Category Archives: Neoliberalism

The IMF Does Not Fight Financial Fires but Douses Them with Gasoline

Quito’s streets tremble between aspiration and repression; the smell of tear gas and the shouts for freedom reverberating in equal measure from one part of the city to another. President Lenín Moreno’s State of Emergency (October 3) and Curfew (October 12) give the men with guns more authority, but – despite hundreds of injured protestors and at least five dead – the violence has not broken the enthusiasm on the streets. The protests continue. Moreno’s options will soon run out. The oligarchy and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – with a wink from the White House – might ask him to resign. They like their comprador to be credible.

On 13 October, Moreno had to promise to withdraw Decree 833. Pressure from the streets, from the United Nations, and from the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference forced him to the table, where a televised discussion was held. The indigenous leaders won the ‘debate’ – they were much more prepared and far more humane than the president and his clumsy ministers. Moreno and his team – Minister of Government María Paula Romo and Minister of Defense Oswaldo Jarrín – left the room for a recess and surrendered. This is a triumph for the people. But now Moreno must go to the IMF. What pressure will it put on him? The battle continues.

The IMF’s board gathers in Washington, DC for its annual meeting. The Fund’s new leader is Kristalina Georgieva – from Bulgaria – who used to be at the World Bank. Her job is not easy. The IMF’s World Economic Outlook, published in July, calculates that 2019 world output is expected to shrink to 3.2%, compared to 3.8% (2017) and 3.6% (2018). In order to remain optimistic – with little data to support this attitude – the Fund estimates that world outlook will rise to 3.5% in 2020. But Georgieva and her associates on the Fund’s board know that matters are far grimmer. ‘Global economic growth continues to disappoint’, Georgieva said recently. Trade wars and high debt levels contribute further to a general crisis of capitalism.

The new Trade and Development Report (2019) from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), published in late September, says that a recession in 2020 is more than likely. Over the past few years, growth rates have been sustained by ‘one-off tax cuts and unsustainable deficits, made all the more precarious by a rapid build-up of private debt positions, particularly in the corporate sector’. Meanwhile, ‘unemployment figures hide problems of insecure jobs and discouraged workers’. Add to this ‘disrupted supply chains, volatile capital flows, and rising oil prices’, and it seems inevitable that ‘on these trends a slowdown – and possibly even a recession – looks likely’.

There is nothing that the IMF can do. It is beholden to the United States, from whom Georgieva hopes to raise funds towards the IMF’s cache of around $1 trillion. The United States continues to dominate the IMF. In 2015, the IMF released a staff study that argued against ‘supply-side economics’, suggesting that the policy that suggests tax cuts and budgets cuts does not lead to utopia. Instead, the authors write, tax cuts and budget cuts produce results whose benefits ‘do not trickle down’. The implications of this study did not penetrate the upper floors of the IMF, neither the office of the managing director nor the board. It is business as usual at the IMF. Its own economists are not as important as the whispers from the US Treasury Department and the White House.

Late last year, the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) released an important study on IMF loan conditionalities and the impact this has had on health care. The author – Gino Brunswijck – looked at IMF loans to twenty-six countries between 2016 and 2017. In twenty of these twenty-six countries, ‘people have gone on strike or taken to the streets to protest against government cutbacks, the rising cost of living, tax restructuring and wage bill reforms pushed by IMF conditionality’. Since the study came out, the people of Argentina, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Haiti, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, and other countries have taken to the streets. For them, there is no alternative: either they protest, or they starve.

German soldiers, their mule, and tear gas (1916)

Several important points emerge from the study by the European Network which bear reflection:

  1. In the past few years, the IMF loans come with an increased number of structural adjustment conditions. The average number of conditions per loan between 2017 and 2018 was 26.8; between 2011 and 2013, the average number of conditions per loan was 19.5.
  2. Inside the dense language of the loan, there are a series of ‘hidden’ conditionalities; these are often in the annex documents for the loan.
  3. Once the loan agreements have been signed, the IMF returns to add more conditions on the same loan.
  4. Of the twenty-six loans studied, twenty-three of them demanded ‘fiscal consolidation’, which means that the governments were forced to restrict spending. The IMF, in other words, foisted austerity on these countries.
  5. Most of the countries that went to the IMF were ‘repeat borrowers’, which means that the IMF loans did not fix their problems but only exacerbated them. The IMF did nothing to solve the structural insolvency of these governments, but instead loaned the countries into unsustainable debt. In 2013, an IMF study admitted that due to the IMF agreement with Greece in 2010, ‘Market confidence was not restored, the banking system lost 30 per cent of its deposits and the economy encountered a much deeper than expected recession with exceptionally high unemployment’. The Fund’s demands only deepened Greece’s problems. This lesson has not been absorbed.
  6. Finally, the IMF demanded austerity of developing countries even in times of crisis, knowing full well that this is the time when it is important for governments to spend towards fiscal stimulation of a depressed economy. Advanced capitalist countries, on the other hand, do not observe the IMF demand. Between the autumn of 2008 and the start of 2009, calculates the French economist Cédric Durand, these states committed 50.4% of the world GDP to support the financial sector. Nothing of this generosity has ever been committed to support the poor, who make up the vast majority of the planet’s people.

Camouflaged behind IMF phrases such as ‘forging a stronger social compact’ comes the old fashioned tonic of austerity for the poor, generosity for the rich. The agreement between the IMF and Ecuador called upon Moreno’s government to cut wages and to cut 140,000 public sector employees, while energy prices and fees for government services would be raised. The rich would pay none of the price. The money paid to buy gallons of tear gas and riot police equipment could just as easily have been paid out for health care and education. The ‘social compact’ that the IMF finds itself building in each country is forged not through the bonds of society but through the barricades of protest and repression.

Each IMF chief comes to the top office with a signature agenda. Christine Lagarde wanted to push gender equity, which meant – for Lagarde and the IMF – increasing the number of women in the workforce. In one of the staff papers, the IMF researchers pointed out that this would only be possible if countries invest in infrastructure (such as public transport), promote equal rights for women (such as equal inheritance laws and property rights), and promote access to affordable childcare. But, most IMF loan agreements demand cuts in public infrastructure and in childcare and healthcare. IMF policy, in fact, went against even the limited agenda promoted by Lagarde.

Lagarde, who is now in the running to head the European Central Bank, could have done well to listen to Ofelia Fernández, a 19-year-old Argentinian militant who is running for a seat in the Buenos Aires government. Ofelia does not want to define her politics narrowly. She wanted to make it clear to me last month that feminism must take up all the social issues from a feminist perspective – not allow itself to be restricted to ‘women’s issues’, which are themselves, she pointed out, everyone’s issues. In the poorer parts of Argentina, organisations have emerged to fight against the outcome of the crisis. Hunger is a serious issue, with special emphasis on the hunger of children. Most of the leaders of these popular organisations, Ofelia said, are women. Their fight around the economy of care and against austerity must also be seen as a feminist fight. The fight against hunger, Ofelia said, is also feminism.

Georgieva comes to her post eager to tackle ‘climate risks’ and to urge a move to a post-carbon energy system. Her policy form will be cuts to energy subsidies and a rise in carbon taxes. A recent IMF study shows that gasoline and household energy bills should rise dramatically to limit global warming. What we have here is austerity packaged as environmentalism. Rather than promote a policy slate of regressive taxes on the poor, the IMF could urge more expenditure on public transportation and on a transition from carbon-based energy to more sustainable forms of energy. But this is not the temper of the IMF. Neoliberal policy and austerity are its contours.

The headline of this newsletter does not come from a radical poet. It comes from the Wall Street Journal. During the Asian financial crisis in 1998, the WSJ ran an editorial that said that the IMF ‘has not been fighting financial fires but dousing them with gasoline’. The IMF pours the first tranche of gasoline.

People want to douse these flames. Their hopes explode out of the verse of Dennis Brutus (1924-2009), South Africa’s anti-apartheid poet:

There will come a time we believe
when the shape of the planet
and the divisions of the land
will be less important.
We will be caught in the glow of friendship.
A red star of hope
will illuminate our lives.
A star of hope.
A star of joy.
A star of freedom.

  • First published at The Tricontinental.
  • Pink Tide Against US Domination Rising Again In Latin America

    (Photo from Dissent Magazine)

    Once again, the left is rising in Latin America as people revolt against authoritarian regimes, many of whom were put in place by US-supported coups. These regimes have taken International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans and are under the thumb of international finance, which is against the interests of people.After the embattled President of Ecuador claimed that President Nicolas Maduro was the cause of the massive protests against him, Maduro made clear what was occurring in Latin America, saying:

    We have two models: the IMF model which privatizes everything and takes away the people’s rights to health, education and work; and the humanist-progressive model which is emerging in Latin America and has the Bolivarian Revolution at the forefront.

    Maduro’s clear understanding of the conflict is why it has been so important for the US to remove him. His success in defeating ongoing US coup attempts is a model guiding Latin America to a future independent of US domination.

    Ecuadorians celebrate the repeal of Decree 883 (From Twitter)

    Ecuador in Rebellion Against IMF and the US Puppet Moreno

    On October 4, Moreno proclaimed the end of a 40-year policy of fuel and petrol subsidies, which had traditionally benefited his country’s working-class population. He also announced a 20 percent decrease in the salary of public employees and initiated plans to privatize pensions. He removed workplace and job security safeguards. Decree 883, known as ‘The Package’, was a series of neoliberal policies demanded by the IMF in return for a $4.2 billion dollar loan. It was preceded by policies for the wealthy including reducing their taxes.

    The IMF loan was part of Moreno serving as a puppet and bowing to multiple US demands. Ecuador promised to settle a long dispute with Chevron whose oil drilling and pipelines have polluted the country. Tens of billions of dollars in restitution from Chevron are at stake but Moreno said he is willing to give them up. In fact, the IMF loan is strange in that it was dependent on Ecuador paying external debt obligations; i.e., it was not new funds for Ecuador but new debt to subsidize paying back Wall Street.

    In making the announcement, Moreno called the people “Zánganos,” or Drone Bees leading to the uprising of the Drone Bees. The mass protests were called by the Popular Front, a group of unions, and the Unified Workers Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). Students and social movements joined protests throughout the nation in Loja, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Ambato, and Riobamba, among other cites as well as Quito, the capital. Moreno claimed without any evidence that the uprising was financed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Correa.

    Protests in Ecuador were relentless with no end in sight. They grew when 20,000 indigenous people marched into Quito. Police responded with violence, tear gas, and mass arrests. An October 4 video circulated on social media showed nonviolent protesters killed in the street by the police as well as other police violence. On October 5, Moreno declared a 60-day state of Emergency. Sometimes police had to retreat in the face of mass protests. On October 7, Moreno fled the capital to hide in the Navy base 260 miles away in the conservative stronghold of Guayaquil.

    As we wrote this newsletter, unrest in Ecuador was escalating. On Saturday, the nation was put on military lockdown. Law enforcement attacked protesters with pellets and tear gas in the immediate vicinity of the  National Assembly. By Sunday, Moreno decreed a 3:00 pm curfew, which people defied. Then, facing an emergency session in the National Assembly, Moreno backed down. Protesters celebrated when Moreno’s government announced that Decree 883 had been repealed after eleven days of popular mobilizations.

    Peter Koenig describes a root cause of the problems:

    Since January 2000, Ecuador’s economy is 100% dollarized, compliments of the IMF (entirely controlled by the US Treasury, by force of an absolute veto). The other two fully dollarized Latin American countries are El Salvador and Panama.

    The US and IMF used the economic crises of the 1990s to dollarize Ecuador’s economy and gain full control over the nation’s riches as Ecuador is the second-largest oil economy in South America. This led to unaffordable goods for Ecuadorians, social unrest and a series of unstable governments until President Correa, who served from 2007 to 17, was elected.

    A Center for Economic and Policy Research 2017 report found under Correa Ecuador did well with an average annual GDP growth of 1.5%  compared to 0.6% average for the previous 26 years; a decline of 38% in poverty with extreme poverty reduced by 47%; and a decline in inequality with the Gini coefficient falling substantially. Correa doubled social spending from 4.3% in 2006 to 8.6% in 2016; tripling education spending from 0.7% to 2.1%; and, increasing public investments from 4% of GDP in 2006 to 10% in 2016.

    Correa served two terms. A third term would have required a constitutional amendment. Rather than running, Correa endorsed Lenin Moreno who had served as his vice president from 2007-13. He was expected to continue Correa’s policies but instead reversed them.

    Moreno was unpopular before announcing ‘The Package’ due to structural poverty increasing from 23.1 percent in June 2017 to 25.5 percent in June 2019 with projections of 30 percent by the end of the year. Injustices like the imprisonment of the popular former Vice President Jorge Glas on dubious charges and his continuous political witch hunt against Rafael Correa and other leaders of the Citizens’ Revolution Party added to his unpopularity. In addition, he has been engulfed in a personal corruption crisis involving an offshore Shell corporation INA, which cast Moreno’s presidency in doubt.

    Moreno’s forcible and illegal ejection of Julian Assange from the London embassy in return for payoffs from the US and UK resulted in a national strike in Ecuador in July. This, along with the arrest of Ola Bini, who is being prosecuted falsely as a conspirator with Wikileaks, was unpopular with Ecuadorians.

    Will repeal of ‘The Package’ end the protests and the threat to Moreno’s presidency? As we write, the answer to these questions are unclear. The people won a major victory, but the Moreno/IMF infection remains.

    Rally in Argentina (By Enfoque Rojo)

    Latin Americans Rising Against the Right and US Domination

    Latin American countries are rejecting neoliberalism and US domination using multiple strategies to achieve change.

    This month the deepening anti-capitalist movement in Bolivia is set to strengthen with the probable re-election of Evo Morales on October 20. Argentina is expected to remove right-wing President Mauricio Macri on October 27 and replace him with Alberto Fernandez. And, Mexico put in place its first progressive, left-of-center government with the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on July 1, 2018. Elections are also upcoming in Uruguay on October 27 and in Peru in January. Venezuela may have National Assembly elections in January as well.

    Bolivia’s Evo Morales has a 13-point lead in polls as his governing party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) looks to re-election for a third Morales term that will last until 2025. Morales has 38.8 percent, just 1.2 percent short of the 40 percent required for a first-round victory in the upcoming elections. The survey also indicated majority support for the nationalization of gas and strategic industries, 51 percent say that public ownership is positive for the economy. On social programs, 61.7 percent say they are essential for providing dignity to those of low incomes.

    Morales has launched a large reforestation plan and put in place a model healthcare program. He is under attack from the United States and segments of Bolivia. Morales leads an independent, sovereign Bolivia that has rejected US dominance, decolonized and displaced neoliberalism. A recent color revolution attempt by the wealthy, with the support of the US and western powers, failed.

    Argentina’s first round of voting on August 11 resulted in Fernandez, running with former president Cristina Kirchner, finishing 15 percent ahead of Macri. The surprising landslide brought into question Macri’s ability to govern between now and the election. As a result, the IMF put a $5.4 billion dollar loan on hold part of the $56.3 billion stand-by agreement signed in mid-2018. Fernandez opposed the loan, which required sharp budget cuts affecting public services at a time of increasing poverty.

    Under Macri, the economy has gone into crisis with poverty increasing to a record 36.4 percent, a recession accompanied by a 47 percent inflation rate in 2018 and an inflation rate of 25.1 percent during the first seven months of this year. Argentina’s unemployment is at the highest level in 14 years. Poverty was at 19.7 percent when Kirchner left office in 2015. Fernandez has put forward an anti-hunger plan, not dependent on the IMF. Three weeks before the election, thousands of people rallied in Buenos Aires as the Workers Left Front sent a message of opposition to neoliberalism and austerity to the two major political parties.

    In Mexico, AMLO won a landslide 53 percent of the vote on July 31 ending decades of right-wing rule. People were fed up with the corruption, impunity, and violence — decades of loss of rights, pillaging and destruction of the nation’s wealth and public enterprises. At his inauguration, AMLO decried 36 years of neoliberalism and public and private corruption, promised a “peaceful and radical” transition with “indigenous people as its priority,” in a government “for the good of all, first the poor.” His fight against neoliberalism is challenged by NAFTA II (or the USMCA), as AMLO is careful not to confront Trump on this. On border policy, AMLO offered migrants home in Mexico and urged investment in Central America.

    The Zapatistas have conflicted with AMLO over the exploitation of resources and the use of the military in policing, demanding its autonomy based on indigenous principles but he has sought diplomacy with them. AMLO has also faced massive strikes of tens of thousands of autoworkers, workers at US companies in Mexico and wildcat strikes at the border. AMLO has been a counterweight to US aggression in Latin America standing with Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

    Peru is in the midst of a crisis. President Martin Vizcarra who came into office after a corruption scandal removed his predecessor, dissolved the Congress, a move supported by the left, because it is controlled by far-right politician Keiko Fujimori and was preventing Vizcarra’s anti-corruption campaign. Congress ignored the president’s order and voted to remove him from office instead. The vice president resigned rather than take over and Vizcarra remains in office with the support of the military. He has now called for new congressional elections to be held on January 26. Vizcarra is a conservative battling the oligarchic right. The left, which has been divided, is coalescing around the Popular National Assembly and allying with social movements. The movements want an end to neoliberal policies, a Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution and to break with Washington’s domination.

    In Central America, Honduras has been in revolt against the coup government of Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), which for ten years has put in place neoliberalism, repression, and violence. Protests have been ongoing since his coup and fraudulent re-election. This summer, protests intensified with a national strike over austerity and privatization measures required by an IMF loan, leading to a 66-day uprising.  The US has trained Honduran police to use repressive measures in an attempt to stop the protests, but their actions feed more protests.

    Many have fled Honduras in caravans to escape the corruption and violence. Now, a coalition of civil groups is urging the president’s departure over a scandal ignited by accusations of large-scale drug trafficking to the United States being litigated against the president’s brother Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez. In the trial, several witnesses have declared JOH’s campaign was financed with drug money, and that he took millions in bribes from various Mexican drug lords, including the infamous Joaquin “El-Chapo” Guzman. The Liberal Party joined in calling for his resignation and protests have intensified. The trial may be the end of this cocaine-fueled presidency.

    Brazil’s election of Bolsonaro has been marred by scandal now that the corruption of Operation Car Wash has been exposed. Private conversations between the prosecutors and then-judge Sergio Moro, now Super Minister of Justice, show that former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was the “victim of a conspiracy” to prevent him from running against Bolsonaro.  In the secret exchanges, Moro admitted that the corruption case was designed to frame him. Lula has said the US is behind the conspiracy.

    Calls to free Lula are increasing and the Supreme Court will be reviewing the case. Lula is demanding his record be cleared and refused a panicked offer from prosecutors that he be freed from jail and put under house arrest. Bolsonaro is also under attack for the Amazon fires, for an increase in police killings, for genocide against the Indigenous and for attacks on public education. Former President Michel Temer acknowledged that the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff, the Worker’s Party leader, was a coup d’etat.

    Nicaragua survived a 2018 US coup attempt and the revolution continues to thrive after 40 years of independence from US domination after US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza fled. People were very confused about what happened in the 2018 coup attempt as media misinformation was prevalent. A group of us joined and produced a reader to help people understand the reality of Nicaragua. Peace is coming back to Nicaragua, even though continued pressure from the US is expected in the form of new illegal sanctions.

    Venezuela, which we have reported on intensively for years, has also survived ongoing coup attempts that continue to escalate in the post-John Bolton era of the Trump administration most recently with a threat of war through the Organization of American States (OAS). They are prepared for a military attack and have created new alliances to overcome the US economic war. This week, Russia announced it was investing $16.5 billion in Venezuela by the end of 2019.

    Russia has provided anti-missile defense systems, is keeping Navy ships in Venezuela to deter a US blockade and has helped gather intelligence on US actions. With their help, Venezuela has uncovered terrorist plots coming from Colombia and involving US-puppet Juan Guiado’s team. Guaido has faltered and failed time and again, and now is being investigated for ties to Colombian drug traffickers and corruption.

    The non-aligned movement of 120 nations met in Caracas this summer and expressed support for Venezuelan sovereignty.  Venezuela has been a lynchpin for left movements in Latin America. When oil prices were high, it shared its wealth not only with poorest Venezuelans but with other countries seeking to challenge US and oligarch domination. Even in the midst of an escalating economic war with the United States, they continue to provide housing, food, and essentials to their people.

    Protesters in Haiti (Twitter)

    Caribbean Resistance

    In the Caribbean, Cuba is challenged by the US economic war but continues its revolution. Mass protests in Haiti threaten the survival of the government and Puerto Rico’s revolt removed a governor.

    Cuba, despite the increasing US economic war, continues to be a bulwark against US imperialism, standing with governments like Venezuela and Nicaragua when they are under attack. Cuba completed a successful transition to a new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and voted on a new constitution developed using a participatory process involving 9 million people through 133,000 citizen meetings. The constitution includes “universal and free health, education, sports and recreation, culture and respect for human dignity.” Cuba is currently facing major economic challenges as the US is blocking their access to oil. Russia and Venezuela are helping Cuba overcome this oil blockade.

    Haiti has been in protest since April calling for an end to neoliberal US domination and the resignation of Jovenel Moise. The president has not spoken in public since the beginning of this latest round of protests and this week he named a commission of seven politicians to lead discussions for a solution to end the crisis.

    In Puerto Rico, a colony of the United States, massive protests led to Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló resigning on July 22, 2019. People also want the corrupt legislature cleaned out, the Fiscal Control Board, created by Obama, ended and the debt to be audited. Former political prisoner, Luis Rosa, said three things are needed: “decolonization, an end to our colonial status through a constitutional assembly; health care, free for all Puerto Rican citizens; and free public education up through the university level.”

    Stephen Sefton wrote a country-by-country review of Latin America and the Caribbean in June describing the decline of the United States in the region and how changes were coming to many nations. He predicted that we are seeing “the last throw of the dice for the US to retain its accustomed power and influence against the relentless fundamental drive for emancipation by the region’s impoverished majority.”

    Rafael Correa said: “Neoliberalism is what failed, not socialism of the 21st century, on the contrary, socialism of the 21st century is what has us firmly on our feet, withstanding all of these difficulties.” This hemisphere is a key battleground in the conflict between neoliberalism v Socialism and US dominance v. independence. People are demanding democracy from the bottom up and a fair economy that meets their needs.

    Nuclear War: Just Another Day

    Catastrophic events that send the world into turmoil happen on ‘just another day’. The atom bomb that exploded over Hiroshima took place while thousands of ordinary folk were just going about their everyday business on ‘just another day’. A missile attack on a neighbourhood in Gaza or a drone attack on unsuspecting civilians in Afghanistan: death and destruction come like a bolt from the blue as people shop at the local market or take their kids to school on ‘just another day’.

    Will it be ‘just another day’ when the next nuclear bomb is exploded in anger, an ordinary day when people are just going about their daily business? By then it might be too late to do anything, too late to act to try to prevent an unfolding global catastrophe on a scale never before witnessed by humans.

    Yet so many appear too apathetic and wrapped up in a world of gadgets, technology, shopping malls, millionaire sports players and big-time sports events to think that such a thing could be imminent.

    Are they so preoccupied with the machinations of their own lives in cotton-wool cocooned societies to think that what is happening in Syria or Iraq is just too boring to follow or that it doesn’t really concern them or it is ‘not my problem’? Do they think they are untouchable, that only death, war and violence happens in faraway places?

    Could any of us even contemplate that on some not-too-distant day a series of European cities could be laid waste within a matter of minutes? It isn’t worth thinking about. Or is it?

    The US (and the West’s) foreign policy is being driven on the basis of fake morality and duplicity. Millions lie dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya as a result of US-led imperialism and nuclear-armed Russia is constantly demonised simply because it will not acquiesce to Washington and serve as a vassal state.

    And now, as the US continues to stir up tensions with Iran and as China warns neighbouring countries about allowing US nuclear missiles aimed at it on their territories, much of the Western public and media remain oblivious to the dangers of conflict escalation and the biggest immediate threat to all life on Earth: nuclear war.

    The threat of mass murder

    Some fell to the ground and their stomachs already expanded full, burst and organs fell out. Others had skin falling off them and others still were carrying limbs. And one in particular was carrying their eyeballs in their hand.

    The above extract comes from an account by a Hiroshima survivor talking about the fate of her schoolmates. In 2016, it was read out in the British parliament by Scottish National Party MP Chris Law during a debate about Britain’s nuclear arsenal.

    In response to a question from MP George Kereven, the then British PM Theresa May said without hesitation that, if necessary, she would authorise the use of a nuclear weapon that would kill hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. May also implied that those wishing to scrap Britain’s nuclear weapons are siding with the nation’s enemies.

    Politicians like May read from a script devised by elite interests. This transnational capitalist class dictates global economic policies and decides on who lives and who dies and which wars are fought and inflicted on which people.

    The mainstream narrative tends to depict individuals who belong to this class as ‘wealth creators’. In reality, however, these ‘high flyers’ have stolen ordinary people’s wealth, stashed it away in tax havens, bankrupted economies and have imposed a form of globalisation that results in devastating destruction and war for those who attempt to remain independent or structurally adjusted violence via privatisation and economic neoliberalism for millions in countries that have acquiesced.

    While ordinary folk across the world have been subjected to policies that have resulted in oppression, poverty and conflict, this is all passed off by politicians and the mainstream media as the way things must be.

    The agritech sector poisons our food and agriculture. Madelaine Albright says it was worth it to have killed half a million kids in Iraq to secure energy resources for rich corporations and extend the wider geopolitical goals of ‘corporate America’. The welfare state is dismantled and austerity is imposed on millions. The rich increase their already enormous wealth. Powerful corporations corrupt government machinery and colonise every aspect of life for profit. Environmental destruction and ecological devastation continue apace.

    And nuclear weapons hang over humanity like the sword of Damocles.

    The public is supposed to back this status quo in support of what? Austerity, powerlessness, imperialism, propping up the US dollar and a moribund system. For whom? Occidental Petroleum, Soros, Murdoch, Rothschild, BP, JP Morgan, Boeing and the rest of the elite and their corporations whose policies are devised in think tanks and handed to politicians to sell to a largely ignorant public: those who swallow the lie about some ‘war on terror’ or Washington as the world’s policeman, protecting life and liberty.

    Rejecting hegemonic thought

    Many believe nuclear weapons are a necessary evil and fall into line with hegemonic thinking about humanity being inherently conflictual, competitive and war-like. Such tendencies do, of course, exist, but they do not exist in a vacuum. They are fuelled by capitalism and imperialism and played upon by politicians, the media and elite interests who seek to scare the population into accepting a ‘necessary’ status quo.

    Co-operation and equality are as much a part of any arbitrary aspect of ‘human nature’ as any other defined characteristic. These values are, however, sidelined by a system of capitalism that is inherently conflict-ridden and expansionist.

    Much of humanity has been convinced to accept the potential for instant nuclear Armageddon hanging over its collective head as a given, as a ‘deterrent’. However, the reality is that these weapons exist to protect elite, imperialist interests or to pressure others to cave into their demands. If the 20th century has shown us anything, it is these interests are adept at gathering the masses under notions of flag, god and country to justify their slaughter.

    To prevent us all shuddering with the fear of the threat of instant nuclear destruction on a daily basis, it’s a case of don’t worry, be happy, forget about it and watch TV. It was the late academic Rick Roderick who highlighted that modern society trivialises issues that are of ultimate importance: they eventually become banal or ‘matter of fact’ to the population.

    People are spun the notion that nuclear-backed militarism and neoliberalism and its structural violence are necessary for securing peace, defeating terror, creating prosperity or promoting ‘growth’. The ultimate banality is to accept this pack of lies and to believe there is no alternative, to acquiesce or just switch off to it all.

    Instead of acquiescing and accepting it as ‘normal’, we should listen to writer and campaigner Robert J Burrowes:

    Many people evade responsibility, of course, simply by believing and acting as if someone else, perhaps even ‘the government’, is ‘properly’ responsible. Undoubtedly, however, the most widespread ways of evading responsibility are to deny any responsibility for military violence while paying the taxes to finance it, denying any responsibility for adverse environmental and climate impacts while making no effort to reduce consumption, denying any responsibility for the exploitation of other people while buying the cheap products produced by their exploited (and sometimes slave) labour, denying any responsibility for the exploitation of animals despite eating and/or otherwise consuming a range of animal products, and denying any part in inflicting violence, especially on children, without understanding the many forms this violence can take.

    Burrowes concludes by saying that ultimately, we evade responsibility by ignoring the existence of a problem. The evasion of responsibility, acquiescence and acceptance are, of course, part of the conditioning process.

    The ‘problem’ encompasses not only ongoing militarism, but the structural violence of neoliberal capitalism, aided and abetted by the World Bank, IMF and the WTO. It’s a type of violence that is steady, lingering and a daily fact of life under globalised capitalism.

    Of course, oppression and conflict have been a feature throughout history and have taken place under various economic and political systems. Indeed, in his various articles, Burrowes goes deep into the psychology and causes of violence.

    But there is potentially a different path for humanity. In 1990, the late British MP Tony Benn gave a speech in parliament that indicated the kind of values that such a route might look like.

    Benn spoke about having been on a crowded train, where people had been tapping away on calculators and not interacting or making eye contact with one another. It represented what Britain had apparently become under Thatcherism: excessively individualistic, materialistic, narcissistic and atomised.

    The train broke down. As time went by, people began to talk with one another, offer snacks and share stories. Benn said it wasn’t too long before that train had been turned into a socialist train of self-help, communality and comradeship. Despite the damaging policies and ideology of Thatcherism, these features had survived her tenure, were deeply embedded and never too far from the surface.

    For Tony Benn, what had been witnessed aboard that train was an aspect of ‘human nature’ that is too often suppressed, devalued and, when used as a basis for political change, regarded as a threat to ruling interests. It is an aspect that draws on notions of unity, solidarity, common purpose, self-help and finds its ultimate expression in the vibrancy of community, the collective ownership of productive resources and co-operation. The type of values far removed from the destructive, divisive ones of imperialism and capitalism which key politicians and the corporate media protect and promote.

    Decimation of the Rainforests and the Money Men

    During August thousands of fires ravaged the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and Bolivia. Some are still burning. In the wet ecosystem of the rainforest fires are not a natural phenomenon, they are started by people, mostly well-organized criminal gangs that profit from illegal logging and land clearance.

    Brazil’s right-wing President, Jain Bolsanaro, took office in January; since then deforestation in the country has doubled, there have been 87,000 fires in the Amazon, the highest number since 2010. Funding to Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency, IBAMA, has been cut by 25%, including monies allocated for prevention and control of fires, which was slashed by 23%, he has publicly attacked organizations working to protect the rainforest, like Guardians of the Forest (made up of indigenous people), and turned a blind eye to environmental crimes.

    By dismantling “all the state organs that enforce environmental protection,” Alfredo Sirkis, director of the Brazil Climate Center, says Bolsonaro is inciting environmental crimes and facilitating deforestation; through his words and deeds he is complicit in the environmental crimes being perpetrated. A spokesman for Guardians of the Forest told Human Rights Watch, “If we were to wait for the authorities to act there will be nothing left.”

    80,000 acres a day

    The World’s rainforests are the lungs of the planet. They soak up greenhouse gas emissions, affect wind currents and rainfall patterns and produce the oxygen we need to survive. They provide habitat for hundreds of animals, thousands of birds and tens of thousands of plants: around 25% of modern pharmaceuticals are derived from ingredients found in rainforests.

    In 1950 they covered around 15% of the earth’s land surface.  Now, due to intensive deforestation, it’s down to just 6%. According to Scientific American, “most experts agree that we are losing upwards of 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest daily, and significantly degrading another 80,000 acres every day on top of that. Along with this loss and degradation, 135 plant, animal and insect species are disappearing every day………as the forests fall.”

    In 2015 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) claimed that “over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50 percent”.  However, according to the World Resources Institute, that trend has reversed; 2018 “was the second-highest on record for tree cover loss, down just slightly from 2016. The tropics lost an area of forest the size of Vietnam in just the last two years.” If this unimaginable level of carnage continues unabated it is feared that in less than 40 years there will be none left.

    The consequences of a world bereft of rainforests are too horrific to contemplate, but one thing is clear: it would then be too late to do anything meaningful about climate change and the environmental calamity more broadly. Currently, deforestation and forest degradation rank as the second highest cause of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, producing around 15% of the total. As the children of the world have been rightly demanding, radical action is needed now, not in twenty-five or thirty years’ time, but now.

    The causes of deforestation

    There are various causes of deforestation; while logging is an issue, particularly in Indonesia where 80 percent of timber exports are illegal, the major cause is animal agriculture. Huge tracts of land are cleared to graze cattle, grow feed for animals and for biofuels. Animal agriculture is a principle cause of greenhouse gas emissions – producing, the UNFAO say, 14.5% of the anthropogenic GHG emissions that are driving climate change. It also uses approximately 70% of all agricultural land, and is the primary cause of biodiversity loss, animal extinction and water pollution. If deforestation and climate change are to be tackled, reducing consumption of animal produce needs to be a priority. This is something we can all do; it just requires commitment and a sense of social/environmental responsibility.

    A recent study into the impact of farming on the planet concluded that “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication [when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of algae], land use and water use…it is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” it states, “as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

    The research, which is the most comprehensive to date, found that “beef cattle raised on deforested land result in 12 times more greenhouse gases and uses 50 times more land than those grazing rich natural pasture,” and states that producing 100g of beef “results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases, while tofu produces less than 3.5kg.” Without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by 75% (an area equivalent to the US, China, the European Union and Australia combined), the study states, and we could still feed everyone.

    In response to this summer’s fires in the Amazon a coalition of environmental groups came together, which included Friends of the Earth, Action Network, Rainforest and Amazon Watch. They called for a Global Day of Action for the Amazon and issued a damning statement to those responsible for the destruction.

    Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro is, they made clear, primarily to blame for the fires and the increase in deforestation since he took office, due to his “regressive, and racist policies and his explicit encouragement to ‘open the Amazon for business’.” But, it is multinational companies that have created the “conditions for profiteering at the expense of the lungs of the earth – and these same companies are poised to profit further as today’s fires open up the door for tomorrow’s plantations and ranches.” Behind deforestation is big business and the multinational banks.

    Global commodity traders are the “key drivers of deforestation in the Amazon”; companies like Cargill, a US based agriculture corporation, or JBS, an American food processing company, or Marfrig Global Foods, a Brazilian beef producer, and, according to their website, “one of the world leaders in the production of hamburgers, with processing capacity of 232.000 tons per year”.

    The products these companies make are sold by large-scale retailers all over the world: E. Lecrerc has over 500 shops in France and 112 outside the country; Stop & Shop (the name says it all), a US supermarket chain with 415 outlets; Costco, another American conglomerate, and US mega corporation, Walmart, which has 11,389 stores. Behind these corporations sit the money men. The key players are BlackRock (an American investment management corporation); US investment bank, JPMorgan Chase; Santander (Spanish Bank); BNP Paribas (French Bank); HSBC (UK-based bank) and others. “These financiers not only enable the destruction of our forests – they profit from it.”

    The driving force

    Behind the banks and corporate traders is the Neo-Liberal socio-economic model; these powerful organizations operate within, and are determined to uphold, the confines of its doctrine, they are driven by the values and motives inherent in the Ideology of Money, and demonstrate no concern for the natural world, or human well-being.

    Together with the consumer society that it relentlessly promotes and depends on, Neo-Liberalism, sits at the polluting heart of deforestation and the wider interconnected environmental catastrophe. Under its profit-bound ethos, everything is regarded as a commodity, everyone seen as a consumer. Competition and division are inherent, selfishness and greed, the antithesis to what is needed, are fostered.

    Within the present construct and modes of living it is hard to see how the necessary action to curb deforestation could be initiated. In an attempt to halt the carnage in 2008 the UN set up Redd (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). A mechanism through which developing countries are encouraged to improve forest management and developed nations can contribute to a fund to facilitate and support such schemes. It may contribute to encouraging conservation and places a degree of responsibility, albeit voluntarily accepted, on rich nations, but it will not stop deforestation.

    A completely new approach to so-called development as part of far reaching systemic change is urgently needed, together with a shift in public attitudes: away from self-centered activity, competition, and the aggrandizement of the individual and/or the nation state. Humanity is one, individual but united. This essential fact needs to be recognized and acted upon. Not as a vague philosophical or psychological catchphrase, but as a principle of truth from which a new socio-economic model can be created; one that serves the needs of all through sharing, encourages simplicity of living, harmlessness and social/environmental responsibility.

    In Defense of Cory Morningstar’s Manufacturing for Consent Series

    Good investigative journalism doesn’t only reveal hidden mechanisms of our time;  it also exposes those who refuse to confront the mechanisms. Remember when the late Bruce Dixon courageously and cogently called Bernie Sanders “a sheep dog candidate”? Remember when Eva Bertlett, Vanessa Beeley and others truly stood with Syrian people in opposing the western intervention?  I do. Those who could not face the reality came up with all sorts of profanities and ill conceived theories to demonize the messengers.

    Cory Morningstar has been a dedicated environmental activist with a sound track record, who has closely worked with various NGOs. She is a mother. She is an avid gardener. She is an honest person with empathy, passion, love for people, love for our fellow creatures and love for nature.  Her human character and sense of justice has culminated in her keen insights, observations and analyses.  Her writings have inspired many of us to see the depth and scope of capitalist institutions as part of the social dynamics affecting our consciousness.  Her meticulous pursuit of facts in illustrating mechanisms of our world evokes a sense of awe. She is a respected colleague in our struggle toward a better tomorrow.

    While her latest series, “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg—for Consent:  The Political Economy of Non Profit Industrial Complex Volume I and Volume II”, has been wildly praised as a ground-breaking milestone in depicting the vast mechanism of exploitation and subjugation involving the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, it has been also maliciously misrepresented.

    One of the very common, yet blatantly erroneous criticisms, centers around the series’s focus on the young activist. Why do they attack the author as a child abuser? The series does not attack the 16 year old activist at all. It points out those organizations and individuals which closely surround her in forming a momentum for their agenda. It delineates how the mobilization fits within the larger framework of corporate “environmentalism”, colonialism, global capitalism and imperialism.  The trickery of the accusation that the work attacks a child and smears the youth-led activism follows the same pattern of lies and deceptions unfolding against serious journalism for some time.  It reflects how establishment successfully dominates our minds as it dominates the hierarchy of money and violence.  The ruling class actually abuses children by making them pawns for lucrative business projects — such as carbon capture and storage, “renewable energy” schemes, carbon trading and so on (the series discusses why they do not work extensively). They trick the innocent youth into digging their own graves while making profits out of it.

    Remember people called you racist, when you pointed out President Obama’s drone killings? Remember people called you misogynist when you criticized Secretary Clinton’s colonial policies? Those who did didn’t mind brown people blown into pieces, and didn’t mind the colonial oppression of women in colonized lands.  The capitalist hierarchy structurally forces us to embrace the values, norms and beliefs of the ruling class, as it trains people to climb the social ladder as expected.  The momentum to accuse Morningster’s work as a child abuse stems from the same psychological projection of accusers’ own complicity in consecrating a teenager as an invincible saint of their movement.

    Then there is the most typical argument to condone obvious institutional tendencies of inhumanity: “things aren’t always black and white”.  Of course, there are good environmentalists doing good work as well.  We have gone through this in so many incarnations. When we point out police brutality, we hear “not all police officers are bad”. When we point out obvious racism among us:  “not all white people are racist”.  Those are certainly true.  But could we also say “not all slave masters were evil”, “not all Kings and queens were evil”, “not all colonizers were evil” and so on? Well, sure.  But does that mean we can bring back slavery, feudalism or colonialism?  No.

    Refusal to talk about the systematic inhumanity inflicted by the system tolerates the status quo as acceptable. And please do stop with “but the movement gives us hope” nonsense.  What happened when we were sold “hope”, “change” and “forward”, and received colonial wars, big bank bailout, global surveillance and loss of legal protections during the Obama presidency?  We got Donald Trump.  When the system squeezes already oppressed people while shuttering their hope and making them embrace fear, people try their best to hold on to whatever they have.  They embrace an illusion of salvation in authoritarian lies and hatred against “others”. It is extremely important that we strive to discuss such a mechanism among us instead of jumping into the same momentum. We must discuss the true hope of building a momentum moving beyond the lies and deceptions coming out of the destructive hierarchy.

    Morningstar states in “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg—for Consent:  The Political Economy of Non Profit Industrial Complex Volume II Act IV”:

    Consider that collectively, the populace appears to believe that not only is it possible to colonize another planet, but that we will do so in the not-so-distant future. This is incredible considering the massive odds of and colossal barriers to such an endeavour succeeding. Thus, it is alarming, that this same populace appears not to believe it is not possible to create new societies where necessity is detached from want (superfluous consumer goods). This begs the question – have we been fully conditioned to believe only those that represent hegemonic interests? It is a sound question considering the billionaires of the world are currently petrified of the capitalist system collapsing – while those oppressed by the capitalist system believe it cannot be dismantled. Yet we can dismantle institutions. We can dismantle the capitalist economic system devouring what remains of the natural world – but not if we identify with our oppressors and the very system that enslaves us. It is our natural world and her living natural communities that sustain us. Not industrial civilization – not technology.

    Hopelessness and cynicism do creep up to justify the status quo. But we also must recognize that such a position does away with putting our efforts toward standing with the truly oppressed ones.

    Morningstar’s series meticulously documents how powerful global organizations seek ways to cultivate a consensus for their trajectory. And it carefully states, with facts, why the trajectory does not lead to achieving their promises — preventing climate change and other environmental calamities.  The illustrated mechanism has been revealed over and over through their past crimes—the coordinated actions of industries, bankers, politicians, NGOs, UN, global financial institutions and media have culminated into colonial wars, coverups of nuclear disasters, regime change, and other corporate, colonial and imperial policies. There is nothing speculative, coincidental or conspiratorial about the series. It is based on careful research, honesty, courage to face the real issue and true love for humanity. It is again curiously indicative that those who engage in a conspiracy to mobilize the people according to their agendas accuse those who see through the attempt as “conspiracy theorist”. The use of the derogatory term invented by the US intelligence agency to label dissidents as tin-hat wearing nuts jobs hardly proves their legitimacy.

    Moreover, I must say that it is extremely odd and disingenuous that the series has been portrayed as a refusal to take any action, instead insisting on ideological purity. Such an attack has been coming out of those who have been pointing out the same moneyed network in forwarding corporatism, colonialism and militarism by manipulating popular opinions.  What is the difference between opposing destructive colonial wars and opposing colonization of nature/co-optation of activism?  More specifically, what prompts some of them to say “what is your solution?”, “we can’t wait for capitalism to be overthrown to solve climate change” and so on.

    The obvious falsehood of such an angle is the stark absence of solutions within their own “green momentum”. Morningstar’s research does not talk about the necessity of establishing a communist statehood or overthrowing capitalism in order to solve the impending crisis.  It simply states facts in a cohesive manner. Consequently, it certainly indicates the systematic structural issues presented by the hierarchy of money and violence. The research clearly names individuals and organizations that are involved in mobilizing the population in installing government policies that are lucrative to the associated corporations and beneficial to the imperial framework. Capitalist hegemony does present itself as a source of predicaments of our time.  But is that new to us?

    Needless to say, for those of us who believe in the Marxist perspective, the solution amounts to a structural transformation of our society into one that doesn’t monopolize the means of production for the ruling class. The economic activities must be subservient to harmonious existence of the people, environment and other species. And our social interactions must be under a control of such aims, instead of financial and social power of the ruling class. But make no mistake that that is simply an ultimate direction. Just as we voice our objections against any form of inhumanity regardless of our systematic problem, when we see certain environmental policies being subservient to the corporate agenda, likely to result in worsened conditions for the people, we discuss them.

    There shouldn’t be anything different about pointing out the US military aggression and the fallacy of US environmental policies, especially when they are forwarded by the same western establishment.  When we find the carbon capture schemes to be disingenuous, for example, we simply point it out.  We demand an answer to why corporate “solutions” are upheld as people’s “solutions”. And people who buy into false narratives should be noted as not credible leaders in people’s movement. So the question “what is your solution?” really should be directed at those who subscribe to those erroneous “solutions.”  They need to be asked how those solutions would be a worthy cause at the first place, and why cogent criticisms against implementations of destructive schemes can not be embraced because “we can’t wait for a socialist revolution”.

    What people desperately need today is good investigative reports like the one presented by Cory Morningstar, along with our educational efforts to reveal the mechanisms of our time.  We must learn how the unprecedented wealth accumulation among the very few ends up protected by layers and layers of moneyed social institutions coordinating to perpetuate the system, while progressively oppressive financial pressure and state violence against already oppressed people keep herding people into the capitalist framework. When we face the sad reality of people embracing policies that allow the powerful minorities to exploit and subjugate them over and over, what we need is not a popular mobilization guided by vague slogans easily subsumed by the imperial framework. Such a method would lead to draconian enforcement of corporate “solutions” according to their definition of “problems”. It is a recipe for bringing about a fascist order. What we need is openness and willingness to learn how we are domesticated by the authoritarian framework so that the actions are guided by the interests of the people in forming a society that allows true liberation of the people in a mutually respectful and harmonious manner.

    Please do read “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg—for Consent: The Political Economy of Non Profit Industrial Complex” Volume I and Volume II. It gives us an excellent starting point in learning how to build a better tomorrow for all of us.

    “911!” The Book Amazon May Not Want Americans to Read

    “911!” is the title of my new book.1 You immediately recognize the title as the nationwide telephone number to call for help or rescue. My choice of this title was deliberate. America and the world need to be rescued from the wrongdoing and evildoing by the power elite of America’s corpocracy, or the Devil’s marriage between Corporate America and Government America, with the latter the lackey of the former, who are ruining America and the rest of the world.2

    The book is self-published on Amazon KDP. The founder and CEO of Amazon, of course, personifies the corpocracy’s power elite. Amazon has essentially embargoed the book by making its existence nearly impossible to find. Potentially interested readers would have to know the book existed in the first place, which naturally is impossible, and then would have to know this unpublicized web address:

    https://www.amazon.com/s?k=911%21+Gary+Brumback&ref=nb_sb_noss

    Going to it shows the cover’s image and that is about all. No “Inside the Cover” feature promised me, no abstract or description, and then what follows are images of other books, only one of which is a previous book of mine.

    The rest of this article is a synopsis of “911!”. Readers, judge for yourself Amazon’s treatment of my book.

    Introductory Highlights of “911!”

    1. The power elite are put under my “psychoscope” to examine their abnormal characteristics such as their human disconnectedness and their psychopathology.
    2. The power elite’s wrongdoing and evil doing are catalogued at length for industry in general, for several very consequential industries, and for government in general.
    3. The power elite’s trail of harm done at home and away, much of it destructive and deadly, is thoroughly catalogued.
    4. The power elite’s “props” are thoroughly catalogued. Lack of accountability is but one of many examples of a prop. Corporate America and Government America feed each other the props. Without their props the power elite would lose their iron grip on America’s domestic and foreign affairs.
    5. What I think are some creative and useful concepts are presented in the book. Two of them are the power tower and the power rectangle.

    The power tower illustrates five levels differentiating the amount of power one has, that is, the capacity to control one’s life and that of others. The power elite occupy the top two levels. The U.S. President, by the way, occupies the fourth level. JFK found that out the hard and final way. At one time I was at the third level, which includes “functionaries.” I was a functionary, or water carrier, for political appointees and other top dogs. Most of the corpocracy’s evil doing is ordered or expected of functionaries to implement. I can vouchsafe that I committed no wrongdoing or evil doing as a functionary.

    The power rectangle symbolizes what you might expect, power equality, as opposed to the power inequality represented by the power tower, or triangle. The power rectangle is not flat because a purely egalitarian nation is unworkable as is an anarchy where no one rules.

    Switching my geometric metaphors symbolizes my aspirations for a People’s America:

    • at peace with itself and the world.
    • politicians who are public rather than corporate servants.
    • laws with teeth for the benefit of the common good.
    • the power tower flattened into a power rectangle of shared power.
    • where the living field is leveled.
    • where all Americans have the same universal rights.
    • where all Americans can reach their fullest potential as human beings.

    My aspirations, incidentally, could be turned into indicators for knowing the success of my rescue plan if it were to be implemented.

    I want to make it perfectly clear that my power rectangle does not mean wealth redistribution, despised by superficially thinking capitalists and propagandized by demagogues scaring the public about creeping socialism. What is symbolized is power redistribution. Except for the possibility of retroactive taxation on ill-begotten, undertaxed wealth, the present level of wealth held by the power elite would not be redistributed, but they would no longer be in positions to exercise the power they once had to become even more powerful.

    The Crux of “911!”
    A. The Two-Part Rescue Plan

    I call the rescue plan, “Democracy Pow!er.” The exclamation mark signifies relentless determination, not a physical fight, and for two reasons. Seeking to overthrow the power elite by force would be foolhardy. The power elite has all the force. Furthermore, the only path to peace is peace itself.

    It is an extremely detailed plan, reading like a “rescue technical manual” (the only potentially tedious and boring part of the book), and has two parts, each needing the other to succeed. The first part is analogous to a head, the “drivers” so to speak of the plan, without meaning at all to deprecate the “passengers,” or the second part. The Occupy Movement, by the way, fizzled partly because it did not have the “drivers” part.

    The First Part: The U.S. Chamber of Democracy (USCD)

    The USCD is a deliberate counter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the wealthy cheerleader for Corporate America. The USCD would have leadership, a steering council, a vision, a common goal, a strategy for meeting the goal, suggestions for a few leaders and 12 alliances of associates to carry out the strategy.

    An example of an alliance is the “investigative and research alliance.” It would comprise subgroups of associates investigating and researching for their own targeted props and for alliances targeting other props.

    The most important subgroup would comprise associates convinced that the power elite are stonewalling investigations of the real cause of four traumatic events in America’s recent history; those of the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, JFK, and RFK and the infamous 9/11 tragedy. The 9/11 event should be given top priority because the voluminous literature I have read nearly convinces me that a few of America’s power elite were responsible for the tragedy.3

    The Second Part: The People’s Reignbow Coalition (PRC)

    America is not really the “United” States that its power elite drill into our heads. We are in truth the “Divided” People of America on many issues plus the great divide I call the “life quality gap.” The power elite created these divides and intends to continue them. What is needed is a massive coalition of dissident individuals, groups and organizations to apply unified political pressure to lessen the corpocracy’s resistance to the initiatives of the USCD.

    “Reignbow” is a homophone for the Rainbow Coalition, a generic term for any coalition of groups or parties opposed to the reign of America’s power elite. I got the idea for it from the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Recall that he garnered over 3 million and 6 million votes respectively in his 1984 and 1988 presidential bids. While his coalition is mostly of historical significance today, I give him credit for what he did. He, like Ralph Nader, was simply up against the corpocracy.

    In the book I identify 17 segments of America’s divided and conquered heterogenous populace that could become the PRC. The alphabetical list starts with “Activists, Angry and Aggrieved Individuals” and end with “Veterans.” If the PRC did indeed materialize, there would be many millions of boycotts, petitions, protests, demonstrations and whatever else coming from one source. All previous failures from divided and conquered reformers could become successes. When, for example, the USCD launches an antiwar initiative, it would be backed by all segments of the PRC, not just by a few antiwar organizations. The White House, the Department of War, the CIA and Congress could be surrounded by millions of demonstrators. Poof go the props!

    B. The Rescuers

    The rescue plan would be extremely costly to create and operate, in the millions of dollars at least. Well-heeled rescuers are a must. Who might they be? They would definitely not be the typical non-governmental organization (NGO). I have found that they are basically in bed with the corpocracy. The plan calls for first inviting the super-rich, multi-billionaires and, failing that, inviting the lesser-rich.

    1. The Superrich: TGP

    There are some super-rich multi billionaires whom I plan to ask to invest in making the rescue plan happen and succeed. It is not a crazy idea. It occurred to me when I read a most unusual novel with the title, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us.4

    Its author is Ralph Nader. One of his real-life characters in the plot is the legendary multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett.  When reading about the real life of Mr. Buffett, I learned that he plans to give his money away.5  He and Bill and Melinda Gates, richer even than Mr. Buffett, in 2010 formed The Giving Pledge (TGP), a group of now over 200 super-rich philanthropists from around the world whose pledge is “a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back [and] to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the wealthiest American families and individuals to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes.”6

    TGP is not an NGO or even an organization. It is an informal social group that meets yearly to brainstorm various topics. TGB apparently does not have a staff or even a telephone number. The only way for an outsider to contact TGB is through an embedded contact form on the website. TGB does not publicly identify any specific initiatives any members fund as part of their pledge commitment, nor report on whatever the impact may or may not be of the funded initiatives. TGB does include on the website press releases that mostly tell about the new pledges who joined during the reported year and the topics discussed during brainstorming sessions.

    TGP Members’ Most Recent Positions in Industry: TGP members have held such positions as CEO, co-founder, director, executive chairman, owner and the like in such industries as finance, food, health care, manufacturing and engineering, pharmaceutical, property development, technology and venture capital.

    Why have I chosen TGP since the industries I just cited are among those responsible for numerous incidents of wrongdoing listed in my book? This fact does not necessarily mean that I am being unrealistic or foolish to expect TGP to fund my rescue plan. In my book I make it clear that not all members of the corpocracy’s power elite are wrongdoers and evildoers. I also list 12 reasons why they should be the rescuers, and I plan on telling them so. Here are the 12:

    • Gates says, “we’ve got to put a lot of money into changing behavior.”
    • They can easily afford the cost.
    • They have been handed a historical opportunity.
    • They need to invest in America’s future, not today’s corpocracy.
    • They can make good capitalism possible.
    • Their own descendants will need a future.
    • They will be immortalized as America’s and the world’s heroes.
    • Their wealth is useless if doomsday strikes.
    • They will shame billionaires deserting for space escapes.7
    • They can avoid being negligent ancestors of the future.
    • They have the opportunity to prove their critics wrong.
    • Whatever they decide the world will eventually know.

    2. The Lesser Rich

    Considering the possibility that TGP is not persuaded, I shall beg the lesser-rich. Among them are hundreds of celebrities in a variety of fields of endeavor (e.g., the arts, sports, etc.) who have supported social activist endeavors. I know their names and will not hesitate to contact them if TGP rebuffs me.

    Doomsday?

    If the super-rich and the lesser-rich are not going to rescue us, then they cannot say I did not tell them that doomsday in the form of Armageddon, biological warfare, ecocide or evolutionary apocalypse may be just a few decades from now.8

    In Closing

    The Ultimate Questions for Everyone

    • What, if anything, can outlast the corpocracy?
    • How it will be outlasted?
    • When will it be outlasted?
    • And if it is outlasted, will it be too late?
    1. Brumback, GB. “911!” Independent Publishing, KDP Amazon, 2019.
    2. Brumback, GB. The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch. Authors House, 2011. See also, e.g., Brumback, GB. “Real America, an Endangering and Endangered Ruination”, Dissident Voice, March 28; OpEdNews, March 29; Headline News, March 29; PopularResistance.Org Daily Digest, March 31; Greanville Post, April 2; Transmedia Service, April 6; and, Uncommon Thought Journal, April 8, 2016.
    3. See, e.g., Consensus Panel 9/11. “Factual Evidence Contradicts the 9/11 Story”, Consensus Panel 9/11, Late, 2017; Consensus Panel, 9/11. “Overwhelming Evidence that 9/11 Used to Justify Washington’s Military Agenda Was a Deception”, 9/11 Consensus Panel, Global Research, September 08, 2017; Dmitry, B. Peer-Reviewed Study: Most American’s Believe 9/11 Was Inside Job. News Punch. October 10, 2016; Dmitry, B. “CIA Agent Confesses on Deathbed: ‘We Blew Up WTC7 On 9/11.’” YourNewswire.com July 13, 2017; Pietrowski, A. “Psychologists Explain Why People Refuse to Question Official Version Of 9/11”, www.wakingtimes.com. July 5th, 2016; Roberts, PC. “The Osama bin Laden Myth”, OpEdNews, November 26, 2012; Rousseau, A. “Were Explosives the Source of the Seismic Signals Emitted from New York on September 11, 2001?” Journal of 9/11 Studies, November 2012; Ryan, K. “Sixteen More Convincing Reasons to Question 9/11”, Global Research, August 28, 2017; Voiir, D. The Rev. “Could A Treason Trial Be in The Air?” Newly Declassified 9/11 Docs Reveal the Real Enemy: George W. Bush. OpEdNews.com, June 21, 2012.
    4. Nader, R. Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! Seven Stories Press, 2011.
    5. Petersjune, JW. “Buffett Always Planned to Give Away His Billions”, New York Times, June 26, 2006.
    6. See The Giving Pledge website.
    7. Zimmerman, J. “What if the Mega-rich Just Want Rocket Ships to Escape the Earth They Destroy?” The Guardian, September 15, 2015.
    8. Spratt, D. & Dunlap, I. “Existential Climate Related Security Risks: A Scenario Approach”, BT Policy Paper, May 2019.

    Western “Progressives” Support Yet Another Color Revolution in Hong Kong

    Misinformed “progressive” western “activists” and pundits are putting down their remote controls and organic smoothies just long enough to tweet out that Hong Kong protesters need to be supported as paragons of virtue and justice. Some have even blogged and bloviated about the importance of these protests as a struggle for freedom against “dictatorship.”

    Most of these individuals never question why, out of the thousands of daily protests, or the 200-plus ongoing global independence movements, or the 50-plus ongoing violent conflicts, why this particular struggle has been curated to penetrate the thick fog of their ignorance and their flashbulb-short attention span.

    Most of these individuals wouldn’t be able to distinguish Hong Kong from Hokkaido, and couldn’t tell Putonghua from Toisanhua from Cantonese. Most have never seen or spent a day in China. In fact, you know it’s not a real color revolution until the stupid section of the western “progressive” blogosphere gets to cheerleading.

    This is what they are willfully missing:

    1.      It’s not a progressive popular uprising if the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is involved. The NED is the soft-power coup arm of the US government, doing what the CIA used to do–regime change and dirty tricks–by other means.  The NED is crawling all over this.  This is an off-the-rack NED project.

    2.      It’s not a progressive popular uprising if the key funder and fluffer is a fascist media billionaire with close ties to the most reactionary elements of Western right-wing reaction: Hong Kong’s Rupert Murdoch, Jimmy Lai, the owner of the misogynist, racist, xenophobic, Next Media/Next Digital Corporation/Apple Daily is the driver of this.

    3.      It’s not a progressive popular uprising if the key leaders are racist, anti-immigrant, secessionists that court and consort with powerful rightwing extremists and regime change ideologues in the US (John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Eliot Engel, Larry Diamond, etc). John Bolton, for God’s sake?

    4.      You know it’s not a progressive popular uprising when foreign powers (US Congress, State Dept) proclaim their ardent support for the protestors, write bills, make threats, and threaten consequences if the protests are not allowed by the government.  When was the last time the US government actually supported a real populist movement?

    5.      You know it’s not a popular progressive uprising—or one with a shred of sense—when the protesters make appeals for US intervention or want to go back to being a colony: a shamelessly white supremacist, colonial Apartheid state without a hint of democracy or representation.

    6.      Popular progressive uprisings don’t wave US flags, UK flags, chant colonial slogans, use swastikas and alt-right symbols, terrorize children, spew hate speech (“Chee Na”), or beat unconscious people with US flags.  Fascists do.

    7.      Popular progressive movements for democracy and free speech don’t try to shut down free speech and terrorize all who disagree with them.

    Let’s say you missed all of these.  Here are some other things to note:

    1.Protest-in-a-box, for free: There has been incredible preparation, logistics, organization, and funding.  Apologies to dear Rosa Luxembourg, revolutions in this era don’t just happen by themselves, and they certainly don’t fund themselves.  Tens of thousands of protestors, prepared with a flush kit of hardhats, gas masks, filters, goggles, zip ties, staves, lasers, gloves, and body armor don’t just appear spontaneously. They don’t just improvisationally start creating complex logistics lines using predetermined hand signals while brandishing slick, corporate-designed banners, logos, animation, and soundbite-catchphrases in English. That requires incredible organization, training, and funding. See 1 & 2 above.

    2. The Sudden Color of Violence: Note the Blitzkrieg-fast turn to violence. The Modus Operandi for color revolutions is to first instigate mass protests over a minor pretext (here, a carefully crafted extradition bill, already suspended), followed by a very quick, prepared escalation to violence: US supported color revolutions need to escalate to violence quickly, the better to crowd out critical reflection, drown the mediascape with emotional images and riot porn, the better to “catapult the propaganda,” the better to create chaos and confusion, the better to bring down, paralyze, render impotent the government by shock; or to trigger a crackdown, thereby bringing down global censure.  Above all, they need and rely on disruptive terror to intimidate and paralyze: to create confusion for ongoing sabotage–to throw sand in the gears–and to create structural friction in the conditions of living that render ordinary existence intolerable and unbearable.

    In other words, this is not about making demands for creating change: this is shock therapy designed to create a legitimation crisis for a state: render the state impotent or ungovernable, or morally untouchable.

    These are well-honed NED/CIA regime change tactics, practiced and documented all over the world, designed to inflame discontent, outrage, and protests. These tactics of geometric escalation, designed to instigate an overreaction by the authorities, the better to use in propaganda and to trigger more agitation are happening as we speak. (The NY Times’ disingenuous “Marginal Violence theory” is a red herring to distract you as the violence assaults the core, moves asymptotically towards unrestrained urban warfare).

    Here are some of the specific tactics, right out of the color revolution template:

    Mass Violence: including attacking police, cars, and bystanders with Molotovs, blinding lasers, air guns, grenade launchers, sling shots, bricks, steel pipes, sharpened steel bars, baseball bats, sledge hammers, knives, and caustic lye, etc. Bombs, automatic weapons, and axes have also been found and confiscated.

    Mass Terror Tactics: violent bullying and intimidation, of passers-by, Krystallnacht-style trashing of stores, Rodney King-type beat downs, “Pulp Fiction”-style torture (kidnapping, lynching, and torture of journalist [mass beatings/revival with water/further beatings]); Terrorizing of “opponents” and “non-sympathizers” through leaks, doxing, threats, cyberthreats, and boycotts, and attacking families and their residences (the dorms where the children and wives of the police live).  Open incitement on how to kill police and attempted murder through ambush attacks.

    Infrastructure Attacks: attacks on buildings (police stations, legislative chambers, government buildings, dorms), mass disruption of traffic, transportation, and logistics (airports, subway and subway infrastructure, tollbooths, violent roadblocks, setting fires to barricade in police, massive street fires, coordinated sabotage of traffic lights (to create accidents), cameras, and streetlights.

    If a tiny fraction of these types of actions had been unleashed in New York, DC, or London, “democratic” western authorities would have seen fit to let loose with lethal force 13 weeks ago. In fact, as a point of reference, in France, police have killed protestors, blinded 24, and injured 2200 in the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vest protests.

    3. Fetishistic Demands: These are demands that don’t address the actual conditions that have created the legitimate discontent—rampant inequality and the festering structural violence of a financialized neoliberal state–but rather uncritical, rhetorical, virtue-signaling ad-campaign slogans that can’t or won’t be met, all the better to justify continued chaos, outrage, and violence.

    This is not to say that the working classes of Hong Kong don’t have legitimate grievances to protest. One of the most unequal states in the world–a paradise for billionaires–Hong Kong is a case study in the nihilistic despair of a neoliberal Capitalist state dominated by corporations, high finance and real estate. Due to its history as a capitalist tax haven, with no capital gains, dividend, estate, or value-added taxes, the government derives much of its revenue from selling land to real estate barons, colluding to render housing beyond the reach of most Hong Kong residents and relegating the vast majority of dwellers to claustrophobic subdivided apartments that are the residential equivalent of a subway car at rush hour. The Chinese government, if they are to be blamed, should be blamed for not immediately shutting down this parasitic legacy system of the colonial era—and demonstrating that another way is possible as they have all over the mainland. This legitimate anger at structural Capitalist violence is the outrage and despair that has been diverted and harnessed into anti-immigrant, pro-colonial, anti-Chinese sentiment, serving the color revolution agenda of the West.

    4. Intense, Hyper-coordinated Information Warfare: coordinated, directed, saturated messaging and censorship in the western press and media:

    • One-sided blasting of protest porn or decontextualized police violence, with non-stop pro-protestor commentary and editing;
    • Endless, mindless, China-bashing echo-chambering in the media;
    • Coordinated, mass white-washing, justification, and erasure of the protestors’ over-the-top violence;
    • Censorship and mass erasure of almost all voices critical of the protests on the MSM, YouTube,  FB, and Twitter: over 200,000 twitter accounts pre-emptively and instantaneously suspended on grounds of supposed “coordination” and undermining legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground”. This coordinated, mass censorship happened the exact moment some glimmers of truth started to come out and started to discredit the protests (as the gruesome airport torture images started to circulate). Note that grassroots protest movements don’t have direct access to the Silicon Valley kill switch if unfavorable information comes out.  If there was any doubt as to whether US social media companies function as the subcontracted perception management arm and gatekeepers of the globalized US security-surveillance state, you have here your proof.

    Compare this saturated, single-message, biased coverage also with the minimal coverage of the current or recent situations in:

    • Kashmir, which Indian troops are currently blockading and violently occupying (where the special autonomous status of the region has been already revoked),
    • France’s Gilets Jaunes, an ongoing popular protest, where 24 people have been blinded, 2200 injured, and 11 have died,
    • West Papua & Papua, Indonesia, where Indonesian troops are currently on a murderous rampage,
    • Catalonia, where an independence movement successful at the ballots was violently put down,
    • South Korea’s Candlelight revolution, a massive populist uprising in South Korea, almost completely ignored until the government was brought down,
    • Almost any other popular protest around the world.

    To ask sincerely why Hong Kong is receiving saturation coverage, “moral” support, and an unprecedented media platform–out of all the other movements and struggles—gives you a framework for understanding the scale, scope, and stakes of what this is about. This is a geostrategic, geopolitical information warfare, no longer—if ever–grassroots popular agitation.

    Full Spectrum Resistance

    In the post-Soviet era, the Pentagon and its allies came up with the doctrine of “Full Spectrum Dominance.” This is a war doctrine that aims for total domination in all spheres and battle spaces: dominance, not just in kinetic military conflict, but also in the domains of civil disturbance, information warfare, and social perception, in particular network-centric “operational narrative dominance.” This is what’s going on here.

    Progressives–if you actually are that–you need to keep your eyes open, your minds alert, and think sharply, critically, objectively as you wander into this battlespace.

    Color revolutions and regime change operations simply can’t happen without you: they need you to become the blind chorus, the vapid echo chamber, the ditzy cheerleaders, and the jaundiced, prejudiced, ignorant umpires in this dirty game of information warfare. If you don’t want to become a vector of propaganda and a host of disinformation in this ugly viral warfare, you need to think critically, reflexively, dialectically when you tweet, blog, agitate, or speak out. Lives and nations rest in the balance.

    Neoliberal (Mis)Governance

    Neoliberalism is more than an epithet. It’s more than an economic program, or another name for globalization. It may be all of these, but most importantly, it’s a political practice. The dominant political practice of our overlords.

    The problem, however, is that neoliberalism as politics rarely has a bright light shown on its shadowy manipulations. Recently 48hills, a SF Bay area news website, published an exposé on precisely that. It reveals Silicon Valley billionaires, real estate developers, academics, non-profit leaders, local politicians and, of course, ill-informed journalists all conniving to further an agenda hidden from public scrutiny. The smell of rot pervades the scene. The scene being a stew of secret meetings.

    So, what’s this all about?

    In case you haven’t heard, the San Francisco Bay area is facing a housing crisis and the cabal mentioned above has banded together to solve it. How great! The trouble is that they are collaborating to provide self-serving solutions behind the backs of the populace, but on their (our!) dime.

    Corruption? What’s new? This isn’t Tammany Hall or Chicago’s Daley Machine, but a new sort of corruption that fits the definition of neoliberal governance, or rather, misgovernance if we assume that the public’s “business” should be conducted in a democratic manner.

    Let’s start with some definitions, like the term “governance.” Neoliberalism appropriates this term from management studies where it stands for governing through the interplay of contending parties. In the context of public policy, neoliberal decision-making results from “stakeholders” contributing their perspectives and arriving at agreements legitimated through state actions: new legislation to facilitate funding through fees, taxes, subsidies or other forms of state assistance.

    The thing is in this process, that the state, as represented by a “sympathetic” legislator, is but one of a number of stakeholders. Included, notably, is private business. And for purposes of authoritative weight, and depending upon the overall social impact of a specific proposal, an array of scholars, consultants and non-profit executives are invited to be stakeholders. Neoliberalism advocates the “market-place of ideas.” In this market, we know who has their thumb on the scale. And note that direct public input is absent from the deliberations. The public, after all,  is bothersome for expedited action.

    The assumption behind this sort of governance is not only that the public is a nuisance, but also that the state is broken. Which means mainly it is bedeviled by arcane practices that create snail-paced progress when what’s needed, the neoliberals plead, is immediate action to deal with one crisis or another: expediency dominates the process; capital likes to move fast these days.

    “Arcane practices,” however, are usually venues for public comment and deliberation, and while many may agree that state deliberations need rehabilitation, mainly through greater transparency, without them the role to government to represent the common interest is abandoned, creating a vacuum of power.

    And who rushes into the void? Yes, the private sector and its agents (see above).

    This is all by way of introduction to the specific situation that applies to the SF Bay area, but, I believe, not only there.

    All across the country, but especially in large urban complexes, regional governments have arisen. Whether they are inter-county affairs or cross-state institutions, they have one thing in common: little to none public input. Some states limit regional functions, while others give them greater powers, like taxing authority, but none establish direct citizen selection of those who govern a region.

    In the SF area the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is the regional government for the nine counties that surround SF Bay and lower Sacramento River feeding into it. This regional government, for instance, collects the tolls from the eight bridges that span the bay and river. It’s a major player in the area not only because of its multi-million dollar revenue stream from tolls ($720,784,303/2016 – 2017), but also because it has the power to put funding propositions on the ballot for voter approval.

    MTC, building on its experience with regional transportation issues, recently began encroaching into the area of land use. The details of this power grab are laid out in detail on 48hills. Suffice it to say here that transit-oriented development, a program pushed nationally to provide dense housing near transportation hubs, offered MTC the wedge it needed to pry open new territory for its expansion.

    And here is where the story gets interesting. It turns out that Facebook funds the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative run by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, his wife. This is not a philanthropic outfit, but a Limited Liability Corporation, so that the funds it disperses can be kept from public view.

    Some clever journalistic sleuthing uncovered that CZI has been funding a slew of stakeholders involved with the expansion of MTC’s regime, including an academic entity on the University of California campus. The goal here is to have the state legislature endorse the expansion of regional government into land use issues, ostensibly to grow housing by overriding local control of zoning. Demonstrating to the state legislators in Sacramento that a wide variety of stakeholders support expanded regional control and, further, providing the intellectual heft academic authorization bestows, cinches the deal. It is impolite to mention that Facebook finances this chorus.

    It’s not news that San Francisco has experienced a major catastrophe housing its citizens. And it’s not news that this calamity resulted from Silicon Valley hiring thousands and providing no place for them to live. As a result, the SF real estate market metastasized: long-term tenants got priced out as richer newcomers gobbled up landlord-inflated rentals. The result: a significant majority of the homeless in the SF Bay area are former tenants.

    The high-rise apartments that the regional government and their allies are planning  will not house the homeless, nor newly hired schoolteachers, much less school janitorial staff. The aim is to erect housing that is “affordable” which means in the SF Bay area an income of at least $80,000. Salaries for new Berkeley teachers start in the $30,000 range.

    The opposition to neoliberal misgovernance doesn’t really exist as such, though there is pushback on specific policy issues. The advocates for the homeless, for example, want their constituency to be prioritized, but they don’t attack the undemocratic process of expanding regional housing policies as fundamentally flawed. Their reluctance is easily understood. Since the Reagan administration, through Clinton’s regime to the present, neoliberalism has been the program of both parties. This top down, opaque governance model is like the wallpaper in the halls of power. It’s just the way “things are done.” Even the current mayor of Berkeley, a young Latino Sanders supported, plays the game. So much so that he got the Berkeley City Council to unanimously endorse the regional government takeover of housing policy.

    What to do? How should neoliberal misgovernance be confronted? First, it needs to be exposed for its connivance with capital, in this case with the real estate developers, and by extension, the banks and hedge funds. Second, its antidemocratic process must be condemned: No Taxation Without Representation! But exposure and condemnation are only the first steps.

    Public policy needs ethical guidelines that circumvent the establishment of power brokers. If we state that housing is a right (as the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights mandates) and if this baseline demands achieves support (which requires decontaminating pubic misconceptions) then popular power can be mobilized to demand policies that end corruption at the core of neoliberal misgovernance. Accepting that housing is a right assumes profit making is secondary to that end. In practice this means housing must be removed from the marketplace. There is ample precedent for this in the history and practice of cooperative housing. The Green New Deal references the original New Deal and we should recall that cooperative housing was integral to its vision of a vibrant society.

     “Child Actorvism” and the Extinction Agenda of Neoliberal Racists

    There is no shortage of social justice causes trumpeted by the West† with a revolving medley of “child actorvists” at the forefront. The logical observer may question whether these endless multi-billion dollar campaigns have had any tangible effect at all, except in serving as a stalking horse for mass-mediated interferences in the affairs of other nations.

    Whether it is about immigration, education or the whitewashing of terrorists, they are there, ready with their scripted messages. The latest sensation happens to be Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who is trying to save humanity from an environmental apocalypse by playing truant from school.  Manufactured doyens, however, conveniently overlook real progress in the activist areas they were groomed for, revealing a strong pattern of bias in the process.

    On Friday Aug 9 2019, more than a million Indians planted 220 million trees in a single day, with each tree representing a resident of the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP).  According to state government official Awanish K. Awasthi: “The pits are geo-tagged and the saplings carry a QR code. So we can record how many saplings are planted and where.” The BBC had earlier cast doubts on whether Ethiopia had actually planted 350 million trees in July due to the lack of a verification mechanism.

    This was not India’s first afforestation feat. In 2016, nearly 800,000 volunteers in UP planted 50 million trees in a single day while a year later, 66 million saplings were embedded in just 12 hours by volunteers in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.

    India has targeted a total forest cover comprising 33 percent of its landmass by 2030.  While this initiative was launched under the general rubric of climate change, there were more immediate issues at stake.  The spectres of desertification and groundwater depletion were enough to mobilize ordinary Indians into action.

    The sheer design, organization and coordination involved in the Indian undertaking may be studied for years to come. Once verified, the afforestation model can be adapted in fields ranging from big data, artificial intelligence, sharing economy to contingency planning.  A somewhat similar mobilization model was employed when Cyclone Fani hit eastern India during the first days of May. As The Conversation reported on May 13:

    A record 1.2 million people (equal to the population of Mauritius) were evacuated in less than 48 hours, and almost 7,000 kitchens, catering to 9,000 shelters, were made functional overnight. This mammoth exercise involved more than 45,000 volunteers.

    After studying the grim statistics for Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rico, US; 2017), Hurricane Harvey (Texas, US; 2017) and Cyclone Idai (Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe; 2019), the authors concluded that the “world can learn from” from the Indian experience.

    Yet, the momentary fascination with India’s mass mobilization skills dissipated just as quickly as the storm itself. The global risk researcher, stupefied by hours of BBC programming, was left to wonder: Where are those follow-up in-depth analyses? How come the world only came to know of India’s recent tree-planting milestone through a brief Associated Press report? Isn’t climate change the dernier cri?

    One could excuse the BBC for disregarding Uttar Pradesh’s greening exploits as it was too busy fabricating videos on “large-scale protests” in Kashmir alongside usual suspects like Al Jazeera and Reuters. Even Malala Yousafzai stepped forward to test the waters, only to be summarily rebuffed.

    There may be other reasons behind the neoliberal media’s indifference here. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier committed the cardinal sin of renaming the city of Allahabad as Prayagraj. This is a complete no-no in a West that inevitably sides with militant Islam. Take a look at Serbia, Syria, Libya and Myanmar, amongst numerous other examples. Additionally, India’s afforestation campaign (2016 to 2030) was being undertaken outside the ambit of parasitic Western NGOs at a paltry outlay of $6 billion. India was showing the way in cost savings and volunteer-based sustainability, without the need for star-studded events that child actorvism thrives on.

    Neoliberal Selectivity

    New Delhi’s indigenous efforts since 2015 were therefore deemed unsatisfactory by Extinction Rebellion superstar Thunberg.  She pilloried India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a February 2019 video post:

    Dear Mr Modi, you need to take action now against the climate crisis, not just talking about it because if you keep going on like this, doing business as usual, and just talking about and bragging about the little victories, you are going to fail. And if you fail, you are going to be seen as one of the worst villains in human history in the future. And you don’t want that. (Emphasis added).

    Do not seek a scintilla of sanity in the outburst above. Instead, note the timing:  It was posted during the run-up to the April-May 2019 Indian general elections where Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won by a landslide victory, surpassing expectations thanks to neoliberal hissy-fits typified by the likes of Thunberg.

    Does Thunberg consider the planting of 50, 66 and 220 million trees overnight – involving schoolchildren no less – as one of those insignificant “little victories”? Who is doing the talking and bragging and who is doing the actual planting here? One of India’s other “little victories” was in lifting 271 million people – numbering more than half the EU population – out of poverty in a mere 10 years.

    If Thunberg’s views aren’t reflective of Western neoliberal racism, tell me what is? Here is where racial supremacist undercurrents are cleverly masked by the clarion call of “social justice”. Nothing non-Westerners do is good enough unless it involves and profits vested Western interests. Neoliberals and their neoconservative cousins feel they are entitled to run the affairs of other nations. If the line is not toed, an army of “child actorvists” are ready to selectively name and shame national leaders. How is this different from the use of child soldiers and human shields by an assortment of violent thugs and jihadis? And much like jihadis, a false flag calamity inflicted on a child actorvist would reap international sympathy for the “cause”, would it not? We shall see what the future holds…

    Quite tellingly, when it comes to the question of extinction, French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf sums up the prevalent Western hypocrisy perfectly: “Threats to pandas cause more emotion than threats to the extinction of Christians in the Middle East”. Another child actorvist, Bana Alabed, has been roped in to hasten that particular genocide.

    The Incurably Colonized

    Instead of India’s Modi, Thunberg could have trained her guns on Southeast Asian politicians for allowing the West to dump millions of tons of highly-toxic trash throughout the region. (India had another “little victory” by banning them). It cannot get more pathetic than Pakistani garbage appearing in an illegal Malaysian dumpsite! Is Thunberg really as environmentally literate as she claims to be?  The organized crime networks involved in the regional garbage racket are also into money laundering, smuggling, organ harvesting and human trafficking.

    Neoliberals and neoconservatives, however, have a soft spot for Southeast Asia (sans Mynamar) for a good reason: Its leaders and societies have an incurable inferiority complex towards all things Western, rendering them supine and receptive to machinations from the other side of the world. The region hosts innumerable Western-backed NGOs and affiliates whose sole role is to disrupt and shape the local political process. That is, when they are not discriminating against native talent, native ideas and native solutions. For a region that has had several developmental head-starts over India, Southeast Asia has yet to produce world-class scientists, innovators and products of any import, making it easy for West to offer their “expertise” and goods at huge costs. The media in “Asian values” bastions like Malaysia and Singapore are more likely to celebrate Thunberg’s theatrics than investigate real Asian success stories.

    Just like neoconservatism, neoliberalism neatly divides the world along classic colonial lines. Can George Soros and his neoliberal backers claim a single success story from the countless “social justice” agitprops unleashed worldwide? Instead, such interventions have left behind a string of broken, emasculated and dysfunctional societies. Women and children are the biggest victims here. One could also include Thunberg’s Sweden in the list of nations facing a surge in sexual violence against women and children. Swedish schools are no longer safe and somehow no child activist has emerged to publicize this highly-proximate issue. †† What is the celebrated “female education activist” Malala Yousafzai actually doing?

    Redundant Societies

    The idea that the East and West can cooperate, compliment and compete on an equal footing is an anathema to neoliberal and neoconservative minds. It is in “redundant societies” however where neoliberals find the most fertile ground for its destructive agendas. Redundant societies are ones the world would scarcely miss in case its populations were magically rendered extinct overnight – short-term raw material and supply chain disruptions notwithstanding. Is that the core idea behind Extinction Rebellion? Fewer humans are great for the environment, no?

    A nation less contaminated by the neoliberal agenda is a nation poised for growth and technical breakthroughs.  Look at the world around us: the relatively nationalistic South Korea, Japan, China and India (the “effective Asia”), Israel, Russia, and Eastern Europe are already challenging the West’s dominance in many critical areas. Even Iran is not doing too badly considering the circumstances.

    In the meantime, one hopes that Thunberg will encounter flotsams of plastic as she yachts towards the upcoming UN powwow in New York. If so, these may turn out to be trash that were supposedly repatriated by Southeast Asian nations but which were dumped en route by ships. To avoid “baseless allegations” like these, Thunberg could try some real environmental work by researching, tabulating and verifying claims that all repatriated trash had indeed reached their destinations in toto, as claimed. Maybe, this is a task too arduous for Thunberg. Let’s leave such little details to an Indian schoolgirl’s future dissertation, shall we? After all, she would have literally had her hands soiled in planting the future while others talked the big talk at big money events.

    † The author defines the West as nations west of the Metternich line in Europe as well as the Anglo-American world, including geographically-dispersed nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It does not refer to European Civilization.

    †† Anyone researching this topic should scrupulously avoid Google.

    Persistent Fraudulent Enrollment in Charter Schools

    While privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools have long engaged in a broad range of fraudulent student enrollment practices, yet another avalanche of news reports on such dishonest practices has recently appeared.

    There seems to be no end to astonishing news in the unregulated and segregated charter school sector. Controversy, scandal, and charter schools have been fellow-travelers for more than 25 years.

    Virtual charter schools, perhaps the most unsuccessful and unethical of all types of charter schools, have a long-standing tradition of enrolling “ghost students” (students that do not exist) in order to embezzle millions of public dollars. This, of course, is always accompanied by Enron-style accounting in an attempt to conceal such damaging financial malfeasance.

    The latest debacle in the troubled charter school sector is the massive virtual Epic Charter School Network which operates mainly in Oklahoma. It has made headlines everywhere for enrolling “ghost students” and for engaging in other crimes and unethical behavior for a long time.

    In related news, two scandal-ridden online charter schools in Indiana were also recently exposed and criticized for engaging in some of the same crimes as Epic and other cyber charter schools. Together, these virtual schools inflated their enrollments by thousands of students to pilfer enormous sums of public funds.

    Sadly, many other examples of inflated enrollments and other scandalous practices in nonprofit and for-profit charter schools could be cited. Corruption plagues the entire charter school sector.

    Keeping in mind that the final and highest stage of capitalism ensures greater parasitism, crime, corruption, and violence across society and many sectors, the public should expect a further intensification of fraud, corruption, and controversy from all types of charter schools in the coming months and years.

    Whether they are nonprofit or for-profit, virtual or brick-and-mortar, as privatized and marketized arrangements charter schools engender more corruption in education and society. Privatization, as a general rule, is synonymous with corruption and inferior service.

    “More regulation” and “better oversight” will not solve the problems plaguing the charter school sector. Charter schools are deregulated schools by definition; they are a main expression of neoliberal education arrangements. Further, the charter school sector is full of wealthy, arrogant, and defensive advocates who will not tolerate any individual or organization that attempts to stop their assault on public education, society, the economy, and the national interest. Charter school owners-operators are determined to seize as much public funds and public property as possible.

    But this does not mean resistance is pointless or that the rich and their cheerleaders cannot be defeated. It means the public must develop new and creative ways to deprive the rich of their power to deprive the public of its claims and interests.

    It can be done.

    No public funds or public property must go to privately-operated charter schools. All public funds and public property must remain in the hands of the public. This is especially true given the fact that charter schools are not public schools, as many court cases in different jurisdictions have ruled over the years.