Forget Techno-Optimism: We Can’t Innovate Our Way Out of Inequality

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By Chris Lehmann

Source: In These Times

Toward the end of his 250-page hymn to digital-age innovation, The Industries of the Future, Alec Ross pauses to offer a rare cautionary note. Silicon Valley may have incubated all the wonders and conveniences one can imagine—and oh, so many more! But for the international business elites looking to remake their emerging market economies in the Valley’s gleaming, khaki-clad image, there’s some bad news: It can no longer be done. A “decades-long head start” has granted too great a competitive advantage to the charmed peninsula along the Northern California coast.

Not to worry, though! On-the-make tech globalists can still make a go of it, provided they’re prepared to embrace “specific cultural and labor market characteristics that can contradict both a society’s norms and the more controlling impulses of government leaders.”

Stripped of the vague and glowing techno-babble, this is a prescription for good old-fashioned neoliberal market discipline. Everywhere Ross looks across the radically transformed world of digital commerce, the benign logic of market triumphalism wins the day. When Terry Gou—the Taiwanese CEO of Foxconn, the vast Chinese electronics sweatshop that doubles as an incubator for worker suicides—plans to eliminate the headache of supervising an unstable human workforce by replacing it with “the first fully automated plant” in manufacturing history, why, he’s simply “responding to pure market forces”: i.e., an increase in Chinese wages that cuts into Foxconn’s ridiculously broad profit margins. And you and I might see the so-called sharing economy as a means to casualize service workers into nonunion, benefit-free gigs that transfer economic value on a massive scale to a rentier class of Silicon Valley app marketers. But bouncy New Economy cheerleaders like Ross see “a way of making a market out of anything, and a microentrepreneur out of anyone.”

When confronted with the spiraling of income inequality in the digital age, Ross, like countless other prophets of better living through software, sagely counsels that “rapid progress often comes with greater instability.” Sure, the “wealthy generally benefit over the short term,” but remember, kids: “Innovations have the potential to become cheaper over time and spread throughout the greater population.”

Ross first stormed into political prominence as an architect of Barack Obama’s “technology and innovation plan” during his 2008 presidential campaign, and he has spent four years captaining his own charmed, closed circle of tech triumphalism as the White House’s “senior advisor for innovation” under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This renders The Industries of the Future something more than another breathless, Tom Friedman-style tour of the wonderments being hatched in startups, trade confabs and gadget factories. Ross’ book is also a tech-policy playbook for the likely Democratic presidential nominee, who has spared no effort in soliciting the policy input—and landing the campaign donations—of the Silicon Valley mogul set. As such, it should give any Hillary-curious supporter of economic justice considerable pause.

To be sure, Ross raises some vague concerns about how, for example, the runaway growth of the sharing economy drains workers of job security, healthcare benefits, pensions and the like. He avers that “as the sharing economy grows … the safety net needs to grow with it,” but, much like his politically savvy boss, he offers nothing in the way of policy specifics besides the inarguable yet unactionable truism that if the sharing economy “generates enormous amounts of wealth for the platform owners, then the platform owners can and should help pay for added costs to society.”

The larger point for Ross, in any event, is that the innovative megafirms of tomorrow will come to spontaneously serve the public good. Not to mention that many IPO investors “are pension funds,” Ross coos, which “manage the retirement funds for people in the working class like teachers, police officers, and other civil servants.” Never mind, of course, that the neoliberal logic of the Uber model means that we’re creating a workforce that’s unlikely ever to come within shouting distance of a pension benefit again.

This kind of terminal Silicon Valley myopia also accounts for the vast economic and political blindspots that continually undermine Ross’ relentlessly chipper TED patter. To take just one instructive instance, in a book that devotes considerable real estate to the innovations of “fintech” (the streamlining of global digital currency exchanges and investment transactions) nowhere does the author acknowledge the pivotal role that tech-savvy Wall Street analysts—the “quants” as they’re known in Street argot—played in stoking the early-aughts housing bubble that led to the near-meltdown of the global economy.

That’s because it’s an axiomatic faith for this brand of techno-prophecy that innovation can never actually make anything worse—in just the same fashion that the quants were insisting, right up until the end, that there could never be a downturn in the national housing market. If this is the kind of wisdom Hillary Clinton relied on to promote her global innovation agenda at the State Department, one shudders to think of how it might run riot through the White House come next January.

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Posted in Authoriarianism, conditioning, culture, Economics, Financial Crisis, Labor, Recession, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, Technology, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Two for Tuesday

The The

Shahid Buttar

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

War fraud: The great lies behind imperial warfare in the 21st century

By Mark Taliano

Source: Intrepid Report

The “War On Terror” and “The War On Drugs” are both fraudulent, and they are both related. In a classic example of “reverse projection”, ”the War on Terror” is literally a “War for Terror,” and the “War on Drugs” is literally a “War for Drugs.”

Terror, coupled with the illegal trade in narcotics, particularly heroin, is enabling the orchestration, and funding, of illegal warfare which serves the interests of an international oligarch class as it destroys humanity.

The barbarity of the military operations conducted by the West is beyond the imagination of most domestic audiences, even when details are publicized.

Broadly speaking, we can decode the 9/11 terror wars using a simple formula:

  • Problem
  • Reaction
  • Solution

NATO imperialists engineer or exploit problems to create reactions, with a view to creating previously planned solutions. Typically, problems (i.e, 9/11 crimes) serve to engineer public consent (reaction) for illegal invasions (solution).

The “end-game” also contradicts publically stated goals. Evidence demonstrates that the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, as well as the war in Ukraine, were launched and prosecuted with a view to destroy each country through invasion, occupation, plunder, and to establish military footholds. The popular notion that the wars are being prosecuted for humanitarian purposes is absolutely ridiculous.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, for example, drug-trafficking warlords such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were used to create extremist “jihadist” armies (mujahideen) to destroy the Soviet-protected socialist republic. The long-standing CIA-terror group alliance, which pre-dates Afghanistan, continues to be empowered by profits from illegal drug trafficking: According to U.S sources, the production of opium (which is eventually processed into heroin) has increased “40-fold” since the initial invasion of Afghanistan.

So, the invasion destroyed a secular, socialist government and filled the vacuum with extremist drug-trafficking terrorist warlords. But imperialists gained a military foothold in the country.

Iraq

We all know now that the fraudulent “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” pretext was used for the criminal invasion of Iraq. The engineered problem was followed by mixed reactions from a less gullible public, but the invasion (solution), was launched (on the heels of genocidal sanctions) anyway.

Joe Quinn reports that in this invasion, US Death Squads manufactured a civil war to divert attention from the real culprits: the occupiers. A 10,000 strong “Shia militia” under US command is used to terrorize the population and to destroy Iraqi grassroots resistance. Often, the terrorists bomb civilian targets and falsely blame innocent groups—false flag tactics—which in turn create engineered friction and retaliation. Black propaganda operations are a CIA specialty. Consequently, Iraq is now an unstable terrorist quagmire, whereas before the invasion it was a modern, well-developed country free of any identifiable terror groups.

Libya

The NATO invasion of Libya, previously the wealthiest country in Africa, was also a product of repeated Western lies, and now, it too, is a hotbed of terrorism, vice, and drug trafficking. Erin Banco reports in “Drug And Human Trafficking In ‘Lawless’ Libya Is Funding ISIS” that the West’s “lack of foresight has enabled different groups of fighters to traffic a continuous supply of arms, drugs and people across Libya’s borders, helping to bankroll some of the world’s most violent terrorists.”

Syria

The invasion of Syria is following predictable patterns as well. A constellation of extremist, mercenary terror groups, including ISIS—all supported by the West—are trying to destroy Syria. Drug trafficking, stolen oil and artifacts are being used to finance the mass murder, and death squads, often under the cover of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are being used to create a “civil war,” and to destroy President Assad’s government. The terror and mass murder are primarily orchestrated externally with a view to making Syria safe for Wahhabism, barbarity, and a NATO military presence.

A Wikileaks cable indicates that since 2011, more than 230,000 people have died and a million have been injured. But despite the so-far-successful alliance of Syria, Iran, and Russia in destroying the mercenary terrorists and in saving Syria, the West can take some consolation: the US already has a military foothold in the country. Only time will tell if the West succeeds in creating and sustaining yet another unstable, terrorist-infested vassal state.

Despite what naysayers might think, the NATO-perpetrated holocaust is in many respects a neocon success story: a succession of previously independent countries have been destroyed, and a NATO presence has been installed. In fact, the wars for Terror and Drugs are winning, despite ostensible setbacks.

The whole process of death and destruction is not rational or moral, and the degeneracy is beyond evil. Commentators call it imperialism.

 

Posted in anti-war, black ops, CIA, conditioning, Conspiracy, Corruption, culture, divide and conquer, Drug War, Economics, Empire, False Flag, Geopolitics, History, Social Control, society, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hang onto your wallets: Negative interest, the war on cash, and the $10 trillion bail-in

global-economic-crisis

By Ellen Brown

Source: Intrepid Report

Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned “Let your money work for you”? Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into “all manner of private enterprise,” including “bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . .”?

That may still work if you’re a Wall Street banker, but if you’re an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Four European central banks—the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, and Denmark’s Nationalbank—have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussion has turned to whether it’s time to pass those costs on to consumers. The Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve are still at ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), but several Fed officials have also begun calling for NIRP (negative rates) [update: Bank of Japan implemented a negative interest rate 1/29/16].

The stated justification for this move is to stimulate “demand” by forcing consumers to withdraw their money and go shopping with it. When an economy is struggling, it is standard practice for a central bank to cut interest rates, making saving less attractive. This is supposed to boost spending and kick-start an economic recovery.

That is the theory, but central banks have already pushed the prime rate to zero, and still their economies are languishing. To the uninitiated observer, that means the theory is wrong and needs to be scrapped. But not to our intrepid central bankers, who are now experimenting with pushing rates below zero.

Locking the door to bank runs: The cashless society

The problem with imposing negative interest on savers, as explained in the UK Telegraph, is that “there’s a limit, what economists called the ‘zero lower bound.’ Cut rates too deeply, and savers would end up facing negative returns. In that case, this could encourage people to take their savings out of the bank and hoard them in cash. This could slow, rather than boost, the economy.”

Again, to the ordinary observer, this would seem to signal that negative interest rates won’t work and the approach needs to be abandoned. But not to our undaunted central bankers, who have chosen instead to plug this hole in their leaky theory by moving to eliminate cash as an option. If your only choice is to keep your money in a digital account in a bank and spend it with a bank card or credit card or checks, negative interest can be imposed with impunity. This is already happening in Sweden, and other countries are close behind. As reported on Wolfstreet.com:

The War on Cash is advancing on all fronts. One region that has hogged the headlines with its war against physical currency is Scandinavia. Sweden became the first country to enlist its own citizens as largely willing guinea pigs in a dystopian economic experiment: negative interest rates in a cashless society. As Credit Suisse reports, no matter where you go or what you want to purchase, you will find a small ubiquitous sign saying “Vi hanterar ej kontanter” (“We don’t accept cash”) . . .

The lesson of Gesell’s decaying currency

Whether negative interests will actually stimulate an economic recovery, however, remains in doubt. Proponents of the theory cite Silvio Gesell and the Wörgl experiment of the 1930s. As explained by Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics:

The pioneering theoretician of negative-interest money was the German-Argentinean businessman Silvio Gesell, who called it “free-money” (Freigeld). . . . The system he proposed in his 1906 masterwork, The Natural Economic Order, was to use paper currency to which a stamp costing a small fraction of the note’s value had to be affixed periodically. This effectively attached a maintenance cost to monetary wealth.

. . . [In 1932], the depressed town of Wörgl, Austria, issued its own stamp scrip inspired by Gesell. . . . The Wörgl currency was by all accounts a huge success. Roads were paved, bridges built, and back taxes were paid. The unemployment rate plummeted and the economy thrived, attracting the attention of nearby towns. Mayors and officials from all over the world began to visit Wörgl until, as in Germany, the central government abolished the Wörgl currency and the town slipped back into depression.

. . . [T]he Wörgl currency bore a demurrage rate [a maintenance charge for carrying money] of 1 percent per month. Contemporary accounts attributed to this the very rapid velocity of the currencies’ circulation. Instead of generating interest and growing, accumulation of wealth became a burden, much like possessions are a burden to the nomadic hunter-gatherer. As theorized by Gesell, money afflicted with loss-inducing properties ceased to be preferred over any other commodity as a store of value.

There is a critical difference, however, between the Wörgl currency and the modern-day central bankers’ negative interest scheme. The Wörgl government first issued its new “free money,” getting it into the local economy and increasing purchasing power, before taxing a portion of it back. And the proceeds of the stamp tax went to the city, to be used for the benefit of the taxpayers. As Eisenstein observes:

It is impossible to prove . . . that the rejuvenating effects of these currencies came from demurrage and not from the increase in the money supply. . . .

Today’s central bankers are proposing to tax existing money, diminishing spending power without first building it up. And the interest will go to private bankers, not to the local government.

Consumers today already have very little discretionary money. Imposing negative interest without first adding new money into the economy means they will have even less money to spend. This would be more likely to prompt them to save their scarce funds than to go on a shopping spree.

People are not keeping their money in the bank today for the interest (which is already nearly non-existent). It is for the convenience of writing checks, issuing bank cards, and storing their money in a “safe” place. They would no doubt be willing to pay a modest negative interest for that convenience; but if the fee got too high, they might pull their money out and save it elsewhere. The fee itself, however, would not drive them to buy things they did not otherwise need.

Is there a bigger threat than a sluggish economy?

The scheme to impose negative interest and eliminate cash seems so unlikely to stimulate the economy that one wonders if that is the real motive. Stopping tax evaders and terrorists (real or presumed) are other proposed justifications for going cashless. Economist Martin Armstrong goes further and suggests that the goal is to gain totalitarian control over our money. In a cashless society, our savings can be taxed away by the banks; the threat of bank runs by worried savers can be eliminated; and the too-big-to-fail banks can be assured that ample deposits will be there when they need to confiscate them through bail-ins to stay afloat.

And that may be the real threat on the horizon: a major derivatives default that hits the largest banks, those that do the vast majority of derivatives trading. On November 10, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported the results of a study requested by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings, involving the cost to taxpayers of the rollback of the Dodd-Frank Act in the “cromnibus” spending bill last December. As Jessica Desvarieux put it on the Real News Network, “the rule reversal allows banks to keep $10 trillion in swaps trades on their books, which taxpayers could be on the hook for if the banks need another bailout.”

The promise of Dodd-Frank, however, was that there would be “no more taxpayer bailouts.” Instead, insolvent systemically-risky banks were supposed to “bail in” (confiscate) the money of their creditors, including their depositors (the largest class of creditor of any bank). That could explain the push to go cashless. By quietly eliminating the possibility of cash withdrawals, the central bank can make sure the deposits are there to be grabbed when disaster strikes.

If central bankers are seriously trying to stimulate the economy with negative interest rates, they need to repeat the Wörgl experiment in full. They need to first get some new money into the economy, money that goes directly to the consumers and local businessmen who will spend it. This could be achieved in a number of ways: with a national dividend; or by using quantitative easing for infrastructure or low-interest loans to states; or by funding free tuition for higher education. Consumers will hit the malls when they have some new discretionary income to spend.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com. Listen to “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

Posted in Authoriarianism, Consumerism, Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, Economics, Empire, Financial Crisis, History, Recession, Social Control, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Chaos Always Seems To Have Such Grand Potential

tahrir

By Shauna Janz

Source: Collective Evolution

We have been experiencing “chaos as grand potential” throughout our entire history. From the first potential of life that exploded from the stars and hurled across a universe in chaotic fashion, to the evolution of all species on our Earth, to the splitting of cells that form life in a mother’s womb.

Growth and evolution emerge from chaos.

Another way of thinking about chaos is the process of positive disintegration – originally used in psychology by Kazimierz Dąbrowski, who viewed tension and anxiety as a necessary part of any personal growth process. This term has also been used by Joanna Macy to describe how living systems evolve; when continued feedback tells a system that it has become dysfunctional, the system responds by changing.

In other words, when old ways of doing things are no longer adaptive or effective, we are catapulted into a disintegration process, or chaos, so that new ways of doing things can emerge that are positive for a sustainable life.

Chaos is a necessary part of the process any living system, individual, or community goes through to adapt, evolve, and remain sustainable in their environment.

For people, that environment may be our own personal body/mind, our families, our workplace, our society, or our collective global community.

From the chaos, or disintegration, comes the grand potential for something wholly new to arise – something that surpasses the old way of being and has become a more inclusive and integrated way of being.

I am reminded of Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart, dedicated to finding hope when we are suffering from change or loss; when we are in the midst of disintegration. Through her soothing words, she assists her readers to remain open and aware through the confusion and anxiety of chaos.

Pain and grief often inhabit the space of chaos. As familiar ways prove no longer useful, we are thrust into a space of unknowing and chaos before new ways can fully develop.

I reflect on the grief I have experienced in my own life, and on the grief in others that I have witnessed and supported. When loss and change erupt in our lives, we are left in the emotional wake to re-create who it is we are in our changed world.

We are left to find a new way to make meaning and to find adaptive strategies to live on and continue to thrive. It may mean letting go of certain roles or identities, or it may mean embracing new ones and honouring the process.

This doesn’t happen overnight. Before new ways emerge, we are left in confusion. We are left in anxiety. We are left in pain and grief.

In this chaotic space we may feel fearful, uncertain, and out of control. We may react and grasp for anything that might give us a sense of comfort or control, or allow us to numb out from feeling at all.

We see this on a personal scale as well as on a global scale – whether grasping for escape through another drink, Netflix series, or new pair of shoes, or whether grasping for control through declaring another war or engaging in oppressive acts against others.

Positive disintegration can only happen if we stay aware, open, and conscious to see the potential that lies within the chaos, and to then act to create new ways that are sustainable.

If we learn to navigate our own personal grief and chaos in conscious ways remaining calm, open, and trusting, then we gain the ability to navigate the grief and chaos in our world in the same way.

Remaining conscious and open is absolutely necessary because globally we are in the midst of a significant disintegration process, and we need to change how we live.

We know that the capitalist industrial growth complex that currently defines our global economics and social systems has become dysfunctional. We are witnessing extreme abuses of power, violence. and tactics of separation – all rooted in fear and grasping for control.

We are all experiencing the impacts of this global chaotic time – grief, anxiety, uncertainty. We are also witnessing efforts to make changes for a sustainable and equitable future.

Joanna Macy calls this time “The Great Turning.” In her book Coming Back to Life – Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World she exemplifies many of the ways we are seeing the process of positive disintegration carry out in our world.

From direct action and legislative work to slow down the process of environmental and social destruction, to academics and grassroot groups working to educate about the impacts of our capitalist industrial system, to the cognitive revolutions and spiritual awakenings that deeply shift our consciousness toward a sustainable way of being on this Earth — we have the ability to stand strong in the winds of chaos, to choose openness and compassion, to hold fast to our vision of a vibrant and sustainable future, and to act in loving ways, now.

We are seeing new forms of sustainable practices emerge, witnessing the resurgence of ancestral ways of knowing, and experiencing shifts of consciousness.

There is no one person that will save our planet or human family. It takes the whole global community to respond, which means it takes each and every one of us to step forward in our own ways to shine our light and hold hope, trust, and compassion through this time of chaos.

Each one of us has a gift – has words to share, actions to motivate, art to show, or ways of being that exude love, trust and connection.

There is a place for everyone – whether it is the frontlines of direct action and resistance, raising conscious and compassionate children, or actively healing your own wounds – these all contribute to the healing of our world.

Joanna Macy says, you cannot “fix” the world, but you can take part in its self-healing. Healing wounded relationships within you and between you is integral to the healing of our world.

Each one of us who chooses love over fear, feeling over numbing, and compassionate action over apathy, contributes to the emergence of a sustainable new way of being in our world.

I invite you to reflect on the ways you are responding in your own life to a global future of love and sustainability. What are the gifts you bring to this world? How are you actively living your gifts every day?

And I thank you for remaining open and compassionate amidst this time of chaos as grand potential.

Posted in Activism, conditioning, consciousness, culture, Philosophy, Psychology, society, Sociology, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Matinee: O Lucky Man!

o-lucky-man-movie-poster-11-x-17_1834417

O Lucky Man! (1973) is anarchist director Lindsay Anderson’s epic follow-up to his film if…(1968). It’s at times a surreal and darkly humorous allegory for survival in capitalist society. Like if…, it stars Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis but in a less rebellious mode selling coffee for a multinational corporation. Through hard experience (not unlike the trials of his character Alex in A Clockwork Orange), Mick learns the consequences of abandoning his principles and the true nature of the ruling class he aspires to join. Serving as the film’s “Greek chorus” are excellent songs from Alan Price interspersed through the film.

Posted in anarchism, Art, Corporate Crime, culture, Film, Saturday Matinee, society, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is This China & USA’s “Thelma & Louise” Moment?

thelma-and-louise

By James Howard Kunstler

Source: Zero Hedge

Why would anybody suppose that the Peoples Bank of China might want to tell the truth about anything that was within their power to lie about? Especially the soundness of any loan portfolio vested unto the grasp of its tentacles? Of course, most of what China has done in speeding toward the wall of financial crack-up, it learned from watching US bankers slime their way into Too Big To Fail nirvana — most particularly the array of swindles, dodges, and frauds constructed in the half-light of shadow banking to hedge the sudden, catastrophic appearance of reality-based price discovery.

When so many loans end up networked as collateral in some kind of bet against previous bets against other previous bets, you can be sure that cascading contagion will follow. And so that is exactly what’s happening as China’s rocket ride into Modernity falls back to earth. Like most historical fiascos, it seemed like a good idea at the time: take a nation of about a billion people living in the equivalent of the Twelfth Century, introduce the magic of money printing, spend a gazillion of it on CAT and Kubota earth-moving machines, build the biggest cement industry the world has ever seen, purchase whole factory set-ups, and flood the rest of the world with stuff. Then the trouble starts when you try to defeat the business cycles associated with over-production and saturated markets.

Poor China and poor us. Escape velocity has failed. Which raises the question: escape from what, exactly? Answer: the implacable limits of life on earth. The metaphor for all this, of course, is the old journey-into-space idea, which still persists in the salesmanship of Elon Musk, the ragged remnants of NASA, and even the nightmares of Stephen Hawking. Get off this messed-up home planet and light out of the territories, say Mars. Of course, this is a vain and stupid idea, since we already have a planet engineered to perfection for all the life systems associated with the human project. We just can’t respect its limits.

So now, that dynamic duo, Nature and Reality, the actual owners of the planet, have showed up to read the riot act to the renters throwing a wild party. The fourth and perhaps ultimate financial crisis of the last twenty years begins to express itself in terms that only the raptors and vultures can see from on high. George Soros, Kyle Bass, and the other flocking shadow banking scavengers prepare to short the living shit out of the old Middle Kingdom. The immortal words of G.W. Bush ring in their ears: This sucker is going down,” and they are sure to win big by betting on the obvious. Trouble is, this sucker could go down so much further than they imagined, that whatever fortunes they gain from its descent will be foiled by the destruction of the very economic system needed for them to enjoy their gains.

For instance, when banking systems go down, governments usually follow, and when governments go down, societies often unravel. It doesn’t take a great effort of imagination to see China’s one party politburo leadership machine lose the respect of its governed masses, and then its control of events, followed by a Great Struggle among the regions and factions to restore some kind of order. And when the smoke clears there will a whole lot of nearly worthless concrete and steel, and a vast loss of notional wealth, and China will be lucky to land back in some approximation of the Twelfth Century.

It must be interesting for China to watch the horrifying disintegration of America’s political party structure currently on view, with the mad bull called Trump rampaging across the land and the designated inevitable Mz It’s-My-Turn hijacking her collective for the greater glory of Goldman Sachs. The last time China got the vapors politically — the so-called Cultural Revolution of the 1960s — the country went batshit crazy. Surely some of the ruling party remembers that with requisite terror.

Or maybe this is China and the USA’s Thelma and Louise moment. Pedal to the metal, they drive into the abyss of history holding hands. Remember, audiences loved that!

Posted in Corporate Crime, Corruption, Economics, Financial Crisis, History, Recession, society | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Indigenous Eco-feminists of the Amazon

In Ecuador, indigenous Kichwa women are resisting corporate interests that threaten their land.

By Lindsey Weedston

Source: Yes! Magazine

For episode two of A Woman’s Place, Kassidy Brown and Allison Rapson traveled to Ecuador and ventured deep into the Amazon rainforest. There, issues of indigenous rights and the rights of women intersect in many ways. Corporate exploitation of indigenous land directly affects women who rely on natural resources for important aspects of their culture and daily lives.

This is one reason why Brown and Rapson sought out Nina Gualinga, a member of the Ecuadorian Kichwa tribe, internationally known for her indigenous rights activism. “In every episode we tried to address a different angle of feminism and a different way that it could be expressed,” Rapson said. For Brown and Rapson, Gualinga represented the power of eco-feminism, which combines environmentalism with feminist theory.

“We were struck by lots of things, but really it was just understanding her relationship to Mother Earth,” Rapson explained. “It’s a very personal relationship, and fighting for the planet, for them, is like fighting for a really powerful woman who needs their protection.”

The episode explains how, after oil companies began exploiting their land for fossil fuels, the Kichwa people protested, sued the government, and convinced the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to force oil companies out of Kichwa territory. But even though Kichwa women stood up to Big Oil and won, they still have to be vigilant. For Gualinga, and other Ecuadorian women interviewed for this episode, the capitalist system that threatens their land is also a key element of the modern patriarchy.

“It’s the kind of capitalism where big oil is coming in with a very masculine approach,” said Brown. “With the worst form of masculinity—aggressive, not listening to the community leaders, and not hearing what the people want.”

“All people have both feminine and masculine attributes. It’s not that all men are bad and it’s not that all masculine expression is bad,” Rapson said. “It’s that we are living with the remnants of an outdated and antiquated system.”

Gualinga says another obstacle indigenous women face is the stereotype that their communities are “primitive.” So when she brought Brown and Rapson to her village of Sarayaku, Gualinga showed them how Kichwa people have mixed modern technology with ancient traditions. The village uses solar panels for electricity—and Rapson explained that they even have their own “tech center”—while things like traditional teas and beauty products are still made by hand.

“It’s incredible to walk around the forest with Nina. She would pull this flower and tell us about how this oil would clear up your skin,” said Brown. “Then she would pull another thing that I would never recognize out of the rest of the foliage and say ‘This is great for your hair, it will make it longer and stronger.’ They have what they need there.”

This is part of the reason protecting their land is so important to the Kichwa.“It’s kind of like someone coming into your town and saying ‘I’m going to destroy your grocery store and your bank and your beauty salon,’” explained Rapson. “‘I’m going to literally take every aspect of your life—everything involved in how you live every day-to-day moment—and I’m going to get rid of all of that.’” Because when Gualinga and her fellow tribe members talk about protecting their environment, it’s more than just land. It’s protecting their history, their traditions, and their culture.

 

Lindsey Weedston wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Lindsey is a Seattle-based feminist blogger with a creative writing degree that everyone told her would be useless. She spends her time writing about various human rights and social justice issues on her blog Not Sorry Feminism and dabbles in video game reviews and commentary. Find her on Twitter at @NotSorryFem.

Posted in Activism, Corporate Crime, culture, Energy, Environment, Feminism, Philosophy, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments