Category Archives: Activism

System Fail #5: Sick of Winning

In this episode we look at the aftermath of the 2020 US Presidential elections, leading up to the so-called “Million MAGA March” in Washington, DC. We also feature an interview with Tom Nomad, author of The Masters Tools: Warfare & Insurgent Possibility.

CW: Graphic violence.

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People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We

Protest in Peru:  The people demand neither corruption or exploitation

This weekend, ten thousand people took to the streets in Guatemala to protest the President and Congress over a proposed budget, the largest in its history, that cuts funds for health care and education as poverty rises, and provides slush funds to politicians and governments. In Colombia, the people held a national strike to protest their violent, right-wing government. In Peru, protests against a right-wing power grab have ousted one appointed president and people are demanding a new government and constitution. And people in Chile won the right to a new constitution. Now they are defending the process to make sure it represents them.

Across the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria, in what began as a response to ongoing and severe state violence, the #EndSARS movement, has evolved to a struggle for full liberation from a corrupt and repressive government. Their new hashtag is #EndBadGovernanceInNigeria. I spoke with Abiodun Aremu, a long time movement leader in Lagos, on Clearing the FOG, about the current conditions and history of looting and exploitation by those in power.

In these countries and more, the people are rising up against the elite power structure to fight for their rights. Across borders, we share a common enemy, neoliberal economies that funnel wealth to the top, deregulate industries so they violate worker rights and destroy the environment, and impose austerity programs to deny our basic necessities. We also share a common vision for a world where the self-determination of peoples is respected and all people have equitable access to a life of dignity and prosperity.

Boxes of food were handed out by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Gene J. Puskar/AP.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a new report that finds the economy, which improved slightly over the summer, is stagnating again. As the provisions from the CARES Act expire, poverty is rising, especially for black and brown people. Women are also being adversely impacted because of the lack of childcare. Most of the jobs that have been lost, 52 percent, are low-wage jobs.

They point to a recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services that predicts ten million more people will become impoverished by the end of this year. Currently, 24 million adults say they don’t have enough food in their homes and 80 million adults say they are struggling to afford basic necessities. Without adequate support from the government, the economy won’t recover and people will continue to suffer.

The COVID-19 pandemic is surging with more than 200,000 cases in one day last week and deaths are rising again. Across the country, hospitals are struggling without enough beds and the staff to care for patients. The United States is expected to remain at this crisis level through the winter unless drastic steps are taken such as a national shut down, including all non-essential businesses. At present, that is not an option being considered by either President Trump or President-Elect Biden.

Both Trump and Biden are putting corporate profits over the needs of people by focusing on reopening businesses rather than providing the relief people desperately need. The Institute for Policy Studies reports that billionaires have increased their wealth by nearly $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic while their workers are left unprotected and without increases in their wages. They specifically call out a “delinquent dozen” of “pandemic profiteers.”

David McNew/Getty Images.

As Congress refuses to provide support for the millions who have lost their jobs, their health insurance and their homes, people are calling on the incoming Biden administration to take immediate action. For example, David Dayen points out that a provision in the Affordable Care Act allows the President to use executive power to expand Medicare to whomever needs it.

Biden, unfortunately, has made it clear that he opposes Medicare for All.  I spoke about the COVID-19 crisis and our for-profit healthcare system with Chris Hedges on his program, On Contact, this weekend.

This past week, more than 235 organizations called on Joe Biden to cancel student debt, which can also be done using executive power. Student debt has reached a staggering $1.6 trillion, a burden that is crippling people in the current recession. The groups state, “Cancellation will help jumpstart spending, create jobs, and add to the GDP. Short-term payment suspension alone is not enough to help struggling borrowers who are unemployed, already in default, or in serious delinquency.”

In addition to failing to address the pandemic and economic hardship at home, the United States government also inflicts pain and suffering across the planet through the many regime change efforts and military aggressions. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies outlined ten steps Joe Biden could take immediately to change our foreign policy to one that is in line with international law, provides humanitarian aid instead of bombs and reduces the threat of nuclear war.

Federal spending on the security state dwarfs what is spent on domestic needs. Only 32 percent of the federal discretionary budget is used for health care, education, energy and housing and the biggest chunk of that goes to the Veterans Health Administration. The rest goes to the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the State Department, and NASA. Imagine what could be done to provide universal health care, child care, fully-funded education through the university level, low-cost clean energy and affordable housing if we stopped our wars and brought the military home.

Sean Rayford/New York Times.

Now that it is clear the next president will be Joe Biden, some people may think it is time to relax and let him go to work running the country. This is the message the power holders want the people to hear. The Biden administration will go to great lengths to give the appearance that it is different and that it will make positive changes, but just as we have experienced over and over again, when it comes to domestic economic policy or foreign policy, there is little difference between Democratic and Republican administrations. Both serve the wealthy class and the military industrial complex.

The power elites are never going to give us what we need. We must demand it. As we see people in other countries doing, we must organize and mobilize with a clear set of demands now. Joe Biden can take immediate steps to relieve suffering, and in a time of crisis as we are in now, he can do it using executive power. We must not give Biden a honeymoon. We must not be fooled by the excuses used to convince us it can’t be done.

The post People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We first appeared on Dissident Voice.

People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We

Protest in Peru:  The people demand neither corruption or exploitation

This weekend, ten thousand people took to the streets in Guatemala to protest the President and Congress over a proposed budget, the largest in its history, that cuts funds for health care and education as poverty rises, and provides slush funds to politicians and governments. In Colombia, the people held a national strike to protest their violent, right-wing government. In Peru, protests against a right-wing power grab have ousted one appointed president and people are demanding a new government and constitution. And people in Chile won the right to a new constitution. Now they are defending the process to make sure it represents them.

Across the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria, in what began as a response to ongoing and severe state violence, the #EndSARS movement, has evolved to a struggle for full liberation from a corrupt and repressive government. Their new hashtag is #EndBadGovernanceInNigeria. I spoke with Abiodun Aremu, a long time movement leader in Lagos, on Clearing the FOG, about the current conditions and history of looting and exploitation by those in power.

In these countries and more, the people are rising up against the elite power structure to fight for their rights. Across borders, we share a common enemy, neoliberal economies that funnel wealth to the top, deregulate industries so they violate worker rights and destroy the environment, and impose austerity programs to deny our basic necessities. We also share a common vision for a world where the self-determination of peoples is respected and all people have equitable access to a life of dignity and prosperity.

Boxes of food were handed out by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Gene J. Puskar/AP.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a new report that finds the economy, which improved slightly over the summer, is stagnating again. As the provisions from the CARES Act expire, poverty is rising, especially for black and brown people. Women are also being adversely impacted because of the lack of childcare. Most of the jobs that have been lost, 52 percent, are low-wage jobs.

They point to a recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services that predicts ten million more people will become impoverished by the end of this year. Currently, 24 million adults say they don’t have enough food in their homes and 80 million adults say they are struggling to afford basic necessities. Without adequate support from the government, the economy won’t recover and people will continue to suffer.

The COVID-19 pandemic is surging with more than 200,000 cases in one day last week and deaths are rising again. Across the country, hospitals are struggling without enough beds and the staff to care for patients. The United States is expected to remain at this crisis level through the winter unless drastic steps are taken such as a national shut down, including all non-essential businesses. At present, that is not an option being considered by either President Trump or President-Elect Biden.

Both Trump and Biden are putting corporate profits over the needs of people by focusing on reopening businesses rather than providing the relief people desperately need. The Institute for Policy Studies reports that billionaires have increased their wealth by nearly $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic while their workers are left unprotected and without increases in their wages. They specifically call out a “delinquent dozen” of “pandemic profiteers.”

David McNew/Getty Images.

As Congress refuses to provide support for the millions who have lost their jobs, their health insurance and their homes, people are calling on the incoming Biden administration to take immediate action. For example, David Dayen points out that a provision in the Affordable Care Act allows the President to use executive power to expand Medicare to whomever needs it.

Biden, unfortunately, has made it clear that he opposes Medicare for All.  I spoke about the COVID-19 crisis and our for-profit healthcare system with Chris Hedges on his program, On Contact, this weekend.

This past week, more than 235 organizations called on Joe Biden to cancel student debt, which can also be done using executive power. Student debt has reached a staggering $1.6 trillion, a burden that is crippling people in the current recession. The groups state, “Cancellation will help jumpstart spending, create jobs, and add to the GDP. Short-term payment suspension alone is not enough to help struggling borrowers who are unemployed, already in default, or in serious delinquency.”

In addition to failing to address the pandemic and economic hardship at home, the United States government also inflicts pain and suffering across the planet through the many regime change efforts and military aggressions. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies outlined ten steps Joe Biden could take immediately to change our foreign policy to one that is in line with international law, provides humanitarian aid instead of bombs and reduces the threat of nuclear war.

Federal spending on the security state dwarfs what is spent on domestic needs. Only 32 percent of the federal discretionary budget is used for health care, education, energy and housing and the biggest chunk of that goes to the Veterans Health Administration. The rest goes to the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the State Department, and NASA. Imagine what could be done to provide universal health care, child care, fully-funded education through the university level, low-cost clean energy and affordable housing if we stopped our wars and brought the military home.

Sean Rayford/New York Times.

Now that it is clear the next president will be Joe Biden, some people may think it is time to relax and let him go to work running the country. This is the message the power holders want the people to hear. The Biden administration will go to great lengths to give the appearance that it is different and that it will make positive changes, but just as we have experienced over and over again, when it comes to domestic economic policy or foreign policy, there is little difference between Democratic and Republican administrations. Both serve the wealthy class and the military industrial complex.

The power elites are never going to give us what we need. We must demand it. As we see people in other countries doing, we must organize and mobilize with a clear set of demands now. Joe Biden can take immediate steps to relieve suffering, and in a time of crisis as we are in now, he can do it using executive power. We must not give Biden a honeymoon. We must not be fooled by the excuses used to convince us it can’t be done.

The post People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Germans are Back!

Break out the Wagner, folks … the Germans are back! No, not the warm, fuzzy, pussified, peace-loving, post-war Germans … the Germans! You know the ones I mean. The “I didn’t know where the trains were going” Germans. The “I was just following orders” Germans. The other Germans.

Yeah … those Germans.

In case you missed it, on November 18, the German parliament passed a law, the so-called “Infection Protection Act” (“Das Infektionsschutzgesetz” in German) formally granting the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wants under the guise of protecting the public health. The government has been doing this anyway — ordering lockdowns, curfews, travel bans, banning demonstrations, raiding homes and businesses, ordering everyone to wear medical masks, harassing and arresting dissidents, etc. — but now it has been “legitimized” by the Bundestag, enshrined into law, and presumably stamped with one of those intricate official stamps that German bureaucrats like to stamp things with.

Now, this “Infection Protection Act,” which was rushed through the parliament, is not in any way comparable to the “Enabling Act of 1933,” which formally granted the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wanted under the guise of remedying the distress of the people. Yes, I realize that sounds quite similar, but, according to the government and the German media, there is no absolutely equivalence whatsoever, and anyone who suggests there is is “a far-right AfD extremist,” “a neo-Nazi conspiracy theorist,” or “an anti-vax esotericist,” or whatever.

As the Protection Act was being legitimized (i.e., the current one, not the one in 1933), tens of thousands of anti-totalitarian protesters gathered in the streets, many of them carrying copies of the Grundgesetz (i.e., the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany), which the parliament had just abrogated. They were met by thousands of riot police, who declared the demonstration “illegal” (because many of the protesters were not wearing masks), beat up and arrested hundreds of them, and then hosed down the rest with water cannons.

The German media — which are totally objective, and not at all like Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda in the Nazi era — dutifully reminded the German public that these protesters were all “Corona Deniers,” “far-right extremists,” “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” “neo-Nazis,” and so on, so they probably got what they deserved. Also, a spokesperson for the Berlin police (who bear absolutely no resemblance to the Gestapo, or the Stasi, or any other notorious official-ideology-enforcing goons) pointed out that their water cannons were only being used to “irrigate” the protesters (i.e., not being aimed directly at them) because there were so many “Corona Denier” children in their ranks.

According to the government, the German media, the intelligentsia, and, basically, anyone in public life who wants to remain there, these “Corona Deniers” are becoming a problem. They are spreading baseless “conspiracy theories” that are threatening the public health and causing distress to the German people (e.g., that the vast majority of those infected suffer only mild to moderate flu symptoms or, more commonly, no symptoms at all, and that over 99.7% survive). They are walking around without medical-looking masks, which is making a mockery of the government and media’s efforts to convince the public that they are under attack by an apocalyptic plague. They are posting scientific facts on the Internet. They are staging these protests and otherwise challenging the government’s right to declare a “health emergency,” suspend the German constitution indefinitely, and rule society by decree and force.

Despite the German government and media’s efforts to demonize anyone not obediently parroting the official “New Normal” narrative as a “dangerous neo-Nazi Corona Denier,” the “Corona Denialism” movement is growing, not just in Germany, but all throughout Europe. Clearly, the time is coming for Germany to take stronger measures against this threat. The health of the Vater … uh, the nation, is at stake! Fortunately, this “Infection Protection Act” will provide the government with the authority it needs to conceive and carry out some kind of … well, you know, solution. Allowing these degenerate anti-social deviants to run around challenging the German government’s absolute power is not an option, not in a time of national health emergency! These “Nazi-sympathizing Corona Deniers” must be rooted out and dealt with, mercilessly!

I’m not privy to the details, of course, but, it being Germany, I imagine some sort of Special Task Force has been set up to efficiently deal with the “Corona Denier Problem.” Steps are clearly already being taken. Alternative media outlets are being deplatformed (because, according the media, they are “Querfront magazines”). In April, a well-known dissident lawyer was forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward (but the authorities and the media assured us that it had nothing to do with her dissident views, or with the lawsuits she was filing against the government; she just coincidentally became completely paranoid). Heavily-armed police are arresting YouTubers (although it isn’t clear exactly what for, as the authorities have released no details and the mainstream media is not reporting it).

In the run-up to the 29 August demonstration, at which the government granted some neo-Nazis de-facto permission to “storm the Reichstag,” so that the media could film it and discredit the real protest, one German politician went so far as to call for “Corona Deniers” to be deported … presumably on trains, somewhere to the east.

But seriously, I don’t mean to pick on the Germans. I love the Germans. I live in Germany. And they’re hardly the only ones implementing the new pathologized totalitarianism. It’s just that, given their not-too-distant history, it is rather depressing, and more than a little frightening, to watch as Germany is once again transformed into a totalitarian state, where the police are hunting down the mask-less on the streets, raiding restaurants, bars, and people’s homes, where goose-stepping little Good German citizens are peering into the windows of Yoga studios to see if they are violating “social distancing rules,” where I can’t take a walk or shop for groceries without being surrounded by hostile, glaring, sometimes verbally-abusive Germans, who are infuriated that I’m not wearing a mask, and otherwise mindlessly following orders, and who robotically remind me, “Es ist Pflicht! Es ist Pflicht!”

Yes, I am fully aware that it is “Pflicht.” If I had any doubt as to whether it was “Pflicht,” the Berlin Senate cleared that up when they commissioned and ran this charming advert instructing me to fuck myself if I don’t want to follow their “Corona orders” and profess my belief in their new Big Lie.

And OK, before the Literalist Society starts flooding me with outraged emails, no, I’m not calling these Germans “Nazis.” I am calling them “totalitarians.” Which, at this point, given everything we know, if you’re still pretending that this coronavirus in any way warrants the increasingly ridiculous “emergency measures” we are being subjected to, I’m sorry, but that is what you are.

You may not believe that is what you are … totalitarians never do, not until it is far too late.

It functions like a cult, totalitarianism. It creeps up on you, little by little, little lie by little lie, accommodation by accommodation, rationalization by rationalization … until one day you find yourself taking orders from some twisted little narcissistic nihilist on a mission to remake the entire world. You don’t surrender to it all at once. You do it over the course of weeks and months. Imperceptibly, it becomes your reality. You do not recognize that you are in it, because everything you see is part of it, and everyone you know is in it … except for the others, who are not part of it. The “deniers.” The “deviants.” The “foreigners.” The “strangers.” The “Covidiots.” The “virus spreaders.”

See, although the narratives and symbols may change, totalitarianism is totalitarianism. It doesn’t really matter which uniform it wears, or which language it speaks … it is the same abomination. It is an idol, a simulacrum of the hubris of man, formed from the clay of the minds of the masses by megalomaniacal spiritual cripples who want to exterminate what they cannot control. And what they want to control is always everything. Everything that reminds them of their weakness and their shame. You. Me. Society. The world. Laughter. Love. Honor. Faith. The past. The future. Life. Death. Everything that will not obey them.

Unfortunately, once this kind of thing gets started, and reaches the stage we are currently experiencing, more often than not, it does not stop, not until cities lie in ruins or fields are littered with human skulls. It might us take ten or twelve years to get there, but, make no mistake, that’s where we’re headed, where totalitarianism is always headed … if you don’t believe me, just ask the Germans.

The post The Germans are Back! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Dead And Those About To Die: Climate Protests And The Corporate Media

The Roman poet Horace famously declared:

Dulce et decorum est pro patrie mori.

It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. Wilfred Owen, the great English poet of the First World War, described this phrase as ‘the old Lie’ in his famous war poem, ‘Dulce et decorum est’. Patriotism so often means ‘honouring’ those who ‘fell in service to this country’, grand ceremonies at war memorials, feasts of royal pageantry. And then sending yet more generations of men and women to fight in yet more wars.

On Remembrance Day (11 November) last week, much of the ‘mainstream’ media queued up to condemn two Extinction Rebellion climate protesters who had ‘hijacked’ the Cenotaph, the famous war memorial in Whitehall, London. At 8am that day, after undertaking a two-minute silence, former soldier Donald Bell (64) and NHS nurse Anne White (53) hung a wreath on the Cenotaph with the inscription, ‘Climate change means war: Act now’. Together with two other unnamed climate protesters, they also unveiled a large black and white banner saying:

Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War

Within half an hour, the Metropolitan Police had cleared away the protest.

The Daily Mail’s headline screamed, ‘Fury at climate fanatics’ hijacking of Cenotaph’ 1, while its columnist Robert Hardman declared that the climate action was ‘a monumentally inappropriate protest’. The Mail, Sun and other papers gave prominence to Boris Johnson’s condemnation of the ‘profoundly disrespectful’ protesters.

The Daily Express declared that the action was ‘a disgrace to the fallen’ 2 The editorial fulminated that the:

activists who staged a demonstration at the Cenotaph yesterday craved publicity but disgusted the country. Only extremists devoid of a scintilla of sensitivity would consider staging such a stunt on Armistice Day… The Cenotaph must be protected from the antics of cranks and those who would want to inflict damage at this sacred site.

Express columnist Paul Baldwin, likewise in full splenetic mode, opined that the Cenotaph had been ‘desecrated’ and ‘those virtue-signalling gutless wonders at Extinction Rebellion’ had ‘no shame’.

The Daily Star asserted in an editorial titled, ‘Eco demo a disgrace’ 3 :

These moronic crusties have continually shown a complete lack of respect for the general public. Whether it’s interfering with everyday lives or generally being a nuisance, they are not making their point in the right way. But these hippy-dippy, airy-fairy prats have really crossed a line now.

The editorial continued:

They marred yesterday’s Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph with some shameful antics. Eco-warriors – including a disgracefully disrespectful veteran – trampled over poppy wreaths.

In fact, footage published by newspapers themselves shows that former soldier Donald Bell carefully avoided stepping on wreaths.

The Daily Star continued:

Their behaviour was disgustingly beyond the pale. This vital annual moment of solemnness and reflection must never be disrupted to make political points. And it will only set them back in achieving their aims. Nothing should ever get in the way of honouring our fallen heroes.

For the Sun, the protest was ‘a new low’ and:

Extinction Rebellion should hang their heads in shame and disband after abusing the Cenotaph.

The i newspaper ran with the headline:

Climate protest at Cenotaph condemned for “bad taste”

and its report led with:

Climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion drew condemnation from across the political spectrum yesterday after it staged a demonstration at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day. 4

Note the emphasis throughout press coverage on ‘condemnation’. Was there no support to quote from anywhere ‘across the political spectrum’, or did the national press just ignore it? Either way, consider what that means about a supposed broad range of views in what passes for political debate in the British media.

The response from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer indicated, once again, that he is no threat to the established order:

No one can doubt how serious the climate emergency is, but the protests at the Cenotaph are wrong. They are in bad taste. We do not support them.

As one astute observer noted via Twitter:

Starmer wouldn’t have supported the Tolpuddle Martyrs, suffragette movement, the bus boycott & Stonewall et al except retrospectively when sanitised by history & his overleaping ambitions

BBC News gave a brief mention to the Extinction Rebellion protest towards the bottom of its online report on Remembrance Day commemorations. The Guardian went one step further by relegating its account of the protest to a single line, buried deep in its coverage of Remembrance Day.

More was to come. True to form, the Daily Mail followed up its initial coverage by dredging up dirt on former soldier Donald Bell. Its headline shouted:

EXCLUSIVE – Revealed: Ex-soldier who sparked fury with Cenotaph Extinction Rebellion protest is DRUG DEALER jailed for selling heroin – and was accused of abusing his disabled wife.

The article boasted:

MailOnline can reveal he was jailed for four years in 2007 after being caught pushing his wheelchair-bound wife around the streets of Cambridge – while peddling heroin at the same time.

Buried at the bottom of the Mail’s gutter ‘journalism’, was a short extract from a statement by Extinction Rebellion:

Donald Bell left the army with serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at a time when the illness was still not fully recognised.

Donald was one of those people who, like so many, made mistakes and then worked hard to turn his life around.

Extinction Rebellion stands by him and his right to speak out about the Government’s complicity in knowingly taking us into future wars and a 4 degree world.

In its full statement published on its website, Extinction Rebellion noted:

Right now, what we’re seeing is papers like the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Express encouraging vitriol and abuse towards a veteran, a man who served his country, when PTSD, homelessness, addiction and alcoholism are the reality for thousands of people who have left the armed forces.

If national newspapers were truly motivated to ‘honour the fallen’, they would be challenging the government repeatedly to uphold its supposed moral commitments to look after former armed forces personnel, many of whom suffer from physical injuries and mental health issues.

Indeed, if the major news media were the responsible fourth estate they claim to be, they would scrutinise government foreign policy, not least statements of benign intent about ‘defending’ freedom and democracy around the world. The media would hold politicians to account for the mass deaths of civilians in the wars and ‘humanitarian interventions’ in which the UK has participated. This would be a fitting memorial to peace, rather than the endless succession of annual ceremonies that politicians and media purport as ‘honouring’ the dead.

As Mail on Sunday journalist, Peter Hitchens, whose courageous work in exposing the official narrative on a supposed chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, commented recently:

In recent years a very strange thing has happened to my trade. More and more journalists seem happy to be the mouthpieces of government, or of political parties. Worse, they attack other journalists for refusing to fall into step with the official line.

Hitchens added:

If such ideas had been around in the days of Watergate, Richard Nixon would have served two full terms as President and retired with honour.

If it had been so in 2003, you wouldn’t know, even now, that Saddam Hussein did not have any weapons of mass destruction.

Moreover, a truly ‘mainstream’ media – pursuing genuine public-interest journalism – would be exposing the utter failure of successive governments to seriously address climate breakdown. The media would hail as heroes those climate activists who are protesting peacefully to draw attention to the very real risk of climate catastrophe, global mass loss of species and of human extinction itself.

Instead, the level of media debate is often shockingly poor. On ITV’s ‘This Morning’ last Thursday, the right-winger Andrew Neil, until recently masquerading as an ‘impartial’ BBC politics presenter, lambasted Extinction Rebellion, dismissing the warning that climate change will lead to wars. ‘There’s no evidence of that’, he declared.

This was an outrageous untruth. In fact, as Extinction Rebellion (XR) correctly point out, the UK Ministry of Defence itself warned in a June 2020 report of the:

growing recognition that climate change may aggravate existing threats to international peace and security’ and that society should prepare for between 2.3 – 3.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. As XR said, this would bring ‘unimaginable suffering’.

In other words, the MoD has provided powerful evidence precisely justifying the kind of protest, the kind of expression of free speech, that is absolutely vital if we are to save millions, perhaps billions of lives. Is not the best way of honouring the dead to honour and protect the living, to do whatever we can to avoid yet more unnecessary war deaths in future?

And it’s not just the MoD pointing to the link between global warming and war. The US Pentagon has warned of this for at least two decades. As news agency Bloomberg noted in January 2019, the most comprehensive study to investigate the link between climate change, war and refugee flows concluded:

Pentagon Fears Confirmed: Climate Change Leads to More Wars and Refugees

Later the same year, a report prepared by officials from the US Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA and other agencies, warned of a more dangerous world under global warming. The effects would include increased electricity blackouts, starvation, thirst, disease and war over the next two decades. The US military itself may even be at risk of collapse within two decades.

Michael Klare, author of a new book titled All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, summed up in a recent interview:

What happens when you have states collapsing, multiple wars happening in the Middle East and Africa and South America, and many hurricanes and disasters in the United States all at the same time? The US military doesn’t have enough troops or resources to both defend the United States and to address all of these foreign catastrophes. That’s what I call an all-hell-breaking-loose scenario, and the Pentagon knows very well that US forces aren’t prepared or capable to deal with it.

Of course, from the selfish vantage point of imperial power, the US armed forces and the political and security establishment, are primarily motivated to maintain US hegemony in a warming world in which many of their military bases around the globe are threatened by rising sea levels and increased incidence and severity of storms; as well as the ‘threats’ that other countries or ‘terrorist’ groups may pose in trying to take advantage of climate change.

Indeed, the Pentagon has long viewed climate change as a ‘destabilising force‘ and a ‘threat multiplier‘ – increasing the risk of war in the Middle East, Africa and around the globe as food, water and other resources diminish. As long ago as 2004, a previously secret Pentagon report prepared by strategic planners warned of climate wars being waged around the world. There could even be conflict in new areas, notably in the melting Arctic with oil resources and trade routes being fought over in the region.

For Andrew Neil, a high-profile commentator who for 25 years has enjoyed a privileged BBC platform, to dismiss serious concerns about climate wars is yet another symptom of the abysmal state of climate debate in UK national media.

Climate Agreements Are ‘Greenwash’, ‘Fake’, ‘Fraud’

In previous media alerts on climate, we have elucidated the severe threats to climate stability, civilisation and even human existence posed by the madness of corporate-driven globalisation and the imperialistic grasping at diminishing resources. Rather than once again reprising a list of these threats, and the underlying destructive nature of capitalism that is fuelling these threats, consider a recent pledge demonstrating what should be the obvious, honest responsibility of scientists.

‘Science has no higher purpose than to understand and help maintain the conditions for life to thrive on Earth’, is a core statement in a recently published ‘science oath for climate’. Climate scientists Chris Rapley, Sarah Bracking, Bill McGuire, Simon Lewis and Jonathan Bamber have invited others in the scientific community to join their initiative to prevent catastrophic climate disruption. Among their stated pledges is a commitment not to be hindered or intimidated by any sense of:

what might seem politically or economically pragmatic when describing the scale and timeframe of action needed to deliver the 1.5C and 2C commitments, specified in the Paris climate agreement. And to speak out about what is not compatible with the commitments, or is likely to undermine them.

This is especially relevant right now when the ‘MSM’ is selling the idea of President-elect Joe Biden as a harbinger of hope for the climate. The Guardian wrote approvingly of his supposed ‘climate bet’, namely: ‘putting jobs first will bring historic change’. Biden has pledged:

to clean up electricity by 2035 and spend $2tn on clean energy as quickly as possible within four years.

While conceding a cautious note about Biden’s reluctance ‘to be tougher on the fossil fuel industry’, the Guardian declared that his plan was ‘significant and historic’ and it ‘would be just the beginning of a brutal slog to transform the way the nation operates’.

The paper even published a 16-page ‘souvenir supplement’, heralding Biden’s presidency as a ‘new start‘; in much the same way as the Guardian and the rest of the corporate media welcomed Barack Obama’s ascension to the White House in 2008. Obama, of course, then went on to bomb seven Muslim-majority countries, paid lip service to the reduction of nuclear weapons (after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009), shared complicity in Saudia Arabia’s terror campaign against Yemen, as well as in Israel’s crushing of Palestinian human rights, and continued to subsidise the planet-wrecking fossil fuel sector.

We were told back then that Obama would ‘wipe the slate clean’. A ‘new dawn’ was declared. We would ‘learn to love America’ again. In reality, it was all about relaunching ‘Brand America’, so that US imperialism could continue unimpeded. Why should it be any different today, given the way the US system selects for corporate-friendly candidates?

It certainly won’t be. As Kevin Gosztola explained in an article for The Grayzone website:

An eye-popping array of corporate consultants, war profiteers, and national security hawks have been appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to agency review teams that will set the agenda for his administration. A substantial percentage of them worked in the United States government when Barack Obama was president. The appointments should provide a rude awakening to anyone who believed a Biden administration could be pressured to move in a progressive direction…

Of the two presidential ‘choices’ delivered by a corrupt, corporate-financed US electoral system of ‘democracy’, Biden was the lesser evil compared to Trump, the latter described by Noam Chomsky as ‘the worst criminal in human history’ for the threat he represented to climate stability:

There is nothing like this in history. It’s not breaking with the American tradition. Can you think of anyone in human history who has dedicated his efforts to undermining the prospects for survival of organized human life on earth?

But be under no illusion that Biden, representing and backed by powerful corporate and financial elites, and with a sordid record of supporting US crimes around the world, represents any kind of significant departure from business-as-usual for US power.

This grim reality has been ignored or overlooked in the overwhelmingly meek, hopelessly Panglossian reactions of the ‘policy experts’ and climate scientists canvassed by website Carbon Brief in the wake of the US election. Understandable to some extent, there was widespread welcoming of the prospect of the US rejoining the Paris climate agreement which Trump had infamously rejected.

Dr Rachel Cleetus, of the US-based Union for Concerned Scientists, told Carbon Brief:

President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president elect Kamala Harris’ victory marks a new day in the fight for bold, just and equitable climate policy in the US.

Dr Maisa Rojas Corradi, Director of the Centre for Climate and Resilience Research, University of Chile, said:

Biden’s victory will give a tremendous momentum to climate action, a momentum that was building up after the giant Asian countries announced carbon-neutrality compromises recently. This means that in this crucial decade we will be able to tackle the climate crisis seriously.

Dr Niklas Höhne and Dr Bill Hare, who run the Climate Action Tracker initiative, declared:

If president-elect Joe Biden goes ahead with his net-zero emissions pledge by 2050 for the US, this could shave 0.1C off global warming by 2100.

The madness of having to be grateful for the feeble hope of ‘shaving off’ 0.1C of catastrophic heating needs no comment.

One climate expert conspicuously missing from the list of over twenty experts consulted was Dr James Hansen, the pioneering climate scientist who famously warned the US Congress in 1988 of the dangers of global warming. Hansen’s honesty about the politics of climate is legendary. In 2009, we asked him how much had been achieved in the decades since he and others scientists had raised the climate alarm. In particular, we asked him to estimate the percentage of required action to address the climate crisis had actually been implemented by governments. His blunt answer? Precisely zero per cent.5  Since then, carbon emissions, consumption and temperatures have continued to soar.

In 2015, Hansen was scathing about the Paris climate agreement:

It’s a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to say: “We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.” It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.

In 2017, during the climate talks in Bonn, Hansen described the supposed political ambition of world leaders on climate as a ‘hoax’. He said:

As yet, these politicians are working more for the fossil fuel industry than they are for the public, in my opinion.

These are the kind of direct, honest and accurate statements that climate scientists should be making. Politicians need to be confronted with their chronic lack of action to tackle today’s – not tomorrow’s – climate emergency. Scientists should be explicit in declaring that the fossil fuel era needs to end.

Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg is right to call political leaders ‘hypocrites’ and to denounce them for delivering no more than empty words and greenwash at international climate summits. She said that leaders were happy to set targets for carbon emissions decades into the future. But when immediate cuts were demanded, they flinched. When asked if there was any politician anywhere promising the climate action required, she said, ‘If only’.

She added:

As long as we don’t treat the climate crisis like a crisis, we can have as many conferences as we want, but it will just be negotiations, empty words, loopholes and greenwash.

Pledges by the UK, China, Japan and other nations – including the US under Biden – to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or 2060 are largely meaningless, she believes:

They mean something symbolically, but if you look at what they actually include, or more importantly exclude, there are so many loopholes. We shouldn’t be focusing on dates 10, 20 or even 30 years in the future. If we don’t reduce our emissions now, then those distant targets won’t mean anything because our carbon budgets will be long gone.

Thunberg says that there is not a single political leader on the world stage who ‘gets it’ on climate. When asked about what she has learned from meeting people in power, she has some interesting and astute observations:

I’ve spoken to many world leaders, and sometimes I wish I had a hidden camera. People wouldn’t believe what they say. It’s very funny. They say: “I can’t do anything because I don’t have the support. You need to help me.” They become desperate. It’s like they are begging for me to help them persuade the public that we need climate action. What that tells me is people are underestimating their power and the power of democracy and of putting pressure on people in power.

There is hope in that message. We, the public, have strength in numbers. Politicians are not necessarily forced to do the bidding of corporate, financial and military elites. They can be made to do the will of the people. Or, if not, they need to be replaced by politicians who do represent public interests and public power. When it comes to human civilisation – human survival even – it is imperative that we exert that power.

  1. Print Edition, 12 November, p. 13.
  2. Print Edition, 12 November, p. 11.
  3. Print Edition, 12 November, p. 6.
  4. Print Edition, 12 November, p. 5.
  5. Email, Hansen to Media Lens, June 18, 2009.

The post The Dead And Those About To Die: Climate Protests And The Corporate Media first appeared on Dissident Voice.

World Economic Forum (WEF) Step Two:  “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda” After The Great Reset

The WEF gang have just published (October 2020) a so-called White Paper, entitled “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda in a Post-Covid World”.

This 31-page document reads like a blueprint on how to “execute” because an execution it would be – “Covid-19 – The Great Reset” (July 2020), by Klaus Schwab, founder and CEO (since the foundation of the WEF in 1974) and his associate Thierry Malleret. They call “Resetting the Future” a White Paper, meaning it’s not quite a final version. It is a draft of sorts, a trial balloon, to measure people’s reactions. It reads indeed like an executioner’s tale. Many people may not read it, have no awareness of its existence. If they would, they would go up in arms and take up arms to fight this latest Nazi-enterprise offered to the world by the WEF.

It promises a horrifying future to some 80%-plus of the (surviving) population. George Orwell’s “1984” reads like a benign fantasy as compared to what the WEF has in mind for humanity.

The time frame is ten years. By 2030 the UN agenda 2021–2030 should be implemented.

Planned business measures in response to COVID-19:

  • An acceleration of digitized work processes, leading to 84% of all work processes as digital, or virtual/video conferences.
  • Some 83% of people are planned to work remotely; i.e., no more interaction between colleagues, absolute social distancing, separation of humanity from the human contact.
  • About 50% of all tasks are planned to be automated; in other words, human input will be drastically diminished, even while remote working.
  • Accelerate the digitization of upskilling/reskilling (e.g. education technology providers).  42% of skill upgrading or training for new skills will be digitized, in other words, no human contact, all on computer, Artificial Intelligence (AI), algorithms.
  • Accelerate the implementation of upskilling/reskilling programs.  35% of skills are planned to be “re-tooled”; i.e., existing skills are planned to be abandoned, declared defunct.
  • Accelerate ongoing organizational transformations (e.g. restructuring). 34% of current organizational set-ups are planned to be “restructured’, or in other words, existing organizational structures will be declared obsolete to make space for new sets of organizational frameworks, digital structures that provide utmost control over all activities.
  • Temporarily reassign workers to different tasks. This is expected to touch 30% of the work force. That also means completely different pay-scales, most probably unlivable wages, which would make the also planned “universal basic salary” or “basic income” a wage that allows you barely to survive, an obvious need. But it would make you totally dependent on the system, a digital system, where you have no control whatsoever.
  • Temporarily reduce workforce. This is projected as affecting 28% of the population. It is an additional unemployment figure, in disguise, as the “temporarily” will never come back to full-time.
  • Permanently reduce workforce: 13% permanently reduced workforce.
  • Temporarily increase workforce: 5%. There is no reference to what type of workforce, probably unskilled labor that sooner or later will also be replaced by automation, by AI and robotization of the workplace.
  • No specific measures implemented: 4%.  Does that mean a mere 4% will remain untouched? From the algorithm and AI-directed new work places? As small and insignificant as the figure is, it sounds like “wishful thinking”, never to be accomplished.
  • Permanently increase workforce. A mere 1% is projected as “permanently increased workforce”. This is, of course, not even cosmetics. It is a joke.

This is the state of the affair – of implementation of The Great Reset.  The Great Reset also foresees a credit scheme, whereby all personal debt would be “forgiven” against handing over all personal assets to an administrative body or agency – could possibly be the IMF.

So, you would own nothing and be happy. Because all your necessities will be provided for.  Also, it should not occur to you to disagree with the system, because by now each one of you has been covid-vaccinated and nano-chipped so that with 5G and soon to come 6G, your mind can be read and influenced.

Please do not call this conspiracy theory. DARPADefense Advanced Research Projects Agency is part of the Pentagon – and has years ago developed the technology. It is just a matter of time to implement it. And Implemented it will be, if We, The People, do not protest.  Massive Civil Disobedience is of the order and that rather sooner than later.

The more we wait with action, the more we sleepwalk into this absolute human disaster.

Human contact is being eviscerated.

This has several advantages for this Nazi-type novel WEF approach to humanity – to controlling humanity.  We, The People, cannot rebel.  We have no longer cohesion among ourselves.  “We, The People”, will be played against each other and there is an absolute digital control over humanity executed by a small super elite. We have no access to this digital control.  It is way beyond our reach. The idea is that we will gradually grow into it, those of us who may survive. Within a generation or so it is expected to become the New Normal.

The “survival angle” is an aspect not mentioned directly either in The Great Reset, or the “Implementation Guide”; i.e., in the White Paper “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda in a Post-Covid World”.

Bill Gates, the Rockefellers, Kissinger et al, have never even made a secret out of their strong opinion that the world is over-populated and that a sizable amount of people have to be literally eliminated. We are dealing with eugenicists.

A perfect method for decimating the world population are Bill Gates initiated and WHO-supported vaccination programs. Scandals of such disastrous and children-killing programs abound in India (in the 1990s), Kenya (2014 forward) and other parts of the world. See also a very revealing TedTalk by Bill Gates of February 2010, “Innovating to Zero”, just about at the time when the “2010 Rockefeller Report” was issued, the very report that has given us so far the “Lockstep Scenario”, and we are living it. Hardly protesting it; the entire world – 193 UN member countries — has been coopted or coerced into following this abject human rights abuse on a global scale.

What either report, “The Great Reset” and the “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda” fails to mention is who is going to enforce these draconian new rules? They are supposedly the same forces which now are being trained for urban warfare and for suppressing riots and social unrest.  They are the police and the military.

Part of our People’s Organization of Civil Disobedience will be on how to focus on and talking to, educating, informing the police and military of what they will be used for by this small elite, and that in the end they are also just human beings like the rest of us.  Therefore they better stand up in defense of the people, of humanity. The same needs to be done to teachers and medical personnel – information, the unfettered truth

That’s the challenge. If we succeed the game is over. But it’s a long way. Media disinformation is brutal and powerful and hard to contradict for “us” without any sizable budget for counter-propaganda, and as a group of people which is ever more divided by the very media. The mandatory wearing masks and social distancing has already made enemies of what we used to be, colleagues, friends. Even within families, this very dictate has managed to create rifts and discord.

No fear – but shredding “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda” and the “The Great Reset” literally to pieces — with a human alternative that would do away with organizations like the WEF, and coopted UN agencies like WHO, UNICEF, WTO, World Bank, IMF — and maybe even the entire UN system — and incarcerate their leaders after giving them due process — Nuremberg style.

The post World Economic Forum (WEF) Step Two:  “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda” After The Great Reset first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Free Press = Free Assange

_C19GSC Panelists.jpg

Covid-19 Global Solidarity Coalition presents an international webinar:

SATURDAY November 21st – 20:00 EST (U.S.)

The panelists will discuss the UK extradition trial of Julian Assange, the 18 criminal offenses conjured by the U.S., and how the case impacts the 99%.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower, former defense analyst, activist.

MARJORIE COHN: Professor Emerita Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president National Lawyers Guild.

JOE LAURIA: Editor-in-Chief Consortium News, coordinator of extensive daily coverage of extradition hearings.

TO REGISTER FOR THIS INT’L WEBINAR, CLICK HERE.

To sign up at our Facebook Events Page, click here.

This thought-provoking event is co-sponsored by: Consortium News, Roots Action, World Beyond War, CovertAction, theAnalysis.news, Co-op Anti-War Cafe’ Berlin, Frente Unido America Latina Berlin, Project Censored, Media Freedom Foundation, National Lawyers Guild. German Peace Council.

I am a member of the organizing committee which includes Ron Ridenour, Peter Kuznick, and Satoko Norimatsu.

Please attend . . . I guarantee this will be worth your time.

The post Free Press = Free Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Imperative To Achieve National Improved Medicare For All

NOTE: The Kevin Zeese Emerging Activists Fund is accepting applicants for an unrestricted grant of $20,000 until December 13, 2020. Learn more at PopularResistance.org/kevin-zeese/. And join us for a webinar with Venezuelan social movements on November 18 to hear about their upcoming elections and how we can support their struggle against US intervention. Details at bit.ly/VZvotes.

Health care will be a major issue early in the new Biden/Harris administration. Unemployment is still high with over a million people applying for unemployment benefits last week and 42.6% of working age people without a job.

In the United States, losing employment often means losing health insurance. On top of the 30 million people who are already uninsured, it is estimated that nearly 15 million people lost their health insurance due to becoming unemployed as of June. The current number of people without health insurance is not known, but as Biden takes office, it could surpass the 44 million who were uninsured when Obama took office in 2008.

Biden’s healthcare plan looks like a replay of the health reform process of 2009-10 when the Democrats effectively divided the movement in support of national improved Medicare for all and pushed through the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), which passed without Republican support.  Health insurance and pharmaceutical corporate profits have soared since then while people struggle to afford healthcare.

In a time of the COVID-19 pandemic when over 250,000 people have already died and the University of Washington predicts over 500,000 deaths by the end of February, we cannot allow a repeat of the failed ACA. It is unconscionable to create anything less than a universal single payer healthcare system.

2012, rally outside the Supreme Court. Popular Resistance.

The ACA Challenge in the Supreme Court

This week, oral arguments in a case against the ACA were heard by the US Supreme Court. This is the third Constitutional challenge to the law and the second time the individual mandate, which requires people to have health insurance or pay a penalty, has been questioned.

During the first challenge, I was part of a group of fifty physicians and lawyers who filed an amicus brief with the court arguing that national improved Medicare for all is the most Constitutionally-sound healthcare system. Read the open letter here: amicus-brief-open-letter

Traditional Medicare has been our national healthcare system for seniors and people with certain health conditions since 1965. It meets the definition of “taxation for the general welfare” in Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution. On the other hand, the ACA uses our public dollars to subsidize private health insurers with hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Those health insurers then pay their CEOs multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses and dividends to their stockholders. The Congressional Budget Office estimates those subsidies will be $920 billion in 2021.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, private health insurers are taking over our public insurances, Medicaid and Medicare. Most Medicaid enrollees are in plans managed by private insurers. Over a third of seniors are in private “Medicare Advantage” plans that rip them off when they have health problems. Private insurers are working aggressively to increase their Medicare takeover. Private insurers also provide health plans to public employees and the military. Modern Healthcare reports that by 2017, 50% or more of the revenue of the top health insurance corporations came from the government.

Many of us saw what the ACA actually was, a bailout for the private insurance industry that had raised premiums so high people couldn’t afford them. The ACA not only subsidized people purchasing health insurance, it required the government to sell the plans and forced people to buy them with the individual mandate.

Ten years after its passage, the ACA has left our healthcare system in a similar state to when it began. Healthcare costs are too high. People are delaying and avoiding necessary care. Hundreds of thousands of households still become bankrupt each year due to medical illness. And at a time when support for national improved Medicare for all is high, the incoming president is advocating for more of the same.

Understanding the Biden Health Plan

During the 2009-10 health reform process, the Obama/Biden administration used the idea of a “public option” to divide progressives away from the movement for national improved Medicare for all. Tens of millions of dollars went to unions and so-called progressive organizations whose task was to convince people that national improved Medicare for all was asking for too much but what was “on the table” was a public option that they argued was achievable and could lead to single payer healthcare.

None of what they said made sense from a health policy perspective but with enough groups saying it, people were convinced it was true. In reality, adding one more insurance to the mix of thousands of plans doesn’t change much. As exists with Medicare and Medicare advantage plans, the healthy population is courted for the private plans and when people become ill, they leave those private plans for the public plan. This puts the burden of paying for care on the underfunded public plan. When it struggles, this is used to reinforce the myth that private is better.

If a public option, the foundation of the Biden plan, were created, it would struggle to compete with the well-marketed private plans. Eventually, it would turn into a high-risk pool and fail. If anything, it would be a relief valve for the private insurers where they could offload expensive patients.

What was most striking during the last health reform process is that all along the widely-promoted “public option” was never intended to be in the final legislation. It was a ploy to keep progressives from demanding single payer healthcare. In December, 2009, when the Senate was being pressured by groups to include a public option in their legislation, as the House had done, the White House started pushing the Senate not to include it. Their plan, which they executed, was to have two different bills from the House and Senate so the final legislation would be crafted in a conference of a select group from the House and Senate in order to pick and choose what was in it. And, of course, the public option was not in the final bill.

Biden claims that he will take action to reduce the costs of pharmaceuticals. The most effective way to do this is through a national single payer healthcare system. When the government is the single purchase of goods, like medicines, it has the most leverage to reduce the prices. Without that, reducing prices in one part of the healthcare system, such as Medicare, which Biden proposes, will result in higher prices in another sector. The pharmaceutical corporations have a legal responsibility to protect their investors’ interests. They always find a way.

A single payer system also has the ability to nationalize parts or the whole pharmaceutical industry if needed to protect the public good. Imagine if production of lifesaving medications like insulin was public. Nobody would have to ration their doses or die because they couldn’t afford it. Imagine if a COVID-19 vaccine were publicly manufactured. The government could increase production and instead of selling to the highest bidder, it could prioritize giving the vaccine to those who need it the most. This is how other nations operate their healthcare systems.

A final point is that, as happened in 2009-10, an important issue will be used to win the support of Democratic Party voters and convince them to support it. Last time, they used pre-existing conditions and the cost of healthcare for women. This time, it is reproductive rights. People will be pushed to support an inadequate reform because they will be told that not supporting it means they will take away reproductive rights. This issue will also be used to differentiate the Democrats from the Republicans.

What we ought to be demanding is what we need: a national universal publicly-financed healthcare system such as national improved Medicare for all or a fully public system as exists in the United Kingdom that includes all necessary care, which means reproductive care. We must not allow the Democrats to weaken our demand that every person in the United States have access to the care they need without fear of financial ruin. The private health insurers must go. They are parasites sucking the blood out of our healthcare system and they will never be satisfied until they have it all.

How We Win Universal Healthcare

The Democrats are using the same tactics they used in the last go-round because they work. People cannot allow themselves to be fooled again. How to avoid that was the subject of last week’s newsletter. It is critical that people know what those tactics are, recognize them when they are being used and take action to counter them.

If we are able to hold firm in our demand that we will accept nothing less than healthcare for everyone, not promises of healthcare for everyone but an actual healthcare system that can deliver that, then we will win. At every turn, when the Democrats offer less than that, their offer must be forcefully rejected.

Over the years, the biggest impediment to not achieving a universal healthcare system is that people don’t believe we have the power to win it. They believe the excuses that are used such as it is asking for too much or there isn’t the “political will” to pass it. Who creates “political will”? The people do!

The majority of people in the United States support a universal healthcare system. The opportunity to win it is now because the recession means our uninsured numbers will soar and the current healthcare system cannot address the COVID-19 crisis. As the crisis worsens, our voices must be louder. Universal healthcare is imperative.

And when we win this struggle, it will have two major impacts that will lead to more victories. First, it will demonstrate that people have power to achieve transformational systemic change. And second, it will create a social solidarity – everyone rich or poor in the same system – which will demonstrate that universal systems are superior to the privatized and complicated mess we have now. When we are all in the same system, we all have an interest in making it the best it can be instead of poor systems for the poor and high-quality systems for the rich. We will go on to demand other universal rights such as housing, education, internet access, jobs with a living wage and more.

This time around, the “Yes we can” slogan so common under Obama must mean that, yes, the people can overcome the plutocrats and put people over profits.

The post The Imperative To Achieve National Improved Medicare For All first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Challenges For Social Movements Now That Trump Has Been Defeated

Change doesn’t come from the top, especially within a manipulated ‘democracy’ as exists in the United States. When social transformation occurs, it follows years of educating, organizing and mobilizing at the grassroots. Elected leaders who represent that transformation ride on a wave created by social movements, not the other way around.

As many people around the country and the world celebrate the media’s announcement of the defeat of President Trump, those who advocate for transformational changes in the political, economic, legal and social systems are talking and writing about the challenges we’ll face under a Biden/Harris administration.

Democracy, literally ‘people power,’ is feared by the wealthy elites. Whether they are represented by Democrats or Republicans, they work to suppress it. Social movements can expect to face significant hurdles under a Biden administration in the next four years. However, if we know what to expect, we can use tactics to get past them and have some victories.

If conditions don’t improve, then there will be greater polarization and conflict within the country. This will give the state more justification for repression. If we succeed, and win victories for the poor and working class while building democracy at the grassroots level, we will be on a path towards the transformation we seek.

Red or blue team, they both play for the power elites (Paul J. Richards/ AFP/Getty Images)

Reflections on where we are

When the media called the election on Saturday, there were celebrations by Biden-supporters in the streets. People popped champagne corks and honked their horns. Some people see the election of Biden/Harris as a huge victory and hope it will mean changes that impact their lives positively.

Glenn Greenwald brings things back into perspective in his article comparing the Trump administration to the past two presidencies. Even though Trump was portrayed, especially by liberals, as some sort of monster, Greenwald writes:

There is nothing done by the Trump administration that can be rationally characterized as a radical aberration, some dramatic break, from U.S. tradition. Quite the contrary: none of Trump’s actions and policies are in some new universe of savagery, lawlessness, or radicalism when compared to those who preceded him in power.

Although Trump was very open about it, neoliberalism, militarism, racism and imperialism will continue under a Biden presidency. Biden did not even feign progressivism during the campaign. As Caitlin Johnstone points out in “US Murder Machine Now under Competent Management,” “Trump ran on a platform of scaling back US interventionism, as did Obama, as did even Bush, but Biden did the opposite. He is beginning from a much more hawkish position than he [sic] predecessors right off the bat.” The big question is whether or not Biden will be as competent as Obama was at getting away with it.

During the Obama administration, the peace movement struggled to survive even while Obama militarized Africa, surrounded China, destroyed Libya, increased drone attacks and more. Note that these are countries with majority non-white populations. People were reluctant to criticize the first black president and funding for the peace movement disappeared.

The Black Alliance for Peace and other groups have been working to rebuild an anti-imperialist peace movement over the past four years. In their recent statement, the Black Alliance for Peace reminds us that the situation does not change for colonized and oppressed people no matter who sits in the “white people’s house.”

Jonathan Cook explains the difference between Democratic and Republican administrations. While neither party takes action to address the many crises we face and the wealth divide continues to grow, people rightly become angry at the impacts this has on their lives. Republicans use this anger to mobilize their base. Democrats work to suppress that anger and put their base to sleep.

From CNN

Overcoming the obstacles

There are a variety of tactics used to weaken social movements and throw them off track. To recognize them, it helps to understand the concept of pillars of power – the institutions and groups that support the power structure. Chris Hedges outlines a number of them in his latest article, American Requiem:

There were many actors that killed America’s open society. The corporate oligarchs who bought the electoral process, the courts and the media, and whose lobbyists write the legislation to impoverish us and allow them to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth and unchecked power. The militarists and war industry that drained the national treasury to mount futile and endless wars that have squandered some $7 trillion and turned us into an international pariah. The CEOs, raking in bonuses and compensation packages in the tens of millions of dollars, that shipped jobs overseas and left our cities in ruins and our workers in misery and despair without a sustainable income or hope for the future. The fossil fuel industry that made war on science and chose profits over the looming extinction of the human species. The press that turned news into mindless entertainment and partisan cheerleading. The intellectuals who retreated into the universities to preach the moral absolutism of identity politics and multiculturalism while turning their backs on the economic warfare being waged on the working class and the unrelenting assault on civil liberties. And, of course, the feckless and hypocritical liberal class that does nothing but talk, talk, talk.

Each of these – the lobbyists, courts, military, CEOs, media, academics and liberals – is a pillar that supports the ruling class. There are others such as police, non-profits, churches, workers and youth. Social movements need to understand how these pillars operate and what can be done to weaken them by causing divisions within them and drawing people within those institutions to the movement’s side. This is discussed in more depth in the first class of the Popular Resistance School.

The media is a critical pillar for the power holders. It is used to control the narrative by keeping debate (“both sides”) squarely within the limits deemed acceptable by the elites. Voices that offer ideas outside that narrow framework are kept out. The media also uses distraction to take attention off the crises we face and the failures to address them.

As access to information has become more democratized through social media, internet news websites and podcasts, Big Tech, with the support of liberals and Democrats, has started clamping down and censoring content. Websites were first suppressed through manipulation of algorithms that kept them out of search tools and social media feeds. Then platforms such as YouTube cancelled monetization of certain content, which was necessary so those outlets could exist. Now, social media corporations such as Facebook and Twitter are disabling accounts, and recently the Department of Justice took 27 websites down. Of course, the prosecution of Julian Assange and others under the Espionage Act is another tactic meant to prevent journalists and publishers from revealing truths.

Social movements need to defend those like Assange who challenge the power structure. We must also push back against these attacks on our press freedom and demand our right to know what is being done by the government and corporations.

Other tactics used to throw movements off track are making excuses for why what the movement is demanding is too much or why now is not the time to make those demands. If that doesn’t work, power holders will use delay tactics such as pretending to work on the issue. This could include creating a committee to look into the issue or commissioning a study.

A common tactic is to present a false solution – something that sounds like it is going to solve the crisis but that falls short and preserves the status quo. The Affordable Care Act was a false solution used to undermine the demand for national improved Medicare for all and enrich the medical industrial complex.

Non-profit organizations and other pillars such as unions and community groups play an important role in promoting false solutions. This happens when the groups are closely allied with a political party or rely on access to power holders or money that causes them to compromise. These forms of co-optation, a widely used tactic, are described in depth in class six.

Another tactic is to create demons such as “socialism” that are used to frighten people away from supporting solutions. Hand in hand with creating demons is to vilify and marginalize those who are effectively challenging the power structure.

And if none of these tactics work and people persist in making their demands and building their campaigns, then the power holders use repression through the police and courts. One could also argue that maintaining economic insecurity through low wages, expensive housing and health care are also tools of oppression meant to keep people under control and focused on their basic survival and not on the work of organizing.

The ways we overcome these obstacles are by being aware of these tactics and countering them. We should not allow excuses or false solutions to weaken our demands for what we require. We need to recognize false demons and find ways to reassure people they will be better off with the changes we are championing. We need to show solidarity when members of the movement are under attack. And we need to build networks of support for each other, whether it is mutual aid or self defense.

We need to continue building power from the bottom up through organizing, political education and community assemblies where people can meet to discuss the crises and concrete ways to solve them. Then we can mobilize in our communities to build structures that empower us by meeting our needs and that model the society we envision. Social movements have always been the engine that drives transformational changes.

The coming years will be a challenge for social movements to remain independent, clear and uncompromising (ICU) in our demands. It is possible. Through the years, social movements in the United States have been growing and maturing. From the massive actions against unfair trade to the Occupy Movement to movements for worker and immigrant rights, housing, education, health care and more, people are learning how social transformation occurs. Our task now is to keep that going and growing while the power holders work to convince people that their problems are solved with the election of a Democrat.

The post Challenges For Social Movements Now That Trump Has Been Defeated first appeared on Dissident Voice.

November rent (or lack thereof)

Open Letter to My Landlord #6

If you think we’re taking advantage of the moratorium on evictions, you’re damn right we are. You have been taking advantage of the tacit threat of forced eviction ever since you bought your first apartment complex.

Dear CTL/Randall Group,

(Please forward to corporate.)

I appreciate the advice you’ve been sending to your tenants about rental assistance that is available from the local authorities, most of which, as you may know, actually is not available, because the need here in Portland and around the country far outstrips the supply. This is in the news regularly, especially in the business press, which you and I probably both consume daily.

Since we’re giving out free advice, I have advice for you, too:

Recognize the fact that we’re in an economic crisis, and dramatically lower what you charge. Since we moved in, our rent for this two-bedrom apartment went from $500 a month to $1,200 a month. Property taxes and other expenses did not rise at anything resembling that kind of rate. You did that because you could, and because you are a capitalist creation with no feelings and no conscience. In fact, you’re not human — you’re a corporation, and you do not exist in any form recognizable by the five senses. You are purely a legal entity — amoral, unaccountable, a product of a broken system. You can’t be evicted, you can’t get sick, you can’t be unemployed. But I’ll refer to you as “you” because, of course, humans are involved with running the company, whether they are ashamed to identify themselves by name or not. (As the rent rises, the communication from you becomes more and more anonymous, as you may be aware. Probably tired of all the hate mail from tenants, I assume.)

Portland is the most rent-burdened city in the country, according to the business press, and you are responsible for this situation, very directly, through your landlord practices, and through the lobbying entities you support, that have corrupted our political system.

The situation as it is is totally untenable, and was, long before the pandemic. This, in large part, is why renters in Portland are now over $125 million behind on rent. We were already the most rent-burdened renters in the USA, before the pandemic hit. We already lost more than half of our Black population, long before the pandemic hit. Because of you, and other landlords like you, and the corrupt politicians who serve you. This is called institutional racism, obviously. Although no one is keeping track, I can say from copious circumstantial evidence that Portland also lost more than half of its artists during the same period.

Send in the police (when you’re eventually allowed to), take us to court (when you’re eventually allowed to), or change your ways. Those are your options.

If you choose the latter option, I look forward to receiving a new offer for a rental agreement that is in keeping with basic standards of morality, decency, and human rights. You more than doubled our rent since we moved in to this apartment in 2007. This is reprehensible. If there’s an adjective more reprehensible than reprehensible, it’s that, too. I’m a songwriter, by profession — one of the few left who can afford to live in this city — and I still cannot come up with an adjective to describe how abhorrent the Randall Group is to me, and to any other civilized person.

Don’t send us useless advice about rental assistance. Send us a new rental agreement. We’re on rent strike. (Look it up — it’s a thing, in the US and around the world, it goes way back, and the landlords often lose, if people fight hard enough. In fact, whole systems can change overnight, because of such struggles.) Also I still haven’t gotten any money from the Oregon Employment Department for being unemployed since March. The fact that I’m unemployed and receiving no aid from the state may be technically the reason we can legally withhold our rent from you under the federal CDC moratorium, so maybe that’s relevant on some level, but on the moral plain it’s completely beside the point.

The rent we have been withholding since April is in our savings account, for the most part. We are and have been prepared to pay rent — but not just whatever you feel like charging. We are not prepared to leave this city, like most of our friends have had to do. We will fight back. We are fighting back right now. This is just the beginning of the class war which you have started by doubling the rent on people like us.

The press is full of sob stories from landlords who say their tenants are taking advantage of them by withholding rent that they could maybe afford to pay, even under the circumstances of the pandemic and the economic crash. But what about solidarity with other human beings? What about all those people who can’t afford to pay? Will you evict them all?

If you think we’re taking advantage of the moratorium on evictions, you’re damn right we are. You have been taking advantage of the tacit threat of forced eviction ever since you bought your first apartment complex.

In another, earlier message sent to us tenants in the spring, you inferred that you would have to lay off staff because so many renters aren’t paying rent. So you applied for PPP loans and got turned down? There is zero transparency involved with your landlordism, so we would have no way of knowing, obviously. In any case, appealing to the concern we renters may have for our friends who work for you was a disgustingly low blow. We know who your staff are and so do you — they’re mostly people of color, and obviously so badly paid that they can’t afford to live in this neighborhood.

You were inferring in that email that you charge rent largely in order to pay your workers, which we all know is complete idiocy to suggest. You are a for-profit corporation — and a very profitable one at that, in an extremely profitable industry (corporate landlordism) which you have made sure remains profitable, by bribing politicians in Salem and Washington, DC. What happened to all your profits? Did you lose them? Did they fall out of your socks? Do you have a bank account? Oh, I forgot, you are bankers, and you give your quarterly dividends to the stockholders, who make all the money.

So maybe you really are broke landlords. In that case, a suggestion — some more free advice: sell us the building and we’ll take care of it. Or, on second thought, we’ve already paid enough rent to you to build this building all over again many times, so you can just cut your losses, declare bankruptcy, and we can buy it from the foreclosure corporations, where you buy your distressed properties, that you then turn around and gouge us to live in.

Or, on third thought, if you’re not making enough money from corporate landlordism, why don’t you get a real job? Amazon is hiring. Or you can try being a professional musician. I’ll give you some tips, in your virtual guitar case.

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