All posts filed under: democracy

Venezuela Regional Elections: chavismo in triumph, opposition in disarray and media in denial

As the President of the Venezuelan Electoral Commission (CNE) read the results from the regional elections that took place on Sunday, October 15, one could feel the agony in the editorial rooms of mainstream media outlets. Chavismo had just won 18 out of 23 [1] governorships, a result that, according to them, could not have happened. International observers praised the electoral process and opposition claims of fraud, while uncritically echoed by the media, do not have a leg to stand on.

Antifa in Theory and Practice: Storm Troopers of the Neoliberal War Party

by Diana Johnstone, 9 October 2017, via Counterpunch “Fascists are divided into two categories: the fascists and the anti-fascists.” – Ennio Flaiano, Italian writer and co-author of Federico Fellini’s greatest film scripts. In recent weeks, a totally disoriented left has been widely exhorted to unify around a masked vanguard calling itself Antifa, for anti-fascist.  Hooded and dressed in black, Antifa is essentially a variation of the Black Bloc, familiar for introducing violence into peaceful demonstrations in many countries. Imported from Europe, the label Antifa sounds more political.  It also serves the purpose of stigmatizing those it attacks as “fascists”. Despite its imported European name, Antifa is basically just another example of America’s steady descent into violence. Historical Pretensions Antifa first came to prominence from its role in reversing Berkeley’s proud “free speech” tradition by preventing right wing personalities from speaking there. But its moment of glory was its clash with rightwingers in Charlottesville on August 12, largely because Trump commented that there were “good people on both sides”. With exuberant Schadenfreude, commentators grabbed the opportunity …

The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal nobody speaks about!

by Tatjana Zdanoka, 4 October 2017, via DefendDemocracyPress The negotiations on Brexit are attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the possible erosion of the rights of around three million EU-27 citizens living in Britain is a major cause for concern. The European Parliament resolution adopted on 3 October states that “the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position”. The main author of this text, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the EP Brexit Coordinator, argues that such an approach – not to lower the level of citizens’ rights – is “the goal of democracy”. But why was the very same principle ignored when another “exit” took place in Europe? It was the exit of the Baltic states from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1990-1991 when a million and a half citizens who had moved to Latvia and Estonia from other republics were deprived of the essential rights they enjoyed. Theoretical substantiation for this legal action was found in the …

A Balanced View of the Economics of Independence in Catalonia

by Angel Ubide, PIIE, September 15, 2015 Editor’s Note: In the light of the recent independence referendum in Catalonia, in which some 43% of the population took part despite police attempts to prevent the vote from taking place by means of violence, we are posting this 2015 article on the economics of the proposed secession. Two years after voters in Scotland rejected independence from the United Kingdom, Spain faces the threat of breakup as Catalonia holds regional elections on September 27. The Catalan president, Artur Mas, leads a pro-independence coalition for these elections, Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), with a single aim: to start a process of independence culminating in secession in 18 months. Polls show the independence coalition achieving a narrow majority in Parliament, though with just 40 percent of the popular vote. With its capital in Barcelona, Catalonia, a region of about 8 million people on the Mediterranean coast just below the Pyrenees, is one of Spain’s more prosperous regions. The pro-independence coalition argues that an independent Catalonia would be economically better …

Vladimir Putin’s 17 years in power: The scorecard

by Alex Krainer, The Naked Hedgie Editors: Today, October 7, 2017, Russia celebrates the 65th birthday of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  To mark the occasion, we are posting Alex Krainer’s review of Putin’s achievements since 2000. Mr. Putin can’t seem to get a break in the western media. I watched his recent interview with CBS’s Megyn Kelly with her tiresome, boring questions like, “did Russia interfere in our election,” “did your ambassador meet with Trump’s election officials,”  “isn’t it true that you’re a corrupt murderous thug,” etc. Only in response to Kelly’s last question did Mr. Putin get to name a handful of his achievements in Russia. But someone ought to better prepare his talking points on this score. The excerpt below from my upcoming book summarizes how Russia has changed during the 17 years since Mr. Putin has been at the helm. On 26th July 2014 British magazine “The Economist” published an article titled “A web of lies,” opening with the following two sentences: “In 1991, when Soviet Communism collapsed, it seemed as if the …

Google’s New Search Engine Bias is No Accident

by Jonathan Cook, October 1, 2017, via Dissident Voice Alternet has gone public with concerns about the way Google and Facebook have limited traffic to its website and, more generally, undermined access to progressive and independent media. Its traffic from web searches has dropped precipitously – by 40 per cent – since Google introduced new algorithms in the summer. Other big progressive sites have reported similar, or worse, falls. More anecdotally, and less significantly, I have noticed on both my own website and Facebook page a sharp drop in views and shares in recent weeks. Alternet is appealing for financial help, justifiably afraid that the drop in traffic will impact its revenues and threaten its future. Nonetheless, there is something deeply misguided, even dangerous, about its description of what is happening. Here is how its executive editor, Don Hazen, describes Alternet’s problems: Little did we know that Google had decided, perhaps with bad advice or wrong-headed thinking, that media like AlterNet—dedicated to fighting white supremacy, misogyny, racism, Donald Trump, and fake news—would be clobbered by Google …

Greece has become the EU’s third protectorate

by Jan Zielonka, August 14, 2015, OpenDemocracy The EU looks increasingly like an empire, having just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. The EU looks, walks and talks like an empire. After extending its borders into Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. From now on Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. Empire is not a synonym of evil despite some bad historical connotations, especially from the colonial era. Power can be exercised in noble ways, and peripheries often prefer to be “conquered” than abandoned. However, the EU’s ambition to run dysfunctional countries by decree is doomed to fail and will represent yet another blow to the project of European integration. Formal involvement of the UN or the IMF in running the protectorates will not exonerate the EU. Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe has been successful because it empowered local actors. …

The Single-party French State

by Diana Johnstone, June 21, 2107, via Counterpunch French legislative elections follow hard on the heels of the Presidential election.  The momentum virtually ensures a presidential majority.  So it was taken for granted that voters would give President Emmanuel Macron a docile parliament for his five-year mandate. But these elections were exceptional.  The victory of Macron’s personal party, la République En Marche (REM), is novel in several ways.  Not only has REM won an absolute majority of 350 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly.  REM’s victory has also bled the two traditional governing parties, the Republicans and the Socialists, perhaps fatally. With over 130 seats, the Republican Party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies came in second, and thus ranks as leading opposition party.  But since Macron successfully lured two Republican politicians into prominent positions in his government – Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister and Bruno LeMaire as Economics Minister – it is hard even for the Republicans’ current leader, François Baroin, to explain just what they will oppose.  How can …

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 …