All posts filed under: democracy

Euro-visions

Lexit’s Digest No. 14, 19 September 2017 Juncker’s recent ‘State of the Union’ address was widely applauded by Europeanist media outlets. For example, Politico was very impressed by the Commission President’s ‘bold vision for Europe’: One speed. One currency. One president. No to a multi-speed Europe, all 27 Member States shall join the euro-zone and the Schengen agreement rather quickly after Brexit. EU enlargement shall continue, in particular with the Balkan states. How the governments of these entities ‘adapt’ to the Greek style ‘labour market reforms’ expected by the EU from such poor peripheral countries – see an interesting interview on LeftEast on this with Aleksandar Matković (a researcher at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade)  here. In that general context it is interesting to see that Andrew Watt – formerly a senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute in Brussels and now working at the Hans Böckler Foundation of the German trade unions – was very positive about Juncker’s proposals. Equally interesting, his colleague Daniel Seikel, also …

The German Election: The West’s Nervous Breakdown Continues

by Gregory Barrett, September 25, 2017 Following Sunday’s nationwide parliamentary election here in Germany I can hear the mocking laughter of 1989’s ghost, echoing throughout Europe and around the world. The great victory march of the “Free Market” Religion, which featured pompous, self-righteous politicians, pundits, and other worshippers at the altar of Big Finance strutting and crowing in the years following the fall of the Wall about the final demise and alleged failure of the supposedly evil and misguided socialist idea, has come to a grinding halt. The rapid growth of the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany – which received almost 13% of the vote and will now be the third biggest party in the new Bundestag or parliament — has been driven, above all, by widespread rage and frustration in Germany’s Eastern states, the former communist German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR), over the broken promises made at the time of German reunification regarding “blooming landscapes” (former Chancellor Helmut Kohl) and the associated affluence that was to be expected …

According to Emmanuel Macron, the days of popular sovereignty are over

by Thierry Meyssan, September 5, 2017, via VoltaireNet Delivering a keynote speech before the most senior of French diplomats, President Macron revealed his conception of the world and the way in which he intends to use the tools at his disposal. According to him, there will be no more popular sovereignty, neither in France, nor in Europe, and therefore no more national or supra-national democracies. Neither will there be any more collective interest, no more Republic, but an ill-defined catalogue of things and ideas which compose the common good. Describing their new programme of work to the ambassadors, he informed them that they should no longer defend the values of their country, but find opportunities to act in the name of the European Leviathan. Entering into the details of certain conflicts, he described a programme of economic colonisation of the Levant and Africa. Participating in the traditional Ambassadors’ Week, President Macron gave his first general speech on foreign policy since his arrival at the Elysée Palace [1]. In this article, all the quotations in inverted commas …

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

by Lynn Parramore, April 20, 2017, via Institute for New Economic Thinking A new book by economist Peter Temin finds that the U.S. is no longer one country, but dividing into two separate economic and political worlds You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.”  But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place. In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear:  America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates. Two roads diverged In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good …

US Left, You Have Been Duped

by Richard Hugus, via Dissident Voice On August 19, a week after a heavily publicized clash over a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, an estimated 8,000 people converged on Boston Common to protest a speaking event organized by a group calling itself the Boston Free Speech Movement. Who are the Boston Free Speech Movement and what do they stand for? We’ll never know because antifascists, leftists, anti-racists, and progressives of Boston prevented them from even speaking. Some might say this was a good thing — no one wants to hear from bigots (if that’s who they were) — but, in fact, the left in all its self-righteousness was duped into an assault on the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the right of free speech, for everyone. The left have been the pawns of much more powerful forces who, if they aren’t organizing these news events and provocations outright, are certainly happy to see precedents set for publicly shutting down free speech by the use of force. First it will …

Why is the media promoting Antifa?

by Gabriel Black, for WSWS Over the past week, the anarchist affiliation Antifa (“Anti-fascist”) has received widespread and favorable coverage in the establishment media. On August 18, the New York Times, the main newspaper voice for the Democratic Party, published a major front-page feature article, “Antifa Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right.” The piece, written by Thomas Fuller, Alan Feuer, and Serge F. Kovaleski, showcased the views of the movement with interviews of its members. The article presents Antifa as a serious force for fighting fascism, all but inviting readers to sign up. “Unlike most of the counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville and elsewhere,” the Times reports, “members of Antifa have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to American democracy.” The newspaper interviewed several members of the affiliation, who, the Timesstates, believe “the ascendant new right in the country requires a physical response.” The quotes are all presented favorably, including one from a self-identified member of …

Charlottesville 2

by Paul Craig Roberts, August 16, 2017 What the liberal/progressive/left is trying to do with Charlottesville is to associate Trump supporters with White Supremacists and in this way demonize Trump supporters so that they will not have a voice when Trump is overthrown in a coup. Or it can be put in a different way: Charlottesville is being used by someone to discredit Trump and the people who elected him in order to pave the way for a coup, and the liberal/progressive/left is enabling the plot. Upon reflection, I think that for most of the liberal/progressive/left the denunciations and one-sided interpretation of Charlottesville are just the ingrained knee-jerk reaction of people brought up in Identity Politics.  In Identity Politics, everyone is a White Hat except racist, sexist, homophobic, gun-nut white males. The only tolerable white males are those who accept this characterization of themselves. All others are “white supremacists” or “nazis.” From what I read on progressive websites, those imbued with Identity Politics are letting the emotionalism of the politics run away with them. My …

Venezuela Regime Change Project Revealed

by David William Pear When the U.S.A. wanted a regime change it used to be done in secret by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), especially when that country had a democratically elected government such as Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1980’s), Haiti (2006), Honduras (2009), Ukraine (2014) and Syria, where the bloody project is still raging, the body count mounting, and millions of refugees are homeless. In the last few decades the U.S. has grown bolder in its regime change projects. What used to be done secretly is now unabashedly done in plain sight. The 2017 Venezuela regime change project has gone public. Most of the U.S. public cannot see the forest for the trees of propaganda that has the public confused about what is behind the chaos in Venezuela today. Mostly what is behind it is U.S. funding millions of dollars to the political parties of the oligarchs. Without that money the opposition political parties would be more divided than they already are and weaker. The mainstream media spreads the propaganda that President …

Neocons Leverage Trump-Hate for More Wars

by Robert Parry, via Consortium News A savvy Washington observer once told me that the political reality about the neoconservatives is that they alone couldn’t win you a single precinct in the United States. But both Republicans and Democrats still line up to gain neocon support or at least neocon acceptance. Part of the reason for this paradox is the degree of dominance that the neoconservatives have established in the national news media – as op-ed writers and TV commentators – and the neocon ties to the Israel Lobby that is famous for showering contributions on favored politicians and on the opponents of those not favored. Since the neocons’ emergence as big-time foreign policy players in the Reagan administration, they also have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, receiving a steady flow of money often through U.S. government-funded grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and through donations from military contractors to hawkish neocon think tanks. But neocons’ most astonishing success over the past year may have been how they have pulled liberals and even some progressives …

Abby Martin Meets the Venezuelan Opposition

Empire Files, July 30, 2017 Abby Martin goes on the deadly front lines of the anti government protests in Venezuela and follows the evolution of a typical guarimba—or opposition barricade. She explains what the targets from the opposition reveal about the nature of the movement and breaks down the reality of the death toll that has rocked the nation since the unrest began, and how a lynch mob campaign came after her and the Empire Files team for reporting these facts. Hearing from peaceful opposition marchers, to Chavistas to violent protesters at the guarimbas, this must-watch episode exposes the dark reality on-the-ground that is completely obscured from Western media.

Venezuela elections: resurgent chavismo and “unrecognised” democracy

After weeks of imperialist threats and opposition violence, the elections for the Constituent Assembly (ANC) in Venezuela took place on July 30th. The result was a massive turnout of over 8 million voters, around 41% of the electorate, which gave chavismo a much-needed shot in the arm. The western media reacted by trying to dispute the number and sticking even closer to the narrative being pushed by the opposition and the US State Department. With the opposition scrambling and US authorities bringing more sanctions and threats, it is now chavismo that has the political initiative. The Constituent Assembly will not solve everything by itself, but it is a tremendous opportunity to push the Bolivarian Revolution forward.

How Prison Labor Is the New American Slavery

by Sara Burrows, June 13, 2016, via Return to Now If you buy products or services from any of the 50 companies listed below (and you likely do), you are supporting modern American slavery. American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century.  Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years.  As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830. With 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world.  No other society in history has imprisoned more of its own citizens.  There are half a million more prisoners in the U.S. than in China, which has five times our population.  Approximately 1 in 100 adults in America were incarcerated in 2014.  Out of an adult population of 245 …

Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence

by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, via Consortium News In a memo to President Trump, a group of former U.S. intelligence officers, including NSA specialists, cite new forensic studies to challenge the claim of the key Jan. 6 “assessment” that Russia “hacked” Democratic emails last year.  MEMORANDUM FOR: The President FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) SUBJECT: Was the “Russian Hack” an Inside Job? Executive Summary Forensic studies of “Russian hacking” into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computers, and then doctored to incriminate Russia. After examining metadata from the “Guccifer 2.0” July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device, and that “telltale signs” implicating Russia were then inserted. Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal …

‘Inclusive Capitalism’, Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet

by Paul Street, July 21, 2017, via CounterPunch A recent Washington Post and ABC poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans think that the Democratic Party “stands for something.”  Fifty two percent say it’s about nothing more than opposing Trump. The 37 percent is right. The Democratic Party stands for something, alright.  It stands for the socio-pathological system of class rule and environmental ruin called capitalism – and for capitalism’s evil Siamese twin imperialism. So does the far more openly right-wing Republican Party, of course, but that’s fairly common knowledge.  It’s more complicated with the Democrats, who like to pose as being “on the left” while carrying water for Big Business. It’s nothing new. Long before the rise of dismal, dollar-drenched neoliberal era Dems and Robert Rubin associates like Bill Clinton and Barack Hamilton Project Obama, the Democrats stood in the lead of the profits regime. This goes all the way back to that savage Indian-killer Andrew Jackson and up through that quintessential corporate liberal Woodrow Wilson, New Deal hero Franklin Roosevelt (who boasted about having saved the …

Mass Arrests of Protesters: Outrageous in Russia, Barely Worth Mentioning in US

by Adam Johnson, July 13, 2017, FAIR Major media’s relative lack of interest in the mass arrests by Metro DC police on Inauguration Day is a fact noted by activists and journalists since the incident almost six months ago. One way to measure the dearth of coverage is to compare the attention paid to comparable protester arrests in Russia last month. On June 12, over 1,700 Russians throughout the country were arrested for “unauthorized protests” in opposition to President Vladimir Putin and government corruption. “Dozens”—including opposition leader Alexei Navalny—were kept in jail longer than a day, but the vast majority were let go immediately. (Navalny, as well as some others, got between 15–30 days in jail.) More than 200 Americans were arrested on January 20 after “rioting” broke out in downtown Washington, DC, in the hours leading up to and after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Some were let go over the next few weeks, but the bulk of the 200+ still face 10–80 years in federal prison for “felony rioting.” It’s important to note at least two major differences …

All Power to the Banks: The Winners-take-all Regime of Emmanuel Macron

by Diana Johnstone, via Counterpunch A ghost of the past was the real winner of the French presidential election.  Emmanuel Macron won only because a majority felt they had to vote against the ghost of “fascism” allegedly embodied by his opponent, Marine Le Pen.  Whether out of panic or out of the need to feel respectable, the French voted two to one in favor of a man whose program most of them either ignored or disliked.  Now they are stuck with him for five years. If people had voted on the issues, the majority would never have elected a man representing the trans-Atlantic elite totally committed to “globalization”, using whatever is left of the power of national governments to weaken them still further, turning over decision-making to “the markets” – that is, to international capital, managed by the major banks and financial institutions, notably those located in the United States, such as Goldman-Sachs. The significance of this election is so widely misrepresented that clarification requires a fairly thorough explanation, not only of the Macron project, …

What is Needed is a Progressive Vision of National Sovereignty

by Thomas Fazi, via Green European Journal The last year has seen the Right and extreme Right capitalise on the dissatisfaction and despair fostered by neoliberalism – and usher in a ‘post-neoliberal order’. Their success is based on championing and monopolising the idea of national sovereignty, but only of a certain kind. The Left has accepted their discourse that national sovereignty goes hand in hand with exclusivist and right-wing ideas, rather than attempting to reclaim it as vehicle for change. Over the past 12 months, an anti-establishment backlash has taken the West by storm. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the rejection of Matteo Renzi’s neoliberal constitutional reform in Italy, rising support for the National Front in France and for other (mostly right-wing) ‘anti-systemic’ parties across Europe, the EU’s unprecedented crisis of legitimation. Although these interrelated phenomena differ in ideology and goals, they are all rejections of the (neo)liberal order that has dominated the world – and in particular the West – for the past …

The NeoNazis Protesting Trump

by George H. Eliason An Open Letter to Those Who Voted for Clinton and may not realise the company they are keeping when they take to the streets There isn’t an easy, kind, or right way to open this conversation with people that have stood up for the rights of people worldwide as well as on the home front for decades. Any and every starting point seems wrong. Since there is no good starting point, let’s go to the honest one. The current political climate be damned. How are 25% of American voters, the percentage that voted for Hillary, now a protesting majority?  What’s the makeup of that 25%?  Do all of them care about women’s, human or civil rights? These questions aren’t as difficult to answer as the truth will be to hear, especially for progressives.  I’m going to show why the best qualified candidate Bernie Sanders never stood a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected to the US presidency.  To get there, look at the simple math which shows that if Sanders …

I Have a Scream

by Brian Foley, via CounterPunch I get it. You don’t like Trump. I’ve wanted to say that to Facebook Friends who’ve spent the past several months hate-posting against Trump. Most posts aren’t funny, creative, or informative. When not merely petulant, they’re raw unfiltered anger. People might as well post videos of themselves screaming. Turns out someone sort of did. A viral video shows a woman at the Inauguration sitting cross-legged on the ground, with her hands in the air in front of her, emitting a loud, guttural, primal scream at the precise moment Trump was sworn in: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! At least it was honest, right? Well, actually, it looks staged. The camera was on her, waiting. Nine seconds in, she looks up briefly, as if to make sure the camera crew was ready for “the scream.” Afterward, the Screamer looked exhausted. The ITV news crew descended, and the Screamer was incoherent: ITV: Can you explain your emotions to me? Explain your emotions to me. SCREAMER: There’s just no way, there’s like just no — …

United States: Regime change comes home

James Petras writes in 99GetSmart: The norms of US capitalist democracy include the election of presidential candidates through competitive elections, unimpeded by force and violence by the permanent institutions of the state. Voter manipulation has occurred during the recent elections, as in the case of the John F. Kennedy victory in 1960 and the George W. Bush victory over ‘Al’ Gore in 2000. But despite the dubious electoral outcomes in these cases, the ‘defeated’ candidate conceded and sought via legislation, judicial rulings, lobbying and peaceful protests to register their opposition. These norms are no longer operative. During the election process, and in the run-up to the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, fundamental electoral institutions were challenged and coercive institutions were activated to disqualify the elected president and desperate overt public pronouncements threatened the entire electoral order. We will proceed by outlining the process that is used to undermine the constitutional order, including the electoral process and the transition to the inauguration of the elected president. Regime Change in America In recent times, elected officials in the US and their …