This book is a MUST READ. Of course it is old now and the 911 inside job has uncovered a much deeper level of a criminal empire. BUT IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for us to have an understanding of the ways that our democracy is undermined by the ILLEGITEMATE OWNERS of this world. The book is freely availabe from zmag.org website. Blogspot adaptation by u2rh2.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Bhopal locust corporation & london olympix
Distinguished academic Noam Chomsky is among a group of high-profile international figures, including British MPs and former Olympians, who have written to Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), urging him to drop Dow Chemical Company as a sponsor of the London Games because of its link to the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal gas tragedy.
Under a £7 million deal, Dow is to sponsor a fabric wrap that will surround the Olympic stadium in East London.
Barry Gardiner, MP Chair of Labour Friends of India, who organised the letter said: "All across the world people have signed up to kick Dow Chemicals out of London 2012. From Olympic gold medallists and Bollywood legends, to artists, actors and politicians, extraordinary people have made it clear that Dow must clean up its legacy in Bhopal before it tries to clean up its reputation on the back of the London Olympics".
Signatories include former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Conservative MP Priti Patel, deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes, actor Martin Sheen and Gold medal winning Olympians from India and Pakistan.
Prof.Chomsky said: "The people of Bhopal have struggled to enforce accountability for one of the worst corporate crimes in history, and to gain some compensation for their suffering. They have every right to expect us to join them in their courageous efforts."
Mr. Livingstone said it was "shocking that almost three decades after one of the world's worst industrial tragedies, water supplies in the area still remain contaminated with toxic chemicals."
Lord Coe defended the decision to award the contract to Dow saying it was taken after "very carefully" considering all the issues.
This is the second time that campaigners have written to Lord Coe protesting the decision.
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 01:11
MIT Professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky discussed the United States’ health care policies, energy crisis and overall decline.
Institute Professor of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Noam Chomsky last night delivered a lecture focused on American foreign policy in light of the recent economic crisis and the decline of America as a global power player.
Regarded by many as the "father of modern linguistics" and a renowned academic figure throughout the United States, Chomsky today is known especially for his perfectly reasoned opinions on U.S. foreign policy, which are non-grata in corporate media like this newspaper.
Part of the Tufts Faculty Progressive Caucus American Democracy in Crisis Series, Chomsky's talk, titled "Democracy in America and Abroad," drew a crowd that filled Cabot Auditorium over capacity. And over and over.
Tufts Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Jerry Meldon introduced Chomsky, praising not only his intellect and myriad accomplishments, but also his ability to offer a truly unique perspective.
"There was a need for somebody like him to be critical of what the United States has done in the world," Meldon said.
Chomsky discussed a variety of social, economic and political issues facing the nation today, including the energy crisis, the American healthcare system, tax reductions and the decline of America. He shared his - amongst informed people non-controversial - opinions on these issues and proposed his own solutions to fix some of the most pressing problems. But corporate newspaper cannot tell you what they are because it would involve changing the super-profit system the oligarchs have created.
In his discussion of the energy crisis, Chomsky pointed out the sharp increase in energy emissions this year and the lack of an appropriate response in this country.
"The U.S. government is also taking steps backwards," said Chomsky.
To cope with the economic recession, he proposed cutbacks in military spending and increasing taxes on the wealthy. He also called for an end to the reduction of health benefits, describing current American healthcare practices a "scandal."
"Corporate profits are the highest they've ever been," Chomsky said.
Chomsky went on to discuss the end of American hegemony, which he believes is in part self−inflicted due to the steps taken to prevent the creation of other successful, independent nations.
"The American decline is very real," Chomsky said, noting however that the decline is not a new phenomenon.
According to Chomsky, the decline truly began in 1945, a time before which American hegemony went unquestioned.
"American decline is [when] we can no longer rule the world totally like we could in this peak of power during the mid−40s," Chomsky cited the mindset of the psychopaths who rule the USA.
American foreign policy around the world has been influenced first and foremost by American business and economic interests, and the United States has operated under the facade of benevolence, according to Chomsky.
In the eyes of the US ruling elites, the "loss of China" marked one of the most important events in American decline, Chomsky said. China's ability to exist and function as an independent nation had serious implications for the United States.
Chomsky saw ulterior motives operating during the Vietnam War, where he believes that the United States' primary goal was to avert the threat of an independent and economically successful China.
"[The] U.S. actually won a partial victory in Vietnam," Chomsky said, reminding the audience that the elites got everything they wanted and the poorpeople in the world and USA paid for it, often with their lives.
This threat to become an independent nation−state was identified as a "virus" that the United States felt the need to wipe out to prevent "contagion" in China's neighboring developing countries, including Indonesia and Japan, according to Chomsky.
The theme of identifying a "virus" and eliminating it has been repeated throughout modern American history, Chomsky explained. The United States consistently looks for any way to prevent the development of economically viable countries, even if it becomes necessary to enlist mafia aid or support harsh dictatorships to squash threats of hegemonic competition. Such interventions have brought about negative consequences in the countries in which the United States operates.
"Wherever [the] U.S. intervenes, drugs follow," he said. As proven often, the CIA is and was actively dealing in hard drugs, for influence and black money.
The corrupt interests of the United States were evident in other conflicts abroad, including those in Guatemala, Indonesia and Cuba, according to Chomsky. Cuba became an issue because it had become an independent national heeding solely its own objectives, Chomsky said.
Chomsky closed by reiterating that the American decline could be largely attributed to the faults of the United States by preventing the creation of other legitimate economic entities with which it can interact.
If the USA doesn't murder and mame around the world, the countries that lent money to the US may want it back.
economics as a "neutral" or "scientific" practice is bullshit
IF YOU KNOW A DOWNLOAD LOCATION PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW tags: xvid avi torrent youtube vimeo save mp4 file sharing p2p emule filehash magnet link dht piratebay
Encirclement: Neo-Liberalism Ensnares Democracy, Screens Today for All Your Talking-Point Needs
Posted by Steve Macfarlane on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 9:51 AM
The French Institute Alliance Française is currently spotlighting Quebecois Cinema; if you're planning on walking out of class symbolically today or anything, the 2008 documentary Encirclement: Neo-Liberalism Ensnares Democracy plays today at 12:30 and 4.
Richard Brouillette's Encirclement is stark diagnosis of a pandemic of neoliberal capitalism (via IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc), positing that its ability to replace capital-P political ideology is key to understanding its pervasiveness. Although it is by no means not a polemical film, its approach couldn't be further from the Spurlock-Ferguson-Moore-Greenwald school of docs, where every interview doubles as a filmmaker's personal campaign commercial; Brouillette's greatest asset is his bottomless faith in the spoken word. Here, he's assembled a sagacious roster—Noam Chomsky, Ignacio Ramonet, Jean-Luc Migué, Omar Aktouf, and many more—and he fearlessly lets them expound in a passionate, free-flowing conversation on economics, culture and totalitarianism (or, more specifically, "globalitarianism"). It's heady stuff, no doubt, and even though Brouillette cleaves the conversations into tidy explanatory chunks, the result can be head-spinning.
The speakers essentially delineate the history of free trade after World War II, from the foundation of the aforementioned international organizations to the newfound consideration (thanks to guys like Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes) of economics as a "neutral" or "scientific" practice. That's a classification that more than one interviewee dismisses as bullshit, along with the idea that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" was ever intended as a means of regulating world commerce. There's scrupulous discussion of the ascendancy of think tanks as liaisons between government and commerce, of unfair price controls set by Washington firms that can devastate entire economies in the so-called "global South", and of the implicit irony in "privatization"—that is, taking something out of taxpayers' hands and putting it to commerce—as a force for democracy. Susan George offers: "the great 18th-century theoreticians never imagined that capital itself would be free to go where it wanted."
Brouillette and company make broader philosophical claims as well; one title card refers to "a sprawling network of mind control" as the reason for capitalism's worldwide victory. Examples are posited closer to home, such as one claim that Channel One News—whereby schools unable to afford televisions were granted TVs and VCRs on condition of playing 12 minutes of corporate-sanctioned infotainment a day—was a ploy to transform American tweens into obedient, measurable units of media-consumptive power. Chomsky lets the air out of "military humanist" triumphs like the 1995 signing of the Dayton Accords, which took place thousands of miles away from anything resembling a Bosnian popular vote, and cites governments' popular vocabulary of "liberation" as nothing new. Only a fool would argue that political individualism hasn't been quelled by the last 65 years of globalization, but Encirclement's main argument will resonate more or less depending on how deliberate you think the process has actually been.
One of the nation's foremost political thinkers raised concerns about the state of American politics during an informal round-table discussion with the media Monday at Kutztown University.
Noam Chomsky, a critical observer of politics for more than 50 years, pointed to the apparent inability of Congress to deal with the nation's most pressing problems.
"There's been a breakdown in democracy," Chomsky declared.
His indictment came hours after Democrats and Republicans announced they were unable to reach agreement on a plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years.
Following his meeting with the media, Chomsky delivered the inaugural United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Philosophy Day lecture to a packed house in Kutztown's Schaeffer Auditorium.
Sean Dallas, university spokesman, estimated the audience at 800 in the auditorium. An overflow crowd, he said, viewed the lecture on closed circuit in Boehm Science Building.
Dr. Asharaf Adeel, a Kutztown philosophy professor who introduced Chomsky, said the lecture was intended to promote peace and understanding among nations.
"Noam Chomsky is a truly global figure who, for decades, has promoted peace and justice for all peoples of the world," Adeel said. "He is the intellectual of our age and the conscience of our time."
Chomsky, 83, widely considered the father of modern linguistics, is a distinguished professor of linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Better known publicly for his anti-Vietnam War activism in the 1960s, Chomsky has written more than 100 books and 200 articles on politics, philosophy and international affairs.
A staunch critic of American foreign policy, his lecture was titled, "The U.S. and the U.N."
Chomsky chastised the U.S. for withholding funding to the United Nations because of its recent acceptance of Palestine as a member.
He portrayed the U.S., which he claimed exercises its veto on the U.N. Security Council too frequently, as isolated from the world community.
"The real issue is not whether the U.S. funds the U.N., but whether the U.S. has the right to run the world," Chomsky said.
During his meeting with the media, Chomsky fielded questions on a wide range of political and economic issues facing the country.
The focus on cutting the federal budget, Chomsky argued, is misplaced.
"There ought to be a joblessness commission," he said, "not a deficit commission."
Chomsky had harsh criticism for the Republicans, who he charged have ceased to be a political party.
"The Republicans are so far in the pockets of the corporations, you couldn't find them with a microscope," he said. "Their only program is to serve the very rich."
Asked if the Occupy Wall Street movement would ever reach the scope of the anti-war movement of the 1960s, Chomsky said it's an open question.
In 1965 and 1966, when he was a leader in the anti-war movement, protesters were attacked during demonstrations in Boston. By 1967, the movement had gained widespread acceptance.
Chomsky agrees with the goals of Occupy Wall Street.
"We should break up the banks that are too big to fail," he said. "And, get big money out of politics."
The State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom and Survival
Text of lecture given at the The University of Toronto, April 7, 2011
(Transcript courtesy of Yvonne Bond)
I'm going to talk mostly about the United States, in part because I know it better, but also in part because it its unique significance in the global system. That's been true dramatically since the Second World War. The character and extent of this uniqueness often isn't understood and would be easily worth a talk in itself, but I won't go into that.
However, we constantly see that even in relatively small ways. So for example when the housing bubble in the United States burst a couple of years ago, that initiated a global economic crisis which most of the world is still mired in. The worst outcomes were just averted by quite desperate measures.
In another domain, when France and Britain wanted to bomb Libya a couple of weeks ago, they had to turn to a more reluctant Washington to do the heavy lifting and provide the vast bulk of the means of violence. The U.S. has a huge comparative advantage in that domain. Furthermore, although the United States -- U.S. society and its political economy -- are unusual in some respects, it's not that different from elsewhere. And in fact developments within the United States over the years have often foreshadowed what is going to happen pretty soon in other industrial societies in the state capitalist world.
That world, in fact the whole world, is of course always changing, but there are significant continuities and they're worth bearing in mind. One continuity is that those who control the economic life of a country also tend to have overwhelming influence over state policy. That should be a truism taught in elementary school. It was formed succinctly by Adam Smith in words that I've quoted before but are important enough to repeat. He, speaking of Britain of course, wrote that the principle architects of policy are the owners of the society, in his day the merchants and manufacturers, "the masters of mankind" as he called them. And they insure that state policy serves their interest, however grievous the effect on others, including the domestic population, but primarily the victims of what he called their savage injustice abroad, and India was his prime example. That was early in the days of the destruction of India.
Today the masters of mankind are multinational corporations and financial institutions, but the lesson still applies and it helps explain why the state-corporate complex is indeed a threat to freedom and in fact even survival. By now there are important elaborations of Smith's truism applied to the modern world. The most significant and sophisticated version that I know is by political economist Thomas Ferguson, what he calls his investment theory of politics which in brief, simplified, simply views U.S. elections as occasions in which the coalitions of private investors coalesce to invest to control the state. It turns out to be a thesis of quite predictive success over more than a century as he shows.
What it means in effect is that elections are pretty much bought and that the buyers expect to be rewarded, and that happens all the time. It's illustrated very clearly in the last U.S. Presidential election in 2008. President Obama's victory traces largely to a huge influx of capital from the financial institutions, especially toward the end of the campaign. They preferred him to his opponent, McCain, and they expected to be rewarded. And of course they were. The country at that time was mired in a deep recession, so Obama's first act was to select an economic team. It was drawn almost entirely from those who had caused the severe economic crisis that he inherited. He systematically avoided critics of their practices, including quite prestigious ones, Nobel laureates.
Actually the business press wrote rather ironically about this. The Bloomberg News did a review of Obama's economic team, went through each one of them and looked at their records and concluded that these people shouldn't be on the economic team to fix up the economy. They should be getting subpoenas, which was pretty correct. They didn't, of course.
Well, not surprisingly the team chose measures which rewarded the major culprits who are now richer and more powerful than before, and poised to lead the way to the next and probably more severe financial crisis. There was recently an interesting article about this by the Special Inspector of the bailout programs, Neil Barofsky. He wrote a bitter condemnation of the way it was executed. He points out that the legislative act that authorized the bailout was a bargain. The financial institutions that were responsible for the crisis would be saved by the taxpayer and the victims of their misdeeds, in fact real crimes -- the victims would be somewhat compensated by the measures to protect home values and preserve home ownership. It was mostly a housing crisis.
Only the first part of the bargain was kept. The financial institutions were rewarded lavishly for causing the crisis and they were forgiven for outright crimes, but the rest of the program floundered. As Barofsky points out, I'm quoting him, "Foreclosures continue to mount with eight to 13 million filings forecast over the program's lifetime while the biggest banks are 20% larger than they were before the crisis and control a larger part of the economy than ever." They reasonably assume that the government will rescue them again if necessary. Indeed, credit agencies incorporate future government market bailouts into their assessments of the largest banks. That means exaggerating market distortions that provide them with an unfair advantage over smaller institutions which continue to struggle.
So in short, as he puts it, Obama's programs were a giveaway to Wall Street executives and a blow in the solar plexus to their defenseless victims. In other words, the government listened to those who have a voice in the political system and acted accordingly, all completely in accord with Smith's truism.
While there should be no surprises here, there are careful studies of Senate votes over a long period and they show that the Senate is indeed responsive to the sector of the population [that is] the top third in income. Actually a closer analysis would show that it's a very small fraction of that top third. In contrast there's no correlation at all between Senate votes and opinions of the middle third. And for the bottom third there is a correlation. It's negative. Senate votes are counter to preferences for the bottom third. And on major issues of foreign and domestic policy, there's quite a sharp disconnect between public opinion and public policy over a long period.
One might argue that these results don't really depart very far from the intentions of the founders of the society. So James Madison, who was the main framer of the Constitutional order, explained to the Constitutional Convention that power should remain in the hands of the Senate. The Senate was not chosen directly by voters until about a century ago. In those days the executive was pretty much an administrator, not an emperor. And the House, the third part of the system, which is closer to the public, had much more limited authority. That's the way in fact it was set up. As Madison explained to the Constitutional Convention, "the Senate represents the wealth of the nation, the more capable set of men, men who have respect for property owners and their rights and understand that government must protect the minority of the opulent against the majority."
That's quite accurate. Something else that ought to be taught in elementary school.
We should bear in mind, however, kind of in Madison's defense, that his mentality was pre-capitalist. So he assumed that a Senator would be, as he put it, "an enlightened statesman and benevolent philosopher." The Senate would be a "chosen body of citizens whose wisdom may best discern the true interests of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations." They would therefore refine and enlarge the public views by guarding the public against the mischiefs of democratic majorities. This is all rather like the noble Roman gentleman of the fantasies of the day. Adam Smith before him had a sharper eye.
Well, it didn't take long for Madison to shift his thinking about this. As he viewed the early results of the democratic experiment, he had second thoughts. In fact by 1792, a couple of years later, by then he deplored what he called "the daring depravity of the times as the stock-jobbers become the Praetorian band of the government, at once its tool and its tyrant, bribed by its largesses and over-aweing it by clamors and combinations," which isn't a bad description of today's political system and its social and economic correlates.
Today in the richest country in human history, 20% of the population qualify for food stamps. Real unemployment today is at the level of the Great Depression for much of the population, manufacturing workers for example. And in fact their actual circumstances are much worse than in the Great Depression, which I'm old enough to remember. Most of my family were unemployed working class and the country was of course far poorer than it is today. But it was a hopeful period in many ways. There was a sense that people were doing something about it and that times would get better. And indeed they did, thanks to very active organizing, CIO, other things. And then an immense government stimulus, first during the War and then continuing through the post-war decades.
That's not true today. The jobs that are being lost are unlikely to return, at least under the current programs of the masters of mankind. Not graven in stone, but that's their programs. While the population suffers, Goldman Sachs, which is one of the main architects of the current crisis, is now richer than ever and they have just quietly announced 17.5 billion dollars in extra compensation for last year with the CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, getting 12.6 million while his base salary more than triples. And exactly as Barofsky said, they're poised to play the same game again.
And why not? They can rely on the government insurance policy that enables them to safely engage in risky transactions, make huge profits, and they don't take into account what in the jargon of economics are called externalities -- the effect of a transaction on others; crucially in their case what's called systemic risk, that is, the likelihood that the whole system will collapse as a result of their risky and hence profitable transactions.
And when it does collapse, as is anticipated, that's not a big problem. They can run to the powerful nanny state that they nurtured, clutching in their hands their copies of Hayek and Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand and so on and they can demand the bailout to which they're entitled because they're too big to fail as it's put. As one commentator added, Riley, also too big to jail for quite serious crimes. It's a pretty impressive scam. Of course it's in radical violation of capitalist principles, but the masters of mankind believe in those principles only for others, not for themselves.
That stance has a long pedigree. That's another matter that's important to understand if we want to grasp the nature of the world in which we live: actually lies in the background a very revealing interaction that's taking place between two countries that are quite different in terms of independence and economic development: the United States and Egypt. The democracy uprisings in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt, these are events of truly historic importance. And they're very frightening to western power, for very simple reasons. The west is certainly going to do whatever it can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world.
To see why it's enough to take a look at the studies of Arab public opinion, which is certainly known to planners, even though not to the western public, at least to those who keep to the media. What they show is for example in Egypt about 90% of the population think that the United States think that the United States is the main threat that they face. Maybe 10% think Iran is a threat. Actually about 80% think the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons. Those figures happen to the high in Egypt but they're pretty much true across the Arab world, so it's obvious that the west is going to do whatever it can to prevent those opinions from entering into policy which means to prevent any form of authentic democracy.
Well, these are extremely important events and it's important to take a look at how they're developing. All of these have long histories incidentally. So for example the Egyptian movement as you probably saw was led by a group of young tech-savvy people who called themselves the April 6th Movement. Why April 6th? That's a reference to a major action that was planned on April 6, 2008. At one of the major industrial installations in Egypt, the Mahalla textile installation, there was supposed to be a big strike. There were a lot of support activities. It was crushed by the military dictatorship that we were supporting. Forgotten here; who cares? But not forgotten there. And the same is true of the other countries.
The things that have suddenly burst forth are not coming from nowhere. That's true of the first one too, which doesn't even get reported. The current wave of uprisings actually began in the last African colony, one of the two countries of the Arab world that was invaded, occupied, and settled by an outside power. That's Western Sahara, technically a U.N. dependency, supposed to move on to independence. It was invaded in 1975 by Morocco, a brutal invasion like most. [They] settled a lot of the Moroccan population there, illegally of course. And there have been repeated protests. There was another one in last November, an effort to set up a tent city. Moroccan forces quickly crushed it. Since it's a U.N. responsibility the issue did come to the Security Council, but France made sure that there would be no inquiry into what happened. It has to protect its Moroccan client. That was the first of the other occupied countries so far the lid has been on tightly. That's Palestine. Plenty to say about that, but I think most of you are familiar with it, not least from the very courageous and important work done right here by the late Jim Graff.
Whatever is going to happen it's not clear. All of this is still a work in progress. But despite the internal barriers and internal constraints, these popular movements have achieved substantial success and they have pretty exciting prospects. One of the most dramatic recent moments was last February 20 when Kamal Abbas sent a message from Tahrir Square in Cairo to the Wisconsin workers saying "We stand with you as you stood with us." Abbas is a leader of the years of struggle of Egyptian workers for elementary rights that lie in the background of today's Arab spring, as I said brutally crushed by the western-backed dictator. He's also a leading figure in the current uprising. And Abbas' message of solidarity to Wisconsin workers evoked the traditional aspirations of the labor movement -- solidarity among working people of the world and populations generally.
Right now the trajectories in Cairo and Madison are intersecting but they're heading in opposite directions: in Cairo towards gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorships; in Madison towards defending rights that have been won in long and hard struggles and are now under severe attack. Each of these is kind of a microcosm of tendencies that are underway in global society following varied courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what's taking place in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history and in what President Eisenhower called the most strategically important area in the world, the Middle East -- "a stupendous source of strategic power and probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment." Those are the words of the State Department in the 1940s. That was a prize that the U.S. intended to keep for itself and its allies in the unfolding new world order of the day that they were organizing and implementing, and in fact still do.
It's normal for the victors to consign history to the trash can and it's normal for the victims to take it seriously. If we want to understand the world we should follow their example. Today is in fact not the first occasion when Egypt and the United States are facing similar problems and moving in opposite directions. That was also true in the early part of the 19th century in ways which are quite crucial for both societies and generalize across the world, and are crucial for understanding of the creation of the divide between the rich First World and the poor Third World, much less sharp back in those days.
At that time, early 19th century, Egypt and the United States were both well placed to undertake rapid economic development. Both of them had rich agriculture. That included cotton, which is sort of the fuel of the early industrial revolution. Although unlike Egypt, the United States had to develop cotton production and a work force by conquest, extermination, and slavery, with consequences that reverberate to the present. There was one fundamental difference between Egypt and the United States, namely the United States gained independence and it was therefore free to ignore the prescriptions of economic theory -- pretty much the same ones as today. At the time they were delivered by the greatest economist of the day, Adam Smith, in terms similar to those preached to what are called developing societies today.
So Smith urged the American colonies to keep to what was later called their comparative advantage, that is, to produce primary products for export and to import superior British manufactures and certainly not to try to monopolize crucial goods. That meant particularly cotton in those days, kind of like oil today. Any other path, he warned, I'll quote him, "would retard instead of accelerating the further increase in the value of their annual produce and would obstruct instead of promoting the progress of their country toward real wealth and greatness." Approximately what you study in economic courses today and the advice given to the world by the IMF and the World Bank. Having gained their independence, the U.S. colonies were free to ignore the laws of sound economics. They were free to follow England's own course of independent state-guided development with high tariffs to protect industry from superior British exports, the first textiles and later steel and others, and a wide variety of other modes of state intervention in order to accelerate economic development.
The independent republic also tried and came pretty close, to get a monopoly of cotton -- for a good reason. The purpose was to place all other nations at our feet, as the Jacksonian presidents put it at the time when they were annexing Texas and half of Mexico. They were particularly concerned with England. England was the big enemy in those days. It was a deterrent and they figured if they monopolized cotton they could bring England to its feet. It's pretty important. For example, it's one of the reasons why Canada wasn't conquered. The British deterred it several times. Maybe it's being conquered in other ways, but that's another matter. But it wasn't militarily conquered.
They also couldn't conquer Cuba, much as they wanted to, because the British fleet was in the way. They did finally conquer in later in the century in 1898 under the pretext of liberating it but actually conquering it. The idea was if they could monopolize control of cotton they could overcome this deterrent that was in the way of expansion. Actually it's kind of interesting that that's essentially the policy that was attributed to Saddam Hussein in 1990, ridiculous at that time. But if you look back at the propaganda at the time of the invasion, the pretext was, well, he's trying to monopolize oil to bring us all to his feet. That's totally outlandish. But what was charged, the crime attributed to Saddam Hussein, was in fact one of the main ones that led to U.S. economic development. It happened and it's had a big effect, one of the reasons it's out of history except that it's in history.
That was the United States. What about Egypt? Egypt couldn't follow a comparable course because it was barred by British power. It wasn't independent. So the British Lord Palmerston declared, in his words, that "no ideas of fairness toward Egypt ought to stand in the way of such great and paramount interests of Britain as preserving its economic and political hegemony." And he expressed what he called his hate for the ignorant barbarian Muhammad Ali, the developmentalist leader who was trying to direct Egypt on an independent course. Britain's fleet and financial resources were deployed to terminate Egypt's quest for independence and economic development.
After World War II the United States displaced Britain as global hegemon and it adopted the same position. The U.S. made it clear that Washington would provide no aid to Egypt and the whole world badly needed aid at the time. The U.S. would provide no aid to Egypt unless it adhered to the standard rules for weak, the ones I cited, which of course the U.S. continued to violate itself, imposing high tariffs to bar Egyptian cotton and causing a debilitating dollar shortage. Actually [this is] the usual interpretation of market principles. It's fine for you, fine for disciplining the weak and controlling them, but not me, please. I want the nanny state to make sure I'm okay. That applies home too, the way Goldman Sachs and its colleagues and its representative in government understand very well. These are really leading themes of modern history. They're essentially the basis for the First – Third World distinction -- this generalizes all over -- and for what's happening internal to the rich societies as well.
As these kind of quite simple principles predict, elections are increasingly just becoming a charade run by the public relations industry which tries to mobilize populations to vote while making sure that issues are marginalized for the reason I mentioned. The public has different opinions about issues than the masters of mankind so you want to keep them aside.
I should say while I'm talking about the United States, it's not true everywhere. If you go, say, to the poorest country in South America, Bolivia, they actually had democratic elections, pretty remarkable ones and especially in the last ten years. So in the last ten years the most bitterly repressed segment of the population, the indigenous population, have actually entered the political arena, pressed their demands, took part in elections, won the elections, elected someone from their own ranks -- a poor peasant, not somebody from the Skull and Bones at Yale -- and won the election on real issues, serious issues like control over resources, cultural rights, how to handle problems of justice in a complex multiethnic society. And then in another election a couple of years later they did even better.
That's democracy. You have to look pretty hard to find anything like that in the industrial world. What's happening in our societies is something quite different. The public relations industry, which essentially runs the elections, is applying certain principles to undermine democracy which are the same as the principles that applies to undermine markets. The last thing that business wants is markets in the sense of economic theory. Take a course in economics, they tell you a market is based on informed consumers making rational choices. Anyone who's ever looked at a TV ad knows that's not true. In fact if we had a market system an ad say for General Motors would be a brief statement of the characteristics of the products for next year. That's not what you see. You see some movie actress or a football hero or somebody driving a car up a mountain or something like that. And that's true of all advertising. The goal is to undermine markets by creating uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices and the business world spends huge efforts on that.
The same is true when the same industry, the PR industry, turns to undermining democracy. It wants to construct elections in which uninformed voters will make irrational choices. It's pretty reasonable and it's so evident you can hardly miss it. It's another one of those things that ought to be taught in elementary school. It's kind of embarrassing to talk about something so obvious to a university audience.,
All of this is second nature to the masters of mankind. So for example after his 2008 victory as perhaps you know, Obama immediately won an award from the advertising industry for the best marketing campaign of 2008. He beat out Apple Computers. And if you look at the business press, where people talk more openly, executives were euphoric. They said they'd been marketing candidates like toothpaste ever since Reagan but 2008 was the greatest achievement. They said it was so great it's going to change the style in corporate boardrooms.
The 2012 election is now expected to cost two billion dollars. It's going to have to be mostly corporate funding. So it's not at all surprising that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions. The public is quite angry and frustrated, but unless western populations can rise to the level of Egyptians they're going to remain victims.
In the United States the Republicans long ago ceased any pretext of being a traditional political party. They are so deep in the pockets of corporate America, the super rich, you need a telescope to find them. Democrats, who incidentally by now are what used to be called moderate Republicans, they're not too far behind. Obama's choice of an economic team which I mentioned is an example. Actually I didn't put in quite accurately. There was one exception in his economic team, namely Paul Volcker. He was the Secretary of Treasury under Ronald Reagan. But the spectrum has shifted so far to the right that Volcker was the last liberal calling for some kind of regulation -- was, incidentally, not is. He was kicked out, replaced by Jeffrey Immelt. He was the CEO of General Electric. That's the nation's largest corporation.
His special responsibility, if you look back at the rhetoric, was to create jobs. Actually more accurate comment, again by Tom Ferguson, is that what we actually have here is the disappearance from the scene of the best-known and most visible critic of the excesses of the financial sector and his replacement by the sitting CEO of a company that is heavily dependent upon government aid of all sorts including diplomatic assistance to invest more in China and to shift jobs there. This is not about jobs, it's about political money. The White House knows it will need to raise about a billion dollars for its re-election campaign.
That's the context in which this and Obama's other recent appointments need to be judged, and the business world not surprisingly was quite pleased. The London Financial Times reported that Mr. Immelt's appointment was applauded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the major business lobby, which they said which they said has been among the President's harshest critics and funded many Republicans that ran against Democrats in last November's election. But maybe that will be over and the last barrier to business rule could be out of the way.
If you look at GE, General Electric, more than half of its work force is abroad and more than half of its revenue comes from overseas operations. Also most of its revenues come not from production though it's regarded as a manufacturing enterprise but from financial operations, for which, incidentally, it received a hefty bailout when Wall Street tanked. While the appointment was proclaimed to be for job growth, it actually has little to do with that and more accurately it's what's called follow the money. More than a century ago the great political financier Mark Hanna said that two things are important in politics: money and I've forgotten the second one. Another thing for elementary school.
That's far more true today especially with the radical changes of the past thirty years. They're important to understand. These developments roughly the last 30-odd years followed one of the major changes in world order in the modern period, namely the dismantling of the post-Second World War economic system, so-called Bretton Woods system, which had been designed by the victors of the Second World War, the United States and Britain. The basic designers were John Maynard Keynes from Britain and the New Deal economist Harry Dexter White for the United States.
One central component of this system was regulation of currencies. In fact that was part of the basis for the huge economic growth for the next couple of decades, the highest in history. That was dismantled about 40 years ago. That was one factor that led to the huge explosion in the financial speculation and the vast growth of financial institutions. At that time they were small components of the economy and they were mostly doing what the banks are supposed to do in state capitalist systems, namely to direct unused funds like your bank to some kind of productive investment.
That was then. By 2007, just before the great crash, they gained about 40% of corporate profits in the U.S. Their profits come mostly from complex financial manipulations, actions that have little if any social or economic utility and are harmful to the economy and also to people in many ways. These practices would be sharply curtailed if capitalist principles were to prevail. They would be curtailed by crashes and losing your money. But thankfully there's no fear of that, at least for the rich.
Another factor in the financialization of the economy was that the rate of profit in production was declining so it was easier to make money by financial manipulations, of course always with the protection of the nanny state. A closely related development was the offshoring of production. That's within a global trade system that is very carefully designed to set working people in competition with one another worldwide along with a very high level of protection for wealth and unprecedented rights for investors. That's the usual interpretation of market discipline again: fine for you, but not for me, please.
These developments set in motion a vicious cycle of concentration of wealth and with it concentration of political power, again in accordance with Smith's maxim. For the past 30 years state corporate policy has been very precisely designed to accelerate this cycle so inequality as you probably know has soared to the highest levels in U.S. history. But less known is that this is actually misleading. The radical inequality results primarily from the extraordinary wealth of the top one percent of the population, actually more accurately the top one tenth of one percent. It's a group so small that it's missed by the U.S. census, which vastly underestimates inequality for this reason. It's been studied by economists.
Meanwhile for the majority of the population real incomes have pretty much stagnated. People are getting by with heavier workloads, much more than, say, in Europe and Japan; debt, and asset inflation like the last housing bubble. The miniscule category of victors, and it is extremely small, that's primarily CEOs, hedge fund managers and the like. And they use their political power to enhance the process. The cuts, for example, are carefully crafted to benefit the super rich. If you look back, until 1980, until Reagan, taxes in the United States were somewhat redistributive -- that's according to the analysis of the Internal Revenue Service -- as in most countries. That's what they're supposed to be. Since then with a couple of blips, that in fact has declined, and if other factors are introduced, like tax havens and other evasion options, they redistribute upwards. That's carefully designed.
Take the Bush tax cuts ten years ago, which are huge burden on the economy. They were designed very carefully. They started the first year with a small tax rebate to people. So you get a couple of hundred dollars in the mail and you think this is great, a tax rebate. But they were designed so over the years the benefits would shift towards the rich, and by the tenth year when they were set to expire, more than half of the tax benefits went to the top one percent, the people that count. But then it's kind of invisible if it happens that way. There's a name for it. It's called the sunset technique. They make sure that by the time the sun sets, things are happening the right way. You kind of delude people at the beginning. Only those who are inside the game can see what's planning down the road.
These are perfectly normal kind of policies for the people who are called conservatives, who now want to make it permanent. Take a look at the front page of the newspapers. They want to make these cuts permanent, but for jobs, the same as here. The reason we have to give a huge amount of money to the top one percent of the population or a fraction of that, which spends it on whatever they feel like, is for jobs. Actually there's an interesting changes that's taken place in the English language in this respect. There is a word which has become obscene, so since there may be children in the audience I can't say it but I'll spell it: P-R-O-F-I-T-S. You're not allowed to say that. In fact it has a pronunciation. It's called jobs, and that's kind of by now routine.
And that's what this is about. The same here. That was the Bush tax cuts, but the same thing is happening right at this moment. Like the lame duck session of Congress, the session after the November election before the next Congress takes office. Obama was greatly praised for his achievements during the lame duck session, a statesmanlike display of bipartisanship and so on. Praised by his own supporters, in fact. There were some achievements. The main achievement was a tax break for the super-rich, and I mean super-rich. Like I'm pretty well off, but I'm below the cutoff for that one. It was super-rich tax cut. Of course it increased the deficit, which is supposed to be the big thing we're worried about. Carrying that off required some pretty impressive footwork but it was done.
Also at the same time there was a tax increase for federal workers, but it wasn't called that because you're not supposed to talk about tax increases. It was called a freeze, I think for five minutes. A freeze for maybe five seconds. A freeze for public sectors is identical to a tax increase for them, so this is a tax increase for public sector workers disguised as a freeze. There was also a payroll tax decrease for Social Security. Social Security is paid by working people. It doesn't contribute anything to the deficit -- to the contrary. The workers pay for it, and there was a decrease in that payment, which kind of sounds good. The people need the money. But again it was a Trojan horse. Take a look at the way it was designed. It was the sunset technique again. The freeze was carefully designed so that it ends right before the Presidential election.
Political figures understand perfectly well that with an election coming up, nobody's going to say let's raise the payroll tax. So that essentially makes it permanent, which is a way to defund Social Security. Social Security is actually in pretty good shape despite what everybody screams about. But if you can defund it, it won't be in good shape. And there is a standard technique of privatization, namely defund what you want to privatize. Like when Thatcher wanted to defund the railroads, first thing to do is defund them, then they don't work and people get angry and they want a change. You say okay, privatize them and then they get worse. In that case the government had to step in and rescue it.
That's the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don't work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital. That's the Social Security scam. If they can succeed in defunding it -- they've been trying for decades, it's too popular to do much about, and very efficient incidentally, miniscule administrative costs. Nothing like the privatized health care system. So it's kind of hard to get rid of. But if you can defund it, it might work out. That's the point of this decision in the lame duck session. That's kind of important. First of all, if it can be privatized it's a huge bonanza for investors. There's a ton of money in the Social Security system. It's kept in a trust fund or invested in government bonds and goes back to working people. But if that can get into the hands of financial institutions, they can make a ton of money by using those funds to enrich themselves. And as usual when the system crashes, going back to the taxpayer to bail them out.
Also, Social Security really has defects. It's almost of no use at all to wealthy people. They may get it but they're not going to notice it. It's a toothpick on a mountain. So who cares? But for a large part of the population it's their means of survival. That's particularly true right now. People had a tremendous amount of their fake wealth which they believed it in housing. It was all a fake bubble but they believed in it. So it was used borrowing, for education, for anything. That's gone. Eight trillion dollars of it are gone. Those people are going to be surviving on Social Security that's of no significance to the wealthy, of course.
There's a kind of a deeper point, that Social Security is based on the principle that Kamal Abbas was talking about, namely social solidarity. Social Security is based on the idea that you're supposed to care what happens to people who are in need. So like if there's a disabled widow across town and she doesn't have food to eat, you're supposed to care about it. That's what Social Security is about. And that's a bad idea. You're supposed to look after yourself, not care about other people. Social Security is dangerous. It kind of undermines preferred doctrines and can even lead to action, which could change the way the world works. So we don't want that. In fact there's a large scale attack on public education that's based on the same principle, if you can privatize. . . and the same techniques are being used. Defund it so it doesn't work, complain about how it doesn't work, privatize it, it gets worse. But then you've undermined social solidarity and it's fine for the wealthy anyway. They'll get what they want.
All of this is part of a quite impressive campaign of class war, which has many aspects. A lot of them aren't immediately visible but they're there. So for example the government sets rules on how corporations are run, what's called corporate governance. And the rules that have been set up during this passionate class war period, the rules are that CEOs can pick the boards that set their salaries and work out techniques like, say, stock options which conceal short-term gain. You can imagine how that works when you pick your own board.
There have been efforts to try to get this to be more transparent, but they were beaten back by Congress. The same is true of deregulation. During the period when New Deal deregulations were maintained there were no financial crises. The system went along smoothly. Since Reagan there have been regular financial crises, each one worse than the preceding one. But the rich and powerful make out fine for the reasons I mentioned. The public pays, the rich benefit.
All of this is kind of a new stage of state capitalism. Loyalty to firms is less and less necessary when the goal of management is short-term profits, which of course comes mostly from financial manipulations. So who cares about the firm? If it goes under, fine. I'm rich. Domestic unemployment is not a problem. There's no need for a domestic work force when Mexico and China and Vietnam and other sources of cheap and brutally exploited labor can be used as assembly plants, and they are assembly plants. Major industries increasingly have their work forces overseas, like General Electric, while -- I have to say that word, I'm afraid; sorry -- while profits come home back to the pockets of a few.
Take IBM. It's quite an interesting example. The business press recently ran a big article about them and said correctly that IBM may strike many people as the quintessential American company, but over 70% of its work force was outside of the United States at the end of 2008. And the following year, while continuing to reduce its U.S. employment, the company announced a program to offer employees the opportunity to move their jobs to emerging markets. In other words, you have the opportunity to move to India, say, where you could live at a much lower standard of living. Nice opportunity, but that increases the efficiency of the company and it provides wealth for the masters. If employees don't take this opportunity that is so benignly offered to them, they have options. They can join the people standing in line for food stamps. But IBM's a benevolent company, the article points out. They're offering to foot some of the relocation costs so they're really nice guys.
The report in the business press didn't explain why IBM should be regarded as the quintessential American company, but there are in fact good reasons. One is that IBM relied on the taxpayer for its wealth. That's how it learned to forget about earlier things like helping out Nazi Germany. But just in the recent period it learned to shift from punch cards to modern computers. It learned it at Pentagon-funded labs where I worked, for example. Finally in the early sixties the firm was able to produce its own fast computers but they were too expensive for businesses, so the United States stepped in to purchase them. In general a procurement by the state is a major device of taxpayer subsidy.
Many years, actually decades later, IBM was finally able to make profits in the market and it was also able to spin off wildly successful enterprises like Microsoft and others which also benefited amply from public subsidy. So indeed it's true: it is the quintessential American company and management is following sound economic principles in shifting employment abroad. What happens to the country is not their business. It's worth noting that this really isn't new. Not very long ago the long-term future of the firm was an important consideration for management. Less and less so under modern forms of state capitalism.
Rather interestingly these issues were foreseen by the great founders of modern economics, Adam Smith for example. He recognized and discussed what would happen to Britain if the masters adhered to the rules of sound economics -- what's now called neoliberalism. He warned that if British manufacturers, merchants, and investors turned abroad, they might profit but England would suffer. However, he felt that this wouldn't happen because the masters would be guided by a home bias. So as if by an invisible hand England would be spared he ravages of economic rationality.
That passage is pretty hard to miss. It's the only occurrence of the famous phrase "invisible hand" in Wealth of Nations, namely in a critique of what we call neoliberalism. The other leading founder of modern economics, David Ricardo, he drew similar conclusions. He hoped that home bias would lead, I'm quoting him now, "would lead men of property to be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations." He said "These are feelings that I would be sorry to see weakened." Their predictions aside, the instincts of the classical economists were quite sound.
I mentioned before one well-known market inefficiency, the market inefficiency of dismissing externalities; that is, the effect of a transaction on others. In the case of financial institutions, the externality that's dismissed in systemic risk, the risk that the whole system will crash as the result of some failed transaction. You don't take that into account when you make a transaction. In that case the taxpayer can come to the rescue. That way you can make sure that those who profit from risky transactions will be saved.
But that's not always an option, and the consequences can be severe -- in fact awesomely severe. So nobody's going to come to the rescue if the environment is destroyed, and that it must be destroyed is close to an institutional imperative under contemporary state capitalism. Just think it through. Business leaders right now are conducting massive propaganda campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic global warming -- global warming because of human interference -- is a liberal hoax, and they're succeeding. Like in the United States probably two-thirds of the population believes this by now.
The CEOs who are running these campaigns, they understand what all of us understand. They understand that the threat is very real, very grave; that it'll destroy everything they own, that it'll wreck the lives of their grandchildren. They know all of that. But then as CEOs of a corporation, in that institutional role they have no choice. They can pull out of course, but if they stay there they have to maximize short-term gain and market share. Actually that's a legal requirement under Anglo-American law. If they don't do it, they'll be out and somebody else will come in who does do it. So it's an institutional property, not an individual one. And it does set off a vicious cycle, one that could be lethal.
To see how immanent the danger is, just have a look at the new Congress in the United States, the one that was propelled into power by large scale business funding and propaganda. Almost everyone there is a climate change denier and they've already been acting on those assumptions. They've been cutting the limited expenditures there are for dealing with environmental problems. If the United States doesn't do anything significant, the rest of the world isn't either.
Worse than that, some of them are true believers. For example the new head of one of these committees on the environment explained that global warming can't be a problem because God promised Noah that there wouldn't be another flood. That takes care of that. If that was happening in Andorra or some small remote country, maybe we would laugh. But it's not laughable when it's happening in the richest and most powerful country in the world. Before we laugh, we might bear in mind that the current economic crisis is traceable in no small measure to the fanatic faith in such dogmas as the efficient market hypothesis and in general to what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz 15 years ago called "the religion that markets know best." The religion made it unnecessary for economists and the Federal Reserve to notice that there was an eight trillion dollar housing bubble that had no basis at all in economic fundamentals, that was way off historical trends, and that devastated the economy when it burst. No need to look at it because we have the religion. Markets know best, so forget it. That religion is resuscitated despite what happened.
All of this and much more can proceed as long as the general population is passive, apathetic, devoted to consumerism or maybe hatred of the vulnerable. As long as that's true the powerful can do as they please and those who survive will be left to contemplate the ruins.
"YOU AND your Weimar!" a friend of mine once exclaimed in exasperation, "just because you experienced the collapse of the Weimar Republic as a child, you see Weimar behind every corner."
The accusation was not unjustified. In 1960, during the Eichmann trial, I wrote a book about the fall of the German Republic. Its last chapter was called: "It can happen here" Since then I have come back to this warning time and again.
But now I am not alone anymore. During the last few weeks, the word Weimar has popped up in the articles of many commentators.
It should be sprayed in huge letters on the walls.
ISRAELI DEMOCRACY is under siege. No one can ignore this anymore. It is the main topic in the Knesset, which is leading the attack, and the media, who are among the victims.
This does not happen in the occupied territories. There, democracy never existed. Occupation is the very opposite of democracy: a denial of all human rights, the right to life, liberty, movement, fair trial and free expression, not to mention national rights.
No, I mean Israel proper, the Israel inside the Green Line, The Only Democracy In The Middle East.
The attackers are members of Binyamin Netanyahu's government coalition, which includes semi-fascist and openly fascist elements. Netanyahu himself tries to remain discreetly in the background, but there can be no doubt that every single detail has been orchestrated by him.
In the first two years of this coalition, attacks were sporadic. But now they are determined, systematic and coordinated.
At this moment, the anti-democratic forces are attacking on a wide front, The three main pillars of democracy – the courts, the media and the human rights organizations – are under simultaneous, deadly assault. (Remember Weimar?)
THE SUPREME COURT is the bastion of democracy. Israel has no constitution, the Knesset majority is totally unbridled, only the court can (if reluctantly) check the adoption of anti-democratic laws.
I am not a blind admirer of the court. In the occupied territories, it is an arm of the occupation, devoted to "national security", approving of some of the worst incidents. Only in rare cases has it come out against the worst practices. But in Israel proper, it is a stout defender of civil rights.
The extreme rightists in the Knesset are resolved to put an end to this. Their front man is the Minister of Justice, who was appointed by Avigdor Lieberman. He is pushing a series of scandalous ad hominem bills. One of them is designed to change the composition of the public committee that appoints the judges, with the undisguised intention of bringing about the appointment of a particular right-wing judge to the Supreme Court.
Another bill has the undisguised purpose of changing the existing court rules in order to put a certain "conservative" judge in the chair of Chief Justice. The declared purpose is to abolish the rule of an independent court which dares, though only in rare cases, to block "anti-constitutional" laws enacted by the Knesset majority. They want the court to "represent the will of the people". (Remember Weimar?)
Until now, since the first day of the state, the justices have been, in practice, chosen by cooptation. This has functioned perfectly for 63 years. Israel's Supreme Court is the envy of many countries. Now this system is in mortal danger.
Another bill, which would have compelled candidates for the Supreme Court to undergo grilling by a Knesset Committee chaired by another Lieberman appointee, and obtain their approval, was withheld at the last moment by Netanyahu himself, He had already given his approval, but shrank back after the almost universal condemnation – and is now posing as the defender of democracy from his own underlings.
The chairman of the Judicial Committee of the Knesset, another Lieberman appointee, is rushing these laws through his committee, contrary to established procedures. In a stormy session this week, a female member called him "a coarse thug". He replied: "You are not even a beast".
A minimal purpose of these bills is to terrorize any judges considering vetoing the other anti-democratic bills that are being enacted. Some say that the effects are already being felt.
In several famous cases, the government openly flouts the Supreme Court's orders, especially concerning the evacuation of "settlements outposts" built on lands belonging to Palestinian farmers.
Who will defend the court? The former Chief Justice, Aharon Barak, who was hated by the rightists because of his pioneering "judicial activism", once told me: "The Court has no army divisions. Its power rests solely on the support of the public."
THE ASSAULT on the media started some time ago when the American casino baron, Sheldon Adelson, a close friend of Netanyahu, started a daily tabloid paper with the express purpose of helping Netanyahu. It is being distributed for free and now has the biggest circulation in the country, threatening the existence of all the others (but also bribing them by giving them huge printing orders.) Money is no object. Huge sums are being spent.
That was only the beginning.
In 1965 the Labor party government enacted a new libel law (called literally "the Law of the Evil Tongue") which was then clearly designed to muzzle "Haolam Hazeh", the mass-circulation news magazine I was editing, which had introduced investigative reporting to Israel. I appealed to the public to send me to the Knesset in protest, and 1.5% of the voters were incensed enough to do so.
Now the right-wing gang in the Knesset wants to sharpen this anti-media law even more. The new amendment grants up to $135,000 damages to anyone claiming to be hurt by the media, without their having to prove any damage at all. For newspapers and TV channels, which are already in a precarious financial position, this means that they better give up all investigative reporting and any criticism of influential politicians and tycoons.
The new winds are already being felt. Journalists and TV editors are cowed. This week, a program on Channel 10, considered the most liberal, gave five minutes to a song glorifying the late "Rabbi" Meir Kahane, who was branded by the Supreme Court as a fascist, and whose organization was outlawed for advocating what the court called "Nuremberg laws". An avowed member of this organization, which is alive and kicking under another name, is now a vocal member of the Knesset. (Remember Weimar?)
A major purge of TV journalists is already underway. One by one, directors of all TV channels are being replaced by confirmed rightists. It was openly admitted that the government would force the closure of Channel 10 by calling in outstanding debts if a certain journalist were not fired. Though generally an establishment type, this reporter had irked Netanyahu by exposing his and his wife's luxurious traveling style at government expense.
AT THE same time, human rights and peace NGOs are under heavy attack. The Knesset gang is producing bill after bill to silence them.
One bill already under way forbids human rights associations to receive donations from foreign governments and "state-like organizations", such as the UN and the EU. Right-wing organization receive, of course, huge sums of money from Jewish American billionaires, who fund the settlements (which are also indirectly financed by the US treasury, which gives tax-exempt status to the so-called "charitable organizations" that fund the settlements.)
The law which levies huge indemnities on organizations and individuals who advocate a boycott on the products of the settlements is already in force. The hearing of an application submitted by Gush Shalom to the Supreme Court against this suppression of political protest has been postponed by the court again and again and again.
This parliamentary terrorism is accompanied by the accelerating violence of fascist gangs from the settlements. These SA-like gangs call their actions "Price Tag". Usually, they react to the isolated cases of the army demolishing a few "illegal" buildings in a settlement by attacking a neighboring Palestinian village, setting fire to a mosque or carrying out what can only be described as a pogrom. (Remember Weimar?)
MARTIN NIEMÖLLER, a German U-boat captain and later pacifist pastor, who was thrown into a concentration camp by the Nazis, coined the famous lament: "When the Nazis came to take the Communists, I was silent. After all, I was no Communist. When they took the Jews, I was silent. I am no Jew. When they arrested the Social Democrats, I was silent. I was no Social Democrat. When they came to take me, there was no one left to protest."
What we are witnessing now are not isolated attacks on one or another human right – what we are seeing is a general attack on democracy as such. Perhaps only people who have experienced life under a fascist dictatorship can fully realize what that means.
Of course, the similarity between the collapse of the German republic and the processes in today's Israel does not mean that the same events must follow. Nazism was unique in many ways. The end of real democracy may be followed by different systems. There are many models to choose from: Ceausescu, Franco, Putin.
Certainly, there is no similarity between the small German town called Weimar and Tel Aviv. Except perhaps the fact that many houses in Tel Aviv were designed according to the Bauhaus architectural school - which originated in Weimar.
Weimar was once a cultural center, where geniuses like Goethe and Schiller produced their masterpieces. The German republic which was founded in 1919, after World War I, was called by this name after the national assembly which framed its very progressive constitution there.
On these lines, the endangered democratic State of Israel, whose Declaration of Independence was signed in 1948 in Tel Aviv, could rightly be called the Tel Aviv Republic.
We are not yet in 1932. The Storm Troopers are not yet roaming our streets. We still have time to mobilize the public against the looming danger. This week's demonstration that will take place in Tel Aviv against the de-democratization of Israel may mark a turning point.
Palestine 1946 to 2000 - Israeli Lebensraum Fascism
"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."
– Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
"The American Dream has been under assault for 30 years," says former President Bill Clinton.
Dateline 13-Sep-2011 (AP):
The Census Bureau reports the number of Americans in poverty jumped to 15.1 percent in 2010, a 27-year high.
About 46.2 million people, or nearly 1 in 6, were in poverty. That's up from 43.6 million, or 14.3 percent, in 2009. It was the highest level since 1983.
The number of people lacking health insurance increased to 49.9 million, a new high after revisions were made to 2009 figures. Losses were due mostly to working-age Americans who lost employer-provided insurance in the weak economy.
A lobbying group, Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford, put out a memo to one of their clients, the American Bankers Association about "constructing a negative narrative about Occupy Wall Street". I'm not sure it is really a smoking gun as most of this falls into the realm of "common knowledge". I do think that most folks believe this is how our sick system really works. It is, however, very scary to see this in print.
From an article on CommonDreams.org gleaned from MSNBC: According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, "This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye."
NEWT WANT TO REINTRODUCE CHILD LABOUR there are obviously no taboos anymore
Was next? Slavery? Your locust corporate paymasters would save lots of money!!!
Newt Gingrich: Child labor laws 'truly stupid'
By Kim Geiger
November 21, 2011, 12:29 p.m.
Promising "extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America," Newt Gingrich said Friday that he would fire school janitors and pay students to clean schools instead.
Speaking at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the Republican presidential candidate and former speaker of the House challenged laws that prevent children from working certain jobs before their mid-teens.
Gingrich blames "the core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization" for "crippling" children.
"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, in child laws, which are truly stupid," he said.
"I tried for years to have a very simple model," he continued. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they'd have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
Gingrich, who over the weekend said Occupy Wall Street protesters should "get a job" and "take a bath," suggested during the Harvard appearance Friday that poor children need to build a work ethic.
"Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday," he said. "Get any job that teaches you to stay all day even if you're having a fight with your girlfriend. I mean, the whole process of making work worthwhile is central."
Gingrich is the latest Republican presidential candidate to challenge front-runner Mitt Romney in the polls.