The end of Western domination

By Thierry Meyssan

Source: VoltaireNet.org

The Western sanctions against Russia, decided unilaterally by Washington, are presented as a just punishment for the aggression against Ukraine. But, without mentioning their illegality under international law, everyone can see that they do not reach their target. In practice, the United States is isolating the West in the hope of maintaining its hegemony over its allies.

The United States, which was a late participant in the World Wars and suffered no losses on its territory, emerged victorious from the world conflicts. Inheriting the European empires, it developed a system of domination that made it the “world’s policeman. However, their hegemony was fragile and could not resist the development of large nations. As early as 2012, political scientists began to describe the “Thucydides trap” by analogy with the Greek strategist’s explanation of the wars between Sparta and Athens. According to them, China’s rise to power also made a confrontation with the United States inevitable. Noting that, if China had become the first world economic power, Russia had become the first military power, Washington decided to fight them one after the other.

It is in this context that the war in Ukraine took place. Washington presents it as “Russian aggression”, adopts sanctions and forces its allies to take them too. The first thing that comes to mind is that the United States, knowing that it is militarily inferior but economically superior, decided to choose its battlefield. However, an analysis of the forces involved and the measures taken belies this reading of events.

THE WORLD ECONOMIC SYSTEM

The global economic system was created by the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944. They aimed to establish a framework for capitalism beyond the crisis of 1929, for which Nazism had not been the solution. The United States imposed its currency as a gold-convertible benchmark. Neither the Soviet Union nor China participated in the conference.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon decided to unofficially end the dollar’s parity with gold. This allowed him to finance the war in Vietnam. In practical terms, there were no longer any fixed exchange rates. The measure was not formalized until after the war, in 1976. It was also at this time that China formed an alliance with the Anglo-Saxon multinationals. The European Community (the forerunner of the European Union) adapted by regulating the now-floating exchange rates in 1972 (the “currency snake”), and then by creating the euro.

From 1981 onwards, the United States began to let its debt slip away. It went from 40% of its GDP to 130% today. They tried to globalize the world economy, i.e. to impose their rules on the solvent countries and to destroy the state structures of the remaining countries (the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy). To pay their debt, they printed dollars, spied on the companies of their allies and stole all the reserves of two big oil states, Iraq and Libya. Nobody dared to say anything, but from 2003 onwards, the US economic system was no longer what it claimed to be. Officially they were still liberal, but everyone could see that they were no longer producing their own food and necessities, and that they were living on rapine.

The US economy, which was one third of the world economy when the USSR dissolved, is now only one tenth.

Many states anticipated the end of the Bretton Woods rules and thought about a new deal. In 2009, Brazil, Russia, India and China, soon joined by South Africa for Africa, created the BRICS. These countries have set up financial institutions which, unlike the IMF and the World Bank, do not make their loans conditional on structural reforms or political commitments to align with Washington. They prefer to invest on a leasing basis, with the host country becoming the owner of the investment when it is profitable.

In 2010, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, soon joined by Armenia, founded the Eurasian Economic Union. These border countries established a free trade zone with Egypt, China, Iran, Serbia, Singapore and Vietnam. They could be joined by South Korea, India, Turkey and Syria.
In 2013, China began its vast “New Silk Roads” project. The following year, when its GDP surpassed that of the United States at purchasing power parity, Beijing created the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and in 2020, it regulated foreign capital.

In 2021, the European Union devised its Global Gateway to compete with China and impose its political model. But this demand was seen as colonial overreach by many countries and was rejected en masse.

Gradually, the Russian and Chinese blocs have come closer together thanks to the joint project of the Great Eurasian Global Partnership (2016) within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The aim is to develop the whole space by creating balanced communication channels on the ideological bases defined by Kazakh Sultan Nazerbayev: inclusiveness, sovereign equality, respect for cultural and socio-political identity, openness and readiness to integrate other ensembles.

Washington’s attempt to destroy this emerging entity has no chance of success. It is striking that :
the economic attack began not with the invasion of Ukraine, but two days before.
it is primarily directed against Russian banks, Russian billionaires and the Russian gas industry and not at all against the new Eurasian communication system. Finally, it aims at excluding Russia from international organizations, but does not concern the states that refuse to condemn Russia. Therefore it will push them into the arms of Beijing.

In other words, the US is not isolating Russia, but it is isolating the West (10% of humanity) from the rest of the world (90% of humanity).

THE PROCESS OF SEPARATING THE WEST FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD

 0. The very day after Moscow recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (February 21, 2022), the United States launched an economic attack on Russia (February 22). The European Union followed suit the day after (February 23). Vnesheconombank and Promsvyazbank were excluded from the global financial system.

Vnesheconombank (VEB.RF) is a regional development bank. It could have helped the Donbass. Promsvyazbank (PSB) invests mainly in the defense sector. It could have played a role under the Mutual Assistance Treaty.

 1. As Russia started a special military operation in Ukraine (February 24), the United States extended the exclusion of the first two banks from the global financial system to all Russian banks (February 25). The European Union followed suit (February 25).

 2. In order to prevent as many states as possible from joining Russia, Washington extended the trade bans to Belarus. The European Union began to deny Russian banks access to the SWIFT system as previously instructed by the United States, extended sanctions to Belarus and censored the Russian state media, Russia Today and Sputnik (March 2)

 3. Washington began to target wealthy Russian citizens (erroneously called “oligarchs”) with bad relations with the Kremlin (March 3) and to ban imports of Russian energy sources (March 8). The European Union followed suit, but resisted a ban on the import of much-needed Russian gas (March 9).

 4. Washington extended financial sanctions in the IMF and World Bank, expanded the list of oligarchs and bannned the export of luxury goods to Russia (March 11). The European Union followed suit (March 15).

 5. Washington ensuref that members of the Duma and oligarchs no longer have any rights in the West; that Russia would no longer be able to use its assets in the USA to pay its debts to the USA; and that it would no longer be able to use its gold to pay its debts abroad (24 March). The European Union followed in these prohibitions. It pronounced a ban on the import of Russian coal and oil, but still no ban on gas.

The table below summarizes the communications from the White House and Brussels.

United StatesEuropean Union
«United States Imposes First Tranche of Swift and Severe Costs on Russia» (Feb. 22)EU adopts sanctions package in response to recognition of areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts not controlled by the government (Feb. 23)
«United States and Allies and Partners Impose Additional Costs on Russia» (Feb. 24)First set of EU sanctions (February 25)
«The United States Continues to Impose Costs on Russia and Belarus for Putin’s War of Choice» (March 2)Second set of EU sanctions (March 2)
«The United States Continues to Target Russian Oligarchs Enabling Putin’s War of Choice» (March 3)«United States Bans Imports of Russian Oil, Liquefied Natural Gas, and Coal» (March 8)Third set of EU sanctions (March 9)
«United States, European Union, and G7 to Announce Further Economic Costs on Russia» (March 11)Fourth set of sanctions (March 15)
«United States and Allies and Partners Impose Additional Costs on Russia» (Mar. 24)«United States, G7 and EU Impose Severe and Immediate Costs on Russia» (Apr 6)Fifth round of EU sanctions

THE REST OF THE WORLD’S RESPONSE

It is an extremely surprising phenomenon to observe: the U.S. has managed to sway a majority of states to its side, but these states are the least populous in the world. It is as if they have no means of putting pressure on countries capable of independence.

Due to the unilateral actions of the Anglo-Saxons and the European Union, the world is being divided into two heterogeneous spaces. The era of economic globalization is over. The economic and financial bridges are being broken one by one.

Reacting swiftly, Russia has convinced its BRICS partners to stop trading in dollars and to eventually create a common virtual currency for their exchanges. Until then, they will proceed in gold. This currency should be based on a basket of BRICS currencies, weighted according to the GDP of each member state, and on a basket of commodities listed on the stock exchange. This system should be much more stable than the current one.

Above all, Russia and China appear to be much more respectful of their partners than the West. They never demand structural reforms, neither economic nor political. The Ukrainian affair shows that Moscow does not seek to take power in Kiev and occupy Ukraine, but to push back NATO and fight the Banderites (the “neo-Nazis” according to Kremlin terminology). Nothing but very legitimate, even if the method is brutal.

In practice, we are witnessing the end of four centuries of domination by Westerners and their empires. It is a confrontation between different ways of thinking.
 Westerners now think only in terms of weeks. With this short-sightedness, they may have the impression that the United States is right and the Russians wrong. On the contrary, the rest of the world thinks in decades, even centuries. In this case, there is no doubt that the Russians are right and the West as a whole is wrong.
 Moreover, the West rejects international law. They attacked Yugoslavia and Libya without the authorization of the Security Council and lied to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. They only accept the rules they make. On the contrary, the other states aspire to a multipolar world in which each actor would think according to their own culture. They are aware that only international law would make it possible to preserve peace in the world as they dream of it.

Rather than confronting Russia and China, the United States has chosen to withdraw into its empire: to isolate the West in order to maintain its hegemony.

Since 2001, all world leaders have viewed the West, and particularly the United States, as wounded predators. They do not dare to confront them and look for ways to accompany them gently to the cemetery. No one ever imagined that they would isolate themselves to die.

Translation
Roger Lagassé

This article is a follow-up to :
 1. “Russia wants to force the US to respect the UN Charter,” January 4, 2022.
 2. “Washington pursues RAND plan in Kazakhstan, then Transnistria,” January 11, 2022.
 3. “Washington refuses to hear Russia and China,” January 18, 2022.
 4. “Washington and London, deafened“, February 1, 2022.
 5. “Washington and London try to preserve their domination over Europe“, February 8, 2022.
 6. “Two interpretations of the Ukrainian affair”, 16 February 2022.
 7. “Washington sounds the alarm, while its allies withdraw”, 22 February 2022.
 8. “Russia declares war on the Straussians”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 5 March 2022.
 9. “A gang of drug addicts and neo-nazis”, 5 March 2022.
 10 “Israel stunned by Ukrainian neo-Nazis”, 8 March 2022.
 11. “Ukraine: the great manipulation“, March 22, 2022.
 12. “The New World Order being prepared under the pretext of war in Ukraine“, 29 March 2022.
 13. “The war propaganda changes its shape”, 5 April 2022.
 14. “The alliance of MI6, the CIA and the banditry“, 12 April 2022.

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YouTube CEO at World Economic Forum: “There’ll always be work that we have to do” to censor “misinformation”

A commitment to constant censorship.

By Tom Parker

Source: Reclaim the Net

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting for 2022, an event where powerful CEOs and world leaders meet to “find solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki committed to persistent censorship of “misinformation” and praised YouTube’s existing censorship efforts.

Wojcicki made the comments after Alyson Shontell Lombardi, the Editor-in-Chief of Fortune Magazine, asked her whether YouTube’s efforts to censor misinformation will always be a “work in progress.”

“I think there’ll always be work that we have to do because there will always be incentives for people to be creating misinformation,” Wojcicki said. “The challenge will be to keep staying ahead of that and make sure that we are understanding what they are and the different ways that people may use to try to trick our systems and make sure that our systems are staying ahead of what’s necessary to make sure that we are managing that.”

Wojcicki continued by praising YouTube’s 5-6 year initiative of cracking down on content that’s deemed to be misinformation and said that users who look at YouTube search results or the homepage will see content from “authoritative sources” (mainstream media outlets that YouTube designates as authoritative) for “sensitive topics.”

Earlier in the conversation, Wojcicki said YouTube is “investing a huge amount to make sure that we’re fighting misinformation” and discussed the various ways YouTube is cracking down on misinformation. She pointed to YouTube introducing 10 COVID censorship policies, YouTube’s policy of not recommending “borderline content” which doesn’t break YouTube’s rules but is deemed to be “lower quality,” and YouTube’s policy of demonetizing content that’s deemed to be “propagating something that is generally understood as not accurate information.”

Wojcicki also talked about YouTube’s violative view rate (VVR) – a metric that shows how many views come from content that violates YouTube’s rules. The metric indicates how swiftly YouTube is censoring content. A low VVR signals that most of the content YouTube removes is being taken down before viewers have a chance to watch it.

Wojcicki noted that just 10-12 views of every 10,000 come from violative content and that this number has “come down significantly” over time.

“Our plan is to continue to work on it and make sure that we continue to reduce that,” Wojcicki added.

Wojcicki’s commitment to always crackdown on misinformation echoes her and the platform’s previous vows to censor misinformation. Days ago, Wojcicki promised to tackle “misinformation” to win over corporate cash. And earlier this year, she said: “Tackling misinformation and other harmful content is a top priority.”

YouTube has already deleted more than a million videos for “COVID misinformation,” plans to preemptively censor “new misinformation,” and has considered hiding the share button to prevent misinformation spread.

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They’re Just Outright Telling Us That Peace In Ukraine Is Not An Option

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

US Senator Joe Manchin said at the World Economic Forum on Monday that he opposes any kind of peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia.

Manchin, who at the moment is one of the most powerful elected officials in Washington, added that only the complete forcible ejection of Russia from all of Ukraine is acceptable, that the war should ideally be used to remove Putin from power, and that he and the strategists he talks to see this war as an “opportunity”.

“I am totally committed, as one person, to seeing Ukraine to the end with a win, not basically with some kind of a treaty; I don’t think that is where we are and where we should be,” Manchin said.

“I mean basically moving Putin back to Russia and hopefully getting rid of Putin,” Manchin added when asked what he meant by a win for Ukraine.

Manchin clarified that he did not mean pushing Putin back to “pre-February”, ostensibly meaning with Russia still controlling the largely Moscowloyal Crimea and supporting separatist territories in the Donbass, but with Kyiv fully reclaiming all parts of the nation.

“Oh no, I think Ukraine is determined to take their country back,” Manchin said when asked to clarify, further clarifying that he wants his call for regime change in Russia to be carried out by “the Russian people.”

“I believe strongly that I have never seen, and the people I talk strategically have never seen, an opportunity more than this, to do what needs to be done,” Manchin later added. “And Ukraine has the determination to do it. We should have the commitment to support it.”

Manchin’s comments fit in perfectly with what we know about the US-centralized empire’s real agendas in Ukraine.

Earlier this month Ukrainian media reported that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on behalf of NATO powers that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not.”

Last month US Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin acknowledged that the goal in this war is not peace in Ukraine or the mere military defeat of Russia but to actually weaken Russia as a nation, saying “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

Last week The New York Times reported that the Biden administration is developing plans to “further choke Russia’s oil revenues with the long-term goal of destroying the country’s central role in the global energy economy.”

Just the other day Ukraine’s military intelligence chief announced that the mission has already creeped forward from the goal of defeating the Russian invaders to reclaiming the Crimean territory which was annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014.

Two months ago Biden himself acknowledged what the real game is here with an open call for regime change, saying of Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

Statements from the Biden administration in fact indicate that they expect this war to drag on for a long time, making it abundantly clear that a swift end to minimize the death and destruction is not just uninteresting but undesirable for the US empire.

This is not a proxy war with peace as an option anywhere within sight. It’s not about saving Ukrainian lives. It’s not even about beating Russia in Ukraine. It’s about achieving regime change in Moscow, no matter how many lives need to be destroyed in the process.

Peace is not on the menu.

This war could easily have been prevented with a little diplomacy and reasonable compromise. As the University of Ottawa’s Ivan Katchanovski recently explained to The Maple, “an agreement in which Ukraine promised to remain a neutral country and the fulfilment of the Minsk accords could have stopped Putin’s invasion.”

We know now that the US intelligence cartel had good visibility into what the Kremlin had planned for Ukraine, so they would have known exactly what could have been done to prevent the invasion. They knowingly chose to do none of those things, because the goal was to provoke this war the entire time and then weaponize it against Moscow.

That’s why the Biden administration has been hindering diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to this war, why it has refused to provide Ukraine with any kind of diplomatic negotiating power regarding the possible rollback of sanctions and other US measures to help secure peace, and why Washington’s top diplomats have consistently been conspicuously absent from any kind of dialogue with their counterparts in Moscow.

Empire spinmeisters and their propagandized victims like to claim that Ukrainian forces are fighting for “peace” in Ukraine. The other day Kyiv Independent’s Illia Ponomarenko, who has called the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion his “brothers in arms,” tweeted this:

But anyone who understands this war knows this is ridiculous. Peace is not the goal in Ukraine. Most of the Ukrainians doing the fighting surely believe they are fighting for peace in their homeland, and peace is surely their intention, but that’s not something the empire will allow if the empire gets any say in the matter.

Even if Ukraine does somehow avoid being used as cannon fodder to draw Moscow into a long and costly slog as US officials have admitted was done in both Afghanistan and in Syria, and even if they do somehow manage to deliver a crushing and conclusive defeat to Moscow in the near term (which is far less probable than the western media would have you believe), that wouldn’t be the end of the war. The war would just change shape as the empire and its proxies go on the offensive against Moscow.

This war does not end with Russia being driven from Ukraine, it ends with regime change and the balkanization of the Russian Federation. Really it doesn’t end until the rise of China has been stopped and US unipolar hegemony secured. Or when the empire collapses. Or when we all die in a nuclear holocaust.

All forward motion in this war has nothing but violence as far as the eye can see on its trajectory into the future. No matter how much wealth and war machinery you pour into this conflict, that trajectory of death and destruction will just keep stretching out to the horizon. As Chris Hedges recently explained, war is the only path the empire has left open to itself.

I’ve seen some cute kids in my time, but nobody’s as adorable as people who think the US pours weapons into foreign nations in order to achieve peace.

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Two for Tuesday

The Isley Brothers

Five Times August

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The Drums of War Beat Louder

Illustration by Shutterstock – edited by Büşra Öztürk.

By Paul Craig Roberts

Source: PaulCraigRoberts.org

My forebodings/predictions about the Kremlin’s limited go-slow war in Ukraine are proving correct.  Putin and Russia are demonized.  Unprecedented sanctions amounting to piracy and theft have been imposed on Russia. The US and Europe are joining the war as de facto combatants. More countries are joining NATO with the result being the prospect of more US missile bases on Russia’s borders. The Western media controls the narrative, which is Russia is losing and can be defeated with more many billions of dollars from the US and more weapons that enrich the US military/security complex.  Why any Russian government would expose itself to this and so many chances for miscalculation that ends in WW III is a mystery.  What did the Kremlin imagine it was achieving by creating a situation that exposed Rusaia to many months of war propaganda, punishment, and Western preparations for wider war?

What peace needed was a quick decisive Russian victory that demonstrated extraordinary military power that completely stopped any further Western provocations of Russia.  But the Kremlin was too liberal-minded to do what was neccessary. Consequently the Kremlin made a strategic error, dropped the ball and has failed to protect Russia from provocations that are leading to WW III.

Instead, the Kremlin filled with liberal delusions long discarded in the West decided to show a good side by limiting itself to the rescue of the Donbass Russians.  This gave the West all it needed to present Russia as a military incompetent upstart.  Among the Kremlin’s errors, the Kremlin overlooked that Ukraine’s distress from the limited Russian intervention created an opportunity for Poland to claim former Polish territories in western Ukraine where there are no Russian troops engaged. It is possible that the Polish government, disinformed by Western media’s picture of Russian military failure in Ukraine, will occupy western Ukraine as preparation to reclaiming it as Russia did Crimea and now Donbass.  As Russia will have eastern and southern Ukraine, the country could simply disappear as Poland resurrects greater Poland. In its history, Ukraine has either been part of Poland’s empire or part of Russia.

If Poland moves into western Ukraine as it is tempted to do, opportunities for Polish-Russian conflict arise.  As Poland is a NATO member, Washington has given Poland, as the British government did with World War II’s “Polish Guarantee,” the power to start a world war.

The Polish government has a penchant for emotional decisons, not responsible decisions. Just as the Polish military dictatorship thought the “British Guarantee” protected them, causing them to spurn Hitler’s demand for the return of German territory stripped from Germany in the Versailles Treaty despite President Wilson’s “guarantee” of no territorial losses, the Polish government thinks today that NATO membership protects Poland from Russian retaliation.

The government in Warsaw does not comprehand that the “NATO Guarantee” is worth no more than the British Government’s guarantee that launched WW II.

The governments that comprise the Western World have given Poland, once again, the decision whether there is to be a World War.

This deplorable and unsettling fact stares us in the face, but no Western media, not even online media, acknowledges it.

The situation that exists today is that either Russia and China must accept US hegemony or the neoconservaties will push Russia and China into war with the West. The hegemonic ambition of the neoconservatives is inconsistent with a peaceful world.

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“Genetically Edited” Food – The next stage of the Great Reset?

By Kit Knightly

Source: Off-Guardian

The Queen’s Speech was interesting this year.

For all the people outside the UK who don’t understand what the “Queens Speech” actually is, it’s a farcical state occasion in which the Queen (or, in this case, Prince Charles since her majesty is ill/secretly dead/having “mobility issues”) makes a speech about what “her government” intends to do for the next 12 months.

Of course, the Queen doesn’t actually write the speech, or have any input on its content, or have any control at all over what “her” government intends to do. She’s just a mouthpiece in a big gold hat.

It’s the UK equivalent of the State of the Union, only done in Halloween costumes made out of shiny stolen rocks.

The whole thing is nothing but a grand, gilt statement of intent from the British Deep State, wrapped in mink and draped in medals they never earned. It’s a joke, but it is worth listening to.

Or, if you have a sensitive stomach, you can just read the full text the next day on the UK government’s website (that’s what I do).

A lot of the content is entirely predictable.

More money to Ukraine, with a promise the UK will “lead the way in championing security around the world”. More online censorship via the “Online Safety Bill”. A compulsory register for homeschooled children via the “Schools Reform Bill”.

There’s also mention of “securing the constitution” by introducing the UK’s own “Bill of Rights”. We broke down that particular Trojan Horse back in February.

But the part I found most interesting is the stated plan to “encourage agricultural and scientific innovation at home” via the proposed Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill.

The proposed bill (which, for some reason is not available through the parliament website) follows on from DEFRA’s announced “loosened regulation” of genetic research back in January.

To quote the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), the legislation would “take certain precision breeding techniques out of the scope of restrictive GMO rules”.

Essentially, this would see new “gene-edited” foods as distinct from old-fashioned “genetically modified” foods, and therefore not subject to the same rules and oversight.

The claimed distinction is that gene editing, as opposed to genetic modification, doesn’t introduce DNA from other species. Therefore, in effect, is merely speeding up what could potentially naturally happen over time.

Now, you might think this is just semantics, and that such a law will just provide a loophole for ALL “genetically modified” foods to simply rebrand themselves as “genetically edited” foods, and thereby avoid regulation. But that is disgustingly cynical and shame on you for even thinking it.

All in all, this is pretty on-message stuff, and not especially surprising. What’s noteworthy is – by pure happenstance, I’m sure – it appears to coincide with a renewed push on the GM food front in other countries all over the world.

In December 2021, Switzerland added an amendment to its moratorium on GMO crops, permitting the use of certain “gene editing” techniques.

Last month, Egypt announced their new strain of GM wheat. Just two days ago, Ethiopia’s National Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center announced they had researched, and the country will now be growing, genetically modified cotton and maize.

Despite Russia’s sweeping ban on the cultivation and/or importing of genetically modified crops, they have nonetheless created a 111 billion Ruble project to create up to 30 varieties of genetically edited plants and farm animals.

Britain’s deregulation of GM food is always described as a “post-Brexit” move – with the EU chided around the world for its “precautionary principle” on GM crops – and yet as long ago as last April, the EU was calling for a “rethink” on GM crops.

In fact, just today, European Biotechnology Magazine reports:

The EU Commission has launched its final consultation on the deregulation of new breeding techniques in agriculture

WHY THIS? WHY NOW?

So, we’re seeing a sudden increase in the variety of GM crops available and a simultaneous push for deregulation of the industry in Western nations.

Why would they be doing this now?

Well, there is a food crisis.

Or, more accurately, they have just created a food crisis. And as the cliched Hegelian dialectic inevitably goes, their manufactured “problem” is now in need of their contrived “solution”.

We should expect to see genetic engineering pitched as a solution to our food crisis in the very near future…like yesterday. Or indeed, two months ago.

That’s how fast they work now, with barely a pretence at concealing the plan. Spitting out the answer so fast they make it obvious they knew the question beforehand.

On March 15th, when the “special operation” in Ukraine was less than 3 weeks old, the Time was already headlining:

War forces farmers to think again about GM crops

…and reporting:

Genetic modification could make Britain’s food system less susceptible to geopolitical turmoil

A week later Verdict published an article titled “Improving food self-sufficiency with GM crops during geopolitical crises”

Last week, the Times of Israel asked:

Can gene editing help farmers satisfy the rising demand for food?

Four days ago, the Manila Times published an article titled “In times of food scarcity: Revisiting genetically modified crops”.

Two days ago (so before the Queen’s speech specifically mentioning the gene editing bill), Scotland’s Press & Journal ran an opinion piece headlined: “Scottish Government must lift GM crop ban to ease cost of living crisis”.

Yesterday, the “information services” company IHS Markit published an article on GM regulation in Europe, in which they claimed:

The Ukraine-Russia conflict has demonstrated the fragility and vulnerability of global and European food supply chains. Around the world, governments in leading agricultural-producing countries are now catching up with the United States, both to better legislate gene-edited (GE) products, as well as differentiate them from the older Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology, and its negative connotations to some consumers, commentators, farmers, retailers, politicians and lawmakers.

And just today, the Genetic Literacy Project published an article by Ukrainian-Canadian David Zaruk, railing against the EU’s “precautionary principle” on GMOs and calling for an embracing of “new technology” to prevent widespread hunger and increase food sovereignty.

It goes on and on and on.

…LET’S NOT FORGET CLIMATE CHANGE, GUYS

Of course, it’s not all about the food crisis – giving corporate giants free rein to genetically alter all the food we eat will also be good for the planet. They talk about that a lot recently.

On February 8th this year, the University of Bonn published a new study claiming “Genetic engineering can have a positive effect on the climate”

On February 24th this year, the Cornell-based NGO “Alliance for Science” published an article claiming “GMOs could shrink Europe’s climate footprint”, based on the study mentioned above.

In a response to the Queen’s Speech, the UK’s National Institute of Agriculture and Botany claimed that genetic modification will make farming “more sustainable”.

In a reminder we’re not just talking about crops but genetically engineering livestock as well, in February Deutsche Welle suggested that genetically altered “Climate sheep and eco pigs could combat global heating”.

Three weeks ago, Stuff.NZ asked simply:

Can GM save the planet?”

The narrative is clearly set: Genetically engineered food will save us all from the food crisis, and global warming too. Plus anything else they can think of.

THE KNIVES ARE OUT FOR ORGANICS

Not content with the semi-constant fluffing of the GM business, the MSM are also turning their guns on organic farming and giving it both barrels.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Ukraine Crisis Reveals the Folly of Organic Farming: As food prices skyrocket, the world needs to admit it can’t live without modern, efficient agriculture.

The Telegraph blames organic farming policies for tipping Sri Lanka into bloody chaos”

The “Allliance for Science” article mentioned above goes out of its way to criticise the EU’s pro-organic “farm to fork” plans, claiming “[organic farming] has lower yields and would be associated with increases in global [greenhouse gas] emissions by causing land-use changes elsewhere”.

Meanwhile, Erik Fyrwald, the CEO of the Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta (so possessing somewhat of a conflict of interests), told Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag that the West must “stop organic farming to help future food crisis”, adding that organic farming is worse for the planet, because ploughing up fields releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

We already saw wellness “cults” accused of peddling “anti-vax conspiracy theories” last year, this will easily extend to organic farmers and their customers.

NOTE: In an interesting (again, probably totally accidental) parallel, the currently simmering “Bird Flu outbreak” has also hit organic and free-range farmers hard, with one (sponsored) Guardian article asking if “year-round” bird flu could spell “the end of free-range eggs”.

CONCLUSION

Having just seen how the Covid19 “vaccine” campaign unfolded, it’s not hard to see how the pro-GM push will go from here. Genome-edited crops and farm animals are going to become the new “settled science”.

They will be sold to the public as cheapermore nutritious, better for the environment and good for “preventing future pandemics” (yes, they literally did say that already).

Naturally, anyone who resists the push for gene-edited food, and/or mourns the planned death of organic farming, will be accused of “questioning the science”.

Eating British GM foods will be “doing your part” and “helping Ukraine”, while people who want more expensive organic products will be deemed “unpatriotic” or “selfish”.

Just as we saw Covid sceptics denounced as spreading “Russian disinformation”, despite Russia’s willing complicity in the Covid lie, those who argue against genome-edited food will be said to be “sharing Russian talking points” or “doing Putin’s work for him” despite Russia being well onboard the gene-editing train.

It all gets very predictable from there. Organic farmers will probably be “anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorist Russian spies” by the end of the summer.

…This probably explains why Bill Gates was buying up so much farmland last year, too.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Big Pharma, Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, elites, Environment, Geopolitics, GMOs, Health, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, Technocracy, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pop Culture Has Become an Oligopoly

By Adam Mastroianni

Source: Experimental History

You may have noticed that every popular movie these days is a remake, reboot, sequel, spinoff, or cinematic universe expansion. In 2021, only one of the ten top-grossing films––the Ryan Reynolds vehicle Free Guy––was an original. There were only two originals in 2020’s top 10, and none at all in 2019.

People blame this trend on greedy movie studios or dumb moviegoers or competition from Netflix or humanity running out of ideas. Some say it’s a sign of the end of movies. Others claim there’s nothing new about this at all.

Some of these explanations are flat-out wrong; others may contain a nugget of truth. But all of them are incomplete, because this isn’t just happening in movies. In every corner of pop culture––movies, TV, music, books, and video games––a smaller and smaller cartel of superstars is claiming a larger and larger share of the market. What used to be winners-take-some has grown into winners-take-most and is now verging on winners-take-all. The (very silly) word for this oligopoly, like a monopoly but with a few players instead of just one.

I’m inherently skeptical of big claims about historical shifts. I recently published a paper showing that people overestimate how much public opinion has changed over the past 50 years, so naturally I’m on the lookout for similar biases here. But this shift is not an illusion. It’s big, it’s been going on for decades, and it’s happening everywhere you look. So let’s get to the bottom of it.

(Data and code available here.)

Movies 

At the top of the box office charts, original films have gone extinct. 

I looked at the 20 top-grossing movies going all the way back to 1977 (source), and I coded whether each was part of what film scholars call a “multiplicity”—sequels, prequels, franchises, spin-offs, cinematic universe expansions, etc. This required some judgment calls. Lots of movies are based on books and TV shows, but I only counted them as multiplicities if they were related to a previous movie. So 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn’t get coded as a multiplicity, but 1991’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze does, and so does the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remake. I also probably missed a few multiplicities, especially in earlier decades, since sometimes it’s not obvious that a movie has some connection to an earlier movie.

Regardless, the shift is gigantic. Until the year 2000, about 25% of top-grossing movies were prequels, sequels, spinoffs, remakes, reboots, or cinematic universe expansions. Since 2010, it’s been over 50% ever year. In recent years, it’s been close to 100%.

Original movies just aren’t popular anymore, if they even get made in the first place.

Top movies have also recently started taking a larger chunk of the market. I extracted the revenue of the top 20 movies and divided it by the total revenue of the top 200 movies, going all the way back to 1986 (source). The top 20 movies captured about 40% of all revenue until 2015, when they started gobbling up even more.

Television

Thanks to cable and streaming, there’s way more stuff on TV today than there was 50 years ago. So it would make sense if a few shows ruled the early decades of TV, and now new shows constantly displace each other at the top of the viewership charts.

Instead, the opposite has happened. I pulled the top 30 most-viewed TV shows from 1950 to 2019 (source) and found that fewer and fewer franchises rule a larger and larger share of the airwaves. In fact, since 2000, about a third of the top 30 most-viewed shows are either spinoffs of other shows in the top 30 (e.g., CSI and CSI: Miami) or multiple broadcasts of the same show (e.g., American Idol on Monday and American Idol on Wednesday). 

Two caveats to this data. First, I’m probably slightly undercounting multiplicities from earlier decades, where the connections between shows might be harder for a modern viewer like me to understand––maybe one guy hosted multiple different shows, for example. And second, the Nielsen ratings I’m using only recently started accurately measuring viewership on streaming platforms. But even in 2019, only 14% of viewing time was spent on streaming, so this data isn’t missing much.

Music

It used to be that a few hitmakers ruled the charts––The Beatles, The Eagles, Michael Jackson––while today it’s a free-for-all, right?

Nope. A data scientist named Azhad Syed has done the analysis, and he finds that the number of artists on the Billboard Hot 100 has been decreasing for decades.

And since 2000, the number of hits per artist on the Hot 100 has been increasing. 

(Azhad says he’s looking for a job––you should hire him!)

A smaller group of artists tops the charts, and they produce more of the chart-toppers. Music, too, has become an oligopoly.

Books

Literature feels like a different world than movies, TV, and music, and yet the trend is the same.

Using LiteraryHub’s list of the top 10 bestselling books for every year from 1919 to 2017, I found that the oligopoly has come to book publishing as well. There are a couple ways we can look at this. First, we can look at the percentage of repeat authors in the top 10––that is, the number of books in the top 10 that were written by an author with another book in the top 10.

It used to be pretty rare for one author to have multiple books in the top 10 in the same year. Since 1990, it’s happened almost every year. No author ever had three top 10 books in one year until Danielle Steel did it 1998. In 2011, John Grisham, Kathryn Stockett, and Stieg Larsson all had two chart-topping books each.

We can also look at the percentage of authors in the top 10 were already famous––say, they had a top 10 book within the past 10 years. That has increased over time, too. 

In the 1950s, a little over half of the authors in the top 10 had been there before. These days, it’s closer to 75%.

Video games

I tracked down the top 20 bestselling video games for each year from 1995 to 2021 (sources: 1234567) and coded whether each belongs to a preexisting video game franchise. (Some games, like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, belong to franchises outside of video games. For these, I coded the first installment as originals and any subsequent installments as franchise games.)

The oligopoly rules video games too:

In the late 1990s, 75% or less of bestselling video games were franchise installments. Since 2005, it’s been above 75% every year, and sometimes it’s 100%. At the top of the charts, it’s all Mario, Zelda, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto.

Why is this happening?

Any explanation for the rise of the pop oligopoly has to answer two questions: why have producers started producing more of the same thing, and why are consumers consuming it? I think the answers to the first question are invasionconsolidation, and innovation. I think the answer to the second question is proliferation.

Invasion

Software and the internet have made it easier than ever to create and publish content. Most of the stuff that random amateurs make is crap and nobody looks at it, but a tiny proportion gets really successful. This might make media giants choose to produce and promote stuff that independent weirdos never could, like an Avengers movie. This can’t explain why oligopolization started decades ago––YouTube only launched in 2005, for example, and most Americans didn’t have broadband until 2007––but it might explain why it’s accelerated and stuck around.

Consolidation

Big things like to eat, defeat, and outcompete smaller things. So over time, big things should get bigger and small things should die off. Indeed, movie studiosmusic labelsTV stations, and publishers of books and video games have all consolidated. Maybe it’s inevitable that major producers of culture will suck up or destroy everybody else, leaving nothing but superstars and blockbusters. Indeed, maybe cultural oligopoly is merely a transition state before we reach cultural monopoly.

Innovation

You may think there’s nothing left to discover in art forms as old as literature and music, and that they simply iterate as fashions change. But it took humans thousands of years to figure out how to create the illusion of depth in paintings. Novelists used to think that sentences had to be long and complicated until Hemingway came along, wrote some snappy prose, and changed everything. Even very old art forms, then, may have secrets left to discover. Maybe the biggest players in culture discovered some innovations that won them a permanent, first-mover chunk of market share. I can think of a few:

  • In books: lightning-quick plots and chapter-ending cliffhangers. Nobody thinks The Da Vinci Code is high literature, but it’s a book that really really wants you to read it. And a lot of people did!
  • In music: sampling. Musicians seem to sample more often these days. Now we not only remake songs; we franchise them too.
  • In movies, TV, and video games: cinematic universes. Studios have finally figured out that once audiences fall in love with fictional worlds, they want to spend lots of time in them. Marvel, DC, and Star Wars are the most famous, but there are also smaller universe expansions like Better Call Saul and El Camino from Breaking Bad and The Many Saints of Newark from The Sopranos. Video game developers have understood this for even longer, which is why Mario does everything from playing tennis to driving go-karts to, you know, being a piece of paper.

Proliferation

Invasion, consolidation, and innovation can, I think, explain the pop oligopoly from the supply side. But all three require a willing audience. So why might people be more open to experiencing the same thing over and over again?

As options multiply, choosing gets harder. You can’t possibly evaluate everything, so you start relying on cues like “this movie has Tom Hanks in it” or “I liked Red Dead Redemption, so I’ll probably like Red Dead Redemption II,” which makes you less and less likely to pick something unfamiliar. 

Another way to think about it: more opportunities means higher opportunity costs, which could lead to lower risk tolerance. When the only way to watch a movie is to go pick one of the seven playing at your local AMC, you might take a chance on something new. But when you’ve got a million movies to pick from, picking a safe, familiar option seems more sensible than gambling on an original.

This could be happening across all of culture at once. Movies don’t just compete with other movies. They compete with every other way of spending your time, and those ways are both infinite and increasing. There are now 60,000 free books on Project Gutenberg, Spotify says it has 78 million songs and 4 million podcast episodes, and humanity uploads 500 hours of video to YouTube every minute. So uh, yeah, the Tom Hanks movie sounds good.

What do we do about it?

Some may think that the rise of the pop oligopoly means the decline of quality. But the oligopoly can still make art: Red Dead Redemption II is a terrific game, “Blinding Lights” is a great song, and Toy Story 4 is a pretty good movie. And when you look back at popular stuff from a generation ago, there was plenty of dreck. We’ve forgotten the pulpy Westerns and insipid romances that made the bestseller lists while books like The Great GatsbyBrave New World, and Animal Farm did not. American Idol is not so different from the televised talent shows of the 1950s. Popular culture has always been a mix of the brilliant and the banal, and nothing I’ve shown you suggests that the ratio has changed.

The problem isn’t that the mean has decreased. It’s that the variance has shrunk. Movies, TV, music, books, and video games should expand our consciousness, jumpstart our imaginations, and introduce us to new worlds and stories and feelings. They should alienate us sometimes, or make us mad, or make us think. But they can’t do any of that if they only feed us sequels and spinoffs. It’s like eating macaroni and cheese every single night forever: it may be comfortable, but eventually you’re going to get scurvy. 

We haven’t fully reckoned with what the cultural oligopoly might be doing to us. How much does it stunt our imaginations to play the same video games we were playing 30 years ago? What message does it send that one of the most popular songs in the 2010s was about how a 1970s rock star was really cool? How much does it dull our ambitions to watch 2021’s The Matrix: Resurrections, where the most interesting scene is just Neo watching the original Matrix from 1999? How inspiring is it to watch tiny variations on the same police procedurals and reality shows year after year? My parents grew up with the first Star Wars movie, which had the audacity to create an entire universe. My niece and nephews are growing up with the ninth Star Wars movie, which aspires to move merchandise. Subsisting entirely on cultural comfort food cannot make us thoughtful, creative, or courageous.

Fortunately, there’s a cure for our cultural anemia. While the top of the charts has been oligopolized, the bottom remains a vibrant anarchy. There are weird books and funky movies and bangers from across the sea. Two of the most interesting video games of the past decade put you in the role of an immigration officer and an insurance claims adjuster. Every strange thing, wonderful and terrible, is available to you, but they’ll die out if you don’t nourish them with your attention. Finding them takes some foraging and digging, and then you’ll have to stomach some very odd, unfamiliar flavors. That’s good. Learning to like unfamiliar things is one of the noblest human pursuits; it builds our empathy for unfamiliar people. And it kindles that delicate, precious fire inside us––without it, we might as well be algorithms. Humankind does not live on bread alone, nor can our spirits long survive on a diet of reruns.

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Saturday Matinee: Gloria’s Call

Source: GloriasCall.com

From the cafés of Paris to the mountaintops of Samiland, a scholar’s life is foreverchanged through her friendships with the women artists of Surrealism.

In 1971, graduate student Gloria Orenstein received a call from Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington that sparked a lifelong journey into art, ecofeminism and shamanism. The short film, Gloria’s Call, uses art, animation and storytelling to celebrate this wild adventure from the cafes of Paris to the mountaintops of Samiland. The film is produced by artists Cheri Gaulke (director), Cheryl BookoutAnne GauldinSue Maberry and Christine Papalexis .

Gloria’s Call was born in October of 2016 during a presentation by renowned scholar Dr. Gloria Feman Orenstein at the Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art (SCWCA) Surrealist Tea in celebration of their 40th Anniversary.

ABOUT GLORIA

While my life has had its challenging moments and I have traversed many a dark woods in my quest for knowledge, I am fulfilled by the wondrous journeys I have made to the realms of the Marvelous, the Magical, the Great Goddess and the Shamanic Mysteries, and I will be forever grateful to the teachers who inspired me and to the feminist activists on whose strong shoulders we now stand as we welcome new generations of visionaries expanding our feminist legacy into the new millennium.   -Gloria Feman Orenstein

Gloria F. Orenstein is Professor Emerita in Comparative Literature and Gender Studies from the University of Southern California. Her areas of research have ranged from Surrealism, contemporary feminist literature and the arts to Ecofeminism and Shamanism.

Her first book The Theater Of The Marvelous: Surrealism And The Contemporary Stage paved the way for her pioneering work on The Women of Surrealism. Leonora Carrington had been a friend and remained a major source of her inspiration in research and scholarship since 1971. Her book The Reflowering Of The Goddess offers a feminist analysis of the movement in the contemporary arts that reclaimed the Goddess as the symbol of a paradigm shift toward a more gynocentric mythos and ethos as women artists forged a link to the pre-patriarchal civilization of the ancient Goddess cultures, referencing them as their source of spiritual inspiration.

Orenstein is also co-editor of Reweaving The World: The Emergence Of Ecofeminism, a collection of essays that grew out of the conference she created at USC in 1987, Ecofeminist Perspectives: Culture, Nature, Theory. During the 80s she was invited by the Shaman of Samiland (Lapland, N. Norway) to be a student with her in Alta, Norway, an experience that continued intermittently for almost five years. She also created The Woman’s Salon in NYC that lasted for ten years beginning in 1975. More recently, her work in Surrealism, in particular, led to her inclusion of an essay in the book In Wonderland that accompanied the important exhibition of the same name that focused on the Women artists of Surrealism in the Americas, both those who were native to the Americas and those who migrated there during or after WWII. Orenstein was a pioneer in introducing the art of Frida Kahlo to North American feminists early in the 70s. Today, she continues her journey investigating the visionary worlds of revelation and the Marvelous, and will continue this pursuit in her research well into the future.

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