Category Archives: Democracy

The Power Structure for Deadly Lag and the Prophetic Work of Unsung Heroes

Kicking life-saving solutions endlessly down the road is the mark of the brutish power of the corporations over the innocents.

Fifty years ago, medical research warned about the overuse of antibiotics creating mutations of resistant bacterium, making these drugs less effective. Dr. Sidney Wolfe warned about this criminal negligence again and again, along with other colleagues. But the drug companies kept over-promoting to get physicians to over-prescribe. Today, antibiotic resistance takes over 100,000 lives a year just in the U.S. Some bacterium are mutating beyond the ability of medical science to catch up with new more powerful antibiotics to curb new antibiotic resistance bacterium.

Deadly Lag Time.

For decades, starting in the 1970s, at the very least, both the big oil companies and knowledgeable government officials warned about global warming. Exxon’s own scientists sounded the alarm internally as well. Now with little preparedness to move fast from fossil fuels to renewables and conserve energy, the climate crisis is upon the world. Mega storms, floods, wildfires, and rising sea levels threaten everything and everybody. As James Gustave Speth’s forthcoming book, They Knew: The U.S. Federal Government’s Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis, people knew, including the graphic, forecast report in 1993, now forgotten, authored by Bill Clinton and Al Gore who promptly gave the auto industry an eight-year holiday from the regulatory push on fuel efficiency.

Deadly Lag Time.

Great physicians such as Quentin Young, Arnold Relman, Steffie Woolhandler, and David Himmelstein warned of the avoidable casualties and price gouging if we did not enact single-payer universal health insurance. They were ignored. The delay is costing trillions of dollars and about 100,000 lives a year with many more injuries and illnesses for those unable to afford health insurance to get a timely diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Philip Lee supported a study by Harvard Medical School physicians back in the early 1990s, estimating the huge fatality toll annually from medical malpractice just in hospitals. In 2015, Johns Hopkins medical researchers reported a minimum of 250,000 deaths a year from preventable problems in hospitals excluding clinics and doctors’ offices. The prophets warned, but the power structure, including the media, turned a largely deaf ear.

Deadly Lag Time.

Walter Hang, an environmental scientist, has warned for years about the toxic nature of fluids used in fracking of gas and oil. He and others mobilized people in New York state to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban the practice, unlike the increasingly poisoned fracking sites in Pennsylvania and other fracking states. Now we have been told by scientists that a chemical used in the mining breaks down into a toxic giant called PFAS, which they call a “forever” pollutant endangering underground drinking water sources.

Deadly Lag Time.

Over twenty-five years ago, scientists spoke out against the rising epidemic now known as the opioid disaster, promoted by drug companies and their owners like the Sackler family. The government and medical professions dillydallied. Last year, a record 90,000 people died in America from drug overdoses, mostly from opioids.

Deadly Lag Time.

In the 1950s, government scientists reported the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer. In 1964, the annual report by the Surgeon General (launched by Dr. Luther Terry) kept adding to the evidence of diseases from this highly promoted tobacco industry killer. Philip Morris Co., R.J. Reynolds and others kept promoting, denying, deceiving and regularly luring youngsters with free samples near schools. Over 400,000 annual deaths in the U.S. are attributed to smoking-related diseases.

When Congress, the media, and the public health groups started banging the drums in the 1980s, Big Tobacco was put on the defensive year after year. The number of daily smokers declined to under 15% from a high of 42% in 1964. Non-smokers more aggressively demanded smoke-free places and helped mightily to turn the tide. Who remembers the handful of tobacco-use fighters for their courageous and prescient advocacy?

Deadly Lag Time.

Lag time is another phrase for the “democracy gap.” It is the space between what most of the people want and need, and what those same passive people suffer and tolerate.

The same “lag time” bleeds people economically. The federal minimum wage is still frozen by Congress at $7.25 per hour. Many millions of workers are between that number and $15 per hour.

Prof. Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard has led the way in highlighting the many billing frauds in the health care industry that totals $350 billion or more this year alone. His detailed warnings and his classic book, License to Steal: Why Fraud Plagues America’s Health Care System, came out years ago in 1996. Still, a corporate Congress does nothing. The Biden Administration does not ask for necessary money for this area of enforcement, even though $1billion would save over $15 billion from fraudulent billing.

Jake Lewis and Jonathan Brown wrote and spoke about the damaging influence of the Federal Reserve and its Big Bank patrons back in the 60s and 70s. The lag time became worse, especially under Fed Chairman Jerome Powell who studies show has made the super-rich and corporate giants soaked in unearned wealth more rich while expanding the impact of gross inequality against the masses. (See the op-ed by Karen Petrou in the New York Times, July 12, 2021).

New Time Lags are underway. We have been forewarned about Medicare [Dis]Advantage, yet its corporate deceivers continue to devour traditional Medicare (controlling over 40% of Medicare beneficiaries).

Technology seers are warning against the terrible effects on younger people, including children, who will become addicted to Facebook’s rollout of the Oculus or augmented reality goggles. Avaricious Zuckerberg continues to expand his dangerous monopolistic empire.

All those who told us so are largely forgotten, uncelebrated and, if they are still active, hardly getting their calls returned. Is there a more abject sign of a decaying democracy?

The post The Power Structure for Deadly Lag and the Prophetic Work of Unsung Heroes first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Capitalist Pandemic, The Assault on Consciousness, and America’s Status as Chosen People of the Planet

The new CEO fronting for America Inc. completed his first meeting among our Euro lapdogs – officially known as NATO – and had a more important meeting with Putin in which, according to media servants of market forces, he let him know who’s boss of the universe. Politely, of course, because even this glorified clerk understands the danger of provoking a world war which would spare few of us, if any. An unedited interview of the Russian president, available online if American authorities of freedom and democracy haven’t already removed it, clearly reveals the infantile ignorance of a network assailant posing as objective reporter and the often amused reactions of the Russian statesman and leader of a nation once hanging on the ropes under the abuse of global capital now a world power again and much of that due to his leadership. It, like so many other examples, glaringly highlights the descent of the American empire with little global power remaining but its ability to blow up earth and commit mass murder more effectively than any other nation. But it is also susceptible to almost as much horror as it might inflict on powerless nations by powerful nations now able to retaliate in kind, which we can all be thankful for since it’s the only thing stopping us from attempted greater slaughters than we already conduct which we sell as advancing the cause of peace and democracy.

While the corona virus has created a menace seemingly beyond what was already becoming obvious about the end of private profit domination of earth, it also unleashed the greatest outpouring of high, low and no IQ speculation, charges, countercharges and more surpassing past reactions at times of great crisis with moments of extreme fantasy bordering on dementia being experienced and practiced both by people of supposed expertise and higher education in the sciences to folks who may still dance under a full moon with their bodies covered in slime as a way to avoid cancer. Sadly, so far the slime-covered dancers are making about as much sense as the allegedly more critical gang.

The horrendous death toll inflicted by the virus is thought by many to be the work of a Chinese plot to exterminate everyone on earth but the Chinese and blame it on America, an American plot to exterminate everyone on earth but Americans and blame it on China, and assorted tales of twitness and omni-anti-social media to make those two sound relatively thoughtful. The fact that capitalism has transformed nature and made it far more easy to spread a lethal virus than to feed, clothe and shelter billions of people has escaped many, even some critics of capital who seem shocked that big pharma profits from illness. Hello? As does every and all other business entities and aspects of free market private profit pursuit which has less to do with evil individuals and far more to do with a corrupt debased system controlled by minorities at ever great cost to the majority. Dog food, bombs, broccoli, burgers, health food, high fashion, health care, garbage, death and every other aspect of life are all subject to market forces creating private profit at the mall, school, factory, lab, convenience store and all other venues where goods are exchanged by one and all except for those without enough market force, and they can just drop dead.

And this is only a small part of the dis-mis-cis mind attacks on the population to assure mass confusion that doesn’t notice billions the world over, and hundreds of thousands in America, unable to afford food, clothing, and shelter while a relatively tiny number increase their wealth to become the equal of gods while their subjects cringe at threats to what is called “our” democracy originating from people with little to no political economic power save to vote for candidates mostly bought, rented and leased by the richest of the rich who look down on them lined up at the polls, malls and battlefields from their wealth created mountain-top fortresses and smile at the blessings of capitalist democracy.

What’s a failing empire to do but continue failing, as in rushing to increase aid to Israel when a global majority has reacted in critical anger over its most recent abuse of the indigenous people whose land was taken on behalf of Europeans and the Palestinians were made to pay and are still paying for European atrocities? While the new American CEO leads a struggle to return to a form of social democracy that spreads a few more loans among the barely surviving and more taco-pizza-burgers to the fast food hungry while assuring that the system responsible for creating hunger is maintained and billions of American tax dollars continue to be rewarded to a colonial apartheid nation? And this while decent Americans in great numbers are enraged by the conditions of life of America’s indigenous people robbed of their land, culture and heritage long before Israel or the Middle East occupied any of the consciousness of Americans.

Confusing?

Like the humanitarian decency at the root of all Americans when reaching out to immigrant populations having the usual difficulties of discrimination inflicted first by their cheap labor exploiters and later by the native people whose jobs they take and at whose expense they frequently survive. Not to mention the difficulty of having to step over the bodies of Americans reduced to sleeping in the street while on our way to rescue an animal to save it from, um, having to sleep in the street. Are we confused? Does a snake have wings? Is a bluebird blue?

Of course, all of these systemic curses of inhumanity and often near madness can be written off as Russian and Chinese assault on our sacred democracy, enshrined in the constitution-bible, written by slave owners and others of the 1% who believed the common people should leave the important business of ruling to those with the most money, purchased knowledge and sanctification by those biblical gifts handed down – or up? – by an invisible force called god, or later, high finance.

The financialization of capitalism has cursed the world with worse contradictions than existed in the time of the system’s birth when Marx pointed out most of them. Now, money makes money without the production of anything but more money which may soon lead to much of humanity with indoor toilets eating bitcoins and excreting buttcoins while trying to live with junk filled oceans, overflowing sewers and forests turned to deserts while praying that nobody pushes the nuclear button. On the hopeful side, workers here and all over the world are acting up, unionizing and fighting for democracy in political economic dictatorships worshipped as democracies by Wall Street and its wholly owned subsidiary: the American government.

Time is growing short for Americans to get beyond symbolic challenges to capitalism that merely offer more profits by “branding” various movements with marketplace stature assuring that Gay Inc., Feminist Inc., Black Lives Matter Inc., and Latino-a-x Inc.  do not, perish the thought, turn into American Democracy Inc. That is still to come and as always, we’d better hurry to join up with much of the world our media mind managers don’t tell us about but which is setting an example for everyone by opting for a system that puts the public good before private profit. So far, as expected, the American regime of warfare, petcare and egomaniacal behavior personified by Trump – which is why they had to get rid of him for exemplifying what the nation really is – has succeeded in keeping division, individual mental illness and group therapy uppermost in consciousness while social reality sinks more deeply into a massive sea of moral sewage.

The “memes” of an all too often me-me-me-me culture need to and will soon become a plural “we “encompassing all of us and leaving no one out. Capitalism cannot be saved but humanity must be, from the social pandemic of private profit first, humanity later, if ever. The viral brain surgery performed on our collective consciousness by our rulers is an aspect of capitalism and could not exist without market forces under minority and anti-democratic control. The sooner “we” understand that, the sooner “we” end pandemics and thought control on our way to real democracy in a collective human environment favoring the best for all and leaving no one out.

You gotta problem with that?

The post The Capitalist Pandemic, The Assault on Consciousness, and America’s Status as Chosen People of the Planet first appeared on Dissident Voice.

New Israeli Government, Same Israeli Apartheid

After 12 years, Israel finally inaugurated a new prime minister. While being hailed by many as the opportunity for a fresh start, Naftali Bennett is at best a continuer of Netanyahu’s policies and at worst an ideologue whose positions are to the right of Netanyahu’s.

In 2013, as Middle East peace talks were set to resume after a five-year freeze, Bennett reportedly proclaimed to Israeli National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror, “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

In 2014, Bennett, who had previously been the director of the Yesha Settlements Council, contradicted Netanyahu by asserting that all Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, even those living in outposts that violate Israeli law, should remain under Israeli sovereignty, and called for more settlement construction. “This is the time to act,” he said. “We must continue building in all corners of the Land of Israel, with determination and without being confused. We are building and we will not stop.”

In 2016, as Israel’s Minister of Education, Bennett called on Israeli Jews to “give our lives” to annex the West Bank. While this might seem relatively innocuous, it was not. Bennett’s remarks invoked Kahanism, a Jewish supremacist ideology, based on the views of Rabbi Meir Kahane, that calls for violence and terrorism to be used to secure Israel as an ethno-nationalist state. In 1994, Israeli settler and Kahane follower Baruch Goldstein massacred Palestinians in the West Bank Ibrahimi mosque. In 1988, the Kach party was banned from running for the Israeli Knesset. In 2004, the US State Department labeled Kach a terrorist organization.

Sunday, June 13, 2021, right before he was inaugurated to replace Netanyahu as the prime minister of Israel, Bennett doubled down on his anti-Palestinian views proclaiming  that his government would “strengthen settlements across the whole of the Land of Israel.”

It’s not only on the Palestinian issue that Bennett is a far-right ideologue. Bennett uses his adherence to orthodox Judaism as cover for his opposition to gay marriage. “Judaism doesn’t recognize gay marriage, just as we don’t recognize milk and meat together as kosher, and nothing will change it,” he declared.  Netanyahu, by contrast, touts himself as being pro-LGBTQ+ rights. As recently as 2018 he wrote: “I am proud to be the prime minister of one of the world’s most open and free democracies… Israel consistently upholds civil equality and civil rights of all its citizens regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

So why then are progressive politicians and organizations responding so positively to the change in Israel? Bernie Sanders, known for his progressive stances and for being a congressional champion of Palestinian rights, said in a video that he was “hopeful” that the new government would be one “we will be better able to work with.” Americans for Peace Now, the sister organization of Shalom Achshav, Israel’s preeminent anti-settlement/pro-peace organization, released a statement that it “welcomes the swearing-in of Israel’s new government.” On Sunday night after the new government was sworn in, thousands of Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv — considered Israel’s bastion of secular liberalism — and celebrated into the night.

One answer lies in how fed up people inside and outside of Israel had become with Netanyahu’s rule. His tenure was marred by corruption charges and shrewd maneuvers to remain in power, and what had become an endless cycle of Israeli elections, during which the government was paralyzed and unable to pass a budget for the past three years.

The other answer, however, is that this was the best change that could be obtained from a government that prevents about five million people living under its rule from being able to vote. Here’s the situation:

About 20% of Israeli citizens are Palestinian. They can vote in all Israeli elections and have representation in Knesset. This election saw the first Palestinian party join an Israeli majority government coalition. However, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship represent only about one-third of the Palestinians living under Israeli rule and military occupation.

Though the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are the official governments of the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, Israel is the absolute power in charge. Israel controls the borders, the currency, and the central bank. It collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), maintains the right to carry out military operations on Palestinian land, and controls the amount of freedom, or lack thereof, that Palestinians are granted.

Israel approves only about half of the permits that residents of Gaza apply for to travel outside of Gaza for vital medical treatment. In 2017, 54 people died while awaiting a permit to travel for medical treatment, leading to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, to release a joint statement calling for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted.

Reasons for denying people in Gaza necessary medical treatment are often absurd, such as denying travel because a relative at one time moved from Gaza to the West Bank without Israeli permission. Even when not carrying out a massacre, such as the May 2021 one that killed 256 Palestinians, Israel regulates the fuel and building materials available to Gazans. At times, it has even controlled the number of food imports according to the number of calories Gazans should consume.

Israel controls not only the exterior borders of the West Bank but what goes on inside as well. While the Palestinian Authority manages utilities and infrastructure for much of the West Bank, Israel is the ultimate authority.  Israeli settler regional councils control 40% of West Bank land. Even in areas like Ramallah, supposedly under complete Palestinian Authority control, Israel reserves the right to enter the city at any time, close streets and shops, burst into homes, and make warrantless arrests.

While the PA does maintain a judicial and penal system, one that itself is incredibly repressive, Palestinians are also subject to Israel’s military court system and laws such as Military Order 101, which bans peaceful protest. Though they are prosecuted in Israeli military courts and serve time in Israeli military prisons, Palestinians have no say over who is appointed to run the Israeli military, let alone the military courts.

Jerusalem was captured by Israel in 1967 and formally, and illegally, annexed in 1980. Common sense might follow that Israel would have then absorbed the East Jerusalem Palestinians, now numbering around 370,000, and made them Israeli citizens.

Rather than holding citizenship, however, Jerusalem Palestinians hold the status of permanent residents, allowing them to vote in municipal, but not national, elections. While this may at first seem a move in the right direction, a closer look reveals careful manipulation of demographics to ensure an at least a 70% Jewish majority at all times. Through such policies as exorbitant taxation, requiring constant proof of residency, and denial of family unification, since 1967 Israel has managed to revoke the residency of 14,595 Palestinian Jerusalemites.

Right now Israel’s courts are in the process of ethnically cleansing the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Before the Nakba, when over 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes and lands to establish the state of Israel, two Jewish trusts purchased a plot of land in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. When Israel was established, the Jewish families living in Sheikh Jarrah left for West Jerusalem as that section of the city was now part of the new state of Israel while East Jerusalem came under Jordanian and UN control. In 1956, Jordan and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees resettled 28 Palestinian families who had been forced out of their homes inside the new state of Israel into Sheik Jarrah. In exchange for giving up their rightful refugee status, the 28 families were to receive ownership of the Sheikh Jarrah properties, but they never got the deeds to their properties. Israel is now trying to return the properties to the Jewish trusts who later sold them to Nahalat Shimon, a real-estate company registered in the US state of Delaware. The kicker is that while Israel regularly uses this tactic to remove Palestinians from East Jerusalem, Israeli law bars Palestinians from recovering property they lost in the Nakba, even if they still reside in areas controlled by Israel.

2021 marks 54 years of occupation, including 14 years of the siege of Gaza, and 28 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords that were supposed to create a Palestinian state. 600,000 Israeli citizens now live in the approximately 200 illegal Israeli settlements that cover the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

A breakdown of who is and isn’t allowed to vote between the Jordan river and the sea reveals Israel’s motivations:

  • Number of Jewish Israelis living in Israel proper, and East Jerusalem, and West Bank settlements: 6.589 million (Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics)

  • Number of Palestinian citizens of Israel (Palestinians who can vote in national elections): 1.5 million (Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and Jerusalem Municipality)

  • Number of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza who cannot vote in Israeli national elections: 4.88 million (Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics)

As we get to know Israel’s new prime minister and government, as we continue to watch Israel forcibly remove Palestinians from East Jerusalem, as we worry about a next massacre in Gaza, and as we continue to hear the absurd label of Israel as a democratic state, let’s not forget that the right to vote is only granted to 60% of the total population and only one-third of Palestinians who live under Israeli rule had any say Naftali Bennett becoming Israel’s thirteenth prime minister.

The post New Israeli Government, Same Israeli Apartheid first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Reporter’s Alert: Part V

Reporters at major newspapers and magazines are hard to reach by telephone. Today it is increasingly hard to converse with them about timely scoops, leads, gaps in coverage, and corrections to published articles.

We started an online webpage: Reporter’s Alert. From time to time, we will use Reporter’s Alert to present suggestions for important reporting on topics that are either not covered or not covered thoroughly. Reporting that just nibbles on the periphery won’t attract much public attention or be noticed by decision-makers. Here is the fifth installment of suggestions:

1. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, has just reported staggering quarterly earnings. This achievement, no doubt assisted by policies of the Federal Reserve, makes the following statement by him on January 21, 2021, a wonderful opportunity for reportorial follow up:

“I’ve been to a lot of meetings with presidents and prime ministers and senators and congressmen, and the selfishness and parochialism with the business folks is just absolutely outrageous.”

What did Mr. Dimon mean by such a judgment of his peers in the business world? He is known to be outspoken. There might be a provocative story should he choose to elaborate. But first, he has to be asked.

2. The scrutiny of Internet advertising is much less than the attention formally given to print advertising before the Internet. The major trade journal, Advertising Age, led by the legendary columnist, Stanley Cohen, was often very critical of the advertising industry. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) even required, at one time, specific advertising claims to have substantiation filed with the agency. Today, the giant’s Google, Facebook, and other masters of the Internet rely heavily on ad revenues, their Achilles Heel. How effective are these ads? Is their fine-tuned targeting based on privacy invasions? What is Google et al. doing in their backrooms?

3. Speaking of corruption, what safeguards are being placed over the trillions of dollars streaming into all corners of the country from Washington legislation? In the $31 billion proposed for the reservations of the First Nations, there is also $5 million allocated to oversee disbursements. What is being done to catch and punish any waste, fraud, and abuse on what is spent inside and outside the US? Wherever there are government contracts, grants, and loans, there must be consistent media digging and reporting.

4. Billions of dollars of imported foods are coming to the United States labeled as “organic.” How is this claim being verified? What does the U.S.D.A. do to assure its labels are truthful? Any inspectors? What evasions have been uncovered? The temptation to sell the organic label but not the real organic fruits, vegetables, and other foodstuffs are everywhere. Are any of the major environmental or consumer groups (Greenpeace, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, Consumer Reports) monitoring this situation? Is the Customs Bureau doing anything?

5. It is increasingly difficult, especially in an Internet Age, to quit your vendor. Some of these obstacles are due to complexities in the relationship. For example, compare banks today with banks in the 1960s. But much of this lock-in is deliberate – sometimes with penalties for leaving – requiring consumers to go through hoops. Try getting out of your Amazon Prime “Membership.” See how leaving Amazon compares to your one-click purchases from Mr. Jeff Bezos. Moving from brokerage and credit card firms is needlessly bureaucratic – after one spends hours trying to get through to the right persons (forget about one-stop quitting in an era of much-touted one-stop shopping).

Then there are the “dark moments,” where corporate coercion sells you stuff you didn’t ask for or know about. There are also vendor tricks for upgrading your sales category. This is a controlling mechanism by vendors which also dilutes the effects of competition – a kind of barrier to the mobile choice of vendors. There is much to investigate here that is sometimes rooted in the pits of the omnipresent fine print contracts.

6. Just who are those state legislators in the GOP brazenly harassing certain categories of voters? How dare they do such a thing in plain sight – after their right-wing corporate attorneys do the devious drafting of the bills? Creating crazy hurdles to block voters (such as difficult IDs, requiring notarized signatures, and many more obstacles reported often in the media) is over-regulating, harassing, intimidating, and purging voters. So too are bills in Florida and Texas criminalizing or entrapping free speech street protests.

Profile these incinerators of democracy, these closeted bigots, and venomous beasts of prey who target the most vulnerable and discriminated against wannabe voters. Do specific state laws provide criminal penalties for officials implementing these shredders of voting rights? If not, why not? Are private remedies too onerous or non-existent? These abuses should get at least as much opprobrium, censorship, and demands for resignation as “no-touch” sexual harassment receives.

7. During meetings or telephone conversations with newspaper editors, I urge them to do random surveys of how difficult it is for ordinary citizens to simply get through to their government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. Editors immediately praise the suggestion and then do nothing.

Many zillions of hours are wasted waiting on the phone for government officials (e.g., the budget-strapped IRS). But apart from any budget excuses, for many agencies, avoiding calls or not responding to callers has become part of the culture at many government departments. Some agencies simply leave their phones off the hook for hours at a time. This occurred before the Covid-19 pandemic. Reporters may not experience this distress because they can get through more often, though they may not like the nature of the response non-response. Media surveys should be conducted by “ordinary people” with ordinary questions, for starters.

Getting through to corporations and their so-called “customer service” departments can offer similar hurdles. Telephone, insurance, and utility companies, for instance, all avoid talking to their customers. Emails are also easily dismissed and, anyhow, emails are not like two-way telephone conversations.

Hope all the above and the prior four Reporter’s Alert lists help stimulate some reporting on these important topics.

The post Reporter’s Alert: Part V first appeared on Dissident Voice.

New Green Deal + Old War Deal = Same Rotten Deal

While a new American administration presides over what many believe is a return to normal after the more openly blatant worship of wealth and Israel of the Trump regime, what’s missed is that what passes for normal is what needs radical change. As long as market normalcy in the USA means hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, millions more live in poverty and millions more than that are so much deeper in personal debt than ever before in our history that the World Bank warns of the possibility of social collapse, what passes for normal is not just highly judgmental but criminally immoral. Especially when a mincing step forward domestically is accompanied by a crippled giant stride backward in foreign policy.

This while more than half a million Americans have died in a pandemic that has already wreaked economic havoc among almost all the general population while some millionaires have become multi millionaires, some multi millionaires have become billionaires and some billionaires approach becoming trillionaires. As this market “normality “awaits the hopeful arrival of a Green New Deal, named after the world war two version which created a middle class by spending billions of public dollars to aid survival of the richest while allowing enough of their money to trickle down to pass for a welfare state form of capitalism, it now actually threatens to bring on even more dreadfulness to an even greater population.

A couple of trillion in government spending is proposed now when tens of trillions are needed but will never be found under the market forces of private profit normalcy. The goal must be a radical restructuring of the political economic value system that treats earth, air, water and human beings as commodities to be bought, sold and rented in pursuit of enormous private profit for an ever shrinking number as hundreds of millions diversely sink lower in class status under the burden of bearing the staggering public loss of dollars, humanity and nature itself.

While this seemingly hopeful program of another new deal for domestic progress is proposed in order to save capitalism once again by muffling if not smothering calls for more radical change, the old deal of the murderous warfare state is even more dangerous than ever, with the amateurs of the Trump regime replaced by more experienced creators of policies of mass murder to preserve the alleged chosen people status of American capital and its servant class of more diverse than ever professionals who arrange minority rule and convince people it‘s democracy.

The old cold war against communism and socialism in Russia and China is more fervently being waged against those now capitalist nations offering a greater menace to what is called “western civilization”. This is defined as peace, democracy and humanism to disguise its base on colonialism, slavery and the mass murders of world wars one, two and the great slaughters that followed in Asia and the rest of the world not worthy enough to be rated as civilization by creatures who would make savage predatory beasts seem humanitarians, poets and lovers by comparison.

Naturally, this new Chinese and Russian capitalism is treated as massive terror and desperately in need of trillions spent on the military, which adequately protects the American troops ringing the Russian border and American ships sailing the South China Sea but is helpless to protect Americans being murdered in America by neighbors, workmates, the police and other patriots.  Nor are they/we protected by having tens of thousands of military personnel at hundreds of military bases thousands of miles from America’s shores. This is sold to a mentally imprisoned population as a defense of America and rationalized by a brilliant leadership that might have trouble understanding that it should put its socks on before not after its shoes while spending trillions on warfare and offering no help at all to tens of millions of Americans without health care or shelter.

Despite the unrelenting intellectual and moral sewage being forced into the mental diet of innocent participants in what is called our sacred democracy, newer generations contain more critical numbers than ever speaking out, organizing and showing signs of no more tolerance for this weaponized mass murdering drivel. Even while under assault reducing the common needs of all to alleged minorities by our ruler imposed doctrines of identity to reduce a majority to squabbling over which group has suffered more with least suffering getting the most, far more are resisting that divide and conquer program to save the system by divisive race, ethnic and sexual bigotry.

Current mind mashing daily bulletins about Putin’s being a murderer and Chinese preforming genocide on Islamic people are part of  the daily diet of intellectual sewage that passes for reporting in the news marketplace, more minds are being destroyed while more wealth is created by the media servants of capital. Daily bulletins inform (?) us that China is brutalizing Islamic Chinese and committing “genocide”, the popular term to use when anybody dies anywhere but where the term and the idea were born, while we lecture them on how to destroy the Islamic world for Israel and capital, commit mass murder and slaughter tens of thousands, destroy nations and reduce millions to poverty. If there were a judgmental, righteous and vindictive deity such as the one created by the more sadistic episodes of Old Testament mythology that had one destroy the planet because of false worship or a bad migraine, there might be a cataclysmic explosion, earthquake, holocaust and plague every fifteen minutes until our nation was obliterated. Luckily, we only have to deal with the largest population of earth dwellers growing fed up with a material reality forced on them by allegedly higher forms of humans practicing a form of political economics that might create a Department of Rape and call it a Ministry of Love

Rather than having to deal with a strengthened coalition of nuclear armed nations sick and tired of suffering abuse from an international bully and able to respond to any attack with their own powers of mass murder, we can only hope that Eastern Capitalist media may soon retaliate by offering lessons in humanity to the western civilization (?) by describing how it is possible to end poverty by investing in people rather than murdering them.

In China, a nation of nearly one and a half billion people, nearly 90% of them own their own homes. In Russia, another brutal capitalist horde assaulting our mythological democracy, which has never elected a president by majority of the electorate, 80% of the people own their homes. Worst of all, the savage state of communist Cuba has 90% of its people in homes they own, and this accomplished under years of brutal economic assault by an alleged  “great power” 90 miles away. Isn’t that terrifying?

A part of Islamic teaching claims there is no god but god, which is a belief system that can work for good or bad because it’s a faith-based belief. Material reality says that there is no race but human and that is a material fact, a scientific reality and not simply a belief. The sooner we rise above good or evil teachings about cultural truths  (?) and face material reality which is just that, we who identify as human beings can create democracy, the best deal for humanity.

In the words of an anonymous Vegas dealer, we don’t need a new deal: we need an entirely new deck. To bring that about, the people will have to take ownership of not just the gambling casino but every aspect of material reality that affects the public good. That sounds strange because it represents democracy, a deal we’ve never had as a people but only a charade of our rulers and their professional – and more “diverse” than ever – servant class. We need to give meaning to the word, and very soon, which means we need a political party that represents the public good, and an economy that does the same. Give that whatever label makes you feel best, but do it soon or we might not have much of a later.

The post New Green Deal + Old War Deal = Same Rotten Deal first appeared on Dissident Voice.

I Entered My Country’s House of Justice and Found a Snake Charmer’s Temple

Colectivo Culturas Vivas, Senderos latinos / Latino paths, Honduras, 2019

Colectivo Culturas Vivas, Senderos latinos / Latino paths, Honduras, 2019

On a Sunday night on 21 March 2021, gunmen stopped Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante (age 41) as he walked from this mother’s home to his own in the village of Nueva Granada near San Antonio de Cortés (Honduras). The gunmen opened fire in front of a catholic church, killing this leader of United Communities in front of his children. Forty bullets were found at the scene.

Jorge Vásquez of the National Platform of Indigenous Peoples said that Juan Carlos Cerros had been threatened for his leadership of the Lenca peoples and their fight to protect their land. Carlos Cerros was killed, Vásquez said, ‘because of the work we do’. None of his killers have been arrested.

Two and a half weeks later, on 6 April, Roberto David Castillo Mejía entered the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Castillo, the former president of Desarrollos Energéticos Sociedad Anónima (DESA), the company behind the Agua Zarca dam project on the Gualcarque River, came to face charges that he was the mastermind in the 2016 assassination of Berta Cáceres, the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisation of Honduras (COPINH). The next day, on a plea from the defence, the Court agreed to suspend the trial for the fourth time.

Before the suspension, the legal team representing Berta and her family presented new evidence that established a wider conspiracy that involved the Atala Zablah family. The lawyers filed paperwork that showed confirmation of a payment of $1,254,000 from DESA to Potencia y Energia de Mesoamerica S.A. (PEMSA). This money went from DESA’s chief financial officer, Daniel Atala Midence, to David Castillo, who then funnelled it to the military officer Douglas Bustillo, who coordinated the assassination of Berta.

In 2013, DESA had initiated the construction of a hydroelectric dam without consulting the Lenca community, who consider the river to be a sacred and common resource. Berta Cáceres opposed the Agua Zarca dam and defended the land of the Lenca people. As Vásquez said of the murder of Carlos Cerros, Berta too was killed for the work she did. She was killed, her family says, by a conspiracy that involved the Atala Zablah family, the main financial backers of the dam project. The Atala Zablah family’s company, Inversiones Las Jacaranda, raised their money – despite pleas from Berta – from FMO (a Dutch development bank), FinnFund (a Finnish development investor), and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (a multilateral development institution).

Bertha and Laura Zúniga Cáceres at a mural made by el Colectivo Culturas Vivas, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 2021.

Bertha and Laura Zúniga Cáceres at a mural made by el Colectivo Culturas Vivas, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 2021.

‘We are in a lot of uncertainty’, Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, the daughter of Berta Cáceres, told me; ‘the justice system in Honduras has never cared about this’. The ‘this’ in her statement relates to the role of DESA and its executives. The authorities have been shielding the Atala Zablah family and the ruling party, which had itself tried to collude in the cover-up.

In 2009, the US government actively participated in and egged on the oligarchy to undertake a coup d’état against the left-leaning government of Manuel Zelaya. Since then, Honduras has been governed by the far-right National Party, whose current leader and Honduran president is Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH). After Berta Cáceres was assassinated, President Hernández’s minister of security Julián Pacheco Tinoco wrote to Pedro Atala Zablah, one of the leaders of the Atala Zablah family and a board member of DESA. He wanted to assure Atala Zablah and his family that the government would not pursue the case with any seriousness; the case, he said, would be seen as a ‘crime of passion’. Zúniga Cáceres tells me that ‘neither did the army act alone nor did the company act alone either’. There is, she says, ‘coordination between the economic and military power centres, which is the essence of the dictatorship under which we live in Honduras’.

This week, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research published a dossier on the 2009 coup and on the regime of JOH. It looks at how these processes have created a climate of impunity for class violence by the elites – such as the Atala Zablahs – against leaders such as Berta Cáceres and Carlos Cerros, brave people who defend the dignity and land of all people in Honduras. We researched and wrote the dossier with COPINH and Peoples Dispatch (special thanks to Zoe Alexandra). The dossier, Pity the Nation: Honduras Is Being Eaten From within and without,  comes in three parts:

  1. Part 1 details the fact of the 2009 coup, authorised by the United States government of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  2. Part 2 unmasks the structure of extreme right terror sown by the coup regime, which has its tentacles deep in the world of narco-trafficking.
  3. Part 3 provides three examples of the broad attack on the Honduran Left: the assassination of Berta, the attack on the trade unions, and the forced disappearance of Garifuna leaders in July 2020.

The third section ends with a quote from Miriam Miranda, a leader of the Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras (OFRANEH): ‘We are tired of the lies from the government of Honduras. [Government reports] have no substance. They don’t say anything. They make a joke of us, the Garifuna people. We do not want lies. We want the truth. We want life to be worth more in our country. We have to build new paths. We will continue fighting so that this becomes a reality’.

In Yoro, Honduras, the people speak of the lluvia de peces, or the rain of fish, which they commemorate with a festival during the rainy season. Miracles such as this, it is hoped, will rescue people from the tribulations of hunger. Roberto Sosa (1930-2011), one of the great poets of Honduras, was born in Yoro, but he moved away from the miraculous toward the politics of the people and the Left. In 1968, he published his finest collection of poems, Los pobres (The Poor), which won the Adonáis Prize. The headline for this newsletter comes from one of the poems from this collection, La Casa de la Justicia. Here’s an extract:

I entered
the House of Justice
of my country
and found it to be
a temple
of snake charmers.

….

Grim judges
speak of purity
with words
that have acquired
the brightness
of a knife. The victims – in constrained space –
measure terror in a single blow.

Roberto Sosa’s line, ‘I entered the House of Justice of my country and found it to be a temple of snake charmers’, has been quoted often in the immediate aftermath of the 2009 coup and in the years that have followed. After the coup, Sosa said that Honduras had been turned ‘into a jail country’ (en un país cárcel). ‘Today, the entire country is militarised’, Sosa said, but he took refuge in the ‘massive and organised resistance that has not stopped demonstrating against the coup government, a resistance that does not retreat’.

There is no retreat even today. None for the people of Honduras.

The post I Entered My Country’s House of Justice and Found a Snake Charmer’s Temple first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Mad Warhorse of Neoliberalism is Galloping Towards Perdition

We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.
— Gore Vidal, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia, 2004

As Americans drown in debt and atomization, the liberal class applauds the arrival of a post-nation-state neo-feudal order which is devoid of checks and balances, integration, national cohesion, or collective memory, rendering any working class resistance to fascism a Herculean task. This has been made possible because of the demise of traditional American liberalism, rooted in the values of the civil rights movement and the New Deal, and its usurpation by the cult of neoliberalism which is anchored in unrestricted immigration, multiculturalism, identity politics, and the nakedly imperialistic policies embraced by the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton. This growing collaboration between neoliberals and the oligarchy has fomented an unprecedented degree of both tribalism and unfettered capitalism, and placed us on a runaway train racing to authoritarianism.

Identity politics, supported by a cornucopia of faux-left elements since the ‘90s with a cult-like zealotry, has unleashed an apocalyptic counter-revolution that is disintegrating our national identity. The anti-working class has been created to facilitate this dissolution. Children are being indoctrinated in the multicultural curriculum, which is predicated on the idea that white people are the oppressor and people of color are the oppressed. This has made both class consciousness and any understanding of history impossible, while depriving Americans of color and immigrant youth with a proper grounding in American letters and classics of Western Civilization. Such a curriculum constitutes the quintessence of racism, yet has been sold to the masses as “fighting racism.”

The multicultural society, essentially a Tower of Babel, has transformed the US into a hellscape of ghettoized enclaves which break down along lines of ethnicity, religion, and language. It has also facilitated the rise of the vocational community and the phenomenon of hyper-careerism. This, in turn, poses yet another threat to civil society, as fanatical careerists are generally indifferent to everything outside of their field.

Indeed, it has become commonplace for Americans who are ensconced in excellent jobs to be so indifferent to life outside of their specialty that they would shrug apathetically if informed that US and Chinese warships had opened fire on one another in the South China Sea. As long as Weill Cornell, Sloan Kettering, Columbia University, or the Metropolitan Opera House don’t get incinerated, they would only feel a vague and abstract connection to such an event. This obsessive single-minded devotion to one’s career, an identity which has come to envelop one’s very soul, is inextricably linked to the multicultural society, as many Americans increasingly feel that no life exists outside of work. As our society disintegrates, the ability of our countrymen to think rationally unravels along with it.

Since the inauguration of Bill Clinton on January 20, 1993, liberals have collaborated with every reactionary policy that has been promoted by the establishment: illegal wars of aggression, the privatization of the prisons, deindustrialization and offshoring, the oligarchy’s importation of tens of millions of undocumented workers and guest workers to depress wages and foment deunionization, the destruction of the public schools, the Patriot Act (which revoked habeas corpus), the Military Commissions Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the return of Russophobia, the monopolization of the media into just a handful of corporations, the use of academia to generate student loan debt (now in excess of $1.5 trillion), the privatization of health care, the fomenting of unprecedented forms of tribalism and atomization; and more recently, the lockdown. Hitler, Franco, and Pinochet unleashed the dogs of war on the left. In the West today this is unnecessary, for the left has destroyed itself.

The more liberals sell their souls to the forces of reaction, the more they delude themselves into thinking that they are on the left. This has led to a kind of political schizophrenia, as those who betray the legacies of FDR and Martin Luther King are pulled inexorably into a vortex of ignorance, dogmatism, and superstition. Neoliberals, who should really be called “illiberals,” fail to see the preposterousness of their claiming to combat “the far right,” even as deep state operatives like John Brennan are regurgitating the exact same identity politics language that multiculturalists have been churning out for decades. Furthermore, we have political commentators such as General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of American forces in Afghanistan, comparing Trump supporters (i.e., the scourge of “white privilege”), to Al-Qaeda. Now replete with its own Green Zone, the Capitol is under martial law.

Recall that “humanitarian interventions” resulted in civil wars in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya, Syria (granted, many jihadis have been foreigners), and Afghanistan. This pitting of identity politics acolytes against what remains of American society is reminiscent of the way in which Washington pitted Sunnis and Shiites against one another in Iraq.

The anti-white jihadi is the offspring of ghettoization, the multicultural curriculum, and identity studies, and harbors a deep-seated hostility to Western Civilization. This anti-working class is being used by the establishment not unlike jihadis have been used by the Western elites in Syria: as a battering ram to degrade, destabilize, fragment, and if left unchecked, ultimately obliterate our national identity, thereby granting the oligarchy illimitable powers. Our jihadis are undoubtedly less violent than Syria’s (or even Sweden’s for that matter); and yet the two crusades are not dissimilar, as both are fanatically committed to the destruction of a particular civilization.

Siccing a majority on a minority is irrefutably reactionary, but doing the inversion is no less so, especially when there are powerful forces at work attempting to transform the minority into a new majority. A significant swath of leftists in the West have been hoodwinked into believing that multiculturalism is diametrically opposed to Nazism, when they are, in fact, two sides to the same coin. The relentless demonization of Trump, coupled with the dubious nature of his removal, mirrors the demonization and removal of Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Noriega, and Milošević, where the vilification of a head of state served as a pretext for launching wars on the citizenry of these countries.

The loathing of liberals for the Orange One, which they petulantly cling to despite his ouster, is tied to the fact that he made a mockery of the idea that liberals represent the lesser of two evils. While indubitably crass and bombastic at times, Trump had the temerity to take a principled stand on a number of key issues, such as pursuing detente with Russia, questioning the need for NATO following the breakup of the USSR, tirelessly ridiculing the lies of the presstitutes, condemning critical race theory, and denouncing the catastrophic offshoring of jobs. Trump’s support for hydroxychloroquine, and his warnings that the lockdowns were destroying New York City, have likewise proved prophetic. Meanwhile, liberals haven’t taken a principled stand on anything in thirty years.

Don’t misconstrue my intentions: I am not attempting to equate Trump supporters with the supporters of Allende. Undoubtedly, some of his supporters hold certain reactionary beliefs. Yet unlike liberals, whose solution for every domestic problem is to carry out more witch hunts and outsource more jobs, millions of Trump voters have legitimate grievances, as their lives have been upended by deindustrialization and offshoring, the lockdown, the opioid epidemic, inadequate health care, and the systematic dismantling of public education.

Liberal complicity in sustaining our unconscionable for-profit health care system, as evidenced by their enthusiastic support for Obamacare, has resulted in a demise of medical scientific integrity. Vioxx, the opioid epidemic, the psychotropic drug epidemic, and the anthrax vaccine constitute four of the most catastrophic drug regulatory failures in the history of medicine. The problem is that for the pharmaceutical industry, these aren’t failures at all, but successes, as these drugs have yielded staggering profits. The greatest danger posed by privatized health care is that medicines and procedures which represent the greatest threat to patient health are often extremely lucrative. This medical profiteering is so rampant that it is instigating a weaponization of health care and a restoration of Nazi bioethics, where informed consent and respect for patient dignity are completely jettisoned. Should Covid vaccines become mandatory – and keep in mind that drug companies are shielded from liability in the US should their vaccines cause harm – this would constitute an unequivocal violation of the Nuremberg Code. (A code, incidentally, written by white guys, hence ripe for burning). The SS physician credo, that any medical atrocity is justified as long as it is done “for the greater good,” is thriving under the lockdown.

A considerable amount of evidence exists that effective and inexpensive Covid treatment options involving hydroxychloroquine, budesonide, and ivermectin were suppressed (see here, here, here, here and here), which could have negated the need for lockdowns altogether and saved many thousands of lives. Granted, these drugs would have torpedoed the pharmaceutical industry’s desire to profit off of the crisis with Remdesivir and mRNA vaccines, the latter of particularly dubious safety and efficacy. (The authorities have explicitly stated that the vaccines, which are experimental and have only been granted an Emergency Use Authorization, will not end social distancing and the mandatory wearing of masks). We have been told that half a million Americans have died from Covid, but how many of these patients were under the age of 70 and had no significant comorbidities?  PCR tests have churned out vast numbers of false positives which has also helped maintain the hysteria and relentless fearmongering, while the notion of asymptomatic spread remains mired in conjecture. According to Reuters, the US lost over 20 million jobs in April of 2020 alone. Nevertheless, the lockdown did what it was designed to do: further erode civil liberties, while exacerbating atomization and economic inequality.

It is important to note that powerful tycoons that are not ensconced in the medical industrial complex, such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, have profited off of the pandemic, adding even more wealth to their already bloated fortunes. Consequently, lockdown profiteering is not confined to the robber barons within the health care oligarchy.

Commenting on the draconian lockdown measures, Daniel Jeanmonod, MD, writes in “Lockdowns are a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:”

The following two examples confirm these results: a country with low lockdown stringency like Sweden has at the moment the same fatality rate per million inhabitants as France, but lower than Spain, Italy and UK, where severe lockdown measures were applied.

In addition, Sweden has had for the second wave a much smaller excess mortality than France, Italy or Spain, an observation which allows one to suspect that lockdown measures are delaying the establishment of herd immunity. This is not desirable, as the time during which the old, sick and frail can be exposed to the virus gets longer.

In “The Covid Pandemic Is the Result of Public Health Authorities Blocking Effective Treatment,” Paul Craig Roberts questions the motives behind the lockdown:

Why are authorities enforcing ineffective measures while ignoring proven successful measures that greatly reduce the Covid threat and perhaps eliminate it altogether? Is it because the proven measures are inexpensive and offer no opportunity for large profits from vaccines?  Is it because the ‘Covid pandemic’ is useful for mandating control measures that curtail civil liberties?  Is it because the lockdowns decimate family businesses and enable further economic concentration?  The answer is ‘yes’ to all three questions.

Dr. Simone Gold, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors (and recently arrested to the delight of MedPage), has reiterated these concerns, tweeting on February 3rd:

What do lockdowns, masks, and panic all have in common?
Their positive impact on hospitalization rates is ZERO.
But their negative impact on life and liberty is severe and totally unnecessary.
The science doesn’t lie. The ‘scientists’ do.

Yet liberals continue to support the lockdowns, and in Germany Antifa have marched against their countrymen who have protested against the coercive measures, equating them with “the far right.” The degree to which Western societies have been tribalized by identity politics has made it very easy for the elites to impose what is essentially a collective house arrest on the entire Western world.

Democracy fell into grave jeopardy when liberals abandoned liberty of thought in favor of genuflecting at the altar of the presstitute priesthood. Indeed, when The New York Times tells liberals to jump they jump, when The New York Times tells liberals to be indifferent they are indifferent, when The New York Times tells liberals to be outraged they are outraged, and when “The Newspaper of Record” tells liberals to be ecstatic they are ecstatic. Can a democracy survive if a vast swath of its inhabitants can no longer differentiate between right and left, journalism and propaganda, psychological operations and intellectual analysis, even day and night? No less worrisome, the majority of American doctors are blindly accepting whatever they are told by the mullahs of FDA, CDC, NIH, The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. This is the inevitable result of physicians becoming increasingly specialized while often possessing the humanities education of a junior high school student. In many ways, we have become a nation of Adolf Eichmanns and Albert Speers.

Those who stray from ideological “norms,” regardless of whether it be the lockdown or identity politics, are increasingly portrayed as either unhinged or guilty of incitement, and this language has become particularly vitriolic following “the riot” on January 6th. As Dmitry Babich pointed out on the January 11th Russia Today Cross Talk episode, the precise details of what transpired during the “storming of the United States Capitol” (to quote Wikipedia) are not of paramount importance. What matters is that the incident is being exploited by the establishment as a neoliberal Reichstag fire.

When identity politics youth brigades were assaulting people and inflicting billions of dollars in property damage over a period of many months, in an orgy of violence that was clearly designed to pressure the Trump administration to resign, the media applauded enthusiastically, even referring to the rioters as “peaceful demonstrators.” Calls for revenge against Trump administration officials are likewise unprecedented. As the Democratic Party has thrown away the rule book and turned the country into a banana republic, what is to prevent leaders in the Christian Right from meeting with some like-minded generals and doing the same? The peculiar events of January 6th conveniently scuttled an ongoing congressional investigation into serious allegations of voter fraud, and succeeded in transforming the anti-constitutionalists into the constitutionalists in the minds of millions of people, both at home and around the world.

Those who once sang “Kumbaya My Lord” and “We Shall Overcome” are now calling for dissenting voices to be silenced, either through deplatforming on social media, placing dissidents on a blacklist, or with the iron heel. Writing for The Atlantic, Graeme Wood, in addressing the problem of Americans who object to the dissolution of their national identity, prefers a more refined approach to CIA hit squads: “The proper response to these extremists isn’t counterterrorism. It is mental hygiene.” Having burned their own books, and sworn allegiance to the god of unreason, neoliberals have no other option than to relinquish ties to this death cult or pick up the truncheon of authoritarianism.

The mindless faux-left support for the most barbaric foreign policies could only lead to their support for lawlessness, violence, and barbarism at home. Indeed, those who kill and torture abroad, if not held accountable, will inevitably seek to do so domestically. This fine line is embodied by the story of Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American nun who was brutally tortured by US-backed Guatemalan security forces in 1989, and who recently passed away, another soul lost to the cancer wards. That this totalitarianization is being supported in the name of protecting the country from imaginary neo-Nazis signifies the complete moral and intellectual collapse of the liberal class, a pitiable gaggle that will support any domestic policy, provided it is officially carried out in the name of fighting intolerance and bigotry. Such a tactic was glaringly on display when Biden, in condemning violence against women a couple of years ago, remarked that “This is English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture. It’s got to change.” Translation: let’s burn the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting racism and sexism.

What are we to make of this strange country where lawyers are indifferent to the rule of law, doctors are contemptuous of informed consent, journalists regurgitate whatever they are told by establishment spokespersons, and leftists speak of the working class as “deplorables?” As conservatives typically associate privatization with democratization, and nationalization with tyranny, there are no longer any significant firewalls in place to protect the people from despotism. Moreover, due to multiculturalism’s antipathy to all things white and Western, the WASP right in turn has rejected all things foreign, even as this leads them to untenable and patently erroneous conclusions, such as the idea that Americans have the best health care system in the world, a canard parroted ad nauseam in online medical blogs.

The multicultural society is an anarchic and atomized zone where solidarity, reason, morality, empathy, and any sense of a collective memory cease to exist. Unsurprisingly, this has turned workers into nothing more than plastic cutlery, to be used once and then discarded. Civilization is in grave danger due to the rise of the woke book burners who have declared classics of Western Civilization to be the quintessence of “white supremacy.” Thanks to their implementation of the anti-humanities, the overwhelming majority of New York City public high school graduates have never even heard of Ernest Hemingway, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, John Hersey, Theodore Dreiser, Norman Thomas, Carl Sandburg, John Dos Passos, Dalton Trumbo, Gore Vidal, Clarence Darrow and William Kunstler. (I could go on for an entire page, at least). For all their incessant whining about racism, American liberals, who enjoy total ideological hegemony over most urban public schools, look at children of color as less than animals, and take better care of their poodles and dachshunds. Inculcated with the song of anti-whiteness, the post-American, simultaneously ghettoized prisoner and settler, unleashes its rage on America, but in so doing, puts on the shackles of the oligarchy.

The messianic crusade to eradicate whiteness is destabilizing the country and fomenting an inverted Manifest Destiny. Writing in “Whiteness Is a Pandemic,” Damon Young posits that “Whiteness is a public health crisis.” Continuing, he informs us that “White supremacy is a virus that, like other viruses, will not die until there are no bodies left for it to infect.” (Note how the author uses “whiteness” and “white supremacy” interchangeably). Indeed, this article epitomizes the pathological, anti-Western, and deeply divisive and sectarian dogma being pushed on impressionable young people, both by the media and by the multicultural curriculum.

The Taliban recently came for Dr. Seuss, who we are now told is “offensive.” Teachers that challenge these pieties and attempt to introduce children of color and immigrant youth to the dreaded “dead white men” incur the wrath of the anti-literacy overseers, and if they continue to flout neoliberal pathologies, invariably face termination. Perhaps we can take comfort in knowing that instead of “liberté, égalité, fraternité,” the oligarchy has been kind enough to give us a snappy slogan for the counter-revolution: “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Just bear in mind that the anti-white jihadi isn’t interested in sending the aristocracy to the guillotine but the working class itself.

Historically significant black writers and orators such as Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson, all of whom were unwavering in their support for integration, are dismissed as Uncle Toms and Oreos (black on the outside, white on the inside). To quote Captain Beatty, the anti-intellectual pyromaniac of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: “If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood.”

As transpires in Orwell’s 1984, the burning of the humanities has turned much of the population into automatons, who are not only illiterate, but who are also stripped of any sense of a cultural identity. Unlike many countries in the global south that have a history of weak democratic institutions, the oligarchy understands that in order to destroy democracy at home they have to sever the link between the American people and their past. Hence, if one were to show a World War II film such as Au Revoir les Enfants to a group of teenagers in an identity politics madrassa, it would be incomprehensible to them, as they aren’t taught anything about fascism, and they wouldn’t understand why on earth white people would be hunting down and murdering other white people. In many ways, both our civilization and our democracy were lost in the classroom.

Liberal cultists (who are, in fact, doubly enslaved, both to the cult of identity politics and to the lockdown cult), rejoice in the dismantling of the nation-state which has ensued following offshoring, unrestricted immigration, and the rise of the multicultural curriculum and identity studies. What they fail to acknowledge are the devastating consequences, as these policies are inextricably linked with the annihilation of the middle class, the public schools, checks and balances, and any semblance of national cohesion. One could make the argument that in this post-nation-state neo-feudal America, the plutocracy has ceased to be a capitalist class in the Marxist sense and taken on the characteristics of a new baronage. Irregardless of whether the establishment’s endgame is tyranny under identity politics or tyranny under the Christian Right, once freedom of speech lies gelid and lifeless on the bloodstained ground it will be lost forever.

There is a chilling passage in John Hersey’s epistolary novel The Conspiracy, which opens a window into life in imperial Rome under Nero, where Tigellinus sends a confidential letter to Faenus Rufus, both of whom are co-commanders of the Praetorian Guard. Addressing his fellow totalitarian, he writes, “We believe we are now on the threshold of uncovering certain crimes of opinion, the punishment of which, I am confident, will provide ample propitiation.”

Aren’t Simone Gold and Julian Assange being prosecuted for “crimes of opinion?” The cruel treatment meted out to Julian serves as a particularly harrowing warning regarding the ongoing implosion of democracy in the West. What a pity that the righteous campaigners who once fought so valiantly for the New Deal and the civil rights movement now look upon those very ideals with sneering, ridicule, and contempt.

The post The Mad Warhorse of Neoliberalism is Galloping Towards Perdition first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Middle-Class Left Liberals Should Dump the Democratic Party: Finding Common Ground with Socialists

Many of you in the middle class are opposed to socialism. You still think there is some chance for you under capitalism and you fear that the socialists will take what little you have and divide it among the shiftless and thriftless. You need not have the slightest fear. The socialist has no use for your small capital; it would do (them) not the least good. (They are) after the earth, the trusts, and the machinery of production. Besides, soon you will have nothing to divide. When the big capitalists get through with you, you will be ready for us. You may not be ready yet, but you are ripening very rapidly. When you have been stripped of what you have, when you have become proletarians, when you have become expropriated, you will be ready to join us in expropriating the expropriators.

— Speech by Eugene Debs over 100 years ago in Chicago about the middle-class fear of socialism

Orientation

Almost five years ago I wrote an article in Counterpunch: “Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party.” In that article I challenged the blithe interchangeability of the words “liberal” and “democrat”. I tracked eight historical changes of liberalism from left-liberal, to centrist-liberal to right-center liberals (neoliberals). I also argued that the words liberal and democracy are used interchangeably by liberals, even though it wasn’t until the 20th century that liberals were clearly for democracy (translated as universal suffrage for white males).

The problem with my article as I see it today is that I lumped upper middle-class left liberals with middle-class liberals. Two years later I wrote another article called “The Greater of Two Evils: Why the Democratic Party is worse than the Republican Party for 85% of the U.S. Population.” In that article, I outlined how, since the 2008 crash, the social classes whose wealth grew were the ruling class, the upper-class and the upper-middle-class, constituting about 15% of all social classes. Everyone else was doing worse, including the middle-class.

In my first article I slurred the differences between the upper-middle-class and the middle-class, advocating for both classes to get out of the Democratic Party. I have since come to see (as I will get into later) that the upper-middle-class has done very well under the umbrella of the Democrats and it is not in their material interests to leave. This is no longer true of the middle-class. Historically, the material interests of the middle-class and the upper-middle-class has more in common with each other than the working-class. In other words, the difference between news anchors, lawyers, senior managers on the one hand and high school teachers, librarians and supervisors on the other hand are more differences of degree than kind. After all, they all did mental work, as opposed to the physical work of the working-class. However, in the last 50 years middle-class life has gotten far worse than the life of the upper middle-class. It has gotten bad enough to be able to say it is closer to the working-class. Whether they realize it or not, for middle-class left liberals, the Democratic Party has left the building 40 years ago.

My claim in this article is that:

  1. Middle-class FDR liberals need to leave the democrats and be part of building a new party
  2. Middle-class left liberals need to form alliances with the working-class and the poor, not the upper middle-class
  3. The new party should advocate for socialism

What follows is why this should be so.

Difference Between FDR Liberals and Neoliberals

Left liberal values

Left liberals are broadly for the following. They are pro-science as well as for investing in scientific research and development as well as investing in infrastructure. They are for the separation of church and state as well as for the use of reason in problem-solving, such as raising children through what is called “authoritative parenting”. They support the matriarchal state: universal health care, unemployment, pensions, food stamps and a minimum wage automatically raised to keep up with inflation. They expect the state to intervene in the economy to soften the hard edges of capitalism, following a Keynesian economic policy. They are committed to gradual change and a lessening of race and gender stratification. Left liberals support an expansion of unions. This left liberalism has been present in the United States for roughly 40 years, from the mid-1930s to the mid-1970s.  Since then, Democratic Party has slid further and further right to the point that their platform today is a center-right neoliberal party which embodies none of these values. The problem is the collective denial left liberals have in ignoring this fact.

Right-wing neoliberal values

Neoliberals are directly opposed to the matriarchal state. They support the economic policies of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Von Hayek with minimum state involvement in the economy.  Neoliberals have withdrawn funding from long-term science programs. They have presided over the rise of New Age thinking initiated by Marilyn Ferguson’s book The Aquarian Conspiracy. Neoliberals have become extreme relativists championing the rise of identity politics which began in the early 1970s. Neoliberals have lost hope and have failed to bring the principles of the Enlightenment forward. They have abandoned investment in profits made on manufacturing and instead make their profits on the defense industry, arming the entire world. Under their rein most of the remaining profit is invested in finance capital.

Neoliberals have presided over the destruction of unions over last fifty years.  They have stood by and watched the full-time, well paid secure working-class jobs disappear.  Work hours under neoliberalism have gone from 40 hours per week to at least 50 hours per week for those lucky enough to be employed full-time. In general, the standard of living has declined in the US so that the next generation can expect to make less than their parents. It’s no accident that credit cards became available to the working-class in the early 1970s, so workers didn’t have to directly face the fact that their standard of living had declined. The civil rights movement spoke to what minorities had in common with organized labor, which was low-cost housing and fair wages. Today we have individualist identity politics where being recognized for your identity along with using politically correct language is all that is asked for. In the 1960s, community college was free. In the last 50 years the cost of college education is so high that student debt appears to be debt for life.

Neoliberals have supported the explosion of the prison-industrial complex which has expanded many times over since the 60s despite the rate of crime going down. The police departments have been equipped with military weapons that make the equipment of police prior to the 1970s pale in comparison. They have presided over the growth of the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies which now have control over our physical and mental health. The official diagnostic manual was 50 pages in 1950. Today the same manual is well over 1000 pages. Today upper-middle-class parents are no longer authoritative but instead are practicing a form of “permissive parenting”, which easily results in spoiled, narcissistic children, with helicopter parents fretting endlessly over their little darling’s self-esteem. Please see Table A for a comparison.

Differences Between Middle Class and Upper Middle Class

Not everyone is middle-class

In the United States, most people think of themselves as middle-class. Last time I checked 80% of the working-class mistakenly thought they were middle-class. Why? Because in Yankeedom, it’s an embarrassment to be working-class. So too, upper-middle-class people, nervous about being seen as well-to-do, play down their wealth. Nevertheless, there are real parameters around what it means to be middle-class, as I’ll get to. But first the social class composition.

Social class composition

Based on the work of William Domhoff, in his books Who Rules America and The Powers That Be, the ruling-class and the upper-class together compose about 5% of the population. They live off stocks and bonds and don’t have to work. Their investments are principally in oil, mining, the military and banking. They have been characterized as “old money” and are mostly Republicans.

The upper-middle-class is about 10% of the population. They make most of their money off scientific innovations like computers, internet and electronics. They are called “new money” and are mostly Democrats. Upper-middle-class people are also doctors, lawyers, architects, senior managers, scientists and engineers, as well as media professionals such as news commentators, magazine and newspaper editors, college administrators and religious authorities.

The middle-class consists of about 25% of the population. Occupational examples include high school and grammar school teachers, registered nurses, librarians, corporate middle managers, self-employed artisans and tiny little mom-and-pop operations. The middle-class is at the bottom rung of the Democratic Party not well-represented at all.

The working-class is about 40% of the population and consists of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The skilled working-class include carpenters, welders and electricians, wait-staff and store clerks who are likely to vote Democrat. Their interests are not represented by the Democratic Party either. The semi-skilled are bus drivers or train operators and along with unskilled are less likely to vote. The last 10% consist of what Marx called the “lumpenproletariat” who live by their wits as prostitutes, hustlers, gamblers or those on welfare. These folks are not likely to vote either.

Income is not the most important determinant of social class: the nine dimensions of social class

When most Yankees try to understand social class, the first thing they think of is how much income a person has. But this is only one of the nine dimensions of social class, and not the most important one. Most of these dimensions are covered in the work of Marxist Erik Olin Wright as well as some of the followers of Max Weber. The first dimension of social class is technical, and this consists of three parts: a) the proportion of mental and physical work the job requires; b) the amount of independence or interdependence the kind of work involves; and c) the proportion of the work that is mechanical rote work versus creativity. So typically, a good upper-middle-class job will involve mental work, be independent from others and involve creativity. At the other end of the spectrum is unskilled working-class labor which predominantly involves physical labor and working with other people, while the work itself is repetitive. Other social classes have various combinations in between.

The second dimension of social class is political and economic authority relations. This consists of two sub-categories. The first is the degree of power the person has over resources, tools, goods and services. A capitalist has control over all these things. Workers usually have control over none of them, except that skilled workers might own their own tools. The second sub-category has to do with the proportion of order-giving and order-taking involved. The owner of a company gives orders and takes no orders. His workers take orders and don’t give orders. Middle-class people in corporations may give orders to workers but must take orders from senior management. This category is simply – who gets to boss around who and under what conditions.

The third dimension of social class is mobility. How easy is it to move up or down the class hierarchy both within one’s lifetime or across generations? The fourth dimension of social class is resources. Most people think of resources in terms of income. But wealth also includes assets such as inheritance, real estate, stocks, bonds and property. Sometimes upper-class people may work only part time, but it would be deceptive to make sense of their class position by some part-time job when they have an inheritance.

The fifth dimension of social class is education. This consists of the number of years of school completed as well as the quality of the school attended. The sixth dimension of social class is status. This is the degree of prestige in which one’s occupation is held by others. One reason why income is unstable as an indicator of social class is that some workers can make a good deal of money, such as unionized garbage collectors, but have low status. Conversely, an adjunct college instructor can have high status among the Yankee population but make significantly less money than a garbage collector.

The seventh dimension of social class is lifestyle and consumption patterns. This has four sub-categories. The first is health – birth and death rates. As many of you know, working-class people die on average seven years younger than people in the middle and upper-middle-classes. The second sub-category is how people dress, their speech patterns, body mannerisms and manners. The third sub-category is their recreational habits – whether they ski, play baseball or go bowling. The last sub-category is their religious beliefs. Religions are class divided. In the case of the protestants, there are the Unitarians, Episcopalians and Presbyterians near the top and Baptists and fundamentalists at the bottom.

The eighth dimensions of social class is the degree of awareness people have of their social class. Generally, the upper class and the ruling class are extremely class conscious and are very fussy about who is allowed into their circles. The upper-middle-class and the middle-class tend to be less class conscious. In countries other than the United States, the working-class is very class conscious. But here in Yankeedom, workers see themselves as “temporarily indisposed millionaires”. The last social dimension of class is the ability to take collective action. Capitalists at the end of World War II and soon thereafter organized a big campaign to win back the allegiance of workers. The ruling class has exclusive clubs in which they organize class strategy. The World Economic Forum and the Bilderberg group are examples. At the other end of the spectrum, when workers join unions or strike, they are showing class consciousness. No social class fits neatly into each dimension. There are what Wright calls “contradictory class locations” where a person is caught between two classes either between generations or within their lifetime.

Why does class count?

Why have I gone over the dimensions of social class in such detail? One reason is to show that upper middle-class people and middle-class people are not interchangeable. They vary in the technical division of labor, authority relations, class mobility, resources, education, status, lifestyle, degree of class consciousness and their willingness to take collective action. They also differ in their attitudes towards the meaning of work, as well as in their attitudes towards time and eating habits. If we want to suggest that the middle-class should break its alliance with the upper middle-class and get out of the Democratic Party, we have to expand and deepen their differences as I am starting to demonstrate.

Summary: two reasons why middle-class left liberal should get out the Democratic Party

Summarizing, the first thing we needed to do is to establish that the Democratic Party is a center-right neoliberal party which has next to nothing to do with being left-liberal. This is reason A to get out of the Democratic Party. The second reason is that the Democratic Party serves the interests of the upper-middle-class not the middle-class. The most obvious indicator of why the middle-class should no longer align themselves with the upper-middle-class is to understand what has happened since the crash of 2008. Both Thomas Piketty and Richard Wolff argue that the “economic recovery” was very class specific. The rulers, the upper class and the upper middle-class have done considerably better in that “recovery”. All other social classes, including the middle-class, have done worse. The middle-class, economically and in other dimensions, is far closer to the working-class than it has ever been. Reason B to get out of the Democratic Party.

But can these two classes really get along? There is a built-in tension and discomfort about doing mental work and physical work; there are differences in the degree of status in the two classes’ occupations.  If we want to move middle-class people and working-class people closer together, we have to understand their commonalities and where the tension points are in their differences.

Similarities and Differences Between Middle Class and Working Class People

Similarities

The biggest similarity between the two classes is a decline in the standard of living. This includes income, work stability, increase in hours worked and lack of benefits. Another commonality is sports. Working-class people and middle-class people can unite around being fans of baseball, football and basketball professional teams. In terms of music, rock or country rock might bring these two classes together. Another commonality is that both classes have what sociologists have defined as achieved status. Unlike the upper classes, they usually do not come into life with an inheritance. Lastly, both classes see hard work as a virtue.

Differences

One of the major differences between these two classes is that middle-class people make their living primarily by doing mental and/or supervisory work. Working-class people make their living primarily with their hands and their bodies. A second major obstacle to overcome is that middle-class jobs usually have higher status. The third difference is that middle-class people often give orders to working-class people, but the reverse is not the case. This can lead to jealousy and resentment among working-class people. Middle-class people are very individualistic and not likely to organize as a class. There is likely to be tension between the classes when the working-class agitates to start a union or take strike action. There are also differences between the classes around the meaning of work. For working-class people, the meaning of work is less important than the money and material benefits. Some middle-class people might trade off a higher paying job for work that seems socially redeeming to them.

In terms of resources middle-class people today are likely to own their own home and have stocks and bonds. Working-class people’s assets are usually a car and possibly a home. Mostly they do not own stocks. Whatever savings account they have, that is it. There are also differences in their health conditions. Working-class people are likely to have eating, drinking and smoking problems and middle-class people are healthier. Working-class people are more likely to go to gambling casinos and play the lottery. Middle-class people see that as a waste of time and money.

Another tension point is education. Usually, middle-class people will have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, while working-class people will have no degree or an associate degree at best. Middle-class people will dress, speak and have manners that will be different from the working-class, and this will produce class tensions. Middle-class and working-class people will attend different religious denominations. Working-class religious services invite submission, confessions of being a sinner as well as altered states of consciousness like speaking in tongues, singing and dancing in the church aisles. In middle-class religions, there is less pressure to make you feel like you are a sinner. At the same time, sermons are designed to appeal to what is reasonable rather than to force you to have a revelatory experience which alters one’s state of consciousness.

Middle Class People Meet Socialists

Surely you are kidding

Let’s suppose middle-class left liberals have enough doubts about the Democratic Party because they are no longer New Deal liberals, and they’re starting to see that the party no longer looks out for middle-class interests. Let’s assume that economic, political and ecological disasters will continue to plague capitalism, and somehow a third party – a mass party – has emerged founded on socialism and is getting up a head of steam. This party has some working-class support as well as some union support. What would it take for middle-class left liberals to join?

Fears Middle-class Liberals Have About Socialists

Dictatorship and one-party rule

In its propaganda war with socialism, capitalists inevitably point out some of what it perceives to be the dictatorial tendencies of communism – in Russia, China and Cuba – as the archetypal example of socialism. What it does not do is study the conditions under which one-party rule occurred and what the authorities were up against. I am not going to get into pros and cons of this here because this kind of socialism – whether Stalinist or Maoist – is only one type of socialism. There are six types of socialism. Starting from the right and moving leftward there are social democrats and then three kinds of Leninists – Maoists, Stalinists and Trotskyists. Continuing leftward, there are left communists or council communists and the anarchists. In my efforts to convince middle-class liberals of the feasibility of socialism I will address as much as I can what most or all of these types are in agreement on. For now, let’s just say that dictatorial rule is not a foundational principle of socialism, even for the Stalinist and Maoist parties that have been called dictatorial by capitalists.

Furthermore, I think it is ludicrous for members of the Democratic Party to complain about the one-party rule of socialists when in Yankeedom there are only two parties. The Democratic Party is hardly democratic when it only serves the interests of the about 10% of the population (Republicans serve the ruling and upper classes) and leaves over 85% with no representation at all. The party I call the “Republicrats”, representing 15% of the population, is one party, the party of capital.

Confusion of personal property with social property

We socialists have a running joke on our Facebook posts, mostly in reaction to over-the-top conservatives who think we want to abolish personal property. We say “yes indeed, we are coming for your tooth brush.” That perceived threat is accompanied by imagining that socialists are all having group sex. But seriously, when we socialists say we want to abolish private property we only mean social property. We want to abolish capitalist control over water, food, energy systems, tools, all the necessities that people need to live. We don’t believe resources that everyone needs in order to live should be privately owned. On the other hand, personal property will remain with the individual as it would under capitalism.

Discouragement of innovation

Capitalism has a very shallow and narrow understanding of human nature. Capitalists imagine that people are lazy at heart and unless the carrot is held in front of people – the prospect of being a millionaire – they will do nothing. Further, they look at the types of “leisure” activities a working-class person enjoys after another 50-hour work week and take those as representing what human nature is really like. For example, on Friday night the worker wants to play cards. On Saturday he watches a ball game and have a few beers and on Sunday he sleeps in. For the capitalist this is lazy. What the capitalist thinks is that if workers did not have to work, then playing cards, watching football, drinking, getting laid and sleeping is all he would ever do. What the capitalist doesn’t understand is that the entire weekend is not leisure at all. Its recovery from the week and preparation for the new week.

Under conditions of socialist work, alienation would be minor – and I am being conservative here. The natural collective creativity on the job will arise. People will work less, perhaps 30 hours a week at first. Because workers will control the workplaces as well as decide what to produce, how to produce it, how much they should work and how they will be compensated, work will be a joy, not a curse as under capitalism. There will be plenty of room for innovation, in fact, much more than under capitalism where most workers are imprisoned in wage labor and told not to be curious and not have their own ideas about how things should be run.

All this collective creativity gives the lie to the ridiculous capitalist notion that people want socialism because they want “free stuff” with no contribution. All socialist plans have a budget and decisions have to be made about what and how the budget will be spent. No one will “get out of working”. What the capitalist cannot imagine is that under socialism people will want to work. The idea of not working would be painful – not liberating.

Equality of poverty

In its heyday, between the 1930s and the 1970s, the Swedish Social Democratic Labor Party was a socialist society which produced great material wealth. The socialist countries that have been showcased by capitalists as poor – the Soviet Union, China and Cuba – were only poor during certain times of their existence. What capitalists fail to inform us of is that before the socialist revolutions, as Michael Parenti points out, those countries were even more poor. What material wealth does exist in capitalist societies has taken hundreds of years to build up. In China today, absolute poverty was eradicated within 40 years.

There will be far more innovation than existed under capitalism because under socialism the workplaces will be controlled by the workers and workers’ activities will be guided by an overall plan. To cite one instance, before Yugoslavia was destroyed by capitalists, Yugoslavian productivity under worker self-management was higher than in any capitalist country. The same was true during the Spanish Revolution under worker self-management in both industry and in agriculture.

People are naturally greedy

Cross-cultural research on happiness has found that there is a direct correlation between money and happiness when people move from poverty to a middle-class life. However, the movement from middle-class to upper-middle-class and beyond is no longer correlated to happiness. In other words, people who are upper class or upper-middle-class are not any more likely to be happy than are middle-class people. This gives the lie to the capitalist notion that people are greedy and that everyone secretly wants to be a millionaire. What is more likely is that people want to be middle-class. They want basics in material security. After that they want other things; creativity on the job, to be able to contribute to society and to be recognized for their work, to mention only a few things.

Socialists will want to abolish religion

I admit that the state socialist attempt to decree the abolition of religion was a big mistake. I also think that doing so was contrary to the principles of materialism Marxists aspire to. While I stand firm in the ontological belief that there are no gods or god, at the same time I understand the degree to which people wish to hold on to religion as an expression of their alienation of social life. As generations pass and prosperous ways of life become normalized, I predict three things will happen. First, more people will become atheists. Secondly, those who continue to believe in religion will notice that the nature of the gods, or god, will change. The gods or god will blend more with the nature we know because social life will be more likely to begin to resemble heaven on earth. Third, the fundamentalist religions that plague many working-class people will disappear because the working-class will no longer consider themselves sinners or need fire and brimstone to make things right.   

Commonalities Between Middle-Class Left Liberals and Socialists

Need for a mass party

We socialists think you’ll agree with us that we badly need a mass party that can speak to the needs of the 25% of us who are middle-class and the 40% percent of us who are working-class. This party will develop a program and a step-by-step plan for implementation of the plan over the next 5, 10 and 15 years. It will be a dues-paying party and we will implement methods for getting input into what the plan will be. The issues will be prioritized, and everyone will have a say in carrying out the plan. Once the plan is set, people will be able to sign up for tasks they agree to carry out over the course of weeks and months. In addition to a thirty-hour work week, approximately five hours per week will be devoted to this “political” work.

Massive support for Unions

We socialists know that you left liberals have supported unions from the 1930s to the early 1970s. However, we also know that it was under liberal presidents that the best organizers of unions, the communists and the socialists, were drummed out of unions in the 1950s. This limited the vision of unions as they turned into “business unions”. We also think you should be very upset with the neoliberals in the Democratic Party who have not supported unions for the last 50 years, causing union representation in Yankeedom to be now less than 10%. We hold neoliberals directly responsible for the fact that wages, working conditions and job security are pretty much last in the industrial capitalist societies. The vision of unions needs to be built back up to the ways of the Industrial Workers of the World who saw unions as workshops for how to run a society, not merely a way to sustain and improve everyday working conditions.

Society can be engineered

Like you, we socialists agree with the great project of the Enlightenment that a better society can be engineered by its members. Unlike conservatives, we do not accept that social organizations should be ruled by kings, aristocrats, priests or any traditional authorities. Neither do we think society is some kind of reform school in preparation for the next life. We also don’t think society is best governed by the automatic preservation of traditional institutions that have been here the longest. Like you, we agree in the notion of progress.

The value of science and technology in producing a society of abundance

Like you we are very disappointed and angry that capitalists have chosen to invest their profits in warfare and in finance capital rather than in scientific research that could make our lives better. We also think you should blame the neoliberals for allowing this to happen over the course of the last 50 years. As socialists we have always felt that the scientific method is the best way to know things and that science is a crucial ingredient in Marx’s call to “develop the productive forces”. For us, the creation of socialism was never any kind of sacrifice or doing with less. Nor are we unrealistic about human nature. We fully understand that the foundation of socialism has to be the production of more than enough wealth to go around. With abundance in place, there is no motivation for stealing or wanting what others have.

The value of the state overview

We socialists are in complete agreement with the value you hold about the importance of the functions of the matriarchically state. We also think it is important that the matriarchal state take over the realm of overall planning. This does not mean that all social production and distribution is centrally planned with no feedback from the local and regional levels. We see the relationship between the three in a dialectical manner. The local and regional levels feed up to the state level what products and services are needed. The state incorporates our feedback but then makes adjustments based on the fact that at the local and regional level we cannot see the whole. Once the state produces an over-all plan, that is then fed down to the local and regional levels. It will no doubt take a number of times for there to be a smooth “cybernetic” rhythm established.

Micro-level – the value of cooperative learning and authoritative parenting

We socialists are well aware that you middle-class left liberals have always supported public schools. Some of the more visionary of you might have had the money to send your children to a Montessori school. Some of you might have heard the name Lev Vygotsky and associated him with cooperative learning, which is used in Montessori education. What you probably were never told was that Vygotsky was a communist and he and his followers, Alexander Luria and Aleksei N Leontiev, founded a whole school of psychology, the “socio-historical school of psychology”. They developed a theory of cooperative learning that has been applied not only in school settings but in the design of social intelligence tests, the development of theories of cognitive development and in working with the deaf. Vygotsky’s work could be massively applied to the fields of social psychology, and possibly to therapy, as one group in New York City is currently doing.

Lastly, we admire the way that many of you have raised your children using authoritative child-rearing methods. You have avoided both extremes in child rearing. On the one hand are the authoritarian methods of conservative child rearing which raises children who are repressed, frightened and lack curiosity. On the other hand, it is the permissive parenting of upper-middle-class neoliberal parents that has turned out a generation of narcissistic, entitled, ungrateful brats who are the product of neoliberal schooling where the focus was on raising self-esteem in every school program. We think the authoritative (as opposed to authoritarian) method with its flexible structure, welcoming of dialogue, appeal to reason, rather than emotion is the best way to raise children. We are on the same page with you.

Deeper Differences between Middle-Class Left Liberals and Socialists

Commitment to an antiwar international policy

We socialists have always been against wars because we know they are usually turf wars between capitalists about resources and that it is the workers and the poor people who do the fighting, not the capitalists. As far as wars go, we know that your class has supported the Cold War and the war in Vietnam. Beyond the 1970s you seem to have treated these wars with less enthusiasm except for perhaps, the war on Iraq. As it stands now, the capitalists in Yankeedom not only make a fortune in military warfare to “protect our borders” but they also arm the entire world. If counties decided to end their wars the capitalists here would be destitute. These wars need to end, not just because of the senseless deaths at home and abroad, but for pragmatic reasons. All this money could go into the trillions of dollars’ worth of infrastructural work that is left undone. Suppose the military was employed on these infrastructural projects. Suppose the military was employed to build low-cost housing in every city. Living in a society of abundance requires the reinvestment in the military from wars abroad to infrastructure and natural disaster relief at home.

Anti-imperialist international policy

We socialists are also against imperialist wars where capitalists invade other countries to steal their political or economic resources, land and labor to make a profit. This can be most blatantly seen in Africa. Yankeedom also continues its imperialist ventures in Latin America, regularly attempting to overthrow governments there. Why? For the simple reason that freely elected governments (socialist or not) may have the nerve to set their own economic policy, which might not necessarily be friendly to transnational corporations.

Yankee capitalists want to rule the world and they don’t want any competition.

China, Russia and Iran refuse to tow the line and have formed an alliance. The Chinese represent the best hope of the world now. Why are they such a threat to the United States? Because they are making a profit through building infrastructures, not just in China but in other parts of the world. China, Russia and Iran have also withdrawn from the US dollar as a use of international currency, which costs the western banks in significant loss of profits. Yankee capitalists are slitting their own throats, and ours as well, by acting like big-shot imperialists fifty years after their time has passed and their own territory is falling apart. As middle-class people we think you can see that nothing good can come from this and we need to rebuild our own society.

Dismantling the Deep State

Unfortunately, most middle-class people don’t know any more about the FBI and the CIA and what these organizations do to promote themselves, including what is on television and in movies. The FBI has upended or ruined the lives of socialists for decades. Their role in undermining the New Left has been documented in David Cunningham’s book There’s Something Happening Here. The CIA is in a class by itself, the world’s most powerful terrorist organization. I will limit myself to three books: The Mighty Wurlitzer by Hugh Wilford; The Cultural Cold War by Frances Stoner Saunders and The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbot. Funding for these organization should be ended, and the sooner the better.

 Class Dismissed, Where Left Liberals Missed the Boat

For socialists of any stripe, social class has been the foundation for understanding capitalism. The capitalist class makes its profits by exploiting the working-class. As Marx points out, workers produce all the wealth, but they are given only about 40% in the form of wages (the first four hours of their labor) which allows them to support themselves. But the worker works another 6 hours. Who gets the value from that? The employer. The employer uses the rest of the surplus value produced by the worker to pay the middle-class managers, pay landlords for the use of plant and set aside funds to pay the state in taxes. They claim the remainder of the surplus as profit.  Middle-class people have stood structurally between the working-class and the capitalists, giving orders to workers, taking orders from capitalists. There are other social classes as I’ve discussed earlier but the major dynamic is between the capitalist and the worker.

Middle-class people, like most other classes, do not talk about this because class is about political and economic power between groups. It is uncomfortable and middle-class people among others have been afraid to discuss this. Why? Because they feel guilty, that maybe it is their fault they have a better life? Maybe they owe the workers something? Middle-class people need to get over this, because the fact is, you are sliding south, in the same direction as the working-class. In fact, you now have more in common with working-class people than upper middle-class people.

Race relations: Social Movements vs Individualist Identity Politics

Strange as it may seem, middle-class people have been more comfortable talking about race than class. After all, many middle-class people prided themselves as left liberals by supporting the civil rights movement. This was a social movement in which racial minorities joined together to fix objective conditions such as higher pay, better housing, legal rights. I suspect most of you did not know that Martin Luther King, a paradigm of middle-class respectability, was a socialist.

However, since the mid 1970s, but especially from the 1990s on, race relations have turned from a social movement into something different. Identity politics is a psychological spin-off from the civil rights movement with a very different agenda. In the hands of upper middle-class, neoliberals of all colors, including lawyers and university professors, identity politics has been used to win political seats in the Democratic Party. They do this by focusing on the rights of individuals to recognition, the right to be called a certain pronoun and rights to declare being offended by this or that innuendo. Identity politics has crippled the ability of working-class and middle-class people to form alliances by dragging meetings through competitive battles as to who is more offended than whom. When an organization as corrupt as the ruling class Democratic Party starts babbling about “white privilege” it’s time to get off that sinking ship. The mess that race relations are today is made worse by the upper middle-class neoliberals seizing on identity politics. Here is yet another reason to dump the Democratic Party and any alliance with the upper middle-class. A terrific short book that lays out the limitations of identity politics is Mistaken Identity by Asad Haider.

Democracy is economic and participatory more than political representation

Middle-class left liberals in the 20th century have thought of democracy as synonymous with voting. Democracy was having the right to vote for one of the two major parties. For socialists this is a sham. Both parties are ruling class parties and workers have nothing to say about what candidates are running and what they will do after the election. For us, democracy is economic. We think it is ridiculous to imagine we live in a democracy when we go to work to be bossed around from beginning to the end of the day by the employer. For us, democracy begins and ends in the workplace. Workers should have a say in what is produced, how it is produced, where it is distributed, how long we work and how we are compensated. In addition, within socialism democracy is also present by its involvement in city planning. This includes participatory planning councils at the local level, participating in setting agendas and deciding how city revenue should be spent. Under socialism, political parties will still have their place, but they will operate under direct democracy, not representational democracy.

The future of capitalism

All socialists are against capitalism except for some right-wing social democrats who believe in a mixed economy. For us, capitalism is a system plagued by crises and inherently unstable. Various Marxist crisis theorists have developed theories about how and why capitalism will end. Even non-Marxist political economists have theories about how it will end. Please see my article “Name Me One Capitalist Country That Works: A Thirty Year Reckoning” for more sources. Where I think we can agree is that capitalist profits should not be made on wars, or on fictitious capital. It is the neoliberals, not you, who have made profits on fictitious capital and wars over the past 50 years. Rather, capitalist profits should be made on the production of goods and services. We still think that eventually capitalism will fail even if it only produces goods and services, but we can’t convince you of that until we are further down the road.

What is the place of competitive markets? Some of you might feel that having markets is a better mechanism for quickly finding out what people need and how those goods and services have been delivered. As Michael Parenti writes in Black Shirts and Reds, the central planning mechanisms in the USSR were no bargain. At the same time, we know that during the Spanish Revolution, the workers and peasants self-organized in industry and on farms for 3 years, covering millions of people and had better production records than the Spanish government had before the revolution. So, our choices are more than choosing between the state and the market. In the new society perhaps there might be a minor place for markets instead of state planning or worker planning, but the markets should never be among the major players. We can do better than markets.

• Published first in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Why Middle-Class Left Liberals Should Dump the Democratic Party: Finding Common Ground with Socialists first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What is Representation?

Recent years have seen inspiring uprisings and mass mobilizations against racial, ethnic and gender-based oppression. One of the responses to this surge in activity has been a rise in a right-wing populism that has sought to defend established hierarchies of power through appeals to violence, often couched in the language of “law and order.” But we have also seen forward-looking elements of the ruling class respond to these movements with calls for more diverse representation within the existing status quo. While this seems like a reasonable and positive development for many people, it is important to understand the motives of those pursuing these strategies, and the limits and risks that they ultimately pose. In this video, we take a look at the concept and history of representation, and the role that it has played in (re)producing the world we live in today.

The post What is Representation? first appeared on Dissident Voice.