalism and corporate globalization. The great sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote of this decades ago, in his monumental work, The Power Elite. Noam Chomsky has written of it extensively. See Necessary Illusions, Year 501, Class Warfare, and, Requiem For The American Dream. Peter Phillips also wrote a definitive work recently, called Giants: The Global Power Elite.

In short, the richest 1%, and actually the richest fraction of a percent, have acquired vast, unaccountable, oligarchic power; and democracy, constitutional rule, and freedom, are dying as a result.

Swiss systems analysis of the global economy, US ivy league studies, the best geopolitical, economic and sociological analysis, and even the Financial Times of London, have confirmed it: democracy is dying – that is, being destroyed – while we are being driven, at break-neck speed, into a new empire of global neo-feudal corporate oligarchy.

Now, in 2020, we have gone from a world which former Canadian Governor General John Ralston Saul described as being effectively ruled by the corporate elite at Davos – which he called, “the new royal court”, and “the new Palace of Versailles”, and which the world’s leading business journal called, “the de facto world government” – to an openly authoritarian society.

In response to a crisis, out of fear, we have imported the authoritarian social model of China – or allowed it to be foisted upon us. That should be deeply concerning to us all. Why is this not being discussed?

If we are concerned with human health, then we must: 1. halt environmental pollution and degradation, and stop climate change; 2. end poverty and malnutrition; 3. educate people on healthy diets and lifestyles; and most obviously, 4. fully fund health care in Canada – and restore the funding which has been repeatedly slashed over the past four decades, by both Liberal and Conservative governments, by the two dominant parties and our political elites, who frankly care so deeply about our health, that they had to massively de-fund and undermine our public health care system.

(It is called blatant hypocrisy, of course. Or sheer deceit. And of course, the situation is similar or worse in the UK and the US, regarding elite concerns for public health, where “austerity” programs likewise rule, while the feeding trough for the elite is bottomless.)

More deeply and more centrally, if we do not address the growing hyper-concentration of power, and the new normal of authoritarianism, then we will have no functioning democracy with which to address any other issue: including health, peace, justice, economics, or the environment.

What will you do, most fundamentally, to uphold constitutional rights and freedoms, as well as democracy, in a time when they are being swept aside in the name of security?

Let us remember the wise words, “Those who are willing to sacrifice a little liberty for a little security, deserve neither, and will lose both.” And we are now losing both, make no mistake.

And by the way, this statement and question is directed to all of us, and not only our local Member of Parliament.

This question, to me, is absolutely fundamental; and it is shocking, I must say, and deeply disturbing, that this most fundamental issue is being brushed aside. This must change, and immediately.

Respectfully,
J. Todd Ring,

Author of:

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

 

De-cluttering The Mind – And Our “Civilization”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 21, 2020 by jtoddring

If we had only Socrates, Shakespeare, Montaigne and Thoreau as guides, to direct our course, and tell us about the world and how to live in it, I think we would do very well. If we also had the words of Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Shankara, the Buddha and Lao Tzu, native indigenous elders and a few poets – and had ears to truly hear them, and eyes to see what they are pointing out – then I think we would live extraordinarily well; and moreover, a renaissance and rebirth would be virtually guaranteed.

But of course, that would only work if there were no impediments or distractions to our hearing or seeing, or to focusing on what is truly worthy our attention and our time. That is most definitely not the case. And that is the primary problem. We are inundated, flooded daily, with a tsunami of noise and propaganda, lies, illusions, half-truths, delusions and deceit, dogma, denial and sheer distraction, on an unprecedented scale.

(The only things unprecedented about this moment in time is the level of mass distraction, the level of mass delusion, the level of mass insanity, the level of mass obedience to authority, the level of blind conformity, the level of blatant power grabs which are accepted without the slightest protest or even comment, and the staggering level of propaganda success. It is terrifying to see – and the only things which truly are. But I digress to mere reality. Let us return to a comfortable dissociation from reality, securely hunkered in our bunkers, with digital opium drip happily connected to the main line, and a quadrillion channels of shit on the internet to choose from.)

Shutting off the TV, internet, “social media”, and “smart phone”, and stepping away from all but the most carefully selected of journals (and even they should take up only a sliver of our time), and maybe picking up a good book or three, would be a very good idea now. In fact, a bold, mass act of unplugging, so to speak, from the digital daydream and propaganda factory, and reconnecting with a few bright lights, good books, nature, friends, family, community, and ourselves, may well save humanity from slavery to the current fascist oligarchy which is taking over now, and to suicide by ecological cataclysm.

(“We’re all in this together.” Yes, sheep, we will all be hung on meat hooks together, if no further questioning arises soon – then be well roasted for the fires that burn humanity from the face of this Earth. Isn’t that a cheery thought, in our happy, shared delusions, and collusion with our own enslavement and self-annihilation? How positively charming!)

But, to each his own. Some prefer slavery to freedom. Some prefer slow death to any conceivable change. Madness is always an option – and an increasingly popular one, it seems.

Stay tuned to CNN, MSNBC, the BBC or Fox – as organs of the ruling, all-benevolent elite, they’re sure to guide you well. Onto a spit, straight to “well done”. A delightful roast for your masters!

JTR,
April 21, 2020

Further Reading:

A Short History of Progress – Ronald Wright

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell

Necessary Illusions – Noam Chomsky

Brave New World, and Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Walden, and, On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de La Boetie

The Death of Modern World – Or the Death of the Planet & the Human Species

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2020 by jtoddring
*
“The causality of the One was frequently explained in antiquity as an answer to the question, ‘How do we derive a many from the One?’ Although the answer provided by Plotinus and by other Neoplatonists is sometimes expressed in the language of ‘emanation’, it is very easy to mistake this for what it is not. It is not intended to indicate either a temporal process or the unpacking or separating of a potentially complex unity. Rather, the derivation was understood in terms of atemporal ontological dependence.”
– Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, On Plotinus
*
Yes! Exactly. It is not sequential; it is not this creating that; it is not the many being separately created by or out of the One. It is atemporal ontological dependency – well put, Standford.
More simply put, the many are the One; the One is the many.
Or as Meister Eckhart, the archetypal Western mystic said, “There is nothing that I can point to that is not God. God is within me, and God is all around me.”
Or in the terms of two of our greatest scientists:
“The perception of a division between self and other is a kind of optical delusion.” – Einstein
“The number of minds in the universe is one.”
– Erwin Schrödinger
Or in Eastern terms: “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” From the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra – the pith of the pith of the Buddha’s teachings.
Plotinus may be, in broad terms, the Bodhisattva of the West, along with Spinoza, Emerson, Blake and Thoreau. But of course, they are all foolishly buried and forgotten now. We are now far too clever for mere wisdom.
Burying and forgetting the ancients was no less foolish an act than largely wiping out and dismissing the Western monastic tradition, or burying and forgetting the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. But we moderns, for 400 years, and especially the past 100, when we really became full of… ah….hubris….and right into the 21st century, have prided ourselves on burying what we later will discover to have been some of our greatest of treasures.
Very wise indeed.
Meanwhile, we prefer pollysyllabic nihilistic psychobabble (post-modernism) and thinly veiled self-serving and utterly deceitful Machiavellianism (neoliberal corporatism) to either empiricism or common sense.
Wise indeed.
We will either recover our senses – which includes abandoning Netwonian mechanistic, materialist reductionism, Cartesian dualism, post-modernist nihilism, and neoliberal corporatism, with its crypto-fascist planet-killing class warfare – or we will go extinct.
Along with the tragic, pervasive illusion of powerlessness which holds captive the minds of the great majority, these are the big four sets of delusions which make up what Blake called “the mind-forged manacles”. We either break these chains, or we die.
We shift our consciousness, culture and dominant paradigm, or we make the shift right into the grave.
Simple choice, really.
– JTR

Six Founding Principles Of Good Government

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

Or,

Public Policy 101:

Tax “Bads”, Not Goods

Public policy, or government policy, should reflect certain basic principles. Let’s set out a few. Not everyone will agree, but polls repeatedly show the great majority, from the moderate grassroots right, across to the left, in general agree, and in general strongly agree, with much of what I will set out here. Where they don’t, we need to discuss further, until clarity and a general consensus are reached. This is critical, and it is also urgent, given the present, intertwined, severe crises we face: so we had best get on it.

1. Freedom should be protected and preserved. (Why? Because it is better to be free than to be a slave. And because freedom is best in light of, and most conducive toward, the fulfilment of human creativity and potential. Such things should not need explaining, but sometimes do.) That means, among other things, that constitutional law must be protected and preserved, and when necessary, ammended or changed to accomadate what is, hopefully, a growing, or rising cultural awareness and awakening. Attacks on our liberties and constitutional rights must be viewed with great wariness, at the least, and in general, strongly and forcefully opposed.

“States of emergency” do not justify a rollback of such liberties and rights, but only highlight our need to preserve them; and test our moral courage in difficult times, when it is easy to be seduced into throwing them overboard in pursuit of an eternally ellusive security that tends always to cost far more than it delivers.

(You don’t surrender your freedoms in order to preserve them, as we did after 9/11. Nor do sane people surrender the liberties of all in order to defend, theoretically, but in reality uselessly, against a germ. Epidemics and other disasters must be met with great compassion – not a police state.)

2. Since freedom is a core value to be preserved, democracy, or rule by the people, must therefore be preserved, and also advanced.

Excessive concentrations of power, alng with the inevitable abuses of power which stem from it, is the greatest danger, or certainly one of them. Freedom and constitutional democracy are among the core components of any serious answer to that very real and ever present danger.

(“When men are ready for it”, no government shall be what they have, as Thoreau said. But that time is not now. Right now, the people need the state to counterbalance the powers of the corporate oligarchs. Libertarians and anarchists need to realize this fact, as Chomsky also expressed, or else cease to pretend to be dealing with the real world.)

Elite rule, or oligarchy, is always the enemy of both democracy and of freedom. This is political-economy axiom number one.

In a heavily financialized, state-sponsored corporate capitalist economy, which is what neoliberalism represents – or corporatism, as it should be called, more precisely – and which is what now rules most of the world, we can either abandon democracy, freedom, civil liberties, an open society and constitutional rule, and embrace the new world empire of global neo-feudal corporate oligarchy, which is increasingly descending into a global police state; or we can vigorously assert our rights, and protect our vanishing freedoms, civil liberties and democracy, break up the big corporate empires, and apply bold, unflinching anti-trust legislation to make democracy and freedom real, and justice, peace, and survivability, real possibilities. Those are the two choices, broadly speaking. Right now we are heading for neoliberal corporate fascism. (In fact, it looks like we may well have arrived.) If we want something different, then we’re going to have to change course, and we’re going to have to act – and now.

Oligarchy and democracy cannot coexist. One must go. The elite want democracy to die. They naturally prefer oligarchy. We should be aware, however, if democracy goes, then freedom goes as well. We must be perfectly clear on this.

And of course, as US Presidents Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln understood, if the nation’s central bank, which prints and creates the nation’s money, is privately controlled by banking elites, rather than publicly owned and democratically controlled by congress, as the US Constitution set down, then “all talk of sovereignty and democracy will be idle and futile”, and freedom and democracy will be no more, because the banking oligarchy will rule the people, the nation, and the land. That is now the case in the US, as in most nations. Making the Federal Reserve publicly owned and democratically controlled, therefore, along with the ECB in Europe and other central banks, is essential if freedom or democracy are to survive. If we are serious about either freedom or democracy, then this very likely must be step one.

Step two is a global reset, by way of a debt jubilee, a mass debt cancellation. The people will continue in debt bondage and debt slavery until this happens. (See Ellen Brown and Michael Hudson.)

Furthermore, if it’s going to be a stable currency, which is necessary for a stable economy, and which are both in turn needed for sovereignty, democracy, independence and self-determination,  then it will also require a Tobin tax, also known as a Robin Hood tax, a tax on financial speculation, to protect the currency and thereby also the people from finanical warfare and extortion. Further, some real world backing is needed, such as gold or silver, or perhaps most usefully, a combination of gold, silver, and Bitcoin. (See Ellen Brown, Max Keiser, James Altucher, Gerald Celente, and Michael Hudson.)

Another point that must be made clear regarding freedom and democracy, is that if loan agreements or “trade” agreements, or any other treaties or agreements, effectively nullify or over-ride the democratic powers of sovereign nations, parliaments or congress, and render the people therefore powerless – as is the categorically the case with regard to the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and NAFTA, or the SPP, for example – then these binding and positively anti-democratic ties, treaties, agreements, arrangements, or “advice”, must be rejected, severed, abrogated, and terminated, without hesitation or delay. Alternative, freer and fairer, more democratic agreements must be sought, and can and will be found, since the great majority of the people want exactly those kinds of alternatives, and immediately.

However these intertwined issues are addressed, our actions must now be bold and swift, clear-minded and unhesitating. Oligarchy, neo-feudal corporate rule, and the power of bankers in particular, are the principle threats to democracy and freedom now, as well as to the 99% of the people, and to the Earth. They must be stopped. (And by now, this means revolution is required –  and urgently so.)

3. Government policies should benefit the people broadly, and not only one select group – for example, the big corporations and the richest 1%, as it does in most nations now. (Hence the need for revolution. Jefferson would unquestionably agree. So, I am sure, would MLK.)

4. Government policy should follow a least harm, maximum social benefit model. Supporting the planet-killing fossil fuel industry, and other polluting industries, such as the chemical-biotech pesticide industry, for example, is both unwise, and self-destructive. It is also morally bankrupt, genocidal, ecocidal, and suicidal – that is, sociopathic, and insane.

Big Oil, Big Chem, Big Pharma, Big Agra, Big Tech, the military-industrial-security complex, and the big banks, among others of the Davos neo-feudal global corporate oligarchy, currently rule over most governments, as well as financial system, the major media, and the global economy. If this is not quickly changed, it will mean a toxic, barren, gulag society ahead, followed by extinction and collapse. (Revolution is needed, and now, I say once again.)

5. Government policy should impose and intrude as little as possible, while seeking to be a vehicle for the people to protect themselves from any and all threats, both foreign, and domestic.

From 1812 on, when Jefferson gave his clarion warning, the greatest threat to the people has been what Thomas Jefferson called, “the new monied aristocracy”.

(We are facing oligarchy and neoliberal fascism now because we failed to listen to prescient minds like Jefferson. We had better corect that error, and immediately.)

Government has been in the business, since that time, for over 200 years, and with few exceptions, of aiding and abbetting the mass rape, looting and pillaging of the many by the few – at least since that time, and to a very high degree, for many centuries before.

Placing some limits on economic predations by the rich upon the many, therefore, and requiring the rich to share some portion of what they have plundered from the many and the Earth, is not only fair, just, and legitimate, but is the moral responsibility of any and all moral governments. Until a more just economic system is created, this is the very least that honest men and women of good conscience can do.

It is also the least that the prudent can do – for the simple reason that, any growing, unchecked power, including in the form of great empires of wealth, will eventually devour all, including the merely afluent and rich, and including our freedom, as well as our democracy.

Both conscience, and also prudence, therefore, require checks and balances, and limits, on great wealth, so as to protect the people, and to preserve our freedom from being taken over and destroyed by any and all, new or old forms of tyranny.

(Libertarians and conservatives, who, in general, are conditioned to believe that any form of government action, other than keeping up an ever-expanding military industrial security complex, empire and war machine, is an unnecessary and dangerous action, should consider this: if you refuse to tax, regulate, and thereby reign in the great economic powers of the oligarchs and the giant fortune 500 corporations, then you automatically allow these same vast economic empires to continue to grow unchecked in power: that means, they will sooner or later devour all – including your precious liberty, your rights, your constitutional protections, and yes, your assets; and quite possibly, your personal freedom – and you may find yourself in a society that all too chillingly resembles, not Eisenhower’s America, but Stalin’s Russia. In short, you either help the people stop the plutocrats from destroying and devouring everything, and building a new global police state and a gulag society, and a ravenous neo-feudal global order; or else, very likely, you will be next in line to be devoured. Get it now. Understand this now. We need your help. Now. Right, bloody, now.)

6. When taxing, or raising funds for public projects, that is, tax “bads”, not “goods”. This should be obvious. Taxes, fees, fines, etc., discourage certain things, are a disincentive to certain things. Spending, funding, grants and loans are inducements, stimuli, incentives, to certain things. We want to create jobs, so we ban payroll taxes, which create disincentives to hiring and job creation, for example. We tax pollution, if we wish to survive, or to breathe.

If you want a market economy at all, whether in a mixed economy, which is best, or in any form, then you have to tax big business and subsidize small business. You put checks and balances, or strong disincentives, on the growth of monopolies and cartels, by taxes or anti-trust legislation for example, otherwise, you get monopolies and cartels dominating both the economy and the government, as we have now, and a neo-feudal economy and social order, which we also have now. At present, most nations are neoliberal, thus, taxing the 99% to lavishly feed the 1%. This is economically foolish, and sociologically, politically, and ecologically, suicidal.

We tax luxury goods as well as pollution; but we put no tax on general consumer spending, because: a) it is regressive and hurts the poor, the middle class, and small and medium businesses, by far the hardest; and b) because it discourages economic activity in a crude and unthinking way.

(“No” to sales taxes, but yes to luxury taxes and pollution taxes. This should be a “no-brainer”, an obvious principle.)

We tax great wealth, because great wealth should be shared; but more importantly, because great wealth means great power – and you cannot let great power accumulate unchecked, either economically or politically (or in finance or the media, equally critically), or you will have oligarchy in the end, and one or another form of fascism; and both democracy and freedom will be destroyed, and the people will be reduced to serfs once again – and worse, will be enslaved.

If we do not soon come to understand, and soon apply, these six most basic and fundamental principles of good government, of justice, of democracy, and of freedom, then these warnings will come to pass.

It is two minutes to midnight now – if not later. We have lost all time for delay. Now, we must be swift, for we are in darkest peril, as the oligarchy of business elites, have clearly taken over.

JTR,
April 5, 2020

Hurray For the Daft! (That’s Us)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2020 by jtoddring
*
(My apologies for the strange formatting again – WordPress gets glitchy on me and refuses paragraph spacing, forcing me to use awkward-looking stars. Bear with me.)
*
The left is loudly proclaiming, amidst the coronavirus (largely manufactured disaster capitalism) disaster: bail-outs for the people not the corporate elite, health care for all – and a green new deal!
*
Yes, that is entirely sensible. But what about civil liberties for all, basic constitutional law, and functioning democracy, all of which requires a functioning resistance to the clear and present, unfolding imposition of neoliberal fascism, as a solution for a vastly exaggerated health crisis – fascist measures which are not likely to be reversed after the crisis has passed.
*
Without those three things – civil liberties for all, basic constitutional law, and functioning democracy – all your wishes and demands – for universal health care, aid to the people and not just big business and the rich, and a green energy infrastructure and jobs program – are just pipe dreams.
*
With real democracy these things and more are all possible. Without standing up for these three essentials, they are nothing but that – pipe dreams.
*
But to ask the left (or “progressives”) for presence of mind is something that is too much to ask, it seems. They can quote Marx, but they really need to be quoting Huxley, Orwell, or Thomas Jefferson right now – and they seem to realize it not, but are oblivious.
*

It is well-documented that US and other Western elites have armed, trained, funded, used, and colluded with Islamic terrorists for murderous geopolitical and imperial objectives for decades. There is no question that Western elites have for decades, and repeatedly, lied to the people, falsified evidence, colluded with terrorists, and engaged in mass murder for oil and other resources, while imposing a kind of global economic apartheid and predatory economic imperialism upon the world, resulting, among other things, in the on-going deaths of 20,000 children per day due to hunger, in a world that produces enough food for all. Yet the people broadly, and the left in particular, are quite cheerfully willing to believe that the same Western elite are telling the truth now, while they use the present coronavirus crisis to usher in literally fascist measures, and to believe that they have only a deep and abiding concern for human health as their motivation. Clearly the people, including the left, have lost all capacity for rational thought, and have temporarily lost their minds.

*
We need a little more Sun Tzu, and a little less Homer Simpson here, people. Think! Wake up! Question!
*
If this doesn’t soon change, we are doomed to slavery under a corporate-run, technocratic, neo-feudal Orwellian order which I and others have warned about for decades – and it will not be pretty, I assure you, but will make COVID-19(84) look like a child’s picnic.
*
Unless, of course, this is just the warm-up, the prelude to the final putsch: in which case, the people are being conditioned to accept “emergency” fascist measures, so that whenever the elite feel the need, they can flick the switch again – and this time, people disappear for good, and en mass (think Jakarta, or labour camps) – dissidents, activists, anybody who gets in the way or opposes the elite’s rule in any way. And nobody questions enough to stop it, until it is too late. If that is what we are experiencing, it is perhaps even more dangerous.
*
In any event, complacently and meekly, slavishly, obediently, foolishly allowing our civil liberties to be stripped away, while sweeping, literally fascist powers are granted to, or usurped by, elites both West and East, is terrifyingly dangerous in the extreme.
*
We should not be so foolish as to be complacent about this. How much can that be emphasized? Not possibly enough.
*
JTR,
April 3, 2020
*
Post-Script:
Naomi Klein wrote the book that best describes what we have been experiencing since 9/11, with the “war on terror”, the “regime change” wars that resulted, and the war on democracy which it represented, and the rise of disaster capitalism – The Shock Doctrine: the book that still, to my mind, best describes what is happening right now. We need to make sense of this, in the most obvious sort of way. How is this not obvious that it is another power grab? A real event, hyped to the maximum degree possible, is being exploited by power hungry elites in the West, as in the East. This is not complicated to understand.
*
PSII: Karl Marx, as well as being brilliant (as a sociologist, though a daft philosopher and a terrible political theorist), was fiery as well. He managed to piss off virtually the entire left of Europe. But a fiery spirit goes with the left, generally speaking. Look at Tommy Douglas, or Martin Luther King Jr. These guys were not pussy cats. Fiery is what we need. So, sorry if I ruffle feathers at times. It is not my intention, but it is sometimes unavoidable. Truth comes first. Always.

Tipping Point Is Near: It Is Now Revolution, Or Extinction & Slow Death

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 14, 2020 by jtoddring

“Another four years of Trump, we may be passed tipping point, literally. It may be terminal for the species.” 

 – Noam Chomsky 

As I keep saying, and have said for over three decades, for reasons of justice, freedom, democracy, averting the obvious trend towards global neo-feudal corporate oligarchy, and fascism, and for environmental reasons, which are increasingly dire, for the sake of the survival of the human species, we need a revolution. And by this hour, we need it now. 

It does not matter what the odds are. Odds do not enter into questions of moral imperatives, such as this clearly is. If you are walking by a river and you see a child drowning, you don’t ask what the odds are of saving her. You just jump in. Odds don’t matter.

If we are going to die, let us die with honour and with dignity, with courage and bravery, with compassion and with virtue. Let us die on our feet, fighting (non-violently, as Gandhi and King showed) to protect human beings and other living beings on Earth, and to heal this world, and bring about a better world and a better future for all. Let us not die slowly and in the shadows, whimpering and whining and cringing like beaten dogs. 

Let us stand, and let us stand for something, and not stand for nothing but cowardice and reality avoidance and sullen despair. We are better than that. We are men and women, not cattle, or mice, or sheep.

But we do not have to be pessimistic or resigned, in any case, or fatalistic in any way. What we know for certain is that inaction now will exponentially compound human suffering, many thousand-fold. We also know that action taken with courage and compassion is never wasted action. It always benefits others, oneself (since compassionate action is also enlightened self-interest, as well as being virtuous and kind), and it always benefits the world, or the broader community on Earth, which is our larger family.

Whether the benefit is small or large, action always matters. And moreover, millions of people taking small positive actions, can add up to something that is truly far greater than the sum of its parts. It can add up to revolutionary changes –  even, to a new renaissance, a rebirth.

Nobody believed the Wright Brothers could fly. For centuries nobody thought slavery or child labour would ever end, or even should. Many people, I am sure, thought the American and French Revolutions, before they happened, were impossible dreams.

In short, as Thomas Paine said, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

What are we waiting for?

Let us begin.

JTR,

March 14, 2020

 

See also, the excellent films:

Koyaniskaatsi

Baraka

The Corporation

Requiem For The American Dream

Revolution (Rob Stewart film)

Darkest Hour

V for Vendetta

300

And read Ronald Wright’s, A Short History Of Progress.

Here is Chomsky weighing in: the grand old dissident himself

In or Out? Democracy, the EU, and the Fate of the Earth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2016 by jtoddring

The people of Britain have now voted to leave the EU. That vote has deeper and more far-ranging consequences than many people realize. Among other things, it means the beginning of the dissolution and death of the EU. And I would say that is a very good thing, for the reasons I’ve outlined here.

The following article was written, in the main, before the British vote on whether or not to remain in the EU. Now that the people have chosen, the issue becomes even more relevant, because the viability of the EU, and the desirability of any nation remaining in the EU, has come even more into question. This is only the beginning of the debate, and far from the end. And no, it is not about racism or xenophobia, at least for any sane person — it is about democracy and sovereignty, versus rule by the ECB and the banks, which is what the EU now represents.

Europe has nearly a billion people within it. And of course, Europe is also a major economic, military and cultural super-power. Europe and North America, to state the obvious, represent the major centres of the Western empire, just as Russia and China represent the major centres of what can be called the Eastern empire. What happens in any of these four world-dominant regions is therefore deeply significant, and has profound influence, and profound impacts, for the entire world. We should, therefore, be awake to what is going on in Europe and the other major centres of world power. Otherwise, we are simply sleep-walking into disaster.

*

The impulses towards independence, freedom, sovereignty, authentic democracy and self-determination are wise as well as entirely legitimate. Calling such impulses nativism, as is happening, simply clouds the issues. We must separate out the issues of racism and xenophobia, which are thoroughly disgusting and which have no place in any informed or intelligent discussion, from the issue of freedom and democracy, versus corporate rule, excessive centralization of powers, or oligarchy. If we cannot do that, then we cannot talk intelligently about what is happening in Europe, or anywhere for that matter.

Nativism is a term being thrown about because the term nationalism is too dangerous now. Nationalism might invoke thoughts of sovereignty, self-determination, democracy, freedom or independence, and these are rightly viewed by the majority of people world-wide as good things. So the term nationalism has been dropped, in favour of the more emotionally charged term of nativism, which invokes thoughts of racism, xenophobia, and a narrow and ignorant parochialism. But such talk and such jingoism simply skirts the issues of freedom, sovereignty and democracy, which remain the central issues, and it clouds the issues in very real, and severe ways.

The troika’s actions in Greece, and especially in Italy, where the ECB and the bankers essentially staged a coup, overthrew and removed a democratically elected government, and replaced it with an appointed government of banking elites, show that the EU is no longer democratic in any remote definition of the term, but has been taken over by the ECB and the banking elite, as Gerald Celente and others have said. That being considered, I would say that staying in the EU is absolute insanity. Unless you wish to be ruled by the European Central Bank and Goldman Sachs, you must oppose the EU, and seek to leave it, and now. And that has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia, and everything to do with democracy.

There is, clearly and undeniably, a slow-motion global corporate coup which is underway, a fact which of course is well-known to many people. And the global corporate coup is gaining momentum, and is accelerating. In short, the business elite want to own and rule the world. This is nothing new. We have seen this kind of infantile grandiosity, unfettered greed, egomania and power-lust many times before. But it is no less dangerous simply because it is not new.

The EU, the ECB and the IMF, or the troika, as they are called, have become, or have long been, instruments of the on-going corporate coup. This must be recognized, clearly, and unflinchingly. They are no more democratic than Goldman Sachs is democratic. These are institutions of pyramidal, elite control, and elite rule. They are institutions, not of freedom, equality, solidarity and democracy, but of oligarchy, plutocracy, and corporate neo-feudalism.

The same is true, of course, with regards to many other major organizations, agreements and centres of power in the world today: almost all of the biggest ones have become, or have long been, instruments of elite rule, and instruments of corporate power — and instruments of the unfolding corporate take-over of the world. These include the privately owned US Federal Reserve, the private central banks of most nations, the BIS, which is the central bankers’ central bank, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the SPP, and the so-called trade agreements, which are in truth corporate rights agreements, including the TTP, TTIP, CETA and NAFTA. And of course, the neoliberal ideology and agenda (or propaganda narrative, as it more accurately should be described) props them all up and underpins them all. All of these instruments of the rising neo-feudal, rabidly anti-democratic, and truly, crypto-fascist global corporate take-over, and de facto corporate rule, must be questioned, challenged, resisted, seen for what they are, and thoroughly rejected and defeated. And this includes the EU.

Over two hundred years ago, in 1812, Thomas Jefferson warned of the rising powers of the corporations, and what he called, “the new moneyed aristocracy” which controls them. He said, “I hope we shall crush the new moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it bids defiance to our laws, and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.” We failed to listen then, and we have failed to listen since, and we are reaping the dark rewards.

The moneyed aristocracy have taken over, the war on democracy and freedom is almost won — meaning, the people lose, and the oligarchy wins — and we are now entering a new feudal age, where the banking and other corporate elites control and rule the world. And yet, the obvious truth of this fact is still dismissed, marginalized, minimized or overlooked, while we focus on secondary and derivative issues. This is the central issue of our time: freedom and democracy are being systematically destroyed by a slow-motion global corporate coup. And yet, we are asleep at the wheel, while heading for disaster. Worse, we are not even at the wheel. We are allowing the corporate elite and their political prostitutes to drive us into a new dark age, and into extinction, while we yawn, or bicker over what are, by comparison, distractions.

As the leading Canadian environmental scientist, David Suzuki has said, “We’re racing toward a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour, and everyone is arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

What we need to be doing, above all, is to change course, and the most central and urgent course correction that must be made, if human beings are to survive, is for us to halt and reverse the global corporate coup which is undeniably taking place right now, as we speak. And to do that, we must strengthen, at least temporarily, the nation-state and national democracies, as Chomsky has also said, along with the democratic process at the level of the province or state, and at the level of local municipal governments. The EU, like the SPP, the IMF, the BIS, the WEF and the corporate rights agreements, run precisely counter to these most central and urgent tasks and goals, and so, must be opposed and rejected.

Above all, we need to restore power to the people, not remove it further from their hands. We need to halt the greatly excessive concentration and over-centralization of power, not aid and abet and further it.

(As an important aside, it should be noted, for libertarians and anarchists in particular — and I would, with some qualifications and reservations, count myself among the latter, along with Chomsky, Thoreau, Bertrand Russell, Bookchin, Kropotkin, Huxley, Orwell and many others: we must accept that it is now critical to support at least a temporary strengthening and defence of national democracies and the nation-state, as Chomsky has also said; because if we do not, the result will not be freedom, but simply tyranny and empire of a new kind, and a de facto global government, as the business press has called it, of the global corporate empire and its institutions. If these facts are not perfectly clear, then frankly, we are not dealing with the real world, and we should leave all discussion about politics or social issues to people who do not live in a cloud, but who have their feet firmly planted on the earth.)

The central pattern, or essential nature of the new global corporate empire, is five-fold. It represents a further hyper-concentration of wealth and power in the world, far beyond anything we have ever seen in recorded history. It represents the inevitable corollary of staggering and truly astronomical inequality. It represents a war on democracy, freedom and constitutional rule, and the replacement of democracy, freedom and constitutional law with oligarchy and neo-feudalism. It represents an increasingly violent militarism and a deeply Orwellian global surveillance state, since the overwhelming majority of the people world-wide are suffering immensely from the corporate empire, and oppose it, and so, must be forcibly restrained from overthrowing it. And it represents as rapacious looting and pillaging of humanity and the earth, which is driving us rapidly into a dark age and into extinction. And all of these central features of the new corporate empire, and all of these trends, are accelerating. This is the central thrust of human civilization, if you can call it that, at this time, and it must be firmly addressed, and now.

We need to oppose and reject the instruments of corporate power which are furthering the hyper-concentration of power in society and the on-going global corporate coup. And the major instruments of corporate power and global corporate rule now include (1) the EU, the SPP, the IMF, the World Bank, the BIS, the Fed and WEF — which are the major institutions of global corporate rule; (2) the military-industrial-security complex, which acts as the armed guard of the global corporate empire; (3) the great majority of the media, which is the empire’s primary propaganda division; (4) neoliberalism, which is the ideology, agenda, and propaganda narrative of global corporate rule; and (5) the corporate rights agreements such as the CETA, NAFTA, TTIP and the TTP, which provide the anti-democratic, unconstitutional, and illegal, legal framework for the global corporate empire, and which give corporations powers over and above democratic governments, and essentially render democratic government null and void, or eviscerated and destroyed. These are the simple facts of the matter, and we must be clear about them. We cannot afford to be distracted or muddy in our thinking, or we are lost.

*

The activist group, Avaaz, recently involved itself in the question of whether Britain should leave or remain in the EU. And I have never seen a worse muddying of the issues. Avaaz framed the issue as a question of xenophobia versus love — if you favour love, then you will vote to remain in the EU, but if you want to leave the EU, then you must of course be xenophobic. Not only is this a radical oversimplification of the issues, but it is thoroughly misleading, and has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. It is appalling behaviour for an organization that claims to be one of the world’s leading activist groups, or even, ridiculously, the leading activist group in the world.

There are good reasons, and very valid reasons, for wanting to leave the EU, and none of them have anything to do with racism or xenophobia. Moreover, just because some people who are xenophobic have argued for leaving the EU, does not mean that any person who wants an exit from the EU must therefore be xenophobic, or that if we are we not xenophobic, we must therefore wish to remain in the EU. An eight year old can understand such distinctions. And we should too.

We must separate out the issues of racism and xenophobia from the issues of democracy and freedom. The EU is now antithetical to democracy and freedom, and has proven that it is in fierce opposition to democracy and freedom, as its actions in Italy and Greece have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt. To remain in the EU, considering these undeniable facts, would, for this reason, be foolish in the extreme. And that has nothing to do with xenophobia.

Donald Trump apparently favours Britain leaving the EU, and therefore, much of the left feels compelled to take the opposite position of Trump, out of a knee-jerk reaction. But such reactionary tendencies are infantile, and foolish in the extreme. The left is general clueless, and only slightly less so than the right, so we should have no concern for what the left thinks about anything. Following the crowd is for pre-pubescent school children, not for thoughtful adults. And a narrow-minded thinking that presumes guilt by association is equally foolish. We must judge issues on a case by case basis, and not simply follow this camp or that, follow the herd, or form our opinions based on reactionary thinking.

Just because some orange-haired, racist and xenophobic buffoon takes on a certain position, does not mean that we must automatically take the opposite position. Sometimes even morons get it right, even if they get it right for the wrong reasons. Trump is right in calling for Britain to leave the EU — he is just wrong about the reasons why Britain should leave. Democracy, freedom, sovereignty and self-determination are the valid reasons to leave the EU. And even though Trump is a fool, he is right in calling for an exit. And to call for an exit from the EU does not mean, to belabour what should be an obvious point, that one is therefore, by necessity, either xenophobic, or a supporter of right wing crackpots like Trump.

I’m not sure how much more clearly it can be spelled out. The issue of the EU and whether to remain in or to leave it, seems to have become so clouded by dim-witted reactionary gibberish — from the left as well as the right — that it is difficult to clear away the fog. But we must try. And as I have said, this is merely the beginning of the debate on the nature, viability, and desirability of the EU, and not by any means the end.

*

When the European Union was first tabled publicly as an idea, as a proposal, I followed the debate about it to some extent, and reflected on it deeply. And I concluded then, that the European Union would be an over-centralization of power, and the result would be an undermining of both freedom and democracy. And that is exactly what the EU has proven to be. Now, with the ECB, the banking elite and the troika clearly in charge, the EU has proven beyond all doubt that it has no allegiance to either freedom or to democracy, but only to the interests of the ruling corporate elite, and in particular, to the banking elite. To be unaware of these facts, or to deny them, minimize or gloss over them, is the height of foolishness; and it is a very dangerous, as well as irresponsible and dismal state for one to be in, at that.

When power in society is highly concentrated and centralized, then freedom, democracy, and the self-determination of the people, the ability of people to shape their own lives and choose their own destiny, become hollow, meaningless, and lost, as oligarchy, empire and elite rule replace democracy, freedom, and a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Therefore, if we value freedom or democracy, we should oppose all forms of excessive centralization or concentration of power in society, because that is antithetical to both freedom and democracy. This should be politics 101. These things should not have to be said, but it seems they do.

Chomsky has said that at this point in human history, with an environmental crisis growing rapidly and exponentially, literally ever day, and with the ruling corporate powers blocking all serious change, democracy becomes, not only a value to be preserved, but in all likelihood, a matter of survival. I could not agree more. And we had better realize the fact sooner than later, or we are finished. Whatever is blocking authentic, functioning, constitutional democracy, must be shattered, moved aside, abandoned, rejected, or otherwise overcome, or we are going to see a dark age ahead, followed closely by human extinction. Again, these are the simple facts of the matter, and we had best be perfectly lucid, unflinching, and clear about them.

Thomas Jefferson and Aldous Huxley, two of the most astute political writers I have ever encountered, both said that if we value freedom or democracy — as we should, if we are at all sane — then we must prevent any form of excessive concentration or centralization of power in society, for that surely is the road to tyranny, and the destruction of both freedom and democracy. Yet we have allowed exactly that to happen, slowly, over the past two hundred years since the birth of modern democracy, and in particular, over the past four decades since the birth of neoliberalism and corporate globalization.

And what are the forms of excessive concentration and centralization of power in the world today? Well, the obvious one is the global take-over by big business and the corporate elite. And closely related to that global corporate coup — which we can still reverse, and overturn, if we have the presence of mind and the will, the spine, to do so — are the organizations and agreements which serve to expand and consolidate corporate powers, over and above democracy and the power of the people.

The major forms of excessive concentration and centralization of power in the world today are the organizations and agreements which in general serve the ruling corporate oligarchy, and which in practice, though not in rhetoric, function to expand or to consolidate global corporate powers and global corporate rule, and of course, with the result being the effective death of liberty, democracy and constitutional law. These include the EU, the SPP, the Bank for International Settlements and the private central banks, including the Fed, along with the IMF, the World Economic Forum, and the corporate rights agreements which are being driven down the people’s throats. And all of them should be opposed — must be opposed — if we value either freedom or democracy, as we should.

*

Liberty, equality, solidarity, and democracy are values worth preserving. Without them, we will have only tyranny, and a hastened rush towards self-destruction and global ecological holocaust. It is not now, liberty or death, in the sense that liberty is precious enough to risk death — but more starkly, liberty or death have become our only alternatives. We need to reflect hard and deeply on this, and now, because we are losing all that we have struggled for, over the past 200-some years since the birth of modern democracy; and worse, we are losing everything we have gained over the past 800 years, since the signing of the Magna Carta. The stakes could not be higher, and ignorance and illusion must be shattered, before we destroy ourselves, as well as our liberty, completely.

While the people of the United States decide which demagogue, corporate puppet or psychopath they will elect as president, or whether, if they are sensible, they will elect a genuine populist, and friend and servant of the people, the people of Europe must contend with one central question above all, and that is, how they will respond to the troika, which represents the new Royal Court, at least for the region, of global neo-feudal corporate rule. The choices, in both cases, I would say are abundantly clear. And there is no time to delay in our response.

JTR,
June 17, 2016

Post-Script:

Neoliberalism is the ideology and agenda of the unfolding global corporate coup, and the de facto, global, neo-feudal corporate rule which is emerging from it. It has to die.

Constitutional democracy may be severely flawed, but oligarchy, or plutocracy, is most definitely far worse. And as Mussolini said himself, corporatism is the proper term for fascism, which is the merger of business and the state — and that is what neoliberalism, and the global corporate empire that it upholds, represents. We should have no illusions about it.

Neoliberalism, in essence, is the ideology of global corporate rule — and the corporate globalization which is driving us into a neo-feudal global corporate rule. It must be resisted, opposed, firmly rejected, and relegated to the trash bin of history. It is an ideology which is under attack, under heavy criticism, and which is dying. But it is still dangerous, and it still has the support of the ruling class, which is the billionaire class of the international business elite, and their prostitutes in political office, academia and the media. And it is an ideology which must be killed, before it kills the planet, and all life on it.

Yes, the power elite always want to protect themselves and their interests, and a major component of that is to deflect criticism. That’s why we have the “war on terrorism”, and a state of permanent war, as Orwell understood very well. And the loyal servants to the power elite, such as the corporate media, along with much of the academy, play that role routinely and habitually, slavishly, whether they are conscious of it or not.

We all have both power and responsibility, but clearly, some individuals have more power than others, and thus, a greater responsibility for the crimes and injustice we see in the world.

An example may help to clarify. I think the other role for such a web site as the one recently created by CNN, titled, Slavery Footprint, which is indicative of the problem, is to accustom people to the idea that there are slaves and there are the privileged – and that is perfectly acceptable, we are supposed to believe, or come to accept. It is an assault on compassion, empathy, human solidarity and community, and on all moral sentiments.

A central driving force of the propaganda system, as Chomsky has said, is not just to sow fear and division — following the central maxim of all empires, which is to divide and conquer — and to isolate the people from one another so that they will be disempowered and thus easily controlled; but also, to destroy their sense of compassion, empathy, human sympathy, love and mutual aid, so that no such unity of the people can arise to oppose the imperial powers.

So the ruling power elite, as the great sociologist C. Wright Mills phrased it, who are the global corporate elite, along with their puppets and propagandists in government and the media, promote narcissism, nihilism, materialism, consumerism, vanity, egocentrism and callousness, as well as fear and division, illusion and distraction, demoralization and mass disempowerment of the people.

It is simply an evolution, or devolution, of the ancient imperial strategy: divide and conquer. Dehumanize, demoralize, disempower, distract, delude, and divide the people, and they will be easily manipulated, and the power elite can rule as god-kings. That is the basic game plan, and that is the truly sociopathic thrust of the brave new world of global neo-feudal corporatism under which we now live.

*

Avaaz does good work. It is also in the wrong at times. This is one case. The EU has been taken over by the ECB and the banking elite, as the banker’s coup in Italy proved, where the banking elite overthrew a democratically elected government and installed a government run by and for bankers, as Gerald Celente has said. To remain in the EU is not an act of love — it is an act of foolishly misreading the situation, and dangerously so.

The banking elite run Britain too, along with the EU and most of the world, but to allow a further continuation of hyper-concentration and over-centralization of power in society is disastrous, and the road to tyranny. The best chance we have to halting the slow-motion global corporate coup is by restoring the powers of constitutional democracy within nation states, and to stop the dissolution of nation-states and national democracies into globalist power blocks, such as NAFTA, the SPP and the EU.

Allowing power to be ever further removed from the hands of the people, through an ever-greater centralization and concentration of power in society, will only aid the infantile, yet extremely dangerous dreams of global empire, which the new corporate elite, like their predecessors, hold dear.

We need to bolster the power of elected constitutional democracies on the level of the nation-state, the provincial or state level, and the level of municipalities and local governments. What we do not need is a further centralization of power. Power is already overly centralized, and already concentrated in too few hands to be either safe or democratic. And a further concentration and centralization of power, as is happening in the EU as well as with the so-called trade deals, is only helping the banking and other corporate elites to further their agenda of global domination and anti-democratic, neo-feudal elite rule.

For these reasons, the EU, as it stands now, which is as an instrument for elite corporate powers — along with the IMF, WEF, BIS, and the corporate rights deals such as CETA, NAFTA, TTIP and the TPP — must be rejected, and abolished.

Solidarity, yes. Cooperation and trade, yes. Openness and friendly relations with all, yes. But, grossly excessive, unaccountable, and undemocratic centralization of powers in the hands of a tiny global elite? No. Absolutely not. Therefore, the EU must go, and the people must reject it.

Justin Trudeau and the Continuing Saga of Canadian Apathy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2016 by jtoddring

A recent poll shows strong support for the Trudeau government in Canada, and I have to think, once again, that it is surprising to see that Canadians can be so uncritical and unquestioning of their government.

Yes, Harper was defeated, and yes, that was a good thing. But the current government under Trudeau Jr. is deeply flawed, and criminally negligent, at best – and that is the best you can say about them.

Trudeau Jr. is still subsidizing big oil and the fossil fuel industry, still pushing for oil pipelines, still blocking serious action on the environment. And we are still waiting on serious action on the lack of safe drinking water for 120 native communities and 1,600 municipalities across the country – in one of the seven richest countries on earth, with the means to provide all Canadians more than a decent standard of living, and certainly vastly more wealth and resources than is needed to simply provide clean, safe water for all. And further, the Trudeau government has so far refused to cancel or reject a plan by Ontario Power Generation to bury radioactive waste in the Great Lakes basin, even though every radioactive waste facility ever built has leaked, and despite the fact that the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people. And all of this entails what can only be called criminal negligence in the extreme.

Beyond that, the Trudeau Liberals refuse to raise corporate taxes to reasonable levels, say, where they were in 1960, at roughly 40%: and as a result, must work with a self-inflicted short-fall of revenues, meaning that health care, education, social and environmental programs cannot be properly funded.

What this means is that the Liberal Party is no longer a liberal party, as it was up until the government of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, in the late 1970’s. For more than thirty years, the Liberal Party of Canada has been yet another party of neoliberalism, which is to say, another party run by and for big business. And central to the neoliberal, pro-corporate agenda, is austerity for the people, with giant subsidies, bail-outs, “stimulus” packages and tax breaks for the corporations and the rich. This is why we have inadequate funding for health care, education, social programs and environmental programs in Canada, as in the US and Europe, despite the fact that Canada is one of the richest countries on earth: neoliberalism and a corporate agenda have taken over – and the Trudeau Jr. government is just the latest expression of this criminal posse of neo-feudal corporatists, gouging the people to further line the pockets of the rich.

At the same time, the young Trudeau signed the TPP, which effectively spells the final death blow to Canadian sovereignty, and democracy in Canada. Few actions could express a greater or more utter incompetence, or criminality, depending on how you want to view it.

And while talking about “a principled foreign policy,” Trudeau Jr. approved the arms deal signed by Harper to ship more arms to the Saudis – the most brutal regime in the Middle East, and one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

Saudi Arabia is also the country which is the primary arms provider and source of funds to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Principled foreign policy? This is not only criminally negligent, at best, to be sending more arms to the Saudi dictatorship; it is also a disastrous and extremely foolish policy which is guaranteed to blow back in our faces, as Saudi Arabia continues to fuel terrorism, even while it proclaims it is fighting it.

And along with arming the Saudis, Trudeau continued the bombing in Iraq and Syria, not only breaking his election promises, but violating international law, and thereby committing what are under international law, nothing less than war crimes. Yes, principled foreign policy indeed. Only now has this criminal and foolish behaviour and disastrous policy been halted – one point for which we can be glad in an otherwise dismal reign to date.

(And yes, it is a reign, when 40% of the popular vote can give you 100% of the power in government, and a four year coronation.)

And finally, Justin Trudeau promised to bring in proportional representation, to fix our quasi-democratic electoral system, and bring it into the 21st century, or even the 20th. So far, we have seen no action on this critical issue of democracy, and another Trudeau promise goes either broken, or simply ignored and abandoned.

Those were just election promises, right? Nobody takes those seriously. Well, clearly they shouldn’t when it is either the Liberal or Conservative Party in question.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May, the only political leader in the country at the federal level who deserves to be called a leader, or who has any clue as to what is going on, apparently, or any spine, or integrity, or vision to bring to bear on the issues we face, is largely ignored by both the media and the people.

Are Canadians clueless, or are we simply a people that cannot seem to shake off a long tradition of public apathy? I think the latter is the case, and I do not know what will rouse them from their slumber, or bring them to their senses.

During the recent federal election, there was a wave of political passion across the country – which is to say, as passionate as Canadians get about anything other than hockey, beer and Tim Horton’s – as we the people decided to remove a much reviled Conservative government from power. Then we all went back to sleep. Or at least the majority seem to have returned to slumber land. What does it take to get Canadians to shake off their long-standing habit of apathy and complacency? I truly do not know.

JTR,
March 2, 2016

 

The real costs of fossil fuel-powered vehicles – and the alternatives to them

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2016 by jtoddring

 

There is some rising concern, and at times vitriol, about electric car drivers not paying their fair share, because they buy no gas, and therefore do not pay gas taxes, which go to maintaining roads. While this is true, it is only a sliver of the bigger picture. The more salient fact is that health and environmental costs from fossil-fuel-burning automobiles, along with subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, are vastly greater than the cost of maintaining roads – and electric car drivers are not contributing to these far greater costs to society, thus saving us enormous sums of money. We should thank them, not scold them and wag our fingers.

In the US each household pays roughly $1,100 a year to subsidize automobile drivers, in the form of subsidies to road construction and maintenance, in addition to gas taxes and tolls. Automobile drivers are heavily subsidized by drivers and non-drivers alike. And this does not even count the health and environmental costs of automobile use, which far exceed the cost of building and maintaining roads.

It also does not count the cost of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, which the IMF has recently stated are at $5 trillion a year globally – more than all health spending by all governments in the world combined.

These are shocking figures. Our society is deeply, and disastrously, out of balance – clearly. We need clean, renewable mass transit infrastructure now. It is safer, cleaner, does not destroy the air or the planet, and is also far cheaper than an automobile-based transportation system, which is positively Jurassic by comparison.

But, we still live in the stone age with regards to our transportation system, and in many other ways. We had better get it together and make some very big changes soon – as in, now – because currently, we are only driving toward an ecological cataclysm of our own making.

And in the meantime, while we make the transition to a more sane and truly sustainable transportation system for the 21st century, based on electric and solar-hydrogen trains, buses, light rail, taxis, shuttles, ferries, ships and subways, we need to switch immediately to electric and solar hydrogen cars and trucks. To refuse to do so, with all of the evidence now before us, is simply unconscionable, as well as flatly suicidal.

JTR,
February 24, 2016

 

Electric-Car Drivers Don’t Pay Their Share? Actually, No One Does

Revolution and Uniting the People: Bernie Sanders, Thomas Jefferson and FDR

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2016 by jtoddring

 
I would say that Bernie Sanders is not only a good candidate for US President, and beyond that, the only serious candidate for the people, since he is the only one who is not thoroughly indebted to the Wall Street money masters, owned by Wall Street, and in service to Wall Street; but he would be the best US president since FDR, and arguably, since Thomas Jefferson.
 
Of course, it is Congress which holds the greater power, and not the President, but having a true populist progressive in the White House would be an enormous stride in the right direction – especially when it is one who is so passionately and fiercely determined to reign in Wall Street and get big money out of politics.
 
I realize that conservatives tend to despise FDR, or at least despise his policies, but they should remember that it was FDR’s policies which got the US out of the Depression, put millions of Americans back to work, and, along with the labour movement, helped to create the middle class – which is now being systematically eliminated by the neoliberal/neo-fascist/globalization policies of the super-rich billionaire class of business elites, the very people that both FDR and Bernie Sanders so fiercely oppose.
 
(And no, war did not end the Great Depression, as some people imagine. The policies of FDR, and his very real stimulus package, which built or re-built the US infrastructure and put millions of people back to work (unlike the current neoliberal “stimulus” packages which rob billions and trillions of dollars from the treasury and the people and give it to the super-rich banking elite) is what began the long road to US and global economic recovery. Once the economic recovery was underway, WWII began, and the US prospered from it – mainly for three reasons: one, the US did not suffer the disastrous effects of waging a war on its own soil, as the European powers did; two, after the war, the US emerged as the world’s “first truly global super-power” and globally dominant power, precisely because war had left the great powers of Europe in ruins; and three, because US business elites profited handsomely by trading with the enemy, (that includes George Bush’s grand-daddy, Prescott Bush) and by selling to both sides – for example, IBM providing the office machines and data management for the extermination camps and gas chambers. War is disastrous to economies invariably, except for these very unusual conditions, and in any event, the economic recovery was well under way before the war even began.)
 
More to the point, the majority of Americans, well over 70%, are not conservatives, but center-left in their views, as poll after poll has shown for decades – so if Bernie Sanders does become the next President of the United States, conservatives will simply have to – pardon my expression – suck it up.
 
But it is also a fact that many sensible conservatives, and even many sensible Republicans – and yes, there is such an animal, believe it or not – support Bernie Sanders, or at least respect and admire him for his integrity, and his honesty and courage. They may not like all of his policies, but they realize that he is the best choice available at this time, and the only candidate who is willing to stand up to the greatest threat facing the country and the world – Wall Street and the international corporate elite. The more sensible also recognize that the Republican candidates, along with Hilary, represent the interests of the same crypto-fascist (and more and more brazenly fascist) corporate oligarchs and plutocrats. In short, Bernie is not only the best the people have at this time – he is all the people have at this time, at least in terms of presidential candidates.
 
“Before you Republicans and Hillary supporters say anything about Bernie, let’s look at his history. He was the only one in Senate to stand up for gay soldiers in 1995. He actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement along with Martin Luther King Jr. He voted against the Iraq War. (Which Hillary still considers a “mistake”.) He practically predicted the Wall Street Crash of 2008.He has been consistent with his political views for the past 30 years [and] ever since he joined the senate. He is the longest serving independent in Senate history. He believes climate change is the most threatening problem we have today. He has over a million individual donations from actual people donating whatever they can to support the campaign without any Super PACs. (Rest of the candidates would be struggling to equal Bernie’s collections without SuperPac money.) I just have to say Bernie is the real deal. Believe it or not.” – Arnav Garg
 
Actually, it’s 2.5 million individual donations now, which Bernie has raised, averaging less than $30. (And Bernie is setting all new records for the fastest rate of raising individual donations in US history.) All the other candidates are deeply indebted to Wall Street, and in service to Wall Street. Bernie is the only serious candidate for the people. Period.
 
‪#‎FeelTheBern‬
What is more, now that Bernie Sanders has begun to unite progressives, liberals, the left, environmentalists, labour, large segments of the black community, including, most notably, leading black American scholar and activist Cornel West, along with many sensible conservatives – due to his fierce opposition to Wall Street, big money in politics, and the increasingly fascist police state which Bush and Obama have created – Bernie stands a serious chance, not only of winning the next US presidential election, but winning by a landslide – as he should.
This is enormously significant: Robert F. Kennedy, leading black American activist and scholar Cornel West, and now, the major US progressive organization, Move On, amongst many others, including diverse figures ranging from actor John Cusack, UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have come forward to endorse US President – oops – US Presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders.This could be the straw the breaks the back of the ruling political elites and their Wall Street masters, and puts a true progressive populist democrat into the White House. Let us pray we are so lucky – or so determined.
 
“MoveOn has spent more than 17 years bringing people together to fight for progressive change and stand up against big money interests. MoveOn’s fight to give the American people a voice in our political system was reflected in the group’s internal democratic process. I’m humbled by their support and welcome MoveOn’s members to the political revolution.”
– Bernie Sanders, As reported by Fortune Magazine
(I would like to see Bernie seek out and receive the support of Ron Paul, by the way: the maverick, anti-establishment conservative Senator who consistently fought for the people, and against the same crypto-fascist, pro-war, neo-feudal big money interests which Bernie so strongly opposes – a person who has tremendous integrity, and who also has tremendous support among conservatives and many thoughtful people on the grassroots right. This, Sanders should do, and do immediately, and this support he should gain. Someone please notify Ron Paul that his help is needed here, and now.)
I also realize the some people on the left are very critical of Bernie Sanders, feeling that he is not radical enough for their liking. But while such individuals have valid points to make, and useful criticisms, they too will, I am afraid to say, and will bluntly say, have to suck it up, because the policies of Bernie Sanders, while they do not go far enough in some important ways, not only represent a very good starting place, but are also supported by the majority of Americans.
The criticisms from individuals on the left with regards to Bernie’s foreign policy, where he is admittedly weak, are particularly valid and important; but frankly, despite that valid criticism, I think that Bernie’s critics on the left are not only throwing the baby out with the bath water, but are simply out to lunch, and out of touch with reality. And there is one simple reason for that statement.
At this time, when a crypto-fascist corporate oligarchy has taken over the nation, as well as the economy, the financial system, the monetary system, most of the media, the culture and the political process, there are only two options available to the American people – at this moment at least. One is revolution – and as much as I have been urging revolution, I do not think that there is reason to believe that the American people are yet ready for it. The other is Bernie Sanders. Say what you will about Bernie, but he is the best hope for America at this time.
Do I think that Jill Stein would make a better president than Bernie Sanders? Possibly she would. Do I think that Jill Stein has any chance of becoming president at this time? No. Therefore, I will support Bernie Sanders, as the only legitimate choice amongst candidates who stand any chance of winning the election – and again, a person who would make the best president since FDR, if not Thomas Jefferson. Is he perfect? No, but I, for one, am not looking for a messiah, but simply a person who will serve the people, as Bernie Sanders has done for over 30 years, and will continue to do. There will always be critics. Let’s just get the job done, shall we, and get on the with urgent business of creating, at least a starting point, for some urgently needed social change.
What would be wise for Bernie to do is to continue to reach out to the black and Hispanic communities, immigrants, progressives, labour, environmentalists and the left, as well as independents; but also to reach out to sensible conservatives and people on the grassroots right, who share his passionate opposition to the domination of Wall Street and corporate America over the economy, the political process and the country.
If he does this, Bernie Sanders may very well become the next president of the United States. And that, I would say, would be a very good thing, and the beginning of some very hopeful, and very real change.
J. Todd Ring,
January 12, 2016
 
For more analysis and social commentary, see my recently published book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – available now on Amazon.com.
%d bloggers like this: