Archive for revolution

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

 

 

Prospects for America: Sanders vs Civil War

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

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

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

~

An open letter in response to Daily Kos,

and to anyone concerned with either justice, or peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Toward a Global Open Society, by George Soros

Atlantic Monthly, January 1998

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

*

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

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

why write anything at all?”

– Thomas Merton

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

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

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

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

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

– Alexander Cockburn

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

– Henry David Thoreau

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

– Noam Chomsky

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

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

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government

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

– Teddy Roosevelt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In hope and in peace,

J. Todd Ring

February 10, 2016

 

Further reading:

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

By MinistryOfTruth – Daily Kos, Friday Jun 27, 2014

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

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

By Joe Clark, July 15, 2015, Liberal America

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

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

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

 

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

by David Sirota, 2008

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

 

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

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

 

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

Scientific American,

By Nicholas Fitz, March 31, 2015

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

Daily Kos, February 14, 2016

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

 

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

By J. Todd Ring

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

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.

Canadian and US Federal Elections – 2015, 2016: A summary of the prospects and possible outcomes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2015 by jtoddring

Revolution, reform, stagnation – or worse?

It is sometimes difficult to say what would be best for a given nation at a given time in history. There are things that would be desirable, of course, or which seem desirable, and things that are quite clearly, urgently needed – but in what way they should best be brought about, can be very difficult to say. There are many unintended consequences in life, and sometimes, good things turn out badly, or terrible things end up generating good responses, and good results in the end – though no one would wish for it to have come about in the way that it did. Ethics and compassion should rule our actions and guide our choices, but predicting what, precisely, is the best course, is virtually impossible. We simply have to use our best judgement, and go with that. Some things are clear, some not so clear. But we can say a few things with reasonable certainty.

We should remember that everything is subject to change at all times, and open to change, but one thing that appears to be clear, at least for the moment, is that the Canadian federal election is, by all indications, a non-event, since the three major political parties have either lost their courage, or lost their integrity, or both, and are all on-board with a pro-pipeline, pro big oil, neo-liberal, pro “free trade” agenda of de facto corporate rule – and the only party with any integrity, vision or courage has such little support that they are unlikely win. At the federal level at least, things look pretty bleak at the moment for Canadian politics. Harper has to go, without question; but the alternatives look very uninspiring, to say the least.

I will vote my conscience anyway, as always; but the election seems very uninteresting, and is likely to change little. Big oil and big business will, in all likelihood, continue to run the nation – and run it into the ground, and off an ecological cliff – while the majority of the people remain passive and apathetic, as their rights, civil liberties, democracy, freedom, social programs, environment and country are slowly bled away, and bled dry.

“Not with a bang, but a whimper” – maybe this should be the new Canadian motto, or even the chorus for a new national anthem. Where are the likes of Tommy Douglas when you need them?

We stand on guard for what? Oh, right – Tim Horton’s, and the television remote control. Who says hockey is the nation’s favourite past-time? Clearly, that spot is reserved for a most devoted tradition of public apathy. The courage seems to have gone out of this nation some decades ago, and has yet to return.

The US is in a similar state to Canada and other “leading” industrial nations in some ways, but is far more unstable, and could go in one of several very different directions – and, unlike the up-coming Canadian federal election, the US federal election which approaches could be decisive, and of profound import, with far-reaching consequences, not just for the people of the United States, but also, for the world.

In the US, if Hillary Clinton wins, and becomes the next president, then the majority of the people of the United States are likely to think, “Well, we should give her a chance, and see if she does anything positive” – and then yawn, and collectively go back to sleep.

So that would be nothing short of a disaster, to my mind, if she wins – to say nothing of her unwavering loyalty to Wall Street and her eagerness to start a war with Iran – which, by the way, is positively insane, since Russia and China have economic and military alliances and agreements with Iran, and attacking Iran, as Russia has made clear, could very well trigger a nuclear confrontation between the great powers, and quite literally start WWIII.

So a win for Hillary “bomb-em-now” Clinton would mean stagnation and no real change, at best, when what we urgently need is major change, and now; and it could mean the worst imaginable scenario – something infinitely worse than mere stagnation and inaction in a time of great, and growing crisis. For these reasons, I would have to say that a Hillary Clinton Presidential win would be disastrous for the nation, and, quite possibly, disastrous for the world.

If Donald Trump, or another of the far-right lunatics from the Republican Party, somehow manages to win, then we could see, not only the further looting of Main Street by Wall Street, exactly as Hillary would preside over, and as George Bush and Barack Obama presided over, and aided and abetted; and it would not only mean a probable, and even eager launching of a war that could very well, and very easily, lead to WWIII – also, in lock-step with the Hillary agenda – but we could also see the nation explode into civil war, by the hatred and tensions that could quickly come to a boiling point, and overflow in mass chaos and violence.

So if Hillary means stagnation at best, and disaster at worst, a Republican win would mean, most likely, disaster, or worse disaster. Neither Clinton or the Republicans are acceptable to any sane person. Both Hillary and the Republican candidates must be rejected.

But, on the other hand, a far-right Republican government that pushes the US over the brink, and into civil war, by further fuelling and igniting racial, class and other tensions, might well explode itself into the very grounds that give birth to a revolution. Some would say this would be a good thing. We should wish, however, if we are at all sane, that revolution would come about in better, and more peaceful ways. I would not say that this is a course of history we should wish on anyone. So heaven forbid that either Hillary, or one of the Republican representatives for the billionaire class – as Hillary is as well – end up in the White House. Either one would spell very real and great danger for the nation.

That really leaves only one contender in the race, and that is, the independent, democratic socialist from Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders is a grassroots populist – in reality, and not just in rhetoric and PR spin, unlike Hillary – and has fought consistently, for four decades, for the middle class and the poor, and for progressive politics that will benefit all the people, and not just Wall Street, the corporate elite and the super-rich.

Sanders is now the front runner in key primary states, and leading in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, 10 and 20 points respectively, ahead of the former front runner, Hillary Clinton. He is drawing the biggest crowds of any candidate. He is generating a wave of excitement across the nation – even in died-in-the-wool conservative states.

Bernie Sanders has raised more money than any candidate – despite having rejected the billionaires’ money. He has, so far, generated over a million individual donations, averaging $24. And he has raised a million donations faster than any other candidate in US history, again showing the massive groundswell of grassroots support that is rallying behind him.

And he has a message, a vision, and a policy platform, that resoundingly resonates with the great majority of the people of the United States: get money out of politics and make the government represent all the people, and not just the rich; make elections publicly funded, so that they are free and fair; make the richest 1% and the large corporations pay their fair share of taxes; make health care and education free for all – up to and including college and university; stop the wars, invest in America, and rebuild the nation – and with an emphasis on fairness and a decent life for all. As one astute commentator put it, Bernie Sanders is what Obama pretended to be in 2008. And that is why he is loved. And that is why he just might win.

If Bernie Sanders does win, what would happen? It certainly would not spell revolution, and in fact, it could forestall a revolution. Senator Sanders would help to heal a broken nation that is on the edge of fiscal insolvency and civil war, and take it in a bold, positive, new direction. But it would not spell revolution. It would be bold, powerful social change, in a direction that most people would consider very, very positive, and very inspiring and hopeful, but it would not be revolution.

I’m not a capitalist, and I think there are better ways to organize human society, such as those outlined by Chomsky, Kropotkin, Bookchin, Michael Albert, Rudolph Rocker and Bertrand Russell; and I also think that it is clear that capitalism is intrinsically anti-democratic, exploitative, oppressive, dehumanizing and degrading, and limiting of human potential, by its very nature. But if one insists on keeping a capitalist system, even for just the short term or the present, then at least it has to be regulated, and its worst injustices and brutalities kept in check, while its benefits are more equally shared. That is exactly what Bernie Sanders is proposing to do, and it is hardly radical – it is simply a matter of common sense, basic ethics, and basic sanity.

There is still a great deal of red scare ideology in the US – that is clear. But fortunately, it works only on an uninformed, and misinformed, and shrinking minority. Look at Denmark, Sweden or Finland – these are democratic socialist countries with capitalist markets, and they work quite well with their mixed economies, and are also free and democratic. (Denmark is home to the happiest people in the world, according to global polls – far above the US.)

In fact, these democratic socialist, mixed capitalist economy countries are much more democratic than the United States, which has descended into an oligarchy, as a recent Princeton study confirms, and is now ruled, not by the people, but by Wall Street.

Bernie would start to put a dent in that corporate oligarchy, and begin to bring the power back to the people, where it rightly belongs. And some people are afraid of that. Some are terrified of that thought – and these are the same business elites who now rule the nation.

Some are simply misinformed – others are working for the same corporate elite who don’t want their power or privileged position to be challenged. Ignorance, greed, egomania and power lust are the main sources of opposition to policies such as Bernie would bring in – and sooner or later, and hopefully sooner, these obstacles will be overcome, and defeated. At present, the majority of people in the US support the policy proposals Bernie Sanders is making. The minority who do not, seem to be living in an earlier era, namely, the McCarthy era.

The rest of the world no longer lives in 1955. It’s time for America to get with the program, and catch up with the rest of the world. Bernie will help the US to do just that.

The Founding Fathers of the United States were very alert, for their time, but they were not perfect, nor were they omniscient. In fact, as Chomsky has pointed out, the majority of them, with the exception of Thomas Jefferson, despised what most people today would consider democracy to mean. The majority of the Founding Fathers believed in what John Jay said, that, “The people who own the country ought to govern the country.” That is to say that, aside from Jefferson, the Founding Fathers believed that, “We the people,” meant, “We, the rich, white, male slave owners” ought to rule the land. So reverence for the Founding Fathers expresses a basic ignorance of history.

(I admire Thomas Jefferson, but even he was a slave owner, which, of course, is unconscionable, and showed even his great weaknesses and contradictions.)

Democracy has evolved a great deal since 1776, and that is a good thing. Bernie Sanders would simply carry that evolution of democracy a further step forward – principally, by challenging the ruling corporate oligarchy that has high-jacked democracy, exactly as Jefferson warned would happen, 200 years ago – and by returning the power to the people.

If power to the people is something to be feared, then we really are lost. This is not something that should be feared, but embraced. And the majority of people in the US are ready for it, and support exactly the kinds of policies that Bernie Sanders is proposing, and urging.

The time has come for real change. And Bernie Sanders may well prove to be one more major drivers of that change. All indications are that he is precisely that: a driver of powerful, positive social change. The majority are ready for that, even if the oligarchy and a shrill minority will scream, and do.

The basic structures of capitalism would remain intact under a Sanders presidency – the benefits and working conditions derived from and experienced within the capitalist economy would be more widely and more fairly shared, more humane and more tolerable, but the capitalist structure would remain in place. For some, this would be seen as a good thing, to preserve capitalism. Others do not see it that way. I would say that, while Senator Sanders might delay a much-needed revolution (for example, delaying a radical shift in the control or ownership of the means of production, such as decentralized, community-based, democratic worker ownership, through worker co-ops, on a nation-wide scale – something along the lines of what Noam Chomsky, Murray Bookchin, Bertrand Russell or Peter Kropotkin have recommended), Sanders would, most likely, set the country on a better track, and steer it away from the implosion and sheer disaster to which it is presently heading – and that would be a very good thing. It is probably better to steer the ship away from the approaching cliff, then to watch it go over (or push it over) and try to rebuild from the wreckage. Dr. Strangelove may disagree, but I think this is the saner path.

Revolutionary change can wait – maybe not for long, but for a little while – in order to bring about some healing and recovery for a nation that is rapidly spiralling toward self-destruction: economically, socially, environmentally, and possibly politically as well. Bernie could be the person who can bring stability to a nation that is currently set to implode. While this might not be as idyllic an outcome as some would like, it might be the best thing we can hope for at present – and it is certainly infinitely better than the immediate alternatives on hand, such as Hillary or one of the Republican zealots would bring.

In fact, if Bernie Sanders does win, he just might inspire and unite the people of the United States enough, that they can bring about, not just much-needed reforms, but in the end, a much-needed social, political and economic revolution as well.

Certainly, having a true populist democrat and progressive as the next President of the United States would not instantly change everything and right all wrongs, but it would be a start, and a very good start at that, I would say.

I believe it is possible that Bernie will win. I certainly hope so. And if he does, then yes, that is only the White House – but that is a powerful office, of course, and inroads could be made from there towards making real change.

If nothing else, Bernie could use the White House as the world’s most powerful podium, and from there, inspire the people, through popular movements, to create the changes that are needed on the ground, and to put the required pressure on Congress, and on Wall Street, to make further, bigger changes.

So the White House is a starting point for bigger things – and a powerful starting point. And I think he’s going to do it. I think he’s going to win.

Go Bernie.

In conclusion, I would have to say this. In the US, Bernie Sanders deserves support, and deserves to win. Certainly there are no other major candidates that are remotely supportable. It’s Bernie, or Wall Street candidate A, B, C or D. The choice should be clear.

In Canada, the situation is much less exciting, but the election is still extremely important. Harper has to go, and if that requires strategic voting – something that I normally am strongly opposed to – then I now think that this election warrants it. Harper’s assault on democracy is simply too grave for us not to use every peaceful means at our disposal to remove him from power. Do vote. And vote strategically – and get Harper out.

J. Todd Ring,

October 18, 2015

See also:

Election 2015 and Strategic Voting: Madness, Or Practical Necessity?

An economic and political analysis of Canada, neoliberalism, and the world

https://jtoddring.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/election-2015-and-strategic-voting-madness-or-practical-necessity/

Moby Dick, The Manufactured Man, and the Fate of Humankind

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 1, 2014 by jtoddring

“The permanent constitutional condition of the manufactured man … is sordidness.” So says Captain Ahab of Moby Dick. And Melville was right. This is what we are fighting. We are fighting the manufactured condition of man, and attempting to regain our true nature.

That is not romanticism by the way, but an expression of the perennial philosophy, the perennial wisdom which our greatest of sages and philosophers have seen and spoken of in every culture and every age. We must throw off our conditioning and rediscover the basic common sense of the natural good heart within, or frankly, we are doomed.

The environmental crisis we have set in motion continues to accelerate, and we continue to fuel the flames of the crisis – and we continue to ignore it. We have become the hollow men.

We are adrift at sea, racing toward such perilous shoals that surely our ship will break into myriad pieces if we do not awaken, and soon.

Everyone who is paying attention knows this. Yet, a paralysis grips most, while a kind of sleep-walking state of near comatose denial grips the majority of the rest. We are in an extremely dangerous position for these reasons.

Paralysis and denial are by now the most deadly of enemies. Only ignorance, greed and hate can match them, and our civilization is, unfortunately, also well-stocked in these.

Chris Hedges sums it up well, in a speech he gave, entitled, The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies, when he said,

“And so we plunge forward in our doomed quest to master the forces that will finally smite us. Those who see where we are going too often lack the fortitude to actually rebel. Mutiny was the only salvation for the Pequod’s crew [in Melville’s Moby Dick]. It is our only salvation. But moral cowardice turns us into hostages.”

We have become the prisoners of our illusions. The great majority have succumbed to a kind of mass insanity of Stockholm syndrome – we have identified with our captors. We have forgotten our common sense, and accepted a profoundly abnormal norm as our new normal – a normal that will destroy us if we persist in it. We have allowed psychopaths to take over the world and steer the ship of our civilization, and we have adopted their madness, or at least, are numbed and blind to it. We have gouged out our own eyes, and in our blindness, run frantically toward a dark future of our own creation.

We either find our courage now, and rediscover our hearts and common sense, and by that means, rebel against the state of the world and its current direction, and remove from power the maniacal elite who are rapidly driving us toward the collapse of our civilization, and a very dark age, followed by human extinction; or face the fact of our cowardice, and slink silently into our slowly dawning oblivion, with nary a peep or a whimper. The choice is ours, and the hour is late. Let us choose wisely. And now.

I, for one, believe there is more within us than we tend to realize – far more. Draw forth your best now. The world needs you.

Stand.

JTR,
October 1, 2014

What do I want? Revolutionary change – nothing less will do at this critical time in our history

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by jtoddring

I want nothing short of revolutionary change, a radical change, a renaissance. I think it is needed – urgently needed: and I do not think that human beings are going to survive at all without it. We have, inadvertently, pressed our backs against a wall. I think we need to rise to a higher level of awareness, or go extinct – and the choice is at hand, with zero time to delay. That is why I often sound so ferocious when I write: I believe, and feel deeply, and, I would say, I have seen, that we have no time left. The time for incremental, gradual changes has passed. We are literally in a do or die situation. Either we make major changes in our society now, or we cease to exist. Stand up now, people. As Thomas Paine said, we have it within our power to make the world again. We have everything we need to build a better world. We must simply act. And now.

JTR,
September 18, 2014

Hemp Revolution

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And dethrone the corporate elite – now!

JTR,
March 27, 2014