Propaganda Techniques of Empire

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By James Petras

Source: Axis of Logic

Introduction
Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has been preceded, accompanied and followed by unremitting government propaganda designed to secure public approval, exploit victims, slander critics, dehumanize targeted adversaries and justify its allies’ collaboration.

In this paper we will discuss the most common recent techniques used to support ongoing imperial wars.

Propaganda Techniques of Empire

Role Reversal
A common technique, practiced by the imperial publicists, is to accuse the victims of the same crimes, which had been committed against them.  The well documented, deliberate and sustained US-EU aerial bombardment of Syrian government soldiers, engaged in operations against ISIS-terrorist, resulted in the deaths and maiming of almost 200 Syrian troops and allowed ISIS-mercenaries to overrun their camp.   In an attempt to deflect the Pentagon’s role in providing air cover for the very terrorists it claims to oppose, the propaganda organs cranked out lurid, but unsubstantiated, stories of an aerial attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy, first blamed on the Syrian government and then on the Russians.  The evidence that the attack was most likely a ground-based rocket attack by ISIS terrorists did not deter the propaganda mills.  This technique would turn US and European attention away from the documented criminal attack by the imperial bombers and present the victimized Syrian troops and pilots as international human rights criminals.

Hysterical Rants
Faced with world opprobrium for its wanton violation of an international ceasefire agreement in Syria, the imperial public spokespeople frequently resort to irrational outbursts at international meetings in order to intimidate wavering allies into silence and shut down any chance for reasonable debate resolving concrete issues among adversaries.

The current ‘US Ranter-in-Chief’ in the United Nations, is Ambassador Samantha Power, who launched a vitriolic diatribe against the Russians in order to sabotage a proposed General Assembly debate on the US deliberate violation (its criminal attack on Syrian troops) of the recent Syrian ceasefire.  Instead of a reasonable debate among serious diplomats, the rant served to derail the proceedings.

Identity Politics to Neutralize Anti-Imperialist Movements
Empire is commonly identified with the race, gender, religion and ethnicity of its practioners.  Imperial propagandists have frequently resorted to disarming and weakening anti-imperialist movements by co-opting and corrupting black, ethnic minority and women leaders and spokespeople.  The use of such ‘symbolic’ tokens is based on the assumption that these are ‘representatives’ reflecting the true interests of so-called ‘marginalized minorities’ and can therefore presume to ‘speak for  the oppressed peoples of the world’.  The promotion of such compliant and respectable ‘minority members’ to the elite is then propagandized as a ‘revolutionary’, world liberating historical event – witness the ‘election’ of US President Barack Obama.

The rise of Obama to the presidency in 2008 illustrates how the imperial propagandists have used identity politics to undermine class and anti-imperialist struggles.

Under Obama’s historical black presidency, the US pursued seven wars against ‘people of color’ in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.  Over a million men and women of sub-Saharan black origin, whether Libyan citizens or contract workers for neighboring countries, were killed, dispossessed and driven into exile by US allies after the US-EU destroyed the Libyan state – in the name of humanitarian intervention.  Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been bombed in Yemen, Syria and Iraq under President Obama, the so-called ‘historic black’ president.  Obama’s ‘predator drones’ have killed hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani villagers.  Such is the power of ‘identity politics’ that ignominious Obama was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’.

Meanwhile, in the United States under Obama, racial inequalities between black and white workers (wages, unemployment, access to housing, health and educational services) have widened.  Police violence against blacks intensified with total impunity for ‘killer cops’.  Over two million immigrant Latino workers have been expelled – breaking up hundreds of thousands of families– and accompanied by a marked increase of repression compared to earlier administrations.  Millions of black and white workers’ home mortgages were foreclosed while all of the corrupt banks were bailed out – at a greater rate than had occurred under white presidents.

This blatant, cynical manipulation of identity politics facilitated the continuation and deepening of imperial wars, class exploitation and racial exclusion.  Symbolic representation undermined class struggles for genuine changes.

Past Suffering to Justify Contemporary Exploitation
Imperial propagandists repeatedly evoke the victims and abuses of the past in order to justify their own aggressive imperial interventions and support for the ‘land grabs’ and ethnic cleansing committed by their colonial allies – like Israel, among others. The victims and crimes of the past are presented as a perpetual presence to justify ongoing brutalities against contemporary subject people.

The case of US-Israeli colonization of Palestine clearly illustrates how rabid criminality, pillage, ethnic cleansing and self-enrichment can be justified and glorified through the language of past victimization.  Propagandists in the US and Israel have created ‘the cult of the Holocaust’, worshiping a near century-old Nazi crime against Jews (as well as captive Slavs, Gypsies and other minorities) in Europe, to justify the bloody conquest and theft of Arab lands and sovereignty and engage in systematic military assaults against Lebanon and Syria.  Millions of Muslim and Christian Palestinians have been driven into perpetual exile.  Elite, wealthy, well-organized and influential zionist Jews, with primary fealty to Israel, have successfully sabotaged every contemporary struggle for peace in the Middle East and have created real barriers for social democracy in the US through their promotion of militarism and empire building.  Those claiming to represent victims of the past have become among the most oppressive of contemporary elites.  Using the language of ‘defense’, they promote aggressive forms of expansion and pillage.  They claim their monopoly on historic ‘suffering’ has given them a ‘special dispensation’ from the rules of civilized conduct:  their cult of the Holocaust allows them to inflict immense pain on others while silencing any criticism with the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ and relentlessly punishing critics.  Their key role in imperial propaganda warfare is based on their claims of an exclusive franchise on suffering and immunity from the norms of justice.

Entertainment Spectacles on Military Platforms
Entertainment spectacles glorify militarism.  Imperial propagandists link the public to unpopular wars promoted by otherwise discredited leaders.  Sports events present soldiers dressed up as war heroes with deafening, emotional displays of ‘flag worship’ to celebrate the ongoing overseas wars of aggression.  These mind-numbing extravaganzas with crude elements of religiosity demand choreographed expressions of national allegiance from the spectators as a cover for continued war crimes abroad and the destruction of citizens’ economic rights at home.

Much admired, multi-millionaire musicians and entertainers of all races and orientations, present war to the masses with a humanitarian facade. The entertainers smiling faces serve genocide just as powerfully as the President’s benign and friendly  face accompanies his embrace of militarism.  The propagandist message for the spectator is that ‘your favorite team or singer is there just for you… because our noble wars and valiant warriors have made you free and now they want you to be entertained.’

The old style of blatant bellicose appeals to the public is obsolete:  the new propaganda conflates entertainment with militarism, allowing the ruling elite to secure tacit support for its wars without disturbing the spectators’ experience.

Conclusion
Do the Imperial Techniques of Propaganda Work?

How effective are the modern imperial propaganda techniques?  The results seem to be mixed.  In recent months, elite black athletes have begun protesting white racism by challenging the requirement for choreographed displays of flag worship. . . opening public controversy into the larger issues of police brutality and sustained marginalization.  Identity politics, which led to the election of Obama, may be giving way to issues of class struggle, racial justice, anti-militarism and the impact of continued imperial wars.  Hysterical rants may still secure international attention, but repeated performances begin to lose their impact and subject the ‘ranter’ to ridicule.

The cult of victimology has become less a rationale for the multi-billion dollar US-tribute to Israel, than the overwhelming political and economic influence and thuggery of billionaire Zionist fundraisers who demand US politicians’ support for the state of Israel.

Brandishing identify politics may have worked the first few times, but inevitably black, Latino, immigrant and all exploited workers, all underpaid and overworked women and mothers reject the empty symbolic gestures and demand substantive socio-economic changes – and here they find common links with the majority of exploited white workers.

In other words, the existing propaganda techniques are losing their edge – the corporate media news is seen as a sham.  Who follows the actor-soldiers and flag-worshipers once the game has begun?

The propagandists of empire are desperate for a new line to grab public attention and obedience.   Could the recent domestic terror bombings in New York and New Jersey provoke mass hysteria and more militarization? Could they serve as cover for more wars abroad . . .?

A recent survey, published in Military Times, reported that the vast majority of active US soldiers oppose more imperial wars. They are calling for defense at home and social justice.  Soldiers and veterans have even formed groups to support the protesting black athletes who have refused to participate in flag worship while unarmed black men are being killed by police in the streets.   Despite the multi-billion dollar electoral propaganda, over sixty percent of the electorate reject both major party candidates.  The reality principle has finally started to undermine State propaganda!

 

Posted in anti-war, Authoritarianism, conditioning, Conspiracy, Corruption, culture, Dystopia, Empire, False Flag, Geopolitics, History, Militarization, Neocons, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nationalist Propaganda has Many Progressives Demonizing ‘The Russians’

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By Robert Barsocchini

Source: Washington’s Blog

Neocon and neoliberal war propaganda, as exhibited in the Washington Post, New York Times, etc., “has turned much of the liberal/progressive community” in the US “into a pro-New Cold War constituency willing to engage in a new breed of McCarthyism”, Robert Parry notes today.  (This author has personally witnessed similar displays.)

Leading Russia expert Stephen Cohen, a professor at Princeton, observes there has been a possibly ‘unprecedented’ ‘propaganda’ ‘tsunami’ occurring in the US targeting Russia and Putin and increasing the already high risk of nuclear war. (The Nation)  This predates the election and the “unproven allegations that Putin had intervened … to put Trump in the White House”, and largely stems from Russia’s intervention at the behest of the Syrian government to prevent the Western-sponsored overthrow of the Syrian state by what US officials privately say is an insurgency dominated by Islamic terrorists being funded by US-backed Saudi dictator Salman bin Abdulaziz’s cadre and similar parties.

Jeff McMahan, a philosopher at Rutgers, notes of the kind of propaganda observed by Cohen that “the powerful sense of collective identity within a nation is often achieved by contrasting an idealized conception of the national character with caricatures of other nations, whose members are regarded as less important or worthy or, in many cases, are dehumanized and despised as inferior or even odious.”  As Parry noted last week, another example of this is the Washington establishment doctrine, partially a holdover from eugenics scholarship and largely a PR tactic serving overtly stated goals of hegemonic expansion, that Russia as a nation is so inferior that any “equivalence” between it and the US is impossible.

However, the world outside the US doctrinal system sees the matter somewhat differently.  In a Western-run global poll taken during the height of the ongoing Ukraine crisis, the international community considered both Russia and the US, along with other countries, for the title of “greatest threat to world peace”.  The US was voted greatest threat by far, receiving twelve times more votes than Russia and three times more votes than the runner-up, Pakistan.

As author David Swanson recently noted in Foreign Policy Journal, in the 95% of the world that is not the US, it is scarcely a secret “that the United States is (as that Putin stooge Martin Luther King Jr. put it) the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. The United States is the top weapons dealer, the top weapons buyer, the biggest military spender, the most widespread imperial presence, the most frequent war maker, the most prolific overthrower of governments, and from 1945 to 2017 the killer of the most people through war.”

McMahan continues: “When nationalist solidarity is maintained” through the type of nationalism described above (which includes keeping much of what Swanson describes secret from or distorting it for the domestic population) “the result is often brutality and atrocity on an enormous scale.”  The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which includes respected thinkers and sponsors such as Stephen Hawking, notes the world is at an extremely dangerous moment in terms of the potential for nuclear war, and has set its “doomsday clock” to three minutes to midnight.

Somewhat similar to gang membership, nationalism, McMahan concludes, provides people with “a sense of security and belonging and, by merging their individual identities into the larger national identity, enables them to expand the boundaries of the self, thereby enhancing their self-esteem.

“[W]hile nationalist sentiment may have beneficial effects within the nation, these are greatly outweighed from an impartial point of view by the dreadful effects that it has on relations between nations.”*

 

Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.

*McMahan, Jeff. The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life. 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp 221. Print.

Posted in Authoritarianism, conditioning, corporate news, culture, Deep State, divide and conquer, Dystopia, Empire, Geopolitics, History, Militarization, Neocons, Neoliberalism, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Over Half of Every Tax Dollar You Give to Uncle Sam is Spent on This

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By Phillip Schneider

Source: Waking Times

Most people probably don’t think too much about this, but are you aware of just how much of your income is being used to fuel the military industrial complex?

Conveniently omitted from the corporate/state-run media organizations is the fact that some 53 percent of your tax dollars are spent on the military. That’s right, more than half of the money you give to Uncle Sam for the privilege of being American income is spent directly on military.

In 2011 the budget for the US Government was over 3 trillion dollars, while military spending included a $717 billion request from the pentagon, $200 billion towards “overseas contingency funding” for the two major conflicts we are engaged in, and $40 billion in black budget intelligence which includes the CIA, NSA, and other agencies where the amount of money given is never fully disclosed.

In addition, $94 billion was spent on non-DOD military operations, $100 billion on health care and veterans benefits, and $400 billion was spent paying off the interest on debt raised to pay for past wars. This all adds up to over 1.6 trillion dollars spent on so-called defense. That is more than what was spent during the second world war after being adjusted for inflation.

Defense Spending Or Offense Spending?

Now it is true that defense spending is important to American interests. You might be inclined to think about how much worse off we would be without a military. Without a strong defense, if a country decided to engage us in any sort of negative way militarily we wouldn’t be able to resist or hold our ground.

However, what is typically called “defense spending” is by-and-large nothing offense spending designed to support a policy of military interventionism which exploits many nations for their natural resources and establishes Rothschild controlled central banks wherever and whenever they can.

To see this, one needs not look beyond the excuses for going to war in the first place. From the Gulf of Tonkin incident of August 1964, to the supposed WMD’s in Iraq, to Obama’s attempt in the summer of 2013 to begin bombing campaigns in Syria, nearly each and every war is initiated alongside war propaganda intended to serve the special interests who profit from the lucrative military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address of 1961.

Why would they need to continuously lie to get us into war if there was a plausible reason for “defending ourselves” in the first place?

Drone Bombings Are America’s Slap In The Face To The World

When you take the immediate danger of American soldiers out of the equation, and in some cases any human input at all, it creates a situation where the public generally doesn’t see any problem with bombing the living daylights out of another country because it is out of sight, out of mind. For this reason, the drone program has become one of the military’s most insidious operations in history.

To put the drone program into perspective you have to understand its scale and its ability to remain covert. During the Obama presidency alone, the US has bombed a total of eight countries. Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, and Pakistan. Also, Obama became the worlds first Nobel Peace Prize winner to bomb another Nobel Peace Prize winner when he authorized a strike on a Afghan hospital run by the 1999 Peace Prize recipient Doctors Without Borders, killing at least 22 people. And somehow, bombs somehow keep on falling in places where Obama boasts that he hast ended two wars.

A recent whistle blower exposed the fact that about 90 percent of those killed in drone strikes are not the intended targets. Yes, you heard that right. For every ten people killed by American drones, nine are innocent bystanders, some of which are merely patients in a hospital suspected of harboring terrorists.

“What is war but mass murder on a scale impossible by private police forces?” – Austrian economist Murray Rothbard

This Money Could Be Spent Fixing Our Country, Or Better Yet Not Stolen From Us

In 2014 one fighter jet ended up costing the US $400 billion dollars. That amount of money could have payed for every homeless person in America to have a house worth $600,000. Imagine what that kind of money could have done if it were spent on humanitarian efforts, or better yet, if left in the hands of hardworking Americans who are supporting the economy through their free market decisions.

At the end of the day, we are all cash-cows for Uncle Sam and his globalist military industrial complex.

This short video puts it all nicely into perspective:

Posted in anti-war, black ops, CIA, Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, corporate news, culture, Economics, Empire, False Flag, Geopolitics, History, Militarization, military spending, propaganda, Social Control, society, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two for Tuesday

Zack de la Rocha

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Courage and Free Speech

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Throughout human history there have been individuals who have been ready to risk everything for their beliefs

By Timothy Garton Ash

Source: aeon

‘Nothing is more difficult,’ wrote the German political essayist Kurt Tucholsky in 1921, ‘and nothing requires more character, than to find yourself in open contradiction to your time and loudly to say: No.’ First of all, it is intellectually and psychologically difficult to step outside the received wisdom of your time and place. What has been called ‘the normative power of the given’ persuades us that what we see all around us, what everyone else seems to regard as normal, is in some sense also an ethical norm.

Numerous studies in behavioural psychology show how our individual conviction of what is true or right quails before the massed pressure of our peers. We are, as Mark Twain observed, ‘discreet sheep’. This is what John Stuart Mill picked up when he wrote in On Liberty (1859); that the same causes that make someone a churchman in London would have made him a Buddhist or a Confucian in Beijing. The same truth is gloriously captured in the humorous song ‘The Reluctant Cannibal’ (1960) by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, in which a young cannibal revolts against the settled wisdom of his elders and declares that ‘eating people is wrong’. At the end of the song, one of the elders exclaims, to huge belly laughs all round: ‘Why, you might just as well go around saying: “Don’t fight people!”’ Then he and his colleagues cry in unison: ‘Ridiculous!’

Yet norms change even within a single lifetime, especially as we live longer. So as elderly disc jockeys are arrested for sexual harassment or abuse back in the 1960s, we should be uncomfortably aware that some other activity that people regard as fairly normal now might be viewed as aberrant and abhorrent 50 years hence.

To step outside the established wisdom of your time and place is difficult enough; openly to stand against it is more demanding still. In Freedom for the Thought that We Hate (2007), his fine book on the First Amendment tradition in the United States, Anthony Lewis quotes a 1927 opinion by the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, which Lewis says ‘many regard as the greatest judicial statement of the case for freedom of speech’.

The passage Lewis quotes begins: ‘Those who won our independence… believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.’ This is magnificent, although it also illustrates the somewhat self-referential, even self-reverential, character of the modern First Amendment tradition.

Lewis cites Brandeis, who credits this thought to the 18th-century founders of the US. But those founders would have been well aware that they got it straight from Pericles’ funeral oration during the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BCE, as reported – if not invented, or at least much improved upon – by Thucydides. ‘For you now,’ Thucydides’ Pericles admonishes his ancient Athenian audience, after praising the heroic dead, ‘it remains to rival what they have done and, knowing the secret of happiness to be freedom and the secret of freedom a brave heart, not idly to stand aside from the enemy’s onset.’

More directly, the US tradition of courage in the defence of free speech draws on the heritage of the 17th-century English. People such as John Lilburne, for example. In 1638, while still in his early 20s, Lilburne was found guilty by the Star Chamber court of helping to smuggle into England a tract against bishops that had been printed in the Low Countries. He was tied to the back of a cart on a hot summer’s day and unremittingly whipped as he walked with a bare back all the way from the eastern end of Fleet Street to Westminster Palace Yard. One bystander reckoned that he received some 500 blows that, since the executioner wielded a three-thronged whip, made 1,500 stripes.

Lilburne’s untreated shoulders ‘swelled almost as big as a penny loafe with the bruses of the knotted Cords’, and he was then made to stand for two hours in the pillory in Palace Yard. Here, in spite of his wounds and the burning sunshine, he began loudly to tell his story and to rail against bishops. The crowd was reportedly delighted. After half an hour, there came ‘a fat lawyer’ – ah, plus ça change – who bid him stop. The man whom the people of London had already dubbed ‘Free-Born John’ refused to shut up. He was then gagged so roughly that blood spurted from his mouth. Undeterred, he thrust his hands into his pockets and scattered dissident pamphlets to the crowd. No other means of expression being left to him, Free-Born John then stamped his feet until the two hours were up.

As an Englishman, I find particular inspiration in the example of Free-Born John, and those of all our other free-born Johns: John Milton, John Wilkes, John Stuart Mill (and George Orwell, a free-born John in all but name). More broadly, there is no reason to understate, let alone to deny, a specifically Western tradition of courage in the advancement of free speech, one that can be traced from ancient Athens, through England, France and a host of other European countries, to the US, Canada and all the liberal democracies of today’s wider West. But it would be quite wrong to suggest that this habit of the heart is confined to the West. In fact, there have been rather few examples of such sturdy defiance in England in recent times, while we find them in other countries and cultures.

Consider, for instance, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Liu was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in 2009 for ‘subverting state power’. Both his written response to the charges against him and his final speech in court are, like many of his earlier writings, lucid and courageous affirmations of the central importance of free speech. He definitely does not draw only on Western traditions. For example, in his book No Enemies, No Hatred (2012), he quotes a traditional Chinese 24-character injunction: ‘Say all you know, in every detail; a speaker is blameless, because listeners can think; if the words are true, make your corrections; if they are not, just take note.’

After paying a moving tribute to his wife (‘Armed with your love, dear one, I can face the sentence that I’m about to receive with peace in my heart’), Liu looks forward to the day ‘when our country will be a land of free expression: a country where the words of each citizen will get equal respect, a country where different values, ideas, beliefs and political views can compete with one another even as they peacefully coexist’. The judge cut him short in court before he had finished speaking, but free-born Xiaobo, like free-born John, still got his message out. In his planned peroration, Liu wrote: ‘I hope that I will be the last victim in China’s long record of treating words as crimes. Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth.’

Liu was by this time famous, and that great speech made him more so. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. But perhaps the most inspiring examples of all come from people who are not famous at all: so-called ordinary people doing extraordinary things. People such as the Hamburg shipyard worker who, at the launch of a naval training vessel in 1936, refused to join all those around him in making the Hitler salute. The photograph only achieved wide circulation on the internet more than 60 years later. There he stands amid a forest of outstretched arms, with both his own firmly folded across his chest, a portrait of stubborn worker’s pride. His name was August Landmesser. He had been a Nazi party member but was later expelled from the party for marrying a Jewish woman, and then imprisoned for ‘dishonouring the race’. After his release, he was drafted to fight in the Second World War and never returned.

Again, such moments are emphatically not confined to the West. During the Arab Spring of 2011, a ‘day of rage’ was proclaimed by dissidents in Saudi Arabia. Faced with a massive police presence at the appointed location in the country’s capital Riyadh, almost nobody showed up. But one man, a strongly built, black-haired teacher called Khaled al-Johani, suddenly approached a group of foreign reporters. ‘We need to speak freely,’ he cried, with an explosion of pent-up passion. ‘No one must curb our freedom of expression.’ A BBC Arabic service film clip, which you can watch on YouTube, shows a tall secret policeman, in white robes, headdress and dark glasses, looming in the background as he snoops on al-Johani’s speech. A little further away, armed police mutter into their walkie-talkies. ‘What will happen to you now?’ asks one of the reporters, as they escort the teacher back to his car. ‘They will send me to prison,’ al-Johani says, adding ironically: ‘and I will be happy.’ He was subsequently condemned to 18 months’ imprisonment.

In many places, we can find monuments to the Unknown Soldier, but we should also erect them to the Unknown Speaker.

Posted in Activism, Authoritarianism, civil disobedience, civil liberties, conditioning, culture, Dystopia, History, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, Whistleblowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Today’s Neoliberal Global Order Is Incompatible With Democracy

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A new book by Jerry Harris explores the transformation of global capitalism and its implications.

By Bill Fletcher Jr.

Source: In These Times

In the years since the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR, the U.S. Left has sensed that something was morphing within global capitalism. This “something” was described more by its symptoms than by its essence, e.g., deindustrialization. In much of the rest of the world there was a growing awareness, however, that a particular form of capitalism was becoming dominant on a world scale, a form that came to be known as neoliberal capitalism or neoliberal globalization.

Jerry Harris offers his book, Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy, as an instrument to better understand this transformation of global capitalism and its implications. Most of the book is devoted to helping the reader better grasp what Harris argues is the historical transition—underway—from capitalism centered around the nation-state to global capitalism. This work is successful, enlightening and engrossing. In the final two chapters, however, Harris shifts gears, laying the basis for a problem that I’ll discuss below.

The thrust of Harris’s argument is that since World War II, but especially since the late 1960s/1970s, capitalism, which as a system is always in need of expansion, has been evolving in such a manner that it transcends national borders. Contrary to theorists, such as the late Ellen Meiksins Wood, this is not a return to the era of high-level trade that marked the pre-1914 capitalist world (what some theorists have described as an earlier globalization). Rather, it is the emergence of an unprecedented interpenetration of capital on a global stage.

And with this interpenetration we start to see, over the last several decades, the rise of what has come to be termed as a “transnational capitalist class.” This class, as the name implies, is not rooted in one country but has assumed an identity that goes beyond specific nation-states. As Harris make clear, this does not mean that the nation-state no longer holds any importance—which is the thrust of the argument offered by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their famous work, Empire—but that the role has shifted significantly, to a great extent servicing and serving the needs of the transnational capitalist class.

This analysis clashes with more traditional arguments on the Left but it speaks to matters that the traditional analyses have been unable to explain fully. A case in point was the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. At the time of the 2003 invasion, much of the Left and the progressive anti-war movement argued that this was an effort, in effect, to recolonize Iraq under U.S. domination and seize its oil. In the aftermath of the invasion, however, something odd happened. Occupation forces opened Iraq up for business to global capitalism rather than reserve it for the United States alone.

The transnational capitalist class thesis has been caricaturized by some critics as suggesting that contradictions between nation-states have disappeared into a global class-against-class scenario. Harris takes on this idea directly and with a level of detail that, on those grounds alone, makes his work a must-read book.

Harris lays out his case in describing the development of global capitalism and the transnational capitalist class in the first three chapters. In chapters 4 and 5, he offers a marvelous examination of two concrete situations: Ukraine and China. With regard to Ukraine, Harris digs behind the headlines and looks at the class forces on both sides, the relationship that they have with capitalist class forces in other parts of the world, historic nation-state tensions and the wild card of right-wing populism and neo-fascism that is infecting both Russia and Ukraine. He examines the interrelationship of these forces in a situation—and world—that is undergoing a transition. And therein lies the key to understanding the transnational capitalist class thesis: It speaks to a phenomenon that is emerging and transitioning, rather than a phenomenon that is fully and totally developed.

Harris’ examination of contemporary China is just as illuminating and satisfying. Again, he examines the connections that the Chinese capitalists have developed with others in the transnational capitalist class, including the role of the Chinese State—ironically led by a party that calls itself “Communist”—in the integration of the Chinese economy into the larger global capitalist economy. Harris, along with other theoreticians of this school, argues that many—though not all—of the contradictions we are witnessing between China and the United States are a reflection of the efforts by Chinese capitalists, and their allies, to alter the terms under which global capitalism operates. In other words, the conflict is not a competition between traditional empires but, analogically, disputes within a gang.

Harris offers his book as both an analysis of the growth of neoliberal globalization and a cautionary note on the dangerous road that it has placed before humanity. Perhaps it is for that reason that his final two chapters examine alternatives to neoliberal globalization, including both failed alternatives as well as sources of hope. The problem is that this comes across as two different books. While it was clear that Harris was trying to get the readers to consider how to struggle against global capitalism and its tendency towards authoritarianism and barbarism, there was a missing transition.

Harris might also have been more successful had he integrated into his discussion a deeper analysis of the rise of right-wing populism (including but not limited to neo-fascism) in the context of neoliberal globalization. After all, right-wing populism posits itself as THE alternative strategy of neoliberal globalization. While Harris acknowledges right-wing populism at various points in the book, he tends to merge it a bit too quickly with other segments of the Right, including into what the theoretician Nicos Poulantzas referenced as “authoritarian statism” and what I have described as “neoliberal authoritarianism.” Drawing from Poulantzas, I would distinguish the movement towards authoritarianism by the so-called democratic capitalist state as not identical with the rise of right-wing populism, though the two tendencies can and do overlap.

Despite the abrupt transition, Harris’s discussion of alternatives is useful, though a bit of a distraction. In fact, I would argue that he should further develop his thinking on alternatives in a separate volume. And I would further argue that a deeper examination of right-wing populism in the context of neoliberal globalization deserves to be addressed by adherents to the so-called global capitalism school in order to flesh out their analysis.

Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy is an exceptionally thorough and thought-provoking work. Very rarely, these days, do I use a highlighter when reading a book in order to remind myself of facts, points of interest or points of difference. In this case, the highlighter was with me till the end, with my knowing that I will return to this book as a resource for better understanding, as well as explaining, the development of global capitalism and its implications for the billions of people on this planet ravaged by it.

 

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us!”: And 20 Other Myths about Unions and co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice. He is a talk show host, writer and activist. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at http://www.billfletcherjr.com.

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We’ve Been Sold a Lie – Time to Stop Watching the Show

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By Julian Rose

Source: Waking Times

‘The show must go on’ as they say in the theatre. And indeed, so it would appear. Only this particular show seems to have no beginning or end. The curtain never comes down; there isn’t even an interval in which to draw breath and stretch one’s legs.

It’s a 24/7 bonanza, and the cost of a seat is almost certain to put you out-of-pocket. In spite of which, the auditorium is full of expectant faces staring up at the unfolding scenes and drinking in the drama being staged for their consumption.

So few actors, so many spectators. Yet the actors hold the attention and the spectators soon forget that they are in a theatre and have paid for their seats.

We are all at this performance. Its setting is planet Earth. The actors strut around feigning importance, playing the role ascribed to them by the writer of the script and the director of ‘the show’. You know who they are – you see them everyday on TV screens and newspapers. A few are quite convincing, and like most actors they feign true sincerity and then pause for the applause.

The director remains largely invisible, but in the background he has fixed the agenda and set the scene. The script writer also remains largely incognito. However, his words on the page provide the narrative without which the actors would not be able to perform their predesignated roles.

The cast of todays crowd pulling drama have names like May, Merkel and Trump. The play in which they are currently performing is entitled ‘If I Ruled the World’, and there are many other roles for aspiring lesser performers and even for some retired leading-lights of yesteryear.

New scripts continuously emerge so as ‘to keep the show on the road’. A recent hit, for example, was ‘Brexit’, a play in four acts, featuring a strong line-up of music hall performers as well as some fine orators, one of whom cut his teeth in the great performing venues of Continental Europe.

But look, these marionettes of the political charade called ‘democracy’ can only be where they are, and do what they do, because we give them centre stage. We let ourselves become embroiled in their show and convince ourselves that it’s the only show in town. But it’s not, and in spite of being big and noisy, it’s actually a facade designed and orchestrated by the hidden hands who pull the strings that tweak the marionettes into action. Very occasionally a true leader emerges. An individual who stands out for their empathy with a struggling humanity.

But for decades now, it is ‘the show’ that has contrived to dominate. A show kept in place by stage managers who ensure all the rules, regulations and disciplines are operating as they should. But it is we the people who elect the cast of this play. A cast who promise to reflect and represent our needs on the national stage. To bring change where change is needed and to stand firm in the role that they are given.

So you see, we are complicit in the maintenance of ‘the rules of the game’ that keep the control system under which we suffer, alive and well.

Those who we elect mostly fall at the first hurdle – and all their promises go with them. ‘The system’ is in charge, after all, and our elected representatives quickly fall under the spell of its mechanics and become victims of its sinister agenda. An agenda played-out on the global stage with the help of powerful centralized banks, mega corporations and a heavily funded military. Yes, this is the show we have paid to bring to town.

But we have been sold a lie. We have bought into a chimera, a charade, and the biggest part of the problem is that we fail to recognize this fact. We actually believe it is a bona fide happening, without which we would all be thrown into chaos and despair.

So it is that we cling on to this outworn model of ‘democracy’, fearful of what might happen if it were dismantled and consigned it to history. Fearful maybe, of what might emerge in its place.

But that’s no good, and you know it. Because what stands in front of us is a choice; to remain a slave to a system which cannot survive without slaves – or to break free and give form to something altogether different.

Are you ready to take such a step?

So what might bringing about something altogether different actually involve? We must have a go at answering this, because it is the most critical question of this era, one we all face today – whether we realize it or not.

What we are talking about is taking back control of our destinies, not giving responsibility for them to someone else. Try to conceive what this might be like.. Well, for a start, out goes ‘the politician’ and with him/her the central control system called ‘parliament’. By the way, parliament did once represent the venue for an ideal in the making. An aspiration to give voice to those who never had a voice and to introduce collective justice where only the will of a monarch had previously prevailed.

But such a situation has long been redundant, because parliament was hijacked decades ago by the hidden hand of centralised control, and the politician became a stooge for the banking, military and corporate power cartels seemingly beyond his control. That is why this ‘corrupted beyond repair’ model has to go.

There’s a new lightness in the air at the sheer mention of such an action! What is mainstream media going to talk about without the mock democracy to fill its airwaves? Where will attention be turned once the charade of politics is removed from its pompous pedestal? What would we like to see fill the vacant place?

Think about it, because almost nobody is, and that is in large part the reason why it hasn’t yet happened.

It is at around this point that something valuable starts stirring within, and the seeds of a fresh vision put forth their first shoots. The low vibratory rate of energy to which we have adapted, shifts upward a gear. The fog starts to clear. We can see more clearly what we couldn’t see at all before we dared dispense with the old lie.

The new perception looks and feels something like this: we are here on this world having something called ‘a life’. It might last seven or eight decades, or more, or less; but as far as we know, it’s the only one we’ve got. How did we acquire this special gift? What are we going to do with it? Since it’s special and quite unique – isn’t it logical that we would want to do something special and unique with it?

Once we see we’ve been sold a lie, our next logical realization is to recognize that it’s a massive waste of this one life we have, to pretend we can ignore reality. It is then that the possibility of something altogether different entering the arena, makes its unexpected debut.

“My God” it says “I want to live!” “I want to confront this lie head-on and cease running away from it!” And that is a truly revolutionary happening; one which can – in an instant – change our entire outlook on life. For although it’s only a beginning, it’s a real beginning, one full of promise for what might follow.

Looking back at the crazed and confused scenes taking place on the world stage, shifting like tides between high melodrama and low bestiality, we can now see that it is no use trying to paper-over the cracks and pretend that we can go on living life ‘as usual’. The cracks are the dominant factor and what lies in between is so insubstantial as to be of no practical use.

Our only way forward is to invent a new future. Open a fresh page in the book of life. Not ignoring the past, but getting to grips with understanding it – and then bringing it with us on the great new journey upon which one has embarked. Let a new found passion lead the way. Let intuition be your guide. Let awareness be your tool box.

If you had identified yourself with any facet of the crumbling status quo, you will soon find yourself untethered, because there is nothing left able to hold a stake to which you can attach yourself.

There is nowhere left to turn except into your own inner resources. For it is from this region that the new vision emerges. That place where truth still resides, untrammelled by the ways of the world.

And then, on peering ever deeper within, one can begin to see the emerging presence of another world altogether. A world awaiting birth. Longing for birth. Waiting to be born. A world shimmering with expectation and excitement. A world lit-up by luminous energies.

Men and women alike give birth to this great entity. It does not require a womb or a phallus, although it’s composition embraces the essence of female and male, finally liberated to give full focus to the building of the new society which it is our imperative to create.

Now is the time to set aside all that would try to close the window on our true destinies.

Here is where we will find the footings, the solid ground, from which we can start building the World to Come. A place to carry us through the storm which cannot be by-passed. That is our true work from now on.

The mad actors who strut the world stage today do not realize that they are playing-out the final scene of an apocalyptic epic. A drama devised and directed by the architects of control. Criminals, whose full exposure is ever closer at hand.

We are moving into an auspicious time. A time in which mankind frees itself from the prison that has for so long-held it hostage. An event which will break the cords of fear-induced captivity and finally bring down the curtain on this devious age of deception.

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Saturday Matinee: Zoom

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“Zoom” (2015) is a hybrid film on many levels. It’s a Brazilian/Canadian comedy/drama mixing live action and animation directed by Pedro Morelli. The plot is split between three narratives involving comic book artist Emma Boyles (Alison Pill), novelist Michelle (Mariana Ximenes), and film director Edward Deacon (Gael Garcia Bernal). Each exists in parallel realities which become increasingly intertwined as they come together in a metafictional conclusion.

Watch the full film here.

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