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Activist Post: Rand Paul Exposes the Crony Federal Reserve on the Senate Floor

Activist Post: Rand Paul Exposes the Crony Federal Reserve on the Senate Floor.

Rand Paul

The Fascist Origin and Essence of Privatization Washington’s Blog

The Fascist Origin and Essence of Privatization Washington’s Blog.

Preface by Washington’s Blog: We documented in 2009 that fascism and our current crony capitalist economy are indistinguishable.

We noted in 2011 that America’s public resources are being raped and pillaged … just like those of small debt-saddled countries like Greece.

The following short – but important – piece by Eric Zuesse shows that looting and privatization of public resources was a hallmark of fascist Germany and Italy … and America today.

Washington’s Blog is non-partisan.  We believe that the war between liberals and conservatives is a false divide-and-conquer dog-and-pony show created by the powers that be to keep the American people divided and distracted. See thisthisthisthisthisthisthisthisthis and this.

We can argue it either way, because we are ideologically neutral: allowing the private sector to own and manage resources is good … or allowing the public sector to do so is healthy.

Here’s the key:  If these resources had always been in the private sector, that would be fine … that would be free market capitalism.

But if they were purchased on the people’s dime with our blood, tears, sweat and taxpayer funds – and then sold to the big boys for pennies on the dollar – that’s not capitalism … that’s looting.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Nazis, Italian fascists, and modern American “leaders” are doing.

-By Eric Zuesse

Conservatives support privatizing schools, prisons, hospitals, and other social services. The privatization-mania is also increasingly occurring in higher education, as conservatives in Congress push measures to raise the percentage of colleges that are owned by for-profit corporations, and to decrease the percentage that are either public or nonprofit.

The argument given for such privatization is that corporations are more efficient because they are “the free market” way of serving people’s needs. However, progressives argue to the contrary, that in these parts of the economy, where “profits” for the public are hard if not impossible to measure, government does a better and less-inefficient job than corporations do. And, now, even a conservative state’s governor seems to have switched to the latter conclusion.

On 3 January 2014, the AP reported an instance in which the Republican Governor of one of the three most-Republican states in the U.S., Idaho, is doing a 180-degree turn, and he announced that “the corrections department will take over operation of the largest privately-run prison in the state,” from Corrections Corporation of America. The AP’s Rebecca Boone, in Boise, reported, that, whereas “In 2008, he floated legislation to change state laws to allow private companies to build and operate prisons in Idaho,” he now is taking over operation of this CCA prison, because of “mismanagement and other problems at the facility.” Only a few months before, on September 16th, that same reporter had headlined “CCA in contempt for prison understaffing,” and she quoted the federal judge’s order, which said that, “For CCA staff to lie on so basic a point — whether an officer is actually at a post — leaves the Court with serious concerns about compliance in other respects, such as whether every violent incident is reported.” The judge found that CCA was lying because they wanted more of their income from the state to go toward boosting their bottom line for stockholders, and less of it to go toward feeding the prisoners and protecting them from each other. The judge’s order said, “If a prospective fine leads to $2.4 million in penalties, CCA has no one to blame but itself.” CCA had been caught by the judge in persistently lying to the state while shortchanging prisoners on the prison’s obligation to provide basic services to inmates. The tension between private profits versus public services was clear in this case. CCA had incentive to cheat inmates in order to raise profits, and now a federal judge was fining CCA for doing precisely that.

Similarly, countries such as France, Sweden, UK, and the OECD generally, where health care is entirely or largely provided by the government, have better health-care outcomes and far lower healthcare costs, on a per-person basis, than does the U.S., where the profit motive in medical care is far more encouraged.

However, many Americans prefer the privatization of government services, because they believe that such a movement toward “shrinking big government” is in the direction of greater freedom, and is the only ethical direction, a direction in favor of greater democracy, in accord with the U.S. Constitution. Though the U.S. Constitution is by no means a free-market document, and concerns political issues instead of economic ones, there is a strong belief, especially among conservatives, that it is primarily about economics. There is consequently a myth about privatization.

The Myth About Privatization: Privatization was introduced by two democracies, the USA and UK, in the 1980s, not by prior fascist regimes.

The Truth About Privatization: Privatization was, in fact, a big aim of the elite fascists, right from the very start of fascism.

Explanation of the Reality: Aristocrats control the private wealth. Privatization means that they get to control also what was previously public. Privatization moreover provides corrupt politicians (their politicians) an opportunity to pay off their contributors (themselves) by offering them an inside track on public-asset sales. So, it’s not surprising that privatization is the way of fascist countries.

Documentation of the Reality: In September 2009, the European University Institute issued their RSCAS_2009_46.pdf, titled “From Public to Private: Privatization in 1920’s Fascist Italy,” (subsequently retitled “The First Privatization: Selling SOEs” in the 2011 Cambridge Journal of Economics) by Germa Bel, who said in her summary: “Privatization was an important policy in Italy in 1922-1925. The Fascist government was alone in transferring State ownership and services to private firms in the 1920s; no other country in the world would engage in such a policy until Nazi Germany did so between 1934 and 1937.” Then, in the February 2010 Economic History Review, she headlined a study specifically about the German case, “Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatization in 1930s Germany.” Here, she reported that, though “privatizations in [fascist] Chile [under Pinochet] and the UK, which began to be implemented in the 1970s and 1980s, are usually considered the first privatization policies in modern history, … none of the contemporary economic analyses of privatization takes into account an important, earlier case: the privatization policy implemented by the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in Germany. … Although modern economic literature usually fails to notice it, the Nazi government in 1930s Germany implemented a large-scale privatization policy.” Furthermore, “Germany was alone in developing a policy of privatization in the mid-1930s,” since Italy had finished its privatizations by then.

The purposes of these privatizations, in both cases, were chiefly “receipts from selling” the assets to finance rearmament, and also “the desire to increase support from” the major aristocrats (such as, in Germany, the armaments-making firms of the Thyssens, the Krupps, and the Flicks), who received sweet deals on these assets.

Much later, of course, Russia under Boris Yeltsin also privatized, while that nation switched from being communist, to becoming fascist. (Yeltsin was no fascist himself; he wasn’t intelligent enough to be anything, ideologically. He was just confused, mistaken.) China later did the same thing, when it, too, switched from being communist to being fascist.

Connection to Privatization in the U.S: To continue with prisons as the case: Huffington Post, on 22 October 2013, headlined a major investigative news report “Private Prison Empire Rises Despite Startling Record of Juvenile Abuse,” and reporter Chris Kirkham found rampant political paybacks in the privatizations of juvenile prisons. As a typical example of the consequences: Florida’s “sweeping privatization of its juvenile incarceration system has produced some of the worst re-offending rates in the nation. More than 40 percent of youth offenders sent to one of Florida’s juvenile prisons wind up arrested and convicted of another crime within a year of their release, according to state data. In New York state, where historically no youth offenders have been held in private institutions, 25 percent are convicted again within that timeframe.” Those children in Florida are experiencing the brunt of fascism. But so are taxpayers.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

In Trusting Politics and Politicians, It Is the Pope Who is Naïve – Gary Galles – Mises Daily

In Trusting Politics and Politicians, It Is the Pope Who is Naïve – Gary Galles – Mises Daily.

One part of Pope Francis’s first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, condemned “trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world … which has never been confirmed by the facts, [and] expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” Those on the political left immediately celebrated this as an endorsement of “progressive” government, and every story I saw about the Pope’s selection as Time’s man of the year mentioned it.

Unfortunately, Pope Francis’s evident compassion for the poor is overwhelmed by his confusion about freedom expressed in markets. Economic liberty has done more to elevate the living standards of the general population than any other form of social organization in history. At the same time, it improves justice and expands inclusiveness. In addition, it is the only system which does not trust in the goodness of those with power. Conclusions drawn from such mistaken premises demonstrate why good intentions are not enough, if we are to judge from results.

The fact that the Pope picked “trickle-down” economic theories to attack was revealing, because no economist ever promoted such a thing. It was a term, like “tax cuts for the rich,” invented by big government opponents of market freedom to deliberately misrepresent it.

Trickle-down is a defamatory characterization of “supply side” economics which misdirects attention away from the primary means by which all gain from market freedom. Its core confusion is in assuming that reducing the disincentives faced by heavily-taxed high earners, leaving them more take-home pay, only benefits them, except for what trickles down to others when they spend it.

The reality is that when people, however rich or poor, advance their interests through voluntary arrangements, they benefit those they deal with. This is done by providing opportunities others find better than their alternatives, and those improved opportunities increase others’ real wealth. As George Reisman succinctly put it:

Under capitalism, not only is one man’s gain not another man’s loss, insofar as it comes out of an increase in overall, total production … one man’s gain is positively other men’s gain … Indeed, under capitalism, competition proceeds to raise the standard of living of the average wage earner above that of even the very wealthiest people in the world a few generations earlier.

Or, as Arthur Seldon put it, “capitalism is the instrument which people in all societies … use to escape from want and enrich one another by exchange.”

As a consequence, worsening the incentives of producers induces them to do less for others. And while it hurts such producers, it provides benefits only to the envious or covetous. It hurts those they deal with, by wiping out arrangements that would have been mutually beneficial. In other words, increased tax rates (and regulatory burdens, which act like taxes) destroy wealth that would have been created for the non-rich.

When the rich get richer by rigging the political process, that is objectionable, but it is not amarket failure. It is a government failure, imposed by undermining the benefits competitive markets provide for all participants. And the solution is to get the government out of the theft business (as capitalism would require), not to first enable favorites to garner ill-gotten gains from restricting competition, then use government’s abuses as an excuse to more heavily tax (and thus discourage) those who actually benefit others.

It is true that the crony capitalism we see all around us, which is far closer to fascism than capitalism, is unjust. Pope Francis is right to criticize such injustice. But private property, the basis of capitalism, prevents rather than enables the “dog eat dog” “survival of the fittest” competition that capitalism’s attackers accuse it of.

In contrast, private property prevents the physical invasion of a person’s life, their liberty, or their property without their consent. By preventing such invasions, private property is an irreplaceable defense against aggression by the strong against the weak. No one is allowed to be a predator by violating others’ rights. Property rights negate the rule of “might makes right,” which prevails in the absence of such rights. In Herbert Spencer’s words, “far from being, as some have alleged, an advocacy of the claims of the strong against the weak, [it] is much more an insistence that the weak shall be guarded against the strong.”

Pope Francis’s implication that freer markets need not expand inclusiveness also reflects confusion about crony capitalism versus capitalism. Capitalism is a system which places no legal barriers in the way of participants offering products and terms that others may deem better. All are free to discover and offer ways to benefit others. And no current market share (sometimes misleadingly called a firm’s “market power”) can persist in the face of superior options. However, the essence of crony capitalism is the use of laws, regulations, mandates, taxes, price controls, tariff and trade barriers, and administrative discretion to stymie such offers, extracting some of the gains from the “friends” created with such favoritism to maintain their stranglehold on political power.

That is also why the Pope’s assertion that capitalism puts “naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power” is misguided. Voluntary arrangements based on private property protect everyone from abuses of economic power. As Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations demonstrated: as long as all relationships are voluntary, even people who do not care at all about those they deal with seek for ways to benefit them as the indirect way to advancing their own self- interest (and hisTheory of Moral Sentiments discussed how people go beyond just narrow self-interest in their relationships).

There is nothing naïve about trusting people to advance their own self-interest. On the other hand, it is faith in political “solutions,” where government’s coercive power violates individual rights and their power to choose for themselves, that is naïve.

Pope Francis is clearly compassionate, illustrated by his pastoral attempts to lead the Catholic Church to be holier. As a Catholic, I sincerely applaud his efforts. He is right to object to much that he sees in the world around him. But what he objects to is not, in fact, caused by capitalism. It is caused by its crony capitalist caricature, which is a form of government control, not the individual self-determination enabled by capitalism. The confusion in Evangelii Gaudium is highly problematic. Spurred by this document, politicians may, in trying to “fix” capitalism, which is a massive economic blessing rather than the problem, turn to the transfer of even more individual choice to government diktat, resulting in even more crony capitalism. It would eviscerate the widespread benefits of capitalism, and in turn, harm the very people Francis wishes to protect.

 

Legion | Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Legion | Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

American Horror Story

You almost have to feel sorry for the conservatives, tea partiers, and the whole menagerie of free market evangelists these days. Even a casual perusal of AM talk radio, along with the buffoonery and gas baggery of the hard right news shows, one can see evidence of collapsing narratives at every turn.

Our disintegrating social conditions demand a plausible explanation from the right, and any such explanation, ideologically, must be sure to exonerate capitalism and the free market system.

This is becoming increasingly hard to do, as the shrill and contradictory defenses put forth become less satisfying every time the story is told. The story evolves, the audience reactions carefully polled, and the messaging refined to try and adapt to a low information audience growing more skeptical by the minute. There are many versions of the same story, depending on who tells it and more importantly who is paying for it, but for this discussion we are interested in the narrative brought forth by the evangelical right, and their socially conservative stable mates, or in general, the fire and brimstone crowd accounting for something near half of the American population.

The operating theory of this cohort centers for the most part on morality, or lack thereof, as principal cause for our society’s collapse.

Rush Limbaugh provides a pathetic but typical example of this type of addled logic:

The reason all of these stats on income inequality don’t work anymore is because the baseline for the statistical start is the fifties.  Now, what was happening in the fifties?  Well, in the fifties we had this thing called a nuclear family.  There was a mother, a woman.  There was a father, a man.  They had babies by engaging in coitus.  Leave It To Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet — hell, even the Beach Boys, for crying out loud!  They were seemingly clean and pure as the wind driven snow.

Anyway, then after the coitus in the bedroom, then little Beaver was born and then Wally, and there were 2.8 of the kids and little picket fence and (if the dad got a vice presidency), there were two cars in the garage, and mom — the female. I’ve gotta make that distinction. The mother was a woman, the wife of a man. She stays home, raises the kid, fixes breakfast, sends ‘em off to school, talks to the PTA. There was all that.  There was one breadwinner, and there was an economic boom going on at the same time, following World War II.

Incomes in America rose dramatically.  Then something happened.  The left didn’t like that arrangement.  That was just bad. They didn’t fit in.  They didn’t like the idea of coitus in the bedroom.  They didn’t like coitus with someone the opposite sex, necessarily.  They didn’t even like coitus as a means of producing a kid.  In fact, most times they didn’t even like the kid. They wanted to have the abortion.  So what happened was that the nuclear family became under assault by “progressive” forces of modernization.

So today, you can’t compare family income today to what it was in the fifties when the boom time ’cause the family’s not the same.  You’ve got single women, single-parent families, fewer nuclear families.  Incomes have been divided.  It doesn’t work.

Who knew?

The root of American ethics and morality stems in part from its heavily Protestant and Calvinistic theological underpinnings, which we might well reduce to the “Puritan” ethic. There are several key components of this behavior, tracing back to the late 17th century:

1. Personal sacrifice fulfilled by austere living conditions.

2. Self-sufficiency and disdain of charity for one’s self.

3. Obsessive work ethic fueled by the notion that idleness is evil.

Of course there are others, but we can use these generalizations to continue. In addition we should mention that Calvinism utilizes the principle of predestination, or predetermination, a fundamental departure from modern evangelical Christianity.

The rollup of these centuries old dogmatic beliefs is a programing bias towards moral explanations for when things go wrong, and strong lifestyle choices that dictate high moral standards when times are normal, in order to stave off any potential (future) fall from grace. The modern evangelical right has conflated this DNA to represent a distorted view of Christianity leaning heavily on Capitalism-which has fascist underpinnings in its ultimate embodiment.

In the Flat Fields

A gut pull drag on me
Into the chasm gaping we
Mirrors multy reflecting this
Between spunk stained sheet
And odorous whim
Calmer eye- flick- shudder- within
Assist me to walk away in sin
Where is the string that Theseus laid
Find me out this labyrinth place

I do get bored, I get bored
In the flat field
I get bored, I do get bored
In the flat field

What is often lost in our current infatuation with Enlightenment thinking is the degree to which the Pre-Enlightenment Church managed commerce, financing, and general market forces. In fact, the Church maintained an iron hand on issues such as usury, which was condemned and not distinguished from the “normal” practice of charging interest until the late 19th century.

In the age of Church hegemony, which lasted for centuries, it was considered immoral, and grossly so, to profit in any way through trade, charging interest, or commerce which resulted in a profit without actually performing any work. specifically, any rent seeking activity was forbidden.

Things that are considered commonplace today, such as raising prices for items needed in a disaster, (supply and demand) were thoroughly rejected by the Church and considered inconceivable during that time. Thomas Aquinas brought forth these concepts in the theory of Just Price in his Summa Theologica circa 1274 AD. Although this was clearly a Pre-Capitalist economy, much learning was put towards strict management of commerce dating back to the money changers being expelled from the temple in Biblical times- a theme oft repeated through the Dark Ages and well beyond.

For centuries, civilizations knew full well the dangers of markets and unconstrained commerce, and there is more than a passing connection between this realization and theology, present in virtually all religions throughout time.

This reality has been brought to the fore with the recent, and controversial, exhortation Evengelii Gaudium from the Roman Catholic Pope. Pundits have been zeroing in on the more provocative aspects after his release of the document last month. I’ve read all 244 pages of it and I’m here to tell you that he has pretty well burned down the Christian right’s moralistic narrative along with a good bit of the more mainstream conservative cohort.

For those who have dismissed previous Papal exhortations (as well as any other messaging, written or otherwise delivered) as irrelevant and hypocritical drivel, and I count myself on this list, the recent missive is a shocker. Let’s take a look as some selected passages:

We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmers, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.

The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality,[173]no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.

Now this passage in particular stands out, and is a recurring theme throughout the document. Inequality is the root of all social ills. Not moral misbehavior. Rush Limbaugh is positively foaming at the mouth with this conclusion. You see, the story as told has to exonerate Capitalism, so the explanatory focus is redirected to not just suggest, but to demand that the moral lapses of the populace are the sole causality of a world gone bad.

After all, the world was given to us with abundance, work hard, maintain high moral standards, and its abundance will never run out. No limits to resources, no environmental disasters, no exploitation, nothing but paradise, unless of course you take a bite of that apple.

Spear Of Destiny - Religion - Front

Let’s go on:

Sometimes we prove hard of heart and mind; we are forgetful, distracted and carried away by the limitless possibilities for consumption and distraction offered by contemporary society. This leads to a kind of alienation at every level, for “a society becomes alienated when its forms of social organization, production and consumption make it more difficult to offer the gift of self and to establish solidarity between people.

Karl is that you?

Genuine forms of popular religiosity are incarnate, since they are born of the incarnation of Christian faith in popular culture. For this reason they entail a personal relationship, not with vague spiritual energies or powers, but with God, with Christ, with Mary, with the saints. These devotions are fleshy, they have a face. They are capable of fostering relationships and not just enabling escapism. In other parts of our society, we see the growing attraction to various forms of a “spirituality of well-being” divorced from any community life, or to a “theology of prosperity” detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters, or to depersonalized experiences which are nothing more than a form of self-centredness.

images

This would seem to be a dig at modern “strip mall religiosity” as it is now de rigueur to have non denominational churches in strip malls, repurposed industrial buildings, etc, all which have superficial distorted messaging, often pronouncing how wealth is your divine right.

Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

So now we get to the money shot:

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

And

One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the socialized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

attack_zps72cf4894

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers.

So this goes on in a similar vein, and this position does not bode well for the conservative narrative. We see capitalism explicitly blamed for inequality, and in turn inequality for societies ills, a disturbing cause and effect that is disruptive to the American status quo. Coming from a supposedly impartial and world recognized voice of moralistic guidance, this is particularly damning.

We have to ask given the (millennial) history of precisely just this set of teachings, where the hell have these people been for the last 400 years? Mired in child molestation cases, and other aspects of immeasurable hypocrisy, that’s where. Typically dispensing irrelevant teachings to a disinterested world, met with a yawn and the clink of coins in the Sunday collections basket, the cafeteria Catholics and faithful parishioners buy their penance on the free market of theology, shopping for workable edicts and morals they can live with, and leaving aside things that might prove troublesome.

And the Church, let’s not (yet) get all misty eyed that the new Pope has found his voice, that the Holy See can finally see after 400 years of Post Enlightenment blindness, because if we learned anything in the Dark Ages we learned the Church was an authoritarian, totalitarian institution, honed to perfection after centuries of practice, misappropriating Christianic themes in furtherance of its own power and hegemony. Restricting knowledge, capturing books, and distorting, twisting and interpreting discovery with a certain malleability of facts, and containing science to maintain its omnipotence.

It is worth noting that at its core, the Church operates as a corporatist entity, with significant focus on profits itself, poisoned if you will, by the very same sickness it chastises. So we might well leave the discussion here, hopeful that the new Papal vision will at least upset some belief systems, and file this under the category of good ideas for the wrong reasons, and move on to other superficial topics. Except that we have 2000 years of history here, history that resonates with this same message, repeated in many ways over and over again. We have a seminal event in the Enlightenment, which purported to shut down the fiefdoms, mysticism and fanciful explanations, replacing it with science and reason to wrest the power and authority from cloistered theocrats.

And this has failed.

None of the Post Enlightenment theories of political economy have provided satisfactory, sustainable solutions despite 400 years of trying. By most measures, they are in fact worse. The current fashionable trend to double down on technology as means of providing solutions is not working, and critical thinkers can see these measures are leading to cascading failure modes, with each technological “breakthrough” creating new and unanticipated failures of their own, with insufficient study as to unanticipated outcomes.

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I had occasion last month to attend a talk by Chris Hedges, the first time I have heard him in person. The venue was in Santa Monica in a historic building now owned by the Women’s Club, a depression era wood structure with a whitewashed paint job, faintly reminiscent of a church. The venue was packed to the rafters, with the upstairs balcony fairly bulging under the weight of way more people wanting to see Hedges than the organizers anticipated. Everyone finally got in to the standing room only crowd. Hedges has found his voice, he is articulate in person, but powerful, vocally projecting in a way I’ve not seen him do in taped interviews where he seems more reflective and almost mournful. His message is a powerful force and it is clear his upbringing under a Presbyterian minister (his father) and his education in seminary converge to forge his style and messaging. The emotion and power left me somewhat stunned, I wasn’t prepared for the electricity in the room and palpable agitation of the attendees who know full well the truth in his message.

It might seem that these events conspire to ordain a germ of an idea, a small, kindled spark that suggests, almost horrifically, that the assemblage of the capitalist mode of production is not a just theory of economics or political economy. It is not merely an exchange of commodities or a clever and oblique system of exploitation. It is not just a mechanism for conflicting class structure or means for the landed nobility to hold down the masses.

It is a religion, a theology so all consuming that it transcends borders, boundaries, catechism and Koran. It extends to every denomination, to every corner of the earth with a deification and worship of commerce and consumption so deeply ingrained that there is no inoculation once infected. Its participants trapped in a purgatory analogous to opium dens, transient pleasure of consumption and accumulation, but in the 19th century opium dens most knew to advise a friend to retrieve them after several hours (or days) as they would be unable- and unwilling- to leave on their own.

In this version, no one is coming to get you out, there is no getting out. No one is free from the addictive vapors of consumption.

CAPITALISM AS RELIGION

a) First of all because, as we have seen, capitalism, by defining itself as the natural and necessary form of the modern economy, does not admit any different future, any way out, any alternative. Its force is, writes Weber, ‘irresistible’, and it presents itself as an inevitable fate.

b) The system reduces the vast majority of humanity to ‘damned of the earth’ who cannot hope for divine salvation, since their economic failure is the sign that they are excluded from God’s grace. Guilty for their own fate, they have no hope of redemption. The God of the capitalist religion, money, has no pity for those who have no money . . .

c) Capitalism is ‘the ruin of being’, it replaces being with having, human qualities with commodified quantities, human relations with monetary ones, moral or cultural values with the only value that counts, money.

d) Since humanity’s ‘guilt’ – its indebtedness towards Capital – is permanent and growing, no hope of expiation is permitted. The capitalist constantly needs to grow and expand his capital if he does not wish to be crushed by his competitors, and the poor must borrow more and more money to pay their debts.

e) According to the religion of Capital, the only salvation consists in the intensification of the system, in capitalist expansion, in the accumulation of more and more commodities; but this ‘remedy’ results only in the aggravation of despair.

So in other words, the will of God is substituted by the will of the market. The Saints of Capitalism are not represented by iconography in dusty church alcoves, rendered in plaster bas relief, illuminated by flickering votive candles aligned in perfectly concentric rows, no, these saints are reproduced on our paper money, mass produced by photoengraved plates and scaled to feel, to touch, with every transaction to reacquaint and remind the heathen that this is the portal to eternal salvation.

Our cathedrals are not limestone structures of centuries production, flying buttresses soaring gracefully to the heavens, constructed of a scale to intimidate and instill perspective of scale between creator and subject, no these cathedrals are chrome and glass, with banal and endless rows of cubicles for the disciples to prosthelytize to the unwashed masses, “lift yourself, take our hand and elevate yourself to the glory of all the money is and can be”.

Consume or be consumed, the entire New Testament may be reinterpreted not as a warning of end times, not as a statement of worldly evangelism, but each parable and writing a searing indictment and prophetic warning of a planet destroying insidious religion about to rise. The Original Sin may well be reduced to being born into a world which requires you to sell your labor power for survival, the baptism a cleansing in preparation of a lifelong participation in commodity exchange- labor for goods.

There is no expiation in the religion of Capitalism, it is game theory analogous toNewcomb’s Paradox, a contrivance where an omniscient being gives you two choices, one of which is already made for you, and analyzes your strategy for utility maximization when you know that your choice is already predetermined- and you cannot change the outcome.

Here’s hoping for the ninth Crusade.

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31THOUGHTS ON “LEGION”

  1. Reblogged this on Food sovereignty reflections and commented:
    The new Pope’s scathing critique of unbridled consumerism and the immorality of the unconstrained market has come as a surprise. His identification of inequality as the root of all social evils reminds me of the compelling data compiled in the Spirit Level, how sharp inequality correlates very closely with high levels of crime, ill-health, low educational attainment, and so forth.

 

My Home is a Dystopia | Collapse of Industrial Civilization

My Home is a Dystopia | Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

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As media spin and political rhetoric of the corporatocracy diverge further and further from reality, modern society appears more and more to have been lifted from the pages of dystopian fiction. While the majority of the population succumbs to a serial-bubble economy, a disintegrating social safety net, and extreme weather, The elite are wasting scarce resources in an effort to hold together the cracking and buckling foundation of our sprawling industrial civilization. It’s in the short-term interest of the elite to construct a police state that will protect the gamed system they have created for themselves even though we know such short-sightedness sets us all up for a more spectacular fall. Capitalism has enslaved the world to the lifelong pursuit of little bits of paper and metal in order to buy the mass-produced products and food that have become essential to the survival of billions of people. Money and the illusion of material wealth are now perceived as more important than preserving the habitability of the planet. We live in a pathological dystopia of money worship.

Oil

Punch-drunk on fossil fuels, humans have been more destructive than a bull in a china shop; the true cost of fossil fuels continues to be externalized and downplayed as ever-more ecological debt racks up, revealing itself in anincreasingly destabilized biosphere and collapsing web of life. Sadly, the ‘climate emergency‘ has become yet another excuse for the elite to accelerate their looting by treating CO2 emissions as one more capitalist market tool — tax/trading policies as well as the costly and impractical capture and storage of carbon. In the end, any such market schemes will fail due primarily to the harsh consequences of human ecological overshoot and the complexity trap modern civilization has created for itself.

“…Societies struggling with the dilemmas of complexity are vulnerable from two directions. First, systems that are too tightly coupled or too efficient are fragile; they lack resilience. Thus they risk being toppled by a cascade of failure. That is how region-wide electrical outages propagate. The failure of one sector brings down another and another until the grid itself fails, and once down it takes a heroic effort to get it up and running again.

Second, they are exposed to simultaneous failure. When formerly separate problems coalesce into a problematique, a nexus of interlocking problems, the society does not face one or two discrete challenges, as in simpler times, but instead a swarm of simultaneous challenges that can overwhelm its capacity to respond, thereby provoking a general collapse.

Take climate change as a current example. To address this overall problem will require us to surmount a host of challenges in many different sectors (e.g., agriculture, forestry, public health, energy production, infrastructure and so on) not only in one country or economy but in every country—to varying degrees…”

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In the geological blink of an eye — 20, 40, 60, or 80 years from now, ghostly ruins will be all that remains of the most technologically advanced civilization that once spanned the globe. I don’t believe there will appear any sort of Hail Mary invention to solve the gauntlet of problems facing mankind — peak fossil fuels, climate change, ocean acidification, keystone species extinction, water scarcity, peak antibiotics, chemical pollution, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation, capitalism, and the complexity trap. Just a few weeks ago, a drill was conducted between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in order to simulate a large-scale electric grid failure:

“…The vulnerability of our power grid due to solar flares or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is getting new attention. Our system of interconnected power generation, transmission facilities, and distribution facilities are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than ever before. It would cost $3.6 trillion to fix everything, and would not be completed until 2020.

Smart grid systems make the power grid more accessible to cyber hackers so the upgrade can increase the risk. Electric car charging stations are essentially an accessible computer that cyber hackers can access the power grid. Right now, America has relatively few electric car charging stations, but we will be seeing a significant increase in government and privately funded vehicle charging station projects…

It is estimated that a long-term failure of the power grid would likely be so catastrophic to society that casualties would be in excess of 60% of the population, according to the Chairman of the EMP Commission. With the grid vulnerable to solar flares, cyber attacks, EMP’s and weather related events it is important that we have supplies in stock to reduce the waiting time for overseas shipments and manufacturing delays. Currently we lack the inventory.

When, not if, the power grid fails, not only will the citizens of the U.S.A. be at risk of interrupted supplies of water, fresh food, fuel and the shut down of communications, but our very own military will suffer the same affects. Civil unrest would inevitably overwhelm the police department’s ability to respond…”

Back in August of this year, Outgoing DHS Director, Janet Napolitano said the following:

“A massive and “serious” cyber attack on the U.S. homeland is coming, and a natural disaster, the likes of which the nation has never seen is also likely and on its way.”

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Of course the extreme weather events of climate change are also a factor in the fragility of the power grid. And ironically, converting to ‘green energy’ to supply power to the grid could compound the problem:

…”Energy officials worry a lot these days about the stability of the massive patchwork of wires, substations and algorithms that keeps electricity flowing. They rattle off several scenarios that could lead to a collapse of the power grid — a well-executed cyberattack, a freak storm, sabotage.

But as states, led by California, race to bring more wind, solar and geothermal power online, those and other forms of alternative energy have become a new source of anxiety. The problem is that renewable energy adds unprecedented levels of stress to a grid designed for the previous century.

Green energy is the least predictable kind. Nobody can say for certain when the wind will blow or the sun will shine. A field of solar panels might be cranking out huge amounts of energy one minute and a tiny amount the next if a thick cloud arrives. In many cases, renewable resources exist where transmission lines don’t.

“The grid was not built for renewables,” said Trieu Mai, senior analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The frailty imperils lofty goals for greenhouse gas reductions.Concerned state and federal officials are spending billions of dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer money in an effort to hasten the technological breakthroughs needed for the grid to keep up with the demands of clean energy”…

The electric grid truly is the Achilles heel of industrial civilization:

…”Outside of the electricity industry, few fully understand the centrality of the grid to life in America today. The most graphic realizations occur when the grid goes down. It’s not just a matter of light and comfort in our homes. Without electricity, citizens may have no access to potable water, sewage treatment, safe food, fuel supplies, traffic control, or health care…

…Not only is the electrical grid central to modern life, but the grid also has multiple vulnerabilities that make keeping it safe a very difficult task. Weather outages are common, although some, such as an ice storm, can do enormous damage. A January 1998 ice storm destroyed much of Hydro-Québec’s massive 765-kV transmission system, blacking out more than 3 million Canadians, causing 30 fatalities, and leaving many customers in the dark for weeks. Tropical storms, such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, can also cause long-term and widespread destruction.

Human error can also take down the grid in a hurry, as was the case with the massive August 2003 blackout that turned off power for 55 million people in the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada…

…The 2003 blackout also highlighted another chilling aspect of grid failure: the propensity of the system to suffer from a cascading failure. Because of the grid’s interconnectedness, grid failures can spread quickly, concatenating across the system. This same effect occurred during the 1965 blackout that slammed most of the eastern U.S., an event that began with a simple hardware failure in Canada.”…

And lastly, without electricity for an extended period, we would have hundreds of Fukushima nuclear disasters unfolding all over the planet:

…”Unfortunately, the world’s nuclear power plants, as they are currently designed, are critically dependent upon maintaining connection to a functioning electrical grid, for all but relatively short periods of electrical blackouts, in order to keep their reactor cores continuously cooled so as to avoid catastrophic reactor core meltdowns and fires in storage ponds for spent fuel rods….

What do extended grid blackouts have to do with potential nuclear catastrophes? Nuclear power plants are designed to disconnect automatically from the grid in the event of a local power failure or major grid anomaly; once disconnected, they begin the process of shutting down the reactor’s core. In the event of the loss of coolant flow to an active nuclear reactor’s core, the reactor will start to melt down and fail catastrophically within a matter of a few hours, at most. In an extreme GMD [geomagnetic disturbance], nearly every reactor in the world could be affected…

If an extreme GMD were to cause widespread grid collapse (which it most certainly will), in as little as one or two hours after each nuclear reactor facility’s backup generators either fail to start, or run out of fuel, the reactor cores will start to melt down. After a few days without electricity to run the cooling system pumps, the water bath covering the spent fuel rods stored in “spent-fuel ponds” will boil away, allowing the stored fuel rods to melt down and burn [2]. Since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently mandates that only one week’s supply of backup generator fuel needs to be stored at each reactor site, it is likely that, after we witness the spectacular nighttime celestial light show from the next extreme GMD, we will have about one week in which to prepare ourselves for Armageddon.”…

The Energy Skeptic reports that Russia is on a crusade to spread these ticking time bombs all around the world.

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Nine Inch Nails – Leaving Hope (HD)

Nine Inch Nails – Leaving Hope (HD)

 

Disillusioned in Dismayland – Collapse of Industrial Civilization | Finding the Truth behind the American Hologram

Collapse of Industrial Civilization | Finding the Truth behind the American Hologram.

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Capitalism has, throughout its history, built itself off the backs of the weak through dispossession, slavery, colonialism, technology and military power. Protecting the capitalist system into the 21st century, U.S. military served as the all-powerful proxy force of the global corporate elite. In the waning days of modern-day civilization, transnational corporations found even more ways to amass power and squeeze out every last penny from the Earth to the gods of capital. In the name of ‘free trade’, secretive agreements with alphabet soup-acronyms like TTP and TPIP were concocted to protect and expand profits as well as investor returns at the expense of all else, including the sovereignty of nations and the very habitability of the planet. Corporations became the new kings and queens, tsars and tsaritsas, bishops and popes. The last grab for what was left could now be done more swiftly while circumventing the laws of nations.

…Capitalism has an inbuilt wondrous capacity of resurrection and regeneration; though this is capacity of a kind shared with parasites – organisms that feed on other organisms, belonging to other species. After a complete or near-complete exhaustion of one host organism, a parasite tends and manages to find another, that would supply it with life juices for a successive, albeit also limited, stretch of time.

A hundred years ago Rosa Luxemburg grasped that secret of the eerie, phoenix-like ability of capitalism to rise, repeatedly, from the ashes; an ability that leaves behind a track of devastation – the history of capitalism is marked by the graves of living organisms sucked of their life juices to exhaustion…” ~ Zygmunt Bauman

In a world of finite resources controlled by a tiny capitalist class, there would eventually only be two classes remaining – the über-wealthy or global elite and the vast underclass of disposable workers who eked out a subsistence existence. The wealth of society continued to be funneled upwards to the corporate overlords by way of deregulation, privatization, low or nonexistent tax rates, control of the legal system, and the cutting away of any last scraps of a social safety net.

Preoccupied by their digital screen devices and satiated on mass-produced junk food, the plebs never really noticed they were living in an open-air prison. In the meantime, the walls of a police state rose up to protect the sociopathic elite. As long as the ‘consumers’ were kept in a continual state of ‘amusement madness’ and on the treadmill of work exhaustion, there would be no time for contemplating the reality of climate change, the ever-widening wealth gap, the rise of a corporate fascist state, or the disappearance of the natural world.

Living in an age of advertisement, we are perpetually disillusioned. The perfect life is spread before us every day, but it changes and withers at a touch.
J. B. Priestley

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This Ponzi scheme economy was so entrenched in the psyche of the general populace that essentially none questioned its validity, even in the face of increasingly chaotic weather and rising seas, mountains of toxic waste, lifeless oceans, epidemic industrial disease, and grotesque wealth maldistribution. The right to seek profit trumped the health and safety of humans, the stability of the environment, and the legal recourse of governments on behalf of their citizens. National borders were effectively erased and a global corporatocracy now ruled the planet. Ironically, the one world government feared by so many right-wing conspiracists had become reality without any protest from them.

Acid rain and erratic weather, the unintended consequences of half-baked geoengineering fixes, forced most food production into industrial greenhouses. Due to the chemical pollution levels in the environment, all water had to be treated before it was used for anything, and gas masks became ‘everyday outdoor wear’ like hats and umbrellas. Most stayed indoors to escape such hazards, immersing themselves in the artificial environments of virtual reality software. Zoos became the only sanctuaries for wildlife, their sperm safely kept frozen for the day humans might want to de-extinctify them. National parks were privatized and plastered with corporate logos. The ranks of the homeless and destitute swelled, but most soon found themselves living inside the cell of a private, for-profit prison where they toiled away as cheap labor contracted by the corporations. Such crises were always looked upon as business opportunities, a niche to fill in the profit-seeking mind of homo economicus. Commodification and commercialization of everything became completely normalized.

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Taken to the extreme and turned into a rigid belief system, all ideologies can become dangerous. When the ethics of a society bow to laissez-faire capitalism, life in the U$A becomes a cruel joke:

Need I go further? The day that the movie ‘Idiocracy’ is looked upon as genius and prophetic, civilization will have become a parody of itself. I think that day has arrived.

 

Idiocracy

Idiocracy

 

Hypocrisy as a Weapon-Washington’s Blog

Washington’s Blog. (source)

Hypocrisy as a Weapon

U.S. leaders have long:

  • Labeled indiscriminate killing of civilians as terrorism.  Yet the American military  indiscriminately kills innocent civilians (and see this),  calling it “carefully targeted strikes”.   For example, when Al Qaeda, Syrians or others target people attending funerals of those killed – or those attempting to rescue people who have been injured by – previous attacks, we rightfully label it terrorism.  But the U.S. government does exactly the same thing (more), pretending that it is all okay
  • Scolded tyrants who launch aggressive wars to grab power or plunder resources. But we ourselves have launched a series of wars for oil (and here) and gas

Can you spot a pattern of hypocrisy?

Indeed, the worse the acts by officials, the more they say we it must be covered up … for “the good of the country”.

For example, Elizabeth Goitein – co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice – writes:

The government has begun to advance bold new justifications for classifying information that threaten to erode the principled limits that have existed — in theory, if not always in practice — for decades. The cost of these efforts, if they remain unchecked, may be the American public’s ability to hold its government accountable.

***

The government acknowledged that it possessed mug shots, videos depicting forcible extractions of al-Qahtani from his cell and videos documenting various euphemistically termed “intelligence debriefings of al-Qahtani.” It argued that all of these images were properly classified and withheld from the public — but not because they would reveal sensitive intelligence methods, the traditional justification for classifying such information. The government did not stake its case on this time-tested argument perhaps because the details of al-Qahtani’s interrogations have been officially disclosed through agency reports and congressional hearings. Instead, the government argued that the images could be shielded from disclosure because the Taliban and associated forces have previously used photos of U.S. forces “interacting with detainees” to garner support for attacks against those forces. Even more broadly, the government asserted that disclosure could aid in the “recruitment and financing of extremists and insurgent groups.”

***

The government’s argument echoed a similar claim it made in a lawsuit earlier this year over a FOIA request for postmortem photographs of Osama bin Laden. A CIA official attested that these images could “aid the production of anti-American propaganda,” noting that images of abuse at Abu Ghraib had been “very effective” in helping Al-Qaeda to recruit supporters and raise funds. The appeals court did not address this argument, however, resting its decision on the narrower ground that these particular images were likely to incite immediate violence.

The judge in al-Qahtani’s case showed no such restraint. She held that the photos and videos were properly classified because “it (is) both logical and plausible that extremists would utilize images of al-Qahtani … to incite anti-American sentiment, to raise funds, and/or to recruit other loyalists.” When CCR pointed out that this result was speculative, the judge responded that “it is bad law and bad policy to second-guess the predictive judgments made by the government’s intelligence agencies.” In short, the government may classify information, not because that information reveals tactical or operational secrets but because the conduct it reveals could in theory anger existing enemies or create new ones.

This approach is alarming in part because it has no limiting principle. The reasons why people choose to align themselves against the United States — or any other country — are nearly as numerous and varied as the people themselves. Our support for Israel is considered a basis for enmity by some. May the government classify the aid we provide to other nations? May it classify our trade policies on the basis that they may breed resentment among the populations of some countries, thus laying the groundwork for future hostile relations? May it classify our history of involvement in armed conflicts across the globe because that history may function as “anti-American propaganda” in some quarters?

Perhaps even more disturbing, this justification for secrecy will be strongest when the U.S. government’s conduct most clearly violates accepted international norms. Evidence of human rights abuses against foreign nationals, for instance, is particularly likely to spark hostility abroad. Indeed, the judge in the al-Qahtani FOIA case noted that “the written record of (al-Qahtani’s) torture may make it all the more likely that enemy forces would use al-Qahtani’s image against the United States” — citing this fact as a reason to uphold classification.

Using the impropriety of the government’s actions as a justification for secrecy is the very antithesis of accountability. To prevent this very outcome, the executive orderthat governs classification forbids classifying a document to “conceal violations of law” or to “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency.” However, a federal judge in 2008 interpreted this provision to allow classification of information revealing misconduct if there is a valid security reason for the nondisclosure. Together, this ruling and the judge’s opinion in the al-Qahtani FOIA case eviscerate the executive order’s prohibition: The government can always argue that it classified evidence of wrongdoing because the information could be used as “anti-American propaganda” by our adversaries.

Human rights advocates cannot rely on al-Qahtani to tell us what the photos and videos would reveal. The government asserts that his own knowledge of what occurred at Guantánamo — knowledge he gained, not through privileged access to government documents but through his personal experience — is a state secret. The words that Guantánamo detainees speak, once transcribed by their attorneys, are “presumptively classified,” and the government determines which of those words, if any, may be released. Legally, the government may classify only information that is “owned by, produced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government.” Because the detainees are under the government’s control, so, apparently, are the contents of their memory.

That’s why high-level CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou was prosecuted him for espionage after he blew the whistle on illegal CIA torture.*

Obviously, the government wants to stop whistleblowers because they interfere with the government’s ability to act in an unaccountable manner. As Glenn Greenwald writes:

It should not be difficult to understand why the Obama administration is so fixated on intimidating whistleblowers and going far beyond any prior administration – including those of the secrecy-obsessed Richard Nixon and George W Bush – to plug all leaks. It’s because those methods are the only ones preventing the US government from doing whatever it wants in complete secrecy and without any accountability of any kind.

But whistleblowers also interfere with the government’s ability to get away with hypocrisy.  As two political science professors from George Washington University (Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore) show, the government is so hell-bent to punish Manning and Snowden because their leaks are putting an end to the ability of the US to use hypocrisy as a weapon:

The U.S. establishment has often struggled to explain exactly why these leakers [Manning, Snowden, etc.] pose such an enormous threat.

***

The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with itTheir danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. When these deeds turn out to clash with the government’s public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington’s covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own.

***

As the United States finds itself less able to deny the gaps between its actions and its words, it will face increasingly difficult choices — and may ultimately be compelled to start practicing what it preaches. Hypocrisy is central to Washington’s soft power — its ability to get other countries to accept the legitimacy of its actions — yet few Americans appreciate its role.

***

American commitments to the rule of law, democracy, and free trade are embedded in the multilateral institutions that the country helped establish after World War II, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and later the World Trade Organization. Despite recent challenges to U.S. preeminence, from the Iraq war to the financial crisis, the international order remains an American one. This system needs the lubricating oil of hypocrisy to keep its gears turning.

***

Of course, the United States has gotten away with hypocrisy for some time now. It has long preached the virtues of nuclear nonproliferation, for example, and has coerced some states into abandoning their atomic ambitions. At the same time, it tacitly accepted Israel’s nuclearization and, in 2004, signed a formal deal affirming India’s right to civilian nuclear energy despite its having flouted the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by acquiring nuclear weapons. In a similar vein, Washington talks a good game on democracy, yet it stood by as the Egyptian military overthrew an elected government in July, refusing to call a coup a coup. Then there’s the “war on terror”: Washington pushes foreign governments hard on human rights but claims sweeping exceptions for its own behavior when it feels its safety is threatened.

***

Manning’s and Snowden’s leaks mark the beginning of a new era in which the U.S. government can no longer count on keeping its secret behavior secret. Hundreds of thousands of Americans today have access to classified documents that would embarrass the country if they were publicly circulated. As the recent revelations show, in the age of the cell-phone camera and the flash drive, even the most draconian laws and reprisals will not prevent this information from leaking out. As a result, Washington faces what can be described as an accelerating hypocrisy collapse — a dramatic narrowing of the country’s room to maneuver between its stated aspirations and its sometimes sordid pursuit of self-interest. The U.S. government, its friends, and its foes can no longer plausibly deny the dark side of U.S. foreign policy and will have to address it head-on.

***

The era of easy hypocrisy is over.

Professors Farrell and Finnemore note that the government has several options for dealing with ongoing leaks.  They conclude that the best would be for the government to actually do what it says.

What a novel idea …

* Note: That may be why Guantanamo is really being kept open, and even prisoners that the U.S. government admits are innocent are still being blocked from release: to cover up the widespread torture by keeping the evidence – the prisoners themselves – in a dungeon away from the light of day.

 

 

The Conspiracy is Systemic and Legalized. | Collapse of Industrial Civilization

The Conspiracy is Systemic and Legalized. | Collapse of Industrial Civilization. (FULL ARTICLE)

If you are a person who gets their news solely from mainstream media and forms a worldview from that information, then this website would perhaps strike you as radical, off-base, and conspiratorial. But what if nearly everything you listen to and read has been filtered through the monied interests of the most powerful entities on the planet? And what if those entities quite literally control the government by way of a revolving door, campaign contributions, and lobbyists who unduly influence the crafting of legislation in favor of big business while ignoring the needs of the common citizenry? What if you are merely a pawn in the machinations of such a system — a consumer for the all-important world market and a disposable human resource in its labor pool? What if the wealth created by such an economy is amassing at the very tip of this pyramid scheme while leaving those below to fend for themselves in a world depleted of its resources and poisoned by industrial waste. Would such a grim reality be considered a conspiracy theory? In other words, would the previously described outcome of such a socio-economic system necessarily have to be the plan of a secret cabal of powerful people? If corporations must compete to survive and are legally bound to look after the financial interests of their shareholders, then protecting and growing profits must in the end override all other concerns — environmental and social. The gross wealth disparity, environmental destruction, and political disenfranchisement created by capitalism is not the byproduct of a conspiracy; it’s simply the end-result of a system operating as intended. Concentration of wealth, a characteristic result of capitalism, inevitably leads to a near total corruption of journalism and democracy. Of course the corporate elite may collude to price-fix, bribe regulators or heads of state, and cover up environmental damage and dangers to public health, amongst many other devious activities, but it is invariably done in the interest of gaining dominance in the market place and protecting profits. Capitalism and democracy are not compatible. In fact, life on Earth is ultimately not compatible with capitalism….

The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism—and the birth of a happy alternative

The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism—and the birth of a happy alternative.

 

Has capitalism failed the world? – Head to Head – Al Jazeera English

Has capitalism failed the world? – Head to Head – Al Jazeera English.

 

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