Sunday, September 30, 2012

 

Assange v Obama

Actions speak louder than words. Listen, compare and contrast.

Friday, September 28, 2012

 

In Business to Deliver

Climate Connections reports on TransCanada and police misconduct toward Keystone Pipeline Tar Sands protestors, two of whom were handcuffed to heavy machinery in order to render them helpless to defend themselves while police used pepper spray, choke holds and tasers on them with TransCanada employees egging them on.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

 

People v Mafia

As Nicholas Mirzoeff reports, in Spain, the people are demanding the dismissal of the entire government for betraying the country. Since the disaster that led to austerity measures was the result of premeditated fraud, they claim Spain is no longer a democracy, but a Mafia.

Monday, September 24, 2012

 

Right Click for War

In his book Peddlers of Crisis, Jerry Sanders examined the systematic integration of perception management during the Cold War. Noting how synchronized government propaganda, mainstream media and authoritative academia -- the prototype for the Total Information Awareness program at the National Security Agency -- was orchestrated to support endless war, Sanders remarked that to keep the money flowing, they had to make everyone believe the Russians were ten feet tall. Fast forward to the post Cold War, and the peddlers of crisis are now online social entrepreneurs, working in tandem with the traditional warmongers on the task of manipulating public sentiment in support of the new and improved American empire.

In her expose of Avaaz -- the creme de la creme of neoliberal activism -- Cory Morningstar details the consumer branding by the imperial network of financiers like Soros Open Society. Profiling the entrepreneurs in the pro-war, champagne circuit of e-advocacy, Morningstar illustrates the premise that in order to be pro-democracy one has to be anti-fraud. If fraudulent polls and cooked up member lists constitute the justification for the elite's imperial project, then right-clicking for war means the revolution has finally been funded. The only problem is that the project has consequences--like 9/11.

Blowback from people pissed off at American supported tyrants or American promoted invasions of their countries may not concern the Ivory Tower activists, but for those of us going without food, shelter or medicine while the U.S. Treasury bails out banks and finances aggression worldwide, perpetual warfare at the expense of general welfare is a real problem--not a ten foot tall myth.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

 

Counter Narrative

In The Beloved Community After the Disaster of Capitalism, Nicholas Mirzoeff discusses the importance of how one perceives humanity in how one responds to crisis. If one's philosophy is that people naturally try to help each other, but only through learning to be fearful are they manipulated into being misanthropic, then by rejecting official indoctrination and media propaganda that encourages fear, hate and revenge, we are building a beloved community. These lessons, in fact, were what came out of the Civil Rights Movement. The Students Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) proved through their work in the Mississippi Delta.

If #Occupy can emulate SNCC, then all bets are off. While media will always emphasize or fabricate social disruption as something that must be controlled or crushed by police violence, we can produce our own counter-narrative about political conflict. Indeed, as I've written elsewhere, that is already being done.

While neoliberals promote inhumanity as justification for their brutality, we have the power of moral sanction. All we need to do is use it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

 

Tragedy Farce Distraction

Tragedy, farce and distraction is how Anne Petermann describes the Rio Earth Summit. As she notes, sustainable development as promoted by corporations and their pet NGOs in Rio was about sustaining corporate profits--not the planet or peoples that inhabit it.

The green economy promoted by the carbon cabal at Rio, she observes, is really about privatizing the planet; once privatized, all natural resources on earth will be owned or controlled by Wall Street. As landlords of the planet, they can then begin evicting Indigenous peoples en masse.

In their role as corporate sycophants, NGOs like the International Union for Conservation of Nature help to domesticate public opinion. As Indigenous peoples fight for their lives in this all-out campaign by the UN and transnational corporations to take their resources and territories, one has to wonder if the colossal failure of UN member states to address climate change wasn't intended from the outset. If true, then the consequence could very well be the greatest crime against humanity in the history of the world.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

 

Ousting Hugo

The loss of the United States banana republics due to the democratic resurgence in Latin America has peeved Washington for some time, but the successful US-backed coup in Honduras and violent disturbances by US-backed thugs in Colombia evidently give Hillary hope. As Lee Brown writes in Upside Down World, the State Department has its eyes firmly set on helping stage a coup in Venezuela should democratic elections there fail to oust US arch rival Hugo Chavez.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

 

Fortified Free Trade

When the U.S. Government bailed out General Motors in 2008 and 2009, GM was on the ropes in North America, but in South America -- specifically in Colombia -- GM was making money hand over fist. After all, that was the reason for President Clinton's push for the North American Free Trade Agreement and the subsequent agreements in Latin America: to outsource labor to countries where labor was plentiful and protections were few.

Today, fortified with $50 billion from the U.S. Treasury, General Motors is doing well, but its workers are not. As reported by Austin Robles, Colombian GM workers are hurting from workplace injuries, and GM -- along with corrupt Colombian officials -- has been busy falsifying employee medical records in order to deny them coverage for disabling conditions caused by the work they do.

This, of course, is globalization. It's what the WTO protestors meant when they hung their banners from skyscraper cranes in Seattle bearing the arrows indicating democracy to the left, free trade to the right.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

 

US v Durkan

Red-baiting political dissidents in the US is nothing new; in 2008, when the FBI raided peace activists in advance of the Republican and Democratic Party conventions -- in order to prevent Quakers and anarchists from protesting US foreign policy -- the people whose homes were ransacked while they were carted off in handcuffs had done nothing criminal. Today, in the aftermath of the 2012 national conventions farce, yet more innocent citizens are being harassed by FBI agents acting out their Orwellian fantasy.

In Seattle today, U.S. Attorney Jenny Anne Durkan is convening a grand jury to intimidate anarchist Leah-Lynne Plante into admitting some imagined crime against the state, while her friends who were with her when FBI thugs with assault weapons battered down her door are wondering just what it is about the U.S. Government that makes it see terrorists behind every peace button or black flag. As the National Lawyers Guild notes in this article, anarchism is the perfectly legal belief that society would be better off with no government, laws, police or any other authority.

When armed thugs break down your door for expressing this belief, it's not hard to imagine that others may soon come to the same conclusion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

 

Through the Looking Glass

In his seminal study Science of Coercion, Christopher Simpson observed that communication might be understood as both the conduit for and the actual substance of human culture and consciousness. As Simpson noted, psychological warfare is the application of mass communication to modern social conflict.

In the U.S. Army War College manual on psychological warfare, the stated objective is to destroy the will and ability of the enemy to fight by depriving them of the support of allies and neutrals. Some of the methods used in the manual are sowing dissension, distrust, fear and hopelessness.

In the decades since these treatises were first published,a new form of psywar has emerged in the form of false hope. With unlimited funding and organizational support from foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, Gates and Soros, U.S. Government propaganda now has a vast new army of non-profits that, along with corporate media and academia, serve as both a third wing of mass consciousness and a fifth column for destabilization campaigns worldwide.

As Cory Morningstar captures The Simulacrum in her multi-part series on the non-profit industrial complex, domesticating the populace is a fait accompli, and the only question remaining is what will happen if and when capitalist activism is seen for what it is. By following the money from aristocratic derivatives to embodiments of false hope like Avaaz, MoveOn, and Change, Morningstar steps through the looking glass to expose how NGOs have become a key tool of global dominance using social media as a means of social manipulation.

When the smoke generated by phony progressives clears, all that is left is an industrial wasteland of false hope and real threats. When the betrayals of NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are known, we can finally begin to exercise our responsibilities. Until then, programs like Democracy Now remain little more than adult versions of Sesame Street for the toy Che brigades.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

 

Abolishing Prostitution

Writing at Women's Media Center, Kathleen Barry reports on the long struggle to abolish prostitution. As legal reform proves successful, Europe now takes the lead in abolishing this crime against humanity, and perhaps pressuring the United Nations to follow suit.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

 

Climate of Fear

American Friends Service Committee and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee have joined suit against the U.S. Department of Treasury for violating the free speech rights of Muhammad Salah, a U.S. citizen. Due to Treasury's designation of Salah as a terrorist -- even though he has not been charged with any crime -- Salah and his wife have been unable to provide for themselves or their children. Indeed, for the last 17 years, it has been a crime for anyone to assist Salah with food, housing or medicine. Remarkably, it is even a crime for the plaintiffs to discuss with Salah his predicament.

Keeping in mind Salah is a U.S. citizen living in Illinois, the facts of his case are astounding. Without notice of charges or evidence or an opportunity to respond, Salah's assets were blocked indefinitely. He has never been served with a warrant, charged with criminal wrongdoing, or afforded a hearing. Since 1995, he has been unable to work, study, or engage in civic or religious activities that require spending money.

Under U.S. law, a law found unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court, this arbitrary punishment absent a crime can continue forever. In fact, Salah may never have the opportunity to plead his case before a judge and jury, as the current status of free speech in the US is subject to the whims of the administration in power.

Friday, September 07, 2012

 

Sweatshop States

It turns out there was a logic to the U.S. coup in Honduras: maquiladoras in the form of city-states. What better way to advance the U.S. neoliberal agenda in Latin America than militarized sweatshop states exempt from national and international law? Barack and Hillary must be proud of their junior achievers.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

 

Mobilize or Perish

So what it comes down to is either civil society mobilizes against Indigenous genocide, as it did against slavery and apartheid, or Indigenous peoples will perish. The neoliberal options of becoming either a caricature or a corpse, of course, are not an accident, but rather a logical consequence of EU, US, and UN policies against collective ownership. With the accelerated theft of Indigenous properties, instigated by the IMF and World Bank, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is becoming a tragic farce. Were it not so, we could expect UN peacekeepers to defend Indigenous communities, rather than stand aside while organized violence by NATO, police, and paramilitaries wipe them out.

By mobilize I mean both resources and the networks that need resources to function. People often mistakenly think mobilizing means organizing large demonstrations or spectacular events, but in my experience effectiveness depends more on strategic use of resources and networks of committed individuals engaged in research, education and communication–much as we’ve done at Public Good Project. As people shed the illusion of institutional protection through philanthropic foundations and large NGOs — that largely consist of public relations marketing and little else — they might come to realize that contributing regular donations to networks is a better way. When they begin doing that in large enough numbers, researchers, analysts, activists and independent journalists will have the means to sustain the human rights movement, including that of Indigenous peoples.

It’s mostly a learning curve for well-meaning people who’ve never personally experienced organized conflict firsthand. What most have experienced is secondhand participation in public diplomacy—mostly through writing checks or letters to the editor or marching in some parade. What some have cynically referred to as “whining their way to power.”

It doesn’t work, of course, but it feeds into their sense of pseudo-revolutionary identity, and it is relatively risk free since it poses no threat to the powers that be. This ineffectiveness is apparently fine since these people aren’t the ones fighting for their lives, as are most Indigenous peoples. For them, playacting is an unaffordable luxury.

Since global conflicts between Indigenous societies and institutions that do the bidding of markets are life and death struggles — not good faith negotiations — those who approach these conflicts for what they are are more likely to succeed. While pressuring institutions to enforce and live by international humanitarian law is good, it is far from enough, given the zero sum game of the Fourth World war.

Our networks and efforts are no secret, but as long as liberals are politically illiterate and organizationally infantile, they will continue doing what the philanthropic sector and other institutions (like most unions) tell them to. As liberals see their privileges and security crumble, they might start looking for answers elsewhere. When they do, networks like ours are ready to educate them so they can organize more effectively.

One hopeful sign is independent media like Real News and Intercontinental Cry, as is popularly accessible analysis as exemplified by Wrong Kind of Green, where the non-profit industrial complex is rightly and roundly criticized.

The Fourth World solidarity required of First World civil society comprises first and foremost a commitment to democratizing states. As we saw in Northern Ireland and South Africa, this involves research, education, organizing and action of civil society networks in the form of both political parties and self-defense. 

First World affinities of the Fourth World liberation movement, in North America especially, would contribute more to the cause of social justice by democratizing First World elections and governance than they could ever accomplish by simply protesting or waving signs. That involves a lot more work, of course, but it's what needs to be done if they want to pay more than lip service to Indigenous solidarity.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

 

Engage Strategically

Camila Vallejo, student leader in the pro-democracy movement in Chile, discusses the need for young people to engage the political process strategically, including the hard work of organizing within political parties committed to social justice. As young people in the US face the electoral choice between false promises and real threats, Vallejo offers an alternative to pious posturing and despair. If students like Vallejo can keep socialism alive under a right-wing regime in Chile, young people in the US ought to be able to create something more hopeful than the current choice between white collar and white power.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

 

Beyond the Blog

When I first encountered the writing of Stephanie Hendrick and Therese Ornberg, they were both doctoral candidates at Umea University in Sweden. Since then, they have both gone on to teaching careers, Stephanie at Umea, and Therese at Linkoping.

In her dissertation Beyond the Blog, Stephanie Fayth Hendrick discussed academic blogging as both written scholarship and a communal endeavor. As a means of non-institutionalized knowledge production at the interface of the institutional and the public, scholarly blogging for public intellectuals, she notes, exposes otherwise inaccessible catalogues of ideas and the conversations that construct vital new social knowledge.
 
In Making Sense Digitally, Therese Ornberg Berglund explores achieving coherence in conversation via digitally-supported interaction, and examines the communicative affordances of multimodal discourse, particularly as applies to self-organizing in social situations experienced in multiple dimensions simultaneously.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

 

Standing in the Way

In this film about geomilitary mapping in Mexico, we learn about the academic/non-profit front of the U.S. Army project to militarize indigenous territories as a means of privatizing communally owned land. As a process of gathering cultural intelligence to be used by the neoliberal axis in taking these lands, mapping as a form of spying feeds into the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office program for supporting the U.S.-Mexico Merida Initiative, a military/market strategy for eliminating indigenous autonomy.

As we see in reports from Oaxaca, mapping culture is a way of mapping resistance by those Wall Street and the Pentagon see as standing in the way: the indigenous peoples of Mexico. While mapping by indigenous communities for their own purposes can be an important part of cultural survival and revitalization, in the hands of their enemies, this knowledge is a devastating weapon.

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