All posts tagged: Essays

A Taxing Question: Re-reading Piketty

Frank Lee reviews Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty This book by Thomas Piketty was first published in 2014 and became an instant best seller. It had taken the author some 15 years to research and complete, and deserves a detailed attention and analysis rather than the usual one-off, production-line tracts which are read and instantly forgotten. Piketty describes the end of an old epoch, the rise of the new – the golden age of welfare-capitalism, Le Trente Glorieuses, the Keynes/Beveridge consensus, call it what you will, circa 1945-1975 – and the re-emergence of a second rentier capitalism regime which began the early 1980s. Using apposite literary references to writers of the first gilded age he quotes: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice An immortal sentence which says a thousand words. Such was the moral zeitgeist in Europe during the 19th century; Piketty then drives home the point by adding …

No More Bullshit: Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill

Edward Curtin Growing up Irish-Catholic in the Bronx in the 1960s, I was an avid reader of the powerful columns of Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill in the New York newspapers. These guys were extraordinary wordsmiths. They would grab you by the collar and drag you into the places and faces of those they wrote about. Passion infused their reports. They were never boring. They made you laugh and cry as they transported you into the lives of real people. You knew they had actually gone out into the streets of the city and talked to people. All kinds of people: poor, rich, black, white, Puerto Rican, high-rollers, low-lifes, politicians, athletes, mobsters – they ran the gamut. You could sense they loved their work, that it enlivened them as it enlivened you the reader. Their words sung and crackled and breathed across the page. They left you always wanting more, wondering sometimes how true it all was, so captivating was their storytelling abilities. They cut through abstractions to connect individuals to major events such as …

Lyndon LaRouche Is Dead, But We Are Alive

David Lindsay Lyndon LaRouche is dead. At least at one time, LaRouche believed that the Queen was a drug dealer, and that Henry Kissinger had been a Soviet agent of influence. As with Harold Wilson, against whom that allegation was also made, the Soviets ought to have demanded their money back. But no one is in a position to ridicule that if they have ever believed the official version of events in relation to Orgreave, Westland, or Hillsborough. Or any of all manner of claims that have been made by, or in support of, the Clintons. Or in the murder of 100,000 military age males in Kosovo. Or in the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and in their capacity for deployment within 45 minutes. Or in Saddam Hussein’s feeding of people into a giant paper shredder, and in his attempt to obtain uranium from Niger. Or in an imminent genocide in Benghazi, in Gaddafi’s feeding of Viagra to his soldiers in order to encourage mass rape, and in his intention to flee …

Making Globalism Great Again

CJ Hopkins Maybe Donald Trump isn’t as stupid as I thought. I’d hate to have to admit that publicly, but it does kind of seem like he has put one over on the liberal corporate media this time. Scanning the recent Trump-related news, I couldn’t help but notice a significant decline in the number of references to Weimar, Germany, Adolf Hitler, and “the brink of fascism” that America has supposedly been teetering on since Hillary Clinton lost the election. I googled around pretty well, I think, but I couldn’t find a single editorial warning that Trump is about to summarily cancel the US Constitution, dissolve Congress, and proclaim himself Führer. Nor did I see any mention of Auschwitz, or any other Nazi stuff … which is weird, considering that the Hitler hysteria has been a standard feature of the official narrative we’ve been subjected to for the last two years. So how did Trump finally get the liberal corporate media to stop calling him a fascist? He did that by acting like a fascist (i.e., …

The Peaceful Revolution

Eddison Flame How can we fight back against people who control a vast military, financial, information, and surveillance machine? Fiona Jenkins, via Off-Guardian The problem is even worse than you suggest. Not only do they control a vast military, the whole financial apparatus, a massive and invasive system for information indoctrination and narrative control, and a sprawling inescapable system of surveillance, but, in addition to all this, we the people are entirely dependent on their system for our very survival. As it stands right now, there is no safe place in the world for anyone to escape this system. You are absolutely right to wonder, what can we do? I disagree however with your proposal that a potentially viable solution is the one expressed by Moti Nissani in his article The Al-Sabbah Brigade. Anyway, his solution is not my solution. I will say, however, that his formulation of the problem we are facing is excellent. His analysis of the situation we find ourselves in is very good, and I encourage anyone who doubts the claims …

Demands (to Save the World)

Eddison Flame Any good movement needs a list of demands, so I resolved to come up with one. Of course, for now anyway, these are just my demands, but I hope they will inspire others to either share them, reorder them, or come up with other demands of their own. Really, it would be ideal if we could have a public vote about these things. I don’t mean a local governmental vote, but a global public vote. We need to get on the same page globally so we can prioritize what needs to be done. Sure, it may be that we don’t all agree about all the same things, but maybe we all do agree on some things. If we could just determine exactly what these things are, then we could work on a plan to fix them. So, and this is really an aside from the main point of this article, what we need is a system with a few particular features. First, accounts should be verifiable (such that each account is verifiable as …

The Myth of Reform

This is our second extract from Darren Allen’s book 33 Myths of the System. The first extract can be read here, while the full work is available as a free download here. A protest march is one of Gemma Arterton’s favourite things. ‘Oh, I love going on marches,’ she beams. ‘They’re such an amazingly galvanising, brilliant community.’ She brought her mum along on a women’s march recently, ‘and she loved it, too. She just loved the energy you get off it. It’s like carnival, people really together, and they’re singing and they’re chanting.’ She throws her head back, exhilarated by the memory. ‘It’s like, you feel power!’ Interview in The Guardian Reform is the lightning rod and pressure relief valve of the system. Reform deflects desire for a different system into negotiations for changing the scenery, the actors and the script of the current system · · · The key player in reform is the professional, or ambitious, stagversive, the proto-typical example of which was Karl Marx · · · Stagversives may be good people, …

A Brief History of the System

This is an extract from the Introduction to Darren Allen’s new book 33 Myths of the System. We’ll be publishing a few more extracts over the coming days. The full work is available as a free download here. Our society resembles the ultimate machine which I once saw in a New York toy shop. It was a metal casket which, when you touched a switch, snapped open to reveal a mechanical hand. Chromed fingers reached out for the lid, pulled it down, and locked it from the inside. It was a box; you expected to be able to take something out of it; yet all it contained was a mechanism for closing the cover. Ivan Illich For hundreds of thousands of years, people lived well in peaceful, egalitarian, healthy societies, at the very least in comparison with what followed. We did not work particularly hard and the work itself (if it could be called work; pre-civilised societies don’t make distinctions between work and play), was enjoyable, meaningful and non-alienating. Activity is alienating if it makes …

The Mock Democracy

The citizens are disenfranchised and conditioned to be politically apathetic consumers. In recent decades, democracy has been replaced by the illusion of democracy. New forms of organization of power and psychological methods for manipulation of our consciousness protect the powerful against the risks of democratic empowerment and strengthen their position.

Syria and the will of God

Kevin Smith In my lifetime, there has never been a greater force of evil than the terror rained down on Syria by foreign nations. Its cruelty and savagery have had no bounds. Nonetheless, Syria has defended itself against the economic might of 2/3 of the world’s great powers and has beaten them all. As a career military officer and student of military affairs, I cannot explain how Syria could accomplish this if it were not the will of God.” These were words spoken by US Virginia state senator Richard Black during a recent visit to Syria. Here is a link to more of what he said. For me, these words are the most profound and thought-provoking I’ve read about Syria. I read them every day. I’ve been observing and researching events in Syria and western government’s role in the chaos for some years now. I have also been thinking about faith and wondering if a god plays a role in world events. Evil versus Syria I think all people, religious or not, who care about …

Bleak See on the Black Sea

Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarević Following the latest events in and around the Black Sea, two old questions are reappearing. Both are inviting us for a repeated elaboration: If a Monroe doctrine (about the hemispheric security exclusivity) is recognised at one corner of the globe, do we have a moral right or legal ground to negate it at the other corner? This irrespectively from the fact that Gorbachev-Yeltsin Russia unilaterally renounced the similar explication – the Brezhnev doctrine about irreversibility of communist gains. Clearly, the ‘might-makes-right’ as a conduct in international relations cannot be selectively accepted. Either it is acknowledged to all who can effectively self-prescribe and maintain such a monopoly of coercion, or it is absolutely (revoked and) condemned as contrary to behaviour among the civilised nations. Next to the first question is a right of pre-emption. It is apparent that within the Black Sea theatre, Russia acts in an unwilling, pre-emptive and rather defensive mode. That is not a regime change action on the other continent following the rational of extra security demand by …

Sometimes A Pair of Pants Can Give You Vertigo

It is a dastardly habit no sane person should inflict on oneself. To rise from one’s night dreams and step into a litany of hyperbolic headlines shouting doom and gloom at every turn is to inject oneself with a poisonous drug before the sap of life has a chance to rise in one’s veins and one’s imagination might give birth to new possibilities.

Oceania is at War with Fascism

CJ Hopkins If you’re a critic of global capitalism (sometimes referred to as “globalism”), I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is, you’re not a “peddler of Russian propaganda” anymore. The bad news is, you’re an anti-Semite. You’re probably also a domestic terrorist, or an “emboldener” of domestic terrorism, or at least some sort of terrorism-apologist. And not good old-fashioned Islamic terrorism like we used to get during the War on Terror, because that ended in the Summer of 2016, right around the time Trump won the nomination. No, the brand of terrorism you are probably emboldening by criticizing global capitalism is anti-Semitic, fascist terrorism … the most terroristic form of terrorism there is! Up until recently, you might have just been going about your normal business, criticizing global capitalism, completely unaware of your anti-Semitic, white supremacist terrorist activities, but from now on there will be no denying them. Your hate thoughts are right there for everyone to read. Go back and check your Facebook posts and your …

Showtime in America: Idiots’ Delight – A Quasi Review

Edward Curtin The making of a journalist: no ideas and the ability to express them.” Karl Kraus, Half-Truths & One-and-a-Half Truths Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Mark Twain All cats die. Socrates is dead. Socrates is a cat.” Eugene Ionesco, Rhinoceros If believability is your gauge for discerning truth, you are living in a fantasy world. But that is the reality of life in the United States today. This is the land of make-believe in which actors and audiences are engaged in a vast folie à deux full of sound and fury signifying a nothingness that passes for intelligence. Assertions made convincingly enough are the new facts for a population hypnotized by a stage-managed reality show. The recently closed Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Show that mercifully had a short run at the National Comedic Congressional Theater is the latest case in point. The believability of the actors was said to be the key issue. In other words, who seemed to be telling the truth. Demeanor …

Who Doesn’t Love Identity Politics?

CJ Hopkins If there is one thing that still unites Americans across the ever more intellectually suffocating and bitterly polarized political spectrum our imaginations have been crammed into like rush hour commuters on the Tokyo Metro, it’s our undying love of identity politics. Who doesn’t love identity politics? Liberals love identity politics. Conservatives love identity politics. Political parties love identity politics. Corporations love identity politics. Advertisers, anarchists, white supremacists, Wall Street bankers, Hollywood producers, Twitter celebrities, the media, academia … everybody loves identity politics. Why do we love identity politics? We love them for many different reasons. The ruling classes love identity politics because they keep the working classes focused on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and so on, and not on the fact that they (i.e., the working classes) are, essentially, glorified indentured servants, who will spend the majority of their sentient existences laboring to benefit a ruling elite that would gladly butcher their entire families and sell their livers to hepatitic Saudi princes if they could get away with it. Dividing the …

End of an Era: Big Agriculture and the Fall of American Dairy

J Birchfield The ongoing American dairy farmer debacle deeply bothers me, and every time I see another reference to it I’m forcing myself to think it through. Extra cheap milk in which to dunk your Oreos it would seem is the new cultural norm, along with some of the highest suicide rates farm families have ever seen. Disturbing. Social media posts, written articles, viral videos are all so eager to put on display the ‘been doing it for half a century’ old and broken head of the family farm, his wrinkled face crying, hugging a few of his closest family members, heads hung low and shoulders slouched, all taking in their last few moments of existence as tough, gritty, incredibly consistent, and innovative American dairy farmers. Over time, you either tune it out or embrace the collective nostalgia that for some has turned to anger and depression, crying out through the ripped and torn cultural fabric almost as intensely as a mamma cow mourns a dead calf. Of course, all along generating the buzz that …

Book Review: Propaganda Blitz – How Corporate Media Distort Reality

We’ve heard a good deal of late about Western democracy, and I for one don’t knock it. I think it an excellent idea, but wouldn’t it require an informed electorate? And wouldn’t that require a media untainted by power and unfettered by any ties other than to truth? Truth in the sense of accuracy and immunity from entrenched interest; truth in the sense of facts and interpretations offered with neither fear nor favour on matters vital to the common good – like climate change, waging war, and levels of inequality both morally indefensible and socially dysfunctional?

9/11 Unmasked: A Remarkable Review

David Ray Griffin The book 9/11 Unmasked, which I wrote together with Elizabeth Woodworth, has received several excellent reviews. But the most remarkable of these was written by Philip Roddis, who in 2016 had written with vitriol (his term) about the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job.” He wrote: “9/11 Truthism is not only seriously crackers but reactionary too.” What is remarkable about Roddis’ 2018 review is the extent to which he reversed his previous position. Introduction Roddis’ reversal began after seeing responses to his 2016 piece. Most of the responses simply confirmed Roddis’ long-held “contempt” for 9/11 truthers. He had felt this contempt – he recently realized – because he had been “exposed only to lazy, simplistic and epistemologically naive truthers.” Put otherwise, Roddis admitted that his “exposure to truthism had come from armchair conspiracists too idle or brain fogged to put together a decent argument.” Given his long-held certainty that the truthers could not be taken seriously, he had felt no need to “engage with evidential flaws in the official account.” So …

The Cell Phone and the Virgin: A Montreal Odyssey

Edward Curtin And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever While Suzanne holds her mirror” Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne” Before this historical chasm, a mind like that of Adams felt itself helpless; he turned from the Virgin to the Dynamo as though he were a Branly coherer. On one side, at the Louvre and at Chartres, as he knew by the record of work actually done and still before his eyes, was the highest energy ever known to man, the creator of four-fifths of his noblest art, exercising vastly more attraction over the human mind than all the steam-engines and dynamos ever dreamed of; and yet this energy was unknown to the American mind. An American Virgin would never dare command; an American Venus would never dare exist.” Henry Adams, “The Dynamo and …

The Sexual Passion of Winston Smith

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where “Big Brother” poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.