Interview with RPFront.com

‘Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen have created an unmitigated disaster’

In an interview with Real Progressive Front, William Hawes says, “Saudi Arabia’s attacks have created an unmitigated disaster. It’s an absolute humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.”

Below, the full transcript of the interview has been presented.

What are the consequences of Saudi Arabia’s military attacks as well as its blockade on Yemen?

William Hawes: Saudi Arabia’s attacks have created an unmitigated disaster. It’s an absolute humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions. Don’t just trust me: read other sources and go look at the images of what kids in Yemen are facing. The blockade is preventing food and medicine from reaching the hard to access places inside the country. The consequences will be more death, starvation, disease, and misery for the people of Yemen. It’s important to realize just how young the Yemeni population is: nearly half the population is 18 or younger, so it will be even harder for society to pick up the pieces with so many children at risk, and so many traumatized by war.

How has the UN handled the outbreak of Cholera in Yemen?

William Hawes: The World Health Organization (WHO) is doing what it can, but from what I have read, can only reach about half the country due to the threat of violence. The WHO is predicting about half a million cases of cholera, with close to two thousand deaths already having occurred. The UN needs to put pressure allow access to rural medical sites, but diplomatically, cannot get the two sides to come to the table.

What’s your take on Washington’s support of Saudi Arabia in its bombardment of Yemen? Is the U.S. responsible for what is happening in Yemen?

William Hawes: My take is Washington is doing what it has always done: kill innocent people and create chaos so it can divide and conquer the Middle East. Consider who the US supports the most in the region: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and Egypt. These are the most hardline, authoritarian regimes who will never question US imperialism and the neoliberal, colonialist, capitalist model.

Yes, the US is responsible, because it is supplying the Saudis with weapons, logistics, and intelligence. In a court of law, if you give someone a weapon knowing that person is going to commit violence, you’d be charged as an accomplice, an accessory to the crime.

A senior United Nations official in Yemen has condemned the Saudi-led air strike which killed at least 12 civilians, including children, saying it showed a complete “disregard” for human life. What role can the international community play to prevent Saudi Arabian atrocities in Yemen?

William Hawes: There’s a lot of ways I can answer this, so I’ll start with the simplest. First, the UN can call for a ceasefire, and have the parties sit down and negotiate. Then aid organizations can come, as well as international observers, peacekeeping troops if necessary, that’s the standard procedure.

The wider question to ponder, though, is this: do we really have much of an “international community”? We use empty phrases like these all the time. If we look at our world leaders and their delegates at the UN we see that they are just defending their own selfish, nationalist interests. Our political leaders are either mentally ill, or they have severe psychological issues, and have no empathy for the weak and less fortunate.

Who is looking out for kids in Yemen, besides brave Yemeni doctors, nurses, aid workers, and groups like the WHO? If we had a strong, caring international community, these wars would never happen in the first place. Humanity has been dealing for thousands of years with groups that violently compete against each other, that do not cooperate. This has to change. Every day we delay we are dooming more and more people to unnecessary suffering and death.

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Capitalism and Its Discontents: What Are We Living For?

CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Countercurrents, Aug 10-11, 2017

“Whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about fascism.”

-Max Horkheimer, from the essay “The Jews and Europe”, December 1939

Aren’t we all tired of capitalism? Haven’t most of us gotten sick of the drudgery, the monotony, the exploitation, sucking up to our bosses and management who pretend to care about the average worker? The drive to consume more and more has degraded all art, values, and sense of community in the US.

Capitalists literally are holding the people of the Earth in bondage. As liberal democracy crumbles in the West, the risk of neo-fascism continues to rise in North America and Europe.

It’s worth examining why the US has TV shows like “Hoarders”, where people have problems collecting useless crap, and where viewers publicly shame and judge the afflicted. Yet, where is the outrage at the real hoarders, the billionaires, the banks, and the military industrial complex? This is serious hypocrisy, a cultural blind spot: a double standard that is not being addressed by our society.

Capitalists are Addicts

Why does society not ask arch-capitalists the obvious questions: when is enough, enough? Who needs a billion dollars? Once you can provide a comfortable life for your family, children, and grandchildren, what is the point of hoarding your money in bank accounts and lording over a monopolizing mega-corporation? Where does this endless desire for more come from?

It’s fairly obvious that a failure to confront death is closely linked to the bottomless appetite exhibited by capitalists. The perceived need to construct towers, monuments, mansions, and manufactured narratives of their own greatness is proof. Not to mention how many of the super-rich have chosen to become cryogenically frozen post-mortem: this is in outright denial of their own mortality, and the necessity of death so that future generations may live.

In failing to confront death, any object can be used as a crutch, an addiction. Addiction is linked to social isolation and lack of community, which the capitalist class creates by artificially creating specialized divisions of labor, alienation, and class differences.

Addiction leads to a disconnection from what some would call a “reality principle”, leading to further and deeper indulgences and lack of restraint. There are further similarities between capitalists and drug addicts: the impatience, the disconnection from others, the neediness, as well as a general childlike need to be validated and pampered.

Methodology and Treatment in an Age of Insanity

We see where capitalism leads: to a permanent crisis, a never-ending state of emergency. Since the 1970s, workers have increased productivity mightily with little to zero increases in wages considering inflation and other factors. Americans are also working longer hours; young adults are even having less sex partly because of this. There is a huge problem with prescription drug abuse (not just opioids), teen suicide is rising (sadly, at a 40 year high for teen girls in 2017), and child poverty isn’t being addressed properly, if at all, by our own government.

All of these absolutely tragic issues are connected to capitalism. When we are forced to compete against each other, in grades at school, for that raise or promotion in the workplace, this breeds a mindset of dehumanization.

I would also posit that the separation of young children from their parents when they begin schooling, either day care or pre-school or kindergarten or afterwards, is one of the first steps in life where the feelings of individual atomization starts, and collective social disintegration begins. Being ripped from your parent’s arms because they have to work just to survive, and the state/private/charter school substituting for the role of a parent, is one of the first deep tragedies inflicted on many of us by the “needs” of the modern world. I believe this suffering is lodged deep in our unconscious selves, and this is not being addressed publicly at all, and barely acknowledged in our private lives.

Treatment starts when we want to become free of the Great Beast of capitalism, the “Babylon system” as some like to call it. We must ground ourselves, and return to a deeper relationship with our mother Earth. Self-reliance is true freedom, and families and communities should begin to grow as much of their own food as possible. I understand the limitations for those in urban areas, or those stuck in jobs where time and effort cannot be adequately put towards farming, of course. Collectively, as a city block, a suburban neighborhood, a rural township, we are all going to have to learn to get together, share food and technology, and become independent of this beast. We must begin to develop a gift economy, an indigenous-based economy, based on reciprocity and trust, not exploitation and coercion, as Charles Eisenstein explains.

Other than that, a mass protest movement must be created so the resources that our federal government receives in taxes can be shifted from weapons of destruction to schools, health care, community projects, and renewable energy.

Analyzing a Popular Alternative

I believe it’s important to discuss some of the budding alternatives to capitalism that are developing around the globe. In the US, support for socialism has risen immensely, especially among the younger crowd, thanks to the work of Bernie Sanders (notwithstanding him not really being a socialist) and others. Yet how serious are most American socialists?

One of the most popular groups in the US is called Socialist Alternative (SA), led by the charismatic Seattle councilwoman Kshama Sawant. SA has some great ideas, and yet, some of their proposals make it seem as if they’re just going through the motions. Let me explain.

On their about page, a few things stand out. They write: “We see the global capitalist system as the root cause of the economic crisis, poverty, discrimination, war, and environmental destruction.” Very well put. Yet then, this is followed by the line below:

“As capitalism moves deeper into crisis, a new generation of workers and youth must join together to take the top 500 corporations into public ownership under democratic control to end the ruling elites’ global competition for profits and power.”

This sounds nice, but I wonder how much time was really spent thinking through the implications of this policy. What if democratic control only leads to redistribution of the companies’ wealth, and not fundamental transformation of the products, resource usage, and dangerous working conditions?  Where is the sense of urgency, the fact that deadlines are being approached regarding global warming, regarding the ecological damage being done by these companies?

One wonders, has SA bothered to take a look at the list of the 500 top companies? For some, perhaps they can be repurposed to make sustainable products. For others, maybe the factories and warehouses can be dismantled and recycled for public use. For a few, it might be feasible that they could be broken up into smaller entities and non-profit co-operatives.

Yet, we must realize that these companies have only been able to thrive due to government tax breaks, insider trading, off-shoring hidden wealth, and other financial chicanery. Further, these mega corporations rely on specialized division of labor, fueling worker alienation.

Also, the biggest companies choose not to compete against each other in entire sectors, allowing for large profit margins. What happens when “public ownership” leads to stricter competition and price wars, forcing many employees to be laid off? How will these companies be able to compete against Europe and China? Is SA committed to local and bioregional approaches to agricultural and socially responsible industrial practices?

For many of these companies, though, the only democratic thing I can think of to do is to vote on who gets to throw the first brick or Molotov through the empty building. These corporations have done irreparable harm to the planet. Some of them are simply not going to be able to be reformed.

The only way to transform these entities (the ones that can be saved) properly, with the proper protections, would be to rewrite the constitution to include environmental and social rights, as well as the rights of mother Earth, as Bolivia has done. Without a legal framework based on ecology, there is no way to make sure “democratic control” of a transnational corporation would actually lead to environmentally-safe production.

SA is notable for fighting for a $15 an hour wage. First, I want to say that I support this policy. It is a laudable goal, and may work soon in some of the nation’s wealthy, tech-savvy, coastal metro enclaves.

Yet we need to ask what would happen if this were enacted nationally, and what we should do to prepare if it ever does. The elites would pull their money out of the system, if only to spite the Left and the socialists who enacted the policy, and give them a taste of pain for disobeying capitalism. The neoliberal economy is designed around low-wage service work, and is so tightly interwoven, not to mention extremely monopolized, that a sudden wage rise would lead to high levels of inflation, and possibly to a severe economic recession or depression. Are groups like SA ready to organize outside the political structure, to make space for a civic society, domestically and abroad, which will need massive influxes of resources, food, and housing when shit hits the fan?

SA also wants to “slash the military budget”, which is great. SA does not clarify where that new money should go. SA also proclaims that they support internationalism. Allow me to make a proposal: money from the military budget should be given away freely to developing countries, with transnational groups, either under UN auspices or some new framework, helping distribute and allocate resources so they are not wasted by corrupt dictators and governments. Poorer nations will need massive influxes of revenue to help them develop and avoid using fossil fuels and habitat-destroying industry, in the realm of trillions of dollars over decades. The West has accumulated ill-gotten wealth from centuries of colonialism, chattel slavery, and genocidal policies towards the “Global South”, and now may be the last chance to give back, before it becomes too late.

Are US socialists committed to these sorts of radical proposals? Are SA and others ready to admit to its followers that real socialism will involve hard sacrifices, and almost certainly (in the short term, at least) lead to less material goods and privileges that Westerners have enjoyed for centuries? Are socialists as ready to support a living wage in China as they are in the USA? Finally, are American socialists committed to transforming the nation, or just promoting an ideology that is centered too much on human needs, and not enough on the needs of non-humans and future human generations?

Ecocentrism, not Anthropocentrism

The Left has been fragmented for decades. Liberals, socialists, communists, greens, and anarchists have all endlessly debated future models for society. One wonders, how many are just talking, and how many are willing to listen? There already are models for society to live sustainably and to prosper, very, very old ways: by following the paths set by the indigenous.

For instance: by living in the moment, and observing things as they really are, it becomes quite clear that humanity is facing huge challenges unlike at any other time in history. Just one hundred companies have pumped out 70% of worldwide greenhouse gases since 1988. Is the answer, as SA has posited, really just to democratize these corporations and hope for the best, or to shut them down completely?

Westerners are going to have to realize very quickly that despite our space technology, skyscrapers, and instant media, we are the children in the room when it comes to ecological knowledge, and the indigenous around the world are the adults. Native American tribes and various indigenous peoples worldwide have catalogued thousands if not tens of thousands of local plants in their local ecosystems, often with hundreds of different uses for each individual plant. Indigenous accept their own mortality and have constructed elaborate rituals, ceremonies, and initiations to help each other confront death. Also, and this is critical, indigenous tribes understand their carrying capacity in their local habitat, and so are able to regulate and rationally plan for their population levels. Overpopulation now threatens the world with ecosystem degradation, habitat destruction, global warming, resource wars, ocean acidification, plastics proliferation, pandemics, and mass starvation and drought.

The indigenous are plant people, and we can follow just a few basic ideas to help us escape capitalism: conserve what remains of the South American, African, and Southeast Asian rainforests, as many future cures from disease and chronic conditions will be found there. In the Americas, the milpa, a planting of corn, beans, squash, and various nutrient rich veggies allows for huge crop productivity in a small area. We can use hemp and legalize cannabis to make biofuels, produce paper, make innovate building materials like Hempcrete, and provide the masses with a safe, relaxing herb for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual use. Advanced technology in most scenarios will only make things worse. What is the best thing one can do to stop global warming? Not a solar array, but planting a tree. Slow down soil erosion? Plant a tree. What is resistance? Planting a community garden is a more socialist, a more significant thing to do now than attending another symposium on Marxism.

The indigenous are freer and happier than Westerners not by some innate abilities, but because they have chosen to work for their freedom: by co-producing food, tools, clothes, pottery, by hunting, fishing, and foraging together. Westerners have refused to resist thus far, because deep down, many know they are dependent on the system for survival, and don’t want to pull that plug, to bite the hand that feeds. It’s the only way, though. We are going to have to walk away from all this, and activists, protestors, and concerned citizens are going to have to metaphorically step into our own Lacandon jungle, and organize around ecology, democracy, and social justice.

Yet, we must realize that it is too late in the game to rely simply on voting. Citizens will respond to a mass movement to the degree that it represents the will of the people: to the degree it can articulate a political truth on a deeply visceral level. Most mainstream socialists (important exceptions being Ian Angus, Paul Burkett, and John Bellamy Foster) have so far been too committed to a flailing, abstract ideology; specifically, wrongly committed to a Eurocentric, technocratic, anthropocentric worldview; to capture people’s imaginations. Developing an ecological worldview, one that acknowledges our interdependence and interconnectedness with all species, is crucial.

Thus, as the 21st century progresses, Standing Rock will eventually be seen as having more influence than Occupy Wall Street. We are connected to our planet and the web of life more than we can ever know or attempt to explain. For instance, we won’t end warfare until we abolish factory farming: the two are intimately linked, as exploitation of man over animal allows fascists the ideological justification for exploitation and the killing of man by man. Ecology is the keystone science: it allows us to see the linkages between species, food webs, and provides the science needed to develop scale-appropriate, sustainable technology. Ecologists understand that an injury to one is an injury to all, and under capitalism, we’ve all been wounded, plant, animal, and human alike, even the rich, who’ve suffered spiritual decay and moral disintegration.

The only democracy possible is an ecological democracy, with a long-term planning, and rational, sustainably-oriented national constitutions, a 90-95% reduction in fossil fuel use within a few decades at most, and an international consensus which will guarantee safeguards against habitat destruction, even in the face of democratic majority opposition. If we don’t face up to these facts, and collectively and courageously organize, we may in fact be due for the Kali Yuga, as the Hindus prophesied.

Thus, perhaps we can update and re-phrase Horkheimer’s famous quote for the 21st century:

“Whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about the 6th mass extinction.”

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Interview with Phillip Farruggio

Here’s the link to the interview. Thanks for listening everyone. An hour long convo with Phillip, a very passionate anti-war activist.

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Divided by Design: A Review of Mugambi Jouet’s Exceptional America

New York Journal of Books, July 24, 2017

 

Exceptional America: What Divides America from the World and from Each Other is the type of book where you have to laugh in order not to cry when reading. Mugambi Jouet systematically explains how Americans are born and raised into an anti-intellectual culture where harsh incarceration practices, Christian fundamentalism, gun violence, and a plutocratic economic structure controls the lives of average citizens.

Jouet, a lawyer, reveals in the introduction of the book the strict, Old-Testament style of the US judicial system, where his client is faced with a sentence far longer than it should be. When Jouet appeals to reason by pointing out that lengthy sentences do little to reduce crime, put a drain on public finances, as well as explaining that rehabilitation is far more effective, the judges shut him down. His client is charged six years for a minor, non-violent drug offense. After one reads these first pages, one can hear a gavel smashing down giving judgment, but it isn’t towards Jouet’s client: it is directed squarely at the US criminal justice system. To further his point, Jouet appropriately quotes Camus: “One can judge a society by its prisons.”

Jouet explains that Alexis de Tocqueville was not referring to American exceptionalism as a simply positive characteristic, but that America was exceptional in its uniqueness. Being one of a kind has positive and negative qualities in terms of society and governance. For instance, conservatives America’s fundamentalists belief in the Christian God, and the End Times, fuels the far-right wing belief that the United States can do no wrong in foreign policy and even domestically. On a positive note, most Americans perceive themselves as classless; or at least part of a broad middle class, where the industrious can get ahead and egalitarianism is encouraged.

However, perceptions can be misleading. Although Americans pay lip-service to promoting an egalitarian society, wealth inequality continues to deepen. As Jouet shows, religious indoctrination, massive egos, and privileged upbringings have convinced citizens that one’s ignorant view deserves just as much respect as another’s reasoned, thoughtful arguments.

While liberal America tacks very close to European political worldviews, conservative America has moved off the map to the right ideologically, compared to other Western nations. As Jouet shows, right-wing America has deepened its commitment towards uninformed policy positions and demonstrates a lack of empathy regarding health care and the pro-life position, and a lack of planetary awareness regarding climate change.

In Chapter Six, Jouet devotes time to understanding how Americans vote against their economic interests, blaming anti-intellectualism among right-wingers, and makes an important connection between religious fundamentalism and market fundamentalism. He also points out how a racial divide due to slavery, segregation, and structural racism has kept white America from joining forces with minorities to form a class-based political identity.

Jouet is also quick to point out that what many Americans call patriotism is really nationalism: believing in the myth of “American exceptionalism”, which is simply a not-so-subtly coded way of saying the USA is superior to every other nation. There is a knowledge gap regarding world affairs that continues to slide Americans into a more insular, venal attitude towards the international community. Jouet provides startling statistics about how little Americans know about world geography, history, and international leaders. He does not, however, offer much of a model going forward as to how to stem the tide of anti-intellectualism in the US.

Towards the end of the book, Jouet touches on the rise of authoritarian nationalism which is rising around the world, citing the election of Trump, and the National Front’s influence in France. Jouet is very smart, and informed about many nation’s politics and culture, yet he either does not have the inclination or the background to connect the problems of American ignorance, religious fundamentalism, market neoliberalism, and imperialism back to our system of ever-increasing exploitation and inequality due to capitalism. Jouet offers the tepid liberal trope that Americans, if better educated, should and will accept a social democratic system, citing Sweden and Japan as models where wealth inequality is relatively low and standards of living and general happiness are high.

Unfortunately, although Jouet acknowledges that “social democracy will not lead to utopian societies in America, Europe, or elsewhere”, his mild call for what some call a “New New Deal”, while laudable, will fall on deaf ears. American political leaders, the “elite”, are mentally unfit for office (see Trump, Donald) and are not prepared to listen, take advice, or think rationally, just as in the start of the book, his judges were not willing to heed his well-reasoned argument for a reduced sentence for his defendant.

What Jouet and other well-meaning progressives fail to see is that the US elite are not simply anti-intellectual, or market and religious extremists: they are unhinged, mentally ill, and represent a clear and present danger to the world. Jouet’s call for social democracy and redistribution is like the progressive version of Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again”, except in liberal-left form, it would go something like: “Make America Keynesian Again”.  Jouet and other progressives do not want to face facts: mainstream American culture and its political system are in a steep decline, and reforming around the edges is not going to solve the core issues at the dark heart of neoliberal capitalism. Only a radical restructuring of the economy with a new emphasis on sustainability, the interdependence of nations, and international solidarity with the meek of the world, with transnational bodies able to share resources, food, medicine, and technology, will be able to guarantee a future for all of us. That would be a truly exceptional path for us to take.

 

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Lies That Capitalists Tell Us

By William Hawes and Jason Holland

CounterPunch, June 26, 2017

 

While idiotic supporters of our two-party system wring their hands over the sensationalist nonsense reported by the mainstream media, we thought it might be worth touching on the most dangerous lie of all-time: capitalism. It’s an all-encompassing delusion, including: the myth of continual technological progress, the mendacious assumptions of endless economic growth, the lie that constant bombardments of media and consumer goods make us happy,  and the omissions of our involvement in the exploitation of the planet and the resources of distant, poorer nations, among other things.

We’ve taken the time to hash out some of the most pernicious mendacities we’ve come across in our (relatively) young lives, in the workplace, in our private lives, and in the media. ***

Please share these counter-arguments far and wide, in order to educate your fellow citizens, and, if necessary, to provide the intellectual beat-downs needed when arguing with pro-capitalists. So without further ado, here is our list of the most devious “Lies that Capitalists Tell Us”:

1) Wealth will “trickle down”

It’s hard to believe an economic policy that conjures images of urination could be wrong, but the idea is as bankrupt as the lower classes who have been subjected to the trickling. Less than ten people now have the financial wealth equivalent to half the planet, and the trickling seems a lot more like a mad cash-grab by the (morally bankrupt) elites. Rather than trickle down, the 1% and their lackeys have hovered up the majority of new wealth created since the 2008 crash. After 40 years of stagnant wages in the US the people feel more shit on than trickled upon.

It’s not a mistake that the elite reap most of the profits: the capitalist system is designed this way, it always has been, and will be, until we the people find the courage to tear it down, and replace it with something better.

2) I took all the risks

It can be argued the average employee takes far more risks in any job than the average person who starts a business with employees. The reason being is that the person starting a business usually has far more wealth, where most Americans can’t afford a 500 dollar emergency. Meaning if they lose a job or go without work for any stretch it means some tough decisions have to be made. A person with even a failing business cannot be fired, but the employee can be fired for almost any reason imaginable, they are operating without a net at all times.

The capitalist uses all sorts of public infrastructure to get his/her company off the ground. From everything to the roads to get you to your job, colleges, public utilities, tax breaks, electricity, etc. Even the internet itself was created from public research. Yet still, elite business owners still have the audacity, and are so full of hubris, that they believe in the hyper-individualist, macho, rugged-cowboy/pioneer façade they affect.

3) I could pay you more if there were less government regulations

Many capitalists argue that layers of government bureaucracy prevent them from paying their employees a fairer, living wage. This is a huge whopper, as our regulations (like no child labor, a minimum wage, disability and worker’s compensation, basic environmental impact studies, etc) actually provide safety against the worst type of exploitation of workers and destruction of the land by corporations. Without these minimum regulations, an age of even more outright neo-feudalism would occur, where employees could be layed-off and rehired ad-infinitum, based on downward market wage forces, at the wishes of ever-more capricious owners, management, and CEOs.

4) If you work hard, one day you can be rich like us (We live in a meritocracy)

America is not a meritocracy, and no one should think it is. There exists no tie to the intelligence of work done or the amount of it that guarantees success. Rather to be rich depends more on either being born into it, or being exceptionally good at exploiting others so one may take the bulk of the proceeds for themselves. This is the magic formula for wealth in this ever so “exceptional” land – exploit, exploit, exploit.

Inheritance & exploitation is how the rich get rich. To understand the exploitation aspect takes some understanding of how the rich function. Next to none of the super rich become that way solely by meritocracy. Their income is created through complex webs of utilizing leverage usually to extract some form of passive income. They are the rentier class or con artists, or both.

You only have to look at what the rich are dabbling in. Like Robert Mercer for instance, who made his money via “a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets.” . Skimming money off corrupt financial markets hardly seems like a worthwhile activity that contributes anything to humanity, it’s a hustle.

Or take Bill Gates, who did some programming for a few years, poorly, and became rich by landing a series of deals with IBM initially, and then by passively making money off the share values of Microsoft. The late Steve Jobs may have been one of the more hands-on billionaires, but even he required thousands of enslaved asian hands to extract the kind profits Apple was able to make.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson almost certainly has organized crime links, as if owning a casino wasn’t enough of a con to begin with.

Rich DeVos became a billionaire by running a pyramid scheme most are familiar with called Amway.

The Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart, pays a median wage of 10 bucks an hour (far below a living wage), they strong arm vendors, and also rely on products made with working conditions that resemble old world slavery, while having more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans.

There’s just no way to make that kind of money without having a major market advantage and then profiteering off it. Lie, cajole, coerce, manipulate, bribe, rig, and hustle. These are the tools of the rich.

No one is worth this kind of money and everyone needs each other’s help to function, but in the minds of the rich they consider themselves the primary cogs in the machine worthy of their money for doing not much else than holding leverage over others and exploiting it.

5) This is as good as it gets (there is no alternative, TINA)

Through a process of gaslighting and double bind coercion the choices we are fed are propagandized via controlled media outlets owned and operated by elites. We are told our choices must be between the democrats or republicans, attacking the Middle East or face constant terrorism, unfettered capitalism or state run communism. We are given binary choices that lack all nuance, and nuance is the enemy of all those who seek to control and exploit. They feed us a tautology of simpleton narratives which unfortunately do exactly what they hoped, keep people dumb and biting on their red herrings.

Capitalists make it seems as if there is no alternative because they hoard all the money, have all the hired guns, and pay off teams of servile lawyers, judges, and lobbyists to write and enforce their anti-life laws. Capitalists demand “law and order” whenever their servant classes get too restless. In general, the most hardened, dogmatic capitalists exhibit bewilderment and/or disgust at genuine human emotions like joy, creativity, spontaneity, and love. Many capitalists have an unconscious death wish, and want to drag the rest of us and the mother Earth down with them.

Capitalists have stolen all the farmlands, hold all the patents to technology, and don’t pay enough to mass amounts of citizens to get out of the rat race and get back to the land, to live off of. The screws are turned a little tighter every year. If we are not done in by massive natural disasters or an economic collapse, expect a revolution to occur, hopefully a non-violent one.

6) We give back to the community

Corporations set out to create non-profits as a public relations move. They cause the problems and then put small band-aids on the gaping wounds they have directly contributed to and use the charity as a source of plausible deniability to obscure the fact that they are exactly what we think they are: greedy.

Handing out bread-crumbs after you’ve despoiled, desecrated, and bulldozed millions of hectares of valuable habitat is not fooling anyone. The elite one-percenters are the enemies of humankind and the biosphere itself.

7) The system (and economic theory) is rational and takes into account social and environmental costs

People tend to think someone somewhere is regulating things to keep us safe. They look around and see sophisticated technology, gleaming towers in the sky, and what they believe to be is a complex intelligent world. But in truth no one is running the show. The world functions as a mad cash grab driven by neo-liberal ideology. Our leaders are driven by power, fame, and money, and exhibit strong psychopathic, sociopathic, and narcissistic traits.

The problems of modern industrial capitalism and its impact on the world is clear – our exploitation of the resources, people, and other species are a direct result of our consumer based infinite growth model. Just a few of the problems we face are species extinction, climate change, ocean acidification, and a toxic carcinogen filled trash dump of a planet that reached population overshoot decades ago.

If the system was rational, we would begin planning to lower birth rates to decrease the world’s population, and voluntarily provide education, decent, dignified jobs, as well as birth control and contraception to women worldwide.

We live by money values, and think in money terminology. When we discuss healthcare the topic arises about how to pay for it before nearly anything else. The priority isn’t on saving lives but how to pay for things. Yes, how will we pay for healthcare when banks can create money on a computer through the magic of fractional reserve banking, which they often use to bail out their crony friends. The money isn’t real but the implications of restricting it from the populace are. Money is created out of thin air by the magic of the Federal Reserve, yet we have all heard our bosses, and the pricks in Washington complaining that “we don’t have enough money for that” when it comes to healthcare, improving schools, and humanitarian relief for the poorest parts of the world.

Again, if the system was rational, world poverty would be solved within a few short years. Money destined for weapons and “defense” could be used domestically as well as abroad to Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, and there is more than enough money (75 trillion is the annual world GDP, approximately 15 trillion in the US alone) to pay for a good home, clothing, and food for every family worldwide, with an all-renewable powered energy grid.

8) The future will be better

When Trump’s slogan make America great again was on the lips of every alt-right fascist, most of us stopped to ask, when was it great? The truth is that politicians have been promising something better since the inception of this country and better has never arrived.

There is always another expensive war to fight and another financial meltdown occurring on average every eight years. Wait, you might say, what about those sweet post-WWII growth years brought about by the New Deal? The sad truth is those years were only materially beneficial to white, middle-class men, who were highly sexist, racist, and complicit in incubating today’s consumer-driven Empty Society.

The post-WWII era was an aberration in our history and the result of having more jobs available than people, but as the country rapidly exploited its natural resources and reached the limits of linear growth while the population exploded the leverage that allowed people to have higher wages receded. Even though efficiency increased enormously, the people lost leverage to demand higher wages.

Without leverage held by the people capitalism will return to its status quo goal – exploit, and that’s just what it did. In the US, corporations grew richer and the people grew poorer starting from the mid 1970’s to the present.

9) It’s Just Business

Employees devote years of their lives to companies and when they are let go they are told it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. This is how all bad news is delivered even when personal, it’s says we are cold-hearted organizations that adhere to a bottom line first and human needs second. So know when they say “it’s just business” what they are saying is understand we are sharks, and acting like a shark is just what we do.

This is also the logic behind defending war crimes and similar atrocities. Nations like the US claim they have a “responsibility to protect” civilians from terrorists. Then, when American bombs kill civilians (or their proxies use US-made weapons), they are referred to as “collateral damage”.

10) Financial markets & debt are necessary

The health of the entire economy is too often gauged by the stock markets. But the reality about financial markets is they are extraneous gambling machines designed to place downward pressure on companies to post good numbers to elevate share prices. These financial markets funnel capital to a smaller and smaller number of multinational corporations every year, and perpetuate non-linear economic growth (and therefore more pollutants, CO2, pesticides, strip mining, razing of forests) that is killing the planet.

Debt is the most fundamental lie in our economy. Money is only supposed to be a tool to move goods efficiently around a market, but for money itself to be a wealth engine is a Ponzi scheme. And we all know how that ends.

 

 

*** For a wider taste of our oeuvre, visit Reason Bowl Radio to watch Jason expose the Trump administration for the sorry sacks of shit that they are, and discuss current events, as well as Jason and Bill’s commentary and ramblings about topics such as psychedelics, the nature of consciousness, and reflections on how to effect social change.

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Interview with Muslim Press

Muslim Press, June 25, 2017

 

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a huge arms deal with the Saudis despite the monarchy’s atrocities in Yemen. How would this deal and Trump’s actions affect the region?

William Hawes: This will only embolden the Saudis to ramp up their war against Yemen. And remember, it’s not just weapons and technology that the US is providing. The US and the UK have military officers in Saudi Arabia providing intelligence, military strategy, satellite imagery, etc. So, the Americans and Brits are really a driving force behind this war. Even with all their high-tech death gadgets, the Saudi military is hopelessly inept, so any gains are soon taken away by the toughness of the Houthis.

The losers, of course, will be the Yemeni people, who are already enduring massive hardship, thousands of deaths, starvation and childhood malnutrition, mass poverty, many people whose lives have been shattered. It’s an absolute tragedy.

Also, Tehran will be watching very carefully and taking calculated, defensive steps to counteract this buildup of military hardware in the region.

Since Trump’s inauguration, he has conducted massive military attacks in some Middle Eastern countries including Syria and Afghanistan. What’s your take on his foreign policy regarding the Middle East?

William Hawes: To say that the Trump administration has any decipherable foreign policy at all is a stretch. American foreign policy spreads death and chaos around the globe, and at a pace which seemingly gets worse every year. I believe I just read recently that Trump’s “amazing generals” are conducting something like four times the amount of drone strikes compared to Obama. And Obama launched more strikes than Bush Jr. The “leaders” in Washington are mindless killers, war criminals, with no moral compass. US foreign policy is becoming increasingly divorced from reality, with extremely dangerous implications for the entire world.

In his campaign, Trump made various statements which gave a sliver of hope that he would not intervene in the Middle East. It seems now that has changed, as the rhetoric coming out of Washington is increasingly anti-Assad and anti-Iran. You can bet that the sniveling, cowardly regimes in Tel Aviv and Riyadh are pleased.

In terms of a wider view, US foreign policy hasn’t changed much since 2001. Wesley Clark was told around 2003 that the US would be “taking out” seven countries in five years, and while here we are sixteen years later, they’re still in the process of trying to do that. So the foreign policy is to divide and conquer, keep any potential regional power from rising and establishing hegemony in the Middle East, even a peaceful rise, whether that’s Turkey or Iran. This was spelled out in the Yinon Plan, authored by a former Israeli policymaker, which described how the Middle East could be balkanized by dividing its peoples along ethnic and religious lines.

What’s your take on the recent row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Washington’s role in it?

William Hawes: I’d say at this point Washington’s role is still hazy. There have been differences and conflicts between Riyadh and Doha for a long time now. The Saudis might be feeling brave because they assume they have special relationship with the Trump administration, and want to extract concessions from Qatar. It’s no secret the Saudis oppose the populist political Islam that the Qataris are engaged in, between Al Jazeera’s popularity and Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Trump has also tried to ban citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The list, however, excluded Saudi Arabia. What does that tell us?

William Hawes: This tells us the ban is ideological, and based on ignorance, racism, and fear, rather than logic. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabians, but there was no travel ban imposed after the attack. What it says it that the US doesn’t care about human rights. As long as you sell America oil, buy our weapons, and are aligned with US geostrategic imperatives (i.e., dominating the world), US leaders don’t care if you start wars with your neighbors, oppress women, or torture and behead your own citizens.

 

 

 

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Pay Attention: The Police State is Here

CounterPunch, June 8, 2017

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and the realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

-Rachel Carson

“We are who we are waiting for

We can make a change”

-the author, singing to his daughter recently

 

There’s a storm coming, folks. The police state has already been with us awhile now. The two attacks in the UK could be a preview of things to come, even across the pond, here in the US.

Just two weeks before the UK elections, we’ve seen two horrific incidents in Manchester and London. Is this a coincidence? One wonders whether these attacks have been orchestrated or allowed to happen by the US-UK intelligence services to swing the vote towards Theresa May. The most recent attack on June 3rd could even be a distraction from Trump’s reneging on the Paris Agreement. Or perhaps the play is to ratchet up public fear for a possible US-UK-backed war against Syria or Iran. How deep down the rabbit hole are you prepared to look?

In a recent essay, John Pilger destroys the UK official narrative that Abedi, the supposed perpetrator of the Manchester bombing, wasn’t well known among intelligence agencies. If Abedi, his father, and other Libyan jihadis were allowed travel all over the UK and Europe, it’s fairly certain they were some sort of patsies or agents of UK spymasters and their military-corporate overlords. At least one of the London attackers was also reported to the authorities, who apparently did nothing.

Don’t be so naïve to think that it couldn’t happen this way. Since WWII, the Anglo-American axis has destroyed North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the list goes on. US-UK black ops have been coordinating and killing anti-capitalists, revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, and human rights activists like Oscar Romero for decades. US intelligence has in the past cooked up such treachery and villainy as Operation Northwoods, the attack on the USS Liberty, almost certainly was involved in JFK’s assassination, and has overthrown and killed elected leaders in Guatemala, Iran, Chile, the Congo, Haiti, and more.

Soon, there could easily be a lockdown in London, perhaps in other UK cities, in France and/or Germany, and possibly even here in the US if things deteriorate. The blowback from our wars in the Middle East and North Africa region are coming back to haunt us with a vengeance.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the necessary urgency among many self-described Leftists, activists, and journalists, even those in the alternative media.

I don’t mean to scare, my aim is to prepare. We all have to start making preparations to transform our lives, individually and collectively.

For starters, peace activists must form a movement to remove all NATO troops from the most severe conflict areas: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Further, we must vacate all US bases from overseas, and put an end to the multiplying special operations around the world and increasingly in Africa, as Nick Turse explains here.

The media is going to do everything it can to spook us into submission, into obeying the orders of our politicians. We must resist this mainstream “culture of fear”. This fear is pervasive in mainstream politics.

There is a sort of sixth sense that we all have, observing the energies that different people give off, which cannot be quantified or empirically observed by science, yet exists nonetheless. There’s a sort of ominous aura that emanates from mainstream talking heads as well as our political and military leaders.

There is very low frequency energy; fearful, dark, unstable energetic vibrations occurring when you watch a blowhard imperialist on CNN or Fox News, or watch a leader such as Trump, Obama, Bush, or Clinton speak. The same applies to foreign leaders like Xi, Duterte, Putin, Erdogan. They worship power and money. Passively viewed by millions who accept their arguments based on authority, this dark energy is disseminated and transferred, the populace inculcated to support the leader’s worldview, and compassionate humanitarian instincts atrophy.

Power is given to an unaccountable few, trauma is transmitted, societies become divided, democracy is shattered, the fear and blood-craving is reproduced, and you’ve created an obedient mass of killers, and those too cowardly to speak out against the atrocities. There are so many little Eichmanns now, around the world.

To rise above this, anti-war activists and non-violent protestors must continue the epic struggle to raise consciousness, to continue to give off “good vibrations”. Part of that means not being frustrated and outraged over every political fiasco: there is nothing new here, those in power are simply doing what they’ve always done, spreading chaos and death.

Activists must begin to hold attention. The technocratic neoliberal era is waning, and right-wing authoritarians are ascending power worldwide. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event of our planet, with species disappearing at about 1000 times the background rate. Overpopulation and lack of resources are fueling ethnic conflicts in Syria and South Sudan, most notably. There must be a voluntary worldwide acknowledgment to begin lowering the world’s population right now, to avoid ecosystem destruction and present and future human generations from the ever-increasing chances of mass devastation.

This year, twenty million people are at risk of starving, the highest since WWII. The world is soon headed for another large-scale recession at the least, despite what the Wall Street lucre-worshippers may say. Most of the developing world has been dealing with imperialism and colonialism for centuries. They know collapse, because they’ve always been living in it, as have their ancestors.

The predictable repressive and authoritarian response to come by the UK government in response to these attacks can be viewed as a form of social collapse. It reveals a cultural deafness, and a lack of critical thought in regard to the plight of those killed, maimed, and traumatized by war. It also reveals a wide-ranging ignorance of how Western-NATO backed war fans the flames of hatred and terrorism. Immigrants, refugees, minorities, and terrorists are denounced as invaders, as inherently “evil”, with no social or historical analysis as to the root causes.

Neoliberalism now lies in ruins. The oppressive propaganda of mainstream media is no longer working, and Western populaces are revolting, although the true enemies, sexism, racism, class warfare, poverty, and militarism, are not addressed. The real issues have been displaced by the elite one-percenters and their quislings, who conjure up pseudo-conflicts in order to distract from the real issues of our age.

This is the sort of social disintegration that Nietzsche foresaw when he defined the “Last Man”, the coward who will always choose comfort, security, and material affluence over the hard struggle for liberation of the human spirit. With the socio-cultural collapse already well underway, and no left movement to hit the brakes on neoliberal globalization, the material and economic collapse is the next logical step, and nearly inevitable at this point.

Of course, the crumbling of the empire will fall hardest on the developing world, and if systemic change doesn’t occur, the West will continue to lie, turn its eyes away, obfuscate, and give token gestures to those less fortunate in order to assuage its own guilt.

Another aspect to consider is that presidents and prime ministers get what they want, if not in the legislature, but in the realm of geopolitics. Many times, it would seem they don’t even have to ask. Thus, we can imagine that just as some statements are dog-whistles for voters, other public speeches could be considered dog-whistles for the military and intelligence communities.

When May calls for a “strong and stable” country, when Trump tweets that “if we don’t get smart it will only get worse” regarding terrorism, one can imagine fascist spooks and military officers would be willing, if not outright excited, to conspire to carry out false flags on behalf of their authoritarian masters.

Only a civically engaged and vigilant, united public can combat such barbarism. It must be acknowledged that if the US and UK governments are willing to commit mass atrocities abroad; there is no reason to believe they haven’t and will not try it domestically, to rally support for an ever-expanding police state.

There isn’t time to wait around to elect a new congress or president: our representatives are controlled by corporations and lobbyists in the current system. Only a mass protest movement, coordinated in all major cities and Washington DC, practicing nonviolence and civil disobedience, and promoting egalitarian democracy, social justice, and ecological wisdom, will be able to smash the power structure.

The time to act is now, the stakes have never been higher, and there are no superhero saviors waiting in the wings: we are who we’ve been waiting for.

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