Get Ready for the Next Game-Changer: the Digital Yuan

Source

May 06, 2020

Get Ready for the Next Game-Changer: the Digital Yuan

by Pepe Escobar – cross.posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

A new, radical paradigm shift is in progress. The U.S. economy may shrink as much as 40% in the first semester of 2020. China, already the world’s largest economy by PPP for a few years now, may soon become the world’s largest economy even in exchange rate terms.

The post-Planet Lockdown world – still a hazy mirage – may well need a post-Planet Lockdown currency. And that’s where a serious candidate steps into the fray: the fiat digital yuan.

Last month, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) confirmed that a group of top banks started trials in electronic payment in four different Chinese regions using the new digital yuan. Yet there’s no timetable yet for the official launch of what is called the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP).

The man with the plan is PBOC governor Yi Gang. He has confirmed that apart from the trials in Suzhou, Xiong’an, Chengdu and Shenzhen, the PBOC is also testing hypothetical scenarios for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

While DCEP, according to Yi, “has made very good progress,” he insists the PBOC will be “cautious in terms of risk control, especially to study anti money-laundering and ‘know your customer’ requirements to incorporate in the design and system of DCEP.”

DCEP should be interpreted as the road map for China leading to an eventual, even more groundbreaking replacement of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. China is already ahead in the digital currency sweepstakes: the sooner DCEP is launched the better to convince the world, especially the Global South, to tag along.

The PBOC is developing the system with four top state-owned banks as well as payment behemoths Tencent and Ant Financial.

mobile app developed by the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) is already circulating on WeChat. This is in effect an interface linked to DCEP. Moreover, 19 restaurants and retail establishments including Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway are part of the pilot testing.

China is advancing fast on the whole digital spectrum. A Blockchain Service Network (BSN) was launched not only for domestic but also for global trade purposes. A large committee is supervising BSN, including executives from the PBOC, Baidu and Tencent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Backed by gold

So what does this all mean?

Well connected banking sources in Hong Kong have told me Beijing is not interested for the yuan to replace the U.S. dollar – for all the interest across the Global South in bypassing it, especially now that the petrodollar is in a coma.

The official Beijing position is that the U.S. dollar should be replaced by an IMF-approved Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket of currencies (dollar, euro, yuan, yen). That would eliminate the heavy burden of the yuan as the sole reserve currency.

But that may be just a diversionist tactic in an environment of all-out information war. A basket of currencies under the IMF still implies U.S. control – not exactly what China wants.

The meat of the matter is that a digital, sovereign yuan may be backed by gold. That’s not confirmed – yet. Gold could serve as a direct back up; to back bonds; or just lay there as collateral. What’s certain is that once Beijing announces a digital currency backed by gold, it will be like the U.S. dollar being struck by lightning.

Under this new framework, nations won’t need to export more to China than they import so they have enough yuan to trade. And Beijing won’t have to keep printing yuan electronically – and artificially, as in the case of the U.S. dollar – to meet trade demands.

The digital yuan will be effectively backed up by the massive amount of Made in China goods and services – and not by a transoceanic Empire of 800 Bases. And the value of the digital yuan will be decided by the market – as it happens with bitcoin.

This whole process has been years in the making, part of serious discussions started already in the late 2000s inside BRICS summit meetings, especially by Russia and China – the core strategic partnership inside the BRICS.

Considering multiple strategies to progressively bypass the U.S. dollar, starting with bilateral trade in their own currencies, Russia and China, for instance, set up a Russia-Chian RMB Cooperation Fund three years ago.

Beijing’s strategy is carefully calibrated, like playing go long-term. Apart from methodically stockpiling gold in massive quantities (just like Russia) for seven years now, Beijing has been campaigning for a wider use of SDR while making sure to not position the yuan as a strategic competitor.

But now the post-Planet Lockdown environment is shaping up as ideal for Beijing to make a move. Even before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis the predominant feeling among the leadership was that China is under a full spectrum attack by the United States government. Hybrid War already reaching fever pitch implies bilateral relations will only get worse, not better.

So when we have China as the world’s largest economy by both PPP and exchange rate; still the strongest growing major economy, barring the first semester of 2020; productive, innovative, efficient and on track to reach a higher technological level with the Made in China 2025 program; and capable of winning the “people’s war” against Covid-19 in record time, all the necessary elements seem to be in place.

But then, there’s soft power. Beijing needs to have the Global South on its side. The United States government knows it very well; no wonder the current hysteria is all about demonizing China as “guilty” on all – unproved – counts of fostering and lying about Covid-19.

An “impeding arrival”

A key advantage of a sovereign digital yuan is that Beijing does not need to float a paper yuan – which by the way is being sidelined all across China itself, as virtually everyone is switching to electronic payment.

The digital yuan, using blockchain technology, will automatically float – thus bypassing the U.S.-controlled global financialized casino.

The amount of sovereign digital currency is fixed. That in itself eliminates a plague: quantitative easing (QE), as in helicopter money. And that leaves the sovereign digital currency as the preferred medium for trade, with currency transfers unimpeded by geography and, the icing on the cake, without banks charging outrageous fees as intermediaries.

Of course there will be pushback. As in non-stop demonization of neo-Orwellian China for straying away from the whole purpose of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies – which is to have freedom from a centralized structure via decentralized ownership. There will be howls of horror at the PBOC potentially capable of seizing anyone’s digital funds or turning off a wallet if the owner displeases the CCP.

China is on it, but the U.S., UK, Russia and India are also on their way to launch their own crypto-currencies. For obvious reasons, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), the Central Bank of Central Banks, is very much aware that the future is now. Their research with over 50 Central Banks is unmistakable: we are facing an “impeding arrival”. But who will take the Biggest Prize?

The Trump Presidency and the Coming Conflict Between Europe and America

Global Research, January 20, 2017
World Socialist Web Site 19 January 2017
Trump-UE

Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States heralds an unprecedented deterioration in post-war relations between the US and Europe, above all between the US and Germany.

The January 20 ceremony was preceded by an interview with Trump in Britain’s Sunday Times and Germany’s Bild newspaper. His remarks were a broadside against the institutions that have constituted the basis of the post-World War II European order.

Trump praised Britain’s exit from the European Union, describing the EU as a vehicle for German domination and predicting that “others will leave.” He added, “Look, the EU was formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade, OK? So, I don’t really care whether it’s separate or together, to me it doesn’t matter.”

Trump threatened Germany’s auto industry with sanctions and attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel, blaming her refugee policy for destabilising Europe. He also opposed sanctions against Russia, while declaring that he believed the NATO alliance was “obsolete.”

Never before has a US president set as his explicit goal the breakup of the EU. Trump made clear in his interview that he was seeking to pit the UK against Germany and he solidarised himself with the UK Independence Party and other right-wing anti-EU parties.

The response from Europe’s political elite was uniformly hostile. In Germany, Merkel replied, “I think we Europeans hold our fate in our own hands.” Sigmar Gabriel of Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, insisted, “We must not adopt a servile attitude now… In dealing with Trump, we need German self-confidence and a clear stance.”

French President Francois Hollande said that “transatlantic cooperation” will from now on be based on Europe’s own “interests and values.”

Europe’s think tanks and media predicted escalating militarism and an eruption of nationalist tensions. “EU member states will have to consider increasing strategic autonomy by reinforcing collective defence inside the EU,” said Felix Arteaga of the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid.

Judy Dempsey of Carnegie Europe wrote that Trump “might rekindle old fears of German encirclement” by encouraging a “gang-up on Germany.” She added, “Since that is the new political outlook, Europe and Germany have to respond.”

In the Guardian, Natalie Nougayrède suggested, “Europe may witness a return to spheres of influence… with governments rushing to try to secure their own interests whatever the cost to neighbours and the continent’s future.”

Trump’s “America First” positions represent a seismic shift in US political relations with Europe. The Christian Science Monitor cited John Hulsman, a transatlantic affairs specialist, berating the “European elites” for having “grown accustomed to ‘Wilsonian’ American leaders who left unquestioned America’s leadership of the postwar internationalist system,” and not adjusting quickly enough to “a ‘Jacksonian’ and more nationalist US worldview promoted by Trump.”

Until now, however, such unilateralist tendencies were generally in abeyance. The American ruling class recognised that their unrestrained application would undermine its ability to exercise effective global hegemony. One of the issues animating hostility toward Trump within the US intelligence agencies in connection with his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin is their belief that a Russian “bogeyman” is essential to preserve the framework through which the US has long exercised its dominance within Europe, via NATO and the EU.

The last time tensions emerged sharply between the US and Europe was in 2003, during the run-up to the Iraq War, when US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denounced France and Germany for failing to support the US in Iraq. Rumsfeld called the two countries “old Europe” and counterposed to them the states of Eastern Europe.

On January 26 that year, the World Socialist Web Site published a perspective comment by David North titled “How to deal with America? The European dilemma,” which addressed the historic significance of that conflict.

North explained that America’s postwar relationship with Europe between 1945 and 1991 “was determined fundamentally by its appraisal of its own essential economic and geopolitical interests within the specific context of the Cold War.” He continued: “America’s attitude toward Europe was determined by the overriding need to (1) enforce the isolation of the Soviet Union and minimize its influence in Western Europe (“containment”) and (2) prevent social revolution at a time when the European working class was extremely militant and highly politicized.

“The United States’ emphasis during that period on its alliance with Western Europe was, in fact, a departure from the historical norm. The more basic tendency of American capitalism, rooted in its somewhat belated emergence as a major imperialist power, had been to augment its world position at the expense of Europe.”

North then wrote:

“The collapse of the Soviet Union fundamentally altered the international framework upon which postwar diplomatic relations were based. There was no longer any need for the United States to prop up the Western European bourgeoisie as a line of defense against the Soviet Union. Moreover, the demise of the USSR created a vacuum of power that the United States was determined to exploit to its own advantage.”

In this context, he cited the prophetic warning made by Leon Trotsky in 1928:

In the period of crisis the hegemony of the United States will operate more completely, more openly, and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom. The United States will seek to overcome and extricate herself from her difficulties and maladies primarily at the expense of Europe, regardless of whether this occurs in Asia, Canada, South America, Australia, or Europe itself, or whether this takes place peacefully or through war.”

The dilemma anticipated in 2003 now assumes its full significance. Sections of the US bourgeoisie continue to be deeply opposed to Trump’s attacks on the EU and Germany, with outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry describing Merkel as “courageous” and Trump’s remarks as “inappropriate.” But regardless of such disagreements, the US is being objectively driven on a steep trajectory toward trade war and protectionism to counter the threat to its global hegemony due to economic decline, the challenge posed by the rise of China and other rival powers, and a series of military debacles suffered since 2003. This must inevitably provoke conflict with Europe.

No one can predict in detail the consequences of this geostrategic shift by the US—including what alliances Germany, France, the UK and Russia might eventually forge. To this must be added the precise role that may be played by China as a potential counterweight to America.

However, underlying all such developments will be an explosion of national antagonisms in which the corollary of Trump’s “America First” agenda will be demands to put “Germany First,” “Britain First” and “France First,” which can lead only to the fracturing of Europe into competing power blocs.

The project of European integration under capitalism is coming to an end, unleashing all of the political demons it was meant to have contained.

Nothing is left of the promise that closer political union and the Single Market would bring prosperity and peace. Instead, right-wing reaction and the growth of fascistic parties are taking place in every country. The European powers speak constantly of the need to militarise, even as NATO troops mass on Russia’s border, while austerity is the only issue on which they all agree.

The assault on the working class will worsen, as Berlin, Paris and London demand yet greater “national sacrifice” to compete against their rivals and pay the vast sums needed to rearm the continent.

The bourgeoisie has proved incapable of overcoming the fundamental contradiction between the integrated character of the global economy and the division of the world into antagonistic nation states based on private ownership of the means of production, which is once again driving them to a war for the redivision of the world.

The working class of Europe must proceed from an understanding that the post-war period, in which, since 1945, several generations have lived their lives, is over, and a new pre-war period has begun. It must assume responsibility for opposing the drive to austerity, militarism and war by all the imperialist powers.

Above all, it must seek the conscious unification of its struggles with those of workers in the United States and internationally. The explosion of working class opposition that Trump’s government of oligarchs and warmongers must inevitably provoke will provide the most powerful accelerant for the struggles of the European working class.


Is America Becoming a Third World Country?

Is America Becoming a Third World Country?

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 15.01.2017

Is America Becoming a Third World Country?

Conspiracy theories about Russia suggest that the awful prospect for the USA is of a global superpower with the domestic politics of the Philippines or Argentina

Anatol Lieven is a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and a member of the New America Foundation in Washington DC. He is author of several books on Russia, the USA and South Asia including (with John Hulsman) Ethical Realism: A Vision for America’s Role in the World

“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun.” — Reinhold Niebuhr

If the allegations about Russia holding a “sex tape” on President-elect Trump were to be proved true, he would of course have to resign or be impeached. Quite apart from the moral issues involved, a man guilty of such appalling recklessness, stupidity and irresponsibility should not be employed as a janitor or window-cleaner by any government in the world.

But although these allegations have been around behind the scenes ever since Trump first emerged as a serious contender for the Republican nomination, not one shred of verifiable evidence for them has yet been produced. All we have is the word of a conveniently vanished former British intelligence officer (and if anyone thinks that is a reliable source, then there is a dodgy dossier that I would like to sell them) that he had the information from unnamed Russian intelligence sources, backed by suggestions by unnamed US intelligence sources that this information is credible.

In any other context, such a story would be dismissed out of hand as a plot by sections of Western intelligence determined to wreck any attempt at reconciliation with Russia. And indeed, the lack of any actual evidence for the story was why for the best part of a year the media refused to publish it, until BuzzFeed did so a few days ago.

By its very nature, this story cannot be proved or disproved except by the Russian intelligence services, who cannot do so; because if they have such a tape they cannot reveal it without destroying a US president with whom they hope to co-operate and doing appalling permanent damage to US-Russian relations, and when they say that they don’t have it they are automatically disbelieved by all those people in the West determined to think the worst of Trump and of Russia.

So this rancid story will almost certainly never be ended one way or another – as was doubtless the expectation of its manufacturers if, in fact, it was manufactured. It will simply lurk around for years, weakening the Trump administration and blocking attempts at better relations with Russia, until the Trump administration comes to an end, when – like the Whitewater stories about the Clintons – it will retire again to its natural home on the wilder shores of the internet.

But the damage will have been done, and American democracy further poisoned, as it has been over the years by equally irresponsible and unproven conspiracy theories about Democratic presidents assiduously peddled by Republican extremists. Breitbart – to take only one example – should pay attention to this, and learn that all sides can play this miserable game.

The dangers of this for the US political system are especially vivid for me because of my work in Pakistan and other countries where the entire national intellect and public debate is addled and rotted by conspiracy theories which act as a substitute for serious thought about politics and essential but painful reforms. In this way, such conspiracy theories also serve the interests of the political and economic elites, which have the strongest interest in making sure that such reforms never take place. The result is to help hold in place a system of oligarchical rule in which different factions of the oligarchy periodically stir up the population with empty populist rhetoric while adamantly resisting any serious change.

This may be the awful prospect for the USA if present trends continue – a global superpower with the domestic politics of the Philippines or Argentina. As part of the struggle against such a future, all responsible members of the US political system should reach a sort of cultural and ethical agreement to shun unsubstantiated stories of this kind, unless they have been actually proved.

Another dangerous aspect of such political systems is that they are acutely vulnerable to manipulation from outside. This brings me to the other main allegations against Russia, that of helping to fund Trump’s campaign and more importantly hacking the emails of the Democratic Party. The latter accusation does seem to have real evidence behind it. Incidentally, it is worth pointing out however that this was not “misinformation” as it has been called. No one has denied that the information about Hilary Clinton and her campaign was accurate; or that if a US journalist had revealed it, he or she would have been regarded as simply doing their job to give the electorate information that it did in fact have a right to know.

Above all, we need to remember that if the Russian government did in fact engage in these attempts to influence the US election, it was after all only imitating repeated and systematic US attempts to influence elections and undermine governments not just in the former USSR but in many other parts of the world. We need to remember this not just as a matter of fairness, and because we now know that we are vulnerable to retaliation in kind, but because this question goes to the heart of an old and fundamental issue in international relations: that of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a range of different state forms in the international community. This issue is of crucial importance to the future of US relations with a range of states around the world, chief among them China.

In his famous work on nationalism, Elie Kedourie drew attention to the terrifying innovation of the French Revolution in asserting that only a republican or “national” state enjoys real legitimacy – not just internally but on the world stage. All other forms can legitimately be undermined and destroyed by republican states; and treaties between republican and non-republican states are not fully binding on the legitimate republican ones. This approach recalled the attitude of both sides in the Catholic-Protestant struggles between the Reformation and the Peace of Westphalia, that (in the catholic version), “agreements with heretics are not morally binding”. As Kedourie pointed out, this approach challenged a previous European state order (both in medieval times and the 18th century) in which the continent was composed of a wide range of different state forms, including constitutional monarchies, federal quasi-monarchies, absolute monarchies, confederal republics, and patrician republics, all of them according full legitimacy to each other.

The Soviet Union and Communist China were the direct heirs of the French Revolution in this regard. The ruling Communist parties of these states held as a matter of doctrine that only socialist states were legitimate, and that all others were legitimate targets of subversion and eventually destruction by revolution backed by Moscow or Beijing. Of course, in practice the USSR proceeded much more cautiously than this, and (just as the USA has always cooperated with authoritarian and even totalitarian allies) so Moscow sought alliances with “bourgeois” states like India.

Nonetheless, the Communist principle remained, and the USSR did in fact seek to put it into effect wherever it could do so with reasonable safety. In Western Europe, throughout most of the Cold War Moscow backed Communist parties which sought (though with diminishing real commitment) to overthrow the existing political and economic systems of their countries. Fairly enough, the USA and the West reciprocated in kind, denying the legitimacy of Communist states, supporting individuals and movements aiming at their overthrow, and using Western intelligence services to this end.

With the arrival in power of Deng Xiao-ping in China and Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia, support for global revolution was ended and the full legitimacy of “bourgeois” states recognised; and for 25 years after the end of the Cold War and the end of the USSR, there was no attempt whatsoever by either Russia or China to undermine western states or influence domestic politics. There were of course attempts to influence US and Western international policies and especially policies towards Russia and China, but this was by the wholly legitimate and universally practiced means of encouraging business lobbies and sympathetic commentators.

In the meantime however, interference in the domestic politics of other states to spread democracy and undermine or destroy rivals had become a fixed part of US international strategy; with deep roots in American ideological nationalism, embedded in a range of official and semi-officials institutions, and apparently justified by the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the (as it now appears, perhaps temporary) democratisation of eastern Europe.

With regard to Russian domestic politics, US and western officials have openly encouraged opposition movements and appeared at opposition rallies; the West has provided institutional bases for Western opposition groups in exile and even in the case of some of the Chechens for members of armed separatist rebellions; and the CIA has published alleged details of President Putin’s corrupt personal fortune clearly intended to discredit him and his regime and strengthen their opponents.

In the process, the US and European policy elites forgot, or chose to ignore a number of things. Firstly, that it is never wise to adopt openly hostile approaches to other governments unless this is either really necessary from the point of view of your own interests and those of the world, or you are convinced that they cannot retaliate in kind. Secondly, it was not recognised that US involvement in domestic politics only worked where there was a consensus, at last at the elite level, that the national interests of the country concerned involved siding with the USA (as was true of the East Europeans in their desire to get away from Russia).

Wherever a national consensus – including among opponents of the regime – sees national interests as different from those of the USA, US attempts to influence domestic politics are likely to be suspected and resented as attempts to serve not democracy but the interests and power of the USA. This in turn only serves the regimes concerned, which can portray their domestic opponents as traitorous agents of the USA (a line now being taken by opponents of Trump in the USA). It can indeed be said without exaggeration that the only result of US involvement in domestic politics in Russia, China and Iran has been to strengthen the regimes of the countries concerned.

Finally – even after the catastrophes of Iraq and Libya – there is almost no awareness among US policymakers of the fact that US attempts to change the regimes of other countries are likely to be seen not only by the elites of those countries but also by their populations as leading to – and intended to lead to – the destruction of the state itself, leading to disaster for its society and population. When the Communist regime in the USSR collapsed (though only in part under Western pressure), it took the Soviet state with it. The Russian state came close to following suit in the years that followed, Russia was reduced to impotence on the world stage, and large parts of the Russian and other populations suffered economic and social disaster. Remembering their own past experiences with state collapse, warlordism, famine and foreign invasion, Chinese people looked at this awful spectacle and huddled closer to the Chinese state – one that they may dislike in many ways, but which they certainly trust more than anything America has to offer – especially given the apparent decay of democracy throughout the West.

In other words, US denial of legitimacy to other states, bringing with it the threat of domestic interference and subversion, is seen by those states and much of their populations as implicitly at least an existential threat; and such existential threats by definition make cooperative and peaceful relations much more difficult, if not impossible. This is a point made very cogently by Hugh White in his book The China Choice, in which he argues that a US recognition of the full legitimacy of the Chinese state is an essential part of establishing the US-Chinese relationship on a basis that will end the growing threat of catastrophic war.

Existential threats also of course virtually compel retaliation. This aspect has also been almost completely ignored by Western policy elites, whose entire approach (whether over domestic subversion, unilateral military action, regime change, or international sanctions) has been based on the belief that what is sauce for the goose will never under any circumstances be sauce for the gander. With the apparent involvement of Russia in the US electoral process over the past year, we can adapt the Prophet Isaiah to declare ait enim anser: The goose has spoken.

nationalinterest.org

The Winds of Change in the West

14-01-2017 | 08:23

The Winds of Change in the West

Darko Lazar

The influential liberal elites initially attempted to paint the outcome of last year’s US presidential race as proof of a functioning democratic political system.

Liberal ‘guru’ Francis Fukuyama wrote shortly after the election that, “Donald Trump’s impressive victory over Hillary Clinton on November 8 demonstrates that American democracy is still working in one important sense. Trump brilliantly succeeded in mobilizing a neglected and underrepresented slice of the electorate, the white working class, and pushed its agenda to the top of the country’s priorities.”

But today, the world is beginning to realize that Trump’s “impressive victory”, much like Britain’s decision to turn its back on the European Union, is part of a well-planned strategic shift by the west.

In both cases, the outcome is made to look like the result of ‘ordinary people’ taking to the ballot box and edging-out the competition.

And while this scenario may be possible, it is highly improbable.

The more likely scenario is that the two events – Trump’s victory and Brexit – are very much linked and are the result of deep schisms within the American and British political elites.

The grueling and merciless behind-the-scenes battles that unfolded during the race for the White House best exemplify these divisions. In that respect, Trump is not some lone warrior, but rather the face of one significant portion of the political elite in Washington, which had decided to abandon the liberal utopian agenda embodied by Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, the US is undoubtedly in the process of creating its own Perestroika. As such, both Trump’s win and Britain’s exit from the EU represent a pragmatic and well-planned response to the crippling economic and political crisis plaguing the western world.

The era of global dominance ends

The western political establishment was always divided between the US [in a broader sense, the Anglo-Saxon world, which also includes Canada, Australia, and New Zealand] on one side, and the European Union [which includes European states with Germany playing the role of a hegemonic power] on the other. Although serious cracks between these two poles began to appear during Obama’s second term in office, their so-called unity was guaranteed through the mobilization of ‘western allies’ against ‘Russian imperialism’.

However, deeper schisms existed at the core of each individual pole: in the US, the division between conservatives and liberals, and in the EU, between those favoring and those opposing Atlanticism.

These divisions were further exacerbated by a deepening crisis in the west, resulting in the crumbling of political unity, and the unstoppable decline of western military and economic might.

In his article titled, ‘Toward a Global Realignment’, Zbigniew Brzezinski argues that the US “is no longer the globally imperial power.”

“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture,” the former US National Security Adviser writes.

In other words, Brzezinski asserts that the best Washington can hope for is to preserve its advantage over its rivals, but not its position of a global hegemon.

Time is running out

The crises in Ukraine and Syria, which exposed the west’s weaknesses, the financial crisis, which came to the surface in 2008, and the endless wars against ‘terrorism’ are the main contributors to imperial ‘overstrain’.

Under such conditions, the fall of the last modern empire becomes only a question of when, rather than if.

Time is running out for Washington to make a radical policy U-turn and abandon the project of liberal utopianism.

Deep divisions in the US involving politics, class, race and ethnicity became evident even during George W. Bush’s second term. Since then, racially motivated violence has exploded across the country.

During the same period, the crisis deepened on the other side of the Atlantic. The influx of migrants only added fuel to the fire, raising suspicions that it was part of another project of the liberal elite, designed to turn Europe into a ‘multicultural utopian society’.

Thus, the EU has not only seized to be an attractive model, but the future of its very existence has come into question. Today the potential disintegration of this bloc can be predicted with a great deal of certainty.

The opinion columnist for the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, recently proclaimed that, “the European Union, the largest democratic club on Earth, could itself soon break up as Brexit-like movements spread across the continent.”

In his piece titled, ‘After a mere 25 years, the triumph of the West is over’, Krauthammer writes, “the autocracies are back and rising; democracy is on the defensive; the U.S. is in retreat… The West is turning inward and going home, leaving the field to the rising authoritarians – Russia, China and Iran.”

This is a short but nevertheless accurate description of the geopolitical reality, as Donald Trump prepares to take office on January 20.

America’s Mikhail Gorbachev

During his ascent to the post of president, Trump enjoyed the discrete and firm support from segments of the American political and economic elite, as well as a handful of intelligence agencies.

Faced with the new realities of the 21st century, these are the segments of the American establishment that have decided to survive, salvaging the remnants of the old empire.

Trump’s first and most important assignment is the consolidation of a new and fledgling America.

In the case that he fails, Trump could very well inherit the role played by Mikhail Gorbachev during the demise of the Soviet Union, and be remembered as the ‘administrator’ overseeing the deconstruction of the western empire.

Source: Al-Ahed News

 

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In this Manhattan gathering I examine the ideologiesthat were set to divide the  working people and their ability to resist Globalisation. I point at the bond between the New Left and Jewish progressive intelligentsia.

Those who are interested in my work may find this talk very interesting.

https://youtu.be/ewvTPCJl3F8

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Globalization is Over, Brexit is the Biggest Sign: The Guardian

Local Editor

De-globalizationIn an article written by Ruchir Sharma and posted by the British newspaper, The Guardian, Brexit is expected to be contagious to the extent of introducing the era of de-globalization.

What follows is the complete article:

In among the shock from the EU referendum result, the risk of contagion was raised. Analysts asked which EU country might leave next and whether this unraveling could shatter the postwar European order. A month later, it’s clear that Brexit was less a cataclysmic cause than a symptom; a manifestation of global forces unleashed by the 2008 global financial crisis, including slower growth, rising inequality, and a widening backlash against open borders and incumbent leaders.

Inside Europe the political earthquake is receding, with the installation of a new UK prime minister who, ostensibly, did not want to leave the EU. Yet even if Brexit does not herald the unraveling of Europe or of the global economy, it is the most important sign yet that the era of globalization as we have known it is over. De-globalization will be the new buzzword.

The world has entered what I call the AC era – after the crisis of 2008. It is already marked by much more upheaval than prevailed in the era before the crisis, and many of the policies and leaders that nations have embraced, hoping to ease the pain, have only made matters worse.

Worldwide, an anti-establishment revolt has been raging since the crisis. In 30 of the major democracies, the incumbent has been winning in as few as a third of national elections each year since 2008, down from two-thirds before that year. In the 20 top emerging and developed nations, the median approval rating of the incumbent leader has fallen from a high of 54% in the years before 2008, to just 37%.

Anger at incumbent governments is now widely seen as a boon to rightwing populists such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and some of the leaders of the Brexit campaign. This, however, is a revolt against the establishment, not an ideology, left or right.

In Europe and the US rightwing upstarts are exploiting the frustrations of the working class by blaming their woes on immigrants stealing jobs. But there is no such widespread rise of the populist right in Asia or Latin America, where voters have been toppling leftwing governments in favour of mainstream reformers like Mauricio Macri of Argentina, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru. A former World Bank economist ,whose first promise to Peruvians was to rebuild “consensus”, Kuczynski is about as far from angry populism as a president can get.

The ballot-box revolts are not isolated, local events. They have sprung from slow growth in the global economy, which has fallen since 2008 from its postwar average of 3.5% to just above 2%, the level that feels like a global recession. This is the weakest recovery of the postwar era, and until recently Europe was the hardest-hit region, having suffered not one but two recessions since 2008. It has thus been fertile ground for popular anger.

The popular frustration is amplified by rising inequality. To fight the global slowdown, central banks have been pumping out easy money. Instead of fuelling wage and job growth in the real economy, as intended, much of that money has found its way into financial assets, including stocks, bonds and housing – pushing prices to record highs. Because the rich own most of these assets, inequality is widening and spreading, and wealth is massing in financial capitals like New York and London. The period since 2008 has seen weak wage growth but spectacular returns for the wealthy: in Britain, wages are up 13%, but the stock market is up 115%.

This story repeats itself in country after country. In a recent study of 46 major economies, Credit Suisse found that prior to 2007, wealth inequality was on the rise in 12 of them; but after 2007, that number more than doubled to 35,.

In that brief span, the world population of billionaires nearly doubled to more than 1,800. More than 70 of them live in London – one of the highest concentrations in the world – making the British capital a ripe target for class resentments. In England proper the Brexit vote was, in large part, a vote against London, its globalised elite, and all they stand for, including free trade and open borders.

Here too, the British revolt is less a turning point than the latest flashpoint for the negative passions of the AC era. In late 2008 the G20 gathered at a summit and vowed not to engage in the kind of trade wars that extended the Great Depression. Then they went back home and have since imposed hundreds of new barriers to trade. This bout of protectionism has helped to slow growth in global trade from better than 8% before the crisis to near zero. Britain has turned inward too, imposing more than 200 new trade barriers after the global financial crisis – third most in the developed world after the US and Germany, according to the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

The hype for globalization that excited the era before the crash has given way now to fears of de-globalization, and the measures governments have taken to buffer economies against another crisis have only deepened this self-destructive trend. Driven in part by new limits on their overseas activities, global banks have pulled back to within their home borders. Global capital flows fell from a peak of 16% of global GDP in 2007 to just 1.6% – a level last seen in the 1980s. This retreat will act as a drag on economic growth, suggesting that every country needs to downsize its ambitions, or face new outbreaks of frustration.

The anti-immigrant movements that have gathered pace are the latest proof, and they come at an inopportune time. In countries rich and poor, women are having fewer and fewer children, a trend that predates the crisis of 2008. Since 1980 the number of countries with a shrinking population of working age people has risen from 2 to 38. And one of the only ways for any country to counter the economic shock of depopulation is by attracting immigrants.

In fact, Britain’s workforce would already be in decline too, were it not for relatively strong net migration, which brought in 900,000 people over the last five years. Though the challenges of assimilating foreign workers are real, so are the economic consequences of barring them: fewer workers will mean less growth.

But perhaps this outcome is unavoidable now. In the decades before 2008, the world economy expanded at it fastest pace in recorded history, thanks in part to greater freedom of movement for goods, capital and people. Unfettered globalization lifted millions of people out of poverty in the emerging world, but it also frayed the social fabric of many western nations. Brexit is just one manifestation of the anti-globalization backlash in the post-2008 era. The champions of that backlash are pushing policies that are likely only to exacerbate the global economic slowdown.

But the message from Brexit and similar movements is clear: economic growth may have to take a back seat while political leaders work to address the anger of those who believe that globalization has left them behind.

Source: Newspapers

29-07-2016 – 14:48 Last updated 29-07-2016 – 15:27

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I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!

Monday, 17 October 2011 12:51

mad as hellWith these angry words the American people were able to find their voice and rail against whatever they thought were the forces that were oppressing them. Of course these people were just being manipulated by a demented TV talk show host and his network executives to increase sagging ratings. Sound familiar? This was the plot of the 1976 classic film, “Network.” Today this “I’m mad as hell!” mantra is being repeated by groups as diverse as the T-Party and the Occupy of Wall Street movement.
Sadly, manipulation is pretty transparent in the case of the T-Party. The discontent of these disenfranchised Americans is being exploited and funded by the very forces of big government Corporatism they purport to be so vehemently opposed to.
If I despair of the T-Party, I am hardly more sanguine concerning the results of the Occupation, even though, unlike the T-baggers, they represent authentic, grass roots, populist, democratic movement. Isn’t it interesting how many editorials in the media recognize the T-Party and denigrate the Occupation?
Protest and resistance seem limited unless they can result in a true mass movement that will strike the military/industrial complex at its heart. This needs not employ violent sabotage, although things are rapidly reaching that point. Remember Kennedy’s famous quote? About “those who make peaceful revolution impossible…” The movements like those in Madison and Manhattan need to develop plans to provide alternatives to the institutions they oppose—alternatives like community credit unions in place of nationally affiliated banks and the support of local businesses that keep money local.
Massive boycotts need to be staged against such admittedly evil, misogynistic, anti-labor institutions like Wal-Mart. People must stop using credit cards. Such a thing is not as unheard of as those who profit from their use would have us believe.
There need to be mounted massive guerrilla advertising campaigns and teach-ins against the ROTC and High School military recruiters, to reduce the cannon fodder and end our brutal atrocities waged against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and stop Obama’s upcoming war with Iran.
Occupations of Wall Street are encouraging but they are only the first step. The capitalists and the arms manufactures in their suites high above the sweaty streets can easily just wait out the encamped masses below. We need strategies to strike them in their black hearts and their pocketbooks—where it hurts.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Occupy the World: We Are the 99%

Source

People from 951 cities in 82 countries participated on October 15 in the ‘United for Global Change’ day. Hundreds of thousands filled the streets of European, Asian and American cities, calling for taxing the rich and an end to governments leaning on the poor and middle class to climb out of recession.
Hundreds of protesters were arrested around the world. Rome witnessed the most violence, as some protesters dug out pavement stones and threw them at police, while others threw explosives and attempted to storm the Ministry of Defense.

In New York, police prevented demonstrators from entering Zuccotti park, where they had been protesting since September 17. London saw some 1000 protesters attempt to break into the London Stock Exchange, only to be prevented by police on horseback. In Spain, ‘Los Indignados’ began their assembly in the Puerta Del Sol square in Madrid by listening to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Occupy Athens

(Photo: AFP – Louisa Gouliamaki)
Occupy Boston

(Photo: REUTERS – Brian Snyder)
Occupy Hong Kong

(Photo: REUTERS – Tyrone Siu)
Occupy London

(Photo: AFP – Leon Neal)
Occupy Madrid

(Photo: AFP – Dani Pozo)
Occupy New York

(Photo: AFP – Emmanuel Dunand)
Occupy Rome

(Photo: REUTERS – Max Rossi)
Occupy Rome

(Photo: AFP – Alberto Pizzoli)
Occupy Sydney

(Photo: AFP – Marianna Massey)
Occupy Sydney

(Photo: AFP – Marianna Massey)
Occupy Valencia

(Photo: REUTERS – Heino Kalis)
Occupy Vancouver

(Photo: REUTERS – Ben Nelms)
Occupy Vienna

(Photo: REUTERS – Leonhard Foeger)
Occupy Zurich

(Photo: REUTERS – Christian Hartmann)

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Harper Downplays Occupy Bay Street

 Recorded telephone call to the Prime Ministers Office
by Joseph Sisson

What you are about to hear is a telephone call that I placed to the Right Honourable Stephan Harper.

I placed the call in the hope that I could have the Prime Minister or someone at his office answer the question that the Prime Minister avoided answering when it was posed to him in a press conference in Peterborough Ontario on Friday October 14, 2011 at approximately 10:40 A.M. MST.

The press conference was broadcast live by the CBC News Now network. I watched (live) as a reporter prefaced his question to the Prime Minister with comments about the growing Occupy Wallstreet Movement and that plans are to have an Occupy Bay Street protest tomorrow and the reported recollected the violence at the G20 summit.

Having said that the reported went on to ask the question: “What are you saying to the police”? The reporter was obviously referring to what instructions the Prime Minister had for “law enforcement” with respect to the upcoming “Occupy Baystreet” protest.

The Prime Minister avoided the question by saying “I think that Canadians understand…….” and went on to make statements about how things are different in Canada and that Canada did not bail out our bankers…..etc.

The Prime Minister concluded his “answer” to the question: “What are you saying to the police”? by saying that he would not comment further.

As a citizen of Canada I was not satisfied by the Prime Ministers avoidance of the question and would like to have the question answered.

I have phoned the Prime Ministers office in the past and have not being allowed to talk to anyone in person as the views that I expressed differed with those of the PMO.

So today, I decided that I would create the illusion that I was a citizen who was in favor of quelling the “Occupy Wallstreet Movement” at the border and not allowing this movement into “peace loving Canada”. Having said that to the receptionist responsible for screening calls and directing calls to the appropriate “route”, I was allowed to talk to “John” about my concerns.

I need to state unequivocally that I am in support of the “Occupy Wallstreet Movement” and encourage all Canadians to take action to support the movement provided that you do so peacefully.

In order for my voice to be heard at the PMO I stated that I was in favor of stopping the movement at the border and not allowing it into Canada. These statements firstly, allowed my call to be directed to a person rather than the voice mail option. These statements secondly, allowed me to talk to “John” who was “happy” and “pleased” that I was making these statements.

Listen to the conversation and draw your own conclusions. You will hear as I finally leave a voice message for the Prime Minister asking him to answer the question (which I state 3 times so there is no confusion as to what the question is) and to “try to stay on topic”.

Subsequent to my call to the PMO, I watched on CBC News Now as they presented to the viewing public the “edited” version of what I had witnessed live at 10:40 A.M. MST.

The edited version, which aired at approximately 1:05 P.M. MST omitted the reporter’s question: “What are you saying to the police?” and omitted the Prime Ministers concluding remark that he would not comment further.

You will be able to hear the Prime Ministers avoidance of the question aired again and again on CBC news as they create the illusion that the Prime Minister is making a statement about the current state of affairs in Canada.

You will see this illusion play over and over again with the PM saying “I think that Canadians understand…..”

So Mr. Prime Minister, what are you saying to the police with respect to the role of law enforcement at the upcoming “Occupy Bay Street” protest?

Will you allow Canadians their Charter Rights and Freedoms to peaceful protest?

If you will not answer this question when posed by a reporter in a free and democratic society then we will have to wait for the answer until tomorrow to witness the role of law enforcement in Canada when encountering citizens exercising their right to peaceful protest.

I remind you sir that the whole world will be watching.

I also remind all Canadians that the whole world will be watching and to act PEACEFULLY to exercise your Charter Rights to peaceful protest.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

A World Declaration of Liberation from Criminal Israel!

Via Radicalpress.com


Heretic Productions present Visible’s “A World Declaration of Liberation from Criminal Israel.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkp95ePFy5Y&feature=player_detailpage

A World Declaration of Liberation from Criminal Israel.

Dog Poet Transmitting…….

May your noses always be free of the metal rings of the usurers.

Oy Yez, Oy Yez, the Temporal Court of the World Public is now in session, the more or less honorable, Judge Visible presiding! Be seated.

“Peoples of the world, I have reviewed your petition and I find the following to be righteous and true that a criminal banking and extortion empire was created in a land, formerly known as Palestine and now, illegally known as Israel. I have studied all of the documents and briefs pertaining to the historical record of actions, events and incidents that led to the illegal and immoral founding of this parasite, crime syndicate upon the previously named territory of Palestine. I find all arguments for legitimacy and continuance of the illegal state of Israel to be untenable and declare all of them null and void. I declare on this date, September 22, 2011, the recognition of the state of Palestine on all lands occupied by those so named and defined as Palestinians, as they existed prior to the First World War. I command that all usurpers going by the designation of Israelis be immediately expelled from all of the territories so named and relocated to any country that will have them and failing that to a secure, walled facility where they can be quarantined for the public safety and good.

I hereby command that all of the assets of the illegal state of Israel be seized as well as the assets of all Zionist entities and sympathizers the world over. I command the dissolution of all central banks, which are no more than organized crime laundries and counterfeiting operations, presently under the control of Zionist interests and headed up by the Satanic Rothschild Family. I command and demand that all assets of the Rothschild Crime Family and their surrogates and associates be seized and held in trust for the world public for wide dissemination among the victims of this vampire clan as soon as is practical and possible.

I command that all world politicians proven to be complicit in the drive toward world subjugation, under the rule of Talmudic Israelis and Zionists be arrested and held for trial under the charges of crimes against humanity. I command that the Federal Reserve be dissolved and all serving officers put under arrest and held for trial. I command that all police forces be stripped of all authority and all members placed under review for previous acts of suppression and violence against the citizens of any and every country so affected.

I command that Wall Street and all stock exchanges be rigorously investigated and all criminal actors presently engaged there be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I command that the entirety of world media, publishing, entertainment and any corporation and company, such as Monsanto that was purchased by the theft of public monies from criminal banking institutions, be taken out of the hands they are presently in and administered by non criminal professionals of proven provenance in respect of truth and full disclosure. I declare AIPAC, the ADL and all Zionist extortion gangs be declared hostile enemy combatants and the assets of all of these entities seized and their charters revoked.

I demand and so command that all ZATO forces of the Zionist Armies for Total Occupation immediately remove themselves from the countries of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and sundry and surrender their rank and membership in this murder organization effective immediately. All members of this mass murder machine who are found to be incriminated in violence against the world public are to be detained and held for trial.

I recognize Hamas as the legitimate voice of The Palestinian people and summarily demand Mahmoud Abbas remove himself from any further representation of the Palestinian people. I remove the authority of The United Nations and command the formation of an independent body to replace it.

I announce to the people of the world that Israel has been incontrovertibly proven to have been behind the 9/11, 7/7 and Madrid Train Station attacks and those who were so employed at this and all of their agents and accessories are to be arrested and held for trial on the crime of mass murder. I call for the arrest and detainment of all Mossad employees and agents around the world for crimes against humanity and demand the rearrest of the 3 dual national Mossad agents who were caught spying in Iran.

I declare all Kosher taxes on the people of the world to be at an end, effective immediately. I call for a full and complete investigation of all major historical events of the last hundred years to determine whether or not there has been systematic revisionism at work. I declare that it is impossible for 125,000 so called holocaust survivors to be living in the US and needing specialized medical care, as per the petition of two Israeli citizens, employed as representatives of the United States government, since that many persons were not liberated from the camps in the first place. I demand the return of all Homeland Security monies that were given ‘in the majority’ to Zionist entities in America to the exclusion of all other entities.

I rule and command that no Israeli or Zionist sympathizer be allowed to serve in any political or legal manner in any government anywhere and that they be forbidden to engage in banking or the law or any endeavor where the public may be placed at risk of the repetition of similar events associated with them over previous centuries and amply demonstrated by their expulsion from the majority of the countries of the world for the same crimes over and over again.

I officially declare an end to the promotion and perception of Khazar and Ashkenazi victimhood and define them as predators upon the body and fortunes of the public at large. I officially recognize that they cry out in pain when they strike you and I declare that the use of the term anti-Semitic be defined as a hate crime and an illegal act in the pronouncement of it and to be punished by terms of confinement soon to be set and by public ridicule and scorn.

I so affirm that political correctness is also a crime and is to be dealt with swiftly and comprehensively whenever it rears its ugly little head. I demand a full investigation into Zionist control of all representative organizations of alternative sexual practice to see the essence of the agenda at work and to determine whether or not these organizations are used as war material against other religions, as well as the culture and continuance of whatever country they are operative in. I command that the Talmud be formerly recognized as the official Bible of Satanism and that the practitioners of it now be seen and defined as the parishioners of the Synagogue of Satan. I declare all Noahide laws invalid from this moment in every country where they have been shoehorned into the charters and constitutions of whatever country it may apply to.

I officially remove all authority from all persons worldwide who are sitting judges in any and all capacities until their integrity and value can be proven to an impartial committee of their peers. I demand that all individuals in any and every capacity connected to government, industry, banking, the military, law enforcement and any organization or operation that affects the public in the day to day, immediately come forth and inform on their comrades, concerning any crimes or malfeasance and betrayal of the public trust, of which they may know anything at all, under penalty of suffering the fate of their associates, should they not act expeditiously and at once. All international corporations are now to be considered operating illegally and are commanded to stop and desist in all illegal activities or be subject to the full weight of temporal and cosmic law.

I declare all of the preceding as law and my authority to do so is affirmed by the cosmos that has had it up to the eyelids with the relentless shovel loads of shit that the people of the world are daily being buried in. I command and implore the heavenly hosts to descend upon this planet and wipe it clean of iniquity and all manner of criminal enterprise, so engaged in, by the so called elite, immediately. No appeals to the contrary of anything here said are allowed or will be considered at any time from this moment on. So say I, Chief Justice of the Temporal Court of the World Public, the more or less, honorable Les Visible. This court is now adjourned.”

End Transmission…….

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

More than 700 Arrested in US over Wall Street Protest

Al-Manar
Press reports said that police has reopened the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday evening after more than 700 anti-Wall Street protesters were arrested for blocking traffic lanes and attempting an unauthorized march across the span.

The arrests took place when a large group of marchers, participating in a second week of protests by the Occupy Wall Street movement, broke off from others on the bridge’s pedestrian walkway and headed across the Brooklyn-bound lanes.

“Over 700 summonses and desk appearance tickets have been issued in connection with a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge late this afternoon after multiple warnings by police were given to protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway and that if they took roadway they would be arrested,” a police spokesman said. “Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested. Others proceeded on the Brooklyn-bound vehicular roadway and were. The bridge was re-opened to traffic at 8:05 p.m. (0005 GMT Sunday).”

Most of those who were arrested were taken into custody off the bridge, issued summonses and released.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene on the famous suspension bridge as a sea of police officers surrounded the protesters using orange mesh netting.

Some protesters tried to get away as officers started handcuffing members of the group. Dozens of protesters were seen handcuffed and sitting on the span as three buses were called in to take them away, witnesses and organizers said.

In addition to what they view as excessive force and unfair treatment of minorities, including Muslims, the movement is also protesting against home foreclosures, high unemployment and the 2008 bailouts.

Friday evening, more than 1,000 demonstrators, including representatives of labor organizations, held a peaceful march to police headquarters a few blocks north of City Hall to protest what they said was a heavy-handed police response the previous week. No arrests were reported.

A week ago, police arrested about 80 members of Occupy Wall Street near the Union Square shopping district as the marchers swarmed onto oncoming traffic.

The group has gained support among some union members. The United Federation of Teachers and the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has 38,000 members, are among those pledging solidarity. The unions could provide important organizational and financial support for the largely leaderless movement.

Similar protests are sprouting in other cities, including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

Source: Reuters

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

The Revolution Begins at Home: An Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation

(Photo courtesy of Flickr.com/pweiskel08)
What is occurring on Wall Street right now is truly remarkable. For over 10 days, in the sanctum of the great cathedral of global capitalism, the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police army.

They have created a unique opportunity to shift the tides of history in the tradition of other great peaceful occupations from the sit-down strikes of the 1930s to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 1960s to the democratic uprisings across the Arab world and Europe today.

While the Wall Street occupation is growing, it needs an all-out commitment from everyone who cheered the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, said “We are all Wisconsin,” and stood in solidarity with the Greeks and Spaniards. This is a movement for anyone who lacks a job, housing or healthcare, or thinks they have no future.

Our system is broken at every level. More than 25 million Americans are unemployed. More than 50 million live without health insurance. And perhaps 100 million Americans are mired in poverty, using realistic measures. Yet the fat cats continue to get tax breaks and reap billions while politicians compete to turn the austerity screws on all of us.

At some point the number of people occupying Wall Street – whether that’s five thousand, ten thousand or fifty thousand – will force the powers that be to offer concessions. No one can say how many people it will take or even how things will change exactly, but there is a real potential for bypassing a corrupt political process and to begin realizing a society based on human needs not hedge fund profits.

After all, who would have imagined a year ago that Tunisians and Egyptians would oust their dictators?
At Liberty Park, the nerve center of the occupation, more than a thousand people gather every day to debate, discuss and organize what to do about our failed system that has allowed the 400 richest Americans at the top to amass more wealth than the 180 million Americans at the bottom.

It’s astonishing that this self-organized festival of democracy has sprouted on the turf of the masters of the universe, the men who play the tune that both political parties and the media dance to. The New York Police Department, which has deployed hundreds of officers at a time to surround and intimidate protesters, is capable of arresting everyone and clearing Liberty Plaza in minutes. But they haven’t, which is also astonishing.

That’s because assaulting peaceful crowds in a public square demanding real democracy – economic and not just political – would remind the world of the brittle autocrats who brutalized their people demanding justice before they were swept away by the Arab Spring. And the state violence has already backfired. After police attacked a Saturday afternoon march that started from Liberty Park the crowds only got bigger and media interest grew.

The Wall Street occupation has already succeeded in revealing the bankruptcy of the dominant powers – the economic, the political, media and security forces. They have nothing positive to offer humanity, not that they ever did for the Global South, but now their quest for endless profits means deepening the misery with a thousand austerity cuts.

Even their solutions are cruel jokes. They tell us that the “Buffett Rule” would spread the pain by asking the penthouse set to sacrifice a tin of caviar, which is what the proposed tax increase would amount to. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to sacrifice healthcare, food, education, housing, jobs and perhaps our lives to sate the ferocious appetite of capital.

That’s why more and more people are joining the Wall Street occupation. They can tell you about their homes being foreclosed upon, months of grinding unemployment or minimum-wage dead-end jobs, staggering student debt loads, or trying to live without decent healthcare. It’s a whole generation of Americans with no prospects, but who are told to believe in a system that can only offer them Dancing With The Stars and pepper spray to the face.

Yet against every description of a generation derided as narcissistic, apathetic and hopeless they are staking a claim to a better future for all of us.

That’s why we all need to join in. Not just by liking it on Facebook, signing a petition at change.org or retweeting protest photos, but by going down to the occupation itself.

There is great potential here. Sure, it’s a far cry from Tahrir Square or even Wisconsin. But there is the nucleus of a revolt that could shake America’s power structure as much as the Arab world has been upended.

Instead of one to two thousand people a day joining in the occupation there needs to be tens of thousands of people protesting the fat cats driving Bentleys and drinking thousand-dollar bottles of champagne with money they looted from the financial crisis and then from the bailouts while Americans literally die on the streets.

To be fair, the scene in Liberty Plaza seems messy and chaotic. But it’s also a laboratory of possibility, and that’s the beauty of democracy. As opposed to our monoculture world, where political life is flipping a lever every four years, social life is being a consumer and economic life is being a timid cog, the Wall Street occupation is creating a polyculture of ideas, expression and art.

Yet while many people support the occupation, they hesitate to fully join in and are quick to offer criticism. It’s clear that the biggest obstacles to building a powerful movement are not the police or capital – it’s our own cynicism and despair.

Perhaps their views were colored by the New York Times article deriding protestors for wishing to “pantomime progressivism” and “Gunning for Wall Street with faulty aim.” Many of the criticisms boil down to “a lack of clear messaging.”

But what’s wrong with that? A fully formed movement is not going to spring from the ground. It has to be created. And who can say what exactly needs to be done? We are not talking about ousting a dictator; though some say we want to oust the dictatorship of capital.

There are plenty of sophisticated ideas out there: end corporate personhood; institute a “Tobin Tax” on stock purchases and currency trading; nationalize banks; socialize medicine; fully fund government jobs and genuine Keynesian stimulus; lift restrictions on labor organizing; allow cities to turn foreclosed homes into public housing; build a green energy infrastructure.

But how can we get broad agreement on any of these? If the protesters came into the square with a pre-determined set of demands it would have only limited their potential. They would have either been dismissed as pie in the sky – such as socialized medicine or nationalize banks – or if they went for weak demands such as the Buffett Rule their efforts would immediately be absorbed by a failed political system, thus undermining the movement.

That’s why the building of the movement has to go hand in hand with common struggle, debate and radical democracy. It’s how we will create genuine solutions that have legitimacy. And that is what is occurring down at Wall Street.

Now, there are endless objections one can make. But if we focus on the possibilities, and shed our despair, our hesitancy and our cynicism, and collectively come to Wall Street with critical thinking, ideas and solidarity we can change the world.

How many times in your life do you get a chance to watch history unfold, to actively participate in building a better society, to come together with thousands of people where genuine democracy is the reality and not a fantasy?

For too long our minds have been chained by fear, by division, by impotence. The one thing the elite fear most is a great awakening. That day is here. Together we can seize it.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

What Western Protesters Can Learn from the People of the Middle East

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So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete Pollyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.
–Rachel Corrie, email from Palestine, February 7, 2003
Levels of repression that probably, quite frankly, would have sent most Western protesters fleeing in horror, those struggling for change in the Middle East have, as we have seen, been able to face day in and day out for more than two months now. What gives the people of these Muslim countries the courage to stand firm in the face of government-unleashed mayhem and murder such as has been witnessed in, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere? I would suggest there are two things in the main, two extremely important elements, which protesters in the Middle East have going for them and of which Western activists are substantially bereft:

1 ) an analysis of global Zionism and the destructive impact it has had on their lives, and
2 ) faith in God.


The first of these sharpens the picture, it brings the canvas and all of its painted images into focus; it enables people to connect dots. When a tear gas canister lands at their feet reading “Made in America,” the revolutionary leaders in Egypt know which people in America are behind it and what their agenda is. This is knowledge that Western protesters by and large are not cognizant of or clear on. The second of the two ingredients gives one the spiritual strength (which, yes, translates in turn into physical and psychological strength) for the struggle ahead. That God is inside us, that he has a clear purpose and objective, and that we are part of that plan, is an energizing thought, one capable of paying important psychological dividends when you find yourself outmatched by an extremely formidable opponent. These are two pieces of protective equipment the people of the Middle East have learned to make effective use of, and which protesters in places like Wisconsin would do well to try and adopt in some form.

But that won’t be easy. American leftists at present are as stubbornly committed to secularism as they are to avoiding any direct, head-on challenge of the Israel lobby’s control over their government.

Global Zionism and the Wisconsin protests

Last Saturday saw a flurry of “Save the American Dream” protests around the country in support of workers in Wisconsin who have maintained a vigil at the state capital in protest against an anti-union bill being pushed by the state’s governor. The spin-off solidarity protests, some of which drew several thousands of people, were held in all 50 states, in locales like Columbus, Ohio, Tallahassee, Florida, Lansing, Michigan, New York and Los Angeles. However, there appears to have been little if any talk or discussion—either at these smaller protests or the main event in Madison, Wisconsin, which drew an estimated 70,000-120,000 people—about the Zionist lobby or its adverse impact on daily life in the United States.

There are any number of reasons why average Americans, and especially members of public employee unions, might want to be concerned about this. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, and the trillions spent there, along with the billions given each year to Israel, inevitably mean less money for domestic needs such as public education. But even beyond monetary considerations is the corrupting and degenerative effect the Israel lobby has on American political life. With a long history, going back several decades, of pouring money into elections to defeat officials who advocated America adopt a more balanced position in its foreign policy, the Lobby has in effect coarsened and debased public affairs and government in America. When you eliminate from managing the nation people such as former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who might express support or sympathy for Palestinians, you are removing from leadership those most constitutionally predisposed toward social justice—the very officials most likely to support unions. Should such a policy be sustained for a matter of decades, the cumulative effect mounts up. After a while, the Cynthia McKinneys, we discover, are all gone, replaced by those inclined to view favorably a country that has what is arguably the most right-wing government in the world today. In the process, we find ourselves, as a people, burdened with a raft of politicians like Scott Walker, the current governor of Wisconsin.

Since workers began maintaining a vigil at the Wisconsin State Capital building on February 14, a great deal has emerged about Walker’s having gained office with the support and backing of the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles G. and David H. Koch. The brothers head up Koch Industries and are ranked by Forbes Magazine as among the world’s richest people. Much has been said (here, here, and here for instance) about the brothers’ support for a number of right wing causes, most especially perhaps their backing of the Tea Party, and how that support synchs with what is now happening in Wisconsin. But in the context of all this, little ever seems to get said about the Kochs and Israel, or about the Tea Party’s backing of rabidly Islamophobic, and pro-Israel, political candidates such as Florida Congressman Allen West, who swept to victory in last November’s elections with Tea Party support.

The Koch brothers rose to national notoriety in large part due to an article in The New Yorker last August entitled “Covert Operations: the billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama,” by Jane Mayer. The article made mention of a Greenpeace report that referred to Koch Industries as a “kingpin of climate science denial,” while also elaborating at some length on the crucial role played by the brothers in fostering the Tea Party:

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power. The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

One organization, or “chief,” involved in training the “Indians” is FreedomWorks, a right-wing advocacy group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. “FreedomWorks recruits, educates, trains and mobilizes millions of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom,” says the organization’s website. This training program makes FreedomWorks a key player in the Tea Party movement, while Armey himself has authored a book entitled Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto. Freedom Works, it should also be mentioned, is an offshoot of Citizens for a Sound Economy, an organization founded by the Koch brothers in 1984. After his retirement from Congress in 2003, Armey became CSE chairman, but the following year the group split into two separate organizations—Freedom Works, headed by Armey, and Americans for Prosperity, chaired by David Koch. Wikipedia reports AFP as being “heavily involved in political activities aimed at reducing regulation of the oil and gas industry,” additionally quoting a New York magazine article describing David Koch as the “tea party’s wallet.”

As for Armey himself, the former congressman, according to SourceWatch, charges a speaker’s fee of $20,000-$25,000 and regularly gives talks on a number of topics including, “Why We Must Support Israel.” The depth of that support, we might observe, is radical and extreme, even by American standards. In a 2002 interview with Chris Matthews on “Hardball,” Armey advocated what essentially would amount to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israeli-occupied territories. (A complete transcript of that interview is available here.) Such comments would place Armey in the company of the most fanatical of Israeli settlers.

In The New Yorker piece, Mayer supplies the information that Koch Industries, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. We are also told that Fred Koch, father of Charles and David Koch, was a founding member of the John Birch Society, and that the elder Koch died in 1967, but nowhere, in an article of more than 9,000 words, does Mayer make mention of Israel. In October of 2010, roughly two months after Mayer’s article appeared in The New Yorker, the portrait of the Kochs became somewhat clearer when Pam Martens published an article on Counterpunch reporting that a libertarian nonprofit group with ties to Charles Koch had financed a documentary entitled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” a heavily propagandistic bit of filmmaking stuffed with chilling scenes, provocative rhetoric, and ominous background music. DVDs in slick packaging were inserted into the Sunday editions of numerous newspapers, including the New York Times, with altogether some 28 million discs flooding into American households, said Martens:

The movie content was slick as well. The first half is endless scenes of suicide bombers and human carnage; the second half of the film intersperses clips of Hitler, Hitler Youth, or Hitler analogies intermittently with Muslim crowds and young children with fists in the air calling for death to westerners.

Describing the video as a “sophisticated and expensive media campaign,” Martens zeroed in on the timing of its release—seven weeks before the presidential election of 2008—and seemed to interpret it all largely as a “fear mongering effort to throw the Presidential election to Senator John McCain in 2008.” Omitted is any analysis of how such a documentary would bolster support among Americans for Israel’s continued dispossession of the Palestinians. But this seems to be very much an underlying purpose or objective. At one point in the film (the second half where the scenes of Hitler are interjected) we hear from Walid Shoebat, who markets himself as a former Palestinian terrorist and has made something of a career out of speaking at conservative and Christian Zionist functions. Says Shoebat in this part of the film:

In the second World War the West was sleeping. The Munich accords came regarding to what we should do about this Adolf Hitler, who wants to take over Czechoslovakia. So what did the Parliament do in Great Britain? They got together and they said, ‘Well, we need to give Hitler land for peace.’

But this aspect of the film’s intended propaganda effect goes unmentioned in the Counterpunch article by Martens. In fact, as with the Mayer piece in The New Yorker, the word “Israel” does not appear anywhere in the article.

In a recent interview with Silvia Cattori, jazz musician and former-Israeli citizen Gilad Atzmon said Western leftists are essentially misleading themselves when they think in terms of Israel as a “colonialist” or settler state. Israel, he says, “is not at all entirely a colonial entity—as we historically understand that term—and it needs to be understood that its power and ties with the West are maintained by the strongest lobbies around the world.” Not only is it not a colonial state in the true sense, but it even exceeds the limits of Apartheid as was practiced by South Africa. The latter was brutal, but as Atzmon notes, “it stopped short of throwing white phosphorous on its indigenous population.” Israel, on the other hand, is “driven by a Talmudic racist ideology”—in other words, the driving force here is racism as a religious belief (which was not the case with Aapartheid South Africa). But the Left persists in looking at Israel through the prism of settler-colonialism, largely, Atzmon feels, because “it makes criticism of the Jewish state look legitimate” and because “it conveys the hope of a resolution” through such methods as boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Atzmon, however, is not optimistic about such strategies ultimately succeeding.


The ‘colonial paradigm’ is then invoked to also support the idea that Israel is an apartheid state, and pretty much like most other earlier colonial settings. My approach is totally different, because I would argue that Israel and Zionism is a unique project in history, and the relationship between Israel and the operation of the Jewish Lobbies in the West is also totally unique in history. I would even take it further, and say that whilst the Palestinians are indeed at the forefront of a battle for humanity, the fact is that we are all subject to Zionist global politics. According to my model, the credit crunch is in fact a Zionist ‘punch.’ The war in Iraq is a Zionist war. I would argue forcefully that Zionism has a long time ago moved from the ‘promised land’ narrative into the ‘promised planet’ nightmare. I also argue that it would be impossible to bring peace to the world unless we confront the true meaning of contemporary Jewish ideology…

…Also, I think that by the time people don’t have enough money to put petrol in the car let alone buy bread, they will start to look at who is to blame, and when that happens, the Israeli State and its relentless lobbies will emerge at the top of the list. I think that some people are starting to see it now, already. The change will be drastic…

America invests its tax payers’ money maintaining the Jewish State and it launched its people into a war to ‘save Israel.’ Consequently, we are all facing a financial disaster, and as we speak, the Arab masses are rising: they demand liberation, and they want an immediate end to the Zio-political grip. What you see now in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen is there to prepare us all, and we may well see the same thing unfolding soon in Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, and New York City, because we all face the same enemy.

What Atzmon seems to be saying essentially is that Americans could learn a lot from the people rising up across the Middle East. While Atzmon doesn’t make specific mention of “Obsession,” the documentary, he does inform us that “along the years the Jewish State has been utilizing some very powerful lobbies and think tanks in our Western capitals; and these bodies promote global Zionist interests such as endless confrontation with Islam and the Muslim world.” But awareness of this “global Zionism,” along with an analysis of its deleterious effects on American life, seems to be sadly missing just now in Wisconsin. Not only do protesters themselves seem barely conscious of it, but it doesn’t get much mention from alternative journalists covering events there either.

An article in the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine, for example, observes that Walker “might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers,” but makes no mention of what we could perhaps call “the global Zionist factor” in the controversy. And here, we have a Democracy Now segment featuring hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interviewing Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, in a program that focuses entirely on the Wisconsin protests and the Koch brothers’ financial backing of the union-hostile Walker—but again, no mention of Israel. Graves and the Center for Media and Democracy, by the way, have been working to provide almost minute-by-minute coverage of the protests at the Wisconsin capitol building, this through the posting of live updates on their website, PRwatch.org. The updates include photos, videos, as well as an ongoing diary, or log, of events, with each log entry including the time of day as well as a summary—of varied length—of the episode, procedure, or event being described. The live reports can be found here, and are truly a phenomenal resource, but again Israel or the Zionist lobby’s stranglehold on Congress are mentioned rarely if ever.

Of course, the U.S. Congress is part of the federal government, and what’s going on in Wisconsin is a state matter, but the Koch brothers’ connections to the Tea Party, the Tea Party’s fervid support for Israel, and the tie-in with the film “Obsession” would suggest the connections to global Zionism are there. At very least, the matter deserves to be considered and talked about. However, the PRwatch.org daily log for Saturday, February 26—the day of the massive protest when some 100,000 people or more converged upon the Wisconsin capitol building—includes no mention of Israel in the roundup of speeches and other events of that day. Nor is there any mention in the video below which features clips from some of the solidarity protests around the country:
Perhaps most striking of all is this interview with leftwing filmmaker Michael Moore with Grit TV host Laura Flanders. In this interview, Moore comments to Flanders, “1954, the year I was born, was the last year where we had the highest point of union membership, 35 or 36 percent. Where I grew up in Flint, Michigan, everybody belonged to the union, it didn’t matter what your job was, whether you worked in the auto factory, whether you were a bagger in the grocery store, whether you were a janitor in the school, everybody, no matter what your dad or mom did, you had a decent life, you had a roof over your head, you had food on the table, only one parent had to work. I at least got to live part of my life to see that that’s possible.” What Moore seems oblivious to, or reticent about, is that the years in which American workers lost all of these things he mentions coincided with the rise of the Israel Lobby in the United States.
http://blip.tv/play/gdElgqfQWAI

Of course the protesters in Wisconsin are in a difficult position. Many people involved in the protests are Jewish. Start drawing connections to Israel and you risk having the entire coalition fall apart. This is not to say such connections aren’t being made in the wider American labor movement as a whole. They are. A January 10, 2010 story on the website LaborNotes.org includes a quote from Kentucky school teacher Sharon Wallace, who had just then returned from Egypt where she had participated in one of two convoys attempting to break the Gaza blockade. “Palestinians,” she says, “are being exploited by the same entities that are exploiting U.S. workers.” The story goes on to add of Wallace:


She and a small but growing band of U.S. unionists—some of whom are Jewish—are fighting to educate fellow members and mobilize their unions behind a global call to pressure Israel with a boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

They face substantial barriers to winning union support: Activists say leaders of U.S. unions still seem enamored with the myth that Israel is a pro-labor government. In an October speech at the Jewish Labor Committee, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka opposed international efforts to boycott Israel, suggesting that opposition to Israeli policy was anti-Semitism in disguise.

As would seem to be indicated by the example of Trumka—who has more recently made fiery speeches in Wisconsin—getting labor leaders to recognize the threat of global Zionism is going to be a sticky business. This is complicated even more by the fact that the U.S. labor movement and the Zionist state are intricately intertwined by means of investments unions have made in state of Israel bonds. According to Labornotes.org, a total of 279 labor bodies in the U.S., including locals, labor councils, and the AFL-CIO itself, have purchased altogether some $5 billion worth of the Israeli bonds as part of their pension portfolios.
Coming up in part 2 of this series, “Lessons from the Light: Liberation and God.” Richard Edmondson is the author of The Memoirs of Saint John: No Greater Love.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka


River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Posted by Richard Edmondson at 8:20:00 AM 

Tahrir4Gaza – Liberation for Gaza

>Ken O’Keefe

As the Arab people continue to exercise unarmed yet mighty power, there is one place above all others that remains at the heart of the struggle, Palestine.  Despite all the money, propaganda, weapons, false imprisonment, ethnic cleansing, torture and mass-murder wielded against them, they have endured, and they remain, unmovable, they are the people of Palestine.  This Global revolution will never be complete until Palestine is free, and in this moment in time, we can listen to those who call for “calm” and “restraint”, or we can listen to our hearts, use our heads, and carry on to the next and most obvious step in this revolution, Palestine.


Resolute

The most powerful thing of all that has occurred in the ongoing uprisings is this, people have begun to believe, that ANYTHING is possible.  I have lived with that knowledge for many years, I have seen, smelled and touched a better world.  I have felt rage and I have cried, watching as my fellow human beings remained imprisoned within the chains of mental enslavement.  And yet I knew, we were just one catalysing event away from massive acceleration in human consciousness and direct action.  And in these days I have cried yet again, with tears of joy as I watched my Egyptian brothers and sisters in Tahrir Square, doing what would have been considered impossible less than a month ago.  And together we know, ANYTHING is possible.


Global Revolution Egypt

There are those who fear Israel, the Egyptian Military, or simply the unknown, but such people remain in the time when we were slaves.  Well we are slaves no more, and for those of us absent of fear and powered by love of justice, we are going to Gaza.  And as we march we shall not be alone, we shall carry with us the will of the people of the world who know what we know, Palestine will be free.  We the people, we are the ultimate power, and we can do ANYTHING!


2,000,000 Egyptians Chanting Free Palestine!
We are going to march to Gaza, we are going to liberate Gaza, to support the march go to;

http://tahrir4gaza.net/

In case you missed it: After Galloway, Ken O’Keefe under fire at HTT (Hasbara think thank).

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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