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The Russians Are Coming … Again … And They’re Still Ten Feet Tall!

May 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

So, what do we have here? In Libya, in Syria, and elsewhere the United States has been on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. But not in Ukraine. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in Ukraine the United States is on the same side as the neo-Nazi types, who – taking time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Jews, Russians and Communists – on May 2 burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded. Try and find an American mainstream media entity that has made a serious attempt to capture the horror.

And how did this latest example of American foreign-policy exceptionalism come to be? One starting point that can be considered is what former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert Gates says in his recently published memoir: “When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, [Defense Secretary Dick Cheney] wanted to see the dismemberment not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.” That can serve as an early marker for the new cold war while the corpse of the old one was still warm. Soon thereafter, NATO began to surround Russia with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members, while yearning for perhaps the most important part needed to complete the circle – Ukraine.

In February of this year, US State Department officials, undiplomatically, joined anti-government protesters in the capital city of Kiev, handing out encouragement and food, from which emanated the infamous leaked audio tape between the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and the State Department’s Victoria Nuland, former US ambassador to NATO and former State Department spokesperson for Hillary Clinton. Their conversation dealt with who should be running the new Ukraine government after the government of Viktor Yanukovich was overthrown; their most favored for this position being one Arseniy Yatsenuk.

My dear, and recently departed, Washington friend, John Judge, liked to say that if you want to call him a “conspiracy theorist” you have to call others “coincidence theorists”. Thus it was by the most remarkable of coincidences that Arseniy Yatsenuk did indeed become the new prime minister. He could very soon be found in private meetings and public press conferences with the president of the United States and the Secretary-General of NATO, as well as meeting with the soon-to-be new owners of Ukraine, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, preparing to impose their standard financial shock therapy. The current protestors in Ukraine don’t need PHDs in economics to know what this portends. They know about the impoverishment of Greece, Spain, et al. They also despise the new regime for its overthrow of their democratically-elected government, whatever its shortcomings. But the American media obscures these motivations by almost always referring to them simply as “pro-Russian”.

An exception, albeit rather unemphasized, was the April 17 Washington Post which reported from Donetsk that many of the eastern Ukrainians whom the author interviewed said the unrest in their region was driven by fear of “economic hardship” and the IMF austerity plan that will make their lives even harder: “At a most dangerous and delicate time, just as it battles Moscow for hearts and minds across the east, the pro-Western government is set to initiate a shock therapy of economic measures to meet the demands of an emergency bailout from the International Monetary Fund.”

Arseniy Yatsenuk, it should be noted, has something called the Arseniy Yatsenuk Foundation. If you go to the foundation’s website you will see the logos of the foundation’s “partners”.  Among these partners we find NATO, the National Endowment for Democracy, the US State Department, Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs in the UK), the German Marshall Fund (a think tank founded by the German government in honor of the US Marshall Plan), as well as a couple of international banks. Is any comment needed?

Getting away with supporting al-Qaeda and Nazi types may be giving US officials the idea that they can say or do anything they want in their foreign policy. In a May 2 press conference, President Obama, referring to Ukraine and the NATO Treaty, said: “We’re united in our unwavering Article 5 commitment to the security of our NATO allies”. (Article 5 states: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them … shall be considered an attack against them all.”) Did the president forget that Ukraine is not (yet) a member of NATO? And in the same press conference, the president referred to the “duly elected government in Kyiv (Kiev)”, when in fact it had come to power via a coup and then proceeded to establish a new regime in which the vice-premier, minister of defense, minister of agriculture, and minister of environment, all belonged to far-right neo-Nazi parties.

The pure awfulness of the Ukrainian right-wingers can scarcely be exaggerated. In early March, the leader of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) called upon his comrades, the infamous Chechnyan terrorists, to carry out further terrorist actions in Russia.

There may be one important difference between the old Cold War and the new one. The American people, as well as the world, can not be as easily brainwashed as they were during the earlier period.

Over the course of a decade, in doing the research for my first books and articles on US foreign policy, one of the oddities to me of the Cold War was how often the Soviet Union seemed to know what the United States was really up to, even if the American people didn’t. Every once in a while in the 1950s to 70s a careful reader would notice a two- or three-inch story in the New York Times on the bottom of some distant inside page, reporting that Pravda or Izvestia had claimed that a recent coup or political assassination in Africa or Asia or Latin America had been the work of the CIA; theTimes might add that a US State Department official had labeled the story as “absurd”. And that was that; no further details were provided; and none were needed, for how many American readers gave it a second thought? It was just more commie propaganda. Who did they think they were fooling? This ignorance/complicity on the part of the mainstream media allowed the United States to get away with all manner of international crimes and mischief.

It was only in the 1980s when I began to do the serious research that resulted in my first book, which later became Killing Hope, that I was able to fill in the details and realize that the United States had indeed masterminded that particular coup or assassination, and many other coups and assassinations, not to mention countless bombings, chemical and biological warfare, perversion of elections, drug dealings, kidnapings, and much more that had not appeared in the American mainstream media or schoolbooks. (And a significant portion of which was apparently unknown to the Soviets as well.)

But there have been countless revelations about US crimes in the past two decades. Many Americans and much of the rest of the planet have become educated. They’re much more skeptical of American proclamations and the fawning media.

President Obama recently declared: “The strong condemnation that it’s received from around the world indicates the degree to which Russia is on the wrong side of history on this.”  Marvelous … coming from the man who partners with jihadists and Nazis and has waged war against seven nations. In the past half century is there any country whose foreign policy has received more bitter condemnation than the United States? If the United States is not on the wrong side of history, it may be only in the history books published by the United States.

Barack Obama, like virtually all Americans, likely believes that the Soviet Union, with perhaps the sole exception of the Second World War, was consistently on the wrong side of history in its foreign policy as well as at home. Yet, in a survey conducted by an independent Russian polling center this past January, and reported in the Washington Post in April, 86 percent of respondents older than 55 expressed regret for the Soviet Union’s collapse; 37 percent of those aged 25 to 39 did so. (Similar poll results have been reported regularly since the demise of the Soviet Union. This is fromUSA Today in 1999: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled, East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.”)

Or as the new Russian proverb put it: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”

A week before the above Post report in April the newspaper printed an article about happiness around the world, which contains the following charming lines: “Worldwide polls show that life seems better to older people – except in Russia.” … “Essentially, life under President Vladimir Putin is one continuous downward spiral into despair.” … “What’s going on in Russia is deep unhappiness.” … “In Russia, the only thing to look forward to is death’s sweet embrace.”

No, I don’t think it was meant to be any kind of satire. It appears to be a scientific study, complete with graphs, but it reads like something straight out of the 1950s.

The views Americans hold of themselves and other societies are not necessarily more distorted than the views found amongst people elsewhere in the world, but the Americans’ distortion can lead to much more harm. Most Americans and members of Congress have convinced themselves that the US/NATO encirclement of Russia is benign – we are, after all, the Good Guys – and they don’t understand why Russia can’t see this.

The first Cold War, from Washington’s point of view, was often designated as one of “containment”, referring to the US policy of preventing the spread of communism around the world, trying to blockthe very idea of communism or socialism. There’s still some leftover from that – see Venezuela and Cuba, for example – but the new Cold War can be seen more in terms of a military strategy. Washington thinks in terms of who could pose a barrier to the ever-expanding empire adding to its bases and other military necessities.

Whatever the rationale, it’s imperative that the United States suppress any lingering desire to bring Ukraine (and Georgia) into the NATO alliance. Nothing is more likely to bring large numbers of Russian boots onto the Ukrainian ground than the idea that Washington wants to have NATO troops right on the Russian border and in spitting distance of the country’s historic Black Sea naval base in Crimea.

The myth of Soviet expansionism

One still comes across references in the mainstream media to Russian “expansionism” and “the Soviet empire”, in addition to that old favorite “the evil empire”. These terms stem largely from erstwhile Soviet control of Eastern European states. But was the creation of these satellites following World War II an act of imperialism or expansionism? Or did the decisive impetus lie elsewhere?

Within the space of less than 25 years, Western powers had invaded Russia three times – the two world wars and the “Intervention” of 1918-20 – inflicting some 40 million casualties in the two wars alone. To carry out these invasions, the West had used Eastern Europe as a highway. Should it be any cause for wonder that after World War II the Soviets wanted to close this highway down? In almost any other context, Americans would have no problem in seeing this as an act of self defense. But in the context of the Cold War such thinking could not find a home in mainstream discourse.

The Baltic states of the Soviet Union – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – were not part of the highway and were frequently in the news because of their demands for more autonomy from Moscow, a story “natural” for the American media. These articles invariably reminded the reader that the “once independent” Baltic states were invaded in 1939 by the Soviet Union, incorporated as republics of the USSR, and had been “occupied” ever since. Another case of brutal Russian imperialism. Period. History etched in stone.

The three countries, it happens, were part of the Russian empire from 1721 up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, in the midst of World War I. When the war ended in November 1918, and the Germans had been defeated, the victorious Allied nations (US, Great Britain, France, et al.) permitted/encouraged the German forces to remain in the Baltics for a full year to crush the spread of Bolshevism there; this, with ample military assistance from the Allied nations. In each of the three republics, the Germans installed collaborators in power who declared their independence from the new Bolshevik state which, by this time, was so devastated by the World War, the revolution, and the civil war prolonged by the Allies’ intervention, that it had no choice but to accept the fait accompli. The rest of the fledgling Soviet Union had to be saved.

To at least win some propaganda points from this unfortunate state of affairs, the Soviets announced that they were relinquishing the Baltic republics “voluntarily” in line with their principles of anti-imperialism and self-determination. But is should not be surprising that the Soviets continued to regard the Baltics as a rightful part of their nation or that they waited until they were powerful enough to reclaim the territory.

Then we had Afghanistan. Surely this was an imperialist grab. But the Soviet Union had lived next door to Afghanistan for more than 60 years without gobbling it up. And when the Russians invaded in 1979, the key motivation was the United States involvement in a movement, largely Islamic, to topple the Afghan government, which was friendly to Moscow. The Soviets could not have been expected to tolerate a pro-US, anti-communist government on its border any more than the United States could have been expected to tolerate a pro-Soviet, communist government in Mexico.

Moreover, if the rebel movement took power it likely would have set up a fundamentalist Islamic government, which would have been in a position to proselytize the numerous Muslims in the Soviet border republics.

Notes

  1. See RT.com (formerly Russia Today) for many stories, images and videos
  2. Robert Gates, Duty (2014), p.97
  3. If this site has gone missing again, a saved version can be found here.
  4. Voice of Russia radio station, Moscow, April 18, 2014; also see Answer Coalition, “Who’s who in Ukraine’s new [semi-fascist] government”, March 11, 2014
  5. RT.com, news report March 5, 2014
  6. CBS News, March 3, 2014
  7. Washington Post, April 11, 2014
  8. USA Today (Virginia), Oct. 11, 1999, page 1
  9. Washington Post print edition, April 2, 2014; online here


William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire


Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

High-Frequency Insider Trading

April 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

No one has ever claimed that the financial markets are a level playing field. Equities, bonds, currencies, options and futures are not arenas that operate by equivalent standards for all parties. Great fortunes were built not by chance, but on superior information, known to the few. Professional traders are not risk gamblers, but operate on the premise of special advantage. Through advance and proprietary techniques that reduce exposure hazards and provide exclusive head start triggers, which virtually guarantee profits, the elite firms dominate Wall Street.

Business Week states in the article, Is High-Frequency Trading Insider Trading?, that

Classically defined, insider trading means having access to material, non-public information before it reaches the rest of the market; it’s like getting a heads-up about a merger before it’s announced, or maybe a phone call from a Goldman Sachs (GS) board member saying that Warren Buffett is about to invest $5 billion in the bank.”

With the introduction of super computers and Financial Algorithmic Trading, the era of generated trading strategies emerged that fill automatically, when predetermined prices are reached. Some would argue that exchanges were simply applying the latest technology to the time honored system of flipping positions.

Now we live in the High-Frequency matrix, based upon millisecond reactions, which activates on information that is not offered to everyone at the same time. Forbes explains accordingly in High Frequency Insider Trading – And It’s Completely Legal!

“According to a team of Wall Street Journal reporters from an article on June 12, the practice works to the advantage of professional traders. “Economic reports from public universities, trade groups and other nongovernmental organizations can move markets as surely as official data from the U.S. government,” according to the Journal’s team of four reporters: Brody Mullins, Michael Rothfeld, Tom McGinty, Jenny Strasburg. “But unlike government reports, where pains are taken to make certain no one gets them ahead of time, few rules control release of nongovernmental economic reports. Unknown to many investors, selling early access is routine.”

Access to this highly valuable information is the key. And such access comes at a price. Rapid traders pay information companies like Thomson Reuters thousands of dollars each month for a look at such reports, moments before they are widely disseminated. And it’s in those few key seconds, that they make their killing.”

Seemingly, this high-tech access to supercharged information is the newest version of insider information. The following assessment is also from the same Business Week account.

“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has called HFT “insider trading 2.0″ on a number of occasions. His office is looking into the relationships between traders, brokers and exchanges and asking whether it all needs to be reformed. The FBI spent the last year looking to uncover manipulative trading practices among HFT firms; the federal agency is now asking speed traders to come forward as whistleblowers.”

Chicago is not much different from their Wall Street exchange cousins. Litigation over this practice is referenced in the report, CME Sued For Giving “High-Frequency Traders Peek At Market” Since 2007.

“In a lawsuit that was just filed by lead plaintiff William Charles Braman, seeking class-action status, and filed on behalf of all users of real-time futures market data and futures contracts listed on the CBOT and CME from 2007 to now, the CME is alleged to have sold order information to high-frequency traders ahead of other market participants.

Apparently it took the general public a Michael Lewis book to reread out post from October 2012 in which we showed that an estimated over 30% of CME revenues were made from HFT – in other words from selling proprietary data in direct feeds to high-paying subscribers, that hits collocated servers ahead of the consolidated tape.”

Well, what the layman would see as obvious, influential security lawyers see as neat ambiguity. The Forbes story continues.

“But it is legal, and so is trading on the advance peeks,” the Journal reported. “Even as securities rules bar companies from selective data disclosure, and as authorities vigorously pursue insider trading in all its forms, no law prevents investors from trading on nonpublic information they have legally purchased from other private entities. Trading would be illegal only if the information was passed through a breach of trust, said securities lawyers.”

It should be clear that the financial system is designed to accommodate creative and innovative methods of price manipulation. The defenders of “Crony Capitalism” see such stratagems as a 21th century sophisticated version of robber baron corporatism, in the fine tradition of Jay Gould and James Fisk. Clipping an ensured few cents on billions of transactions is surely a slick system.

Fabricating automatic returns is bad enough, but what is the public risk of producing a real panic when High-Frequency momentum turns into a full propelled blow off?

When a robot computer generates buy or sell orders, the difference between winning and losing is based upon the speed of the information used to place and execute orders. If your algobots taps into info, not available to the entire market, the game is rigged.

Matthew O’Brien in Everything You Need to Know About High-Frequency Trading, makes a valid point.

“Every HFT strategy depends on not only being faster than ordinary investors, but being faster than each other too. Anytime somebody comes up with a new way to cut a few microseconds—that is, a millionth of a second—off of trading time, they have to spend whatever it takes to do it. Otherwise, they’ll lose out to their competitors who do.”

Imagine this disconnect with real economic reality that place trades, with little concern if it is a long or short. Only the speed matters. The conclusion from the Negotium essay Financial Algorithmic Trading, holds true. “Banning the interconnect of proprietary programs that amalgamate directly into the systems on the floor of the exchanges is the only way to prevent the integration of systemic collusion among the 1 and 0 computer programs.”


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

IMF and EU Capture of Ukraine

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It should be obvious that the recent putsch and regime change in the Ukraine inspired and backed by the U.S. shadow government, benefits the international banksters. For the average EU resident, only further economic displacement and diminished prospects can be expected from any inclusion of Ukraine into the EU dictatorial structure. Not so, for the corporatists who expects expanded opportunities as Consortium News analyzes agricultural and energy companies recent involvement within the Ukraine.While corporatists want to extend their monopolies, the appeal of joining the EU with privileges of travel, relocation and better employment, has a very high price tag. So what is really behind the cover that the Brussels technocrats like to provide for the heavy hand treatment, which the banksters always demand? Look to the methods of the IMF for part of the answer.

Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, in the detailed essay Regime Change in Ukraine and the IMF’s Bitter “Economic Medicine”, gives a comprehensive account of the handpicked players that are eager to do the bidding of the IMF.

“Shortly after his instatement, the interim (puppet) prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk casually dismissed the need to negotiate with the IMF. Prior to the conduct of negotiations pertaining to a draft agreement, Yatsenyuk had already called for an unconditional acceptance of the IMF package: “We have no other choice but to accept the IMF offer”.

He explains the methods of the standard game plan that the IMF uses to impoverish the peasants and steal assets and resources.

“While the privatization program ensures the transfer of State assets into the hands of foreign investors, the IMF program also includes provisions geared towards the destabilization of the country’s privately owned business conglomerates. A concurrent “break up” plan entitled “spin-off” as well as a “bankruptcy program” are often implemented with a view to triggering the liquidation, closing down or restructuring of a large number of nationally owned private and public enterprises.”

In addition, the 21th Century Newswire reports that the US Quietly Snatches the Ukraine’s Gold Reserves and corroborated by the same Prof Chossudovsky, it becomes clear that economic conquest is a prime component behind the staged coup.

“According to reports out of Kiev, the US has quietly transfers 33 tons of Ukrainian gold out of the country and back to vaults in the US. Presumably, this sovereign wealth transfer would be counted as partial “collateral” for a fresh round of IMF, US FED, and ECB paper debt that is currently being organized for dumping into the Ukraine’s economic black hole.”

“Later a returned call from a senior official of the former Ministry of Revenue reported that tonight, on the orders of one of the new leaders of Ukraine, the United States had taken custody of all the gold reserves in Ukraine.”

Finally, economist Michael Hudson in Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?,

“The objective of IMF loans is to deindustrialize the economy. It is to force the economy–meaning the government when you say the economy–the government has to pay the IMF loan by privatizing whatever remains in the public domain. The Westerners want to buy the Ukrainian farmland. They want to buy the public utilities. They want to buy the roads. They want to buy the ports. And all of this is going to be sold at a very low price to the Westerners, and the price that the Westerners pay will be turned over to the Ukrainian government, that then will turn it back to the Ukraine. So whatever the West gives Ukraine will immediately be taken back.”

 

Watch the informative video, Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?, for the Real News assessment, that clarifies these developments. Now shift to the recent announcement that the EU Signs Association Agreement With Ukraine for a viewpoint reported by Radio Free Europe.

“This deal covers the most existential and most important issues, mainly security and defense cooperation,” Yatsenyukd said. “This deal will establish a joint decision-making body, which is to facilitate the process of real reforms in my country. And this deal meets the aspirations of millions of Ukrainians that want to be a part of the European Union.”

What exactly can the EU offer by way of defense cooperation? Yes, this is the same central banker stooge, who the Wall Street Journal describes as Washington’s Man Yatsenyuk Setting Ukraine Up For Ruin. Without the United States, the EU is a paper tiger. NATO is not an alliance, but a branch of outposts to deploy American troops. How does this phony agreement between the EU and Ukraine help the economic interests of either party?

Such a display of destitution only makes the illegitimate installed Ukraine government look like the vassal state that it has become. Bob Livingston over at Personal Liberty Digest has it correct, “The Ukraine situation is a bankster-orchestrated crisis with the short game more money printing and the end game global governance.”The EU governance aspect is the eventual goal, but the immediate economic dislocation that even the talk of sanctions against Russia has, with the trading partners within the EU, surely will experience real pain. These conditions create the perfect storm for the IMF banksters to apply their vile craft.

Now that the Ukraine is reduced to beggar status, the gang of approved corporatist will feast like vultures upon the remains of fire sale assets. Once again the formula imposed upon Ireland, Spain and certainly Greece, will be used to guarantee the billions in EURO credit that will flow into the secret bank accounts of the new junta.

Capturing the Ukraine is more about geopolitical asset thievery than assimilation into the European Union. However, the EU marketed, as a lawful “community of nations” is nothing more than the political front for the money counterfeiters. Fashioning economic distress is the business of the unholy alliance. NATO, the IMF and the EU serve the shyster and shylock central banking system. Ukraine is just the latest victim.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Banality of The Guardian of Judea

March 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


The once well-respected Guardian has been reduced in recent years into a lame Zionist mouthpiece – a light Jewish Chronicle for Gentiles consumption. Last week, the paper launched an attack on Martin Heidegger, the 20th century’s most influential philosopher.

“Heidegger’s ‘black notebooks’ reveal antisemitism at core of his philosophy” the paper’s headline read.  But what does that mean? Was Heidegger really a Jew hater? Did he oppose people for being ethnically or ‘racially’ Jewish or was he, instead, critical of Jewish politics, culture, ideology and spirit?

According to the ‘progressive’ British Guardian, the newly published Black Notebooks reveals that Heidegger saw ‘world Judaism’ as the driver of “dehumanising modernity”.

Needless to mention that we didn’t need a ‘new publication’ to assert that this was Heidegger’s view of Jewish culture and politics. The German thinker, like many of his contemporaries, saw “Jerusalem” as a suppressive and corrupted spiritual, cultural and intellectual influence as opposed to “Athens”, which portrayed in his eyes, the birth of humanism, universalism, aesthetics, ethics and pluralism.

Let’s examine what makes a prominent thinker into an Anti Semite in the eyes of The Guardian. “While distancing himself from the racial theories pursued by Nazi intellectuals, Heidegger argues that Weltjudentum (“world Judaism”) is one of the main drivers of western modernity, which he viewed critically.”

But aren’t we entitled to criticize religion, culture or Ideology?  Aren’t we allowed to disapprove of modernity or technology and to try to identify its cultural and ideological roots? For some reason, I can’t recall The Guardian taking Max Weber to task for suggesting that Protestant ethics was the driving force behind Capitalism. Embarrassingly enough, the same Guardian that clumsily and shamelessly smears the greatest continental thinker, provides a platform to a long list of Neocons, pro-war advocates such as Nick Cohen who constantly and relentlessly criticize the so-called  ‘Islamo-Fascists’ – a code name for Islamic political culture. I guess that for The Guardian of Judea, it is only Jewish culture, religion and ideology that must remain beyond criticism.

“World Judaism”, Heidegger writes in the notebooks, “is ungraspable everywhere and doesn’t need to get involved in military action while continuing to unfurl its influence, whereas we are left to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people”.  But is the above observation anti Semitic? Can an honest observation be anti Semitic, or shall we say a form of ‘hatred’, or should it be more appropriately tagged as an uncomfortable truth?

Heidegger was a German patriot. As such he knew very well that it was Zionist leadership and German Jewish bankers in America that facilitated the entry of the USA into the first world war (in return in part for the 1917’s Belfour Declaration that promised a national home for Jews in Palestine). In that regard, Heidegger, like his contemporaries, had good reason to believe that Germany was betrayed by its Jewish elite.

When Heidegger published his monumental Being And Time (1927), certainly the 20th century’s most important philosophical text, the Frankfurt School, dominated by Jewish academics, had already been in operation for more than four years, gaining ground in its attempt to subvert German culture in the name of communism. As a German nationalist, Heidegger had more than just one reason to oppose Jewish culture, politics and ideology.

Heidegger was a philosopher as opposed to a politician or an ‘activist’. His understanding of the world was driven by the search for an essential and categorical comprehension. For Heidegger it wasn’t the ‘Jew’ nor was it ethnicity that posed danger, it was an ideology and culture that was set to undermine his Athenian West and its value system as he saw it. Such an approach has nothing to do with racial hatred.

Let’s examine Heidegger’s above statement regarding ‘world Judaism’, its ‘ungraspable’ impact and its unwillingness to ‘sacrifice.’ Heidegger basically suggests that the Jewish elite is launching wars by proxy. At first, this may sound like a vile criticism of Jewish culture and power within politics. But a deeper look into this statement reveals that Heidegger was highly observant. Let’s face it, Heidegger certainly didn’t know about the cabal of Zionist neocons who pushed Britain and the USA into an illegal war in Iraq five decades after his death. Heidegger, most definitely didn’t know about the Jewish Lobby Groups: AIPAC, LFI, CFI and the CRIF. He certainly didn’t know of Bernard Henri Levy or Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen, who have been advocating Zionist immoral interventionist campaigns for years. Furthermore, as Heidegger predicted, not many young Jews followed the Zionised Neocon militant enthusiasm and rushed to join the US Army Special Forces or The Royal Marines. Heidegger somehow foresaw that Jews wouldn’t be overrepresented in the list of dead British and American soldiers that emerged out of this chain of futile conflicts.

When Heidegger writes, “we (the Germans) are left to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people,”  it is Zionist proxy wars he has in his mind – those Zionist wars that are fought by everyone except the Zionists themselves. But how could the philosopher predict the Zionist’s political apparatus so precisely? Was he a prophet?

To philosophize is to dig into the true essence. The philosopher’s quest is a search for the essential meaning, whether it is being, beauty, knowledge, science and so on.   Heidegger, the philosopher, saw in Jewish culture something most Jews either fail to see in themselves or conceal very well and for a good reason.  It is hardly surprising that The Guardian that has systematically failed to confront the Jewish Lobby and its relentless war advocacy, would denounce the great mind who accurately listed the exact conditions in which such bellicosity takes place.

Tragically, annihilating intelligencia and deep critical thought has become an obsession of the New Left. This may explain the deterioration of the progressive discourse into an intellectual desert. The Guardian, in its current form and under its current leadership, has a major role in that process.

“In another passage”, the Guardian continues, “the philosopher writes that the Jewish people, with their ‘talent for calculation’, were so vehemently opposed to the Nazi’s racial theories because ‘they themselves have lived according to the race principle for longest’”.

But is this really a lie? Not at all. The German philosopher obviously hits the nail on the head. Heidegger, who didn’t approve of the Nazi racist doctrine, properly noted that Nazi racial supremacy was, in fact, Kosher by nature.

It is hardly a secret that Jewish culture is ethno-centric and racially driven.  Israel defines itself as the  ‘Jewish State’. Far more embarrassing is the fact that Israel’s Jewish opponents also follow the same racially supremacist methodology and, in most cases, operate within ‘Jews only’ political cells (such as JVP, IJAN, Jewish Socialist Group etc.).

Heidegger, was obviously ahead of his time in observing the similarity between Jewish political exclusiveness and Nazi ideology. Does that make Heidegger an anti Semite? Quite the opposite, it affirms that the German philosopher is a timeless precious intellectual asset.  Yet, The Guardian doesn’t posses the minimal integrity to admit that Heidegger was actually spot on. Instead, the British paper is desperate to undermine the work of the great philosopher by means of inept and vague association.

By tagging Heidegger as an anti Semite The Guardian basically advises his readers not to read the greatest Germano-Grecophilosopher and certainly not to evaluate the content of his writing. This is ‘Newspeak’ as observed by Orwell, which minimizes the possible content of intellectual exchange by means of ‘correctness’.

It is no secret that the contemporary politically correct observer adheres to the rule that truth better be inoffensive. As such, he or she contributes to the suppression of the truth and the transformation of knowledge into a system of selective concealment. Interestingly, it was Heidegger who was there to turn the floodlight onto ‘concealment’ and the ‘forgetfulness of Being’, something the Guardian has made into an art from.

Heidegger, the truth teller has come to represent everything the Jerusalemite ‘Guardian of Judea’ is there to suppress. I guess that the time is ripe for The Guardian to wake up. It would do well to reinstate its position as The Guardian of the truth rather than The Guardian of Zion. We could use a quality Left paper driven by true humanist and universal concerns, instead of just another ignorant and banal Zionist mouthpiece.


Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel in 1963 and had his musical training at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem (Composition and Jazz). As a multi-instrumentalist he plays Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxes, Clarinet and Flutes. His album Exile was the BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. He has been described by John Lewis on the Guardian as the “hardest-gigging man in British jazz”. His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore political themes and the music of the Middle East.

Until 1994 he was a producer-arranger for various Israeli Dance & Rock Projects, performing in Europe and the USA playing ethnic music as well as R&R and Jazz.

Coming to the UK in 1994, Atzmon recovered an interest in playing the music of the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe that had been in the back of his mind for years. In 2000 he founded the Orient House Ensemble in London and started re-defining his own roots in the light of his emerging political awareness. Since then the Orient House Ensemble has toured all over the world. The Ensemble includes Eddie Hick on Drums, Yaron Stavi on Bass and Frank Harrison on piano & electronics.

Also, being a prolific writer, Atzmon’s essays are widely published. His novels ‘Guide to the perplexed’ and ‘My One And Only Love’ have been translated into 24 languages.

Gilad Atzmon is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Visit his web site at http://www.gilad.co.uk

Grand Puppetmaster Brzezinski Directing War Strategies From The Shadows

March 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders…This crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. This is an approach that intensifies confrontation, rather than soothing it.”

– Stephen Kinzer, “US a full partner in Ukraine debacle”, Boston Globe

“We have removed all of our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia and put them behind the Urals” and “reduced our Armed Forces by 300,000. We have taken several other steps required by the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF). But what have we seen in response? Eastern Europe is receiving new weapons, two new military bases are being set up in Romania and in Bulgaria, and there are two new missile launch areas — a radar in Czech republic and missile systems in Poland. And we are asking ourselves the question: what is going on? Russia is disarming unilaterally. But if we disarm unilaterally then we would like to see our partners be willing to do the same thing in Europe. On the contrary, Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems. And of course we cannot help but be concerned.”

– Russian President Vladimir Putin, Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 2007

The Obama administration’s rationale for supporting the fascist-led coup in Ukraine collapsed on Wednesday when a “hacked” phone call between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet revealed that the snipers who fired on protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev were not aligned with President Viktor Yanukovych, but with the protest leaders themselves. The significance of the discovery cannot be overstated since the Obama team has used the killing of protestors to justify its support for the new imposter government. Now it appears that members of the new government may be implicated in the killing of innocent civilians. This new information could force Obama to withdraw his support for the coup plotters in Kiev, which would derail the administration’s plan to remove Russia from the Crimea and expand NATO into Ukraine. Here’s a short recap of the details from an article in Russia Today:

“Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.

During the conversation, Paet stressed that “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”….

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement on its website, saying that the recording of the leaked telephone conversation between Paet and Ashton is “authentic.” (“Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers“, Russia Today)

To its credit, the UK Guardian published an article reporting the basic facts, but there’s been no coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post or any of the major TV News networks. America’s elite media are engaged in a coordinated news blackout to keep people from seeing that the Obama administration and their EU collaborators are supporting a group of far-right extremists who were directly involved in the killing of civilians in order to topple a democratically-elected government. Here’s more from the same article:

“…there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says…the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” (“Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers“, Guardian)

There won’t be an investigation because an investigation would reveal the truth, and the truth would undermine Obama’s plan to install a puppet regime in Kiev. The new government has already shown that it is more than willing to do Washington’s bidding, that is, to impose austerity measures on the working people of Ukraine, to pay off fatcat bondholders in Berlin and Brussels via more extortionist IMF loans, to extend NATO to Russia’s border in contravention of agreements made with Bush the Elder following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to pursue the crackpot dreams of global hegemony laid out in “The Grand Chessboard” by New World Order fantasist Zbigniew Brzezinski. These are the primary objectives of the present policy which could be upended by the allegations of foul play.

The smoking gun revelations of the hacked phone call came just hours before US officials indicated they were planning to increase their military footprint in Eastern Europe. According to the World Socialist Web Site:

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon will boost joint training of NATO forces in Poland and step up NATO air patrols in the Baltics…US military officials said they were deploying six F-15 fighter jets and KC-135 transport planes. ….One guided-missile frigate, the USS Taylor, is still in a Black Sea port in Turkey after patrolling the region during the Sochi Olympics…

Turkish officials confirmed that they had given a US Navy warship permission to pass through the Bosphorus straits into the Black Sea, which borders Ukraine.” (“Amid Ukraine crisis, US launches military escalation in Eastern Europe”, World Socialist Web Site)

Also Russia Today reports that: “The guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxton, is heading to the Black Sea, for what the US military said is a “routine” deployment…The ship has a crew of about 300 and is part of an aircraft carrier strike group that left the US in mid-February.” (“US navy confirms missile destroyer USS Truxton approaching the Black Sea”, RT)

“Routine deployment”? So provoking a war with Russia is “routine”? Talk about understatement.

The military escalation occurs in an atmosphere of heightened tension between the two nuclear-armed powers and will certainly add to their mutual distrust. Hagel’s deployment is consistent with a plan for antagonizing Moscow that was proposed just days earlier in the Washington Post by the Obama administration’s ideological godfather, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Here’s a bit of what Brzezinski had to say in the article titled “What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”:

“…the West should promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine as legitimate. Uncertainty regarding its legal status could tempt Putin to repeat his Crimean charade…

“…the West should convey.. that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defensive capabilities. There should be no doubt left in Putin’s mind that an attack on Ukraine would precipitate a prolonged and costly engagement, and Ukrainians should not fear that they would be left in the lurch.

Meanwhile, NATO forces, consistent with the organization’s contingency planning, should be put on alert. High readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U.S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful. If the West wants to avoid a conflict, there should be no ambiguity in the Kremlin as to what might be precipitated by further adventurist use of force in the middle of Europe.” (“What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”, Washington Post)

“Adventurist”? Dr. Strangelove is calling the Kremlin adventurist when his recommendations would put NATO, the US and Moscow on hairtrigger alert increasing the chances of an error in judgment that could lead to thermonuclear war. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?

But listen to the tone of Brzezinski’s op-ed. In just a few short paragraphs, the author–who many respect as a restrained and brilliant global strategist–refers to Putin as a thug, a Mafia gangster, Mussolini, and Hitler. I imagine if he had another paragraph to work with, he would have added Beelzebub Satan to the list.

This isn’t politics; it’s hysterics. It’s incendiary, jingoistic mumbo-jumbo intended to rouse the public and fan the flames of nationalism. It’s the same kind of self-righteous raving that precipitated the invasion of Iraq.

And what is Brzezinski saying?

Is he saying that events in the Crimea are a threat to US national security? Is he saying that the US should now feel free to apply the Monroe Doctrine everywhere across the planet, sticking our big nose wherever the president sees fit?

The trouble in the Crimea has nothing to do with the United States. We have no dog in this fight. This is about military expansion into Eurasia, this is about pipeline corridors and oil fields, this is about dismantling the Russian Federation and positioning multinational corporations and Wall Street investment banks in Asia for the new century. And, finally, this is an ego-driven crusade by an old man who wants to see his looneybin NWO global hegemony vision enacted before they cart him off on a marble slab. That’s what this is really about; the glorious new world disorder, the dystopian wetdream of thinktank patricians everywhere whose only purpose in life is to initiate wars that other-peoples-sons will have to fight.

Entering Ukraine into the corporate-western alliance is a critical part of Brzezinski’s masterplan. The basic strategy has been underway since the fall of the Berlin Wall when neoliberal carpetbaggers from the US assisted in the looting of the former Soviet state leaving Russia politically broken and economically destitute. Since then, US policy towards Russia has been overtly hostile, making every effort to encircle the oil-rich nation while positioning nuclear missile installations on its perimeter. Now Washington is using its fascist-backed coup in Ukraine to force Moscow to relinquish its grip on a region that is vital to its national security.

Here’s a brief excerpt from an interview with Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies and history emeritus at New York University on Monday on PBS Newshour. Cohen helps to clarify what is really going on viv a vis the US and Russia:

“What we’re watching today is the worst kind of history being made, the descent of a new Cold War divide between West and East in Europe, this time not in faraway Berlin, but right on Russia’s borders through Ukraine. That will be instability and the prospect of war for decades to come for our kids and our grandchildren. The official version is that Putin is to blame; he did this. But it simply isn’t true. This began 20 years ago when Clinton began the movement of NATO toward Russia, a movement that’s continued.

…the fundamental issue here is that, three or four years ago, Putin made absolutely clear he had two red lines…One was in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. (Putin would not allow NATO in Georgia) The other was in Ukraine. We crossed both. You got a war in Georgia in 2008, and you have got today in Ukraine because we, the United States and Europe, crossed Putin’s red line.” (PBS News Hour)

There’s no doubt who is to blame for the present conflict in Cohen’s mind. It’s Washington.

So, here we are, between a rock and a hard place: Putin cannot back down on an issue that’s crucial to national security, and Washington is more determined than ever to pull Ukraine into –what Henry Kissinger calls–”a cooperative international system.” (aka–global capitalist rule) That means there’s going to be a war.

On Thursday, Crimea MPs voted unanimously to hold a referendum on whether the region should become a part of Russia or not. The balloting will take place in 10 days although Obama has already said that he will not honor the results. Apparently, other countries need to get the green-light from Washington before they conduct their elections now. This is how ridiculous things have gotten.

In 2008, Brzezinski revealed the real motives behind US aggression in Central Asia in an article that appeared in the Huffington Post that dealt primarily with the dust up in Georgia. (where Putin deployed Russian troops to defend Russian speaking civilians in South Ossetia.) Here’s what Brzezinski had to say:

“The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin’s control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.

In brief, the stakes are very significant. At stake is access to oil as that resource grows ever more scarce and expensive and how a major power conducts itself in our newly interdependent world, conduct that should be based on accommodation and consensus, not on brute force.

If Georgia is subverted, not only will the West be cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. We can logically anticipate that Putin, if not resisted, will use the same tactics toward the Ukraine. Putin has already made public threats against Ukraine.” (“Brzezinski: Russia’s invasion of Georgia is Reminiscent of Stalin’s attack on Finland”; Huffington Post)

Huh? It sounds a lot like Brzezinski thinks that oil should be his. Or maybe he thinks it belongs to the western oil giants; is that it?

So we’re not dealing with national security, sovereignty or spheres of influence here. What we’re really talking about is “access to oil.” Not only that, but Brzezinski is being quite blunt in his assertion that “the West” –as he calls it–has a legitimate claim to the resources on other people’s land. Where’d he come up with that one?

In another interview on Kavkacenter.com, in 2008, Brzezinski sounded the same alarm with a slightly different twist. Here’s an excerpt from the article titled ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia”:

“Brzezinski said the United States witnessed “cases of possible threats by Russia… motivated not by some territorial disputes….but caused by intention to take control over the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline”.

“If Georgia government is destabilized, western access to Baku, Caspian Sea and further will be limited”, said Brzezinski …. he stated that Russia will try to consolidate its monopoly on these markets and will use all existing political and economic levers, including “politically motivated cessation of energy supplies” in Europe and Baltic states.

“Russia actively tends to isolate the Central Asian region from direct access to world economy, especially to energy supplies”, considers the political scientist.” (“Zbigniew Brzezinski: ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia” kavkacenter.com)

Putin is not isolating anyone and he’s certainly not taking over anyone’s damned pipeline. He’s the president of Russia. He sells oil and makes money, that’s how the system works. It’s called capitalism. But the oil is theirs. The natural gas is theirs. The pipelines are theirs. Not ours. Get over it!

Don’t kid yourself, it’s all about oil. Oil and power. The United States imperial ambitions are thoroughly marinated in oil, access to oil, and control of oil. Without oil, there’s no empire, no dollar hegemony, no overbloated, bullyboy military throwing weaker countries against the wall and extorting tribute. Oil is the coin of the realm, the path to global domination.

Putin has audacity to think that the oil beneath Russian soil belongs to Russia. Washington wants to change his mind about that. And that’s why the situation in Ukraine is so dangerous, because the voracious thirst for oil is pushing us all towards another world war.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Propaganda Rules The News

March 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Has Russia Invaded Ukraine?


Gerald Celente calls the Western media “presstitutes,” an ingenuous term that I often use. Presstitutes sell themselves to Washington for access and government sources and to keep their jobs. Ever since the corrupt Clinton regime permitted the concentration of the US media, there has been no journalistic independence in the United States except for some Internet sites.

Glenn Greenwald points out the independence that RT, a Russian media organization, permits Abby Martin who denounced Russia’s alleged invasion of Ukraine, compared to the fates of Phil Donahue (MSNBC) and Peter Arnett (NBC), both of whom were fired for expressing opposition to the Bush regime’s illegal attack on Iraq. The fact that Donahue had NBC’s highest rated program did not give him journalistic independence. Anyone who speaks the truth in the American print or TV media or on NPR is immediately fired.

Russia’s RT seems actually to believe and observe the values that Americans profess but do not honor.

I agree with Greenwald. You can read his article here:http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37842.htm Greenwald is entirely admirable. He has intelligence, integrity, and courage. He is one of the brave to whom my just published book,How America Was Lost, is dedicated. As for RT’s Abby Martin, I admire her and have been a guest on her program a number of times.

My criticism of Greenwald and Martin has nothing to do with their integrity or their character. I doubt the claims that Abby Martin grandstanded on “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” in order to boost her chances of moving into the more lucrative “mainstream media.” My point is quite different. Even Abby Martin and Greenwald, both of whom bring us much light, cannot fully escape Western propaganda.

For example, Martin’s denunciation of Russia for “invading” Ukraine is based on Western propaganda that Russia sent 16,000 troops to occupy Crimea. The fact of the matter is that those 16,000 Russian troops have been in Crimea since the 1990s. Under the Russian-Ukrainian agreement, Russia has the right to base 25,000 troops in Crimea.

Apparently, neither Abby Martin nor Glenn Greenwald, two intelligent and aware people, knew this fact. Washington’s propaganda is so pervasive that two of our best reporters were victimized by it.

As I have written several times in my columns, Washington organized the coup in Ukraine in order to promote its world hegemony by capturing Ukraine for NATO and putting US missile bases on Russia’s border in order to degrade Russia’s nuclear deterrent and force Russia to accept Washington’s hegemony.

Russia has done nothing but respond in a very low-key way to a major strategic threat orchestrated by Washington.

It is not only Martin and Greenwald who have fallen under Washington’s propaganda. They are joined by Patrick J. Buchanan. Pat’s column calling on readers to “resist the war party on Crimea” opens with Washington’s propagandistic claim: “With Vladimir Putin’s dispatch of Russian Troops into Crimea.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37847.htm
No such dispatch has occurred. Putin has been granted authority by the Russian Duma to send troops to Ukraine, but Putin has stated publicly that sending troops would be a last resort to protect Crimean Russians from invasions by the ultra-nationalist neo-nazis who stole Washington’s coup and established themselves as the power in Kiev and western Ukraine.

So, here we have three of the smartest and most independent journalists of our time, and all three are under the impression created by Western propaganda that Russia has invaded Ukraine.

It appears that the power of Washington’s propaganda is so great that not even the best and most independent journalists can escape its influence.

What chance does truth have when Abby Martin gets kudos from Glenn Greenwald for denouncing Russia for an alleged “invasion” that has not taken place, and when independent Pat Buchanan opens his column dissenting from the blame-Russia-crowd by accepting that an invasion has taken place?

The entire story that the presstitutes have told about the Ukraine is a propaganda production. The presstitutes told us that the deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, ordered snipers to shoot protesters. On the basis of these false reports, Washington’s stooges, who comprise the existing non-government in Kiev, have issued arrest orders for Yanukovych and intend for him to be tried in an international court. In an intercepted telephone call between EU foreign affairs minister Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister Urmas Paet who had just returned from Kiev, Paet reports: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” Paet goes on to report that “all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides . . . and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” Ashton, absorbed with EU plans to guide reforms in Ukraine and to prepare the way for the IMF to gain control over economic policy, was not particularly pleased to hear Paet’s report that the killings were an orchestrated provocation. You can listen to the conversation between Paet and Ashton here: http://rt.com/news/ashton-maidan-snipers-estonia-946/

What has happened in Ukraine is that Washington plotted against and overthrew an elected legitimate government and then lost control to neo-nazis who are threatening the large Russian population in southern and eastern Ukraine, provinces that formerly were part of Russia. These threatened Russians have appealed for Russia’s help, and just like the Russians in South Ossetia, they will receive Russia’s help.

The Obama regime and its presstitutes will continue to lie about everything.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Source: Paul Craig Roberts

Obama To Americans: You Don’t Deserve To Be Free

February 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

President Obama’s Kansas speech is a remarkable document. In calling for more government controls, more taxation, more collectivism, he has two paragraphs that give the show away. Take a look at them.

there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes–especially for the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.

Though not in Washington, I’m in that “certain crowd” that has been saying for decades that the market will take care of everything. It’s not really a crowd, it’s a tiny group of radicals–radicals for capitalism, in Ayn Rand’s well-turned phrase.

The only thing that the market doesn’t take care of is anti-market acts: acts that initiate physical force. That’s why we need government: to wield retaliatory force to defend individual rights.

Radicals for capitalism would, as the Declaration of Independence says, use government only “to secure these rights”–the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. (Yes, I added “property” in there–property rights are inseparable from the other three.)

That’s the political philosophy on which Obama is trying to hang the blame for the recent financial crisis and every other social ill. But ask yourself, are we few radical capitalists in charge? Have radical capitalists been in charge at any time in the last, oh, say 100 years?

I pick 100 years deliberately, because it was exactly 100 years ago that a gigantic anti-capitalist measure was put into effect: the Federal Reserve System. For 100 years, government, not the free market, has controlled money and banking. How’s that worked out? How’s the value of the dollar held up since 1913? Is it worth one-fiftieth of its value then or only one-one-hundredth? You be the judge. How did the dollar hold up over the 100 years before this government take-over of money and banking? It actually gained slightly in value.

Laissez-faire hasn’t existed since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. That was the first of a plethora of government crimes against the free market.

Radical capitalists are just beginning to have a slight effect on the Right wing. The overwhelming majority on the Right are eclectic. Which is a nice way of saying inconsistent.

The typical Republican would never, ever say “the market will take care of everything.” He’d say, “the market will take care of most things, and for the other things, we need the regulatory-welfare state.”

They are for individualism–except when they are against it. They are against free markets and individualism not only when they agree with the Left that we must have antitrust laws and the Federal Reserve, but also when they demand immigration controls, government schools, regulatory agencies, Medicare, laws prohibiting abortion, Social Security, “public works” projects, the “social safety net,” laws against insider trading, banking regulation, and the whole system of fiat money.

Obama blames economic woes, some real some manufactured (“inequality”) on a philosophy and policy that was abandoned a century ago. What doesn’t exist is what he says didn’t work.

Obama absurdly suggests that timid, half-hearted, compromisers, like George W. Bush, installed laissez-faire capitalism–on the grounds that they tinkered with one or two regulations (Glass-Steagall) and marginal tax rates–while blanking out the fact that under the Bush administration, government spending ballooned, growing much faster than under Clinton, and 50,000 new regulations were added to the Federal Register.

The philosophy of individualism and the politics of laissez-faire would mean government spending of about one-tenth its present level. It would also mean an end to all regulatory agencies: no SEC, FDA, NLRB, FAA, OSHA, EPA, FTC, ATF, CFTC, FHA, FCC–to name just some of the better known of the 430 agencies listed in the federal register.

Even you, dear reader, are probably wondering how on earth anyone could challenge things like Social Security, government schools, and the FDA. But that’s not the point. The point is: these statist, anti-capitalist programs exist and have existed for about a century. The point is: Obama is pretending that the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society were repealed, so that he can blame the financial crisis on capitalism. He’s pretending that George Bush was George Washington.

We radical capitalists say that it was the regulatory-welfare state that imploded in 2008. You may disagree, but let’s argue that out, rather than engaging in the Big Lie that what failed was laissez-faire and individualism.

The question is: in the messy mixture of government controls and remnants of capitalism, which element caused the Great Depression and the recent financial crisis?

By raising that question, we uncover the fundamental: the meaning of capitalism and the meaning of government controls. Capitalism means freedom. Government means force.

Suddenly, the whole issue comes into focus: Obama is saying that freedom leads to poverty and force leads to wealth. He’s saying: “Look, we tried leaving you free to live your own life, and that didn’t work. You have to be forced, you have to have your earnings seized by the state, you have to work under our directions–under penalty of fines or imprisonment. You don’t deserve to be free.”

As a bit of ugly irony, this is precisely what former white slave-owners said after the Civil War: “The black man can’t handle freedom; we have to force him for his own good.” The innovation of the Left is to extend that viewpoint to all races.

Putting the issue as force vs. freedom shows how the shoe is on the other foot regarding what Obama said. Let me re-write it:

there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The government will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just pile on even more regulations and raise taxes–especially on the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the losers are protected by more social programs and a higher minimum wage, if there is more Quantitative Easing by the Fed, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle up to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle up, well, that’s the price of the social safety net.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our intellectuals’ collectivism and Paul Krugman’s skepticism about freedom. That’s in Harvard’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the Soviet Union. It’s not what led to the incredible booms in India and China. And it didn’t work when Europe tried it during over the last decades. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this statist theory.

How does that sound? That’s blaming an actual, existing condition–government controls and wealth-expropriation–not a condition that ended in the late 19th century.

So which is the path to prosperity and happiness–freedom or force? Remember that force is aimed at preventing you from acting on your rational judgment.

Obama’s real antagonist is Ayn Rand, who made the case that reason is man’s basic means of survival and coercion is anti-reason. Force initiated against free, innocent men is directed at stopping them from acting on their own thinking. It makes them, under threat of fines and imprisonment, act as the government demands rather than as they think their self-interest requires. That’s the whole point of threatening force: to make people act against their own judgment.

The radical, uncompromised, laissez-faire capitalism that Obama pretends was in place in 2008 is exactly what morality demands. Because, as Ayn Rand wrote in 1961: “No man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. . . . To claim the right to initiate the use of physical force against another man–the right to compel his agreement by the threat of physical destruction–is to evict oneself automatically from the realm of rights, of morality and of the intellect.”

Obama and his fellow statists have indeed evicted themselves from that realm.

Source: forbes.com

Sleepwalking Again

February 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

On the 100th Anniversary of World War 1, the Western powers are again sleepwalking into destructive conflict. Hegemonic ambition has Washington interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, but developments seem to be moving beyond Washington’s control.

Regime change in Ukraine for a mere $5 billion dollars would be a bargain compared to the massive sums squandered in Iraq ($3,000 billion), Afghanistan ($3,000 billion), Somalia, and Libya, or the money Washington is wasting murdering people with drones in Pakistan and Yemen, or the money Washington has spent supporting al Qaeda in Syria, or the massive sums Washington has wasted surrounding Iran with 40 military bases and several fleets in the Persian Gulf in an effort to terrorize Iran into submission.

So far, in Washington’s attempt at regime change in Ukraine large numbers of Americans are not being killed and maimed. Only Ukrainians are dying, all the better for Washington as the deaths are blamed on the Ukrainian government that the US has targeted for overthrow.

The problem with Washington’s plot to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and install its minions is twofold: The chosen US puppets have lost control of the protests to armed radical elements with historical links to nazism, and Russia regards an EU/NATO takeover of Ukraine as a strategic threat to Russian independence.

Washington overlooked that the financially viable part of today’s Ukraine consists of historical Russian provinces in the east and south that the Soviet leadership merged into Ukraine in order to dilute the fascist elements in western Ukraine that fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union. It is these ultra-nationalist elements with nazi roots, not Washington’s chosen puppets, who are now in charge of the armed rebellion in Western Ukraine.

If the democratically elected Ukraine government is overthrown, the eastern and southern parts would rejoin Russia. The western part would be looted by Western bankers and corporations, and the NATO Ukraine bases would be targeted by Russian Iskander missiles.

It would be a defeat for Washington and their gullible Ukrainian dupes to see half of the country return to Russia. To save face, Washington might provoke a great power confrontation, which could be the end of all of us.

My series of articles on the situation in Ukraine resulted in a number of interviews from Canada to Russia, with more scheduled. It also produced emotional rants from people of Ukrainian descent whose delusions are impenetrable by facts. Deranged Russophobes dismissed as propaganda the easily verifiable report of Assistant Secretary of State Nuland’s public address last December, in which she boasted that Washington had spent $5 billion preparing Ukraine to be aligned with Washington’s interests. Protest sympathizers claim that the intercepted telephone call between Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine, in which the two US officials chose the government that would be installed following the coup, is a fake.

One person actually suggested that my position should be aligned with the “sincerity of the Kiev students,” not with the facts.

Some Trekkers and Trekkies were more concerned that I used an improper title for Spock than they were with the prospect of great power confrontation. The point of my article flew off into space and missed planet Earth.

Spock’s mental powers were the best weapon that Starship Enterprise had. Among my graduate school friends, Spock was known as Dr. Spock, because he was the cool, calm, and unemotional member of the crew who could diagnose the problem and save the situation.

There are no Spocks in the US or any Western government and certainly not among the Ukrainian protesters.

I have often wondered if Spock’s Vulcan ancestry was Gene Roddenberry’s way of underlining by contrast the fragility of human reason. In the context of modern military technology, is it possible for life to survive humanity’s penchant for emotion to trump reason and for self-delusion to prevail over factual reality?

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

Source: Paul Craig Roberts

Third World America’s Trade Agreements

February 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The corporate media would have us believe that the nation is in the midst of an economic recovery.

In the shadow of the approaching mid-term elections, the president cites the number of jobs created and speaks optimistically about America’s economic future. The future is indeed bright, but only if you are among the wealthiest one percent of the population.

For instance, since the 2007 recession, the greatest crisis of capitalism in 75 years, corporate profits have risen, CEO salaries and bonuses are at record levels and the stock market is soaring. By contrast, workers’ wages have stagnated for more than four decades, benefits are either few or non-existent, and workers are encumbered with debt that forces them to perform multiple jobs— if they can find them—in order to survive.

Jobs that offer long-term security and a living wage are scarce even for those with university degrees. Adjusted for inflation, today’s workers are worse off than they were in the late 1960s.

Whose economic recovery is this?

According to economic forecaster Gerald Celente, 90 percent of the jobs created in 2013 were part-time, most of them paying low wages and providing no benefits. Student loan debt exceeds $1.1 trillion, a number that surpasses the combined credit card liability of the nation.

These debts cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The big banks and corporations that finance political campaigns have no such restrictions placed upon them.

Even the unemployment figures are deceiving. According to the latest government data, unemployment is at 6.7 percent. In reality, that number is probably closer to 17 or 18 percent, according to economist Richard Wolff.

The government does not count people whose unemployment benefits have expired or those who have given up looking for work. A cashier working 10 hours a week at Food Lion is counted as fully employed.

We have students, many of them burdened with immense debt, entering a job market that makes it difficult for them to earn a decent living. This is the economic minefield that workers across America must navigate. A little truth might help them find their way and comprehend why this is happening.

One of the many reasons we face such a bleak economic future is the implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

In 1992, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA was fast-tracked through Congress by President H.W. Bush and signed into law by President Clinton. NAFTA was promoted in the commercial media as an engine for job creation in the United States, an assertion that is contradicted by the facts. According to Wolff, more than 700,000 jobs fled the country as the result of NAFTA, many of them providing middle class incomes and benefits.

Those jobs are never coming back. It is not just the number of jobs created that matter, it is the quality of those jobs that is a predictor of economic success.

Furthermore, the mass movement of U.S. corporations to Mexico wrecked the already struggling Mexican economy, particularly its sustainable, locally-based businesses. The situation initiated a mass migration of immigrant Mexican workers to the U.S. in search of better-paying jobs than were available to them in the homeland. Multinational corporations seeking a source of cheap labor and a climate of deregulation are the primary benefactors. The quantifiable effect that NAFTA has had on the U.S. workers is staggering job loss, reduced wages and increasing economic disparity.

Now, with the backing of corporate lobbyists, yet another FTA—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—is being fast-tracked through Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans are enthusiastically backing the legislation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the process: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.” TPP is currently being negotiated between nine to 12 nations.

If enacted, TPP will permit privately-owned corporations to have hegemony over the governments of sovereign nations. For instance, if the state of West Virginia were to ban the use of genetically modified soybeans, Monsanto Corporation could either overturn the decision or extort billions of dollars in remuneration from their projected loss of profits. FTAs belligerently put corporate profits before the legitimate needs of the people and the welfare of the biosphere.

The implications for students and working class people will be profoundly detrimental.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs will flee the country, wages will fall yet again, autonomy will be lost, and the job market will resemble the wreckage of the Hesperus. FTAs are the means by which the power elite are turning the U.S. into a Third World economy.


Charles Sullivan is a free-lance writer, educator, and citizen activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia.

Charles Sullivan is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

No Bid Government Contracts

February 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Corporatocracy is distinctly the dominate practice when it comes to doing business with the federal government. The once embryonic relationships between favored companies and agency bureaucrats, have germinated into distinctive hybrid organisms. Grafting into self-generating species resistant and virtually immune from pest control methods can be found in every area of government expenditures. The big daddy of cozy dealing is that preverbal military-industrial-security complex.

Who can forget all the government money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan that went to favored corporations with no bid contracts? A prime example of this practice is the notorious Cheney affiliated company, Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War.

“According to the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of corruption by defense contractors may be as high as $60 billion. Disciplined soldiers that would traditionally do many of the tasks are commissioned by private and publicly listed companies.

Even without the graft, the costs of paying for these services are higher than paying government employees or soldiers to do them because of the profit motive involved. No-bid contracting – when companies get to name their price with no competing bid – didn’t lower legitimate expenses.”

 

However, this sum is merely chump change when compared to the video report that Rumsfeld Announces $2.3 Trillion Missing from Pentagon. It is one thing to provide contracts to buddy companies, but it quite a different and an outrageous matter to abandon even the appearance of accounting audits of public funds.

Even with this scandal conveniently absent from a much needed accountability the pattern of crony capitalism continues. The left leaning, Center for Public Integrity provides the following stats in Windfalls of war: Pentagon’s no-bid contracts triple in 10 years of war.

“Noncompetitive, sole-source contracts are by no means unique to the Pentagon. Other agencies have been accused of giving short shrift to competition, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which awarded over half of its immediate post-Hurricane Katrina contracts without full competition, according to one congressional report. But based on total dollars, the Pentagon, according to publicly available data analyzed by iWatch News, lags behind all other major departments in competitive contracting. The Pentagon’s competition rate of about 61 percent places it will below other agencies. The State Department in 2010 competed almost 75 percent of its contract dollars, the Department of Homeland Security competed almost 77 percent, and the Energy Department competed 94 percent.”

The NeoCon publication Newsmax in No-Bid Contracts Mark Obama Administration, cites recent figures below, as the Obama, friendly Huffington Press admits the same in No-Bid Contracts Jump 9 Percent Under Obama.

“Federal agencies awarded $115.2 billion in no-bid contracts in fiscal 2012, an 8.9 percent increase from $105.8 billion in 2009, even as total contract spending decreased by 5 percent during the period.”

Citing the absurdity of these abuses, USDA Gives No-Bid Contract to Obama-Connected Marketing Firm, dares expose the wife’s pet projects of Il Duce Obama.

“According to (FOIA) documents, “the USDA awarded SS+K the “unauthorized commitment,” no-bid contract to produce the “Let’s Move” logo, slogan, and artwork for Michelle Obama’s campaign, as well as the creative design for the “Let’s Move” website, which right now features characters from the Muppets as well as photos of Michelle Obama dancing/exercising.”

Also, the look of arrogant favoritism is seen when a First Lady’s College Classmate Linked to No-Bid ObamaCare Contract produced the latest failure of governmental competency.

“A former Princeton classmate of First Lady Michelle Obama is a senior executive at CGI Federal, a company that received a no-bid government contract to set up the ObamaCare website, according to reports by the Daily Caller.”

Thomas Lifson notes in the essay, Unbelievable incompetence led to no-bid contract for healthcare.gov, a very important point. “Any company which screwed up a key product introduction this badly would fire its chief executive. It’s a shame the same remedy does not apply in the public sector.”The political class operates on a continuous need of acquiring an ever increasing level of cash flow. Elected politicians rely upon the donations (translate BRIBES) from their corporate or special interest patrons. Bureaucratic officials maintain and increase their power with expanding the role of their agencies that demand ever-bigger budgets.

There is absolutely no incentive to stop the no bid gravy train as the embattled citizen taxpayers are fleeced with each new overrun contract. However, in an era of permanent budget deficits, monetizing the debt is far more attractive than actually balancing expenditures with real dollar taxes.

Bipartisan acquiescence to this fascist model for pillaging the national treasury is an incontrovertible fact of this continuation of abuses. Then again, the more accurate interpretation is that the entire system is based upon a dishonest culture of perpetual graft and self-enrichment.

Reciprocal preferential treatment is at the core of business dealing with government authorities. No bid contracts are guarantee centers of the funny money circus.

In the article, How to Make Billions Off Government Contracts, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) references the following.

“Noncompetitive contracting, cost-reimbursement contracts, and time-and-materials and labor-hour (T&M/LH) contracts pose special risks of overspending.

Non-competitive contracts present a risk because there is not a direct market mechanism for setting the contract price. Cost-reimbursement contracts and T&M/LH contracts pose a risk because they provide no direct incentive to the contractor for cost control.”

These systemic problems are even more pronounced with no bid contracts. The lack of comparative pricing is understood by honorable public servants. Nonetheless, the political prostitutes that cook up the sweet heart deals and administer the payoffs are components of the wicked corporatocracy/state alliance.

Benito Mussolini explained that “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”, he is really describing the current functions of today’s establishment.

No bid contracts means a particular company is preapproved to rip off the system. With their governmental partners, the fix is set for splitting the spoils. Welcome to the state/capitalism matrix in the 21th century.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Danger of War in Asia

January 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”

The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.

The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.

While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.

Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch—the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.

The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.

Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance. The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.

Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.

In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead—a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.

Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking. The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive—thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”

By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power. Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.

Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other. The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.

While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Times editorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.

However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production—that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown. The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite. The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.

Source: wsws

How Economists And Policymakers Murdered Our Economy

January 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The economy has been debilitated by the offshoring of middle class jobs for the benefit of corporate profits and by the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing in order to support a few oversized banks that the government protects from market discipline. Not only does QE distort bond and stock markets, it threatens the value of the dollar and has resulted in manipulation of the gold price.

See http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/01/17/hows-whys-gold-price-manipulation/

When US corporations send jobs offshore, the GDP, consumer income, tax base, and careers associated with the jobs go abroad with the jobs. Corporations gain the additional profits at large costs to the economy in terms of less employment, less economic growth, reduced state, local and federal tax revenues, wider deficits, and impairments of social services.

When policymakers permitted banks to become independent of market discipline, they made the banks an unresolved burden on the economy. Authorities have provided no honest report on the condition of the banks. It remains to be seen if the Federal Reserve can create enough money to monetize enough debt to rescue the banks without collapsing the US dollar. It would have been far cheaper to let the banks fail and be reorganized.

US policymakers and their echo chamber in the economics profession have let the country down badly. They claimed that there was a “New Economy” to take the place of the “old economy” jobs that were moved offshore. As I have pointed out for a decade, US jobs statistics show no sign of the promised “New Economy.”

The same policymakers and economists who told us that “markets are self-regulating” and that the financial sector could safely be deregulated also confused jobs offshoring with free trade. Hyped “studies” were put together designed to prove that jobs offshoring was good for the US economy. It is difficult to fathom how such destructive errors could consistently be made by policymakers and economists for more than a decade. Were these mistakes or cover for a narrow and selfish agenda?

In June, 2009 happy talk appeared about “the recovery,” now 4.5 years old. As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, “the recovery” is entirely the artifact of the understated measure of inflation used to deflate nominal GDP. By under-measuring inflation, the government can show low, but positive, rates of real GDP growth. No other indicator supports the claim of economic recovery.

John Williams writes that consumer inflation, if properly measured, is running around 9%, far above the 2% figure that is the Fed’s target and more in line with what consumers are actually experiencing. We have just had a 6.5% annual increase in the cost of a postage stamp.

The Fed’s target inflation rate is said to be low, but Simon Black points out that the result of a lifetime of 2% annual inflation is the loss of 75% of the purchasing power of the currency. He uses the cost of sending a postcard to illustrate the decline in the purchasing power of median household income today compared to 1951. That year it cost one cent to send a post card. As household income was $4,237, the household could send 423,700 postcards. Today the comparable income figure is $51,017. As it costs 34 cents to send one postcard, today’s household can only afford to send 150,050 postcards. Nominal income rose 12 times, and the cost of sending a postcard rose 34 times.

Just as the American people know that there is more inflation than is reported, they know that there is no recovery. The Gallup Poll reported this month that only 28% of Americans are satisfied with the economy. http://www.gallup.com/poll/166871/americans-satisfaction-economy-sours-2001.aspx?version=print

From hard experience, Americans have also caught on that “free trade agreements” are nothing but vehicles for moving their jobs abroad. The latest effort by the corporations to loot and defraud the public is known as the “Trans-Pacific Partnership.” “Fast-tracking” the bill allowed the corporations to write the bill in secret without congressional input. Some research shows that 90% of Americans will suffer income losses under TPP, while wealth becomes even more concentrated at the top.

TPP affects every aspect of our lives from what we eat to the Internet to the environment. According to Kevin Zeese in Alternet, “the leak of the [TPP] Intellectual Property Chapter revealed that it created a path to patent everything imaginable, including plants and animals, to turn everything into a commodity for profit.”

The secretly drafted TPP also creates authority for the executive branch to change existing US law to make the laws that were not passed in secret compatible with the secretly written trade bill. Buy American requirements and any attempt to curtail jobs offshoring would become illegal “restraints on trade.”

If the House and Senate are willing to turn over their legislative function to the executive branch, they might as well abolish themselves.

The financial media has been helping the Federal Reserve and the banks to cover up festering problems with rosy hype, but realization that there are serious unresolved problems might be spreading. Last week interest rates on 30-day T-bills turned negative. That means people were paying more for a bond than it would return at maturity. Dave Kranzler sees this as a sign of rising uncertainty about banks. Reminiscent of the Cyprus banks’ limits on withdrawals, last Friday (January 24) the BBC reported that the large UK bank HSBC is preventing customers from withdrawing cash from their accounts in excess of several thousand pounds.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25861717 

If and when uncertainty spreads to the dollar, the real crisis will arrive, likely followed by high inflation, exchange controls, pension confiscations, and resurrected illegality of owning gold and silver. Capitalist greed aided and abetted by economists and policymakers will have destroyed America.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

Source: Paul Craig Roberts

At Davos, Japanese Prime Minister Inflames Tensions With China

January 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The rancour between Japan and China was on public display at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his keynote speech to the gathering of billionaires, bankers, CEOs, and political leaders on Wednesday.

After expounding on his “Abenomics” pro-market restructuring agenda, Abe spent the second half of his speech making barely-veiled jabs at China that were calculated to further inflame tensions.

Abe began by declaring that “freedom of movement” was of particular importance—a reference to the dangerous dispute that emerged last month over China’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea, including the disputed islets known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The US, followed by Japan, immediately flew war planes into the zone unannounced, challenging Chinese authority and sharply escalating tensions. As China scrambled its own fighters in response, the danger emerged of a clash precipitated by a mistake or miscalculation on either side.

Referring to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, Abe repeated his adage that disputes should be resolved through dialogue and the rule of law, not through force and coercion. In fact, his government refuses to even recognise that there is a dispute over the rocky outcrops and has stepped up military measures in the area, raising the risk of a military clash.

Again pointing to China, Abe proclaimed the need to “restrain military expansion in Asia, which could otherwise go unchecked.” He called for military budgets to be made “completely transparent”—a criticism repeatedly made by the US and its allies over China’s military spending.

While repeatedly declaring his commitment to peace, Abe last year announced the first increase in the Japanese military budget in a decade. His government continued to shift the strategic focus of the Japanese military to “island defence” and Japan’s southern island chain adjacent to the Chinese mainland.

Japan’s defence expansion has been encouraged and backed by the Obama administration, as part of its “pivot to Asia” that includes strengthening of alliances and partnerships throughout the region aimed against China.

Making clear the dangers of war were real, Abe warned his audience: “If peace and stability were shaken in Asia, the knock-on effect for the entire world would be enormous.”

Asked by the chair of the session, Abe defended his visit in December to the notorious Yasukuni war shrine—a hated symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s, where many “Class A” Japanese war criminals are buried. Abe claimed he was simply “praying for the souls of the departed,” which should be “something quite natural for a leader of any country in the world.”

While Abe did not name China in the course of his speech, the target of his remarks was unmistakable.

In another Davos session, Chinese academic Wu Xinbo responded by calling Abe a “troublemaker”, likening him to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “Political relations between our two countries will remain very cool, even frozen for the remaining years of Abe in Japan,” he warned.

In a less public forum at Davos with international journalists, Abe was more explicit. Asked by Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman if war with China was “conceivable”, the Japanese prime minister did not rule it out. Instead, he compared the current tensions between China and Japan to the rivalry between Britain and Germany in the years before the World War I, saying that it was a “similar situation”.

While various commentators have made the same comparison, such remarks carry added significance coming from Japan’s prime minister. Abe reinforced the point by declaring that China’s increase in military spending was a major source of instability in the region.

As reported in Rachman’s blog, Abe noted that, “Britain and Germany—like China and Japan—had a strong trading relationship. But in 1914, this had not prevented strategic tensions leading to the outbreak of conflict.” He warned of the danger of “some conflict or dispute arising out the blue, on an ad hoc level… or inadvertently”—a reference to the killing of the Austrian archduke in 1914 that sparked war.

Abe offered no suggestion as to how conflict could be avoided, other than a half-hearted proposal for a “military-force level communications channel” between Beijing and Tokyo. “Unfortunately we don’t have a clear and explicit roadmap,” he said, adding later than Japan would “very much like to strengthen our military relationship with the US.”

This last remark highlights the role of the Obama administration is stoking up tensions throughout the region. Its “pivot to Asia” has encouraged allies as Japan and the Philippines to take a far more aggressive stance in their maritime quarrels with China. Four years ago, the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands barely registered in international politics. Today it has become a dangerous flashpoint for war in Asia.

Abe’s speech is part of an escalating propaganda war between Japan and China. Following Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, Chinese and Japanese ambassadors have engaged in embittered exchanges in the newspapers in at least a dozen countries, including the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

In Britain, the exchange took the bizarre form of likening the other country to Lord Voldemort—the ultimate incarnation of evil the Harry Potter children’s novels—and accusing it of militarism and aggression.

Like the Abe government, the Chinese regime has seized on the dispute to whip up reactionary patriotic sentiment, seeking to divert attention from the social crisis at home and manoeuvre diplomatically abroad. Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming concluded his diatribe against Japan with an appeal for Britain and China to renew the World War II alliance—that is, against Japan—in order “to safeguard regional stability and world peace.”

The tensions between Japan and China at Davos, where business and political leaders are supposedly gathered to iron out the problems of global capitalism, underlines the bankruptcy of the social order that they all defend. Five years after the global financial crisis, the economic breakdown continues unabated, fuelling geo-political rivalries that are driving towards a catastrophic war.

Source: wsws

The Sharing Economy: An Introduction To Its Political Evolution

January 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Can the sharing economy movement address the root causes of the world’s converging crises? Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sustainability, then such claims are without substantiation – although there are many hopeful signs that the conversation is slowly moving in the right direction. 

In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing.

As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media, a debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction. There is no doubt that the emergent paradigm of sharing resources is set to expand and further flourish in coming years, especially in the face of continuing economic recession, government austerity and environmental concerns. As a result of the concerted advocacy work and mobilisation of sharing groups in the US, fifteen city mayors have now signed the Shareable Cities Resolution in which they officially recognise the importance of economic sharing for both the public and private sectors. Seoul in South Korea has also adopted a city-funded project called Sharing City in which it plans to expand its ‘sharing infrastructure’, promote existing sharing enterprises and incubate sharing economy start-ups as a partial solution to problems in housing, transportation, job creation and community cohesion. Furthermore, Medellin in Colombia is embracing transport-sharing schemes and reimagining the use of its shared public spaces, while Ecuador is the first country in the world to commit itself to becoming a ‘shared knowledge’-based society, under an official strategy named ‘buen saber’.

Many proponents of the sharing economy therefore have great hopes for a future based on sharing as the new modus operandi. Almost everyone recognises that drastic change is needed in the wake of a collapsed economy and an overstretched planet, and the old idea of the American dream – in which a culture that promotes excessive consumerism and commercialisation leads us to see the ‘good life’ as the ‘goods life’, as described by the psychologist Tim Kasser – is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. Hence more and more people are rejecting the materialistic attitudes that defined recent decades, and are gradually shifting towards a different way of living that is based on connectedness and sharing rather than ownership and conspicuous consumption. ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials.

However, many entrepreneurial sharing pioneers also profess a big picture vision of what sharing can achieve in relation to the world’s most pressing issues, such as population growth, environmental degradation and food security. As Ryan Gourley of A2Share posits, for example, a network of cities that embrace the sharing economy could mount up into a Sharing Regions Network, then Sharing Nations, and finally a Sharing World: “A globally networked sharing economy would be a whole new paradigm, a game-changer for humanity and the planet”. Neal Gorenflo, the co-founder and publisher of Shareable, also argues that peer-to-peer collaboration can form the basis of a new social contract, with an extensive sharing movement acting as the catalyst for systemic changesthat can address the root causes of both poverty and climate change. Or to quote the words of Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, we are going to have to “share to survive” if we want to face up to a sustainable future. In such a light, it behoves us all to investigate the potential of sharing to effect a social and economic transformation that is sufficient to meet the grave challenges of the 21st century.

Two sides of a debate on sharing

There is no doubt that sharing resources can contribute to the greater good in a number of ways, from economic as well as environmental and social perspectives. A number of studies show the environmental benefits that are common to many sharing schemes, such as the resource efficiency and potential energy savings that could result from car sharing and bike sharing in cities. Almost all forms of localised sharing are economical, and can lead to significant cost savings or earnings for individuals and enterprises. In terms of subjective well-being and social impacts, common experience demonstrates how sharing can also help us to feel connected to neighbours or co-workers, and even build community and make us feel happier.

Few could disagree on these beneficial aspects of sharing resources within communities or across municipalities, but some controversy surrounds the broader vision of how the sharing economy movement can contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For many advocates of the burgeoning trend towards economic sharing in modern cities, it is about much more than couch-surfing, car sharing or tool libraries, and holds the potential to disrupt the individualist and materialistic assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. For example, Juliet Schor in her book Plenitude perceives that a new economics based on sharing could be an antidote to the hyper-individualised, hyper-consumer culture of today, and could help rebuild the social ties that have been lost through market culture. Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project, in her latest short video on how to move society in an environmentally sustainable and just direction, also considers sharing as a key ‘game changing’ solution that could help to transform the basic goals of the economy.

Many other proponents see the sharing economy as a path towards achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits, and an essential first step on the road to more localised economies and egalitarian societies. But far from everyone perceives that participating in the sharing economy, at least in its existing form and praxis, is a ‘political act’ that can realistically challenge consumption-driven economics and the culture of individualism – a question that is raised (although not yet comprehensively answered) in a valuable think piece from Friends of the Earth, as discussed further below. Various commentators argue that the proliferation of new business ventures under the umbrella of sharing are nothing more than “supply and demand continuing its perpetual adjustment to new technologies and fresh opportunities”, and that the concept of the sharing economy is being co-opted by purely commercial interests – a debate that was given impetus when the car sharing pioneers, Zipcar, were bought up by the established rental firm Avis.

Recently, Slate magazine’s business and economics correspondent controversially reiterated the observation that making money from new modes of consumption is not really ‘sharing’ per se, asserting that the sharing economy is therefore a “dumb term” that “deserves to die”. Other journalists have criticised the superficial treatment that the sharing economy typically receives from financial pundits and tech reporters, especially the claims that small business start-ups based on monetised forms of sharing are a solution to the jobs crisis – regardless of drastic cutbacks in welfare and public services, unprecedented rates of income inequality, and the dangerous rise of the precariat. The author Evgeny Morozov, writing an op-ed in the Financial Times, has gone as far as saying that the sharing economy is having a pernicious effect on equality and basic working conditions, in that it is fully compliant with market logic, is far from valuing human relationships over profit, and is even amplifying the worst excesses of the dominant economic model. In the context of the erosion of full-time employment, the assault on trade unions and the disappearance of healthcare and insurance benefits, he argues that the sharing economy is accelerating the transformation of workers into “always-on self-employed entrepreneurs who must think like brands”, leading him to dub it “neoliberalism on steroids”.

Problems of definition

Although it is impossible to reconcile these polarised views, part of the problem in assessing the true potential of economic sharing is one of vagueness in definition and wide differences in understanding. The conventional interpretation of the sharing economy is at present focused on its financial and commercial aspects, with continuous news reports proclaiming its rapidly growing market size and potential as a “co-commerce revolution”. Rachel Botsman, a leading entrepreneurial thinker on the potential of collaboration and sharing through digital technologies to change our lives, has attempted to clarify what the sharing economy actually is in order to prevent further confusion over the different terms in general use. In her latest typology, she notes how the term ‘sharing economy’ is often muddled with other new ideas and is in fact a subset of ‘collaborative consumption’ within the entire ‘collaborative economy’ movement, and has a rather restricted meaning in terms of “sharing underutilized assets from spaces to skills to stuff for monetary or non-monetary benefits” [see slide 9 of the presentation]. This interpretation of changing consumer behaviours and lifestyles revolves around the “maximum utilization of assets through efficient models of redistribution and shared access”, which isn’t necessarily predicated on an ethic of ‘sharing’ by any strict definition.

Other interpretations of the sharing economy are far broader and less constrained by capitalistic assumptions, as demonstrated in the Friends of the Earth briefing paper on Sharing Cities written by Professor Julian Agyeman et al. In their estimation, what’s missing from most of these current definitions and categorisations of economic sharing is a consideration of “the communal, collective production that characterises the collective commons”. A broadened ‘sharing spectrum’ that they propose therefore not only focuses on goods and services within the mainstream economy (which is almost always considered in relation to affluent, middle-class lifestyles), but also includes the non-material or intangible aspects of sharing such as well-being and capability [see page 6 of the brief]. From this wider perspective, they assert that the cutting edge of the sharing economy is often not commercial and includes informal behaviours like the unpaid care, support and nurturing that we provide for one another, as well as the shared use of infrastructure and shared public services.

This sheds a new light on governments as the “ultimate level of sharing”, and suggests that the history of the welfare state in Europe and other forms of social protection is, in fact, also integral to the evolution of shared resources in cities and within different countries. Yet an understanding of sharing from this more holistic viewpoint doesn’t have to be limited to the state provision of healthcare, education, and other public services. As Agyeman et al elucidate, cooperatives of all kinds (from worker to housing to retailer and consumer co-ops) also offer alternative models for shared service provision and a different perspective on economic sharing, one in which equity and collective ownership is prioritised. Access to natural common resources such as air and water can also be understood in terms of sharing, which may then prioritise the common good of all people over commercial or private interests and market mechanisms. This would include controversial issues of land ownership and land use, raising questions over how best to share land and urban space more equitably – such as through community land trusts, or through new policies and incentives such as land value taxation.

The politics of sharing

Furthermore, Agyeman et al argue that an understanding of sharing in relation to the collective commons gives rise to explicitly political questions concerning the shared public realm and participatory democracy. This is central to the many countercultural movements of recent years (such as the Occupy movement and Middle East protests since 2011, and the Taksim Gezi Park protests in 2013) that have reclaimed public space to symbolically challenge unjust power dynamics and the increasing trend toward privatisation that is central to neoliberal hegemony. Sharing is also directly related to the functioning of a healthy democracy, the authors reason, in that a vibrant sharing economy (when interpreted in this light) can counter the political apathy that characterises modern consumer society. By reinforcing values of community and collaboration over the individualism and consumerism that defines our present-day cultures and identities, they argue that participation in sharing could ultimately be reflected in the political domain. They also argue that a shared public realm is essential for the expression of participatory democracy and the development of a good society, not least as this provides a necessary venue for popular debate and public reasoning that can influence political decisions. Indeed the “emerging shareability paradigm”, as they describe it, is said to reflect the basic tenets of the Right to the City (RTTC) – an international urban movement that fights for democracy, justice and sustainability in cities and mobilises against the privatisation of common goods and public spaces.

The intention in briefly outlining some of these differing interpretations of sharing is to demonstrate how considerations of politics, justice, ethics and sustainability are slowly being allied with the sharing economy concept. A paramount example is the Friends of the Earth briefing paper outlined above, which was written as part of FOEI’s Big Ideas to Change the World series on cities that promoted sharing as “a political force to be reckoned with” and a “call to action for environmentalists”. Yet many further examples could also be mentioned, such as the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Manifesto for the New Materialism’ which promotes the old-fashioned ethic of sharing as part of a new way of living to replace the collapsed model of debt-fuelled overconsumption. There are also signs that many influential proponents of the sharing economy – as generally understood today in terms of new economic models driven by peer-to-peer technology that enable access to rather than ownership of resources – are beginning to query the commercial direction that the movement is taking, and are instead promoting more politicised forms of social change that are not merely based on micro-enterprise or the monetisation/branding of high-tech innovations.

Janelle Orsi, a California-based ‘sharing lawyer’ and author of The Sharing Solution, is particularly inspirational in this regard; for her, the sharing economy encompasses such a broad range of activities that it is hard to define, although she suggests that all its activities are tied together in how they harness the existing resources of a community and grow its wealth. This is in contradistinction to the mainstream economy that mostly generates wealth for people outside of people’s communities, and inherently generates extreme inequalities and ecological destruction – which Orsi contends that the sharing economy can help reverse. The problem she recognises is that the so-called sharing economy we usually hear about in the media is built upon a business-as-usual foundation, which is privately owned and often funded by venture capital (as is the case with Airbnb, Lyft, Zipcar, Taskrabbit et cetera). As a result, the same business structures that created the economic problems of today are buying up new sharing economy companies and turning them into ever larger, more centralised enterprises that are not concerned about people’s well-being, community cohesion, local economic diversity, sustainable job creation and so on (not to mention the risk of re-creating stock valuation bubbles that overshadowed the earlier generation of dot.com enterprises). The only way to ensure that new sharing economy companies fulfil their potential to create economic empowerment for users and their communities, Orsi argues, is through cooperative conversion – and she makes a compelling case for the democratic, non-exploitative, redistributive and truly ‘sharing’ potential of worker and consumer cooperatives in all their guises.

Sharing as a path to systemic change

There are important reasons to query which direction this emerging movement for sharing will take in the years ahead. As prominent supporters of the sharing economy recognise, like Janelle Orsi and Juliet Schor, it offers both opportunities and reasons for optimism as well as pitfalls and some serious concerns. On the one hand, it reflects a growing shift in our values and social identities as ‘citizens vs consumers’, and is helping us to rethink notions of ownership and prosperity in a world of finite resources, scandalous waste and massive wealth disparities. Perhaps its many proponents are right, and the sharing economy represents the first step towards transitioning away from the over-consumptive, materially-intense and hoarding lifestyles of North American, Western European and other rich societies. Perhaps sharing really is fast becoming a counter-cultural movement that can help us to value relationships more than things, and offer us the possibility of re-imagining politics and constructing a more participative democracy, which could ultimately pose a challenge to the global capitalist/consumerist model of development that is built on private interests and debt at the cost of shared interests and true wealth.

On the other hand, critics are right to point out that the sharing economy in its present form is hardly a threat to existing power structures or a movement that represents the kind of radical changes we need to make the world a better place. Far from reorienting the economy towards greater equity and a better quality of life, as proposed by writers such as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly and John Cobb, it is arguable that most forms of sharing via peer-to-peer networks are at risk of being subverted by conventional business practices. There is a perverse irony in trying to imagine the logical conclusion of these trends: new models of collaborative consumption and co-production that are co-opted by private interests and venture capitalists, and increasingly geared towards affluent middle-class types or so-called bourgeois bohemians (the ‘bobos’), to the exclusion of those on low incomes and therefore to the detriment of a more equal society. Or new sharing technology platforms that enable governments and corporations to collaborate in pursuing more intrusive controls over and greater surveillance of citizens. Or new social relationships based on sharing in the context of increasingly privatised and enclosed public spaces, such as gated communities within which private facilities and resources are shared.

This is by no means an inevitable outcome, but what is clear from this brief analysis is that the commercialisation and depoliticisation of economic sharing poses risks and contradictions that call into question its potential to transform society for the benefit of everyone. Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sound environmental stewardship, then the various claims that sharing is a new paradigm that can address the world’s interrelated crises is indeed empty rhetoric or utopian thinking without any substantiation. Sharing our skills through Hackerspaces, our unused stuff through GoodShuffle or a community potluck through mealshare is, in and of itself, a generally positive phenomenon that deserves to be enjoyed and fully participated in, but let’s not pretend that car shares, clothes swaps, co-housing, shared vacation homes and so on are going to seriously address economic and climate chaos, unjust power dynamics or inequitable wealth distribution.

Sharing from the local to the global

If we look at sharing through the lens of just sustainability, however, as civil society organisations and others are now beginning to do, then the true possibilities of sharing resources within and among the world’s nations are vast and all-encompassing: to enhance equity, rebuild community, improve well-being, democratise national and global governance, defend and promote the global commons, even to point the way towards a more cooperative international framework to replace the present stage of competitive neoliberal globalisation. We are not there yet, of course, and the popular understanding of economic sharing today is clearly focused on the more personal forms of giving and exchange among individuals or through online business ventures, which is mainly for the benefit of high-income groups in the world’s most economically advanced nations. But the fact that this conversation is now being broadened to include the role of governments in sharing public infrastructure, political power and economic resources within countries is a hopeful indication that the emerging sharing movement is slowly moving in the right direction.

Already, questions are being raised as to what sharing resources means for the poorest people in the developing world, and how a revival of economic sharing in the richest countries can be spread globally as a solution to converging crises. It may not be long until the idea of economic sharing on a planetary scale – driven by an awareness of impending ecological catastrophe, life-threatening extremes of inequality, and escalating conflict over natural resources – is the subject of every dinner party and kitchen table conversation.


References:

Agyeman, Julian, Duncan McLaren and Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego, Sharing Cities, Friends of the Earth briefing paper, September 2013.

Agyeman, Julian, Just sustainabilitiesjulianagyeman.com, 21st September 2012.

Bollier, David, Bauwens Joins Ecuador in Planning a Commons-based, Peer Production Economy, 20th September 2013, bollier.org

Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks A Shared Definitionfastcoexist.com, 21st November 2013.

Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks a Shared Definition: Giving Meaning to the Terms, Collaborative Lab on Slideshare.net, 19th November 2013.

Childs, Mike, The Power of Sharing: A Call to Action for Environmentalists, Shareable.net, 5th November 2013.

Collaborativeconsumption.com, Shareable Cities Resolution: Passed, 26th June 2013.

Daly, Herman and John Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Beacon Press, 1991.

Eberlein, Sven, Sharing for Profit – I’m Not Buying it Anymore, Shareable.net, 20th February 2013.

Enright, Michael in interview with Benita Matofska and Aidan Enns, Sharing, Not Buying at Christmas (Hr. 1), CBC Radio, 16th December 2012.

Friends of the Earth, Big Idea 2: Sharing – a political force to be reckoned with?, 26th September 2013.

Gaskins, Kim, The New Sharing Economy, Latitude, 1st June 2010.

Gorenflo, Neal, What’s Next for the Sharing Movement?, Shareable.net, 31st July 2013.

Grahl, Jodi (trans.), World Charter for the Right to the City, International Alliance of Inhabitants et al, May 2005.

Griffiths, Rachel, The Great Sharing Economy, Co-operatives UK, London UK, 2011.

Grigg, Kat, Sharing As Part of the New Economy: An Interview with Lauren Anderson, The Solutions Journal, 20th September 2013.

Heinberg, Richard, Who knew that Seoul was a leader in the sharing economy?, Post Carbon Institute, 12th November 2013.

Herbst, Moira, Let’s get real: the ‘sharing economy’ won’t solve our jobs crisis, The Guardian, 7th January 2014.

Jackson, Tim, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Routeledge, 2011.

Johnson, Cat, From Consumers to Citizens: Welcome to the Sharing Cities Network, Shareable.net, 9th January 2014.

Kasser, Tim, The High Price of Materialism, MIT Press, 2003.

Kisner, Corinne, Integrating Bike Share Programs into a Sustainable Transportation System, National League of Cities, City Practice Brief, Washington D.C., 2011.

Leonard, Annie, The Story of Solutions, The Story of Stuff Project, October 2013, storyofstuff.org

Martin, Elliot and Susan Shaheen, The Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Ownership, Access (UCTC magazine), No. 38 Spring 2011.

Matofska, Benita, Facing the future: share to survive, Friends of the Earth blog, 4th January 2013.

Morozov, Evgeny, The ‘sharing economy’ undermines workers’ rights, Financial Times, 14th October 2013.

Olson. Michael J. and Andrew D. Connor, The Disruption of Sharing: An Overview of the New Peer-to-Peer ‘Sharing Economy’ and The Impact on Established Internet Companies, Piper Jaffray, November 2013.

Opinium Research and Marke2ing, The Sharing Economy An overview with special focus on Peer-to-Peer Lending, 14th November 2012.

Orsi, Janelle and Doskow, Emily, The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community, Nolo, May 2009.

Orsi, Janelle et al, Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders, Shareable / The sustainable Economics Law Centre, September 2013.

Orsi, Janelle, The Sharing Economy Just Got Real, Shareable.net, 16th September 2013.

Quilligan, James B., People Sharing Resources: Toward a New Multilateralism of the Global Commons, Kosmos Journal, Fall/Winter 2009.

Schifferes, Jonathan, Sharing our way to prosperity (Part 1)rsablogs.org.uk, 6th August 2013.

Schifferes, Jonathan, Profiting from sharing (Part 2)rsablogs.org.uk, 6th August 2013.

Schor, Juliet, Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, Tantor Media, 2010.

Simms, Andrew and Ruth Potts, The New Materialism: How our relationship with the material world can change for the better, New Economics Foundation, November 2012.

Standing, Guy, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.

Tennant, Ian, What’s in it for me? Do you dare to share?, Friends of the Earth blog, 8th January 2014.

Wiesmann, Thorsten, Living by the Principle of Sharing – an interview with Raphael Fellmer, Oiushare.net, February 2013.

Wilkinson, Richard and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, Penguin, 2010.

Yglesias, Matthew, There Is No “Sharing Economy”, Slate.com, 26th December 2013.


Adam Parsons is a guest columnist for Veracity Voice

Adam Parsons is the editor at www.sharing.org

Biggest Export From The US? The Middle Class

January 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The tradeoff for cheap goods and financial cronyism is coming back in a big way…

There is always a tradeoff in economics.  The adage about a free lunch comes to mind to the rise of low wage capitalism in America.  It is a complicated web driven by financial cronyism and a system largely driven by ignoring the plight of the working class.  The story of US manufacturing is probably one tiny example of how we exported our middle class in exchange for cheaper goods and a massive amount of income inequality at the top.  Yet there is a winner here as well.  While the US middle class is shrinking the middle classes of China and India are growing and so is ourincome inequality.  This trend tends to grow the economies overseas bus has placed a large burden on the unskilled and working class in the US.  This is possibly an inevitably given the global nature of our markets.  When you get addicted to low cost goods, you may find yourself in a race to low wage capitalism.  In the US and Europe people would not take on the jobs that pay near wage-slave levels and have terrible working conditions in countries that are now booming.  While the top wage earners in the US are doing fantastic protected by Wall Street and Washington D.C. (many are diversified across the world), those who get paid in US dollars and come from the working and middle class are having a tough time adapting.  The tradeoff has been coming home to roost in a big way.

A low wage bias     

While the recession ended in the summer of 2009, the jobs that have been added since then have largely tended to favor low wage employment.  Hard to export cashiers and food service workers (although the industry is getting closer to automating those jobs as well).  Nothing happens at once.  The gradual erosion of the working and middle class goes back a generation.  So it is no surprise that this recovery has largely been one of low wage employment.  This is why young American workers are in such a tough position with student debt, wages, and being able to purchase a home.

The low wage hiring bias is evident:

Low wage jobs

A large amount of hiring has come in the form of lower paying and temporary work.  You might say this is simply the modern way of things.  Yet the massive financial bailouts during the crisis have protected the financiers of Wall Street to the point that they are fully recovered.  The crisis occurred largely because they systematically gambled America away by creating instruments of debt to implode the economy.  Some hedge funds actually made wealth by betting America’s economy would fail and encouraged the pushing of additional bad mortgage debt to increase their gains when things went bust.

The problem of course is that we have a system where austerity is the new game in town for working and middle class Americans while the financially connected get to fail and put the bill on those who least can afford it.  Take a look at the drop in manufacturing jobs and the growth of our financial sector:

us manufacturing and finance jobs

In 1960 you had roughly 8 manufacturing jobs for each one in finance.  Today this is less than 2 manufacturing jobs per each job in finance.  In the real economy, we still purchase goods that have to be made (i.e., cars, real estate, etc).  Yet we have a giant industry that for the most part, is rent seeking.  Is high frequency trading making things better?  What about the crazy unrestricted derivatives market? With real estate most of the recent sales are going to investors.  In other words, the shifting of current real assets in the world into the hands of fewer people.

Even in the once stable construction field, we see weak job growth in spite of a booming real estate market.

us construction jobs

Why?  Because most of the trading is going to investors looking for deals, not new families pushing for new demand on new homes.  New home sales are still weak.  Of course that should be expected when the typical American worker is making something like $27,000 a year and the median household income is $50,000 a year.  Adjusting for inflation, this is now back to levels last seen in the 1980s:

median household income

The tradeoff has been tough but people like cheap goods.  It is easy to offshore this development and have workers on the other side of the world work for menial wages so people can buy cheap goods. Yet at a certain point, the market hits an equilibrium and the pain comes back home.  Once this happens it can be very quickly as we are seeing now with the middle class being hollowed out.  At least we’ve done a good job exporting our middle class outside of the US.

Source: My Budget 360

Interpretation and the Allegory of the Cave

January 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The ideological chains that bind and subdue us are stronger and more effective than any chain forged from steel. These manacles are more freedom inhibiting than a prison cell or solitary confinement. Belief, faith, and hope can imprison as well as liberate us. By the power of suggestion, a thin cotton string can effectively tether an elephant.

Politicians and their associates in the corporate media are master manipulators of language and images. Anytime you hear them speak, think of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave). Virtually everything that we see and hear, nearly everything we have been told, is an officious lie, an illusion created to deceive and control us. The purpose of deception is to promote the dogma and welfare of those in power, while implicitly disempowering those who are being deceived. Language is rarely, if ever, neutral. Coercive ideology lurks behind every sentence.

In a sense, all language is propaganda, even the words on this page. For instance, in this short essay, I declare my intention to lead my readers to a conclusion that I hope will awaken them, promote consciousness, and encourage principled behavior that is conducive to the collective emancipation of the working class.

Our faith in capitalistic institutions promotes the pretense of democracy, while it delivers plutocracy, corporate fascism, and militarism. Similarly, imprudent belief in the American Dream induces people to behave in ways that promote the welfare of those in power rather than the perspectives of those of us struggling to be free. Belief in this discredited notion keeps workers from organizing against their oppressors.

The puppeteers casting shadows on the cave wall know that the images they project are not real. By contrast, the indoctrinated audience interprets the shadows as authentic figures rather than the phantasms they are. The purveyors of mythos and propaganda, the authors of the sanctioned historical narrative that defines reality for the masses, are consciously misleading us. The empowered are aware that we are attempting to navigate a house of mirrors with trap doors, but we continue to believe that the flickering images on the cave wall are real. Interpretation is everything.

Americans believe that we are a free and representative republic, because that is what we have always been told, despite evidence to the contrary. But choosing our oppressors every few years makes us neither free nor democratic. Electoral outcomes that are determined by capital do not give us a real voice in fashioning an equitable economic agenda, taxation, or foreign policy, including decisions about war. Participation in bogus systems of power binds us to delusions and keeps us ideologically imprisoned. They prevent us from taking meaningful action.

In America, working people are excluded from all of the important decisions that profoundly affect their lives. Legislators at all levels of government are beholden to the corporations and wealthy individuals who fund their campaigns. To the power elite, “we the people” are little more than background noise to be tuned out.

Cast a stone at the mirrors and the illusion immediately dissolves into shards of broken glass. A perplexing chain reaction is set in motion; worlds fall like rows of dominoes and fill the vacuum vacated by appearance with new images, new ideas, and new possibilities. Polaris abruptly appears with the stars of Ursa Minor wrapped around her like a jeweled necklace glistening in the velvet black darkness of eternal night. She was always there but concealed behind striated walls of silvered glass in the great American funhouse of lies and delusion we call reality.

Bearing the Allegory of the Cave in mind, consider this: If a worker puts his faith in an economic system that exploits and alienates him, his faith shackles rather than liberates him. Correspondingly, if a man believes that his oppressor is his liberator or protector, he ideologically imprisons himself and promotes behavior that benefits and strengthens his tormentor rather than himself or his socioeconomic class. If he believes that the systems of power serve him and promote justice rather than work for his capitalist masters, he will not attempt to dismantle them. The worker must then not only overcome his oppressor, he must first transcend his own ideological beliefs and ignorance before he can even begin to extricate himself.

In many ways, us workers are our own worst enemy. We lose our humanity, become alienated from our highest self, our families, our communities, our coworkers, and the Earth Mother. As participants in and recipients of unfettered capitalism, we have become the unwitting tools of universal oppression and militarism we claim to disdain. Our demise stems from the misinterpretation of reality and our shifting location within a volatile matrix of phantasmagoric holograms, none of which are real.

We believe what we hear and do what we are told rather than think critically about anything. Questioning authority makes us uncomfortable, and there are always consequences to challenging the dominant paradigm. We have an abiding psychological need to believe that everything we think we know about our country and the world is as advertised because the alternative terrifies us. We thus surrender our conscience and our life to become a tool of the unscrupulous sociopaths in power.

The American worker must comprehend that his assigned role within the capitalist system is not to be a thoughtful or conscious human being, but rather an efficient economic serf, a dehumanized automaton concealed within in a human husk. Painful as this reality is, it does not behoove us to believe or act otherwise. The worker’s plight is like being a solider in the war-torn Middle East: take orders and do what you are told. Check your conscience and your humanity at the door. We all know where that leads.

Armed with this knowledge, perhaps we may finally begin the vital work of our individual and collective emancipation. Our subordinate role in this unequal economic, social, and political arrangement must be challenged and subverted. No one is born a slave. The only power anyone has over us is that which we allow them to have.


Charles Sullivan is a free-lance writer, educator, and citizen activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia.

Charles Sullivan is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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