Category Archives: Elections

Anti-semitism bandwagon rolled out again

For a few months over the summer the British corporate media largely lost interest in smearing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-semite. Maybe they had begun to worry that the constant drum-beat of the past three years was deadening the public’s sensitivity to such claims.

But an election is now weeks away, and the anti-semitism smear bandwagon is being rolled out once again.

Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle (who also writes for the Tory-loving Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph newspapers) has yet again been terrifying readers as best he can, implying not so subtly that voting for Labour might risk a genocide of British Jews. After several years of painting Corbyn – preposterously – as some kind of unkempt, grey-bearded leader of a British Gestapo-in-the-making, Pollard spent the past few days highlighting in the corporate media the predictable results of the latest survey of Jewish public opinion. It suggests that a growing number of Jews are considering leaving Britain if Corbyn manages to oust Boris Johnson from power.

That we have reached the point where so many British Jews have been persuaded that Corbyn’s vocal criticism of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians means his entire party is infected with a supposed hatred of Jews needs some explaining. It is something I have been trying to do regularly, and in real time, as life has been breathed into these various slurs, both by a corporate media that detests the fairer society a Corbyn party promises and by an Israel lobby that identifies so closely with Israel that it has completely dehumanised Palestinians, to the extent that the crimes against them can be entirely overlooked – treated as no more significant than stepping on an ant.

In the figure of Pollard, we have a journalist who merges both outlooks, typified in this extraordinary tweet last year that at the time stunned even some of his followers but has now become a staple of the campaign against Corbyn and his democratic socialist politics. Efforts by the left to highlight the class war waged by an elite that’s been sucking the life out of the British economy to enrich itself have been maliciously recharacterised by Pollard and other rightwing journalists (some of whom ensconced themselves in the Labour party during Tony Blair’s rule) as an attack on Jews. But it is not the left that conflates the corporate elite with Jews, it is right wing journalists like Pollard.

We shall return to this issue later in the post.

Jonathan Freedland’s libel

An incident at the weekend helped to illustrate just how organised and malevolent the anti-semitism smears against Corbyn truly are.
Jonathan Freedland, a supposedly liberal columnist at the Guardian newspaper and a BBC regular, again proved how he has been a key
figure in weaponising this allegation against a Corbyn-led party. So eager is he to damage Labour and make sure it is no position to end a decade of Tory-imposed austerity that he threw aside all normal journalistic caution and published a libellous claim of anti-semitism against a potential Labour candidate in the coming general election.

There were several revealing aspects to this incident. Freedland defamed Majid Mahmood, a Labour local councillor in Birmingham, without making even the most rudimentary factual checks that the highly damaging claim was actually true – a basic journalistic duty. He simply relied on the word of a “previously reliable Labour source” – in other words, one of the many Blairite enemies of Corbyn within the Labour parliamentary faction and party bureaucracy who have been briefing against the leader for the past four years.

(It is worth recalling that a prominent anti-racism activist, Marc Wadsworth, was hounded from the party last year, accused of anti-semitism, for warning that Blairite MPs like Ruth Smeeth were briefing against their own leader to journalists in the right wing press. Smeeth accused Wadsworth of anti-semitism because she is Jewish, though Wadsworth says he did not know that – and, of course, her Jewishness is irrelevant to the issue of whether she was seeking to malign her own party’s leader through the media. Wadsworth’s mistake, it seems, was to assume that corporate “liberal” journalists like Freedland were not also part of those smear efforts.)

In Mahmood’s case, it was an egregious example of mistaken identity. Freedland and his “source” had confused the Birmingham councillor with a London lawyer of the same name who was fined over anti-semitic comments four years ago. Such confusion was clearly neither accidental nor innocent. Mahmood’s case highlighted something that was already patently obvious: that anti-Corbyn groups have been trawling the histories and social media posts of Labour members in an organised effort to weaponise anything they can find against the Labour leader. The defamation of Mahmood was simply the latest smear to emerge from this campaign.

Smears from within Labour

But Freedland’s “defence” was itself telling. The person relaying the smear to him was, he said, from inside Labour and had been “previously reliable”. That meant someone fairly senior in the party – thereby explaining Freedland’s readiness to believe him uncritically – and someone who had passed on similar damaging information before. It was irrefutable confirmation that Corbyn’s most venomous opponents are not in the Conservative party but drawn from Labour’s own top ranks. They want a Corbyn-led party destroyed even if it means keeping the Brexit-backing, austerity-loving, racism-indulgent Tories in power.

There was another ugly aspect to the behaviour of Freedland and his “source”. It looked suspiciously like both had uncritically accepted the unfounded claim against Mahmood because he had a Muslim name. They both appeared to have assumed that Muslims are more likely to be racist towards Jews and therefore accepted the claim with a much lower standard of evidence than they would have been expected in the case of anyone else.

In fact, the councillor’s name is a Muslim equivalent of “David Brown” or “George Smith”. Can we really imagine Freedland libelling someone with either of those names so casually, without making even cursory checks to be sure he had identified the right David Brown or George Smith?

This kind of behaviour has a name: it is called racism. And it is quite extraordinary to see Freedland so susceptible, after he has made a journalistic career out of exploring the intricacies of racism when it applies to Jews. It almost leaves one suspecting that this paragon of liberal journalism is really a hypocrite.

Fears the free lunch will end

The anti-semitism smear campaign is being revived in the corporate media for good reason. The stakes could not be higher for Britain’s ruling class. As worried as many of them are by Brexit, Corbyn is seen as a bigger threat. He might call time on the banquet they have been gorging on for four decades uninterrupted.

If Corbyn shunts Boris Johnson and the Tories out of power, the millionaires and billionaires who control both the British print and broadcast media, including the BBC, fear the good times could come to an abrupt end. The Brexit threat pales in comparison. That would simply shift our primary economic allegiance from Europe to the United States, leaving the predatory capitalism on which the corporate class has grown unimaginably rich as strong as ever.

A Corbyn government, by contrast, is an unknown quantity. The free-lunch might end, or at least start to feel more like an unsatisfying snack.

In truth, given the bitter divisions tearing apart his own party – between most of the mass membership, who are behind him, and the holdouts from the Blair-Brown era that still dominate the parliamentary party – it is hard to imagine Corbyn being able to do as much as his critics fear.

He may manage to curb the worst excesses of the neoliberal financial system, he may block further privatisation of the NHS, even reverse it a little, and he may bring a few vital national industries back into public ownership. He may manage too to redirect some of the cream the fat cats have been lapping up back into the public coffers for a New Green Deal. All of that would be a relief after so many years of Tory-designed austerity for the many and state socialism for the few.

But the corporate class are now so greedy, so used to getting their way, that even the smallest diminishment of their power and wealth is seen as an unbearable offence against what they divine as the natural order.

A tool of class war

They are not about to leave anything to chance. Corbyn must be tarred and feathered again. Four years of experimenting with various smears have selected anti-semitism as the weapon of choice. That false accusation can most easily be disguised to ensure it does not look like what it is intended to be when used against Corbyn and Labour: a tool of class war.

Claims of anti-semitism have worked ideally in damaging Corbyn because no real evidence has been needed. In fact, such claims succeed even when opposed to the known evidence (as we shall see). They work chiefly by innuendo and emotion. And better still, they work even when those accused like Corbyn and his allies deny the accusation. As in all good witch-hunts, denial is proof of guilt, as an ally of Corbyn’s, the MP Chris Williamson, has repeatedly found out. He has been barred from standing in the election, and has now resigned from the party, after correctly noting that Labour had in effect made the anti-semitism smears appear more credible by constantly apologising over evidence-free claims of anti-semitism from those seeking to harm the party’s image with voters.

This is a winning formula for the ruling class because anyone who tries to argue that Corbyn’s opponents are weaponising anti-semitism through the corporate media is thereby proved to be an anti-semite. The smears are entirely resistant to all evidence that they are smears.

Survey: little anti-semitism on left

That the anti-semitism claims are slurs has been demonstrated over and over again. But paradoxically the latest refutation came last week from the corporate elite’s house journal, the Economist – though, of course, it was not presented that way .

The magazine published a new survey of British public opinion showing that an ideological group it labelled as “very left wing” – presumably the people who share Corbyn’s views – were among the least likely to hold anti-semitic opinions, even though they also had by far the most critical views of Israel (an outlook the Economist mischievously termed “highly anti-Israel”).

In other words, those people on the left who firmly oppose Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians were unlikely also to harbour anti-Jewish views. The great majority could clearly distinguish between Israel and Jews, and did not hold Jews responsible for the crimes committed by the state of Israel.

The same could not be said, however, of either the centre or the right. Supporters of the right were less than half as likely to adopt critical views of Israel as the left but were three and a half times more likely to hold anti-semitic views. Meanwhile, only a small number of centrists were critical of Israel, and an almost identical number held anti-semitic views.

What the figures reveal is the very opposite of the Labour anti-semitism narrative – unless we wish to argue improbably that Labour and its 500,000 members (the largest party in Europe) are entirely unrepresentative of the wider public that shares their ideological worldview. The left overwhelmingly opposes Israeli colonial oppression of Palestinians but very few blame Jews for Israel’s behaviour. Israel is seen as a political project, one driven by an ugly ideology of settler colonialism, not a project representing all Jews. The latter is an anti-semitic position that, paradoxically, is supported and promoted by Israel itself.

Conversely, the same figures suggest that there is an identifiable problem of racism and anti-semitism on the right, and a potential one among centrists too. Whereas the left understands that Israel and Jews are entirely separate and distinct categories, both the centre and right appear to share a tendency of conflating Israel and Jews.

Racism rife on the right

In the case of the right, the figures show a close correlation between opposition to Israel and anti-Jewish feeling. A significant portion of the right either blame Jews collectively for Israel’s crimes or dislike Jews and so oppose the state that claims to represent them. Even though you would never know it from the media coverage, which concentrates exclusively on a supposed problem within the Labour party, anti-semitism is rife on the right in a way that simply isn’t true on the left.

The survey also hints at the possibility of a more veiled problem of racism and latent anti-semitism among “centrists”, a group presumably represented politically by the Lib Dems and the Blairite wing of the Labour party. Very few in this group express anti-Jewish sentiments – in fact, exactly the same small proportion as on the left. (Tellingly, despite these identical results, the Labour party has been smeared as “institutionally anti-semitic”, whereas the centrist Lib Dems have not.)

Nonetheless, there is a significant difference between the two political blocks – and one that could reflect much less well on the centrists than the left.

A much larger proportion of the centrist group appear to harbour sympathies for Israel, or at least view it uncritically, despite the ever mounting  evidence of Israel’s record of human rights abuses and intensifying oppression of Palestinians.

Remember that large numbers of the centrist Blairite faction of Labour MPs (though not the wider Labour membership) belong to Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and have proudly maintained their association with that organisation. They have continued to do so even after the LFI at first vigorously defended, then fell silent on Israel’s repeated massacres over the past 18 months of Palestinians protesters at the Gaza perimeter fence that encages them.

More than 220 Palestinians, including women, children, journalists, and medical staff, have been killed by Israeli snipers at the protests, while tens of thousands more have been maimed. But in a blatant example of anti-Arab racism, the LFI has blamed Hamas for these deaths, as though ordinary Palestinians in Gaza are simply pawns of Hamas and lack the volition to demand for themselves an end to an Israeli blockade that has imprisoned them for 12 years.

Centrists conflate Jews and Israel

Only a quarter as many centrists as leftists are critical of Israel, according to the Economist survey. In other words, a proportion of centrists appear to identify with Israel’s colonial oppression of Palestinians – possibly because they favour Jews over Arabs and Muslims (presumably as part of a “clash of civilisations” worldview) or maybe because they have positive feelings about Jews that translate into uncritical support for Israel, whatever it does to the Palestinians it rules over.

That could indicate a significant problem of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudice among centrists, similar to the ugly assumptions made by Jonathan Freedland and his “source”. However, we can do little more than speculate on this point because the survey is concerned exclusively with Jews and Israel.

Nonetheless, the figures also allude to a potential anti-semitism problem in the ranks of the centrist camp. The stark lack of criticism of Israel among centrists, combined with little anti-semitism, suggests that a significant proportion of centrists, like right-wingers, consider Jews and Israel to be intimately connected – that they struggle to disentangle a political project (Israel) from an ethnic or cultural group (Jews).

There is only a narrow distinction between a right-winger who conflates Israel and Jews in a way that vilifies Jews and a centrist who conflates Israel and Jews in a way that venerates Israel.

Rejecting universal rights

The difference in the respective outcomes of this conflation could reflect differing understandings of what Israel does. Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – whether seen as justified or not – is then projected on to Jews. Once the conflation is accepted, Jews unfairly receive either credit (from centrists) or blame (from the right) for Israel’s actions.

Or, more likely, the right-wingers and centrists who conflate Israel and Jews – as a proportion appear to do – are equally indulgent of a particularist and regressive approach to rights. Instead of committing to universal human rights, shared by all alike, the particularists assign superior rights to those they think of as more like themselves. Right-wingers, it seems, tend to exclude Jews from this category, while centrists have a greater tendency to include them.

But the danger is that, if these centrists can be persuaded that Jews are not part of their in-group – for example, by undermining the idea of a supposed Judeo-Christian West, embodying the supposed values of “civilisation” – then they could be as susceptible as the right to a generalised Jew hatred. It is a commitment to universal human rights – a doctrine to which most on the left subscribe but which some on the right and the centre appear to reject – that provides the only sure-fire political inoculation against racism in general and anti-semitism in particular.

The Economist, of course, wishes to avoid drawing this very obvious conclusion, one implied by its findings, because that would wreck the narrative it and the rest of the corporate media have been constructing to damage Corbyn. In fact, the Economist poll echoes earlier research ignored by the corporate media, such as figures showing that instances of antisemitism in Labour amount to 0.08% of the membership,  and surveys demonstrating that the Tory party – and its “watermelon smiles” leader Boris Johnson – have a far bigger problem with racism, towards both Muslims and Jews.

Not a whiff of anti-semitism’

Not everyone in the political and media class is ready to dance to the same tune, as was made clear in an interview that gently turned the tables on Alastair Campbell, chief adviser to Tony Blair when he was Labour prime minister. Campbell helped Blair distort the intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003 that gave superficial credence to a different but equally confected story: both that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that those weapons were just a hair’s-trigger away from being fired at the UK. Up to 1 million Iraqis were killed as a result of that illegal war, and many millions more were driven from their homes.

Campbell, a man whose anti-Muslim, anti-Arab prejudices permitted him to help lay waste to another country on an entirely bogus pretext, and whose reputation in the corporate media suffered not a whit as a result, decided to use the interview to try to revive the Corbyn anti-semitism smears and undermine Labour’s chances of winning the election. Like other Blairites, Campbell has been an outspoken critic of Corbyn, even going public with the fact that he has started voting for the Lib Dems.

He asked his interviewee, John Bercow, the outgoing Speaker of the House of Commons and a Jewish member of the Conservative party, to comment on Corbyn and the anti-semitism allegations. Campbell’s transparent aim was to recruit Bercow to the smear campaign – both as a Jew and as someone who has come to be widely trusted since becoming House Speaker as an arbiter of an even-handed politics.

Bercow’s response was not what Campbell hoped for. The former Speaker answered cautiously, but observed: “I myself have never experienced anti-semitism from a member of the Labour party … I do not myself believe Jeremy Corbyn is anti-semitic … I have known him for the 22 years I have been in parliament … and I have never detected so much as a whiff of anti-semitism from him.”

Campbell’s face could barely conceal his disappointment.

The interview was another reminder that those leading the anti-semitism smear campaign often have, given their own histories, precisely zero credibility on the issue of racism, let alone class politics. Whatever they may think they believe, it is not racism that truly concerns Campbell or Freedland; it is their fear of a different kind of politics, one that requires from them an entirely different way of understanding British colonial history, of interpreting Britain’s role in the world, and of ending the UK’s gaping class divide. They, like so many others in the media and political elite, are frightened that a different kind of politics might force them to look in the mirror – and finally understand that long ago they chose to stand with the oppressors rather than the oppressed.

Canada backs coup against Bolivia’s President

In yet another example of the Liberals saying one thing and doing another, Justin Trudeau’s government has supported the ouster of Evo Morales. The Liberals position on Bolivia’s first ever indigenous president stands in stark contrast with their backing of embattled pro-corporate presidents in the region.

Hours after the military command forced Morales to resign as president of the most indigenous nation in the Americas, Chrystia Freeland endorsed the coup. Canada’s foreign affairs minister released a statement noting “Canada stands with Bolivia and the democratic will of its people. We note the resignation of President Morales and will continue to support Bolivia during this transition and the new elections.” Freeland’s statement had no hint of criticism of Morales’ ouster, who still has two months left on his 2015 election mandate. Elsewhere, leaders from Argentina to Cuba, Venezuela to Mexico, condemned Morales’ forced resignation.

Ten days ago Global Affairs Canada echoed the Trump administration’s criticism of Morales’ first round election victory. “It is not possible to accept the outcome under these circumstances,” said a Global Affairs statement. “We join our international partners in calling for a second round of elections to restore credibility in the electoral process.”

The Canadian government also financed and promoted an Organization of American States effort to discredit Bolivia’s presidential election. In a statement titled “Canada welcomes results of OAS electoral audit mission to Bolivia” Freeland noted, “Canada commends the invaluable work of the OAS audit mission in ensuring a fair and transparent process, which we supported financially and through our expertise.”

The OAS played a crucial role in bolstering right-wing anti-Morales protests after the presidential election on October 20. Morales won the first round, which no one seriously disputes. The dispute is about whether he won by a 10% margin, which is the threshold required to avoid a second-round runoff. The official result was 47.07 per cent for Morales and 36.51 per cent for US-backed candidate Carlos Mesa.

Immediately after the election the OAS cried foul. But, the Centre for Economic Policy Research’s report “What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote Count? The Role of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission” challenges the OAS claims. The CEPR concludes that there is no evidence the election results were affected by fraud or irregularities.

CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot criticized the OAS for questioning the election results without providing any evidence. “The OAS press statement of October 21 and its preliminary report on the Bolivian elections raise disturbing questions about the organization’s commitment to impartial, professional, electoral observation,” said Weisbrot. “The OAS should investigate to find out how such statements, which may have contributed to political conflict in Bolivia, were made without any evidence whatsoever.”

While backing the ouster of Morales, Trudeau has offered support for beleaguered right-wing leaders in the region. Amidst massive demonstrations against his government, the Prime Minister held a phone conversation 10 days ago with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera who has a 14% approval rating. According to the published report of the conversation, Trudeau criticized “election irregularities in Bolivia” and discussed their joint campaign to remove Venezuela’s president. A CTV story noted, “a summary from the Prime Minister’s Office of Trudeau’s phone call with Pinera made no direct mention of the ongoing turmoil in Chile, a thriving country with which Canada has negotiated a free trade agreement.”

In Haiti the only reason Jovenel Moïse remains president is because of backing of Ottawa, Washington and other members of the so-called “Core Group”. Unlike Bolivia, Haiti is not divided. Basically, everyone wants Moïse to go. Reliable polling is limited, but a poll last month found that 81% of Haitians wanted the president to leave. Many are strongly committed to that view, which is why the country’s urban areas have been largely paralyzed since early September.

The Trudeau government is obviously following the Trump administration in backing the removal of Morales. But, there has also been conflict between Canadian capital and the Morales government. Executives of Canadian mining companies have criticized Morales and expressed fear over “resource nationalism” in the region more generally. In 2012 weeks of protest against South American Silver’s operations in central Bolivia — that saw an indigenous activist killed — prompted the Morales government to nationalize the Vancouver-based company’s mine. Ottawa immediately went to bat for South American Silver. Ed Fast’s spokesman Rudy Husny told the Vancouver Sun the trade minister instructed Canadian officials to “intensify their engagement with the Bolivian government in order to protect and defend Canadian interests and seek a productive resolution of this matter.”

Once again our government has prioritized the interests of Canadian corporations over the interest of indigenous people. Shame on Trudeau for supporting the ouster of Evo Morales.

Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections

An enduring US political tradition was in evidence in Seattle recently.  Amazon had decided that the city council elections would be too important to leave alone.  Seattle was their city after all.  The aim of the company was much in keeping with the manor lord who prosecutes keen poachers: fund pro-business candidates sympathetic to its cause and defeat such Amazon critics as Kshama Sawant in their home town.

Council member Sawant has become something of a minor celebrity and hate figure in Seattle political circles, having battled for a $15 minimum wage in 2014, and promoted the merits of an employee head tax in 2018.  That tax policy, entailing a levy of $275 per employee on Seattle businesses making more than $20 million a year, was duly repealed in the face of heartily aggressive business opposition.  Amazon preferred the blackmailing solution, floating the suggestion that it might leave Seattle, and halting construction projects.  The seeds of fear were sown.

Business figures justified their opposition on the grounds that taxes are not solutions.  Homelessness, for one, did not abate.  When invited to participate in a task force seeking to explore possible “progressive sources of revenue” in 2017, local businesses turned up their noses at the chance.  According to Heather Redman of the venture capital firm Flying Fish Partners, this was so because “it was showing up to something where you are going to be yelled at, and you will not be listened to.”

In the scheme of things, Amazon was throwing a modest sum in this campaign: $1.45 million to the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), a political action committee proudly supported by Seattle’s chamber of commerce.  CASE, in turn, was backing candidates in seven seats of the nine member city council, hiring canvassers for door knocking efforts and purchasing advertisements.  Whatever crumbs Amazon offered the Super PAC in question dwarfed its donation from four years ago, an alms-for-the-poor $25,000.

The funding spike by Amazon did not go unnoticed in the federal scene.  This was Corporate Mammon having a splash, and presidential aspirants Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were concerned.  Last month, Sanders noted that, “In a city struggling with homelessness, Amazon is dropping an outrageous amount of money to defeat progressive candidates fighting for working people.”  Amazon’s conduct was “a perfect example of the out-of-control corporate greed we are going to end.”

Senator Warren openly expressed her support “with the Seattle council members and activists who continue standing up to Amazon”.  This also gave her a chance to reiterate her point that, “Corporations aren’t people, and I have a plan to get big money out of politics.”  US Rep. Pramila Jayapal was similarly troubled, claiming that Amazon had placed, “Not just a thumb, but a fistful of cash, on the scales of democracy”.

Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso responded the way of all companies who wish to diddle democracy: cite efficiency, smooth running operations and the merits of business acumen.  “We are engaging in this election because we want Seattle to have a city government that works. Seattle deserves a council that delivers results for all of its residents on issues that matter, like homelessness, transportation, climate change and public safety.”

This rather cheeky take is elementary enough: Amazon will get candidates across the line who will be more active supposedly tackling problems that Amazon helped if not create then certainly feed.  Progressive candidates and incumbents can be accordingly blamed for not addressing homelessness and having a fetish for regulations and the deity of red tape.  But the reason behind the company’s response lies in the ills of taxation: why tax these great American patriots who do so much for the reputation of Seattle?

Amazon is certainly correct in pointing out that opposing candidates have also received their donations.  Being the United States, land of speaking money and action committees, funding has also been forthcoming from venture capitalist Nick Hausner, service workers unions, and hotel worker union Unite Here.

Nothing, however, can quite compare to the scale of Amazon’s influence, which amounts to an uncivil religion of sorts.  Akin to a monstrous church organisation, it can afford to sin and forgive sinning. It offers dispensations and punishments. It can also absolve itself.  One such gesture came in the form of building a homeless shelter crudely described as “state-of-the-art” (because you know they are worth it).  Its singular feature?  Being located in an Amazon corporate building.  A charming move for a company famously resistant to paying its share of tax.

The council race has not quite gone the way of Amazon.  On Tuesday, the CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Marilyn Strickland, proved hesitant in making any pronouncements. “Tonight’s initial returns are not definitive enough to call these close races.”

Seattle City councilmember Lorena Gonzalez was more forward in an interview with KIRO Radio.  “This is not a city council that the Chamber and Amazon wanted or expected to see after (their) investment.”  The corporate dollar had not stretched with conviction.

Sawant has made a good fist of things despite initially trailing in District 3 by more than 8 points.  “We faced an onslaught of corporate cash,” she explained to supporters at an election night party.  “If anything we underestimated the brazenness of (Amazon CEO Jeff) Bezos, corporate real estate, and big business.”  After Thursday’s ballot drop, she was within 2.5 points of challenger Egan Orion.  But irrespective of what happens in District 3, the role of Amazon in this electoral contest is symptomatic of a broader, and biting issue of US politics.  Companies have no need to run for office to change policies inimical to their revenue; they just have to buy the relevant elected chamber.  That said, voters of the more progressive persuasion can at least take heart that such efforts of purchase do not always succeed.

Now Is The Time To Win National Improved Medicare For All

National improved Medicare for all is making tremendous progress during the 2020 election cycle. Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who advocate for it, are achieving record numbers of contributions and performing strongly in the polls. Candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, who opposes Medicare for all, and Senator Kamala Harris, who came out with a phony plan she called Medicare for all, are losing ground.

This is happening because of the decades of work by the single-payer movement to educate people, organize and build consensus for National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). The opposition is gearing up too but the Medicare for All movement is responding to their false claims, which are repeated in the corporate media and by insurance-funded candidates. If the movement continues to build support and keeps Medicare for all a central issue in the 2020 election, we can win National Improved Medicare for All in the early 2020s.

To learn more about NIMA, sign up for the HOPE campaign and join the national calls. The next call will be on Monday night, November 4 at 9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific. Wendell Potter will speak about the opposition’s tactics and how to counter them. Register here.

People want health care, not health insurance

A whistleblower for the insurance industry tells the truth:

The business model of for-profit health insurance depends on denying care to people who need it. These corporations can’t be reasoned with, only defeated.

One of the false talking points of opponents of NIMA is that people want to keep their private insurance. In reality, the employer-based healthcare system is not working for employers or employees. The current system is resulting in very high costs to individuals, now surpassing $20,000 annually for the average family. The cost of insurance is rising faster than incomes, making insurance impossible to afford. This is one reason why the number of uninsured, now 27.5 million, is growing.  The soaring cost of healthcare is one reason why 58 percent of small business owners support Medicare for all.

A recent poll found that pollsters can manipulate the outcome by using anti-Medicare talking points, but when voters are told the truth they prefer Medicare for all. For example, this survey found that when people hear that under Medicare for All you can keep your preferred doctors and hospitals, support climbs to a clear majority of 55 percent. Support among Democrats gets to 78 percent. For independents, 56 percent support Medicare for all. People also said they trust the federal government over private insurers to control healthcare costs, by 20 points. Kaiser, which has been tracking public opinion of the issue, finds a majority of the public supports Medicare for all.

Polls actually find that what people hate is instability in their health insurance. Instability is inherent in private health plans as employers will change insurance, shrink coverage or increase prices. They will even cut-off insurance due to the cost or when there is a labor conflict. Medicare for all is the most stable option — from birth to death people would be fully covered by NIMA. This allows people to change jobs or stop working to take care of children or elderly parents and still keep their health coverage.

NIMA means real choices for people as they can go to any doctor, hospital, clinic or other providers they prefer while with private insurance, patients are limited to narrow insurance networks of providers and limited choices of care. People believe in universal access and only Medicare for all can accomplish that. And, people understand that healthcare should be treated as a right, not as a commodity. Healthcare is a human right, not something employees should have to bargain for.

The truth is that people don’t love their insurance, they love having access to health care and put up with insurance companies because that is how the current healthcare system is financed. Health insurers use their media connections and the politicians they fund to put forward the false message that private insurance is essential. We do not need private insurance as it is an expensive middleman that adds nothing to health care except tremendous administrative costs and bureaucracy accounting for one-third of total healthcare spending.

Bogus Argument: We can’t afford it

One of the most senseless arguments against NIMA is that we can’t afford it. In reality, the current system is the most wasteful, inefficient and costly in the world. The spectre of high costs is a bogeyman promulgated by industry astroturf groups. Medicare for all will save money by cutting the bureaucracy and negotiating for fair prices for goods and services. We can’t afford NOT to move to a Medicare for All single-payer healthcare system.

Currently, nearly one third the cost of healthcare is due to the complex for-profit health insurance industry. About half of that is insurance company costs; e.g., advertising, executive salaries, dividends, real estate. The other half is the administrative cost they create for providers. Many hospitals have more staff working on billing to deal with the insurance industry than they have nurses. Healthcare is approaching 20 percent of GDP. Under NIMA, it will gradually go down to about 12 percent, similar to other wealthy countries with single-payer or national health service systems.

There is a lot of fearmongering about Medicare for all but the reality is people will pay less, have better care and more choice. Groups that oppose single-payer, like the Urban Institute, use false assumptions to heighten the cost of Medicare for all. Unfortunately, the false information on cost is likely to continue as the Congressional Budget Office has packed its 19-member panel that advises them on health policy with insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital interests.

One way to confuse people on cost is by claiming federal spending on healthcare will go up.  Of course, it would because Medicare for all is a federally-funded program. While total spending will decrease and costs for people and businesses will go down, federal spending will go up.

When the media reports on the cost of NIMA, it often seems like they have lost the ability to do the math. They do not report that over a decade the cost would be $2.1 trillion less than projections of spending under the current US healthcare system. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting finds that the Washington Post does not want voters to know that Medicare will save money. This is part of an effort by the media to make it seem like Medicare for all is impossible to afford.

Sanders has not put forward a specific plan for paying for improved Medicare for all because there are many ways to pay for improved Medicare for all. This week, Elizbeth Warren released her plan to pay for Medicare for all. She described it as the biggest tax cut in history because she does so without adding taxes on working people.

A major cost problem is the high price charged by hospitals. The current system allows them to charge just about whatever they like, prices vary wildly, and they fleece the poor. Some hospitals even sue people over their medical bills, though some have stopped collecting medical bills because of exposure and public pressure.  Other hospitals are closing, leaving towns without access to healthcare and creating a crisis in many rural and poor urban areas.  Medicare for all would control hospital pricing and ameliorate the problem of hospitals closing.

Pushing False Alternatives to Medicare

As Medicare for all becomes more popular, opponents put forward false solutions. The medical industry gives tens of millions of dollars to House candidates who oppose Medicare for all. The movement has exposed these false approaches. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the lead sponsor of the health bill in the House, has criticized Democrats for using the Medicare label for policies that are not Medicare for all.

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the biggest recipient of health care dollars, is pushing a false approach, Medicare for Some, which is merely a public option and cannot solve the health crisis. Biden, who urges fixing the Affordable Care Act, puts out false information about Medicare for all. The ACA is fundamentally flawed as it is based on the inefficient private health insurance industry. Harris has waffled on her support for Medicare for all. Her bad policy was also bad politics as it coincided with her drop in the polls.

The Republicans don’t have a realistic solution to the healthcare crisis. When they sought to shrink health insurance coverage in the 2018 elections, there were massive protests. Trump’s actions to further privatize Medicare are also counterproductive. The insurance industry’s Medicare Advantage, which the industry is pushing because they profit from it, is more expensive and provides less coverage than traditional Medicare.

Real Solutions to the Healthcare Crisis

The US is in a healthcare crisis. This is a snapshot of the gravity of that crisis.

  • 28,300,000 – People uninsured in the United States in the first quarter of 2018.
  • 530,000 – Estimated number of families who file bankruptcy each year due to medical issues and bills.
  • 44% – People who didn’t go to a doctor when they were sick or injured because of the cost.
  • 34% – Cancer patients who borrowed money from friends or family to pay for care in 2016.
  • 79% – Increased death rate for cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy in 2016.
  • $75,375 – Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the U.S.
  • $15,742 – Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the Netherlands.
  • $1,443 – US per capita spending on pharmaceutical costs in 2016, the highest in the world.
  • 840% – Increase in spending for insulin from 2007 to 2017 on Medicare Part D (Medicare’s prescription drug plan).
  • $5,110,000,000,000 – Estimated 10-year cost savings of a single-payer healthcare system

Medicare for all would be transformative in many ways.  It would not only solve the healthcare crisis but would also cut poverty by more than 20 percent and would be a big tax cut for workers.

The first step to solve the US health crisis is National Improved Medicare for All. A majority of House Democrats have signed on to the Medicare for all bill, HR 1384. They need to be pushed to be more active in their advocacy for it. Presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, has a plan that goes beyond NIMA to a fully public, community-controlled healthcare system. Hawkins’ system would prevent the healthcare profiteers from being able to game the system.

We have come a long way in the past ten years from single-payer healthcare being “off the table” to it being a major topic in the 2020 presidential election. We have the opportunity to win this if we keep educating, organizing and pushing candidates and elected officials. Visit our HOPE campaign for the tools and information you need to be an effective advocate for National Improved Medicare for All.

Revolts Against The Neoliberal World Order

March in Cape Town, South Africa, March 19, 2014 (from ActiveStills.org.)

Protests against the US and big finance-imposed neoliberal capitalism have exploded across the globe. Two weeks ago, in Pink Tide Against US Domination Rising Again In Latin America, we reviewed 12 Latin America nations that are rising up against privatization, the cutting of social programs, soaring prices and low wages. In the last week, mass protests in Chile and Bolivia have begun and Lebanon has widespread protests against debt and austerity measures. The Nonaligned Movement, which is critical of the use of illegal unilateral coercive measures by the United States to force countries to bend to its will, is meeting in Azerbaijan. A central part of the recent rise of the Pink Tide was the mass protests in Ecuador led by indigenous peoples and the labor movement. Their actions forced President Moreno to repeal a package of laws that were demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This week, after Moreno arrested movement leaders, talks broke off and then, on Thursday, the indigenous movement convened to form a popular parliament to develop a new economic plan to avoid detrimental changes required by the IMF. The future in Ecuador is uncertain, but the people are not backing down.

Chile protesters face off with the military, October 2019 (Yahoo News)

Chile Explodes In Long-Suppressed Rage, Government Responds With Abusive Military Force

This Friday, more than one million people took to streets in the Chilean capital of Santiago uniting in a call against extreme neoliberal capitalism. The capital was brought to a standstill after a week of widespread protests that were met by a heavy police and military force. So far, 16 people have died, over 200 have been wounded and over 1,500 have been detained, including children.

The protests began on October 14 when high school students demonstrated against a rise in transit fares from the equivalent of USD $1.12 to $ 1.16. By October 18, the protests grew to the point of shutting down all 136 stations of the Santiago metro system. Seventy stations were damaged and twenty were set on fire. The protests progressed into a nationwide uprising against the government and its unfair neoliberal policies. The metro fare hike was just the last straw in a long list of grievances against a system that has robbed working-class and middle-class people of a decent and dignified life.

The government declared a state of emergency and, for the first time since Pinochet, ordered the military with tanks and armored vehicles to patrol the streets. By Saturday, October 19, President Piñera went on television and said: “I have heard the voice of my compatriots.” He suspended the fare increase and announced he would host a round-table to discuss the issues. He said, “The people will be heard—but the protests have to stop.” This has not deterred the people from continuing to protest.

In a Sunday night address to the nation, Piñera declared: “We are at war with a powerful enemy which is prepared to use violence without limit.” But it was the 11,000 soldiers and Carabinero police who rampaged across Chile, firing live rounds at demonstrators and dragging protesters out of their homes at night. The president’s harsh response only aggravated the situation. Curfews were defied by thousands of demonstrators and, in Santiago, protesters holding pictures of victims under the Pinochet dictatorship temporarily surrounded the tanks.

Chilean journalist, Paul Walder describes how “a country that had seemed orderly and submissive last weekend, has exploded with anger, rage accumulated by generations and passed on to teenagers, as a decantation of the frustrations of their parents, siblings and grandparents.” The uprising and brutal conflict with the police and the military is a reflection of “social pain accumulated throughout the long history of Chilean neoliberalism.” The people of Chile have been subjected to economic and political violence by the state. Salaries are low and taxes on workers are high while billions of dollars have been stolen by corporations.

WSWS reported the uprising has expanded to involve workers writing, “Dockworkers marched en masse through several cities, stopping the bulk of national exports and closing 20 ports as part of a national strike. Donning yellow vests worn for work, the sea of thousands of dockworkers resembled France’s ‘yellow vests’ as they marched through the cities of Concepción, Antofagasta and San Antonio.” Further, copper miners, a historically militant section of the Chilean workers, who produce the country’s primary export, announced a national strike beginning Wednesday. Videos showed copper miners on lunch break banging plates and silverware and chanting “general strike!”

The uprising includes trade unions and student, feminist, and environmentalist groups. They are calling for a reversal of neoliberal capitalism and a new government.  Their demands are “transversal” (non-sectoral) and include “calling for Piñera’s resignation…pay rises and cheaper basic services, a forty-hour week, the restoration of union rights and sectoral collective bargaining, the nationalization of both public services and strategic energy sectors, student-debt forgiveness, the annulment of the country’s private-sector pension fund, the cancellation of the odious free market ‘water codes’ signed into law by Pinochet in 1981, progressive tax reform, and a new migration policy. Perhaps most dramatically, the demonstrators are calling for a new constitution to be drafted by the Constituent Assembly.”

The Washington Post referred to the specter of a “Latin American spring” similar to the revolutions that shook North Africa and the Middle East in 2011. Stratfor noted, “With regional economies squeezed by sluggish growth and governments still seeking to implement painful pro-market reforms, the situation is ripe for disruptive, widespread unrest.”

The uprising in Chile is significant because prior to these protests it was described as a success of capitalism. Chile is the original and perpetual laboratory for neoliberalism, with more than forty years of economic shock policies and a steady, low-intensity war waged against the nation’s working classes. Capitalists are shocked. Brian Winters, Vice President for Policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, said “Everyone following Latin America is watching this and saying, ‘Oh my god, Chile, too?’”

Bolivian protester shows support for Evo Morales outside the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, on October 20, 2019 (Juan Karita, AP)

Bolivia Defends Its Democracy From A Coup

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales won re-election in the first round of voting. Morales, leader of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) Party, gained 47.07 percent of the vote, enough to put him 10 percentage points above his closest rival, Carlos Mesa, who received 36.51 percent of votes. Bolivia does not require a second round of voting if the top candidate achieves over 40 percent of the vote with a ten-point margin over the second-place finisher. This is the fourth time Morales has won the presidency in the first round of voting.

Before the results, the opposition announced it would mount a coup if Morales won re-election. After the result, Mesa called for street mobilizations that ended in violence at vote-counting stations, with some opposition protesters burning ballots and the buildings where counting was taking place. Mesa originally endorsed the results when they temporarily showed him having a slightly larger vote share but refused to recognize the results after they indicated that Morales won a first-round victory.

“A coup is underway, carried out by the right-wing with foreign support…what are the methods of this coup attempt? They’re not recognizing or waiting for election results, they’re burning down electoral courts, they want to proclaim the second-place candidate as the winner,” Morales told journalists.

Social movements organized to defend the election against the attempted violent coup. Movements declared a state of emergency and called for mobilizations in the streets to defend democracy while right-wing protesters launched numerous violent attacks across the country. Right-wing rioters blocked election materials from being delivered for the vote resulting in the count being suspended. Labor organizers joined the defense of democracy denouncing “the oligarchic and privatizing interests that hide behind these violent actions.”

The Organization of American States inflamed the opposition by questioning the results. The Center for Policy and Economic Research responded to the points raised by the OAS and urged them to retract their statement. Bolivia responded by inviting the OAS to carry out an audit of the final vote count. Secretary-General of the OAS Luis Almagro accepted the invitation to initiate an Analysis of Electoral Integrity. International observers in La Paz monitoring Bolivia’s general elections praised the legitimacy and transparency of the process, which contrasts statements by opposition leaders.

 

The foreign affairs ministerial conference for the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku, Azerbaijan. October 2019 (mnoal.org.)

The Non-Aligned Movement Unites Against Illegal Unilateral Coercive Measures of the United States

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is meeting in Azerbaijan this weekend. At the meeting, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro criticized the IMF and denounced the U.S. economic and financial aggressions for being as lethal as its armies. He criticized IMF neoliberal austerity and privatization policies as an attack on the most vulnerable and a violation of human rights. He described the unilateral coercive measures of the United States as a violation of international law aimed at pressuring people to support US neoliberalism by inflicting collective punishment against the people as blackmail.

The NAM was established in 1961 as a forum for independent dialogue and cooperation among 120 developing countries that sought to ensure national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries. NAM represents 55 percent of the world’s population. They oppose imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony. This July, NAM held a meeting in Caracas that supported Venezuela and opposed the economic war by the United States. They released the Caracas Political Declaration.

The rising left tide in Latin America and around the world is reflected in the NAM. Popular Resistance is working with organizations and activists around the world to create a worldwide network that will work together to oppose the lawless actions of the United States, and any country that acts similarly, such as interference in the politics of other countries through open and covert regime change operations, the imposition of unilateral coercive economic measures or the threat of militarism. Sign onto the Global Appeal For Peace here

People in the United States suffer similar conditions to those around the world who are plagued by neoliberalism. As the Arab Spring inspired the Occupy Movement, will this Anti-neoliberal Autumn rekindle mass protests in the United States? This is something we need to ponder and perhaps to prepare for and organize to make happen.

Brand Trudeau Wins a Second Term

Brand Trudeau is: Welcome to the new politics, just like the old politics.

— Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid Institute, The Guardian, August 22, 2019

Few politicians come across more as products of hashtag committee management than Justin Trudeau.  His image has been doctored, massaged and spruced, and even then, the Instagram-Twitter committee did not quite see those corrupt influences that are bound to tarnish someone who believes in endless, indestructible parliamentary majorities.  The image can do much, but not that much.

After being elected in October, 2015, Trudeaumania became something of a syndrome, helped along by a persistent dedication to being in the permanent social media cycle.  The photo-op became staple, as is a certain shallowness that lends itself to it.  In picking Canada’s first gender-balanced federal cabinet, he was mindful of the optical moment.  Change was coming, and his revolution would be tweeted.

In a fast spinning, whirling age of disseminated images, lacking substance helps and acts as a powerful propulsion.  The Internet, observed Eric Andrew-Gee in 2016, “has given still photos a pride of place in our media culture that they haven’t enjoyed since the rise of television.  Mr Trudeau has used that power, and that technology, to the hilt.  He is the first prime minister of the Instagram age.”

In July 2016, it was noted that Trudeau “has had about one official photo-op for every weekday he has been in the business of governing.”  Marie-Danielle Smith of the National Post considered him “the most visible Canadian leader since his father, Pierre” having “participated in at least 168 public events since swearing in his cabinet last November.”

Trudeau the Brand has been in business for some time.  It came to the fore in the now famed charity boxing match in March 2012 against Patrick “Brass Knuckles” Brazeau, second-degree black belt in karate and former navy reservist.  The Liberal MP for Papineau seemingly did not stand a chance.  Nor did the Liberal Party, having been wiped by the Conservatives.  Trudeau, after absorbing the initial barrage of punches, won.

In a film on the encounter by Eric Ruel and Guylaine Maroist, Trudeau suggested that “the power of symbols in today’s world” should never been underestimated.  The Liberals were weak in parliament.  “We’ve never had so few MPs.  The Conservatives have all the money and the support.  So… wouldn’t it be fun to see Justin Trudeau win?  A triumph over the all-powerful Conservatives?”

In 2017, Trudeau would tell Rolling Stone that the choice of opponent in the boxing bout was entirely conscious, giving the impression that the whole affair, from start to finish, had been an exercise of eager manipulation.  “I wanted someone who would be a good foil, and we stumbled across the scrappy, tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community… I saw it as the right kind of narrative, the right story to tell.” Very British New Labour; very Old Third Way.

The Canadian elections have returned Trudeau to Ottawa, but with a reduced vote.  The sheen has come off, and the coat seems somewhat tattered.  Trudeau was found by Canada’s ethics watchdog to have violated conflict of interest laws in pressuring his attorney general to avoid a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin for bribes made to Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011.  As the ethics commissioner, Mario Dion found Trudeau “contravened section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act”, being the only public official “able to exert influence over the attorney-general in her decision whether to intervene in a matter relating to a criminal prosecution”.

Then came the other side of branding and e-marketing political candidates.  What goes around in image terms will come around.  If you pontificate about the evils of toxic masculinity, be wary of what skeletal remains the historical cupboard is stocked with.  And so it transpired that a younger Trudeau was prone to don “blackface” and “brownface” pose, less in terms of toxicity than being intoxicated by moment and situation.  (Those few mishaps included singing Harry Belafonte’s Day-O at a high school revue, and sporting an Afro wig, black face and body paint in the company of fellow white water rafters.)  A public apology followed: “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognise it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.”

As it wore on, the nodding suggestion of Trudeau’s time in office was a return to what had been dubbed in Canadian political circles the Laurentian Consensus, the elite self-absorbed view of those in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and cities along the St. Lawrence River.  As John Ibbitson of The Globe and Mail described it in 2011, “On all the great issues of the day, this Laurentian elite debated among themselves, reached a consensus and implemented that consensus.  In short, they governed the country.”

Nor could Trudeau claim to be vastly different from his 2015 conservative opponent, Stephen Harper, certainly on the subjects of Canada-US ties, free trade and the Keystone XL pipeline.  Trudeau might have excited millennials on the subject of legalising cannabis, or opening doors to Syrian refugees, but he caused suitable irritation, even fury, over breaking a campaign promise to end “first-past-the-post” federal voting.  The Afghan Canadian Liberal MP, Maryam Monsef, was saddled with the task of gradually strangling electoral reform in the crib.

Trudeau also revealed, in his government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline for some $3.4 billion from Kinder Morgan, that he was more than willing to back fossil-fuel infrastructure while proclaiming green credentials.  As Martin Lukacs noted with devastating precision, despite Trudeau signing the Paris Climate Accords in 2016, “the gap between Canada’s official carbon reduction targets and its spiralling emissions has grown wider.”

The record, then, is not only patchy, but abysmal for this particular cardboard progressive.  Oil companies have been guaranteed continuing subsidies, organised labour has been confronted with attempts to outlaw strike action, notably in the postal sector, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been assured arms sales even as Trudeau celebrates Womankind.

Fighting an Instagram prime minister might have required some marrow, but the Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer was not going to provide it.  He did win more votes than the Liberals and dominated in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but this merely served to eliminate Trudeau’s majority and highlight a chronic sense of Western alienation.  Nor did Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, whose caucus was reduced by half, roar with any success. The Bloc Québécois buzzed, the Greens were a preserving stutter and the People’s Party barely registered.

Scheer decided to play the card of ordinariness, and stayed, for the most part, ordinary.  When supporters chanted the old Donald Trump expression of locking up the opponent – in this case, Trudeau – he doused the flames, favouring the chant of “Vote him out.”  A judicial inquiry would be preferable.  The politics of blandness.

Canadian political strategists were even noting a certain similarity between Scheer’s views and those of the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, whose tactics he is said to have embraced.  But Canadians were left with the spectre of considerable vacuity.  As Jonathan Kay argued this month in Foreign Policy, the big issues had been settled if not avoided altogether, leaving the ground on hashtag wars to be fought with mind numbing emptiness.

Bolivia at Crossroads: Choosing Between Continued Success or Handover to US Hegemony

“I don’t want to be the best President in the history of Bolivia, I want to be the President of the best Bolivia in history.” So proclaimed Evo Morales in a pre-election rally a few days before general elections, today, 20 October 2019. At the same time, Evo declared that ever since the Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional (TCP – Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal) in November 2017 rejected an appeal by the opposition that he could run for a fourth term for President, and approved his candidacy for 20 October elections, US interference on a daily basis was rampant.

The United States has not stopped trying to change public opinion with false propaganda and making incredibly ludicrous promises to the population. For example, US Embassy people – maybe Fifth Columnists on US payroll, promised the population of the poor Yungas region of Bolivia, new and asphalted roads, if they didn’t support Evo Morales in the upcoming elections. There are also flagrant lies circulating, that Evo and his families had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars and deposited them in a secret account in the Bank of the Vatican.  Similar lies as are being spread about Nicolas Maduro, the Castro family, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the leaders of Iran and Syria and many more, who oppose the dictate of Washington.

The Bolivian Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintara, referring to the US attempts to sabotage the elections, mentioned a few days ago on a Bolivian public TV channel, “There is not one day the US is not interfering in Bolivian political internal affairs.” He added, warning his compatriots, “In the last 50 years the United States has put its dirty hand in the Bolivian electoral process. Today the interference is worse than ever. For this reason, brothers Bolivianos, be aware and don’t allow your vote being highjacked by foreign meddling.”

This is in total disrespect of international law, of international diplomacy and ethics. But what to expect from the only rogue state on our “Mother Earth”? Not to mention the flagrant, aberrant and hardly hidden corruption going on in the current and previous US governments for the last at least 100 years, and the Pentagon’s and White House’s constant interference in elections around the world. It is amazing that anybody would still go for these lies – spread by an emperor who is wheezing on his last breath.

Evo Morales is running for the fourth time with his Vice-President, Álvaro Marcelo García Linera, on the MAS Party (MAS – Movimiento al Socialismo), the Movement for Socialism, for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of Bolivia. The MAS was created in 1998 by Evo Morales. According to the latest polls, Evo has just under 40% of people’s support, against about 22% of Carlos Mesa, the strongest opponent, who is running second, from the right-wing Civic Community party.

According to Bolivian’s Constitution, with 40% of the votes, the candidate wins in the first round. Evo could indeed, win the election in the first round. However, if he gets less than 40%, they are headed for a second-round run-off election. That’s usually where the dangers lay – that’s where US interference is the most ferocious, in elections worldwide, where they want the winning candidate defeated. Washington spends untold millions in smearing the winning candidate and promoting “their” candidate. And often they are successful.  Examples abound. One of the most flagrant is the 2016 Presidential election in Peru, when in the first round the second candidate from the Socialist Party, the most likely overall winner, was pushed back by election fraud to third place, and the right-wing US-supported candidate was made second – and “won” in the run-off. Today he is under house-arrest, awaiting trial for corruption, linked to illegal business arrangements with the US.

If Evo Morales does not receive the 40% necessary to win the first round, compliments of US interference, it would be the first time in his four runs for President that he would be forced into a second round. He won both the 2009 and 2014 elections with a landslide first round, 61% and 64% respectively.

Al Jazeera reports from La Paz, today, in the early morning hours of Election Day, that millions of Bolivians are expected to “cast their ballots amid a climate of uncertainty as President Evo Morales seeks a controversial fourth term.”

Why controversial? Because the 2009 Constitution allows a President to serve only two terms. But Evo argued that his first term didn’t count because it took place before the new Constitution entered into effect. So, why a fourth term? Evo realizes that his opposition, especially under his chief contender, Carlos Mesa, would reverse the socioeconomic achievements (see below) of the last 13 years.

Mesa would return the country to the IMF austerity dictate of which Bolivia has been free for 13 years, a main reason for Evo having been able to carry out social reforms, not only benefitting all of Bolivia’s “plurinational” indigenous people, but also to advance Bolivia in macro-economic terms; i.e., renegotiating and partially nationalizing Bolivia’s gas contracts, reducing foreign debt and amassing huge foreign exchange reserves.

Evo is observing closely what is happening in neighboring Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. It is clear, leaving the elections free without his candidacy, Washington’s dirty hands would manipulate the elections – as they have “successfully” done in the countries mentioned before – to bring in a US favorable candidate; i.e., Carlos Mesa – and the country would be cooked. It is not difficult to foresee such a disaster. Just watch what is happening in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, where poverty and unemployment, and related crime, is rampant.

For a bit of history – Carlos Mena was Vice-President under President Sánchez de Lozada, called “Goni” (August 2002 to October 2003), a businessman, educated by the neoliberal School of Economics of the University of Chicago. Sánchez de Lozada was a built-in representative of Washington, who spoke Spanish with a strong English accent, representing blatantly US over Bolivian interests. He was forced out of office in 2003 by people’s protests over the so-called ‘Bolivian Gas Conflict’ (“Goni” was practically giving away olivia’s huge natural gas reserves to foreign petrol corporations, mostly US, for a pittance).

The bloody confrontations forcing Goni to flee the country to the US, claimed the lives of 59 protesters, soldiers and policemen. Goni was succeeded by his Vice-President, Carlos Mesa, who followed in Goni’s footsteps, continuing Goni’s policies on Bolivia’s natural gas. Carlos Mesa, after less than 2 years in office, was also forced to resign in 2005, under incessant people’s demonstrations and protests.

New elections at the end of 2005 brought in Evo Morales, who was presiding over the country from the beginning of 2006 to this day. Watch also the documentary, “Our Brand is Crisis”, depicting how Sanchez de Lozada was made to win the 2002 elections over Evo Morales, by a special US propaganda team.

A look at Bolivia’s socioeconomic achievements should further convince anybody who thinks for the people, that Evo did very well, insisting on his candidacy for the 2019 elections. The Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, finds that Bolivia’s remarkable gains have been largely the result of wise policy choices, rather than just a “commodities boom”.

Bolivia was the fastest growing economy in Latin America over the past five years, about 5.2% on average (double the Latin-American average) and was able, under Evo Morales, to reduce poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60% since 2006, when Evo took office. The country also ended 20 years of IMF “rule”, by Evo’s eviction of the infamous Bretton Woods institution.

Other remarkable achievements include:

  • A 50% increase in real terms of per capita GDP in 2018, over 2005;
  • From 2006 – 2011 the government revenues from hydrocarbon increased seven-fold to US$ 4.95 billion, mostly from nationalization and associated policy changes. This was the driving force for the Government’s reaching macroeconomic stability and achieving its socioeconomic targets;
  • Unemployment has dropped from 7.7% to 4.4.% in 2008 – and has remained stable through 2018;
  • Public investments have increased along with Bolivia’s economic growth; Bolivia has the highest public investment as a percentage of GDP of the region;
  • Overall investments have reached almost 22% of GDP on average per year over the past 5 years;
  • In 2010 Bolivia has started applying a policy of “quantitative easing” to purchase state-owned financial instruments; i.e., bonds and similar debt certificates. At the end of 2018, the Central Bank’s balance sheet showed 44% were invested in public assets, a 12% increase since 2010.

Lots of challenges remain, as Bolivia still figures as the poorest country in South America, followed by Guyana, Paraguay, Ecuador and Peru. Evo knows that his job is far from finished – and an American forced “regime change” is certainly not in order.
Viva Bolivia! Viva Evo!

The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections

The call by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for elections in the Occupied Territories is a political ploy. There will be no true, democratic elections under Abbas’ leadership. The real question is: why did he make the call in the first place?

On September 26, Abbas took on the world’s most important political platform, the United Nations General Assembly, to call for “general elections in Palestine – in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip”.

The Palestinian leader prefaced his announcement with a lofty emphasis on the centrality of democracy in his thinking. “From the outset, we have believed in democracy as a foundation for the building of our State and society,” he said with unmistakable self-assurance. But, as it turned out, it was only Hamas – not Israel, and certainly not the PA’s own undemocratic, transparent and corrupt legacy – that made Abbas’ democratic mission impossible.

Upon his return from New York, Abbas formed a committee, whose mission, according to official Palestinian media, is to consult with various Palestinian factions regarding the promised elections.

Hamas immediately accepted the call for elections, though it asked for further clarifications. The core demand for the Islamic group, which controls the besieged Gaza Strip, is a simultaneous election that includes the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the PA presidency and, most importantly, the Palestine National Council (PNC) – the legislative component of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

While the PLO has fallen under the tight grip of Abbas and a clique within his own Fatah party, the remaining institutions have operated without any democratic, popular mandates for nearly 13 years. The last PLC elections were held in 2006, followed by a Hamas-Fatah clash that resulted in the current political rift between the two parties. As for Abbas’ own mandate, that, too, expired sometime in 2009. It means that Abbas, who supposedly believes “in democracy as the foundation for the building of our State” is an undemocratically reigning president without any real mandate to rule over Palestinians.

Not that Palestinians are shying away from making their feelings clear. Time after time, they have asked Abbas to leave. But the 83-year-old is bent on remaining in power – however one defines “power” under the yoke of Israeli military occupation.

The prevalent analysis following Abbas’ call for elections is that such an undertaking is simply impossible, considering the circumstances. To begin with, after winning US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israel is unlikely to allow the Palestinians to include occupied East Jerusalem in any future vote.

Hamas, on the other hand, is likely to reject the inclusion of Gaza if the elections are limited to the PLC, and exclude Abbas’ own position and the PNC. Without a PNC vote, the reordering and resurrection of the PLO would remain elusive, a belief that is shared by other Palestinian factions.

Being aware of these obstacles, Abbas must already know that the chances of real, fair, free and truly inclusive elections are negligible. But his call is the last, desperate move to quell growing resentment among Palestinians, at his decades-long failure to utilize the so-called peace process to achieve his people’s long-denied rights.

There are three, main reasons compelling Abbas to make this move at this, specific time.

First, the demise of the peace process and the two-state solution, through a succession of Israeli and American measures, has left the PA, and Abbas, in particular, isolated and short on funds. Palestinians who supported such political illusions no longer constitute the majority.

Second, the PA constitutional court resolved, last December, that the president should call for an election within the next six months, that is, by June 2019. The court, itself under Abbas’ control, aimed to provide the Palestinian leader with a legal outlet to dismiss the previously elected parliament – whose mandate expired in 2010 – and create new grounds for his political legitimacy. Still, he failed to adhere to the court’s decision.

Third, and most importantly, the Palestinian people are clearly fed up of Abbas, his authority and all the political shenanigans of the factions. In fact, 61 percent of all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza want Abbas to step down, according to a public opinion poll held by the Palestinian Center for Political and Polling Research in September.

The same poll indicates that Palestinians reject the entire political discourse which has served as the foundation for Abbas and his PA’s political strategies. Moreover, 56 percent of Palestinians oppose the two-state solution; up to 50 percent believe that the performance of the current PA government of Mohammed Shtayyeh is worse than that of his predecessor; and 40 percent want the PA to be dissolved.

Tellingly, 72 percent of Palestinians want legislative and presidential elections held throughout the occupied territories. The same percentage wants the PA to lift its share of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Abbas is now at his weakest political position since his advent to leadership, many years ago. With no control over political outcomes that are determined by Tel Aviv and Washington, he has resorted to making a vague call for elections that have no chance of success.

While the outcome is predictable, Abbas hopes that, for now, he would once more appear as the committed leader who is beholden to international consensus and the wishes of his own people.

It will take months of wasted energy, political wrangling and an embarrassing media circus before the election ploy falls apart, ushering in a blame game between Abbas and his rivals that could last months, if not years.

This is hardly the strategy that the Palestinian people – living under brutal occupation and a suffocating siege – need or want. The truth is that Abbas, and whatever political class he represents, have become a true obstacle in the path of a nation that is in desperate need of unity and a meaningful political strategy. What the Palestinian people urgently require is not a half-hearted call for elections, but a new leadership, a demand they have articulated repeatedly, though Abbas refuses to listen.

Translating Neoliberal-Speak: Your 2020 Democratic Candidates

Presented here is a short list of some of the most ridiculous statements, absolute gems really, from some of the hopefuls for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President. These are all either verbatim quotes from speeches, interviews, or official Twitter posts from the candidates. After I was initially rendered catatonic by examining the collective ignorance, I got it together to provide some clarity and rough translations to try and tease out the not-so-hidden agendas of each politician.

There was a lot to choose from, but I specifically picked each of these remarks because they are all exquisite examples of each candidate’s specific brand of delusional ideology and idiosyncrasy distilled down to their bare essences.

Unlike most campaign double-plus-good speech and blather where nothing of any significance is uttered, most of these instances unintentionally display veiled truths as well as display astounding naiveté and immorality, and shine an extra bit of light on each candidate’s personal quirks, beliefs, and foibles. These quotes unintentionally illuminate each candidate’s depravity and the modus operandi of neoliberal economics, and capitalism more broadly. They reveal how every vice is paraded as virtue, how class is never addressed meaningfully, how rhetoric is used to cover up the immorality, the endemic rot and corruption, the omissions, distortions, and obfuscations, basically the general Weltanschauung of late-capitalist culture.

Each quote here either unconsciously or deliberately attempts to obscure deeper issues and cover up the failures of our economic and political systems, yet backfires spectacularly, because it is so painfully obvious what the deeper implications are. My interpretations here are simply the brutally honest versions of their own words, taking the logic of their arguments, life choices, policies, and ideological beliefs to their final conclusions. Let’s dive in.

Kamala Harris: “Yesterday I announced that, as President, I’ll establish a student loan debt forgiveness program for Pell Grant recipients who start a business that operates for three years in disadvantaged communities.”

Translation: “How can I maximize the appearance of doing something good while in actuality helping the least amount of people without anyone noticing? No one’s actually going to crunch the numbers on this, right? My billionaire donors are totally not OK with canceling student debt or really anything that won’t line their own pockets, but I need to appeal to pseudo-progressives who can’t be bothered to research for two minutes and realize this program would help about ten whole people in the entire country.”

Pete Buttigieg: “I did not carry an assault weapon around a foreign country so I could come home and see them used to massacre my countrymen.”

Translation: “It’s totally OK to massacre innocent people halfway around the world, but please, just don’t do it here. I literally see no connection between our foreign policy and mass shooters in the United States. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”

Elizabeth Warren: “We don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one. My plan will improve our service members’ readiness and safety, and achieve cost savings for American taxpayers. Together-we can fight climate change-and win.”

Translation: “Have you always wanted to see a solar-powered drone rain death upon those scary terrorists? I’m your gal for a sustainably genocidal globe-spanning 21st century military! Ever wondered what a biodiesel tank would look like? I have all the best plans. Pick me in 2020 and help us build an eco-friendly empire!”

Andrew Yang: “I understand the spirit and appeal of a wealth tax. It makes sense that those who enjoy vast fortunes should pay back into the system, particularly given the concentrations of wealth in our winner-take-all economy. But the implementation would be impractical and problematic.”

Translation: “My only friends are venture capitalists and wealthy business owners, so it would be impractical and problematic for me to piss them off: I really don’t want my three billionaire friends to stop liking me and donating to my campaign. I am smart enough to know better, but I just can’t bring myself to back a common-sense solution as it goes against my own class interests. Plus, do you know how many jobs entrepreneurs create? Nothing gets me going more than being a total wonk with fellow entrepreneurs to discuss how to create new business opportunities and grow the pie for American families. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy, don’t you know. I have lots of fake statistics that prove it. Have I mentioned how much I love entrepreneurs? I may have a few progressive ideas and good intentions, but I’m basically a slightly left of center, techno-libertarian version of Milton Friedman, who also supported UBI.”

Beto O’Rourke: “Man, I’m just born to be in it.” (Referring to the 2020 election race.)

Translation: “There is no reason for me to be in the race anymore as I have no chance of winning, no original ideas of my own, and my whole campaign is predicated on vapid PR centrist bullshit. I was well off before marrying into money, but now I can really let my sense of privilege shine and spread my wings of entitlement. I can’t just be a normal rich asshole having a mid-life crisis who buys a third home or gets a mistress, I don’t have the self-awareness to just go away, so I’ll have to bore you all to death with my insipid blatherings in the media. I’m kind of a poster-boy for a bougie generic type of gen-X slacker, except not even the semi-interesting kind who joined the Peace Corps or lived in Europe for a bit; I’m more of an aimless dilettante with delusions of grandeur. Before I was a Congressman I attempted to sell-off parts of El Paso to gentrify the city for my sleazy real-estate developer father-in-law. Actually, I’m a lot like George W. Bush, another rich Texan with daddy issues and past problems with alcohol. Did you know I was in a punk band? Punk rock is a lot like politics, actually, you have to be authentic to succeed, and my DIY credentials are unparalleled, man.”

Joe Biden: “I remember when we had a president our children could look up to.”

Translation: “I’m not referring to children of undocumented immigrants who saw their parents unjustly deported under the Obama administration. I’m not referring to children whose parents have been locked away and immorally jailed for non-violent crimes all so I can pander to a regressive center-left and center-right and placate my elite reactionary, authoritarian donors. Nor am I referring to the countless children killed and even more who’ve been terrorized by endless wars and constant drone bombing stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Central Asia. Brown kids are just as bright as white kids, but they’re going to grow up to either steal our jobs or become terrorists or both and we can’t have that. Even though I’m a doddering fossil, my handlers will ensure I’m able to fake the appearance of competence and pander to a return to the good old times when America was united. Make America Normal Again, am I right?!”

Amy Klobuchar: “When you’re out there on the world stage and dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, yeah, you want someone who’s tough…you want someone that demands the answers and that’s going to get things done, and that’s what I’ve done my whole life.”

Translation: “The rumors you’ve heard about me are true. I may be a stone-cold psycho who throws office supplies at my staff, berates, takes advantage of, and verbally abuses them, but America, you’re going to need me to deal with all those big Boogeymen and scary threats we are facing as a nation. See, unlike Trump, when I treat people like dirt it’s because I earned the right to do so by getting things done. That’s how our meritocracy works after all, right? I was exploited and abused when I climbed the corporate and political ladders, which helped me learn to demand answers and made me tough, so this justifies the hurt I now inflict on others, which I derive a sick form of pleasure from.  My insane and sociopathic use of using leverage on the less powerful, my coercive behavior and bullying my employees in my campaign office will work great for dealing with fellow world leaders…that’s what makes America exceptional, after all, humiliating and forcing others to do your bidding against their will.”

Tulsi Gabbard: “In short, when it comes to war against terrorists, I’m a hawk. When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.”

Translation: “First, notice the counterproductive. See, I want our nation to get back to launching productive wars of regime change. Despite my professed anti-interventionism, I’m not intelligent enough to understand that regime change was always predicated on and justified by the appeal to a ‘war on terror’, and that the military-industrial-intelligence complex will always label foreign leaders or groups who they want destroyed as ‘terrorists’, whether they pose an actual threat or not. There is no indication from my background that I would have the backbone or strong anti-war belief system to stand up to the national-security state. This is why many moderates and ‘independents’, as well as liberals, find my superficial isolationism appealing: it covers for the same noxious nationalism and malignant imperialism endemic to our politics. When it comes to Islamic religion and culture which I’ve regularly demeaned and slandered as promoting ‘radical extremism’, I’m a hawk. When it comes to my wonderful friend Narendra Modi, I’m a dove. There’s nothing weird about that, right? No contradictions to see here.”

Cory Booker: “When discouraged, choose hope. When criticized, choose humility. When hurt, choose forgiveness. When dreams are dashed, dream again.”

Translation: “Let me be clear: yeah, I really do talk like this all the time. I’m your very earnest, cheesy, woke slam-poetry candidate. Look, I know many of you see me a pompous windbag full of platitudes and oozing pablum, but let me dissuade you of that notion. I know you’re discouraged because we chose ‘hope’ in 2008 and it didn’t work out so well, but trust me, this time it’ll be different. When I’m criticized for being a sellout, I always think back to my billionaire donors on Wall Street and in the pharmaceutical industry, and it humbles me because I know I couldn’t be where I am today without them. I may have gotten hurt by taking too many shots to the head playing college football, because I often quote W.E.B. Du Bois and MLK Jr. without any deep understanding of their actual political beliefs, but I know you’ll all forgive me for Disney-fying their legacy. I know many people’s dreams have been dashed by our economic system, but my dreams, like the dreams of my ruling class buddies, are so completely enveloped by our affluence and vainglorious drive for power that we are ready and willing to dash your dreams again.”

Bernie Sanders: “The Maduro government has waged a violent crackdown on civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election many observers said was fraudulent. The economy is a disaster and millions are migrating.”

Translation: “Here lies proof that neoliberal thought infects everyone and everything, and it’s no surprise that this includes reformist social democrats like me. I supported the Sandinistas, Cuba and Castro, but I parrot State Department propaganda on Venezuela to a T. It would be so easy for me to gain genuine, stalwart socialist allies if I reached out to people, and they could help me see through the disinformation swirling around Maduro’s government and various foreign policy issues, but I am either too stubborn or prideful to acknowledge their existence and learn from them.”

The Obscured Horror Show

Karl Marx used a metaphor about a camera obscura to describe the contortions in the interpretations of ideology, and it’s also an interesting metaphor to think about how information is delivered to us from power. A camera obscura receives an image from a tiny hole where the image is then projected in a state that is inverted and reversed, such is the perspective given to us by the powers that be where we are fed a myopic view and what is shown to the people is the opposite of what is really going on. The pictures taken from the camera obscura of the ruling class are then captioned for the people by the corporate media and government PR providing obscured narration around the already obscured images which are carefully curated so that nothing is ever perceived by the people other than what is intended by the propagandist photographers.

The actions taken by elites must be obscured because if they were done right in front of you sans the gaslighting it would strike anyone in a mindset outside of an indoctrinated culture to be horrified. And when the events that occur every day in our society are thought of on a small scale without the socially applied labels, it’s clear to see the type of people we are truly dealing with, and why ousting their system from power is likely the only option if the story of humanity is to have a next chapter. Because these are not people acting in good faith; rather these are people who rule over us and are addicted to power and will do or say anything to get another hit to satisfy their addiction, which includes obliterating the natural environment that every living thing on the planet depends on and is only done so that a few people can have greater ego status and some meaningless luxuries.

Continuing to trust the US government to not start another war based on false pretenses or trusting politicians and the corporate state to stop the environmental destruction is akin to trusting Freddy Krueger to babysit your kids and expect it’s going to end up in something other than a horror show…

Well, Mr Krueger, let’s take a quick look at your babysitter qualifications before the wife and I head out for the evening. I see here you have no references and have some rather gruesome scars, how did that happen? Oh, some parents burned you alive after you diddled and murdered their kids? I see. Still, I’m not going to jump to any conclusions and disqualify you on that alone, I do believe in second chances. Sooo what are those knives on your hand for? You say they’re just decorative? Ok, but they look awfully sharp. And that’s a rather creepy maniacal laugh you have there, that doesn’t seem quite right, but still, I think it’s going to be fine. We’ll be back at 10, call us if you need anything and there’s money to order a pizza on the kitchen counter.

The American people are equally as naive, trusting their government, banks, and corporations who are just as crazy as a horror movie slasher and the evidence is directly in front of us. Acting as if we need a military this large which is ostensibly for defending the US is like Freddy telling you his glove with knives is only for easy access to kitchen utensils. They are both obviously for murdering people.

These corporatists and politicians are well dressed raging narcissists who speak with a specific nomenclature and a twisted tongue directly for the purpose of deceiving the masses. People like those in power now have been running these power games for a very long time and they have no intent of ever changing. They lure the masses in with carefully crafted words every election season and the people gab and gossip over which one of these lying psychopaths is better than the other. Sure Michael Myers has an excellent foreign policy, but Leatherface seems to have good domestic fiscal policy, but then again, I really like what Jason Voorhees has been grunting about immigration.

Right now the people still remain unconvinced a Freddy Krueger-ish ruling elite are bad guys, and perhaps it’s not as obvious when they lack a maniacal guffaw, don’t openly look hideous, or wear blood stained knives on their hands. But let’s think about what is being done by those in power through a clear lens and hopefully reach a point of socioeconomic enlightenment. To illustrate the point of their insanities it’s best to think of their actions on a smaller scale and ask yourself if these people and their social construct are something we can ever trust given their history and present state. And will this system somehow turn things around and become the altruistic thing they pretend to be in photographs crafted by the camera obscura.

So it is pertinent to ask what kind of people are these that would make others homeless out of nothing but greed. Let’s hypothetically ask an ethical question here. If there were only two people in the world and five homes available, would it not be the height of selfishness to claim all the homes for yourself and keep the other person out of the available homes by threat of violence while the existing structures sat and rotted away unused? Yet banks, corporations, and government policy allow this kind of behavior to happen ubiquitously in every area afflicted with capitalism, and they call it freedom for moneyed elites to be allowed to do so in the vaunted “free” market system. They say it’s not greed you see, it’s freedom for the powerful to do as they please. It’s like saying Ted Bundy has a god given right to murder women and proclaiming it liberty for the serial killer.

Here’s another. If people were starving and you had a warehouse full of groceries in your backyard and you threw out the fruits and veggies with a spot or two and refused to even let the starving people use the garbage you threw out what kind of person would you be? Yet this is exactly what capitalist grocers routinely do and worse, as it’s a special kind of awful to have buildings full of food and that sits unused while others go without proper nourishment. And again to excuse this behavior of hoarding because people in power tell you that you’re not working hard enough for them, and even after a lifetime of work it’s still not enough to qualify you to have a right to food if you don’t have enough of their money which they can, and do, create out of thin air in computers and handout in large amounts to cover the imbalances in their financial and banking systems. To those in charge, it’s more just that a person starve than a banking system go unbalanced, or god forbid, take a financial loss.

Or consider this.  If you were to throw a party and you caught someone smoking a joint in your house would a rational reaction to this be to strip search them, lock them in your closet, and then force them to pay you a fine for smoking? Then after keeping them as punishment in your closet from several months to a couple years you proceed to track them and make them report back to you that they found a job you approve of, while also demanding they come by and piss in a cup so that you can be sure they haven’t decided to smoke pot again, and if they don’t abide by your rules you threaten to throw them back into the closet. And you do all this while telling them it’s for their own good and the good of the greater society. Is this sane behavior? Yet again, we accept a nation state that does this and worse on a massive scale.

Or what if a group of your neighbors, who happen to have the most weapons, stopped by one evening to tell you that you can no longer grow vegetables on open unused land and can no longer fish out of a local lake, and that all these resources would now be managed by them. They will give you an allowance if you do their work in a manner fitting to them so you can now buy food only from their approved sources. And if you work hard enough and pay tribute to them with the allowance they have given you then they may even let you stay in your home. Remember, if you don’t obey what they say and refuse to live by their laws, they will be forced to kidnap you and incarcerate you, and if you run from them when they try and kidnap you then they will get their guns and shoot at you simply because you ran. Sounds nuts, right? Yet, here we are with a very similar way of being only applied to billions.

Or what if your neighbor next-door started investing heavily in tanks and missiles and they shoot at your kids whenever they come close to the property line. And when questioned why they are doing such things they claim it’s for their own protection when almost no one else in the neighborhood has a single gun. Then one day your crazy neighbor knocks on your door and tells you the guy down the street is a danger to everyone, this supposed threat down the street also happens to have a large RV camper you’ve seen your neighbor eyeing repeatedly, and now they want your kids to take some of their guns over there and murder them even though you have no idea what those people down the street actually did or if the situation could be resolved through a dialectical conversation instead of resorting to violence. Regardless, they refuse to have a conversation and inform you that if your child doesn’t want to murder someone for them they’ll lock them in their basement for punishment. It doesn’t seem rational, does it? But it seems rational for the US to do these things and continue to have a military many times the size of any other nation while they make claims they are the ones being threatened.

And it’s worth pointing out again, these psychopathic behaviors are everywhere and people will still treat this system and its election theater with utmost seriousness. Many of the problems we face are solvable, yet they persist, and it never seems to cross the mind of the common voter that these injustices persist precisely because those in power are doing something awful, the people simply cannot fathom that those they elect to rule would act with such disregard for the well being for others. The people buy into a society that has the worst kind of morals built into it and continue to pretend like there is something here worth saving. To the blind masses it still seems rational to cast votes for people to rule over us while these psychos ramp up their discipline, surveil, and punishment tactics and spread endless warfare and pain across the planet.

All these first world nation-states are eager to tell you how free you are. Essentially free to pay their taxes, work their jobs, and contribute to their capitalist growth in some manner. But if you’re so free then try to get a group of people and attempt to escape their system. Try to secede from their rule at any size and you’ll be met with instant opposition. Leaving their system isn’t an option. You can perhaps live in another nation-state they recognize, but you cannot start your own, and even the ones they recognize who don’t behave in an economic manner that pays proper tribute to the ruling classes will be put under threat. The planet is owned by a cartel of mafiosos with important sounding titles, where sovereignty is granted not by the will of a people to be free, but from the existing powers that be.

Everything nation-states, capitalists, or any social structure in a hierarchical form does is horrific and iniquitous while being normalized by way of semantics. Only when their actions are reframed under an objective lens without the titles, badges, and uniforms does the picture become clear and sanity returns. We are collectively captured by mavens in the art of cruelty, and not only do the collective people openly fight against their rule, but we can’t accept or even be brought to discuss the true intent of their actions.