Archive for political theory

Political Philosophy 101: Democracy vs Elite Rule

Posted in democracy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, freedom, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, people's movements, philosophy, police state, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2020 by jtoddring

Use anything and anyone to gain and maintain power. That is the Machiavellian philosophy which rules the minds of the power elite, both East and West, as Howard Zinn has indicated as well. Public health, human well-being, conscience, principles, morals, freedom, democracy, other high ideals, have nothing to do with it.

We are not preschoolers. Let us not take the attitude of preschoolers.

Most people, the great majority, as Chomsky has said, “have basically decent impulses”. The power elite, however, have gained, and maintain their power, generally speaking, and with few exceptions, by abandoning all morals, (see the text of NSC-68, for example) and becoming, by and large, sociopaths. We must resist them, and dethrone them. Democracy is vastly preferable to fascism, to be sure; but fascism is what we will have if the people do not question more, and take their democracy back. And the hour is late.

JTR,

March 17, 2020

 

Further reading – big picture analysis:

Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies,
Year 501: The Conquest Continues,
Class Warfare,
and
Requiem For The American Dream: The Principles Of Concentration Of Wealth & Power
George Orwell, 1984
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, and Brave New World Revisited
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We
Jack London, Iron Heel
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule The World
Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns
John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World
John Perkins, A Game As Old As Empire, and
The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite
Peter Phillips, Giants: The Global Power Elite
Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom
Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom
Bertrand Russell, Roads To Freedom
Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self
Ronald Wright, A Short History Of Progress

 

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

 

What Do I Want? (Or, What is to be done, if we are to have any future worth living?)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2018 by jtoddring

What do I want? Well, I would like to see us move immediately to a libertarian socialist society, along the lines that Chomsky, Bertrand Russell, Rudolph Rocker, or Murray Bookchin have described. Or better: an anarchist communist society, such as Kropotkin described. But I don’t see that as something that is likely to happen in the near future. I don’t think the people are ready for that kind of radical change. Too many people are deeply indoctrinated and ensconced in dead and dying ideologies, consumerism, materialism, slave-mentality, scarcity-consciousness, illusions of powerlessness, voyeurism and escapism and vicarious living, TV culture, and a habitual, docile obedience to authority, conformity, and to the ruling dogmas (or delusions) of our time.

I would be happy to be proven wrong, but I don’t think it’s likely that we would see a near-term shift to a libertarian socialist or anarchist communist society — at least, not en masse. It will be our future, if we choose it; and it is not only completely viable, but would be a vastly better society than what we have now: but I just don’t think that is something we are going to see in the short term.

So, we keep our ideals high and our dreams alive, and work toward smaller, more immediate goals, while never forgetting our values or our dreams, and never losing sight of the long-term perspective.

For example, I think we should immediately depose and dethrone the currently ruling global power elite. That would not simply be a good thing to do — it is, by now, a matter of survival.

In the short term, as in, right now, I would be happy to see the robber barons removed from power. And I think that is a clear and obvious, undeniable necessity. What does that mean? It means removing the banking elite and other corporate elites — the billionaire class — from their current position as de facto rulers of the Earth.

That, in turn, requires a renewal, a revitalization, and a rebirth of democracy. And that, in turn, requires nothing short of revolution. We are now left with no other choice.

The choices facing us now, in early 21st century society, are either revolution, or slow death. The current order, the latest in a series of empires, is one of global neo-feudal, crypto-fascist corporate rule: and it is devouring the poor, the middle class, and the Earth — and with increasing speed. If we do not find the courage for revolution, then slow death it is.

We had best be serious about this, and honest with ourselves. Our choices have narrowed to two. What will it be, world? The choice is ours. And the hour is late.

JTR,
February 14, 2018

 

 

Bernie Sanders: socialism, anarchism, corporatism and democracy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by jtoddring

I support Senator Bernie Sanders in his candidacy to become the next US president. I would very much like to see him win, and I think he very may well. Now, some people will say, but Bernie Sanders is a self-declared democratic socialist. I see no problem with that. And 49% of Americans, and a larger percentage of people in most nations today, also have no problem with that. And the percentage who do have a problem with that continues to shrink, virtually every day. This is not 1955, and the McCarthy era is over. Let’s try to live in the 21st century.

Bernie Sanders, for a start, is no more socialist than the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. – whom the great majority of Americans revere, and rightly so. And he is less socialist than Jesus, whom the majority claim to revere. We should look at the contradictions here, and give them some serious thought.

Bernie Sanders has been called the second most popular socialist in America, after Jesus, and I think that is a fitting and accurate statement.

Bernie Sanders is not radical. Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist socialist philosopher, scientist, evolutionary biologist, and peer, or superior, to Darwin, was radical – radical in a positive sense, from the original meaning of the word, which is derived from the Latin, radus, meaning root, and meaning, to get to the root of. But Bernie Sanders is not radical. He is simply sensible. Let’s try to keep things in perspective here.

If Bernie had said, let’s take over all the factories and corporate farms in America, and turn them into worker owned democratic co-ops, through revolution, that would be radical. Seeking election to office in order to remove big money from politics, is not radical, it’s just sensible and honest politics – which is something we haven’t had for a very long time, so it seems shocking to some.

Supporting Bernie Sanders’ presidency should not be alarming; it should be a matter of common sense. What would be alarming would be to vote for any other candidate, and to allow the de facto corporate rule of the political process, the government and the nation to continue. That would be shocking, that would be alarming, and that would be unconscionable, as well as frankly insane.

*

Am I a socialist? Yes – an anarchist socialist, and one who would settle, in the short term, for democratic socialism, but yes, a socialist. Of course I am a socialist – what else would a thinking, feeling, person of conscience be? But first and foremost, I am a democrat.

I supported Ron Paul, though I disagree with him on major points, because he took a strong stand against the dominance of Wall Street over the political process and the government. I support Bernie Sanders for the same reason, and with the same qualifications. I don’t agree with either of these two men on everything, but I agree on the central thing, which is that the power has to be returned to the people, and taken back from the corporate elite who have stolen it and who have effectively taken over.

*

All the indications are that mixed economies work very well. The Nordic and Scandinavian countries are a good example. They have free markets and a capitalist economy, but they also have socialist elements in the society and the economy as well – such things as health care and education being publicly owned and publicly controlled, through the democratic process, and freely available to all.

In terms of key indicators, the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, with their mixed economies and democratic socialist traditions, lead the world in terms of meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals, and are far ahead of most nations. The US ranks near the bottom, along with Egypt, Chile, Mexico and Greece.

The US figures on homelessness, hunger, poverty and infant mortality also rank it with Third World nations. So something is clearly going wrong, especially considering the US is the richest nation in history, and yet, it lets its people go hungry and homeless, and go without proper health care.

There is something deranged, even pathological, with this picture. Yes, you are your brother’s keeper. The professed Christian values, along side a callous and cold-hearted set of policies, in numerous regards, and shocking levels of poverty and inequality, rapaciousness, violence, militarism and greed, materialism, narcissism, vanity and consumerism, simply appall the world. The people of the US need to be aware of this fact; and more and more of them are, and wish to change it.

Civilized nations, as leading trend analyst, Gerald Celente has said, have universal health care for all. Civilized countries have dikes to keep flood waters out, and serious disaster relief when disaster does strike, and exceeds our capacities to cope with it.

Civilized countries do not let their people die in the streets, from hunger or cold, or leave them to fend for themselves in the face of disaster, as the US government did, in the face of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

The US is in a disgraceful state, and most Americans know it, and want the situation changed. And this time, they don’t want hollow speeches about change, that amount to nothing.

In terms of human happiness, the global polls continue to show that the Nordic countries, with their mixed economies, their universal public health care, free education, several weeks of yearly paid vacations, much higher minimum wages, excellent pensions, paid sick leave and parental leave, rank as the best places in the world to live. And again, the US is far, far below. So clearly, there is much to be said for a mixed economy.

The lesson applies to the United States as well.

The United States is not a pure capitalist society. In fact, as Chomsky has pointed out, a purely capitalist society would disintegrate in no time, and is completely self-annihilating. There is a corporate welfare state that protects and serves and supports big business, as it has always done, but only more so in recent years. Instead of having the state intervene to benefit the rich and the corporations, however, the state could be used, through democratic means, to protect and serve all of the people, and not just the rich and the large corporations. This is what Senator Sanders is seeking to do.

For example, Bernie Sanders is proposing to bring in, not only universal public health care, but universal free education, up to and including college and university, and also, to re-invest in America, and rebuild the economy and the infrastructure, both of which are in tatters, and create jobs for all.

How would that be paid for? By making the richest 1% and the large corporations pay their fair share of tax. Right now, they pay little or no tax, which means a loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues a year. Add to this the massive subsidies, which total hundreds of billions of dollars more per year, and the bailouts and “stimulus” packages, which together have handed $20 trillion to the big banks from the Treasury and the public purse, and you can easily see how such programs that benefit the people could be funded: end the corporate welfare system, make the rich and the big corporations pay a reasonable level of tax, say 30, 40, or 60%, end the enormous subsidies to big business, and stop bailing out the “too big to fail” banks. If they’re too big to fail, then, as Bernie says, they’re too big to exist – break them up. The money is there. It is simply being misspent. Or rather, it is being stolen by the criminals on Wall Street, and their accomplices in the White House, Congress and the judiciary.

Bernie is here to cast the money changers from the temple. There are good precedents for that, and it is needed again today.

And as far as the US being a mixed economy, as I say, it already is, but in limited ways, and in highly distorted ways, due to the excessive corporate dominance over the political process and the government. But already, the US has many elements of socialism, and the great majority of the people like it that way: public schools, public libraries, public roads, sewers, bridges, water treatment, fire departments, colleges and universities – few people would want to do away with these things, and these things are socialist.

Other countries which are democratic and capitalist, also have mixed economies, but with higher levels of socialist elements within those capitalist-democratic societies. Britain, France and Germany, for example, have universal public health care, as does most of Europe. Bernie Sanders is simply proposing that the US enter the civilized world, and bring in universal public health care, like every other civilized nation, and is proposing relatively modest increases in the socialist elements that exist within the basic framework of US capitalist democracy. I do not think that is unreasonable. And more importantly, the great majority of the people in the US are in support of Bernie Sander’s proposed policies.

So we can put the Red Scare terror aside, because under a Sanders administration, the economy would simply become more fair, and would be rebuilt, but the basic framework of the capitalist-democratic system would remain intact.

The main thing that Bernie would help to accomplish, is to get big money out of politics – which is something that 78% of Americans, including the great majority of both Republicans and Democrats, strongly support. In fact, it is the single hottest issue in the nation, and Bernie Sanders is the only major candidate who is seriously addressing it – which is why he is so immensely popular, and why his grassroots support is rising exponentially, every day. We now even have the phenomenon of Republicans For Bernie Sanders. He is taking the country by storm.

*

I believe in democracy – which is to say, to be clear, constitutional democracy, and not simple majority rule, and constitutional democracy with guaranteed rights and freedoms for all people. And I believe, more over, that democracy has been evolving for a long time, and is still evolving. It was not born a finished work, but a work in progress.

Initially, only the rich, white, male land owners could vote or share in political power. Then women and people of colour won the right to vote. Now, we need to wrest democracy from the big money interests who have taken it over, and restore democracy.

And beyond that, once we have restored democracy, we can further evolve democracy. Part of that evolution of democracy is to apply it, not just to the political realm, but also the economic realm. If we believe in democracy, then we should also have economic democracy. This is the next logical step in the evolution of democracy.

But first things first: first we must recapture and reclaim our democracy from the corporate elite who have stolen and high-jacked it. It’s time to take the power back.

*

Right now, we have what is in reality, not democracy, but oligarchy. We have a plutocracy, or rule by the rich; or oligarchy, rule by the few. What we have is a neo-feudal corporatism, which, as Mussolini himself said, is the proper term for fascism, for it is the merger of business and the state. Now, you may say what you will about democracy, but it is certainly preferable to fascism, and it is certainly preferable to an oligarchy run by bankers and billionaires and other corporate elites.

Let’s not miss the forest for the trees here, or divide ourselves unnecessarily. We need to take our democracy back. That is step one. And that is something that Bernie Sanders can help us in doing. He deserves our support – whether we are socialists, anarchists, liberals, conservatives, progressives or libertarians, because the alternatives are far worse: Clinton and Trump represent Wall Street and the agenda of the billionaire class. Bernie represents the other 99% of the people. At this time at least, these are the only sides, and the only battle lines, that truly matter.

Democrats and Republicans alike, along with independents and Greens – and anyone who wishes to see power returned to the people, and Wall Street and big money removed from political power, should vote for Bernie Sanders in 2016. It is important, and I do believe he can win. More over, there is simply no other choice.

Don’t worry – Bernie Sanders is not going to abolish capitalism. Some will be angered by this fact, some relieved, but it is a fact. What a Sanders presidency would do, is to begin to restore the power to the people, within the context of a capitalist-democracy, and to make the system more fair for everyone, so that it is not just the top 1% who benefit, or who have power, but all the people. And while this is far from utopian, it is a good first step, and it simply needs to be done.

There are those who believe that Bernie cannot win, or worse, that no real change is possible. I say, let us avoid the iron cage of cynicism, which turns a great many otherwise intelligent people into functional idiots, and set aside, for a moment, our disbelief. If we do so, there is the very real possibility that we will be pleasantly surprised. But as Chomsky has said, if we assume that nothing can be done, then we have created our own self-fulfilling prophecy, and nothing will be done.

But above all, let’s be clear about the choices at hand. It’s Bernie or Wall Street in 2016. Let’s make the right decision.

Vote, and vote in your interests, not against them. Bernie’s got your back. Clinton and Trump want simply to be on it.

Follow the money. Clinton has the backing of Wall Street and corporate America, and is awash in their money – and that is because they know she is going to continue to work for them. Bernie Sanders has raised more money than any other candidate – and he’s done it through half a million small scale donations, averaging $31. This says everything.

The corporate media are clearly favouring Clinton and Trump, and grooming them for power. That should tell us all we need to know about who is the true ally and friend of the people. It is Bernie Sanders.

J. Todd Ring,
October 17, 2015

Chomsky on Socialism

Chomsky on the Soviet Union – which was anything but socialist

Naomi Klein on Neoliberalism and Mixed Economies

Tony Benn: A 10 minute lesson on neoliberalism, socialism and democracy

Big Ideas That Changed The World – The History of Democracy, with Tony Benn, BBC

A sinking world, and sane responses to it

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by jtoddring

My country is sinking like a rock (for reasons of corporate oligarchy, neoliberalism, corporate rights agreements, and an addiction to oil revenues and the politics of a resource extraction-based economy, and the thorough corporate domination of the political process), though the great majority of my fellow citizens do not realize it, lost in a stupor of denial as they are (I can think of twelve countries in the Western hemisphere which are either moving in a positive direction, or at least showing some fight – and Canada is not one of them); and so too is the greater part of the world descending, and rapidly so, into a morass of injustice and ecological suicide, to say nothing of concerns for freedom, human rights and democracy, (as well as a pervasive malady, and an epidemic, of economic fundamentalism, neoliberalism and neoconservatism being the primary, and reigning, quasi-religious orthodoxies, along with other forms of ideological and even “scientific” fundamentalism, which are widespread, and far more influential today than their mirror image, which is religious fundamentalism, and an even worse epidemic of illusions of powerlessness, as well as an epidemic of apathy, denial, conformity, and undue and excessive, and frequently mad obedience to power) with only a handful of countries as the exception. How am I not to be distressed, if not anguished, and even furious, or all of the above?

All of the greatest minds and greatest spirits have echoed the same thoughts about the modern world. As David Suzuki has recently said (paraphrasing from memory), “There has never been a better time for being scared and angry….. We should get mad as hell, and then fight like hell.”

Where is the fight in us? And why should we be ashamed of being distraught with a world that is on a collision course with both tyranny and collective ecological suicide, as well as being steeped in war, violence, rampant injustice, inequality, poverty and a culture of voyeurism, vicarious living, materialism, consumerism, and a pathological aversion to the real?

As the great sociologist Erich Fromm said (again, paraphrasing from memory), “Normal only exists in relation to a profoundly abnormal norm.” “The fact that there is neurosis [or psychological strain and distress] is a good sign. It is a sign of a healthy individual, an individual that is still struggling to be fully alive, and by necessity, is struggling against a society that wishes to turn him or her into an atomaton.”

As the saying goes, “If you can keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs – you’re not paying attention.”

Calm is good. Heart-break for the state of the world is natural. And action is vitally needed – and urgently so.

Let’s see more action, and the heart-break will fade into a memory of times past, and lessons learned.

JTR,
October 7, 2015

Essential reading:

(A few among many other great books that could be included in such a list)

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

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

When Technology Fails – Matt Stein

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

The Chalice and the Blade – Rianne Eisler

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Ancient Futures – Helena Norberg-Hodge

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Roads To Freedom – Bertrand Russell

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin Was No Crackpot – Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, June, 1997

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell

On Civil Obedience

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by jtoddring

“Laws control the lesser man…

Right conduct controls the greater one.”

– Mark Twain

Never be obedient. Obedience is for dogs. No offence to dogs – I love dogs, and dogs are very admirable, as well as lovable, and there is much that we can learn from dogs. But we are not dogs, and we should not behave like dogs – or cattle, or sheep. Be cooperative, yes – at least, when it is intelligent to do so, and when it does not compromise our integrity or our principles – but never be obedient.

Be respectful, be compassionate, be cooperative when and where it is ethical and intelligent to do so, but never be obedient. The world is filled with obedient men and women, and it is because of this, that the world is also filled with horrors and terrible acts, committed by a few individuals who are mad with greed, hate, ego mania or power-lust. It is precisely the apathy, and the obedience of the many, that allows the sociopathic few to get away with murder – and often literally so.

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

~Albert Einstein

Stop being obedient. Never be obedient. First, be a man, be a woman, be human – then decide for yourself how to act.

Obedience is deadly. Sever all habits of it, and now. To paraphrase Thoreau, our first loyalty should be to our own conscience. All else follows from that, and not before.

*

To be clear, I am talking here about adults being overly obedient to whatever powers happen to be dominant or ruling in a given society at a given time, not children, who do not yet have enough awareness to make every decision for themselves. If children were allowed to decide their own meals, for example, they’d be eating chocolate bars and pizza-pops all day long; so clearly, children need guidance. But adults being overly obedient to authority is a problem. I would say that it is due to such an undue obedience to authority that it took so long, for example, to abolish slavery, or child labour, or to bring in the universal right to vote, or end racial segregation or apartheid. And I would say it is because of an excess of obedience and conformity that the severe social and ecological problems which we still face today, are not being resolved at anywhere near the speed they need to be. This is a very serious problem. This obedience may cost us our survival as a species.

It is worthwhile here to quote Henry David Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience, for there has never been a more lucid essay or literature of any kind on the subject of obedience to authority versus obedience to one’s own conscience.

I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have…..But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

– Henry David Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. – Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience

Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power. – Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others, as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders, serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. – Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience

I think we would do better if we were more obedient to our own conscience, and less obedient to social authorities. In that, I side with Thoreau, and his great essay, On Civil Disobedience – which inspired Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, the movement to end the war in Vietnam, the environmental movement, and other, very positive social movements, right up to today.

Einstein said it best: “The world is a dangerous place, not because a few people do terrible things, but because millions of people let them.” The great sociologists C. Wright Mills and Erich Fromm would agree, as would Aldous Huxley, Chomsky and Orwell. Many people are rebellious in foolish ways, in ways that lead nowhere, but are passive and timid and deferential, and excessively obedient, when and where it counts. That, I think, is a real problem.

There is a time for casting the money changers from the temple. And sometimes, that means challenging, and even defying, authority. And we have good precedents and examples to follow in that.

J. Todd Ring,

September 18, 2015

For further reading, see:

The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, by Etienne de la Bottie

On Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

And my recent book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium, on Amazon now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. Todd Ring,
April 29, 2014

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

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