Tag Archives: Neoliberalism

Canada’s Devolution: From Peace Seeker to War Crimes

By Robert Snefjella
June 2, 2015
Global Research

 

War-and-Peace-by-Anthony-Freda__700“For in lapse of time men are constrained to see things they would not willingly suffer.” [1]

Canada’s recent international role includes being a serial participant in US-NATO wars of aggression – which at Nuremberg was deemed the greatest crime. Organized mass murder of people and the destruction of their infrastructure, not as an act of self defense; blowing babies to bloody bits, reducing homes to rubble, this is the stuff of ‘wars of aggression’.

The typical contemporary template for perpetrating wars of aggression is to demonize the victims, and to justify, even sanctify, the perpetrator. And it is not unknown in the modern era, progress being what it is, to explain to the victims that it was a beneficent act to conquer them, occupy them, plunder them, murder them, wound them, destroy their country.

The aggressor usually has a large military advantage, and in the modern context, destroying the designated victim may feature banal distant mechanical and electronic acts, push a button, turn a dial, the perpetrators remote and safe.

That many Canadians do not understand, or are in denial about, Canada’s crimes is testimony to the effectiveness of modern mass media’s ‘public perception management’. Pretty hard for busy people, including many people who work in the media and academia and the military and in politics, to find their way to the real, subjected as they are to a dizzying disinformation maze: a litany of lies and distortions and distractions called ‘news’, either presented with accomplished feigned sincerity, or in ignorance with real sincerity. It all gets very confusing, even for the most gifted manipulators. Rigorous censorship is practiced under the rubric of a free press, and endless trivia contaminate just about everyone. [2]

A diabolical aspect of the formal disinformation system is the provision of a wide range of pretend-to-be-honest ‘alternative’ media outlets. [3]

Then add to the disinformation system the seemingly systematic corruption of high profile regulatory agencies [4] and corporate- linked science, and a vast number of NGO’s that pretend to be serving some ideal, and the entire global public is enveloped in a rather overwhelmingly bewildering complex of disinformation. Our collective capacity for coherent policy, for intelligent cohesive societal decision, is just about nil. And this all comes just at the moment in human history – the nuclear age – when the best we have to offer would be our only chance of success.

But back to our story: On the other hand, some do understand that Canada has gone criminally militaristic. And most of those remain silent. Some are governed by fear, some don’t care, some embrace evil; some who do speak concoct bizarre justifications.

But Canada cannot escape ‘karmic justice’ for its international crimes. Shameful militarism elsewhere has inevitable insidious impact at home: You can’t endorse or commit mass murder of innocents based on lies without being a monster, or becoming one.

And there are other consequences: Fully forthright and knowledgeable discourse pertaining to international and national issues is now just about absent from Canadian mass media or politics: commentary offered either wallows in ignorance or is mere pretense, disingenuous theater. Real unfettered discourse is the forbidden; critical truths are silenced, lies and self-censorship are conjoined perniciously and normalized; integrity is marginalized. This is a recipe for the triumph of the worst elements, the empowerment of social pathology, ensuring societal dysfunction leading to catastrophe.

But this is not the way it had to go, for Canada.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a different outcome had seemed quite possible: Canada previously had earned some honour as occasional peacemaker on a planet plagued by conflict; in international affairs, Canada was perceived as capable of periodic common sense and decency and fairmindedness, and sometimes, on a really good day, even verging on virtuous.

Within Canada, some decades ago, ‘The Just Society’ was proffered , without irony, as an honourable national ambition. The future seemed to offer unprecedented beneficial opportunity at home, and prospect was that Canada would be able to provide a significant helping hand abroad. : after all, was there not modernity’s burgeoning repertoire of amazing new technology which could be allied to Canada’s wealth of natural resources, and its wealth of human decency, intelligence and creativity, to build a country of great accomplishment, and help to build a better world?

Consistent with such musing, not long ago, a pleasing self-identity – seriously fanciful, yes, but not entirely so – could be held by many Canadians: it went something like this: Canada was a special, safe, bountiful democracy endowed with a peace-loving, respectable conglomeration of peoples; and furthermore, Canada was a land of boundless opportunity, proceeding relentlessly from good to better. And many Canadians took satisfaction from the fact that Canada displayed – nothing extreme or eccentric mind you – something of an independent streak.

One important example of this independent streak was the establishment of the Bank of Canada in 1938 as a public institution – a national bank as public utility. The Bank of Canada was mandated to provide large amounts of interest free funds to Canadian governments, to be used for worthy public projects and infrastructure. This was done with great success until 1974. [5] [6] There is now, through a court case, an attempt being made to restore that previous beneficent function. The government of Canada is opposing it, and the media is censoring news of it. [7]

Another example of Canada’s independent streak is the establishment half a century ago of a universal health care system, which warts and all has been a tremendous success, and much different than the American for profit health services approach.

But back to the less and less pleasant story: An independent streak notwithstanding, there are the insistent facts and funnels of history and circumstance: For example, Canada had centuries ago been conquered by Britain, and somehow the head of the ‘royal’ aberration-prone bloodline of England retains sovereign powers of sorts, over Canadians. A pretend-democracy has been the result. [8] New citizens and those who work for governments in Canada are asked to swear allegiance to the British Monarch, not to be mistaken for the dwindling lovely orange butterfly that in great numbers graced Canada long before the British got here.

Another pertinent Canadian ‘fact of life’: Canada stretches across an entire continent right beside the United States, and is continually inundated by its ‘cultural’ emissions.

But for all that, there really was, for much of its history, an independent streak, and many Canadians, until recently, could take some satisfaction in the work in progress: a home-brewed , distinctive, modestly progressive, more or less pragmatic, socio-political experiment with great potential. Both in the eyes of Canadians and much of the planet. So it was that Canadians could, again until recently, travel the world with the Canadian flag pinned on, and expect to receive signs of approval. Americans caught on and it was not unknown for desperate reviled Americans to attempt to unsully themselves in foreign lands with a conspicuous maple leaf.

Sometimes, when occasion seemed to require it, – especially if the British were in a tough spot – Canada would majorly go to war, with reluctant French Canadian participation.

But Canada had over the generations displayed at least a somewhat judicious approach when it came to participating in wars.

Canada for example refused to get involved in Britain’s Suez conflict in the 1950s. Former Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson, Nobel Peace Prize winner at a time when that prize had less putrid connotation, as in say Kissinger and Obama, was famously verbally and physically abused by US President Lyndon Johnson for mildly chiding US policy in Indochina. Canadians made money from the war, but did not directly participate in the American carnage upon and mass murder of the Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, during the so-called War in Vietnam. [9]

Prime Minister Jean Chretien signaled a residual Canadian reluctance to go to war by refusing to involve Canada militarily in the 2003 version of American (justified by lies) atrocities against Iraq. [10]

But tragically, as the twentieth century neared its end, and a new century began, Canada did not have what it takes to resist a deepening involvement on the hell-bent slippery slope of the geo-political agendas and machinations of those who control the United States.

And so it was that Canada did not remain marginally independent, and marginally judicious, and marginally good and a bit of an honest broker, and stay out of direct participation in clearly illegal and immoral wars. The NATO war of aggression, facilitated and justified by lies, [11] on Yugoslavia in 1999, included Canada’s direct participation. In 2001, based on the false flag lie of 9/11 2001, [12] Canada signed on to the falsehood-enabled ‘War on Terror’ aka Wars of Terror, and went to war in Afghanistan. [13]

Canada in 2004 took sordid part in the overthrow of the government of Haiti. And in 2011, Canada within NATO participated in mass murder and the destruction of the most successful country in Africa, Libya, again on the basis of brazen lies.[14]

The Canadian military, camouflaged by lies, has recently been killing people in the middle East, in a veiled attack on Syria under the guise of attacking the Western Powers-That-Be-concocted pathology that is ISIS. [15]

And now, Canadian people and weapons and lies are employed to support the war mongering leadership of Ukraine, a demented offspring of an American-engineered coup over the Ukrainian democracy in 2014. [16] And this offspring, true to its Nazi and fascism-tinged ideology and its murderous origins, launched a pitiless war of aggression on its own people. [17]

Among the reasons for Canada’s descent into international war criminality is Canadian continued participation in the so-called defense alliance NATO, long after NATO lost its nominal reason for being. NATO had long been infected by the hidden perversity of Gladio [18] before its more recent war criminality.

The process by which Canada lost its way also includes an economic ‘paradigm shift’ short decades ago. Canada’s Powers-That-Be, spouting lies, foisted upon reluctant Canadians greatly increased economic integration with the United States: So-called free trade, which was lauded by its prominent advocates as the certain route to national prosperity and jobs aplenty; not the basket case that is the current North American economy. [19]

This new policy trumped traditional wariness of, or strong repudiation of, significantly increased entanglement with the United States. Generations of Canadian politicians of all varieties had understood that the price of more formal economic union with the United States was less sovereignty and less independence.

Canada’s increased economic integration with the United States made Canada more involved with the attempt by those who dominate the US to achieve unrivaled global political, military and economic domination, a global empire: necessary to this massive criminal ambition, a hi-tech version of militarized police state/fascism has been put into place within the United States [20]; and abroad, the global domination project has made the US prolific in wars and war crimes, death squads, torture, destruction, subversion, and boundless cruelty.

Canada’s recent embrace of the demonic has culminated today in some utterly irresponsible national political and mass media behaviour: Currently Canada is simultaneously helping to raise the risk of a major war, including the risk of global nuclear war, by arming the Ukrainian crazies, while lying about Russia’s involvement, [21] and threatening Russia.

Canada’s devolution from peacekeeper to war monger happened while many Canadians dozed in the fading glow of the previously described self-congratulatory national image. But there were many signposts – some subtle, some glaring – that indicated ongoing cultural and societal deterioration [22]. But central to the deterioration was the hobbling of probing, free, full, unfettered public discourse, and the ever increasing power of dishonesty, in all its manifestations, throughout the culture.

And then there is Fukushima: Canadian politics and mass media are ignoring the ongoing global nuclear mega-catastrophe of Fukushima, ignoring the death of much of the life of the northern Pacific Ocean adjoining Canada, censoring news of it, lying about it, censoring news of greatly elevated levels of radioactivity across Canada and around the planet: Second hand tobacco smoke incurs much greater outrage. That’s about as crazy and stupid as it gets. [23]

Canadians are being kept in the dark regarding ways in which individuals and their families can at least mitigate the effects of increased exposures to radioactivity. [24] But that doesn’t address the big problem itself.

What must be done, pertaining to Fukushima, and nuclear energy and weapons, is the most widely and deeply searching honesty-anchored brain-storming effort that humanity can muster, at this very late date. And that effort must enlist and heed practical people of common sense and broad experience, for it is precisely the naivete and tunnel vision of the specialists and experts – the professionals – who got us into this, and never got us out. Experts are necessary; but very far from sufficient.

Nuclear power was born in iniquity, and began its global-reach poisoning enveloped in secrecy and lies. Nuclear power plants having proliferated, something like a Fukushima was inevitable, meaning slow motion ecocide. Thousands of nuclear weapons have long been poised to achieve a near instantaneous hell on earth. The nuclear age is madness merged with dishonesty and secrecy and a terminal technology. [25]

So is it to be with Sophocles, via Oedipus Rex: “…sorrows beyond all telling, sickness rife in our ranks, outstripping human invention of remedy, blight on barren earth, and barren agonies of birth, life after life from the wild-fire winging swiftly into the night.” [26]

Will a preponderance of people choose to sleep with eyes open or party towards the grave, or choose the fleeting comfort of make believe?

Or will a growing number begin to examine the bitter truth to be found in the mirror and in the world, and very late now do what they can to honour and protect earth’s wonders?

In any case, whatever is to be Canada’s or the planet’s fate, it will neither disturb not delight those previously vibrant, happy, bright-eyed Libyan children blown to bits by Canada in 2011; in Canada they did not even merit mention, let alone contrition, or mourning.

Notes:

  1. Solon, via Herodotus, Clio 1, 32, via Baehr, translated by Henry Carey, M.A.

  2. George Orwell aptly described the missing information as the biggest lie of all. See Operation Mockingbird regarding CIA’s long-ago-initiated attempt at controlling global communications. Senator Church’s hearings in the US in 1975 were quite revelatory. The CIA’s depredations are now conjoined to extremely concentrated ownership of mass media, with Zionism disproportionately influential, and the co-opting of much so-called alternative media. Recently, a prominent German Journalist has confessed to being a tool of CIA, along with just about all his colleagues https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adz-cLDZGBU

  3. Here the events of 9/11 were illuminating, as there was an obvious shortage of 9/11 truth telling in many prominent so-called alternative and dissident sources of news and analysis. For every forthright prominent voice on 9/11, like Paul Craig Roberts, there was a gaggle of deceivers posturing as truth-tellers.

  4. For example, a little known book by Shiv Chopra, PhD, recounts his career at Health Canada: It is titled Corrupt to the Core. Is there any prominent regulatory agency on the planet that would not qualify for the same title?

  5. Robust Canadian participation in WW2, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Trans Canada Highway were financially facilitated by the Bank of Canada’s previous role. It should be noted that the potential productive capacity of Canadians, now, compared to 1945, is immeasurably greater. Yet back then Canada could carry out visionary huge projects, while today it wallows in financial and infrastructural – and visionary – insufficiency. After 1974, when the Bank of Canada’s interest free money and credit creation function was discontinued, the country quickly accumulated huge debts, and its ability to finance public projects was severely hampered. By 1974, after its first century, when the Bank of Canada became an appendage of the global private banking cartel, Canada had accumulated about 18 billion dollars of national debt; by 1991-92, on a national debt grown to 423 billion, the interest alone was 41 billion dollars. For a revealing chart see: https://ccc4mr.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/obviously-something-went-terribly-wrong-after-1974/ Also, after 1974, in addition to increased national financial difficulty, provincial and municipal governments also were greatly disadvantaged.

  6. Pertinent words of wisdom from Mackenzie King, Canada’s 10th Prime Minister, 1938. “Once a nation parts with control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes that nation’s laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most conspicuous and sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of Parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.”

  7. In 2011 Canadians William Krehm and Ann Emmett along with the organization COMER (Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform) initiated a court case intending to restore the Bank of Canada to its previous role. Lawyer Rocco Galati represented them in court. The case’s first foray into the courts met with initial disappointment. In the words of Galati the court had argued that “the court had jurisdiction to hear the case, that my client had standing, that they had the right to bring the case forward, that there was public interest and individual interest standing.” But the claim was defeated in effect because the court felt it was outside its competence to decide. This initial court decision was described by Galati as “completely lacking in logic and in the application of the law.” But the case proceeded: In 2013 Galati appealed the case, and now in early 2015 the case found some success in Federal court, when three judges ruled that the case against the Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Finance Minister of Canada can proceed. News of the COMER lawsuit is hard to find. Galati: “I have a firm basis to believe that the Government has requested or ordered the mainstream media not to cover this case.” Galati added that the case is more important than all other cases he’s been involved in, and those had received “wall to wall” coverage by the press. He predicted the case will end in the Supreme Court.
  8. The term ‘democracy’ refers to that political system which dignifies the citizens as a whole with sovereignty, a rare achievement indeed. Monarchy is something else entirely, and previously common. At the federal level in Canada, much potential power has been concentrated in the Prime Minister, or whoever influences or controls that person. The PM is not elected directly as such, but is merely the boss of the largest political party, which may have the support of a minority of citizens.
  9. In Vietnam the Americans perfected ‘saving villages’ by obliterating everything in them, people, animals, houses, with chemical warfare thrown in for good measure; everything was saved from existing. Years later, with Canada’s support, ‘protection reaction strikes’ and ‘humanitarian interventions’ became fashionable, sometimes achieving similar results.

  10. The “weapons of mass destruction” charade famously featured Colin Powell lying to the world at the UN: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article3710.htm

    Curiously, both current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and brief Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff supported the American 2003 version of their many atrocities against Iraq.

  11. Michael Parenti’s To Kill a Nation is a succinct and powerful primer on the machinations and lies behind the deliberate destruction of Yugoslavia. For a revealing investigation of the pernicious mass media lying and censorship collusion in enabling war against Yugoslavia, see Peter Brock’s Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting (with the subtitle) Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia. Incidentally, since those who are involved in planning wars of aggression are deemed war criminals, and since the egregious dishonesty and manipulation skills of mass media are indispensable to creating public passive acceptance of or outright support for wars of aggression, justice would see media managers severely dealt with. For full fledged hypocrisy, involving Canada and the other ‘winners’ over Yugoslavia: the establishment of the International Criminal Court which put victims of aggression ont trial, and gave the United States a free pass for every international perversity. See for example John Laughland’s book Travesty,. The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice.

  12. Everything about the official narrative on 9/11 is a lie. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth offer much material on the demolition of the twin towers, and anyone in their right mind who finds out about World Trade Center Building #7′s 47 story free fall collapse later in the afternoon on September 11th, 2001, despite the 9/11 official commission’s omission of its occurrence, can hardly not raise an eyebrow…. The film ZERO is one of many exposes that offer a wake up regarding 9/11 to any remaining naive or sleepy or in denial folk. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1297858/

  13. The Canadian troops sent to Afghanistan were told their ‘mission’ was about building bridges and schools and and human rights and letting girls go to school, and besides, Osama bin Ladin was hiding in some cave there, and so on. They were not told that the attack on Afghanistan was about controlling heroin flows and its vast profits, potential oil and gas pipelines, setting up military bases, geo-poliical agendas relating to Iran, Russia and China, getting secure access to rare earth minerals, or pouring profits into the Military Industrial Complex, for starters.

  14. For heart rending and honest information about Libya and its the destruction see http://libyanwarthetruth.com/ and Joanne and James Moriarty. The UN Security Council’s lie-enabled ‘No Fly Zone’ was perversely used by NATO as a means for massive bombardment of Libya, resulting in vast but uncounted death, wounding and destruction, and many fleeing the country. Hell had been unleashed on one of the most lovely and successful and happy countries on the planet

  15. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40347.htm https://www.corbettreport.com/episode-295-who-is-really-behind-isis/http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad

  16. Czech President Milos Zeman even came out publicly saying, in a conspicuous face-slap to Obama, on 3 January 2015, that the U.S. overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 had been a couphttp://www.countercurrents.org/zuesse100515.htm

  17. The war against the former eastern Ukraine has included the use of banned by international law, phosphorus bombs and cluster bombs. These have been directed into civilian areas. www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUF-hPcu7Ks

  18. Daniele Ganser’s book NATO’s Secret Armies published 2005 gives a useful country by country overview. Blowing up school buses for political advantage was a typical part of the repertoire.

  19. Paul Craig Roberts has written repeatedly and lucidly about the egregious dishonesty of US economic stats. When all else fails, pretend: for example: http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=3YCO7U&m=3jwYbqu_u5njM89&b=Yk0Np5HMPpLE.K8X4Mr6aw

  20. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/05/30/act-now-terminate-gestapo-patriot-act-john-v-walsh/

    The US now rivals the Soviet Gulag for record numbers of prisons and prisoners, with more prisoners by far than India and China combined. Lots of money to be made, lots of slave labour, lots of innocent people behind bars. And what are we to make of 80 thousand swat team raids last year? Are Police in America Now a Military, Occupying Force? By John W. Whitehead. And, US creation of death squads is not an ad hoc venture: There is a school: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13436.htm

  21. www.uacrisis.com/ukrainian-general-no-russian-troops-are-fighting…  Ukraine’s top general Viktor Muzhenko contradicts allegations of Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.

  22. A few examples: Hunger in rich Canada? By 2008 there were guesstimated to be over 700 food banks in Canada, but in addition there were many hundreds of other hunger-relief efforts, including breakfast clubs, school meal programs, community kitchens, and emergency shelters providing food. Many people are helped privately by family members and friends. World class environmental disaster: The Alberta Tar Sands: see Andrew Nikiforuk’s Dirty Oil: Tar Sands and the Future of a Continent. Genetically mutilated foods are not labelled http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-06/meta-study-genetically-modified-food-virtually-all-independent-scientists-are-concer ; the addictive neurotoxic carcinogen aspartame is a nearly ubiquitous ingredient in food, and aluminum-bountiful geo-engineering takes place overhead without a murmur from Canadians. Echelon happened ages ago, and now: Canada’s electronic-intelligence agency intercepts citizens’ private messages without judicial warrants.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadian-intelligence-sweeps-often-intercept-private-data/article19868523/ And then there was that insane, unnecessary, portentous venture into nuclear energy.

  23.  See http://enenews.com/ for a large archive of material on Fukushima, Dana Durnford for vast photographic documentation of disastrous situation in the tidal pools and shorelines of British Columbia, as well as trenchant description oif situation at Fukushima. Jeff Rense at Rense.com has repeatedly interviewed Durnford. Also: Dana Durnford’s Post-Fukushima Odyssey: Documenting Ecocide on Canada’s West Coast. www.countercurrents.org/snefjella210415.htm
  24. Eating organic foods low on the food chain, Spirulina and Chlorella, greenhouse gardening, high quality vitamin E combined with high quality selenium, are helpful. ENE news has a forum on mitigating radiation:http://enenews.com/forum-best-practices-combating-effects-radiation
  25. Consistent with every book I have on nuclear weapons and energy, here are bits and pieces from Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior in the US, in the foreword to Atomic Harvest: Hanford and the Lethal Toll 0f America’s Nuclear Arsenal: “…pattern of deceit that infected the nuclear weapons industry.” “…astounding levels of lethal contamination.” “Nothing in our past compares to the official deceit and lying that took place to protect the nuclear industry.” “…an elite corps of public officials were so willing to violate the basic rights of their fellow human beings [on behalf of] the nuclear establishment.” “…politicians and bureaucrats ran roughshod over democracy and morality.” “…the deception that poisoned the dialogue of democracy.”
  26. Sophocles: King Oedipus, translated by E.F. Watling.

Robert Snefjella is an organic farmer living in Ontario, Canada

 

 

Karl Marx Was Right

By Chris Hedges
June 2, 2015
Truthdig, May 31, 2015

 

On Saturday at the Left Forum in New York City, Chris Hedges joined professors Richard Wolffand Gail Dines to discuss why Karl Marx is essential at a time when global capitalism is collapsing. These are the remarks Hedges made to open the discussion.

Karl Marx exposed the peculiar dynamics of capitalism, or what he called “the bourgeois mode of production.” He foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies—think neoliberalism—were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites, since “the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production” and “the ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships … the relationships which make one class the ruling one.” He saw that there would come a day when capitalism would exhaust its potential and collapse. He did not know when that day would come. Marx, as Meghnad Desai wrote, was “an astronomer of history, not an astrologer.” Marx was keenly aware of capitalism’s ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable. And as we witness the denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism, Karl Marx is vindicated as capitalism’s most prescient and important critic.

In a preface to “The Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy” Marx wrote:

No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself.

Therefore, mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since looking at the matter more closely, we always find that the task itself arises only when the material conditions necessary for its solution already exist, or are at least in the process of formation.

Socialism, in other words, would not be possible until capitalism had exhausted its potential for further development. That the end is coming is hard now to dispute, although one would be foolish to predict when. We are called to study Marx to be ready.

The final stages of capitalism, Marx wrote, would be marked by developments that are intimately familiar to most of us. Unable to expand and generate profits at past levels, the capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it. It would prey upon, in the name of austerity, the working class and the poor, driving them ever deeper into debt and poverty and diminishing the capacity of the state to serve the needs of ordinary citizens. It would, as it has, increasingly relocate jobs, including both manufacturing and professional positions, to countries with cheap pools of laborers. Industries would mechanize their workplaces. This would trigger an economic assault on not only the working class but the middle class—the bulwark of a capitalist system—that would be disguised by the imposition of massive personal debt as incomes declined or remained stagnant. Politics would in the late stages of capitalism become subordinate to economics, leading to political parties hollowed out of any real political content and abjectly subservient to the dictates and money of global capitalism.

But as Marx warned, there is a limit to an economy built on scaffolding of debt expansion. There comes a moment, Marx knew, when there would be no new markets available and no new pools of people who could take on more debt. This is what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis. Once the banks cannot conjure up new subprime borrowers, the scheme falls apart and the system crashes.

Capitalist oligarchs, meanwhile, hoard huge sums of wealth—$18 trillion stashed in overseas tax havens—exacted as tribute from those they dominate, indebt and impoverish. Capitalism would, in the end, Marx said, turn on the so-called free market, along with the values and traditions it claims to defend. It would in its final stages pillage the systems and structures that made capitalism possible. It would resort, as it caused widespread suffering, to harsher forms of repression. It would attempt in a frantic last stand to maintain its profits by looting and pillaging state institutions, contradicting its stated nature.

Marx warned that in the later stages of capitalism huge corporations would exercise a monopoly on global markets. “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe,” he wrote. “It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” These corporations, whether in the banking sector, the agricultural and food industries, the arms industries or the communications industries, would use their power, usually by seizing the mechanisms of state, to prevent anyone from challenging their monopoly. They would fix prices to maximize profit. They would, as they [have been doing], push through trade deals such as the TPP and CAFTA to further weaken the nation-state’s ability to impede exploitation by imposing environmental regulations or monitoring working conditions. And in the end these corporate monopolies would obliterate free market competition.

May 22 editorial in The New York Times gives us a window into what Marx said would characterize the late stages of capitalism:

As of this week, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are felons, having pleaded guilty on Wednesday to criminal charges of conspiring to rig the value of the world’s currencies. According to the Justice Department, the lengthy and lucrative conspiracy enabled the banks to pad their profits without regard to fairness, the law or the public good.

The Times goes on:

The banks will pay fines totaling about $9 billion, assessed by the Justice Department as well as state, federal and foreign regulators. That seems like a sweet deal for a scam that lasted for at least five years, from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2013, during which the banks’ revenue from foreign exchange was some $85 billion.

The final stages of what we call capitalism, as Marx grasped, is not capitalism at all. Corporations gobble down government expenditures, in essence taxpayer money, like pigs at a trough. The arms industry with its official $612 billion defense authorization bill—which ignores numerous other military expenditures tucked away in other budgets, raising our real expenditure on national security expenses to over $1 trillion a year—has gotten the government this year to commit to spending $348 billion over the next decade to modernize our nuclear weapons and build 12 new Ohio-class nuclear submarines, estimated at $8 billion each. Exactly how these two massive arms programs are supposed to address what we are told is the greatest threat of our time—the war on terror—is a mystery. After all, as far as I know, ISIS does not own a rowboat. We spend some $100 billion a year on intelligence—read surveillance—and 70 percent of that money goes to private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton, [which] gets 99 percent of its revenues from the U.S. government. And on top of this we are the largest exporters of arms in the world.

The fossil fuel industry swallows up $5.3 trillion a year worldwide in hidden costs to keep burning fossil fuels, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This money, the IMF noted, is in addition to the $492 billion in direct subsidies offered by governments around the world through write-offs and write-downs and land-use loopholes. In a sane world these subsidies would be invested to free us from the deadly effects of carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels, but we do not live in a sane world.

Bloomberg News in the 2013 article “Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year?” reported that economists had determined that government subsidies lower the big banks’ borrowing costs by about 0.8 percent.

“Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets,” the report said, “it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year.”

“The top five banks—JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.—account,” the report went on, “for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits. In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry—with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy—would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.”

Government expenditure accounts for 41 percent of GDP. Corporate capitalists intend to seize this money, hence the privatization of whole parts of the military, the push to privatize Social Security, the contracting of corporations to collect 70 percent of intelligence for our 16 intelligence agencies, as well as the privatization of prisons, schools and our disastrous for-profit health care service. None of these seizures of basic services make them more efficient or reduce costs. That is not the point. It is about feeding off the carcass of the state. And it ensures the disintegration of the structures that sustain capitalism itself. All this Marx got.

Marx illuminated these contradictions within capitalism. He understood that the idea of capitalism—free trade, free markets, individualism, innovation, self-development—works only in the utopian mind of a true believer such as Alan Greenspan, never in reality. The hoarding of wealth by a tiny capitalist elite, Marx foresaw, along with the exploitation of the workers, meant that the masses could no longer buy the products that propelled capitalism forward. Wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite—the world’s richest 1 percent will own more than half of the world’s wealth by next year.

The assault on the working class has been going on now for several decades. Salaries have remained stagnant or declined since the 1970s. Manufacturing has been shipped overseas, where workers in countries such as China or Bangladesh are paid as little as 22 cents an hour. The working poor, forced to compete with the labor of those who are little better than serfs in the global marketplace, proliferate across the American landscape, struggling to live at a subsistence level. Industries such as construction, which once provided well-paying unionized jobs, are the domain of nonunionized, often undocumented workers. Corporations import foreign engineers and software specialists that do professional work at one-third of the normal salary on H-1B, L-1 and other work visas. All these workers are bereft of the rights of citizens.

The capitalists respond to the collapse of their domestic economies, which they engineered, by becoming global loan sharks and speculators. They lend money at exorbitant interest rates to the working class and the poor, even if they know the money could never be repaid, and then sell these bundled debts, credit default swaps, bonds and stocks to pension funds, cities, investment firms and institutions. This late form of capitalism is built on what Marx called “fictitious capital.” And it leads, as Marx knew, to the vaporization of money.

Once subprime borrowers began to default, as these big banks and investment firms knew was inevitable, the global crash of 2008 took place. The government bailed out the banks, largely by printing money, but left the poor and the working class—not to mention students recently out of college—with crippling personal debt. Austerity became policy. The victims of financial fraud would be made to pay for that fraud. And what saved us from a full-blown depression was, in a tactic Marx would have found ironic, massive state intervention in the economy, including the nationalization of huge corporations such as AIG and General Motors.

What we saw in 2008 was the enactment of a welfare state for the rich, a kind of state socialism for the financial elites that Marx predicted. But with this comes an increased and volatile cycle of boom and bust, bringing the system closer to disintegration and collapse. We have undergone two major stock market crashes and the implosion of real estate prices in just the first decade of the 21st century.

The corporations that own the media have worked overtime to sell to a bewildered public the fiction that we are enjoying a recovery. Employment figures, through a variety of gimmicks, including erasing those who are unemployed for over a year from unemployment rolls, are a lie, as is nearly every other financial indicator pumped out for public consumption. We live, rather, in the twilight stages of global capitalism, which may be surprisingly more resilient than we expect, but which is ultimately terminal. Marx knew that once the market mechanism became the sole determining factor for the fate of the nation-state, as well as the natural world, both would be demolished. No one knows when this will happen. But that it will happen, perhaps within our lifetime, seems certain.

“The old is dying, the new struggles to be born, and in the interregnum there are many morbid symptoms,” Antonio Gramsci wrote.

What comes next is up to us.

Greece, the US and the Neo-Liberal Coup

We Are All Greeks Now

By Rob Urie
January 31, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Since the onset of economic calamity in the West beginning around 2007 ‘official’ response has been framed as modest successes with a few policy errors while the reality is of remote elites and their agents enacting punitive policies under the guise of material economic constraints. In this context the election of Alexis Tsipras and Syriza in Greece appears a radical left turn while the actual economic proposals under discussion appear to be the middle-of-the-road textbook economics that preceded the neo-liberal coup of the 1970s in the U.S. And while Mr. Tsipras has greater understanding of this economics and strategies of economic resolution than do the European and American leadership classes, the levers of resolution remain firmly with this (mis)leadership.

Put differently, the economic suffering of so many is largely gratuitous, economic predation carried out under the pretense of material constraints. As with Argentina in the early 2000s, Greece has an ‘internal’ kleptocracy with ‘external’ alliance to international bankers through the economic lever of external debt. While the U.S. leadership could have conjured the funds ‘out of thin air’ to put the unemployed in the U.S. to work and chose not to, Greece’s membership in the E.U. precludes this potential solution. As was largely the case with the mortgage relief and Federal Reserve asset buying programs in the U.S., subsequent European loans to Greece went to rebuild European bank coffers on the backs of the Greek people.

uriegreece1

Graph (1) above: as of December, 2014 over six million potential workers in the U.S., people who want to work but have given up looking because of the weak job market, are estimated to exist. The Economic Policy Institute compared baseline estimates of job market growth to actual growth and the missing six million workers are the difference. Because this method already took into account expected retirees and others likely to exit the job market the state of the economy is mainly left to explain the missing workers. As FDR showed with the New Deal work programs in the 1930s, the U.S. government can create jobs for these people if the U.S. (mis)leadership cared to. Much as with the predominant German view of Greece, the view among American elites is that the unemployed simply lack the motivation to find work. Units are missing workers. Source: EPI.

The rise of Syriza in Greece is a welcomed development if Mr. Tsipras and his colleagues understand what they are up against and act accordingly. Whether the commitment to stay with the E.U. project is sincere or tactical, the currency union precludes much constructive action other than internal reorganization of the Greek economy. Internal reorganization, reigning in the kleptocracy and making it pay its way and using the gains in public resources to fund social spending, runs head on into the policies of extraction being inflicted on Greece by the Troika. What is framed by Western liberals as bad economics, ‘austerity,’ can otherwise be seen through the experience of the last half-century of austerity policies enacted by the I.M.F. (International Monetary Fund) to assure that banks are paid no matter the social catastrophe that results.

This longer history gives context to the policies inflicted on Greece. The American ‘model’ in South and Central America was / is to install ‘pro-business’ despots, internal kleptocrats, supported by the C.I.A., to loot ‘their’ countries while keeping order for U.S. business interests. Nominally leftist neo-liberal tool Carlos Menem led Argentina in the run-up to the Argentine crisis of the early 2000s. At the IMF’s behest, Mr. Menem implemented austerity policies that led to the collapse of the Argentine economy and ultimately to the collapse of the (subsequent) Argentinian government. It wasn’t until the Argentinian people rebelled and refused I.M.F. imposed austerity that economic resolution was possible.

Likewise, the I.M.F. led much of East Asia and Russia to economic ruin in the 1990s with nominal ‘development’ policies premised in neo-liberal dogma backed by austerity policies when things inevitably went wrong. While there were no doubt true believers amongst the bankers promoting the neo-liberal program then, much as there are in the E.C.B. today, the actual policies being implemented were banker ‘workouts,’ programs of debt repayment inflicted on delinquent ‘debtors’ without regard to their public policy implications. This is to say that the economic theories claimed to support I.M.F. policies tended to be ‘theoretical,’ requiring that several centuries of imperial history be overlooked, rather than based in reasoned examination of ‘the facts.’

In Argentina in the early 2000s there was little confusion as to whose interests the I.M.F. served. The ‘public’ debt the I.M.F. was working to get repaid was formerly private debts that were socialized, bank and corporate liabilities converted to obligations of the Argentine people, not unlike the trillions in bank ‘assets’ dumped by the (George W) Bush and Obama administrations into Federal government agencies to save Wall Street in 2008. This conflation of private with public debt is a primary component of neo-liberal extraction. And the ‘privatization’ of Greek ‘assets’ now being repudiated by Syriza was used to loot Argentina by this international kleptocracy as a core I.M.F. policy. This is to suggest that the Troika’s austerity programs for Greece have little to do with theoretical economics and everything to do with Western imperial ambitions. The policies may have ‘logic’ as economic theory, but the logic emerged from several centuries of imperial practice.

Another way to see the issues is to ask where the U.S. Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, found the $4 trillion to buy financial assets through its QE (Quantitative Easing) programs? The money was conjured ‘out of thin air,’ by making digital entries against the assets being purchased. The E.C.B. similarly has fiat currency; it can conjure money at will. If an asset is needed to be booked to balance the Central Bank’s books, a nominal asset like the trillion dollar coin being proposed a while back in the U.S. would work just fine. The point is that the E.C.B. could technically, if not politically, resolve Greece’s public debt with a few keystroke entries. The debt is being used as a political and economic lever by the Troika, much as was the case in Argentina in the early 2000s and is currently the case in the U.S. The budget ‘deficit’ being used to sell austerity in the U.S. is a contrived fiction. It isn’t that the accounting isn’t ‘real,’ it is that it misrepresents for political purposes how government spending is really financed.

uriegreece2

Graph (2) above: much as imperial facts are framed by economists and political theorists as theoretical disputes, as ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ policy choices, it is put forward as ‘coincidence’ that fiscal policies that would benefit the poor and middle classes are ‘impossible’ because of budget constraints but finding $4.5 trillion for the Federal Reserve to buy assets to benefit the very rich is possible. In recent decades capital gains from rising financial asset prices courtesy of the Fed have gone almost exclusively to the very rich. The Troika now pits German taxpayers against ‘profligate’ Greeks when the battle lines are between bankers served by the E.C.B. and the people of Greece. Source: Emmanuel Saez.

The point in uniting the victims of an engineered Great Depression in Greece with the plight of Argentinians in the early 2000s to that of the growing poor underclass in the U.S. is that the problems are social— class warfare, not a function of material limitations. Each of these circumstances represents a struggle for social resources; the differences are over economic distribution, not ‘natural’ limitations. E.C.B. bankers might really believe that ‘expansionary austerity’ policies would allow the Greeks to pay un-repayable debts. But by implementing policies that have long history as imperial plunder, they have that history to answer for. The serial capitulation by the so-called European left to these neo-imperialist policies only makes sense if Party leaders see themselves on the ‘inside’ of the imperial divide. Mr. Tsipras and Syriza can either forego such illusions or they will take the Greek people down with them.

The thinly veiled racist drivel coming from the European North claiming that Greece’s problem are the product of a ‘national character’ finds its twin in American elite views of the economic problems besetting the growing poor underclass in the U.S. Mitt Romney’s ‘makers versus takers’ frame is the received wisdom in banker and corporate executive ghettoes across the U.S. An effort is being pushed to audit Greek debt to understand how, and for what purposes, it was undertaken. As social services in Greece were being cut arms from German and French arms manufacturers continued to be purchased on the Greek people’s dime. When an audit of Argentina’s debt was conducted some 70% of it was found to be fraudulent, private debt undertaken by private interests for their own benefit that was turned into public debt to rob the Argentinian people.

The economic policies forced on Greece are being imposed by degree across the West. School systems in major U.S. cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit are being systematically looted by neo-liberal ideologues and self-serving ‘managers’ for their own benefit. The idea of economic ‘efficiency’ being pushed is operational efficiency— efficiency in terms of providing the least service at the highest level of revenues. Public and private pensions are being cut under claims of material scarcity when the taxes and pay that were intended to fund them have been cut to benefit the wealthy. And the Obama administration left millions of families who were defrauded by predatory mortgage loans with debts greater than the value of their houses while the banks that made the loans were restored on the public dime.

In Greece Mr. Tsipras is so far saying the right things (top link). And what he is saying is only ‘radical’ within the frame of the hard-right turn of neo-liberalism of the last forty years. The economic policies forced on Greece are more draconian than in the U.S. and European core, but be degree, not by type. Wall Street, which includes major German and French banks, has used manufactured crises to affect ‘soft’ coups around the globe for decades. Debt is used as a weapon. The Greek people have a very difficult battle to fight. But the neo-liberal coup is international. Americans and Northern Europeans who think they are on the ‘winning’ side just haven’t had their jobs and life savings stolen yet. To one degree or another, we are all Greeks now.

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is written and awaiting publication. A sampling of Rob’s art can be found here.

 

 

 

Vowing to End ‘Neoliberal Experiment,’ Greek Left Rises as Snap Elections Called

After three failed votes within parliament, Greek public will get chance to vote for new government.

By Jon Queally
December 29, 2014
Common Dreams

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/styles/cd_large/public/headlines/tsipras.jpg

The anti-austerity Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras is ahead of the ruling New Democracy coalition in opinion polls. (Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

 

“The future has already begun.”

That’s what Alexis Tsipras, head of the leftwing Syriza Party in Greece, reportedly said on Monday after parliament failed in its third attempt to elect a new president and the scheduling of a popular general election was announced for next month.

Syriza, which is polling ahead of rival parties and boycotted the parliamentary elections in order to force a popular vote, has vowed to renegotiate regressive bailout conditions that the ruling government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras agreed to with European creditors, including the so-called “Troika”—the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission.

“With the will of our people, in a few days bailouts tied to austerity will be a thing of the past,” Tsipras said.

In an op-ed published on Sunday in the leftwing Avgi newspaper, Tsipras explained his party’s thinking in clear terms:

SYRIZA’s victory will be the start of a great national effort to save society and restore Greece – a national effort with international repercussions, since our historical responsibility is to pave the way for an alternative policy in Europe, turning a Eurozone country from a neoliberal experiment to a model of social protection and growth. […]

[W]e are coming to unite, not separate [Greece]– to build on the ruins of a looted society. That is why SYRIZA’s government will not be a single-party government, it will be the government of the people.

With rhetoric like that and Syriza’s victory in a popular election a very possible outcome, the financial markets in Europe are reportedly jittering about how an anti-austerity takeover of the Greek government will impact the Eurozone.

As Bloomberg reports:

Stocks and bonds plunged after the government defeat, recalling the height of the Greek financial crisis in 2012, with investors concerned a victory by the opposition Syriza party would jeopardize the terms of Greece’s rescue struck with the so-called troika of international creditors. Syriza, which opposes austerity measures imposed in return for outside aid, leads Samaras’s New Democracy movement in opinion polls.

“These elections will be a struggle between fear for euro exit and anger against austerity,” George Pagoulatos, professor of European politics and economy at the Athens University of Economics and Business, said by phone. “The government will be emphasizing the risks associated with Syriza’s anti-bailout stance and Syriza will try to convince voters that it can offer a viable alternative, without endangering the country’s euro membership.”

However, according to Reuters:

In a bid to reassure international partners, Tsipras has sounded a more moderate tone recently, promising to keep Greece in the euro and negotiate an end to the bailout agreement rather than scrap it unilaterally.

But he has stuck to his promise to reverse many of the tough austerity measures imposed during the crisis, reversing cuts to the minimum wage, freezing state layoffs and halting the sale of state assets.

As Channel 4‘s Paul Mason explains on his blog on Monday, “people all over Europe who’ve opposed austerity see [these developments in Greece] as a turning point” in the years-long fight against regressive cuts to public services, pensions, and the privatization of national assets across the continent.

Asking readers to understand the pervasive impact of austerity across Europe, Mason describes how the economic crisis in Greece—where youth unemployment is now 60 percent—has become emblematic for economic policies that have “destroyed the prospects for much of a generation.”

America’s Deadly Embrace

By Stephen Lendman
December 21, 2014
Global Research

 

cuba-usaForget about Greeks. Beware US normalization schemes. So-called rapprochement. Targeting unwary nations.  

Sucking them into its web. Like spiders overwhelming prey. Allegedly ending hostile relations. Imperialism 101 suggests otherwise.

US policies aren’t benign. America is a global predator. History’s worst ever. Wanting all sovereign independent states eliminated.

Replaced by stooge regimes. Ones it controls. Subservient to US interests. Their countries looted for profit. Their people exploited as serfs.

American/Russian post-Cold War rapprochement is instructive. US-instituted shock therapy wrecked the country. Irresponsibly. Willfully.  For profit. At the expense of vital people needs.

About 80% of Russian farmers went bankrupt. Around 70,000 state factories closed. An epidemic of unemployment followed.

Over half of all Russians became impoverished. A permanent underclass followed. Crime. Suicides. Mortality. Alcoholism. Drug abuse. HIV/AIDS. All soared to intolerable levels.

GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth. At the expense of millions grievously harmed.

Corruption flourished. Scandals repeated with disturbing regularity. Money-laundering became sport.

Multi-billions were stolen. Hidden in Western banks or offshore tax havens. Russia became a hollowed-out dystopian wasteland.

Post-apartheid South Africa was similar. A horrific toll accompanied a new era. Impoverishment doubled. Forcing millions to live on less than one dollar a day.

Unemployment soared to nearly 50%. Millions lost homes. Near one million lost farms. Shack dwelling grew by 50%.

HIV/AIDS infections increased dramatically. Average life expectancy fell below apartheid era levels.

Around 40% of schools have no electricity. Most with it can’t afford the cost. About 60% of South Africans have poor sanitation. Around 40% lack telephones.

Post-apartheid came at a high price. Millions of South Africans suffer horrifically. Out of sight and mind. Predatory capitalism works this way.

Obama’s Cuba gambit threatens its 11 million people. Hopefully Havana’s leadership remains wary.

Decades of revolutionary changes are on the line. Transformational differences too important to lose.

Changing Cuba from fascist dictatorship to model populism. A previous article said longstanding US policy calls for regime change.

Wanting Cuba returned to its bad old days. Social justice eliminated entirely. Corporate rapaciousness replacing it.

Colonizing the island state for profit. Destroying decades of beneficial social change. Including high-quality education and healthcare. Free to all Cubans.

Its Constitution was adopted in 1976. By national referendum. Overwhelmingly approved. Stating in Article 1:

“Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers, organized with all and for the good of all as a united and democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.”

Article 3 saying “sovereignty lies in the people, from whom originates all the power of the state. (Exercised) through assemblies of People’s Power and other state bodies…”

Article 9 guarantees “liberty (and) full dignity…(A)ssures educational, scientific, technical and cultural progress.

Guarantees everyone able to work the opportunity to do so. Assures no disabled person “left without adequate means of subsistence.”

“(N)o sick person…without medical care. (N)o child…without schooling, food and clothing. (N)o young person…without the opportunity to study.”

“(N)o one…without access to studies, culture an sports. (N)o family…without a comfortable place to live.” The Constitution contains 137 articles.

Revised in 1992. Again in 2002. According to historian Jorge Dominguez, it establishes a sovereign unicameral National Assembly. With no presidential veto.

Empowered to “instantly remove the president, all justices of the Supreme Court, and all top officials of the Office of the Public Prosecutor.”

Subordinates Cuba’s military to civilian authorities. “It creates no authoritarian enclaves or reserve domains to protect the military, privileged economic sectors, or the Castro brothers,” said Dominguez.

It facilitates political transition. National Assembly members act by simple majority. Except for constitutional amendments. Requiring a two-thirds majority.

It can “revoke all laws, decree-laws, decrees, and other regulations issued by any other public authority, including subnational assemblies,” Dominguez explained.

It’s an effective governing instrument. Cuba has no central bank. Or other independent entity authorized for economic or social decision-making.

In 2002, National Assembly members amended constitutional provisions. Guaranteeing permanent irrevocable “quality of the socialist system,” said Dominguez.

Changes sought to constrain future National Assemblies from  ”mak(ing) fundamental constitutional changes.”

Article 52 mandated the Ministry of Education’s budget to be larger than any other ministry. The 1992 Constitution doesn’t mention Fidel Castro by name.

Or afford him special rights and protections. Or grant blanket amnesties or pardons to officials guilty of crimes. Or halt prosecutions.

Cuba has no independent Supreme Court. National Assembly members elect justices. Without tenure. Those abusing their authority can be removed.

“All individual rights are subordinate to the interests of” state, said Dominguez. So are provincial and municipal governments. No “whiff” of federalism exists.

Cubans get essential social benefits. Constitutionally guaranteed. Including high-quality education and healthcare. The state commits full support.

Including for arts and sciences. Other forms of culture. Sports. Vacation opportunities. Day care centers. Full employment.

Unemployment compensation between jobs. Pensions and disability benefits.. Elder care. Organically grown non-GMO foods.

Subsidized food, housing an utilities. Market economy practices operate in tourist, international and export sectors. Separate from Cuba’s socialist economy. Substantially sustains it.

According to Dominguez, political transition in Cuba isn’t likely unless new governance continues providing constitutionally enshrined social rights.

In 2014, Cuba granted state-owned enterprises more autonomy. Freeing their managements. Vice President Marino Murillo saying:

“If we don’t transform the socialist state companies positively, we won’t be able to bring up to date the Cuban economic model.”

One change lifted limits on wages paid. State-owned companies can now use half their after-tax profit. For recapitalization and/or new investment.

Despite Cuba’s increasing private sector, state-owned enterprises remain the backbone of Cuba’s economic model.

In his 2008 inaugural address, Raul Castro said Cuba would “advance in an articulate, sound and well-thought out manner.”

Raising Cuba’s overall standard of living. Increasingly tying individual prosperity to initiative and work performance.

Farmers now work small portions of land on their own. Limited numbers of traders operate privately. Used cars are sold this way.

Access to consumer goods was expanded. Including computers. Cell phones. Home appliances. Greater private use of state land was authorized.

In 2010, new self-employment rules were established. Around 75,000 licenses were issued. Over 50% more than in 2009.

In 2011, purchase and sale of private property was authorized. Credit mechanisms for small businesses and cooperatives were established.

Instituted changes are measured. Limited. Short of Western rapaciousness. Key is keeping them this way.

Not easy with America’s dirty hands involved. Operating out of their Havana embassy. Targeting Cuba for regime change.

Perhaps by color revolution. A US speciality. Fascists replacing democrats.

Months earlier, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said Washington spent around $5 billion sabotaging Ukrainian democracy over the past 20 years.

Calling it “democracy promotion.” Establishing a fascist dictatorship. Run by neo-Nazis.

How many billions has Washington spent over the past half century trying to transform Cuba the same way?

What’s ongoing now covertly? With diplomatic relations established, Cuba will be swarming with CIA and FBI operatives. US-funded anti-democracy agencies.

Right-wing think tanks will be involved. Corporate predators intend getting their dirty hands on Cuba’s economy. Raping it for profit.

Will Raul Castro’s government stop them? Will decisive action to taken to maintain Cuba’s core economic model?

Will its officials stay true to their roots? Will they prevent Cuba from becoming a hemispheric Ukraine?

Once America’s dirty hands get involved, will they be able to stop them? Cuba did for over half a century.

Will it stay resolute ahead? Social justice depends on it. Freedom from corporate rapaciousness.

Cuba’s existence as a free sovereign state is up for grabs. What’s too precious to lose.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Chile’s Neoliberal Flip Flop

By Robert Hunziker
December 5th, 2014
Dissident Voice

 

chilean-flag-mdMilton Freidman (1912-2006) labeled it the “Miracle of Chile,” as his “Chicago Boys,” a considerable group of Chilean economists who studied at the University of Chicago, established his neoliberal principles under the tutelage of General Augusto Pinochet from 1974-90.

The infamous general overthrew Salvador Allende’s socialist Chilean government in a coup d’état in 1973 with help from classified CIA support as well as cloak-and-dagger cheerleading from distant corners of the world, Milton Friedman in Chicago and Henry Kissinger in Washington, D.C.

Thereafter, Chilean economic policy “deregulated and privatized,” including the breakdown of state-controlled pension systems, state industries, and state banks (sound familiar, Southern Europe?) And, of course, taxes were reduced. Forthwith, Chile unfettered itself from state control and turned the economy lose into the lair of “the freedom of the markets.”

Thereafter, Milton Friedman never stopped grinning, and Henry Kissinger smiled for the first time ever, he once remarked: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” 1

As for the gory details of CIA involvement in the Chilean coup d’état of 1973, Costa-Gavras’ film “Missing” (Universal Pictures, 1982) staring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek exposes the surreptitious U.S. involvement via CIA operatives, supportive of Pinochet’s cold-bloodied massacre of students and other innocent bystanders.  Not surprisingly, the film was removed from the U.S. market following a lawsuit against the director and Universal Pictures by former ambassador Nathaniel Davis for defamation of character. When Davis lost his lawsuit, the film was re-released by Universal in 2006.

The face of neoliberalism in Chile today is disheartened, reflecting deep losses for the wealthy class as the people of the country reject Milton Friedman’s neoliberal policies, including clever tax evasion techniques by the business class. Could this be the start of a worldwide movement against neoliberalism?

After all, Chile is the country that neoliberal advocates crowned their “newborn” in the battle against big government, “get government off our backs,” according to Milton Friedman (and, Reagan picked up on the adage.) But, au contraire, according to the film Missing, fascism took control over Chile. Is it possible that Friedman and Kissinger secretly cherished a fascist empire, where control would be complete, disguised as “the land of individual economic freedom?”  Whatever their motives, that’s what they got, and they never hesitated to revere Chile’s remarkable economic achievements, fascism and all, which is powerfully expressed in the film Missing, from end to end the heavy hand of fascism is ever-present.

Today is a new day as the people of Chile abandon decades of rotting neoliberal policies. They’ve had enough of Milton Freidman. The people have decided that the “state” is a beneficial partner for achievement of life’s dreams. The “state” is not the menacing force of evil preached by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

The people of Chile are embracing an anti-neoliberalistic nation/state for the first time in over four decades. Will the world follow in their footsteps similar to the world adopting the principles of the “Miracle of Chile” these past four decades?

As for the new way forward, it’s all about student debt. Yes, student debt was the catalyst behind Chile’s repudiation of neoliberalism. In 2011 students in Chile made headlines by launching nationwide strikes over high tuition costs that drove their families into debt (sound familiar?) The strike lasted for eight months.

Over time, the student marches gained recognition by other like-minded organizations like trade unions and protests of environmental degradation. According to Tasha Fairfield, an assistant professor for the London School of Economics’ Department of International Development, the strikes were pivotal: “The student movement played a critical role in creating political space,” according to Fairfield, it “dramatically changed the political context in Chile and helped to place the issues of Chile’s extreme inequalities centrally on the national agenda.” 2

Subsequently, the national election of 2013 swept the left wing into power with a huge wave of public support, gaining strong majorities in both houses of the National Congress as well as electing Michelle Bachelet president. The big leftward sweep came as over two thirds of the population grew to support student demands for free university tuition.

Ever since the 2013 election, neoliberal policies have crumbled like a decrepit equestrian statue of Pinochet, who carried the stigma of brutal criminality to, and beyond, the grave.

In stark contrast to 40 years ago, today, when students, armed with only stones clashed with police equipped with full regalia of riot gear, tear gas, and armored vehicles, the harsh police activity drew heavy international criticism. That, combined with more than two-thirds of the population in support of the student movement, led to a new politics, Nueva Mayoria (New Majority), a center-left coalition made up of Bachelet’s Socialist Party, the Christian Democratic Party, and the Party for Democracy.

Whereupon, Nueva Mayoria, turning up its nose to neoliberalism, raised corporate taxes from 20 percent to 25 percent and closed tax loopholes for companies and wealthy business owners. Those changes added $8.3 billion annually to government coffers, thus, serving as a source of funds to provide free education to all Chileans by 2020, as well as improved health care, and including a roll back of the for-profit schools that emerged under Pinochet’s dictatorship, which is another neoliberal fascination, witness the U.S. for-profit schools listed on the New York Stock Exchange…honestly, what’s with that?

In order to achieve success, the new Chilean politics astutely employed a key tactical move by applying the corporate tax hikes to only the largest corporations. As a result, nearly 95% of businesses will not be affected by higher taxation. This, in fact, served to secure a broad base of support for the new politics by having those who can afford to pay… Pay.

Along those same lines, the new government removed a tax dodge employed by large business owners that allowed them to mostly escape taxes on $270 billion of profits (similar to the U.S. 15% “carried interest” for private equity entities, e.g., Mitt Romney’s 15% tax rate).

Thus, it’s little wonder that public backlash is challenging neoliberalism, especially considering the conditions throughout the Pinochet regime, as described in the meticulously structured documentary film, The Pinochet Case, (Icarus Films, 2002), which opens with scenes of ordinary Chileans scouring the desert for the remains of family members who were tortured and killed decades previous.

Chile, “The Babe of Neoliberalism,” came to life as an experiment for the “Chicago School” of economic thought. It worked. Today neoliberal theory rules the world, laissez-faire capitalism as practiced from China to the United States, privatization, open markets, slash government, and deregulation, in short, “whatever works best for profits works best for society.”  But, does it?

Forty years of neoliberal thought and practice has changed the world’s socio-economic landscape, but it only really, truly works for the same class of people today as it did 800 years ago for the nobility of the Middle Ages.

We keep going backwards!

 

 

  1. Timothy David Clark, Dept. of Political Science, Putting the Horse Before the Cart: Neoliberalism and Post-Neoliberalism in Chile, York University, June 15, 2012). []
  2. Sebastian Rosemont, Chilean Activists Change the Rules of the Game, Foreign Policy In Focus, December 2, 2014. []

Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide, like Z magazine, European Project on Ocean Acidification, Ecosocialism Canada, Climate Himalaya, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Comite Valmy, and UK Progressive. He has been interviewed about climate change on Pacifica Radio, KPFK, FM90.7, Indymedia On Air and World View Show/UK. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com. Read other articles by Robert.

Neoliberal Violence in the Age of Orwellian Nightmares

The Struggle Against Dystopia

by HENRY A. GIROUX

November 24, 2014

 

The shadow of Orwell’s nightmarish vision of a totalitarian society with its all-embracing reach of surveillance and repression now works its way through American politics like a lethal virus. Orwell’s dystopian apparition of a totalitarian society with its all-embracing reach of surveillance and repression has come to fruition, reshaping the American body politic in the guise of a poorly orchestrated Reality TV show. As Orwell rightly predicted, one of the more significant characteristics of an authoritarian society is its willingness to distort the truth while simultaneously suppressing dissent. But Orwell was only partly right. Today, rather than just agressively instill a sense of fear, dread and isolation, contemporary totalitarian commitment also wins over large number of individuals through appeals to our most debased instincts projected on to hapless others. Our lurid fascination with others’ humiliation and pain is often disguised even to ourselves as entertainment and humor, if perhaps admittedly a little perverse. Under the new authoritarianism fear mixes with the endless production of neoliberal commonsense and a deadening coma-inducing form of celebrity culture. Huxley’s Soma now joins hands with Orwell’s surveillance state.

State terrorism works best when it masks the effects of its power while aggressively producing neoliberal commonsense through diverse cultural apparatuses in order to normalize the values and conditions that legitimate its reign of terror. For instance, Umberto Eco argues that one element of authoritarianism is the rise of an Orwellian version of newspeak, or what he labels as the language of “eternal fascism,” whose purpose is to produce  “an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax [whose consequence is] to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”   Dwight Macdonald, writing in the aftermath of World War II and the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, argues that as more and more people are excluded from the experience of political agency and exhibit “less and less control over the policies” of their governments, ethics is reduced to the status of mere platitudes and politics becomes banal.  What has become clear to many Americans is that the electoral system is bankrupt. As the political process becomes more privatized, outsourced, and overrun with money from corporations and billionaires, a wounded republic is on its death bed, gasping for life.   In addition, as the state becomes more tightly controlled, organized, and rationalized by the financial elite, politics and morality are deprived of any substance and relevance, thus making it difficult for people to either care about the obligations of critical citizenship or to participate in the broader landscape of politics and power. Far easier to wax ironic or cynical.

For Orwell, the state was organized through traditional forms of authoritarian political power. What Orwell could not have imagined was the reconfiguration of the state under a form of corporate sovereignty in which corporations, the financial elite, and the ultra-rich completely controlled the state and its modes of governance. Hyper-capitalism was no longer merely protected by the state, it has become the state. As is well known, the fossil fuel companies, megabanks, and defense industries such as Boeing, General dynamics Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin now control the major seats of political power and the commanding institutions necessary to insure that the deeply anti-democratic state rule in the interests of the few while exploiting and repressing the many. This was recently made clear by a Princeton University scientific study that analyzed policies passed by the U.S. government from 1981 to 2002 and discovered that vast majority of such policies had nothing to do with the needs and voiced interests of the American people. As the authors pointed out, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”[1] Put bluntly, the study made clear that the opinions of the public per se simply do not count. The study concluded that rather than being a democracy the United States had become an oligarchy where power is effectively wielded by “the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military.”[2]

As a result of this mode of governance, individual and social agency are in crisis and are disappearing in a society in which 99 percent of the public, especially young people and minorities of class and color are considered disposable. At a time when politics is nation-based and power is global, the rulers of the Orwellian state no longer care about the social contract and make no compromises in their ruthless pursuits of power and profits. The social contract, especially in the United States, is on life support as social provisions are cut, pensions are decimated, and the certainty of a once secure job disappears. The new free-floating global elite are unrestrained by the old rules of politics and not only refuse to make any political concessions, they also no longer believe in long-term social investments and are more than willing to condemn those populations now considered disposable to a savage form of casino capitalism.

Isolation, privatization, and the cold logic of a mad version of neoliberal rationality have created new social formations and a social order in which it becomes difficult to form communal bonds, deep connections, a sense of intimacy, and long term commitments. In the manner of Huxley’s cautionary forewarning, people now participate willingly in their own oppression. Neoliberalism has created a society of ruling brutes for whom pain and suffering are now viewed as entertainment, warfare a permanent state of existence, and militarism as the most powerful force shaping masculinity. Politics has taken an exit from ethics and thus the issue of [3]social costs is divorced from any form of intervention in the world. This is the ideological script of political zombies who, as Alain Badiou points out, now control a lifeless version of democracy. Atomization, emotional self-management, and the ideology of self-interests are the curse of both neoliberal societies and democracy itself. Terror now takes the form of the atomization of individual agency and the politics of a moral coma.[4] Poverty, joblessness, low wage work, and the threat of state sanctioned violence produce among many Americans the ongoing fear of a life of perpetual misery and an ongoing struggle simply to survive. Collective paralysis now governs American society, reinforced by a fixed hedonism. Risk taking is individualized through a shameless appeal to resilience.[5] Insecurity coupled with a climate of fear and surveillance dampens dissent and promotes a kind of ethical tranquilization fed daily by the mobilization of endless moral panics, whether they reference immigrants allegedly storming American borders or foreign terrorists blowing up shopping centers. Such conditions more often than not produce withdrawal, insecurity, paranoia, and cynicism rather than rebellion among the American populace.

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