Archive for tyranny

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

What is happening in Venezuela? It’s certainly not what the mainstream media is telling you

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2014 by jtoddring

“Much of the reporting by the mass media gives the impression that Venezuela faces a national rebellion. The reality, says Miguel Tinker Salas, is that the protests have been restricted to mostly middle and upper middle class neighborhoods, not entire cities.”
  – Truthout, What is happening in Venezuela?
(Many, many thanks, to the honest journalism presented here, in this article, and in general at Truthout.)

Yes, as with the situation in Ukraine – and as is the usual norm, the truly pathological and dysfunctional norm under the rule of Western plutocracy and the corporate state – the people are being systematically lied to with regards to recent events in Venezuela.

What is happening in Venezuela? The left has won 18 out of the past 19 democratic elections, and the right wing, which used to rule the country, before Chavez changed all that – the right wing which is supported almost exclusively by the minority who are rich or middle class – is furious. That is what is happening in Venezuela.

“There is no evidence that broad sectors of society, especially the urban poor who provide the most support to the government, have joined the protests initiated by middle and upper class sectors. This division led one Colombian commentator to state, “Venezuela is an odd country, the only place were the rich protest and the poor celebrate.” It is doubtful the opposition can sustain the present level of protests. By seeking Maduro’s ouster through undemocratic means and without majority support, the opposition has once again entered a “callejon sin salida,” a political dead end…. The opposition will find it difficult to save face after this round of protests and many question their commitment to democratic principles and their ability to unite all of Venezuela.  Having radicalized their base, they now face the daunting task of demobilizing their followers if they are to salvage any credibility in future elections.”
   – Miguel Tinker Salas, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Truthout, March 6

Reading the mainstream media, you are given the impression, as you are meant to, that there is a national rebellion going on that has broad popular support. It doesn’t.

Municipal elections we recently held across the country, and the left won 70% of the vote, confirming that the democratic socialist government of Venezuela has broad and deep support among the people – as it has since Chavez took power through free and fair elections.

The same thing happened between 2002-2004, when the right wing staged a coup, and when that failed, staged “popular” protests, trying to destabilize the government and force a crisis of ungovernability, in order to overthrow the democratically elected government.

But Washington and the big corporations, including the corporations which control 90% of US media, despise both socialism and democracy, and especially when they are combined – and worst of all, when they prove it to be an illusion and a lie that socialism and democracy are not compatible, or even that democratic socialism must be a tyranny of the majority, as the right wing often likes to sloganeer about.

Venezuelan democracy is more populist, more grass-roots-based and more constitutionally based, not to mention far more free and fair and robust, than US politics have ever been, even before Wall Street consolidated its hold over the US “democratic” process. If we want to point to an anti-democratic tyranny, we don’t have to look very far. It is right here, in North American society, where the business elite rule, and democracy be damned.

Chavez re-drafted the Venezuelan constitution – not to give himself more power, but to write into the constitution, the right of the people to hold a presidential re-call vote, and to remove him or any other president from power. What dictator re-writes the constitution so that he can be removed from power by the people at any time? More to the point, which of our “democratic” and “freedom-loving” political elites – or prostitutes to the super-rich and the corporatocracy, I should say, to be more accurate – would even tolerate, let alone initiate, re-drafting the constitution to allow them to be removed from power at any time? Very, very few. In sum, Venezuela has been made, not only more prosperous, not only more equal, but also more free and more democratic under Chavez and his democratically elected successor, Nicolás Maduro.

Arguably, Venezuela is more democratic than the United States, which by every single measure, is run by and for Wall Street and the plutocratic, rabidly anti-democratic, quite literally fascist corporate elite. Washington should hang its head in shame, and bow low before the positive actions and the courage being demonstrated by the Veneuelan people and their elected government.

The rich, the right wing, Washington and the global corporate giants – and especially the oil giants, who do not like having to pay higher royalties to the Venezuelan people now, for the privilege of extracting the black gold from the country – are livid. But the people of Venezuela, aside from a rabidly anti-democratic and frequently violent, rich minority, support the democratic socialist government.

With Iraq, the US invaded – for the sake of the oil. In Ukraine, the US just staged a successful coup, as former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has made clear, and as Illinois professor of international law, Francis Boyle, also corroborated – in part, to gain control of gas pipelines supplying energy to Europe. In Libya, Washington staged a coup using Al Queda forces as their hired thugs – for oil. In Venezuela, Washington is backing the extreme right, in efforts to overthrow the democratically-elected government. So far, the people of Venezuela have held strong against such anti-democratic attempts to overthrow their widely supported and much-loved, elected government. I pray they will continue to succeed, and I believe they will. With the strength and solidarity of MERCOSUR, the powerful and fast-rising Latin American trade block, and with solidarity from people around the world, they will continue to win, I hope, I pray, and I do believe.

That is what is happening in Venezuela.

That, and the steady reduction of poverty and a fairer sharing of the wealth that comes from the country’s massive oil reserves (which are among the largest in the world), among other economic sectors as inequality shrinks, and constitutional, populist democracy is enshrined.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Canada and Europe, poverty and inequality are rising fast, while freedom, civil liberties and democracy are under attack. And who is pointing the finger at whom?

Really now. The hypocrisy of the Western, or rather, the North-Western media of North America and Europe, along with that of the political and business elite, would be shocking, if it were not so routine to have become banal. But it is certainly sickening and nauseating, nevertheless.

 

An aside: Routine media distortions, illusions and lies

I just read – or read as much as I could stomach – the CBC’s “in-depth analysis” of the situation in Ukraine. It was titled, “Ukraine in crisis: key facts, major developments.” Well, they failed to report any of the truly central facts, and they completely misrepresented and distorted all of the major actual facts and the truth of what is happening. So much for honest journalism in Canada. For the real key facts on the situation in Ukraine, see the article I wrote yesterday: http://jtoddring.com/2014/03/06/ukraine-cia-coup-geopolitical-analysis-and-wwiii/  – Ukraine: CIA coup, geopolitical analysis, and WWIII.

(CBC is Canada’s most-watched television news network, a state-run corporation that is widely, and very confusedly believed to be liberal to centre-left, neutral, objective, free and fair – as it presents itself. Some “necessary illusions” die hard. The CBC may compare favourably to, say Fox News, MSNBC or CNN, but that is a pretty low bar to surpass – you really have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to do worse than them.)

CBC, in terms of international news, you are a complete write-off, I am sorry to say. As Thomas Jefferson said, “I look upon my fellow countrymen with commiseration when they believe that by reading the papers they have learned something about the world. Those who never read the newspapers are better off than those who do, for it is better to know nothing, than to have one’s head filled with lies, half-truths and illusions.”

Better to shut off the mainstream corporate and state-run media altogether. What a wasteland of lies, distortions, falsifications and misinformation. Shut it off. Turn off the morphine drip. The mainstream media, the corporate and state-run media, have become the opiate of the people. Pull the plug.

For the real story, turn to Truthout, the Centre For Research On Gloobalization, Gerald Celente of Trends Research, Z Magazine, Democracy Now! and The Real News Network, or other carefully chosen independent media. Many people are already fed up with the mainstream media, and all the figures show it: the major media are losing their audience in droves. For the rest of the population, who still tune into the old guard media, I would suggests the alternatives mentioned above – here, real journalism lives, and the truth can be told, and spoken freely.

The world needs our help. If we are not informed, then it will be difficult for us to help anyone, or even to help ourselves. Stay informed, and get the real news. Change the channel, if you haven’t already.

J. Todd Ring, March 7, 2014

 

 

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