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Three essays: On Washington. On the decline of Marxism. On America.

5 Jan

On Wa(r)shington DC

A purely secular culture vs. a Christian one? The problem with Christendom is that it is not national or race-based, but international in scope. The patriots of nations must put the interests of their own nation-states first. Marxism, like Christianity, was primarily a transnational idea. But American nationalism, like that of Germany, was markedly self-interested. Just as a person is capable of self-interestedness, so must be the nation-state, if it is to survive in this world. The Founding Fathers and most of the leaders we’ve had, have put country first. They were both nationalists and patriots, but once the USA became a victor, following the World Wars, we succumbed to the urge to reorder the world. We followed and emulated the class-based British Empire, with mixed results. The American colossus has since then become a dinosaur, inflicting upon us such catastrophes as Vietnam and the Iraq War. Even the formerly pacific-seeming Obama has succumbed to the Beltway. He remains pompous and cautious about expressing his true intentions, while largely failing in his national agenda of improving the lives of people here in the States, long after the New Deal and the Great Society programs were criticized and attacked by the right-wing crowd.

The State, the Pentagon, and the mass media, not to mention Wall Street, have all been shown to be highly fallible. More and more of us are beginning to grow critical of the Establishment. The USA is becoming a ‘society of the spectacle,’ a parody of itself, an emulator of the British Empire. The Georgetown and Ivy Leaguers think that they’ve replaced the blue bloods of the United Kingdom, and are in a position to protect the institutions of capitalism by sending the less-fortunate, less well-educated working classes to fight and die for them in foreign fields. The wisdom of the Iraq war is still being questioned; the Afghan war, less so. Still, it’s clear that our policies in the Middle East have largely failed. The ‘Arab Spring,’ has turned bloody. A war in Syria has consumed 40,000 lives or more. Al Qaeda and the Taliban, far from being defeated, have reconstituted themselves. And what is our earthly reward?
TV, which represents to us a seemingly constricted, if not wholly censored view of the recent wars. The comedy shows and other junk forms of entertainment constitute a decadent parody of American pretensions.
America wants to have its proverbial cake and eat it, too. And the mass media offer up a daily dose of sugary substance for us to ingest.

During the halcyon fifties, the Frankfurt School declared that America was becoming an ‘authoritarian society, but in truth, we’ve become a ‘meritocracy,’ a society in which the Ivy Leaguers and near-Ivy Leaguers rule over the rest of us. America wants first class brains running the country. Have we been well served? And what do the Prepsters of the Northeast corridor really intend for us?

——–

“Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it.” G. Santayana

From the hour of the caveman, civilization has somehow emerged, triumphant, but man himself hasn’t changed much. Democratic systems protect us with a system of laws that are supposed to protect our inalienable rights.
The Marxist system failed even to acknowledge that people have rights! Hence Marxism needed to be recalibrated or dismissed.
America in response to the challenge of the Soviet Union, developed a form of liberal social engineering, a progressive alternative to the Marxist ideas which we staunchly opposed.
The social and economic disparities of capitalistic society were perceived as being easily remedied by mass education. But can education really socially engineer for us a ‘better tomorrow?’ It stands in contrast to the rough individualism preached by Emerson during the 19th Century. Individualism today is under intellectual attack in the academy. It’s taught to the business class, but it is not embraced in all quarters. It became transformed into Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth,” a strange subversion of Christianity, a muscular Christianity, as Teddy Roosevelt called it – appropriate to the age of Titans and so-called “Robber Barons.” Carnegie practiced what he preached, endowing colleges, universities, libraries and museums liberally, in order to bestow upon the common man the benefits of superior culture.
Hence the capitalists began to realize that they had to protect their culture from Marxist critiques of ‘hegemony.’ We must ask, isn’t life in the USA better because of the brains of such giants as Ford, Edison, Carnegie and other great men of industry? They were called ‘robber barons,’ by the newspaper men of their day.

Taking a radical view, the Marxists wanted to destroy capitalism altogether, believing that the future is better served by a dictatorship ruling over the Proletariat (the working classes). Few today agree with Marx’s ideas. We prefer to have our rights protected by a liberal democratic state, with a mixed capitalist economy. That’s what we are told we live under; although the fact that twenty percent or more of the US Federal budget goes directly to the waging of warfare in foreign post-colonial nations must give us pauce. Hence, we must conclude that it is the common folk, the middle-classes, the working-classes, and the poor that President Obama must forge together into a new social democratic, liberal alliance. The alternative provided to us by the Republicans, namely a Romney-Ryan ultra-right-wing agenda of austerity combined with tax cuts for the wealthy, failed to win over the majority of the voting public in 2008. So the rich now must pay higher taxes. But what about the rest of us?

Opposing Marxism: there have always been the advocates of “Culture and civilization,” meaning largely, but not exclusively white culture and civilization. Christianity, although Judaic in origin, spread throughout the world, thanks to the Roman Empire. Hence it thereafter became the official belief-system and expression of the white peoples.
Art, science, culture, civilization, and the Christian religion have produced the modern world in its better aspect. The northern hemisphere nations, namely the US, Canada, Europe and Britain, and the Soviet nations share a common civilization. Culture is only aspect of that glorious achievement of Western man. Science was another aspect. And Marxism was sold to the Russian peoples as a form of ‘scientific socialism,’ one which sadly failed. We must address the causes of this catastrophe.
Marxism was the ‘light that failed,’ (Koestler) because it arrogated to itself absolute power and certitude to a tiny ruling class. The Marxist nations had their power struggles and upheavals: the Mensheviks fought the Bolsheviks, the Trotskyites fought the Stalinists. Literally they were at each others‘ throats. Nevertheless, the Marxists did succeed in ultimately creating a ‘planned economy,’ which functioned for a few decades, at the price of freedom.
Unable to spread the Marxist gospel of ‘scientific socialism,’ by force in Western Europe during the late, unlamented “Cold War,” the Communists exported it to the undeveloped or Third World, where it still continues to breed anti-American critics, like Chavez in Venezuela. Marxism was rejected by the northern nations, ultimately, but it was embraced by many of the anti-colonialist intelligentsia in the so-called “Third World.” This is what constitutes Marxism today, or Marx mingled with a strong dose of anti-colonialistic fervor.
Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, and later Chairman Mao, wanted to become the leaders of a second wave of Marxist insurrection throughout the world. The Red Chinese gov’t adopted the ideas of the German, Marx, and combined them with their own native peasant philosophy. Today, the Red Chinese people have largely sloughed off Marxism, although it is still the official ideology of the State. Over one billion people presently live under the dictatorship of the Party, long, long after the Russian Communist party marched off to lick its wounds following the Soviet collapse on Dec 25, 1991. The question is, Will Marxism take a new form and lead those of the ‘wretched of the Earth,’ to allude to Frantz Fanon?
The people of America largely reject Marxism, preferring our soft and easy Coca-Cola capitalism. No brains required for belonging. In academe, Marxism has become largely passé, but it still has its vociferous advocates in certain trendy corners. Neoliberalism, environmentalism, and feminism have largely superceded fashionable Marxism, but there’s always a certain amount of social discontent, within and without the USA’s borders, which may, like the can of Coke, explode under pressure right under our noses.
Marx, I would argue, is still relevant as a system of criticism of the vagaries of militaristic American state capitalism.

The truth is that the rich, the corporations, and the connected run America, rather than the common folk, who are becoming increasingly vocal about their alienation from the system.

—-
In America:

In America, there exists the city, the town, the village, the farm and the woods. The people of one part of the country don’t necessarily like or understand those of the next tier of society. Thus we have developed the phony, ‘red-blue’ state division. The people of small upstate towns fear and loathe the people of the great cauldrons of social experimentation that we call big cities. They see in them the future of the multicultural US already being born, and view it with great suspicion.
Hence there is a lot of fear and loathing in these states. The ‘disunited states of America,’ brought to you by
Wa(r)shington. Doubtlessly they will resort to the usual rhetoric of the struggle for the ‘hearts and minds of the masses,’ but in the end, the Karl Roves and the Dick Morrisses, the talking ‘pundits,’ are all cut from the same cloth. They all end up at the same dreary cocktail parties in Georgetown, exchanging engaging witticisms doubtlessly gleaned from Mark Twain or some other true wit.

Is Critical Marxism relevant?

5 Nov

Let us note that Marxism failed as a political philosophy, yet its specter lives on as a force of criticism of society. I’ve decided that Marx was wrong about certain things, but I’d have to do more research to find out about the ‘reform capitalism,’ movement. Marx arrogantly asserted, in the “manifesto,’ that all other forms of socialism would be ‘toast,’ in comparison with the Marxist version.

So.. if you still want to read my old essays, here goes:

===
Marxism is principally an analysis of society. We cannot change society without first having some form of understanding of society. Hence, Marxism is a branch of sociology, as well as of history and economics.

The mass media exist to provide the populace, especially the working-class, with ‘false consciousness.’ It’s quite ingenious. The proletariat (working-class and the poor) is continually subjected to the false images of the capitalist marketplace. Purportedly this affects them, both as workers and consumers, to lust for the material objects shown on their shiny TV sets. The products used by the wealthy are shown on TV and in the movies, in the faces of the poor, who keep working harder and harder, unable to afford to buy them. If the poor steal, they wind up in prison, but if they buy these products, they avoid paying for the things they really need: food, housing, and clothing. That is ‘false consciousness’ in a nutshell. The mass media exist to keep the workers deluded; yet every day, they feel their oppression as all-too-real. This is why America’s permissive society tolerates drugs, alcohol, and vice in general. The working-class has to have an outlet. When that fails, the Establishment gives them something even worse: War.

Critical Marxism is still relevant because it reveals to us that there is a structure to society:

At the top of the heap are the owners of the means of production are: the rich, the industrialists.

The bankers and the politicians are their employees.

The police are their only real protection from a mass uprising of the working-class.

The military and the jails gobble up a significant portion of the working-class, so that the middle class can experience a little less competition from below.

Religion was developed as an idea-system, that would keep the workers from attaining a truer understanding of society. They would get their reward in some nether world.

The media spread false consciousness. The products of the capitalist marketplace are dangled before the salivating mouths of the have-nots, and this keeps them on the treadmill of hard work.

The educational system exists to keep the class-system in place. University for the well-off; vocational school for the poor.

The middle-class has emerged in postwar America, but it is being taxed heavily in order to pay for the sins of the rich and the poor alike.

Capitalism leads mankind to war after war; and who dies in these largely pointless conflicts? Mainly the children of the working-class! And who brings them these wars? The ruling class!

Marx saw societal stability differently from Adam Smith. He believed that money and industry hold the status quo in place. As long as the upper class keeps the lower class happy enough in their oppressed state, the rich will become richer and the lower class will accept their inferior position in life.

Analyze and protest capitalism!
—————————————————–

*Sidenote: We need a “Social democratic” alternative to Orthodox Marxism. Marxism was revised by Bernstein and others. Europe developed socialism, a better alternative to hardline Marxist-Leninism, which concentrated all power in a few hands.

America has followed a Liberal Progressive model in terms of FDR’s reforms during the “New deal,” which is precisely what Romney-Ryan were attacking.
Nov 9, 2012

several articles on social democracy, peace, crisis of capitalism, DNC

8 Sep

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2012
5:52 PM

CONTACT: Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

Share of Bad Jobs Has Risen Since 1979

WASHINGTON – September 5 – Almost one-fourth of U.S. workers are in a bad job, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Despite substantial increases in the education, age, and quantity and quality of technology over the last three decades, the share of workers with a “bad job” has risen since 1979, the CEPR researchers concluded.

The report, “Bad Jobs on the Rise,” defines a bad job as one that pays less than $37,000 per yeardoes not have employer-provided health insurance, and lacks some kind of retirement plan. The $37,000 figure (which translates to about $18.50 per hour, full-time) is equal to the inflation-adjusted earnings of the typical male worker in 1979, the first year of data analyzed in the report. The new report complements earlier CEPR research documenting the decline in good jobs over this same period.

By this definition, in 2010, 24 percent of the workforce had a “bad job,” up from 18 percent in 1979.

Compared to the end of the 1970s, the typical worker today is almost twice as likely to have a four-year college degree, is about seven years older, works with about 50 percent more physical capital, and uses much more advanced technology. Despite this, the share of bad jobs has grown.

“The increase in the share of bad jobs has little to do with the Great Recession,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist at CEPR and one of the report’s co-authors “Almost all of the increase we document had already occurred by 2007, before the downturn.”

The main driver of the rise in bad jobs, the report argues, was the systematic decline in workers’ bargaining power since the end of the 1970s.The reports’ authors point to the fall in the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage, the decline in union representation, trade deals, and high unemployment as some of the key factors reducing the bargaining power of workers relative to their employers.

The full report can be found here.

###

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.


Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Links:

HomePress Center

 
 

from Yahoo news:
Elizabeth Warren expresses our frustrations:

CHARLOTTE, N.C.–In her speech to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said that the American system of government is “rigged” against the middle class.

People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right,” Warren said in her first address to a party convention. “The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do.”

Warren is running against Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who won the seat in a 2010 special election following the death of former Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Her full remarks:

 

Thank you! I’m Elizabeth Warren, and this is my first Democratic Convention. Never thought I’d run for senate. And I sure never dreamed that I’d get to be the warm-up act for President Bill Clinton—an amazing man, who had the good sense to marry one of the coolest women on the planet. I want to give a special shout out to the Massachusetts delegation. I’m counting on you to help me win and to help President Obama win.

I’m here tonight to talk about hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out but are up against a hard truth—the game is rigged against them.

It wasn’t always this way. Like a lot of you, I grew up in a family on the ragged edge of the middle class. My daddy sold carpeting and ended up as a maintenance man. After he had a heart attack, my mom worked the phones at Sears so we could hang on to our house. My three brothers all served in the military. One was career. The second worked a good union job in construction. The third started a small business.

Me, I was waiting tables at 13 and married at 19. I graduated from public schools and taught elementary school. I have a wonderful husband, two great children, and three beautiful grandchildren. And I’m grateful, down to my toes, for every opportunity that America gave me. This is a great country. I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class; that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives. An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live with dignity; an America in which each generation built something solid so that the next generation could build something better.

But for many years now, our middle class has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered. Talk to the construction worker I met from Malden, Massachusetts, who went nine months without finding work. Talk to the head of a manufacturing company in Franklin trying to protect jobs but worried about rising costs. Talk to the student in Worcester who worked hard to finish his college degree, and now he’s drowning in debt. Their fight is my fight, and it’s Barack Obama’s fight too.

People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.

Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do. I talk to small business owners all across Massachusetts.

Not one of them—not one—made big bucks from the risky Wall Street bets that brought down our economy. I talk to nurses and programmers, salespeople and firefighters—people who bust their tails every day. Not one of them—not one—stashes their money in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

These folks don’t resent that someone else makes more money. We’re Americans. We celebrate success. We just don’t want the game to be rigged. We’ve fought to level the playing field before. About a century ago, when corrosive greed threatened our economy and our way of life, the American people came together under the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt and other progressives, to bring our nation back from the brink.

We started to take children out of factories and put them in schools. We began to give meaning to the words “consumer protection” by making our food and medicine safe. And we gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets. We turned adversity into progress because that’s what we do.

Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative. If we have the chance to fight on a level playing field—where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot—then no one can stop us. President Obama gets it because he’s spent his life fighting for the middle class. And now he’s fighting to level that playing field—because we know that the economy doesn’t grow from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up. That’s how we create jobs and reduce the debt.

And Mitt Romney? He wants to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. But for middle-class families who are hanging on by their fingernails? His plans will hammer them with a new tax hike of up to 2,000 dollars. Mitt Romney wants to give billions in breaks to big corporations—but he and Paul Ryan would pulverize financial reform, voucher-ize Medicare, and vaporize Obamacare.

The Republican vision is clear: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney’s the guy who said corporations are people.

No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that’s why we need Barack Obama.

After the financial crisis, President Obama knew that we had to clean up Wall Street. For years, families had been tricked by credit cards, fooled by student loans and cheated on mortgages. I had an idea for a consumer financial protection agency to stop the rip-offs. The big banks sure didn’t like it, and they marshaled one of the biggest lobbying forces on earth to destroy the agency before it ever saw the light of day. American families didn’t have an army of lobbyists on our side, but what we had was a president—President Obama leading the way. And when the lobbyists were closing in for the kill, Barack Obama squared his shoulders, planted his feet, and stood firm. And that’s how we won.

By the way, just a few weeks ago, that little agency caught one of the biggest credit card companies cheating its customers and made it give people back every penny it took, plus millions of dollars in fines. That’s what happens when you have a president on the side of the middle class.

President Obama believes in a level playing field. He believes in a country where nobody gets a free ride or a golden parachute. A country where anyone who has a great idea and rolls up their sleeves has a chance to build a business, and anyone who works hard can build some security and raise a family. President Obama believes in a country where billionaires pay their taxes just like their secretaries do, and—I can’t believe I have to say this in 2012—a country where women get equal pay for equal work.

He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable. Where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street. President Obama believes in a country where we invest in education, in roads and bridges, in science, and in the future, so we can create new opportunities, so the next kid can make it big, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. That’s what president Obama believes. And that’s how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt. We root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together.

I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school. One of my favorite passages of scripture is: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40. The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and called to act. Not to sit, not to wait, but to act—all of us together.

Senator Kennedy understood that call. Four years ago, he addressed our convention for the last time. He said, “We have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world.” Generation after generation, Americans have answered that call. And now we are called again. We are called to restore opportunity for every American. We are called to give America’s working families a fighting chance. We are called to build something solid so the next generation can build something better.

So let me ask you—let me ask you, America: are you ready to answer this call? Are you ready to fight for good jobs and a strong middle class? Are you ready to work for a level playing field? Are you ready to prove to another generation of Americans that we can build a better country and a newer world?

Joe Biden is ready. Barack Obama is ready. I’m ready. You’re ready. America’s ready. Thank you! And God bless America!

 
 
Published on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 by Earth Island Journal

Politics and Plutocrats: A Parade of Inequality

America is currently engaged in the most expensive presidential contest in world history. In the United States, money doesn’t just talk – it dictates. How can we hope to make progress on the path to sustainability when the road is blocked by barricades of bullion backed by battalions of billionaires? How do we break through the political gridlock?

Dave Brower’s wife, Ann, once put a wise spin on this dilemma. “What we need,” she said, is “a cure for greedlock.”

Earth’s richest 1,000 individuals now control as much wealth as the poorest 2.5 billion people on the planet. This super elite uses its vast wealth to control the media, influence politicians, and bend laws to their favor. In the US, the wealthy dominate our government: 47 percent of US representatives are millionaires, as are 67 percent of US senators. The Center for Responsive Politics reports Congressional wealth has increased 11 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Not only is our economy out of balance with nature, our economy is also out of balance with the practical limits of physical and fiscal reality. As the Occupy movement has indelibly framed it, we are now a society divided not only by haves and have-nots, but we are a nation – and a world – divided into the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

Imagine if a tree were engineered like the US economy – with half of its mass centered in the top 10 percent of its height and 40 percent of its mass concentrated in the very topmost branches. Whether redwood or oak, such a tree would not be stable in a windstorm. It would be destined to topple. Of course, nature has better sense.

In 2011, the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) published a report called Outing the Oligarchy designed to focus public attention on “the ultra-rich individuals who benefit most from – and are most responsible for – the growing climate chaos that is destabilizing global ecosystems.” It defined them as “a small elite of powerful billionaires who profit from polluting the atmosphere by promoting government policies that support an unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels.”

The IFG report illustrated the growing rich-poor gap by visualizing a parade in which all the residents of Canada ambled down a city street on a single day. Let’s translate that vision to the US.

Imagine if everyone in America was invited to parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Imagine if the parade took just one hour. Imagine if the march began with the poorest people in the lead. Imagine if all the marchers’ income levels were indicated by their height. Here’s what such a parade would look like:

For the first 10 minutes, the lead marchers (those who survive on only a few thousands dollars a year) look like toddlers, barely a foot tall. Around 15 minutes into the parade, the marchers are not quite so poor: They now stand about three feet tall. This tide of half-sized adults continues for the next 25 minutes. Only after more than two-thirds of the population has surged down the parade route do we begin to see normal-sized marchers (those making an average income). For the next 10 minutes or so, the spectacle resembles a normal parade. Then things start to get really strange.

In the final 10 minutes, we start to see marchers who are wealthier than average: people who are seven, even eight feet tall. In the last six minutes, the marchers loom more than 14 feet tall. With 25 seconds left, the minority of super-rich marchers looks down from a height of more than 30 feet – nearly six times the size of the average marcher; 30 times the size of those who made up the first quarter of the parade.

In the closing seconds of this parade of wealth, the shoulders of some marchers extend thousands of feet into the sky – these are the plutocrats. Finally, bringing up the rear, in the very last second of the march, are the most powerful and dominant members of the power elite – a select band of Godzilla-like oligarchs who look down upon everyone else from an astonishing altitude of 8,000-plus-feet. No wonder the superrich seem so removed and aloof.

Just like the banking system, when something is “too big to fail” it becomes a danger to itself and others. Nature would never tolerate such a system. Nor should we.

Note: This column originally appeared in the Autumn print edition of Earth Island Journal and appears at Common Dreams with permission.

© 2012 Earth Island Journal
Gar Smith

Gar Smith is co-founder of Environmentalists Against War and Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal.

 
 

Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Common Dreams

Wall Street South March on the DNC: Good Cop, Bad Cop

Police officers observe protestors marching in the ‘Wall Street South March’, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. Demonstrators are protesting before the start of the Democratic National Convention. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

I was initially surprised at the demeanor of the police in Charlotte during the Wall Street South March on the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Even though I lived in North Carolina for 14 years, I always relish the cordiality when I return. But friendliness by cops at a protest?

Last fall I had witnessed aggressive Oakland police in full riot gear during countless occupy marches, club-bearing University of California-Berkeley police attacking students, and I was even arrested by nervous and edgy mall cops while videotaping a Black Friday protest in Raleigh. So today I was taken aback by the police officer who stopped to help me pick up some things I dropped and who was one of a dozen police officers who interacted with me using kind words.

Explaining this behavior isn’t simply a question of southern hospitality. While police officers, yes, are people, too, and are facing cutbacks like many public employees across the country, the Charlotte effect was more than that.

First, cops could afford to be friendly. Literally. The DNC poured in 50 millions of dollars to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. This helped fund the nifty bicycles and helmets they wore as they escorted protesters. But it also funded countless security cameras and Spot Shotters. But they also could afford the pleasantries because police seemed to outnumber protesters, so there was no threat to their power. An estimated 1000 protesters marched on September 2, but their numbers paled in comparison to the police presence, which included city police from around the state, as well as county and federal law enforcement.

Second, however, the kind behavior didn’t last. As the march began to approach the city center, the finance capital hub of the city and much of the country, the smiles faded. The cops on bikes lining the parade route changed to metal barricades. For a moment, I stepped off of the street protest to walk a bit faster on the sidewalk, but that proved problematic. The police would no longer let anyone into the march nor let anyone out. I was told that because I wasn’t “credentialed,” I couldn’t get in, but I witnessed several mainstream media journalists trapped as well. Yes, trapped. With the metal barricades and police officers lining every inch of the curb, activists and journalists inside were “kettled.” This means that the people inside would have had no escape if an incident triggered police use of teargas or other means of assaulting protesters. It also meant that people couldn’t join the march. One couple, with baby in tow, expressed frustration at not being able to participate in the march. “We kept trying to get in at various parts of the march but kept being turned away by the police,” said the mother.

In effect, the barricades – both human and metal – were protecting the financial interests lining this part of the parade route, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Both sides understand the target of the protests. And the banks won’t play nice, either.

—-
wikipedia:
Hjalmar Branting was elected the first Social Democratic Prime Minister in 1920

The Partys first chapter in its statutes says “the intension of the Swedish Social democratic Workers Party is the struggle towards the Democratic Socialism.” The ideology of socialism was founded in the New Testament, Acts (Apostlagarningarna) chapter 4, verse 32-35, where the basics are told for the paroll: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” [ Karl Marx[ Since the party has held power of office for a majority of terms after its founding in 1889, the ideology and policies of the Social Democratic Party (SAP) have had strong influence on Swedish politics.[11] The Swedish social democratic ideology is partially an outgrowth of the strong and well-organized 1880s and 1890s working class emancipation, temperance, and religious folkrörelser (folk movements), by which peasant and workers’ organizations penetrated state structures early on and paved the way for electoral politics. These movements had influence on political formation in Sweden, at least in part because they experienced less state repression than similar working-class organizations have, for example, in early twentieth century Russia. In this way, Swedish social-democratic ideology is inflected by a socialist tradition foregrounding widespread and individual human development.[12] Gunnar Adler-Karlsson (1967) confidently likened the social democratic project to the successful social democratic effort to divest the king of all power but formal grandeur: “Without dangerous and disruptive internal fights…After a few decades they (capitalists) will then remain, perhaps formally as kings, but in reality as naked symbols of a passed and inferior development state.”[13] However, so far this socialist ambition has not materialised.[citation needed]

 Liberalism

Prime Minister Tage Erlander at a TV debate in 1967

Liberalism has also strongly infused social democratic ideology. Liberalism has oriented social democratic goals to security, as where Tage Erlander, prime minister from 1946 to 1969, described security as “too big a problem for the individual to solve with only his own power”.[14] Up to the 1980s, when neoliberalism began to provide an alternative, aggressively pro-capitalist model for ensuring social quiescence, the SAP was able to secure capital’s co-operation by convincing capital that it shared the goals of increasing economic growth and reducing social friction. For many social democrats, Marxism is loosely held to be valuable for its emphasis on changing the world for a more just, better future.[15] In 1889, Hjalmar Brantingleader of the SAP from its founding to his death in 1925, asserted, “I believe…that one benefits the workers…so much more by forcing through reforms which alleviate and strengthen their position, than by saying that only a revolution can help them.”[16] Some observers have argued that this liberal aspect has hardened into increasingly neoliberal ideology and policies, gradually maximizing the latitude of powerful market actors.[17] Certainly, neoclassical economists{Adam Smithites} have been firmly nudging the Social Democratic Party into capitulating to most of capital’s traditional preferences and prerogatives, which they term “modern industrial relations“.[18] Both socialist and liberal aspects of the party were influenced by the dual sympathies of early leader Hjalmar Branting, and manifest in the party’s first actions: reducing the work day to eight hours and establishing the franchise for working-class people.

While some commentators have seen the party lose focus with the rise of SAP neoliberal study groups, the Swedish Social Democratic Party has for many years appealed to Swedes as innovative, capable, and worthy of running the state.[19] The Social Democrats became one of the most successful political parties in the world, with some structural advantages in addition to their auspicious birth within vibrant folkrörelser. At the close of the nineteenth century, liberals and socialists had to band together to augment establishment democracy, which was at that point embarrassingly behind in Sweden; they could point to formal democratic advances elsewhere to motivate political action.[20] In addition to being small, Sweden was a semi-peripheral country at the beginning of the twentieth century, considered unimportant to competing global political factions; so it was permitted more independence, while soon the existence of communist and capitalist superpowers allowed social democracy to flourish in the geo-political interstices.[21] The SAP has the resource of sharing ideas and experiences, and working with its sister parties throughout the Nordic countries. Sweden could also borrow and innovate upon ideas from English-language economists, which was an advantage for the Social Democrats in the Great Depression; but more advantageous for the bourgeois parties in the 1980s and afterward. While the SAP has not been innocent of repressing communists,[22] the party has overall benefitted, in government coalition and in avoiding severe stagnation and drift, by engaging in relatively constructive relationships with the more radical Left Party and the Green Party. The early SAP had internal resources as well, in creative politicians with brilliant tactical minds, and similarly creative labor economists at their disposal.

[] Revisionism

Among the social movement tactics of the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the twentieth century was its redefinition of “socialization” from “common ownership of the means of production” to increasing “democratic influence over the economy.”[23] Starting out in a socialist-liberal coalition fighting for the vote, the Swedish Social Democrats defined socialism as the development of democracy—political and economic.[24] On that basis they could form coalitions, innovate, and govern where other European social democratic parties became crippled and crumbled under Right-wing regimes. The Swedish Social Democrats could count the middle class among their solidaristic working class constituency by recognizing the middle class as “economically dependent”, “working people”, or among the “progressive citizens”, rather than as sub-capitalists.[25] “The party does not aim to support and help [one] working class at the expense of the others,” the Social Democratic congress of 1932 established. In fact, with social democratic policies that refrained from supporting inefficient and low-profit businesses in favor of cultivating higher-quality working conditions, as well as a strong commitment to public education, the middle class in Sweden became so large that the capitalist class has remained concentrated.[26] Not only did the SAP fuse the growing middle class into their constituency, they also ingeniously forged periodic coalitions with small-scale farmers (as members of the “exploited classes”) to great strategic effect.[27] The SAP version of socialist ideology allowed them to maintain a prescient view of the working class: “[The SAP] does not question…whether those who have become capitalism’s victims…are industrial workers, farmers, agricultural laborers, forestry workers, store clerks, civil servants or intellectuals”, asserted the party’s 1932 election manifesto.[28]

While the SAP has worked more or less constructively with more radical Left parties in Sweden, the Social Democrats have borrowed from socialists some of their discourse, and decreasingly, the socialist understanding of the structurally compromised position of labor under capitalism. Even more creatively, the Social Democrats commandeered selected, transcendental images from such nationalists as Rudolf Kjellen (1912), very effectively undercutting fascism’s appeal in Sweden.[29] In this way, Per Albin Hansson declared that “there is no more patriotic party than the [SAP since] the most patriotic act is to create a land in which all feel at home,” famously igniting Swedes’ innermost longing for transcendence with the idea of the Folkhem (1928), or People’s Home. The Social Democratic Party promoted Folkhemmet as a socialist home at a point in which the party turned its back on working class struggle and the policy tool of nationalization.[30] “The expansion of the party to a people’s party does not mean and must not mean a watering down of socialist demands,” Hansson soothed.[31]

“The basis of the home is community and togetherness. The good home does not recognize any privileged or neglected members, nor any favorite or stepchildren. In the good home there is equality, consideration, co-operation, and helpfulness. Applied to the great people’s and citizens’ home this would mean the breaking down of all the social and economic barriers that now separate citizens into the privileged and the neglected, into the rulers and the dependents, into the rich and the poor, the propertied and the impoverished, the plunderers and the plundered. Swedish society is not yet the people’s home. There is a formal equality, equality of political rights, but from a social perspective, the class society remains, and from an economic perspective the dictatorship of the few prevails” (Hansson 1928).[32]

 Social democracy

The Social Democratic Party is generally recognized as the main architect of the progressive taxationfair trade, low-unemployment, Active Labor Market Policies (ALMP)-based Swedish welfare state that was developed in the years after World War II. Sweden emerged sound from the Great Depression with a brief, successful “Keynesianism-before Keynes” economic program advocated by Ernst Wigforss, a prominent Social Democrat who educated himself in economics by studying the work of the British radical Liberal economists. The social democratic labor market policies (ALMPs) were developed in the 1940s and 1950s by LO (Landsorganisationen i Sverige, the blue-collar union federation) economists Gösta Rehn and Rudolf Meidner.[33] The Rehn-Meidner model featured the centralized system of wage bargaining that aimed to both set wages at a “just” level and promote business efficiency and productivity. With the pre-1983 cooperation of capital and labor federations that bargained independently of the state, the state determined that wages would be higher than the market would set in firms that were inefficient or uncompetitive and lower than the market would set in firms that were highly productive and competitive. Workers were compensated with state-sponsored retraining and relocating; as well, the state reformed wages to the goal of “equal pay for equal work”, eliminated unemployment (“the reserve army of labor”) as a disciplinary device, and kept incomes consistently rising, while taxing progressively and pooling social wealth to deliver services through local governments.[34] Social Democratic policy has traditionally emphasized a state spending structure whereby public services are supplied via local government, as opposed to emphasizing social insurance program transfers.[35]

These social democratic policies have had international influence. The early Swedish “red-green” coalition encouraged Nordic-networked socialists in the state of Minnesota, in the U.S., to dedicate efforts to building a similarly potent labor-farmer alliance that put the socialists in the governorship, ran model innovative statewide anti-racism programs in the early years of the twentieth century, and enabled federal forest managers in Minnesota to practice a precocious ecological-socialism, before Democratic Party reformers were transferred from the U.S. East Coast to appropriate the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party infrastructure to the liberal Democratic Party in 1944.[36] On the other hand, policies comprising the Nordic model have often been depicted, in American conservative circles and the American press, as wreaking havoc upon Swedish society.

 

Social democratic leader and Prime Minister Olof Palme in the 1970s

Under the Social Democrats’ administration, Sweden retained neutrality, as a foreign policy guideline, during the wars of the twentieth century, including the Cold War. Neutrality preserved the Swedish economy and boosted Sweden’s economic competitiveness in the first half of the twentieth century, as other European countries’ economies were devastated by war.[39] Under Olof Palme‘s Social Democratic leadership Sweden further aggravated the hostility of United States political conservatives when Palme openly denounced US aggression in VietnamU.S. President Richard Nixon suspended diplomatic ties with the social democratic country.[citation needed] In 2003, top-ranking Social Democratic Party politician Anna Lindh–who criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as well as both Israeli and Palestinian atrocities, and who was the lead figure promoting the European Union in Sweden—was assassinated in public in Stockholm. As Lindh was to succeed Goran Persson in the party leadership, her death was deeply disruptive to the party as well as to the campaign to promote the adoption of the EMU (euro) in Sweden. The neutrality policy has changed with the contemporary ascendance of the bourgeois coalition, and Sweden has committed troops to support the US and UK’s interventions in Afghanistan. Under Social Democratic governance relatively strong overseas humanitarian programs and a comparatively well-developed refugee program have been implemented, and frequently reformed.[40]

 Rehn-Meidner Macroeconomics to Neo-liberalism

Because the Rehn-Meidner model allowed capitalists owning very productive and efficient firms to retain excess profits at the expense of the firms’ workers, thus exacerbating inequality, workers in these firms began to agitate for a share of the profits in the 1970s, just as women working in the state sector began to assert pressure for better wages. Meidner established a study committee that came up with a 1976 proposal that entailed transferring the excess profits into investment funds controlled by the workers in the efficient firms, with the intention that firms would create further employment and pay more workers higher wages, rather than increasing the wealth of company owners and managers.

[41] Capitalists immediately distinguished this proposal as socialism, and launched an unprecedented opposition—including calling off the class compromise established in the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement.[42]

The 1980s were a very turbulent time in Sweden that initiated the occasional decline of Social Democratic Party rule. In the 1980s, pillars of Swedish industry were massively restructured. Shipbuilding was discontinued, wood pulp was integrated into modernized paper production, the steel industry was concentrated and specialized, and mechanical engineering was digitalized.[43] In 1986, one of the Social Democratic Party’s strongest champions of egalitarianism and democracy, Olof Palme was assassinated. Swedish capital was increasingly moving Swedish investment into other European countries as the European Union coalesced, and a hegemonic consensus was forming among the elite financial community: progressive taxation and pro-egalitarian redistribution became economic heresy.[44] A leading proponent of capital’s cause at the time, Social Democrat Finance Minister Kjell-Olof Feldt reminisced in an interview, “The negative inheritance I received from my predecessor Gunnar Sträng (Minister of Finance 1955 – 1976) was a strongly progressive tax system with high marginal taxes. This was supposed to bring about a just and equal society. But I eventually came to the opinion that it simply didn’t work out that way. Progressive taxes created instead a society of wranglers, cheaters, peculiar manipulations, false ambitions and new injustices. It took me at least a decade to get a part of the party to see this.”[45] With the capitalist confederation’s defection from the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement and Swedish capital investing in other European countries rather than Sweden, as well as the global rise of neoliberal political-economic hegemony, the Social Democratic Party backed away from the progressive Meidner reform.[46]

The economic crisis in the 1990s has been widely cited in the Anglo-American press as a social democratic failure, but it is important to note not only did profit rates begin to fall worldwide after the 1960s,[47] also this period saw neoliberal ascendance in Social Democratic ideology and policies as well as the rise of bourgeois coalition rule in place of the Social Democrats. 1980s Social Democratic neoliberal measures—such as depressing and deregulating the currency to prop up Swedish exports during the economic restructuring transition, dropping corporate taxation and taxation on high income-earners, and switching from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies—were exacerbated by international recession, unchecked currency speculation, and a centre-right government led by Carl Bildt (1991–1994), creating the fiscal crisis of the early 1990s.[48]

Göran Persson was a prolific Social Democratic leader, holding the office of Prime Minister for ten years

When the Social Democrats returned to power in 1994, they responded to the fiscal crisis[49] by stabilizing the currency—and by reducing the welfare state and privatizing public services and goods, as governments did in many countries influenced by Milton Friedman, the Chicago Schools of political and economic thought, and the neoliberal movement. Social Democratic Party leaders—including Göran PerssonMona Sahlin, and Anna Lindh—promoted European Union (E.U.) membership, and the Swedish referendum passed by 52–48% in favor of joining the E.U. on 14 August 1994. Bourgeois leader Lars Leijonborg at his 2007 retirement could recall the 1990s as a golden age of liberalism in which the Social Democrats were under the expanding influence of the Liberal Party and its partners in the bourgeois political coalition. Leijonborg recounted neoliberal victories such as the growth of private schooling and the proliferation of private, for-profit radio and television.[50]

 21st Century

However, many of the aspects of the social democratic welfare state continued to function at a high level, due in no small part to the high rate of unionization in Sweden, the independence of unions in wage-setting, and the exemplary competency of the feminized public sector workforce,[51] as well as widespread public support. The Social Democrats initiated studies on the effects of the neoliberal changes, and the picture that emerged from those findings allowed the party to reduce many tax expenditures, slightly increase taxes on high income-earners, and significantly reduce taxes on food. The Social Democratic Finance Minister increased spending on child support and continued to pay down the public debt.[52] By 1998 the Swedish macro-economy recovered from the 1980s industrial restructuring and the currency policy excesses.[43] At the turn of the twenty-first century, Sweden has a well-regarded, generally robust economy, and the average quality of life, after government transfers, is very high, inequality is low (the Gini coefficient is .28), and social mobility is high (compared to the affluent Anglo-American and Central European countries).[44]

The Social Democratic Party pursues environmentalist and feminist policies which promote healthful and humane conditions. Feminist policies formed and implemented by the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party and the Greens (which made an arrangement with the Social democrats to support the government, while not forming a coalition), include paid maternity and paternity leave, high employment for women in the public sector, combining flexible work with living wages and benefits, providing public support for women in their traditional responsibilities for care giving, and policies to stimulate women’s political participation and leadership. Reviewing policies and institutional practices for their impact on women had become common in social democratic governance.[53]

The legacy of Social Democratic Party governance in Sweden is widely regarded as increasing the quality of life, naturally among those who benefit directly from an affluent, low-inequality society, but even among the wealthy. One Volvo executive admitted that a strong social welfare state, like the Swedish, helps finance a quality of life that low individual taxes cannot. When faced with the question, “Why don’t you leave (Sweden)? Certainly, you would pay a lot lower taxes and probably also have a higher salary in the U.S.”, he responded, “Yes, of course, I would have a lot more money in my pocket. But I would also almost never get home before 7 o’clock and I certainly would not have the vacations everyone has a right to here… and you know what else, I would have to spend a lot more money on insurance, college for my kids, and travel back home to my family. In the end, I’m not really sure I would be any better off.”[44]
 

Hjalmar Branting accepted Eduard Bernstein‘s revision of Marxism and became a reformist socialist, advocating a peaceful transition from capitalism towards socialism. He believed that if workers were given the vote, this could be achieved by parliamentary ways. Branting supported the February Revolution in Russia in 1917. He was pro-Menshevik and defended the government of Alexander Kerensky, who he even personally visited in Petrograd.

When the October Revolution broke out the same year, Branting condemned the Bolshevik seizure of power. 1917 saw a split in the Swedish Social Democratic Party on this question, and the youth league and the revolutionary sections of the party broke away and formed the Social Democratic Left Party of Sweden, headed by Zeth Höglund. This group soon became the Swedish Communist Party. Zeth Höglund later returned to the Social Democratic Party, and wrote a two-volume biography about Hjalmar Branting.

As Prime Minister he brought Sweden into the League of Nations and was personally active as a delegate within it. When the question of whether Åland should be handed over to Sweden after the independence of Finland from Russia was brought up, he let the League of Nation decide upon the issue. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921 for his work in the League of Nations

articles on protest and politics

4 Sep

Heywoud Broun

American Newspaper Guild

The reason for giving this sketchy biography was because of a quote I found by Heywood Broun from May, 1936. His thoughts were on what must have seemed even then the unavoidable war in Europe and the rise of the fascists in Italy and Germany.

“I am quite ready to admit that the word Fascism has been used very loosely. Sometimes we call a man a Fascist simply because we dislike him, for one reason or another. And so I’ll try to be pretty literal in outlining some of the evidence which I see as the actual danger of Fascism in America. First of all, we need a definition.

Fascism is a dictatorship from the extreme Right, or to put it a little more closely into our local idiom, a government which is run by a small group of large industrialists and financial lords. Of course, if you want to go back into recent history) the influence of big business has always been present in our federal government. But there have been some checks on its control. I am going to ask latitude to insist that we might have Fascism even though we maintained the pretense of democratic machinery. The mere presence of a Supreme Court, a House of Representatives, a Senate and a President would not be sufficient protection against the utter centralization of power in the hands of a few men who might hold no office at all.

Even in the case of Hitler, many shrewd observers feel that he is no more than a front man and that his power is derived from the large munitions and steel barons of Germany. … Now one of the first steps which Fascism must take in any land in order to capture power is to disrupt and destroy the labor movement. … I think it is not unfair to say that any business man in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions, is laying foundations for Fascism.”
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Score another victory for RootsAction.org and our allies. 49,763 of us signed the petition at StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark.

Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The bad press has been voluminous, while the viewership has plummeted. It’s safe to say there’sScore another victory for RootsAction.org and our allies. 49,763 of us signed the petition at StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark.

Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The bad press has been voluminous, while the viewership has plummeted. It’s safe to say there’s no immediate future for this show. It ends tonight.

TV viewers may be spared Wesley Clark for a while as he’s been dropped by both NBC and DNC. Turned down in his offer to speak at the Democratic National Convention, Clark will speak at another event in Charlotte tonight.

But even with the former NATO commander out of sight, the warfare state drags on.

Take this moment to ask the DNC to drop its support for war and war preparation.

This year people are celebrating Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. One of his less-known songs is “I’ve Got to Know.” — The RootsAction.org team

P.S. Our small staff is supported by contributions from people like you; your donations are greatly appreciated.

———–

This Labor Day, as politicians make speeches recognizing the contributions of American workers, they will also try to convince voters that their vision for restoring the middle class is best.

Voters know the state of the economy. We know that the middle class is eroding. We know that what is happening now is the result of decades of policies that favor the rich and corporations.

This November presents a choice between President Obama and other candidates who stand with working people, and candidates like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who back a platform that destroys public services and envisions a future in which the rich and big corporations get even richer.

Right-wing Republicans across this country share a common record of campaigning against working people. We saw it last year in Wisconsin, where busting unions became a policy objective. We saw it earlier this year in Alabama, when Republicans passed one of the country’s most outrageous anti-immigrant bills instead of focusing on the state’s job crisis and faltering education system. And today, we are seeing it in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and every other state where right-wing legislatures passed voter identification laws in an attempt to keep low-income people, youth and communities of color from the polls.

It is meaningless for elected leaders to deliver empty rhetoric about working people’s contribution on Labor Day — or any day — without using their power in Washington to create an economy that works for all.

Let us know how you can help us win for the 99% in November.

In Solidarity,

Mary Kay Henry
President, Service Employees International Union

P.S. SEIU will be fighting for the 99% Agenda at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. all this week. Click here to sign up for updates from the Convention.

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Published on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

Meteorologists Adjust Official Stance: Human Activity Causing Climate Change

New language removes ambiguity from group’s previous statements on global warming and extreme weather

– Common Dreams staff
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Earth First! Blockades Florida’s Dirtiest Power Plant on the Heels of Romney’s RNC Acceptance Speech

APOLLO BEACH, FL – August 31 – In the climax of the 2012 Republican National Convention, protestors with Earth First! on Thursday blocked access roads to TECO’s Big Bend coal plant on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The environmental action group is citing corporate influence in politics and ecological impacts of fossil fuel dependency as reasons for the disruption.

This year’s RNC was funded by an estimated $55 million in corporate pay-offs, with corporations including the Tampa based-TECO Energy, along with Chevron, Duke Energy and Exxon Mobil.

According to a report by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year, Florida is among the dirtiest states in power plant pollution. NRDC found TECO’s Big Bend plant to be in the state’s, “top three most polluting smoke stacks.”

Earth First! activists chose their protest in order to highlight Mitt Romney’s plan to expand what the group calls the “energy empire” which favors the interest of big donors in oil, gas and coal industries.

Romney’s top energy policy advisor is the wealthiest oilman in the country and according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics, Romney has already raised more from mining interests than Bush or McCain raised from these industries in their entire campaigns.

Locally, TECO’s Big Bend plant has a long history of pollution. Along with being declared Florida’s number one dirtiest power plant by Florida Consumer Action Network, they were also documented discharging waste into Cobia Bay in Apollo Beach in years past.

But that’s not all. TECO has been called one of the nation’s worst offenders when it comes to mountaintop removal coal mining. In coal mining regions of the Appalachian Mountains, TECO has ruined entire communities to maximize their profits. Kentucky coalfield resident Doug Justice worked in the coal mines for 22 years and said “I have never seen an outfit treat a community the way TECO Coal has done us.”

In response to the devastation from floods caused be TECO’s mining in 2002, Granville Burke of Letcher County, Kentucky, had this to say: “I wish TECO had never started mining above our home. Protection for families like ours is supposed to come from the state and federal regulatory agencies, but instead they look the other way as coal companies destroy entire communities for the sake of profit.”

“Dirty energy becomes dirty politics. We can’t afford to stand by and watch it anymore. We have to fight back.” Said Rachel Kijewski, an organizer with the Earth First! movement in Florida.

——–

Corporations: Yes, We’re Moving Abroad to Get Lower Tax Rates

– Common Dreams staff

U.S. corporations are continuing tax dodging practices to boost their profits by the millions by reincorporating abroad, an article The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday shows.

(photo: d*unit / Flickr) John D. McKinnon and Scott Thurm describe how 10 companies have moved or have announced plans to move their incorporation address oversees since 2009 in an effort to lower their effective tax rate.

Alexander Cutler, chief executive of Eaton, a Cleveland-based company that has reincorporated in Ireland, said, “We have too high a domestic rate and we have a thoroughly uncompetitive international tax regime.” The move is saving the company $160 million a year.

Another company that moved is Ensco, now saving more than $100 million a year in tax dodging.

Yet while companies complain of a burdensome corporate tax rate of 35% and say that was a motivating factor behind their reincorporation oversees, very few companies actually pay that rate.

A Reuters report from May describing the Eaton reincorporation lays this out as well:

The top U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, the highest in the world, though few companies actually pay that much due to abundant loopholes that lower their effective rates.

The Eaton-Cooper deal comes as the U.S. Congress inches toward a broad corporate tax code overhaul. The deal could add momentum to that effort, with Republicans arguing that high U.S. tax rates can drive companies to drastic measures.

In what could be a painful drain on the Treasury over time, at least seven U.S. companies in recent months have chosen through acquisition or merger to renounce their U.S. corporate citizenship by relocating to Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland or other lower-tax countries.

“There have been more of these in the last two months than in the five years before,” said Bob Willens, an independent tax analyst and publisher of The Willens Report.

The Eaton-Cooper deal will lead to $160 million in annual tax savings for the combined company, even though Eaton in practice already pays far less than 35 percent. That is thanks to its foreign subsidiaries, many of which are already in low-tax countries such as Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands.

In fact, many companies are paying a negative tax rate, as data from Citizens for Tax Justice show.

While there has been talk of the deficit at the Republican National Convention going on now in Tampa, there has been no talk of the impact closing corporate tax loopholes would have on the deficit.

“These big, profitable corporations are continuing to shift their tax burden onto average Americans,” said Citizens for Tax Justice director Bob McIntyre. “This isn’t fair to the rest of us, it makes no economic sense, and it’s part of the reason our government is running huge budget deficits.”

“Getting rid of corporate tax subsidies that cause such widespread tax avoidance ought to be a key part of any deficit-reduction program,” said McIntyre. “As a bonus, revenue-raising corporate tax reform would make it much easier to fund the investments we need to improve education and repair our crumbling roads and bridges — things that would actually help businesses and our economy grow.”
=-===============

Published on Friday, August 31, 2012 by The Sacramento Bee

Raising Minimum Wage Can Yank Millions Out of Poverty and Jump-Start Economy

by Mark Weisbrot

The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour and hasn’t been raised in three years. But a raise is much more overdue than that. If we look at the minimum wage 44 years ago, and simply adjust it for inflation, it would be more than $10 today.

This is another ugly symptom of what has gone wrong in America over the last 35 to 40 years. From 1979 to 2007, about 60 percent of the income gains have gone to the now infamous 1 percent at the top, with the majority of those gains going to the top 0.1 percent – people who made, on average, $5.6 million per year.

But some of the worst effects of giving more to those who have the most have affected people toward the bottom of the income ladder, and there is no excuse for it.

Productivity – the amount that a worker produces in an hour – has more than doubled over the last 44 years. When the minimum wage doesn’t rise, or falls in terms of its purchasing power, it means that these millions of low-income workers are not sharing in the gains from improved technology, knowledge and organization.

There is currently legislation before Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $9.80, over three years. After that it would be indexed to inflation.

Contrary to prevailing myths about who would benefit from a proposed increase in the minimum wage, 88 percent of the 28 million workers affected are not teenagers.

As the Economic Policy Institute has shown, the majority are full-time workers, and on average they earn about half of their families’ income. And 28 percent of the nation’s 76 million children would have a parent who would benefit from the raise.

Another oversize myth promoted by the fast-food industry and other low-wage employers is that raising the minimum wage hurts workers by increasing unemployment. Although it is theoretically possible to raise minimum wages enough to cause employers to hire fewer workers, there is hardly any indication from economic research that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would have this effect.

Employment in the overall economy depends on aggregate demand or spending, which is determined – especially in our currently weak economy – by macroeconomic policy, including the Federal Reserve, and fiscal policy.

And raising the minimum wage doesn’t only cut into profits, it also increases demand in the economy by moving income to workers who spend more than those who receive profit.

The EPI estimated that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would actually increase employment.

In Brazil, the minimum wage was raised by 60 percent in real terms by the country’s most popular president, Lula da Silva – a former metal worker and union leader – as Brazil’s economy moved toward record low levels of unemployment. Across South America, other governments including Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela have significantly reduced inequality while increasing economic growth.

What a shame that the hemisphere’s richest country, where it would be so much easier to lift-up the working poor, has moved in the opposite direction.

It means that the U.S. political system is actually more corrupt and less democratic in very important ways than those of our developing country neighbors to the south.

The vast majority of Americans would favor an increase in the minimum wage, as well as restoring the rights of labor to organize unions. But our financial elite have a veto over what we want to vote for, in large part because of our system of legalized bribery – aka, the financing of political candidates’ elections.

Raising the minimum wage is about the minimum that we could do to reverse America’s retreat from civilization at home.

© 2012 McClatchy Tribune Services

on Dissent , by Chris Hedges.

20 Aug

Published on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 by TruthDig.com

Criminalizing Dissent

by Chris Hedges

 

I was on the 15th floor of the Southern U.S. District Court in New York in the courtroom of Judge Katherine Forrest last Tuesday. It was the final hearing in the lawsuit I brought in January against President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. I filed the suit, along with lawyers Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran, over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We were late joined by six co-plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg.(Photo by CTJ71081 CC-BY)

This section of the NDAA, signed into law by Obama on Dec. 31, 2011, obliterates some of our most important constitutional protections. It authorizes the executive branch to order the military to seize U.S. citizens deemed to be terrorists or associated with terrorists. Those taken into custody by the military, which becomes under the NDAA a domestic law enforcement agency, can be denied due process and habeas corpus and held indefinitely in military facilities. Any activist or dissident, whose rights were once protected under the First Amendment, can be threatened under this law with indefinite incarceration in military prisons, including our offshore penal colonies. The very name of the law itself—the Homeland Battlefield Bill—suggests the totalitarian credo of endless war waged against enemies within “the homeland” as well as those abroad.

“The essential thrust of the NDAA is to create a system of justice that violates the separation of powers,” Mayer told the court. “[The Obama administration has] taken detention out of the judicial branch and put it under the executive branch.”

In May, Judge Forrest issued a temporary injunction invalidating Section 1021 as a violation of the First and Fifth amendments. It was a courageous decision. Forrest will decide within a couple of weeks whether she will make the injunction permanent.

In last week’s proceeding, the judge, who appeared from her sharp questioning of government attorneys likely to nullify the section, cited the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a precedent she did not want to follow. Forrest read to the courtroom a dissenting opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson in Korematsu v. United States, a ruling that authorized the detention during the war of some 110,00 Japanese-Americans in government “relocation camps.”

“[E]ven if they were permissible military procedures, I deny that it follows that they are constitutional,” Jackson wrote in his 1944 dissent. “If, as the Court holds, it does follow, then we may as well say that any military order will be constitutional, and have done with it.”

Barack Obama’s administration has appealed Judge Forrest’s temporary injunction and would certainly appeal a permanent injunction. It is a stunning admission by this president that he will do nothing to protect our constitutional rights. The administration’s added failure to restore habeas corpus, its use of the Espionage Act six times to silence government whistle-blowers, its support of the FISA Amendment Act—which permits warrantless wiretapping, monitoring and eavesdropping on U.S. citizens—and its ordering of the assassination of U.S. citizens under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, is a signal that for all his rhetoric, Obama, like his Republican rivals, is determined to remove every impediment to the unchecked power of the security and surveillance state. I and the six other plaintiffs, who include reporters, professors and activists, will most likely have to continue this fight in an appellate court and perhaps the Supreme Court.

The language of the bill is terrifyingly vague. It defines a “covered person”—one subject to detention—as “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” The bill, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,” “directly supported” or “associated forces.” In defiance of more than 200 earlier laws of domestic policing, this act holds that any member of a group deemed by the state to be a terrorist organization, whether it is a Palestinian charity or a Black Blocanarchist unit, can be seized and held by the military. Mayer stressed this point in the court Wednesday when he cited the sedition convictions of peace activists during World War I who distributed leaflets calling to end the war by halting the manufacturing of munitions. Mayer quoted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ dissenting 1919 opinion. We need to “be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe,” the justice wrote.

The Justice Department’s definition of a potential terrorism suspect under the Patriot Act is already extremely broad. It includes anyone with missing fingers, someone who has weatherproof ammunition and guns, and anyone who has hoarded more than seven days of food. This would make a few of my relatives in rural Maine and their friends, if the government so decided, prime terrorism suspects.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Torrance argued in court that the government already has the authority to strip citizens of their constitutional rights. He cited the execution of Nazi saboteur Richard Quirin during World War II, saying the case was “completely within the Constitution.” He then drew a connection between that case and the AUMF, which the Obama White House argues permits the government to detain and assassinate U.S. citizens they deem to be terrorists. Torrance told the court that judicial interpretation of the AUMF made it identical to the NDAA, which led the judge to ask him why it was necessary for the government to defend the NDAA if that was indeed the case. Torrance, who fumbled for answers before the judge’s questioning, added that the United States does not differentiate under which law it holds military detainees. Judge Forrest, looking incredulous, said that if this was actually true the government could be found in contempt of court for violating orders prohibiting any detention under the NDAA.

Forrest quoted to the court Alexander Hamilton, who argued that judges must place “the power of the people” over legislative will.

“Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power,” Hamilton, writing under the pseudonym Publius, said in Federalist No. 78. “It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental.”

Contrast this crucial debate in a federal court with the empty campaign rhetoric and chatter that saturate the airwaves. The cant of our political theater, the ridiculous obsessions over vice presidential picks or celebrity gossip that dominate the news industry, effectively masks the march toward corporate totalitarianism. The corporate state has convinced the masses, in essence, to clamor for their own enslavement. There is, in reality, no daylight between Mitt Romney and Obama about the inner workings of the corporate state. They each support this section within the NDAA and the widespread extinguishing of civil liberties. They each will continue to funnel hundreds of billions of wasted dollars to defense contractors, intelligence agencies and the military. They each intend to let Wall Street loot the U.S. Treasury with impunity. Neither will lift a finger to help the long-term unemployed and underemployed, those losing their homes to foreclosures or bank repossessions, those filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills or college students burdened by crippling debt. Listen to the anguished cries of partisans on either side of the election divide and you would think this was a battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. You would think voting in the rigged political theater of the corporate state actually makes a difference. The charade of junk politics is there not to offer a choice but to divert the crowd while our corporate masters move relentlessly forward, unimpeded by either party, to turn all dissent into a crime.

© 2012 TruthDig.com

 

 

 

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph

provisional essay on Capitalism and socialism

8 Aug

One:

Below are two analyses of capitalism, by me.

Q: How do we explain the co-existence of poverty and great wealth amassed in the hands of fewer and fewer hands here in Amerika? If we know one thing about capitalism, it is that it tends toward the creation of monopolies. Corporations compete with one another in order for the stronger ones to devour the less strong ones. Meanwhile the real needs of the poor for work, housing, education and food, go increasingly unmet, as their false artificially-constructed wants are exploited by the members of the superior class. In the final analysis, we don’t really need the technological wonders which have been created in order to foster the ends of the capitalists; what we really need is that which we need in order to survive the present social order.

a) The essential social question is that of property. It is property and its private ownership that creates the fundamentals of the system of capitalism. The bourgeoisie is the property-owning class, which has constructed legal, social, and educational systems in order to further its own ends.

b)The working-class, also known as labor, is predicated on the social fact of ‘wage-slavery.’ Everywhere in America one sees the end result of wage-slavery, which is poverty. The worker, the waiter, the clerk, the cab driver, the prostitute — all are the social products of capitalist division of mankind into classes: the rich, the middle-classes, the workers, the immigrants, and the poor.

Society is a legitimate object of study, and sociology is forced to concede to the Marxists the insights into the nature of the social order, which have opened our eyes to what is there before our eyes but is dimly understood: “The We.” Enforcing this social order in every society is the police and before it lies armies of teachers, academics, priests, preachers, social workers and government workers: in short, the bourgeoisie‘s intellectual representatives.

The police don’t exist in order to solve crimes, but to frighten the working-class into not rebelling  against the system! Therein lies the genius of the capitalistic class in protecting its self-interest insofar as it seduces the self-declared neutral members of society into serving the system that primarily benefits the rich. Anyone for tennis, the capitalists ask, while society burns. Conspicuous consumption, not the fair allocation of resources, is what the predatory capitalists aim at. This only further alienates the poor and the proletariat, or working-class, which when it attempts to form itself into legitimate unions, is only stymied at every turn by the political hacks of capitalism.

If academics, intellectuals, the disaffected members of the upper and upper middle-class, the students, the poor, the working-classes, the emprisoned, the poor disused soldiers, and others, were to recognize their common interest in changing the social order, then there would be the makings of a major public rebellion against the system of oppression, called capitalism. This order, which consigns millions of people to poverty and near poverty, is not natural but is entirely man-made. In it is to be found the vast underpaid army of the unemployed, the wage-slaves, the discriminated-against minorities, the vast underclass of the uneducated, and the disaffected members of all classes. Yet, one asks, why don’t the poor rebel against the system?

If these classes of society were to understand the false, criminal, and fundamentally unjust nature of capitalism — then there would be the forging together of a class of mankind in solidarity, a melting away of differences of opinion, and a consensus that capitalism is inherently rotten and must either be reformed immediately or be destroyed from within, to be replaced by a more just social order. Capitalism has a stale date which is rapidly approaching us. The dust-bin of history awaits it eagerly.

That is the nature of the protest that must break out against the current socio-economic system under which we live and against which we must consign ourselves spiritually, physically, morally in the name of the coming struggle. This struggle against the falsity of the capitalist system and the cultural and political system built upon social injustice will end with the victory of the proletariat. The many — the eighty or ninety percent– will prevail against the upper classes. But it will not be easy.

Capitalism cannot survive without the exploitation of labor,

the cheating of millions of workers by underpaying them for their labor. Upon this appropriation of underpaid labor-wealth, an entire social order has been constructed, with a great deal of phony religion overlaying it in order for the capitalists to avoid scrutinizing their own conscience for indulging themselves in this vast criminal enterprise. We to this process as ‘expropriation’ of labor-time from the laborer.

Thus, the system thrives ultimately on fear — fear of the police, fear of the father, fear of the priest, fear of the superior powers. Fear keeps the working-class from organizing collectively and challenging ‘the status quo.’ Fear of the landlord keeps the underclass high and drunk half the day.

The system we live under is a monster, devouring its own children. Ultimately its children will devour it — and will construct a new, humanistic order designed to serve man and woman’s needs rather than exploiting them with false wants — all for profit. What a great gift it is to tyrants, said a famous one, that the people do not think! Well, he underestimated the will of the working-class to its self-education and self-defense. Now all it needs to do is to link hands with the intellectual class which must reject the seductions of the capitalist market-place and either reform the corporate plutocratic system — or see it  ultimately destroyed.

The working-class is what the upper  class most fears. The self-educated, self-organized working-class which no longer has blind faith in the system which oppresses them. They see all the gains and wealth going to the privileged few. Even the educational system in America is organized in order to keep the working-class hands from being idle.

——

 

—————

A brief summation of Marx, the thinker:

Marxism is principally an analysis of society. We cannot change society without first having some form of understanding of society. Hence, Marxism is a branch of sociology, as well as of history and economics.

The mass media exist to provide the populace, especially the working-class, with a ‘false consciousness.’ It’s quite ingenious. The proletariat (working-class and the poor) are continually subjected to the false images of the capitalist marketplace, in order so that they will function both as workers and consumers.The products used by the wealthy are shown on TV and in the movies, right in the faces of the poor, who keep working harder and harder, unable to afford to buy them. If the poor steal, they end up in prison. But if they buy these products, they avoid paying for the things they really need: food, housing, clothing. That is ‘false consciousness,’ in a nutshell.The mass media exist to keep the workers deluded; yet every day, they feel their oppression as real.

There is a structure of society:
The owners of the means of production are: the rich, the industrialists.

The bankers and the politicianss are their employees.

The police are their only real protection from a mass uprising of the working-class.

The military and the jails gobble up a significant portion of the working-class, so that the middle class can experience a little less competition.

Religion was developed as an idea-system, that would keep the workers from attaining an understanding of society.

The media spread false consciousness.
The educational system exists to keep the class-system in place. University for the well-off; vocational school for the poor.

Capitalism leads mankind to war after war; and who dies in these largely pointless conflicts? Mainly the children of the working-class! And who brings them these wars? The ruling class!

Marx saw societal stability differently, believing that money and industry hold the status quo in place. As long as the upper class keeps the lower class happy enough in their oppressed state, the rich will become richer and the lower class will accept its inferior position in life.

NEW:
We cannot ignore Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as thinkers, despite the problems caused by Communism. Where I disagree with the Marxists was in their demand for a violent overthrow of Capitalist bourgeois society. We need to figure out how to REFORM capitalism, before it’s too late. Feminism, environmentalism, peace protestors, and critics of capitalism should come to an understanding that the system we live under needs to be reformed. Marx’s call for a violent revolution led only to the failures of Communism, as a system. Even Red China today is basically a capitalist country, but one that has repeated America’s mistakes, and is not reformed.

Slaves of Capital; Social democracy

9 Jul

Below represents my notes on reading up on Marx recently. I am looking for a better theory of “Social Democracy,” which seems to be the only acceptable political solution to the twin problems of 1. hegemonic capitalism and 2. the permanent state of war brought to you by the D of D. So here goes:

Notes on Econ, or “Slaves of Capitalism”

“If you tell people the truth too clearly, they won’t believe you”

Thesis

: It is the corporate elite that run Amerika. A CEO can start with $140,000 and be in the top 10 percent of salary earners, ie ‘slave-drivers‘. This upper class runs Amerika, just as Britain has its upper class of ‘Aristos‘. The truth about the “American class system structure ” is simply not told publicly, or at least is not told too clearly.

Inequality

is the essence of life in the USA. Society, indeed, produces inequality. So why does no one, virtually, protest the way that things are? Is it because people are misinformed? Is it because they’re afraid, a bunch of consumerist “sheep”? Is it because they’re apathetic, indifferent, and just don’t care? Where is social solidarity?

“We’re free” the press declares. President Bush agrees. The consensus is overwhelming. But are we in fact “free”? And define what you mean by “freedom”!

After World War Two, the US had six percent of the population, but produced fifty percent of the world’s goods. There was no question who had won that enormous conflict. America’s competitors lay in ruins. But that was then… now the entire economy of the world has been shown to be vulnerable, out of the control of the White House, and certainly out of the control of your average Joe.

During the Oil Crisis of 1973, it was proven that the US’s position was far more vulnerable than it had been perceived to be previously. In 1974, median family income was $40,000. In 2008, it was just $45,000, according to my sources, after taking into account the decline of the dollar, “median family income’ has remained stagnant (Lou Dobbs)!!

Median family income went up from 43% from 1960 to 1974, a tremendous boom that went on despite the Vietnam War.

People worked harder, and society seemed to be improving. Progress had occurred, and America, if not for the riots and the Vietnam War, was the envy of the world. The Consumer Society was working, but at the price of an horrific war! But, after 1973, it started reversing those gains, after the Oil Crisis showed that the US was vulnerable because it was dependant on OPEC. Society during the 70’s started to have a massive nervous breakdown, along with ‘the family”, the car companies, the White House, the Army… everything seemed to be shuddering with dysfunction and collapse.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we endured the Reagan era, when all the gains went to the top ten percent. And then the Bush I era, which gave the world its first major US-led war in over twenty years. WE Suffered through two major wars on the subject of who will control the Gulf’s Oil. “No blood for oil’, was the anti-war cry, but it went unheeded. Neither Bush I nor Clinton could alter the calculus of oil dependency in our economy.

If Americans perceive that their way of life is stagnating or slipping away, since it is dependant on cheap oil, reasonably priced autos, and corporate profits, then how long will it be before signs of mass discontent start to show themselves? The Seventies were a period of ‘stagflation’, and of the beginning of America‘s economic decline. Certainly New York City began to decline, in terms of the quality of life.

What will the coming decade bring? This unanswered question terrifies half the population. Post-industrial Amerika may be morphing into the end of the “rising tide of prosperity” America of smiley-face Ronald Reagan. We may be witnessing now the destruction of the American way of life .

According to Karl Marx, Capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. The worker sells his time and labor to the capitalist employer, who pays him just enough to keep coming back for more (wages). The “democratic system” really serves the interest of those who employ the masses, who merely vote to perpetuate the system that brings great wealth to some — and “not enough‘ wealth to the worker.

In order to keep the economy going, new machines proved to be the key to productivity. Machines increase productivity and the profit margin of companies, leading to the creation of an excess of consumer products which must be used up if there is to be further production. “Use and throwaway” is the nature of the post-industrial economy. If there exists a lack of consumer demand for a product within nation number one’s borders (demand must be stimulated by advertising), then this requires that colonial markets have to be ‘conquered” in order for nation number two’s masses to consume the surplus of what nation one creates. If Americans don’t buy the number of cars produced, then foreigners have to begin buying them– or else the corporation is in trouble. If Americans don’t buy the amount of oil that keeps the Arab Gulf States profitable, then they will either go out of the oil business, or have to seek “new markets” i.e., China and the developing world. The problem is that the incomes of Chinese and the people of the third world are too low for there to be enough cars bought and oil consumed, leading to a “crisis” such as we are presently experiencing. These are the problems of the globalization of the economy, under which workers have neither protection nor ‘rights‘.

The deflation of the currency hurts the worker. The value of a dollar declines by half over 10 years. This can only lead to mass discontent and dissatisfaction, which may lead to who knows what form of mass behavior? Drugs and religion and TV help prevent the emergence of any mass awareness of what is really going on. Sinister, isn’t it?

Finance capitalism, meaning banks and investment houses. Managerial capitalism, meaning corporate America. These exist at the top of the food chain, along with doctors and lawyers and politicians and those who control the mass media.

Society is structured like a pyramid, and those at the top of the economic pyramid*, ‘the ruling class’ create the soft media that helps brainwash, or persuade, or influence, the masses.

In 1980, the top ten percent‘s share of all taxable income went up by 1/3 or 1/ 2.

Reagan gave away the store to the most powerful of the powerful, and helped turn America into a veritable banana republic. “Thirty-four to forty-six percent of taxable income went to the top ten percent of the wealthy.” Ten percent controls almost fifty percent of the wealth. If that isn’t a banana republic, then what is? While median family income declined or stagnated, they made a staggering thirty-three percent profit. And this applies only to ‘taxed income’, ie ‘revenue’.

Whom are we all working for, anyway? The labor of the poor feeds the rich.

By 1970, Annual rate of growth was near zero. Before that, it was five percent. Inflation was at six percent. Inflation ate up the gains made unless one had invested in something that “beat the system”. Gold, perhaps. Property. Or companies, which utilize tricky accounting procedures in order to realize gains and avoid taxes.

The top one percent of 15,000 taxpayers made 26 million dollars in income. One percent owns sixty- two percent of private business income. One percent owns fifty-one percent in stocks. One percents owns seventy percent of bonds. One percent owns the store

!

Half of America is “working class”.

They will NEVER share in the wealth that accrues to the few. “Trickle down economics” — my foot! The rich get richer, as they say, and the poor get… babies. Or abortions. But they don’t gain in the share of the pie.

And who in government looks out for the interests of this class? Perhaps, no one!

What are TV, radio, media, et cetera, except ‘spreaders of false consciousness’? Has no one ever asked why the US government had such a nauseating spasm of hysteria over a few alleged communists during the fifties? Is it because they were not so much afraid of the communists, as of the population discovering the truth about society? Hmm?

The film, “Network” touches on the diabolical pyramid structure of Amerika. The character Howard Beale very clearly analyzes how the elite controls society, and use television as a means of increasing its own power at the expense of the truth. He enunciated the whole process by which Gulf Arabs, large corporations, large banks and big media profit off our society. Is government protecting us from them? Of course not! They can buy government off!

American post-democracy, or pseudo-democracy, is what we live under. A regime in which the people are powerless to alter their situation. How did Ancient Rome control its heavily-taxed working class? With Bread and circuses: i.e. welfare and television. When that method began to fail, they instituted the Christian religion, which more or less succeeded in pacifying the masses.

——————————————

Marx’s Kapital: Surplus value, or the excess value created by the worker.

Exchange value: the amount of labor used to create the product.

Use value: the usefulness of the object (commodity)

The difference between the value of products of labor and the cost of producing them (value- cost). Subsistence wages, or the near starvation of the worker, was what helped keep the system in place. Marx wrote also on the ‘dehumanizing effect of money’.

Capitalism signifies the exploitation of the workers.

Alienation; the existence of wage-labor is based on the violent separation of the masses of producers from control over the tools and instruments with which they work.

The capitalist machine

: US steel, standard oil, gulf, Swift, Armour, general foods, AT&T, GE, Westinghouse, Alcoa, Anaconda, DuPont, American tobacco, GM, RCA.

It all comes down to “Who owns what and whom?”

They want only one thing: to keep the working class working, ad perpetua, ad infinitum. We’re being used like guinea pigs on a fucking treadmill.

Marx posited that there is a structure to society, built on private property.

On top, was the aristocracy. In the middle, the bourgeoisie, or ‘middle class’. Below them was a mixture of the working class and the poor.

———————————————————————————————————-

“The ruling ideas of each age have been the ideas of its ruling class,” Karl Marx.

 

 

 

Notes on US history for Dummies

9 Jul

NEW:
We need a system of social democracy that will 1. end militarism 2. fight unemployment and 3. will create A LIVING WAGE law throughout all 50 states. Capitalism, Marx claimed, was predicated on the exploitation of the workers, ie Cheap labor. He seems to have made that point correctly.

We ask, Why is there poverty in America, the richest economy on earth?
Why did we have no mandatory health insurance, until the advent of Obama?
Why do we keep having year after dreary year of pointless wars?

Is LABOR America’s problem? Apparently it is! The average worker during the Eisenhower fifties earned only 150 percent of what the average minimum wage recipient earned. To create a class of dumbed -down workers may be the strategy of America, which now ranks 16th in the world, in terms of higher education attainment by the youth of this country. This is atrocious.

It is all, I believe, part of the Capitalist strategy.
====

In other words, 250 percent. But the Federal min wage was $1 an hour in 1955.

Levittown, 1949, Long Island. **A worker made only 150 percent of the minimum wage, as this book proves.

$6900 , 2.5 years wages = one house.

$2760 av. Wage in 1949

Notes on US history for Dummies

by Steve Wiegand

On capitalism.

Walter Lippmann, Harvard University-

“Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

From 1859 to 1899 , US mfg rose 600 percent.
Carnegie made $447 million.

But in 1900, the average wage of $400 to $500 a week, was $100 less than a decent standard of living, proving that ‘Capitalism does mean, the exploitation of the workers.’

Wages keep them in a kind of slavery.

Government bonds and stocks. Securities= debt.

The bankers want you to invest not to save.

Capital, industries and retailers.

Lower prices.

Tariffs, bank panics, civil service reform.

Populism of William Jennings Bryan (religious nut).

Muckrakers of the late 19th century.

The author Mark Twain, the industrialist Carnegie and the labor union leader Gompers were opposed to McKinley and Roosevelt’s colonialist actions.

“The progressives” were a group of reformers.

Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair.
Achievements of the ‘age of reform”: Election reform, meat inspection act, pure food and drug act, bank and beef monopolies investigated, The federal reserve was instituted, and the popular direct election of Senators.
Reporters working for Joseph Pulitzer of the NY World exposed underbelly of NY city.

The 16th amendment, progressive tax

1 percent on $4,000 income

2 percent on $20,000 income or above.

Labor shortages drove up wages and prices.

Hoover wanted to eliminate poverty.

US mfg output rose 60 percent during the ‘Roaring Twenties.’

1923, 8 hour workday.

1940, 40 hour workweek. Legislation was passed by both houses of Congress.

1929, 50 percent of the population in the USA lived at the poverty-rate.

1932, the average farmer made $80 a year during the Great Depression.

Unions emerged during the 1930’s.

p. 246, US history for dummies

1929, The Great Depression:

1.Stocks’ value plunged

2.too many people borrowed money to buy stocks

3.Banks made bad loans to farmers

4.The big banks made loans to foreign nations, so that they could repay Great War losses.

5.The nations defaulted on their loans.

6. Banks then went bankrupt.
7.Bank closings and panics ensued.

8.Depositors lost 2.5 Billion dollars , or almost 25 percent of US GDP.

The New Deal

FDR instituted the FDIC and other reforms of ‘free-market’ capitalism.

Labor won ¾ of its strikes during the 1930’s.

Average wages rose from $24 to $46 in 1944.

Fair labor standards , 44 hour workweek.

It was proven that gov’t could be used to help people and overcome the crisis of capitalism.

1938 minimum wage was $.25 an hour.

Ave. week, one earned $17 in 1932 to $22. In 1936.

Up to $1144 a year.

In 1944, wages went up to $46: doubling what they had been 8 years earlier.

Hence, on the high end $2288 a year for forty hours of work.

Huey Long suggested that every man in Louisiana receive $2,500 a year, a homestead and a car.

1940, Congress passed legislation enacting the 40 hour workweek.

WW2

Women received $31.21 and men $54.65 for war-work in 1944.

US gov’t. spent $350 B during WW2.

Taxes and borrowing through war bonds.

A lot of money went to California.

GNP doubled from 1939 to 1945.

America won the ‘war of production.’

———-

 

New Deal freeze on agri. prices, wages, rents and salaries.

FDR died in April 1945.

Postwar America.

From 1945 to 1960, GDP rose from $200 to 500 billion dollars a year.

In other words, 250 percent. But the Federal min wage was $1 an hour in 1955.

Levittown, 1949

$6900 , 2.5 years wages = one house.

$2760 av. Wage in 1949

A TV went from $500 down to $200.

McDonald’s hamburger cost $.15.

Carter, 5 percent to 14.5 percent inflation

MISERY index. Stagnation.

Gas prices rose from .40 to .70 cents.

Phony ‘oil crisis.’

Ronald Reagan, 1980’s.

Minimum wage was $3.35 an hour in 1981.

For five to six years the economy improved. But in

Oct 19, 1987, the stock market plunged 22.6 percent.

Reagan increased US from $ 900 b. debt to 3 trillion in 1990.

Spent it on the military.

Aggressive tax-cutting. Cuts in social services.

$8 in 1848 = $165 in 1999

.

The US dollar rose 20 5/8th times in 150 years.

.13 per year.

In 1938, .25 an hour as the minimum wage.

In 1955, $1 mim wage; in 1981, $3.35 mim wage.

From 1955 to 1981, fed mim wage rose about .12 times per year.

Goldman Sachs, today. $201,500 per employee.

Whites net worth, $113,000 median?

hispanics, $6325 net worth.

Whites on average have 17.86 times as much money as hispanics.

A male Dr. makes $200,400 per year.

A female Dr. makes $167,600 per year.

In 2012, 50 %of all US jobs pay less than $34,000 a year.

Source: Georgetown University, Dr. Edelman.

The capitalists have used the politicians to say to Labor, “Screw you.”

Today $22,000 is poverty-level for a family of 4.

The mim. wage is up 7 plus times in 55 years.
It goes up about .12 percent a year. Never enough to keep up with the rising cost of living.

—-

Marxian theses:

1. Capitalism divides human beings into capital

or labor.

2. Labor always gets screwed unless strong union representation is fought for.

3. There is a ‘class struggle,’ of corporations, banks and capital vs. labor, the poor and others at the bottom end of the social order.

4. The economic struggle is also a political struggle.

5. Marxism entails the analysis of the social-economic order underlying the cultural and political order.

We need a social-democratic system in America, rather than what we know have: state-capitalism with a hawkish militaristic police-state.

In Solidarity

9 Jul

In Solidarity

 

Capitalism is fundamentally an inhuman system. It is not designed to advance human welfare, but to promote the buying and selling of material things. The downside of ‘progress’ under capitalism is that labor must remain cheap in order for the capitalists to be persuaded to invest in a particular region. The only motivating factor of the capitalists is profit, profit, profit. But for the workers this means suffering, since the iron law of wages (Ricardo) is to remain low. This creates a profitable investing environment for the capitalists. The workers work harder and harder, but remain at the same level in society, while the capitalist-class profits from their labor and escapes to their golf courts.

In Spain and Italy, a worker-controlled system was tried with some success, but it was destroyed by the fascists during the 1930’s. The capitalists will partner with unsavory governments in order to protect their interests. The governments will then use the mechanisms of the system — the law, the police, the national guard- in order to suppress any rioting and protesting workers in the event of a mass uprising.

Capitalism fundamentally means the promotion of private interests over the public interest. The capitalists will invest in a region if they believe that the class of available labor will work in their interest, and will not rebel against their system.

Solidarity, or the monkey wrench, is what is needed to jam up the system that has been created by the haves, who mock the have-nots.

 

The purpose of ‘education’ is largely to keep young people from rebelling against authority. The workers, the poor, the oppressed, minorities, and foreigners are the natural allies of the young. If all of these diverse groups could put aside their alienation and work together, forming new political alliances, then they would have the makings of a ‘movement.’ The new media technology must be utilized in order to foster such a development.

It is axiomatic that capitalism depends on the employment of wage-slavery, and reduces millions of people to the level of being peons and serfs. If the enlightened members of the upper-middle-class, and the intelligensia in universities, think tanks, and the mass media, were to join in solidarity with these protesting groups, then they would be able to create a social-democratic revolution.

Economic problems ensue from capitalism despite the rhetoric of the politicians. The dollar, it is noted, declines in value every year. The cost of living rises. Things and services become more expensive. The middle-class shrinks. The workers, toiling harder and harder, try to stay afloat but cannot pay their expenses. They live virtually in fear, and the police are more threatening to them more than the criminals. This in essence is the crisis of capitalism. It has been engineered by elites in the banking, governmental, and business systems in order to keep the working-class poor and ‘in their place.’ We need to spread consciousness of the inner workings of the system, in order to disrupt it, because inertia will otherwise prevail and the status-quo will remain.

April 5, 2012

Supporting evidence: “Stagnant incomes, a federal budget gone way out of balance, soaring energy costs, a once-in-a-lifetime housing crash, and growing financial risks in retirement and from health care.” Justin Fox, Time Almanac, 2009, p. 701.

“75 % of all income gains from 2002 to 2006 went to the top 1 % — households making more than $382,600 a year.” (ibid).

“Globalization holds down earnings for millions of Americans who compete with workers overseas.” (ibid).

“Expect abuse of power.” Jennifer Holzer, artist.

 

 

Duplication, from “slaves of kapitalism.”

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Is there anything that America won’t sell you?

Only eat things that are natural. If they have to sell you something via commercial media, then don’t buy it. They want to market items to you. America’s a commercial society. It’s all about getting you to buy something.

Don’t go to hospitals or doctors unless you know that they’re good. Don’t take over-the-counter medicine. If you have to take pills they give you, be advised. We need to eliminate ‘blind faith’ as mankind’s modus operandi. Institutions are all about ‘faith.’ The sad truth is that even aspirins can kill you.

The problem may be modern industrial society itself. The air, earth, and water have been polluted by man for centuries. It recently took the State of NY forty years to clean up a toxic dump in upstate NY. That’s how little anyone really cares about you.

We need massive protests in this country, in every capital, in every city, in every state of the union. It’s the only way we can bring attention to the problems of the environment.

They did form the EPA, but they haven’t gone far enough. America has forgotten the power of the people; organize, unite, and inform one another.

Eighteen out of 20 banks in America now promote Asian interests. Manufacturing has been off-shored thus costing communities jobs. They’ve basically sold us out to Red China.

What brought down the Soviet Union was its attempt to stifle all dissent, foreign culture, and the Chernobyl catastrophe. Marxism must acknowledge these mistakes, and must forge closer ties to feminism, culture, populism and environmentalism, or else it won’t survive.

Conclusion: The ideology of America, officially, is one free-market capitalism and Adam Smith‘s laissez-faire’ economics. In truth the US Gov’t has been hijacked by corporations, bankers and the super-rich. When gov’t isn’t protecting the rights of millions of people due to the greed of the top 2 percent of the population, then you have the impetus for a populist revolt! Three million jobs were lost between 2000-09. A Stanford University professor, Sean Reardon, wrote that “The middle-class has dropped from 65 to 44 percent of the population.”

Fifty percent of the US budget goes to the War Machine! That’s money that doesn’t go to help the poor.
Laissez-faire” Reagonomics doesn’t work!

Senator Eric Cantor, Republican, is an inside-trader, receiving over $343,000 from Wall Street while a Congressman. Whose interests does he really represent? Senators sell insider information about new technologies to Wall Street via non-lobbyists! It is called corruption!

The bitter truth is that corporations run America, along with self-protecting elites. CEOS, bankers, senators, so-called religious leaders comprise society‘s elite. In the final analysis, there is nothing truly democratic about American government. The Founding Fathers didn’t want pure democracy, but created a system in which the people would vote for the electors, who would then vote for the President and Veep. It is gov’t of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich that shall not perish from this earth.