The Interpretation of (Left) Dreams

 BY GILAD ATZMON

left dream1_edited-1.jpg

by Gilad Atzmon

“Why do we dream? Freud’s answer is deceptively simple: the ultimate function of the dream is to enable the dreamer to stay asleep.” Slavoj Zizek (2006)

Traditional Left Ideology sets out a vision of how the world ‘ought to be.’ The Left’s view can be summed up as the belief that social justice is the primary requirement for improving the world, and that this better future entails the pursuit of equality in various forms. The Left ideologist believes that it is both ethical and moral to attempt to approach equality in terms of civil rights and material wealth.

But if the Left focuses on ‘what could be,’ the Right focuses on ‘what is.’ If the Left operates where people ‘could be,’ the Right operates where people ‘are’ or at least, where they believe themselves to be. The Right does not aim to change human social reality but rather to celebrate, and to even maximize it.

Left ideology, accordingly, is shaped like a ‘dream.’ Aiming for what ‘ought to be’ rather than ‘what is’ induces a level of utopian illusory detachment and depicts a phantasmal egalitarian world often removed from our abusive, oppressive and doomed reality. In this phantasmic future, people will just drift away from greed and gluttony, they will work less and learn to share, even to share that which they may not possess to start with.

This imaginary ‘dream’ helps explain why the (Western) Left’s ideology rarely appealed to the struggling classes; the masses, consumed by the pursuit of bread and butter, were hardly going to be interested in utopian ‘dreams’ or futuristic social experiments. Bitten by the daily struggle and chased by existence, working people have never really subscribed to ‘the revolution,’ usually because they were just too busy working. This perhaps explains why so often it was the middle-class and bourgeois agitators who became revolutionary icons. It was they who had access to that little bit extra to fund their revolutionary adventures.

The ‘Left dream’ is certainly appealing, perhaps a bit too appealing. Social justice, equality and even revolution may really be nothing but the addictive rush of effecting change and this is perhaps why hard-core Leftist agitators often find it impossible to wake from their social fantasy of transformation. They simply refuse to admit that reality has slipped from their grasp, preferring to remain in their cozy phantasmal and delusional universe, shielded by ghetto walls built from archaic terminology and political correctness.

In fact, the more appealing and convincing the revolutionary fantasy is, the less its supporters are willing to be awaken by reality. This blindness helps explain why the Western ideological and political Left has failed on so many fronts: it was daydreaming when the service economy was introduced, and it did not awaken when production and manufacturing were eviscerated. It yawned when it should have combatted corporate culture, big money and its worship, and it dozed when higher education became a luxury. The Left was certainly snoring noisily when, one after the other, its institutions were conquered by ‘New Left’ Identitarian politics.

It is most important to point at the contemporary American so-called ‘Left’ that was deeply asleep when the American working classes drifted away to the Republican party. The American Left was so deeply consumed by its ‘revolutionary fantasy’ that it didn’t notice the embarrassing fact that an abrasive multi-billionaire real estate tycoon morphed into a populist revolutionary icon for hard-working people. The American Left was so thrilled by its self-worship that it pretended not to see that its entire operation was practically sustained by Wall Street tycoons and globalists of the worst type. The American Left has become a controlled opposition apparatus. It practically went to bed with the bitterest enemies of peace and justice let alone anything that resembles ‘social justice’ and human harmony.

In one of his most insightful moments, Slavoj Zizek delved into a comparison between Freud and Lacan’s perception of the dream: “Why do we dream?” Zizek asked. “Freud’s answer is deceptively simple: the ultimate function of the dream is to enable the dreamer to stay asleep.”

According to this perception, the dream is there to sustain the slumber against all odds. It represses the external disturbance (whether it is depression, anxiety, noise or even an immediate threat) by incorporating it into the dream. In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud tells a story of a father whose young son has just died. The father falls asleep and dreams that the child is standing by his bed in flames, whispering the horrifying reproach: ‘Father, can’t you see I’m burning?’ Soon afterwards, the father wakes to discover that a fallen candle has set fire to his dead son’s shroud. The father had smelled the smoke while asleep and incorporated the image of his burning son into his dream to prolong his sleep. Zizek wonders: did the father wake up because the external stimulus became too strong to be contained within the dream-scenario? Or was it the obverse, that the father constructed the dream in order to prolong his sleep, but what he encountered in the dream was even more unbearable than external reality, so that he woke up to escape it?

In the ‘Left Dream,’ the cosmopolitan revolution occurs by itself, as its conditions are ‘determined’ by an inevitable mass consciousness shift. In the ‘Left dream’ the revolution is inevitable so to say. In the ‘Left’s nightmare,’ however, reality proves the complete opposite; the condition for the revolution are ripe on the verge of ultimate but then, pretty much out of the blue, the same script keep repeating itself, a ‘Hitler’ figure appears ‘out of nowhere’ and steers the masses away from the ‘revolution’ to the ‘flag.’ But one thing is clear. In the Left Dream there is no escape route to reality. Unlike the father who awakes devastated by the image of his son being burned, there is no Left dream where the struggling masses can have their say. In the American Left Dream, for instance, there is no room for ‘White uneducated males’ who pop out of the blue and ask: what about us? Why have you forsaken us? In the American Left Dream these kinds of ‘white’ people are called ‘Trumpsters,’ ‘Deplorables,’ White Supremacists,’ white nationalists, and so forth. In the Contemporary American Left dream there is no path back to reality. Those few Leftists who are awaken by any sort of reality check are effectively pushed out, left with no other option but flipping (political) sides. This may explain why demographic studies reveal that people are most often born Leftists and die Conservatives. Maturity, so it seems, involves a growing acceptance of ‘realistic pessimism.’ People tend to wake up, but the dream doesn’t.

One may wonder: where was the German Left when Hitler’s popularity increased amongst Germany’s Working class at a speed that puts Covid-19 to shame? Where was the British Left when Margaret Thatcher, who destroyed many of Britain’s industries and undermined the unions, became so popular amongst British Working people for making it possible for them to own their homes? Where was the British Left when Corbyn and Labour’s popularity minced into dust? It is also fascinating to look at the Israeli Left, as Israel was formed around the idea of Labour Zionism. The Israeli Labour party that dominated Israeli politics until 1977 literally vanished as its ‘dream’ of a Hebraic proletarian metamorphosis couldn’t sustain itself. Due to the fact that Labour Zionism was shaped and operated in a dream mode, it could never adopt to a political reality that was molded by its own dream.

The Left is often too blind to the political and social conditions in which it operates. It never detects the growing wave of resentment it brings upon itself because operating in a dream mode inflicts a severe form of detachment. As Freud realised, the dream is there to sustain the slumber. It ignores political opposition by reducing it into an outer ‘noise.’ It either sets regions of blind spots (political correctness) or alternatively defines growing regions of ‘political outcasts’ (Trumpsters, Fascists, Racists, Deplorables, White supremacists etc.)

In November 2016 Hillary Clinton was in a state of a total shock when she woke up to learn that Donald Trump won the election. In her dream Hillary already won the election, the act of voting was just a formal procedure. Four years later, Biden, the DNC and pretty much the entire Mainstream media followed the exact same pollsters who were totally off-mark in 2016. They anticipated a ‘landslide victory.’ The fact that Donald Trump was meeting so many supporters in his open rallies must have been realised within the context of the ‘Left Dream’ as noisy disturbances. When Michael Moore warned the American Left that the GOP and Trump could make it again, not one in the American progressive universe cared to address his concerns. When people are asleep you are expected to walk on your tiptoes.

I assume that the contemporary American Left’s wet Dream is easy to describe: You go to sleep with Donald Trump in the White House, you wake up and he is gone. This simple dream describes exactly what happened in the early morning of the 4th of November. America went to sleep accepting that Trump, against all odds, did it again. In the wee small hours bookies all over the world put their money on his success by a rate as high as 7 to 1. In the morning suddenly the situation flipped: Trump was on his way out. On the face of it the American Left dream has materialised.

America is obviously divided in the middle. Those who favour Biden insist that he won the election. Those who support Trump are convinced that something unusually dishonest happened during that night and in the days to follow.

I do not have the means or the intention to tell or even try to determine who won the election but it is clear that the DNC, Biden, Harris and the entire American mainstream media do not let the tsunami of mistrust interfere with their ‘materialised dream.’ Biden doesn’t seem too concerned by the fact that America currently looks like a banana republic. Like in a banana republic, Americans do not trust their political system nor do they trust their institutions. People who live in banana republics learn quickly to expect the unexpectable to the point that the unexpectable is becomes the new normal. Biden doesn’t let reality interfere with the dream. As ‘president-elect’ he doesn’t waste time, he works with his transition team, he keeps the fantasy afloat. America is on the verge of a civil war but even that doesn’t bother the ‘president-elect’ and his transition team. In the progressive dream, vowing to ‘unite the nation’ is way more forceful that the reality of a sharp divide.

Back in 2006, Zizek provided a Lacanian insight into the reality that we currently see in the USA. “Reality,” Zizek wrote, “is for those who cannot sustain the dream.” It is always the hard-working people struggling for bread and butter who can’t sustain the fantasy of social change. It is always the working classes that push for concretization. They want America to be great again (Trump), they want Great Britain to be as ‘Great’ as implied by its name (Brexit), they want France to be French (Yellow Vests). Before it is too late, those who watched the so-called ‘Trumpsters’ yesterday in Washington DC should accept that the patriotic reality embodied by the flag must at least be as meaningful as the Identitarian ‘dream’ of ‘others united.’

Source: https://www.unz.com/gatzmon/the-interpretation-of-left-dreams/

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Results are in: Americans lose, duopoly wins, Trumpism not merely a cult (1/2)

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden walks out of The Queen theater on November 05, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (AFP photo)
Results are in: Americans lose, duopoly wins, Trumpism not merely a cult (1/2)
Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

November 05, 2020

(Part 1)

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog and cross-posted with Press TV

It’s Day 3 of the US Election Debacle and – as we’re still mid-debacle – it’s very possible that Donald Trump will be the only conservative casualty, because it’s already certain the US election was an undeniable disaster for Democrats.

The Democrats had everything on their side in 2020: the mainstream media, the Deep State, the (self-professed) moral high ground, more campaign money than ever, a hysterically-motivated base – and yet if Trump does end up winning Democrats will have nothing to show for all that.

That should be stunning news. Here is the roundup of the non-presidential elections:

Republicans now hold 60% of state legislatures (where the most far-reaching policies are decided in this extremely decentralised, pioneer-influenced system), half of all state governorships, they’ll almost certainly keep a majority in the Senate, they shockingly reduced the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, conservatives just got a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court, and at the local judicial level Americans judges are already so conservative that it’s infamously said that they “never see corruption”.

(In the United States “corruption”, much like “propaganda”, is something only found in other countries, of course.)

So if Democratic leadership (dominated by the Clintonista faction) is not corrupt than they surely are incompetent, no? Despite every cultural, political and financial advantage – truly an unprecedented situation – they might walk away with only decapitating the figurehead of Trumpism.

It’s a second consecutive enormous failure by whoever is planning Democratic Party strategy – they now have two black eyes, even if they oust Trump. That’s good news for the Sandernista faction, but their blacklist of Iranian media shows how fake-leftist they really are.

The American commentariat is admitting the major Democratic defeat, but it’s being currently obscured by the presidential vote debacle, which is turning out like we all expected: judges will decide and not voters.

The US, it must be remembered, has always been a lawyer-dominated system. That is what “rule of law” really means in the West: domination by aristocratic lawyers, as opposed to worker domination, God domination, vanguard party domination, elders domination and all the other available options. The outsider Trump threatened this domination, and thus the US political elite seemingly did all they could to ensure that the presidential vote would be disputed in order to ensure control by this societal sector which they came from, control and rewrite at will.

Kill a snake’s head and the snake dies, but 70+ million Trump voters are not snakes but humans

Putting aside the uncertain fate of Trump himself, the 2020 election results already objectively insist that main failure of Democrats was due to their insistence that Trumpism was merely a cult of personality.

This allowed them to not seriously evaluate the true democratic electability of their policies, personalities, principles and job performance: they refused to admit that Trump incarnated actual political ideas and that he genuinely reflected authentic some cultural ideas and trends. By failing to understand that Trumpism was a democratic force which must be accounted for, the electoral reckoning was emphatically anti-Democratic Paty in spite of their unprecedented advantages.

The Democrats chose to rely on sensationalistic fear-mongering: Trumpism was based on White supremacy; White militias are about to shoot up Main Street.

Oh really? I think they failed to understand that both of these hysterical assertions were always going to be easily provable no later than November 4, 2020:

So Trump’s increased 2020 vote totals in Black and Latino communities – they are White supremacists too? Of course not – there is something deeper than what Democrats claim. Since election day American cities are mostly ghost towns – maybe 1,000 anti-Trumpers marched in Chicago, even smaller numbers of pro-Trumpers rallied at voting booths, but the mainstream media warned for months that semi-automatic fire was actually going to be seen beyond the governmentally-abandoned African-American ghetto for the first time ever… so where is it?

This was always absurd, stupid, lazy, hysterical thinking, and it was exactly like what they did in France to their Yellow Vests, whom I covered more than probably any other reporter working in either English or French: accusing these movements of White supremacism and anti-Semitism was always a way to discredit and ultimately suppress the political analyses of the lower classes, and especially of those whom Americans descriptively call “White Trash”.

But Trump supporters are not all White nor does their poverty or lack of a vastly overrated college degree make them human “trash”; French Arabs supported the Yellow Vests as much as any other Frenchman. Sadly, this is all something the corporate media cannot allow to be said openly, so there is widespread misunderstanding.

We must ask why that is?

The answer lies in the domination of democratic structures in the West by their 1%. The backbone of the Western system is not lower-middle class mullahs, nor cobblers-turned-parlimentarians in Cuba, nor a communist party whose acceptance rate is on par with the American “Ivy League” of universities – the backbone of the Western system is exactly like shah-era Iran: a tiny coterie of a few dozen rich families, and then a small percentage of the population who are handed some of the wealth and stability produced by the toil of the nation’s masses in exchange for defending the few dozen gangster families.

And the backbone is also something else, which like “propaganda” and “corruption”, is never discussed in the US mainstream: duopoly. But this is the subject for Part Two – let’s wrap up the reality of Trumpism’s victory even amid a possible defeat by Trump.

Many of the newly-elected Republicans are widely called “Trumpian” – this does not mean they are parading around with gilt-framed pictures of The Donald but that they have adopted many of his policies, such as anti-globalisation, anti-censorship, economic patriotism, sovereignty and – crucially for the world – a reluctance for more endless imperialist wars.

The adjective “Trumpian” does imply negative policies: a hard line on immigration, a sinful and useless arrogance that America is the greatest country in the history of mankind (that is a direct quote – you hear it all the time in public over here) and a Red Scare-like hysteria against the socialist-inspired ideas of a strong central government and economic redistribution.

(What’s so telling about the US is that the word “socialism” is never uttered by their alleged left wing – even the Bernie Sanders-linked Democratic Socialists of America are so timid and so propagandised that they absurdly and incorrectly added the adjective “Democratic” in front of socialism. “Socialism” in the United States is a word only heard when hysterically screamed by the right-wing, and it is hysterically screamed by them all the time, I can report.)

But the election confirms that Trumpism is an ideology and not merely a one-time cult of personality.

Trump the man is unpleasant (to be polite) but that personal judgment is far, far less relevant than the cultural-political ideas it is now clear that he – for better or for worse – genuinely reflected and clearly fostered. My point here is not to condone nor condemn these cultural-political ideas – I am merely saying: there are genuine ideas here which are authentically championed by a very large part of the US public. It is bad journalism to ignore this and scream “White supremacism!”.

But the US media and chattering class is another huge election night loser along with the Democratic Party – both were totally wrong about a non-existent “Blue Wave” and the denial of Trump’s grassroots appeal.

Their only hope is Trump loses and they keep chattering uselessly about that to deflect attention from that submerged part of the iceberg which they got all wrong journalistically. All I can say as a journalist is: you get it wrong, you get demoted – you lose your twice-weekly editorial sport, you no longer are on the editorial board, etc. Back to the street for you. At least ideally.

Will there be consequences for getting it wrong for the failed Democratic elite or the US mainstream media? They have merited such reproachful dismissiveness that I’ll direct towards them only what I think is the laziest journalistic phrase: It remains to be seen.

Part Two will address how Trumpism related to the world’s most powerful and longest-running duopoly.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv


Cui bono from the situation in France

Cui bono from the situation in France

October 29, 2020

I won’t even bother repeating it all here, those who are interested in my views of this entire Charlie Hebdo canard can read my article “I am NOT Charlie” here: https://thesaker.is/i-am-not-charlie/

No, what I want to do is to ask a simple question: do you think the French leaders are simply stupid, suicidal or naive?  I submit that they neither stupid, nor suicidal nor naive.  In fact, they are using a well practiced technique which goes with some variation of this:

  • Infiltrate some pseudo-Islamic gang of cutthroats (literally!)
  • Keep them under close scrutiny ostensibly for counter-terrorism purposes
  • Inside the group, try to promote your confidential informers
  • Have your analysts work on the following question: “how could we best provoke these nutcases into a bloody terrorist act?
  • Once the plan is decided, simply execute it, say by organizing the posting fantastically offensive caricatures
  • Once the cutthroats strike, blame Islam and double down
  • By then, you have infuriated most of the immense Muslim world out there and you can rest assured that the process is launched and will continue on its own.  You can now relax and get the pop-corn
  • Have your propaganda machine declare that Islam is incompatible with western civilization (whatever that means in 2020, both Descartes and Conchita Wurst I suppose…)
  • Shed some crocodile tears when the cutthroats murder some completely innocent Christian bystander
  • And announce a new crusade against “Islamism” (also a vague and, frankly, meaningless term!) and crack down on true Muslim communities and ideas while continuing to lovingly arm, train, finance and direct the “good terrorists” who have now become your own, personal, cutthroats.

Cui bono?

Anybody who knows anything about the political realities in France will immediately know in whose interests this all is and who is behind that: the Zionist power structure in France (CRIF, UEJF, etc. and the Israelis).  They have a total control over Macron and over the entire political class, very much including Marine LePen.

Who else could have concocted the “beautiful” term “Islamo-Fascisme“?!

This is a new phenomenon, a new ideology and a new strategy, which Alain Soral calls “National Zionism” which I discussed in some details here: https://thesaker.is/the-great-fraud-of-national-zionism/.

In its inception (from Ahad Ha’am, Theodor Herzl,  Ze’ev Jabotinsky, etc) Zionism used to be a largely secular and nationalistic, then, later, after WWII, it became very leftist and still secular ( Ben-Gurion, Shlomo Lavi, Golda Meir).  Modern Zionism, however, is both rabidly racist and religious – the perfect example would be US neocons.  It is also a ruthless and genocidal ideology which has created something truly original: God-mandated racism, something which, as far as I know, no other religion professes (so much for the ignorant and, frankly, plain stupid notions of “Abrahamic religions” or, even worse, “Judeo-Christian values”!).  National Zionism is the next phase of Zionism – it is rabidly “conservative” (in a Neocon sense only, of course!) and it parasitically feeds on whatever nationalist ideology the local patriotic goyim are inclined towards (the best example of that being the so-called “Christian Zionists” in the USA).

But here is the demonic “beauty” of it all: in a society like the French one, the Zionists don’t even need to micromanage their false flags: given enough uneducated and murderous pseudo-Muslim cutthroats and enough rabid secularists wanted to offend the faithful – some kind of violent explosion will *inevitably* happen!

Right now, between the embarrassing Yellow Vests movement, the crumbling economy, the massive influx, wave after wave, of unwanted and un-adaptable immigrants and the resulting social tensions, the French regime is in deep trouble.  Add to this the COVID pandemic which just added to the chaos and anger and finish with a total lack of foreign policy successes and you will immediately see why this regime badly needed what could be called a “patriotic reaction”.

Finally, there is the time-proven method of scaring your own population into a state of catatonic acceptance of everything and anything in the name of “security”.

We see it all in France today, we saw it in the UK before, and also in Belgium.  And, rest assured,  we will see much more such massacres in the future.  The only way to really stop these “terrorist” attacks is to show their sponsors that we know who they are and we understand what they are doing.  Short of this, these attacks will continue.

The Saker

A Delegated System of Governance: Understanding the Concepts of Imamat and Wilayat in Shi’a Islam, Part II

A Delegated System of Governance: Understanding the Concepts of Imamat and Wilayat in Shi’a Islam, Part II

October 13, 2020

by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

 “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

In Part I of this topic (See here), the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran under the leadership of Imam Khomeini was referenced as a specific example of a system in governance based on Imamat and Wilayat as interpreted, implemented, and practiced in Shi’a Islam. Iran was a nation pegged and primed to become a model for a fully secularized, westernized, and liberalized society in a Muslim majority land. This was a nation endowed with lucrative material wealth and natural resources, several millennia of civilization, culture, and written history but headed by a darling pro-Western puppet regime brought about through series of costly overt and covert schemes and operations.

As well it was stated in the article that the inception of this system was to bring the Word of God into the governance of people exactly when supercilious Western elites, that is, the sorts of elites who have this delusion that history begins and ends with them, were gleefully celebrating an envisioned modern Atlantis in which the Word of God has no place in its systems of governance. Still, the Islamic Republic of Iran happened. Not only did the Islamic Republic of Iran happen, it became a significant, enduring, and dynamic force to reckon with despite all options on and under the table that were thrown at it. Talk about the showing of a heavenly middle phalange. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Before attending to the next segment, I would like to address here a question posed in the comment section of the part I of the essay since the response to that helps with specific points in the overall argument of the essays. “daniel” on October 02, 2020  ·  at 4:46 am EST/EDT wrote:

“99.25% of the participants voted “yes” to an Islamic Republic system of government in Iran[1] replacing a system of monarchy based on an inherited position transfer from a king to his eldest son.”

Was the Iran 1979 referendum (results shown above) a once off thing & considered binding for life or was it set up as a recurring probing exercise which follows some regular interval, say a 50 years cycle?

Until 1979, any major movement, like the Constitutional Movement of 1906 or any systematic mechanism that could have legitimately and authentically admitted the will of the people into the system of governance had often been violently suppressed. I addressed some of that in another essay last year titled “Willfully and Consciously Demonizing Shia: the Leadership of the Pious.” Please see here.

The revolution of 1979 happened because for hundreds of years almost all major and minor movements to reform the system of governance according to authentic desires and will of the people of Iran had failed. The referendum in 1979 was the first and the ONLY straight forward mechanism at that time to get the voices of the people heard, clearly documented, and actualized. After some revisions to the constitution 10 years later, another nationwide referendum was held and 97.38% of the participants approved the revised version of the constitution. Furthermore, through direct election of their representatives into Majlis Shoraye Islami (an assembly of 290 seats) and Majlis Khobregah Rahbari, the Assembly of Experts for Leadership (consisting of 88 seats), the people of Iran could make decisions about the constitution and the Wali Faqih, respectively.

When there are already appropriate, effective, and functioning venues and mechanisms in place, the need for a referendum becomes null and void unless either all of those systems become so corrupt and dysfunctional that the will of the people can no longer be genuinely manifested, or the issue in question is so novel that the approval of which does not fall within the realm of the established mechanisms and requires a nationwide referendum. So far, we have had neither of those situations occurring in Iran.

I would like to add a comment that I thought the answer provided by another commenter “arash” a good use of the instrument of jadal—a form of argument when one uses already accepted conventions of the opponent as proof and/or refutation of one’s own argument. Although I think “daniel” may have asked the question out of sincere curiosity, I do understand the sensitivity of the question and what may have prompted that response. A repeated ad nauseam favorite false statement by the Zionist West, Inc. has often been that a democratic referendum can work in a Muslim land only once: to bring about an Islamic State into power (often referencing Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood experience of 1950s as example); then it is stopped for good. Nevertheless, we are glad that the democratic processes work so very well and in an exemplary manner at least in the US, France, UK, and elsewhere in the West. Electoral College Votes. Two Party Systems. AIPAC. Industry Lobbies. Yellow Vests. Brexit. Arbitrary Lockdowns…

People. Glass Houses. Stones.

Now, in continuing with our topic in this follow-up essay, we start with defining the terms and concepts related to the topic of wilayat and Imamat. The term wilayat is derived from tri-literal root word “wāw lām yā,” literally meaning “something that comes very closely on the heels of another of a similar essence without distance and separation between the two.[1] Depending on the context, the word wali could take different (but related) meanings. Prominent among the meanings are guardian, protector, friend, ally, encouraging, aiding, assisting, heeding, following, parent, and offspring.[2] The common denominator and implicit in all these meanings of wali and its derivatives are two conjectures: 1) a spiritual and devotional nearness, intimacy, and companionship; 2) a reciprocal and mutual relationship both in theory and in practice.

Generally speaking, anyone and anything can become anyone’s wali and/or one can choose him/her/it as his wali, be it an informal choice and/or a formal declaration though laws and conventions. If you want to know who your wali is, you must take an inventory of who and what your closest allies, companions, influencers, friends, masters, and followers are and how you spend most of your time. While at it, you should examine what credentials those awlia (plural form of wali) have, where they are leading you, what the final destination and ultimate consequence of the path in which you are following that wali are. Let’s make the meaning of the term more palpable and empirical.

An alcoholic has chosen alcohol and its colleagues –that is, anything and anyone connected to it by way of selling, serving, producing, distributing, and more – as his awlia. He spends part of his time chasing after getting that alcohol and the remainder of his time following where that alcohol takes him (in mind, body, and soul). Obedient to his wali to the bone. Ditto with a drug addict, sex addict, food addict, fame addict, internet addict, and you name it. For capitalists, capital et al. are their awlia. For Satan worshippers, Satan is their wali. They chase to find it and they follow where it leads, a downward spiral to be sure. For some Trump and his handlers are their wali/awlia; for others Biden and his handlers are their wali/awlia. Some choose Muhammad bin Salman as their wali, and some do the same with Abul Fattah el-Sisi. Sultan Erdogan Jr. is wali to some and Netanyahu is wali to others. Zionism, imperialism, globalism, and more are all awlia to this, that, and the other. For some, their ego is their wali and for some others their wants, lusts, ambitions and greed.

A troupe of wretched examples to be sure. The reality of our world is such that hopeless examples of wali far exceed the worthy and upright ones. As Molana Jalal-iddin Muhammad (Molavi) in Mathnavi reminds us: رشته ای بر گردنم افکنده دوست — می کشد هر جا که خاطرخواه اوست“A bridle around my neck placed by the beloved – Taking me place to place wherever s/he desires.” So, it behooves us to choose wisely that/s/he which/who we choose as our wali. Generally speaking, that is.

More specifically, however, about the term wali (and its plural form awlia), Quran issues certain caveats. There is a verse in Quran (2:255) called Ayatul Kursi which is memorized and often recited by Muslims with the two verses that follow it, verse 256 and verse 257.[3] The trio offer many blessings and bounties for those who recite them regularly. So, they are quite well-known among those who are blessed enough to have chosen Quran as their regular companion. All three verses and their translations are in the reference sections. Here, however, I would like to restate first Verse 257 in which the word Wali with a specific meaning of Protecting Guardian and its plural form awlia meaning guardians are used:

 “Allah is Wali [Protecting Guardian] of those who have believed. He brings them out of the darkness(es) toward the light. And those who disbelieved, their awlia [guardians] are the Taghut [transgressing oppressor and evildoers] who bring them out of the light toward the darkness(es). Those are the companions of the fire and they abide therein forever.”

Thus there is only One True Wali for humanity and that is God, the Protecting Guardian. If a person or a collective (an Ummah) chooses anyone and anything other than God as his/her/their guardians, then they are eventually led into nothing but all sorts of darkness: Oppression, misery, ignorance, transgression and more. The choice is clear: Choose One True Wali, or become slaves to many masters and false gods and their self-serving impulses. If a nation does not choose God as One True Wali, it appears that any good-for-nothing two-bit jerk with some capital, fire power, and conniving skills would dare to imagine himself as qualified to be their master and make decision for them. I am just saying.

Logic, reason, wisdom, common sense, and intelligence all dictate that we, as individuals and/or as collectives choose the best and the most qualified for guardianship, administration, and caretaking of our affairs according to our beliefs and ideals. And nobody is putting a gun/sword over anyone’s head to choose God as their Wali.

I can see an explosion of fiery questions in so many minds. Wasn’t Islam spread by sword?! Didn’t Allah-fearing Muslims attack nations and forced people to convert to Islam or get decapitated?! Does the word Daesh/ISIS mean anything?! I am very grateful that you are asking all these questions, notwithstanding the questionable assumptions. The key to answering all these questions is following all the intricate details that one way or another link to the concept of wali and use concrete and true examples to distinguish true from false, which by the end of these essays we will have done, Inshallah.

Verse 256 of Chapter 2 (Baqarah) that we mentioned above states that:

“There is no compulsion in the religion. Certainly a distinction has been clearly made between the right and the wrong. Therefore, whoever disbelieves in false idols/evildoing transgressors and believes in Allah, then certainly he has grasped onto a robust anchor that will not break. And Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing.”

Since there is no (read, must not be any) compulsion in this religion and the distinction between right and wrong has been clearly made, our job is to first reject all false awlia and then accept One True Wali. If we do not, our punishment/the consequence is to fall into dizzying vortices of fear and regret. If we succeed in doing this though, then we have grasped onto a “robust anchor”—an unbreakable, firm, unwavering, and lasting chain and handhold. Again, the choice is clear and is ours.

Now, we need to follow up on two clues: 1) How God as Wali translates into the concept of wilayat of a person, which means guardianship, stewardship, caretaking, safekeeping, and supervision by other than God; 2) What/who the bands in the unbreakable chain of “robust anchor” are.

As Muslims, we believe the Almighty God has absolute Wilayat, the Absolute Protecting Guardianship, of all creation, including the human beings. This Wilayat takes two inter-linked and inter-related types of laws that govern us (humans) and the world in which we live. One form relates to the laws of Taqwin, or the innate laws of nature. Everyone and everything from a speck of dust to electrons to multi-cellular complex beings to the universe at large submits to, or is a Muslim to, these laws of Taqwin.

We are able to study the chemistry of water because the electrons, the protons, the neutrons, the atoms, the molecules, the hydrogen bonds, and every drop of water, every stream, river, lake, and ocean all faithfully submit to the laws of Taqwin. Because there is a law, we can learn from the repeated patterns made possible by that law and try to manipulate observable things around us. It does not really matter if someone believes in God or s/he is an agnostic or an atheist. Every ounce of his/her existence submits, or is a Muslim to the laws of Taqwin set by God, the Creator. When we study biology, anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, parasitology, microbiology, immunology, virology, ecology, and whatever else, we are in fact trying to understand the laws of Taqwin regardless of whether we fully understand or willingly admit this fact or not.

Most of these laws could be observed, learned, experimented with, and from them countless lessons could be drawn. God’s Wilayat in Taqwin is Absolute. That we can manipulate a gene, for example, it does not mean that somehow we have gained some sort of a veto power to overwrite the laws of Taqwin. It only means the laws of Taqwin that govern the genes offer a level of flexibility to be “interpreted,” to a certain point, in practice. So, those “scientists” with a tiny bit of knowledge but huge propensity for arrogance should exercise caution not to get too cocky since they do not really know when their arrogance might just force them to nosedive into abyss. Wilayat over Taqwin is not our topic of discussion here, so we leave it be.

The other form of God’s Wilayat relate to the laws of Tashri’e. These are laws that are sent to people by God through His great Messengers and Prophets (May peace be upon them all) to guide humanity in this life and prepare/educate/equip them with the appropriate knowledge and skill for the Hereafter. The first prophet, we are taught by Quran, was Adam (peace be upon him) and the last one was Prophet Muhammad. However, great prophets of God were not merely some post office employees given a piece of mail to deliver. They were also given the responsibility and mandate to govern the societies of believers in accordance to the laws set by God Almighty. In other words, they were delegated by God to govern; an authorized or deputized Wilayat. In this regard then a prophet is Wali of God, and all prophets are Awlia of God, Awlia-Allah.

Why? Because the one who knows and understands the laws best, the one who has been trained and assisted by the Law Maker the best, the one who is the most truthful, honest, trustworthy, pious, and pure and behaves most authentically in accordance with the laws of God and obeys him in heart, body, mind, and soul is the best qualified person to govern the believers of God based on His laws. It is not an unreasonable and illogical concept that would be hard to grasp. It is rather simple.

Is it stated in Quran that the prophets of God have guardianship over the believers’ affairs? Yes. A few examples are helpful. During the time of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), he had the legitimate Wilayat and guardianship to govern and lead the society of the believers. During the time of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), he had the legitimate Wilayat and guardianship to govern and arbitrate the affairs of the believers. Likewise with Prophet Isa Son of Maryam (peace be upon him), Prophet David (peace be upon him), Prophet Issac (peace be upon him), Prophet Muhammad  and all other prophets of God. Relevant verses abound in Quran but here are a few examples:

In Chapter 4 (Nisaa), Verse 64:1-8, it is stated: “And We did not send any Messengers except for them to be obeyed by Permission from God.”

Chapter 4, Verse 59:1-10 reads: “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those among you who have the guardianship of your affairs.”

Chapter 26 (Shu’ara), Verses 105-110: “The people of Noah denied the Messengers. When their brother Noah said to them, ‘Will you not fear God? Indeed, I am a trustworthy Messenger to you. Therefore, fear God and obey me. And I do not ask of you any payment for it. My payment is not but from the Lord of the Worlds. So, fear God and obey me.”

Chapter 26, Verses 142-145: “When said to them their brother Saleh, ‘Will you not fear God? Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy Messenger. So, fear God and obey me. And I do not ask of you any payment for it. My payment is not but from the Lord of the Worlds.”

Chapter 26, Verses 160-164: “People of Lut denied the Messengers. When said to them their brother Lut, ‘Will you not fear God? Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy Messenger. So, fear God and obey me. And I do not ask of you any payment for it. My payment is not but from the Lord of the Worlds.”

Therefore, this guardianship, this delegated (by God) system of governance is entrusted to Prophets who are trustworthy and get their wages/salary directly from God. They are not there to fill their pockets, accumulate wealth, and fulfill their lofty desires at the expense of people and under the guise of governing them. They have primacy over any other person for that position.

These are all Prophets of God and we are saying that Prophet Muhmmad was the last of the Prophets. Then, what happened after him? Was the world left without a Wali? Were people and the believers left on their own to find someone, anyone, to govern their affairs? Was there any criterion? Did the Prophet leave the people stranded to fight and divide? Would that even be a responsible and wise thing to do?

It is quite evident that we Shi’a Muslims believe that Wilayat did not end with the Prophet and the guardianship of the society of the believers, the Muslim Ummah, had a clear path to take. This brings us to the next phase of the essay in which we explore the term Imamat and how a major division occurred as soon as the Prophet passed away. We are entering into a very complex territory and a minefield and, with God’s Help, I will need to do some major mine neutralization. So, stay tuned, please.

References

[1] Jafari MR & Haeri SH (1390). “An Inquiry into the meaning of the term Wali.” Quarterly Special in Imamat Research, No. 1, Imamat Cultural FoundationSpring 1390.

[2] Norasideh AA, Feyzullah-Zadeh AA, and Mastery Farahani J (1391). “Semantics of the term ‘Wali’ in Al-Quran Al-Karim.” Arabic Literature Bulletin,No. 7 (6/65), Pages 151-168. Shahid Beheshti University, College of Literature and Social Sciences.

[3] Holy Quran, Chapter 2 (Al-Baqara), Verses 255-257:

اللّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَیُّ الْقَیُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَهٌ وَ لاَ نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِی السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِی الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِی یَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ یَعْلَمُ مَا بَیْنَ أَیْدِیهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَ لاَ یُحِیطُونَ بِشَیْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَاء وَسِعَ کُرْسِیُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَ الأَرْضَ وَ لاَ یَۆُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَ هُوَ الْعَلِیُّ الْعَظِیمُ (255)

“Allah is One, there is no God but Him, the Ever existing, the Sustainer of all that exists. It does not overtake Him either slumber or sleep. To Him belongs all there is in the heavens and whatever on the earth. Who is the one who can intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And they will not encompass anything of His knowledge except that which He Wills. His dominance extends to all the heavens and the earth. And it will not tire Him the guardianship of them both.”

لاَ إِکْرَاهَ فِی الدِّینِ قَد تَّبَیَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَیِّ فَمَنْ یَکْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَ یُۆْمِن بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَکَ بِالْعُرْوَهِ الْوُثْقَیَ لاَ انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللّهُ سَمِیعٌ عَلِیمٌ (256)

“There is no compulsion in the religion. Certainly a distinction has been clearly made between the right and the wrong. Therefore, whoever disbelieves the false idols/evildoing transgressors and believes in Allah, then certainly he has grasped onto a robust anchor that is unbreakable. And Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing.”

اللّهُ وَلِیُّ الَّذِینَ آمَنُواْ یُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَی النُّوُرِ وَالَّذِینَ کَفَرُواْ أَوْلِیَآۆُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ یُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلَی الظُّلُمَاتِ أُوْلَئِکَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِیهَا خَالِدُونَ (257)

“Allah is Wali [Protecting Guardian] of those who have believed. He brings them out of the darkness(es) toward the light. And those who disbelieved, their awlia [guardians] are the Taghut [transgressing oppressor and evildoers] who bring them out of the light toward the darkness(es). Those are the companions of the fire and they abide therein forever.”

Outcome of a disputed US vote: a ‘Hot Fall’ or an ‘Icy Crusade’?

Source

By Ramin Mazaheri

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This screengrab shows rightwing and left-wing protesters scuffling during protests in Portland, Oregon, on July 1, 2018. (Image via Guardian)
Outcome of a disputed US vote: a ‘Hot Fall’ or an ‘Icy Crusade’?

Friday, 11 September 2020 6:45 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 11 September 2020 7:21 PM ]

In the 21st century a disputed vote in the US presidential election is almost a 50-50 proposition: if November’s popular and electoral college votes do not correspond, yet again that would mark the third such occurrence in the last six presidential elections.

A disputed vote has produced dramatic changes: the disputed election of Republican Rutherford (also known as “Rutherfraud”) B. Hayes in 1876 forced a political bargain which saw Democrats win the withdrawal of Northern post-Civil War troops, thus ending the Reconstruction Era and the integration of African-Americans after a scant 11 years of efforts. Perhaps the most notable point here is just how long the Republican/Democrat duopoly has dominated the United States – the Democratic Party is the oldest voter-based political party in the world, and the entrenched privileges they and Republicans have colluded to cement preclude the rising of any third-party outsiders.

And yet this year we have Donald Trump, who is a genuine political outsider.

It’s vital to remember that Trump was rejected by the Republican establishment all the way up until the eve of the Republican National Convention in May 2016. While the mainstream media and Democrats immediately and incorrectly assumed Trump was as solid a Republican as Abraham Lincoln – mainly because everything must fit into their simple “us vs. them” straitjacket of a worldview – Trump supporters knew better.

The primary catalyst for Trump’s election was his promise to “drain the Swamp” (not literally, even though Washington D.C. was constructed on former swampland), and that promise was not limited to just “Crooked Hillary” but political creatures of both parties. Indeed, the common lament over the past four years among Trumpers is that he has not fulfilled his campaign promise to lead a China-like drive against corruption because “they won’t let him”, and “they” includes Republicans as well.

Trump still preserves this outsider status because he is still not a real politician – he lacks a coherent ideology and a grassroots base to implement it – and this is why he leads no actual third party threat. This is unlike someone whom Trump hopes to join on Mount Rushmore: Teddy Roosevelt, who in 1912 was able to form the last major third party in the US – the Progressive Party (this party is often referred to as the “Bull Moose Party” in modern America, obviously to hide the party’s leftist basis), which eventually reconciled with the Republicans after the “clearly insane” (per author Mark Twain) and rabidly imperialist Roosevelt sold out already rather right-wing US progressivism.Third party expected to get high returns in 2020 US presidential electionWhile abstention remains the most common form of ballot box resistance in the United States, more and more Americans are turning toward third parties.

What “Trumpism” has proven to be after four years is decidedly not a political party – Republicans co-opted him in order to both contain him and to preserve the American duopoly – but an entirely misguided hero worship, which was resorted to out of the desperation and instability caused by 40 years of neoliberal, unpatriotic and corrupt governance. “Trumpism” is thus not even really an ideology of hero worship but a gestalt cultural feeling, and a quite negative one.

A ‘Hot Fall’ – Trump and Trumpers go down with guns blazing

Many non-Trumpers understand this, and that’s why they echo the talk around the PressTV newsroom, which is that of a “Hot Fall” scenario: Trump loses both the popular and electoral college votes yet refuses to leave office. Trump, cognisant that the past four years has not increased affection for “the Swamp”, and also that his own popularity has endured despite the spectacular and unprecedented Deep State campaigns against him, thus encourages his supporters to rally in the streets in a long-awaited re-enactment of The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral or, in modern right-wing slang, “the Boogaloo”.

It’s a plausible scenario, indeed. The “only in America” scene of 17-year old Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing in the streets with an AR-15 semi-automatic looked like a harbinger to many.

The likelihood of this “Hot Fall”, with Trump eventually leaving but only with the country even more divided than it has been so far in 2020, cannot be discounted. However I don’t predict that will happen.

Being a journalist who simply must query public opinion, I have asked many Americans for their thoughts on the election and about the question of a disputed vote this November. I have been rather swayed by the conservatives point of view, which is: Republicans are simply more reasonable than Democrats, and if they lose the election they will reasonably withdraw in order to preserve the country (as they are more patriotic as well).

I find that analysis – which I am merely relating from American Republicans – very astute. It doesn’t – and cannot – fully take into account the effects of a seriously disputed election, but I think it will hold true.

What I predict to be more likely is the reverse scenario, an “Icy Crusade” led by embittered Democrats: Whether the election is disputed or not, a Trump victory will produce massive anti-Trump demonstrations starting on November 4 and lasting until 2024.

Frankly, I am hopeful this occurs – Trump has pulled the sheet off the face of American fascism, finally, and four years has not produced enough political modernity. America, today’s imperial Rome, has so very much to learn and unlearn, after all. 

An ‘Icy Crusade’ – more of Americans telling others how they must live & feel

It should be remembered that – because half the electorate refuses to participate – Democratic voters are a rather fanatical minority of 25%. This is the same amount of the electorate which France’s Emmanuel Macron genuinely won in 2017, and his supporters are fanatically loyal as well – what else should we term continuing to support the weekly brutality against the Yellow Vests, which only ended with the coronavirus? Indeed, we cannot even compare the recent political repression in the US to that of France.

It must be remembered that partisan Democrats are as arrogant (imperialistic) and evangelistic as any Republican in the Pentagon and always have been: just ask a Southerner after the Civil War, or an American Indian, for that matter.

The modern Democrat does not explicitly evangelise for Protestantism and the racist paternalism of taking care of “our little brown brothers” (a historical term which was applied to the conquest of the Philippines, but which is obviously indicative of the fundamentally imperialistic mentality of even “good Americans”), but they certainly rabidly evangelise for other causes: political correctness, transgender bathrooms, against Trump, etc.

A Trump victory – disputed or not – will thus lead to more outpouring of this same evangelical, self-righteous, “Icy Crusade” which non-White Americans have been subjected to for two centuries. Crucially, the “Icy Crusade” will be just as fake-leftist as the other imperial crusades, with total intolerance of and enmity towards the “other” at its root.

I think this debilitating, annoying, politically feckless Democratic evangelism is the more likely post-election scenario because I think Trump will prevail over a second consecutive awful Democratic candidate.Do Black people get shot by police just to win elections for Democrats?That headline asks a surprising question, yet it’s one which was repeatedly expressed by African-Americans in Kenosha.

Certainly, Democrats’ own machinations have been precisely calibrated so that they could also dispute the election, but perhaps without AR-15s: I refer to the hysterical push for massive mail-in ballots, which are certain to arrive late, take long to count, have “hanging chads” and foment other disputes. The choice was always clear: either hold the election on time, like so many other elections worldwide in 2020, or postpone the election, like so many other elections worldwide in 2020.

In order to hedge their bet regarding whether Deep State machinations and mainstream media campaigns do not succeed in their goal of discrediting/denying the very real “Trumpism” cultural feeling, Democrats have seemingly guaranteed the election will not be resolved on November 3 and that cultural discord will ensue.

An “Icy Crusade” can be avoided in this scenario if Democrats show as much calm reasonableness as many US conservatives often evince and as much concern for the good of the nation. However, what they must also abandon is their often undeserved moral self-righteousness – that is something which goes back to the Civil War in the north and eastern parts of the United States, and this is very unlikely to be easily uprooted.

It should be remembered that America’s 1% appears to have ensured that no matter what happens the country will be divided in order to oust the outsider Trump: unchecked coronavirus hysteria which gutted the economy, the refusal to get a second stimulus bill passed to provide some economic stability, the refusal to provide physical security amid legitimate rebellions and illegitimate looting, undermining trust in the election process by hysterically blaming Russia, and this list can go on and on. Both sides have been divided, and any modern leftist analysis explains this by the fact that under modern Western neoliberalism the 1% divides and conquers at home as well as abroad.

Therefore, there is much grounds for PressTV employees to bandy about the possibilities of either a “Hot Fall” or an “Icy Crusade” scenario around a cup of tea. Certainly, such conversations end with mutual expressions of relief that Iran is not like that.

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

August 12, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – republished from Asia Times by permission of author

As much as Covid-19 has been instrumentalized by the 0.001% to social engineer a Great Reset, the Beirut tragedy is already being instrumentalized by the usual suspects to keep Lebanon enslaved.

Facing oh so timely color revolution-style “protests”, the current Lebanese government led by Prime Minister Diab has already resigned. Even before the port tragedy, Beirut had requested a $10 billion line of credit from the IMF – denied as long as trademark, neoliberal Washington consensus “reforms” were not implemented: radical slashing of public expenses, mass layoffs, across the board privatization.

Post-tragedy, President Emmanuel Macron – who’s not even capable of establishing a dialogue with the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in France – has opportunistically jumped in full neocolonial mode to pose as “savior” of Lebanon, as long as the same “reforms”, of course, are implemented.

On Sunday, France and the UN organized a videoconference to coordinate donor response – in conjunction with the European Commission (EC), the IMF and the World Bank. The result was not exactly brilliant: a paltry 252 million euros were pledged – once again conditioned by “institutional reforms”.

France came up with 30 million euros, Kuwait with 40 million, Qatar with 50 million and the EC with 68 million. Crucially, neither Russia nor Iran were among the donors. The US – which is harshly sanctioning Lebanon – and GCC allies Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged nothing. China had just a pro forma presence.

In parallel, Maronite Christians in Brazil – a very powerful community – are sending funds for the color revolution protests. Former President Michel Temer and industrialist tycoon Paulo Skaf even flew to Beirut. Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel (1982-1988) maintained a lot of businesses in Brazil with funds he skimmed when in power.

All of the above points to neoliberalism taking no prisoners when it comes to keeping its deadly grip on Lebanon.

The Hariri model

Lebanon’s profound economic crisis, now aggravated by the Beirut port blast, has nothing to do with Covid-19 or the US proxy war on Syria – which brought a million refugees to the nation. It’s all about proverbial neoliberal shock and awe, conducted non-stop by the Hariri clan: former Prime Ministers Rafiq, assassinated in 2011, and Saad, chased out of power last January.

The Hariri model was focused on real estate speculation and financialization. The Solidere group, controlled by Arab investors and a few Lebanese, Hariri included, destroyed Beirut’s historical downtown and rebuilt it with luxury real estate. That’s the classical rentier neoliberalism model that always profits a tiny elite.

In parallel, the Bank of Lebanon was attracting funds from the tony Lebanese diaspora and assorted Arab investors by practicing very generous interest rates. Lebanon suddenly had an artificially strong currency.

A small middle class sort of flourished throughout the 2000s, comprising import-export traders, the tourism sector and financial market operators. Yet, overall, inequality was the name of the game. According to the World Inequality Database, half of Lebanon’s population now holds less wealth that the top 0.1%.

The bubble finally burst in September last year, when I happened to be in Beirut. With no US dollars in circulation, the Lebanese pound started to collapse in the black market. The Bank of Lebanon went berserk. When the Hariri racket imposed a “Whatsapp tax” over calls, that led to massive protests in October. Capital embarked on free flight and the currency collapsed for good.

There’s absolutely no evidence the IMF, the World Bank and assorted Western/Arab “donors” will extricate a now devastated Lebanon from the neoliberal logic that plunged it into a systemic crisis in the first place.

The way out would be to focus in productive investments, away from finance and geared towards the practical necessities of an austerity-battered and completely impoverished population.

Yet Macron, the IMF and their “partners” are only interested in keeping monetary “stability”; seduce speculative foreign capital; make sure that the rapacious, Western-connected Lebanese oligarchy will get away with murder; and on top of it buy scores of Lebanese assets for peanuts.

BRI or bust

In stark contrast with the exploitative perpetuation of the Western neoliberal model, China is offering Lebanon the chance to Go East, and be part of the New Silk Roads.

In 2017, Lebanon signed to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In 2018, Lebanon became the 87th member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Over the past few years, Lebanon was already taking part in the internationalization of the yuan, offering bank accounts in yuan and increasing bilateral trade in yuan.

Beijing was already engaged in discussions revolving around the upgrading of Lebanese infrastructure – including the expansion of Beirut harbor.

This means that now Beijing may be in the position of offering a renewed, joint rebuilding/security deal for Beirut port – just as it was about to clinch a smaller agreement with Diab’s government, focused only on expansion and renovation.

The bottom line is that China has an actual Plan A to extricate Lebanon from its current financial dead end.

And that’s exactly what was, and remains, total anathema to US, NATO and Israel’s interests.

The Trump administration recently went no holds barred to prevent Israel from having China develop the port of Haifa.

The same “offer you can’t refuse” tactics will be applied with full force on whoever leads the new Lebanese government.

Beirut is an absolutely key node in BRI’s geopolitical/geoeconomic connectivity of the Eastern Mediterranean. With Haifa temporarily out of the picture, Beirut grows in importance as a gateway to the EU, complementing the role of Pireus and Italian ports in the Adriatic.

It’s crucial to note that the port itself was not destroyed. The enormous crater on site replaces only a section quayside – and the rest is on water. The buildings destroyed can be rebuilt in record time. Reconstruction of the port is estimated at $15 billion – pocket money for an experienced company such as China Harbor.

Meanwhile, naval traffic is being redirected to Tripoli port, 80 km north of Beirut and only 30 km away from the Lebanon-Syria border. Its director, Ahmed Tamer, confirms “the port has witnessed during the past years the expansion work by Chinese companies, and it has received the largest ships from China, carrying a big number of containers”.

Add to it the fact that Tripoli port will also be essential in the process of Syria reconstruction – to which China is totally committed.

BRI’s Southwest Asia connectivity network is a maze including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

China is already planning to invest in highway and railroads, further to be developed into high-speed rail. That will connect BRI’s central China-Iran corridor – fresh from the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership deal soon to be signed – with the Eastern Mediterranean.

Add to it the role of the port of Tartus in Syria – bearing a strong Russian naval presence. Beijing will inevitably invest in the expansion of Tartus – which is crucially linked by highway to Lebanon. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be involved in the protection of Tartus with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.

Historically, in a larger axis that went from Samarkand to Cordoba, with strong nodes such as Baghdad and Damascus, what slowly evolved in this part of Eurasia was a syncretic civilization superimposed over an ancestral regional, rural and nomad background. The internal cohesion of the Muslim world was forged from the 7th century to the 11th century: that was the key factor that shaped the lineaments of a coherent Eurasia.

Apart from Islam, Arabic – the language of religion, administration, trade and culture – was an essential unifying factor. This evolving Muslim world was configured as a vast economic and cultural domain whose roots connected to Greek, Semitic, Persian, Indian and Arab thought. It was a marvelous synthesis that formed a unique civilization out of elements of different origin – Persian, Mesopotamian, Byzantine.

The Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean were of course part of it, totally open towards the Indian Ocean, the Caspian routes, Central Asia and China.

Now, centuries later, Lebanon should have everything to gain by ditching the “Paris of the Orient” mythology and looking East – again, thus positioning itself on the right side of History.

Macron in Lebanon: Hijabi Reporter Not Allowed to Speak and Dual Standards on Protesters

Source

Macron in Lebanon: Hijabi Reporter Not Allowed to Speak and Dual Standards on Protesters

By Nour Rida

On Thursday, August 7, 2020, Western mainstream media covered French President Manuel Macron’s visit to Lebanon in the aftermath of the Hiroshima-like explosion that hit Lebanon three days earlier. News headlines and stories covered his visit as he called for “reforms and change”, and told Lebanon that any money to help Beirut recover must come with what he called a “new political order” to replace a “system that no longer has the trust of its people.”

Of course the media failed to mention two things; Macron’s (indirect) racist attitude towards a Lebanese reporter when he got her prevented from asking a question during a press conference, and his dual standards in dealing with protesters in Lebanon and protesters back in France.

Mona Tahini, a Lebanese citizen who has been working as a news reporter for the past 13 years was prevented from asking Macron a question during his press conference at the Pine Palace in Beirut on Thursday, one single question, at the time other reporters were allowed to ask multiple questions or even have discussions and pose for pictures with the French president.

The reporter who works for al-Manar TV, posted a video on her Twitter account which shows Macron having a side talk and taking selfie pictures with a number of journalists although the pretext for preventing her from raising her question was that that the French President Macron did not have enough time before heading to the airport to back into France.

Tahini said that some journalists consumed a long time while raising their questions, adding that she was not given her turn to ask although she had already taken a permission for that.

Interpreting the instance, Macron’s attitude towards Tahini can be explained as prejudice and bias towards the female reporter in what clearly indicates a racist attitude towards her wardrobe as she was the only reporter wearing the Hijab. Macron was unfair, and did not give Tahini the chance to ask a question for wearing her Hijab. Else, there would be one more interpretation to preventing Tahini from asking: he is afraid of the question itself in advance.

It is said that people usually fear what they are unfamiliar with. But for someone like Macron, a President of what he claims to be a “modern” and “developed” France, he should have educated himself a bit more on that piece of cloth called Hijab; supposedly a personal and religious freedom.

Both, banning Tahini from speaking and his double standards on confronting French protesters with violence while supporting Lebanese protesters (for political aims obviously) refute the claims about Macron’s France holding the values of democracy and freedom of speech. Not only does his attitude contest his claims of being democratic, but also highlights the lack of values France claims as one of its major legacies in its motto of the so-called French revolution: “egalité” i.e. equality.

Now before discussing Macron and his dual standards on protesters, it is interesting to see how Western mainstream media frames the story. It reported that “Lebanese protesters” seemed to feel like Macron was on their side and reporting that they said “he was their only hope.” Quoting one protester, the media allowed itself to do what it does all the time, have one speak on behalf of a few million who do not agree with that view point necessarily.  Western media and Macron are similar in one aspect: they both allow themselves to speak on behalf of others.

Now Macron warmly reacted with Lebanese protesters who chanted “Revolution!” as he walked through the Gemmayze street. The scenario seems a bit odd when remembering France’s 2019 which offers a preview of Macron’s real face and how he could not take in any criticism: growing protests against liberalism—and growing brutality against the protests.

Protesters in France believed they were objecting Macron’s Neoliberal policies which have brought so much poverty & human misery to France, but Macron could not digest it. Thousands of Yellow vests or “Gilets Jaunes” took to the streets in for long consecutive weeks and were confronted with severe violence.

Never mind, we are by no means in a place to impeach Macron for his violence against his own people, they can sort out their issues within their country, but of course it remains sad to see how French protesters are confronted with tear gas bombs and severe ferocity.

What should be unclouded and completely transparent is that Macron, who enjoys no tolerance back at home towards his people and is accused of standing behind a corrupt system is by no means eligible to guide Lebanon on what to do and how to sort out its issues.

AMERICA FAILS PANDEMIC STRESS TEST

05.06.2020 

South Front

America Fails Pandemic Stress Test

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

It is well established in scholarly literature on international conflict that whenever a country behaves in an erratic, aggressive manner, it is nearly always a reflection of deep-seated internal social, political, and economic problems which the country’s leadership is unable or unwilling to address. United States is an example of what happens when that country is a superpower facing not only international decline, but also internal decay. Zbigniew Brzezinski infamously described the Soviet Union as “Upper Volta with rockets”. That was never a fair comparison, since USSR lacked the massive pockets of poverty, social exclusion, and downright police repression that the United States boasts. Likewise the Soviet health care system could have coped with a pandemic better than the US one or even the current Russian Federation one. Today’s America, however, is that country Brzezinski spoke about. Expanding its global influence through direct, proxy, and hybrid wars became the most attractive policy tool intended to restore the health of the US economy which, since the end of the Cold War, was kept alive mainly by extremely permissive monetary policies of the US Federal Reserve which in the end inflated several stock market bubbles. Even today the Federal Reserve’s main concern is keeping the Dow Jones rally going, because a collapse on the markets would permanently cripple the US economy.

This is Philly around 5:30 today. There is just no defense for this behavior. At all.


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However, at risk of mixing metaphors, an economy built on equity bubbles is a house of card that will collapse at the slightest shock. COVID-19 proved to be that shock, a “Black Swan” event that has been predicted for many years  that would precipitate a radical transformation of domestic political systems and of the balance of power in the international system. The pandemic became a test of not just public health systems, but of the strength of each country’s economy, the cohesion of its society, and the ability of its government to govern. Even though we are still in the early stages of the crisis, we can already see that some states are passing the test (so far) with flying colors, while others are being wracked by internal turmoil. To quote Warren Buffett, when the tide recedes you see who has been swimming naked. The United States has been revealed to be quite wardrobe-challenged in this instance.

America Fails Pandemic Stress Test

The callous slow-motion torture and murder of George Floyd in the Democratic Party stronghold of Minneapolis by four police officers with long histories of brutality against ethnic minorities was the spark that ignited the powder keg of US race relations. It certainly did not help that the United States created forty million new unemployed and failed to provide them with adequate financial support, due to the infamously miserly US social safety net. And just as COVID-19 is disproportionately lethal to US ethnic minorities who suffer from a higher level of underlying medical conditions due to poverty, malnutrition, and stress, so did the job losses disproportionately affect African Americans. The average black worker does not “work from home” on his laptop computer. Rather, the average black worker is employed in food service, hospitality, and retail, all of which have been crushed by the pandemic and, especially, the lockdown measures. It is no wonder that the conservatives wanted to “re-open” the economy as quickly as possible. Chasing millions of African Americans back to their menial jobs, even when it involved them facing greater risk of infection and death, would at least deprive them of the free time they have available to protest.


Just about an hour ago, police officers shove man in Niagara Square to the ground (WARNING: Graphic). Video from: @MikeDesmondWBFO


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The Fuel

The speed with which the protests spread across the country, affecting every state and most large cities, is a reflection of the universality of the problem that the events in Minneapolis revealed. In the face of slow-motion economic collapse and the destruction of the American middle class, the US political system at both state and federal levels has subtly but effectively sought to shift the economic pain to the minorities, in order to preserve the standard of living of the white middle class on whose support the legitimacy of the US political and economic system still rests. The armed white militias that protested at several state legislatures only a month earlier are an expression of that fear. The “don’t tread on me” Gadsden Flags quite clearly express who is to be tread upon, and who is not. They are a warning that should US elites attempt to economically marginalize the white middle class, they may expect a forceful response. The weak police response to law-breaking perpetrated by armed white militias was not lost on most commentators, either. But these politics of “economic triage” where the pain is shifted to the communities of color also implies the need for heavy-handed police repression which US police forces are all too happy to deliver. US law enforcement should not be seen as a collection of politically-neutral guardians of law and order. Rather, it skews heavily toward the right, even the far-right, and it is no surprise that Donald Trump enjoys the overwhelming support of American police unions and organizations. While these trends were evident for the last decade at least, since the 2008 crisis to which the US government never found an adequate response, the pandemic accelerated it to the point of the tensions and grievances finally boiling over.

The Firehose

Whenever a fire breaks out, it is ultimately either put out or burns itself out due to lack of fuel. It is doubtful this is going to burn itself out on its own, given that the US law enforcement is now providing more provocation with its heavy-handed tactics on daily basis, and moreover neither the pandemic nor the economic crisis are going anywhere any time soon. Since the United States is now in the throes of domestic unrest not seen since the days of Vietnam War, it raises the question of what is to be done about it? Which leaders, which policies, might definitively address the grievances of the masses?

We can safely say Donald Trump will not be the one, because to the extent he is wielding a fire hose, it seems to be mostly spraying gasoline on the fire. Literally every action, every statement, every tweet, has served to polarize and exacerbate the problems. It may be Trump is doing this deliberately, hoping to replicate Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” strategy, an idea that is supported by Trump himself tweeting these words. Yes, the riots polarize, but the hope is that, when the smoke clears, Trump’s half is the bigger of the two and, like Nixon, he secures his re-election. Richard Nixon won his re-election by a landslide, even though after the fact almost nobody admitted ever voting for him. However, few things motivate voting for conservatives in the US more than the sight of black rioters and looters.

Of course, the problem Trump faces here is that Joe Biden has impeccable “law and order” credentials, complete with the ability to “dog whistle” to white conservatives. Biden, after all, is the politician who said in the 1970s he did not want his children to “grow up in a racial jungle”, and his support of anti-crime legislation which led to the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the last few decades suggests he is willing to put his money where his mouth is. Thanks to his role as Obama’s vice president, he also has certain sway among the African American community that has served him well in the primaries and obscured his previous racist record. But in the end Biden is no Obama, whose combination of personality and politics was just enough to keep America from blowing up. Biden does not have the same combination, and moreover he is presiding over an economic catastrophe that will not be as easy to rectify by throwing money at banks the way the 2008 crisis was.

The one politician who correctly identifies both problems and solutions and who also commands considerable popular support, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has been effectively sidelined by the Democratic Party which is utterly uninterested in adopting policies of economic and social justice. It means that, in the longer term, America will move toward greater police repression which will be far more easily accepted by the white public when it is done during a Biden presidency. Given that neither Biden’s nor Obama’s public appearances were effective at demobilizing the protests, it means the United States is facing the prospect of its own Yellow Vest-style uprising, namely a continuous low-level anti-government uprising that will ebb and flow but never entirely disappear.

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Rebellions across the US: Why worry? Just ask Dr. Fauci to tell us what to do

Rebellions across the US: Why worry? Just ask Dr. Fauci to tell us what to do

June 02, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The headline says it all – why even write the article? Journalism has – of course, and with universal unanimity – become merely the relaying of the statements of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci is not just an immunologist – he’s an economist, historian, judge, legislator (national, state, county, city and village), manufacturer, landlord, employer, son, daughter, mother, lawyer for both the prosecutor and the defense, employee, renter and, though he blushes when forced to admit it, also the Holy Father worshipped as God by several billion people currently and for a few thousand years.

How should we run the economy? Ask Fauci.

How should prayers be held? Ask Fauci.

How should teachers teach? Ask Fauci.

So what on earth needs to be done about the rebellions taking place across the US other than – ask Fauci?

Why should I desist in writing this way? It has been over four months of Fauci-worship in the US and you can’t just turn that off – it’s not like an economy.

Fauci is the pinnacle of the Western belief that socialism’s “Serve the People” should be replaced with “Serve the wealthy technocrat”. Fauci’s ideas have had more effect on today’s American than Henry Ford multiplied by Abraham Lincoln raised to the power of jazz.

My God, I wish I could I see just one Chinese Cultural Revolution-style public interrogation of a mainstream media journalist about what on earth were they thinking when they unskeptically ran from Fauci’s press conferences to frog march everyone off to the phony, unwinnable coronavirus war, which has now resulted in the current US wave of rebellions.

Frankly, I blame myself for this mess. Somehow – though the how is not determined – my placement in the media class makes me feel culpable for their errors. Somehow, I could have out-shouted them all, or should at least have taken the batteries out of their microphones.

This is not a nonsense article you are reading – it is merely there reflection of there being too many newsworthy things to discuss, and it comes after some 2.5 months of too many newsworthy things to discuss, read and write about. Thus, this column is simply an accurate reflection of everyone’s current state in the US: burnt out, fed up and quite, quite content if the Apocalypse/Day of Resurrection should arrive this afternoon.

Let’s compare the rebellion, police response and media coverage with the Yellow Vests in France – considering that I seem to have been the “mainstream” media member most often at those protests (incredibly, this is true not just for English-language journalists but French-language journalists as well), I have seen all this before and am practically obligated to at least put my stupid two cents out there.

Naaah… to hell with it.

And thus I have just perfectly captured the US zeitgeist: a lousy world is burning, and… what else did they expect? Why should I do anything about it? Hell, not only are the protesters right, but they are long overdue! I am not getting unemployment but I don’t see any reason to go back to work right now, too.

How about that siege of the CNN headquarters in Atlanta? You know that everyone in CNN and all their colleagues were like, “Wait… the average person actually doesn’t like us and slavishly follow our great opinions?” Hahahahahahahahahahahahhahaahaha – what clueless jerks! Did you see how that CNN reporter who got arrested put up ZERO verbal resistance to the cops? Wow, uh, that was a LOT of compliance towards lawbreaking authorities – but that’s how you get that CNN gig; that reporter couldn’t make it in France, that’s for sure. What am I saying – they’d make somebody as compliant as him editor in chief! I feel obligated to write a column on all that, but:

Naaah… to hell with it.

It’s a crazy thought and one I don’t mean but: how many people are currently wishing that millions of people had actually died of coronavirus – then at least then all this economic depression, emotional depression, political depression/repression (and none of those things are even close to being finished) sparked by the Great Lockdown would have at least been “worth it”.

I want to hear it from the mouth of the oracle himself: did Fauci expect unprecedented rebellion to occur as a result of his insanely stupid corona lockdown? Because it did.

Does Fauci still think the biggest public discussion we need to have is about ending the cultural practice of shaking hands, which he famously said he wants to ban?

Will Fauci apologise for any of this?

Get the dunce caps and call the farmers: a hundred thousand low-wage manure spreaders should soon be coming to help out with the crops, and Fauci’s gotta be among them because he needs to get over his germ-phobia. It’s Cultural Revolution time!

“Black man killed by cop in America” is not at all front page news. Fifty people got shot in Chicago over this month’s 3-day Memorial Day weekend – I’m sure 95% of them were Black – and that was not front page news either, and not even in Chicago’s own media! So in response to the rebellions: good! How are those things NOT headlines? Fifty people in one city?! Again?!

The US Mainstream Media is trying to explain the rebellions solely with a lens of race and police violence, but police violence towards Blacks is so routine it’s not at all front page news, sadly. The larger analysis reveals: it’s the Great Lockdown, stupid, and the Everything Bubble 2 economy it popped.

America is a totally, totally screwed up society and for political-moral reasons. That is not a religious condemnation – it is a simple analysis which well over 100 million Americans (at least) certainly agree with. They are the ones protesting tonight, and they will be protesting when the unemployment runs out on August 1, and hopefully they will protesting before and after that as well.

“No justice, no peace” is a really dumb political slogan: Black people and the lower classes never get justice, and they have advocated peace for not just decades but centuries and… it hasn’t worked – it will never work in a capitalist-imperialist system and in a liberal democracy which only protects aristocratic privileges. Due to the forced political dis-education of the average American their political ideas and slogans are woefully, woefully unmodern, outdated and clearly ineffective. This all seems like an idea for a column.

Naaah… to hell with it.

There’s just too much to talk about. Gonna be a long, hot post-Great Lockdown summer.

*********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20,

2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately – May 25, 2021

August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin – May 28, 2021

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately

May 26, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Since the West’s Great Lockdown started I’ve been warning the West that they can’t do it – a capitalist-imperialist system cannot do an immediate 180 and copy China, Iran, Vietnam and others. I gave so many reasons why that was a catastrophically bad idea:

The “sports-journalisation” of their media, the unbloody flag of Y2K, counting on Germany as “reliable partners”, the perilous idea that social media users should constitute a vanguard party, a corona response shaped by middle-class mediocrity would have been acceptable if there was any middle class left in the West, only Black Nationalists picked up on my phrase “the Great Segregation”, a gratuitous use of the word “Michigander”, a polite suggestion that widespread American matriarchy may promote the hysterical acceptance of any idea that springs to mind, the fact that if the Western 1% would collude to start World War One isn’t it possible they would conspire to create a Great Lockdown, and a couple dozen others.

I certainly persuaded myself the Great lockdown should end, at least!

However, it turns out I’m a really bad revolutionary: Instead of gleefully putting my boot heel on the forehead of the corona-felled West and calling for immediate and violent revolution I kept giving them ideas which were aimed to help them avoid pushing their society into Great Depression II-levels of joblessness, starvation and stagflation.

In essence I was yelling, “Stagflation is not some word that I made up! You should really reconsider trying to be like China overnight because there is no Mandarin for ‘Great Recession’!”

Listen to me… giving fair warning to the capitalist-imperialist enemy. What a softie I am! What a phony!

If there’s one thing the last 20 years of Western history has taught me it’s this – blaming Islam is always an acceptable explanation for mistakes: I have taken to heart too much that a Muslim’s duty is only to warn others (this is why Islam has no missionaries).

Well, it’s time for forcible conversion! Unveil the American Cultural Revolution!

Corona will unveil the American Cultural Revolution

Look: I was wrong – it’s all over for the West now.

It was over before it even started because capitalism-imperialism is no way to run a cultural bloc, but I gave enough fair warning in May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops.

The US, the leader of the West, has 43 million unemployed, which is undercounting, around 42% of whom aren’t going to be rehired for years, who already had lousy jobs which were underemployment and not full employment, which provided lousy and stagnant wages, which is hardest on a youth class who can no longer be distracted by taking pictures of and dissecting the different flavours of their avocado toasts because the avocados are all being dumped into a ravine to keep prices down by a farmer who is only a few months from suicide.

Hertz, JC Penny, Pier 1 many other top retailers and countless restaurants already have something in common with the lilies in the field described in Matthew 6:28 – Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not. Who can toil for not just bread but the credit card interest charged for that bread when bankruptcies of Biblical proportions have only just begun?

Bankruptcies lead to job loss; job loss leads to hunger and foreclosure; hunger and foreclosure leads to asking for government handouts; Anglo-American liberal economics’ refusal to give government handouts leads to endemic poverty and suffering; endemic poverty and suffering is proof that your favourite sociopolitical system sucks.

Stop pretending that the capitalists of any school have solutions to this – “letting capitalism run its course” via non-interventions is not just immoral and heartless but unpatriotic treachery: you prefer to maintain the fiction that your favourite sociopolitical system doesn’t suck rather than feeding your neighbor?! I am no promoter of “culture with American characteristics”, but at least I tried to warn them to avoid starvation, murder and chaos.

The US is, without the slightest exaggeration, now encountered with a fatal paradox: The only way to save “capitalism with US characteristics” is to immediately take public action to save it, but the actions required to save “capitalism with US characteristics” would destroy the system of “capitalism with US characteristics” beyond recognition.

The leftist opportunity provided by corona lockdowns – you’ll HAVE TO talk politics now

What we have now is a situation where people have the time to complete the single-most necessary task which precedes revolutionary change: talking seriously to each other about politics, and demanding the other person either admit to hard choices or get out of the way.

Since 1980 the hyperfinancialisation of the US economy enabled credit-based materialism on an incredible scale, and this mad scramble of work-buy-sleep-repeat has come to a temporary end – this is a great boon. This forced break is the greatest gift coronavirus is giving the US – it’s like a Ramadan they never had.

Let’s assume there’s a second wave, and a Great Lockdown II, or at least many other hysterical shutterings of auto plants and schools after one new corona case is found, and a real stop-and-start quality to life for the next 12 months or so. This should require more “People’s QE”, but it definitely means that Americans will be forced to often stay at home and really talk – via Zoom or the telephone or in person while being masked – about how outdated and aristocratically-rigged the Western liberal system is and how it needs to be changed, to modernise, to progress for the better.

Basically, the short- and medium-term conditions are spectacularly ripe for Cultural Revolution across the West.

There is no V-shaped recovery – they actually did this stupid thing I warned them not to – and you can reliably count on there being favourable conditions for fomenting leftist dissent until at least 2023.

Beyond the certainty of slow-drip economic disaster – corona is the pin which has popped the West’s Everything Bubble II economy – what’s so unique about this era is that we all have so much more time at home to stew about bad politics. So very many will be doing this without any stew, or only on barebones government-provided stew, but that is precisely what a Cultural Revolution is: stewing and arguing over what form our obviously-broken society must take from now on.

This is what happened in a China where revolutionary spirit was dwindling and mutating into a city-based elitism, as well as in an Iran which had declared non-allegiance to both the East and West despite having no modern Muslim political-cultural example to model themselves on.

Corona is doing what the Yellow Vests did – forcing open a space for honest political dialogue, finally

The simplest way to explain it is to put it in Western cultural terms: what France’s Yellow Vests are demanding is a French Cultural Revolution in order to expand democracy’s reach into the lower classes, something aristocratic Western liberal democracy has never achieved, nor even aimed to. – the parallel with 1960s China and 1980s Iran could not be more clear… if the West wasn’t so hell-bent on distorting those two eras, as well as distorting the Yellow Vests, too.

The Yellow Vests aren’t going to get revolution – such is the power of the modern aristocratic forces arrayed against them. Similarly, despite all the guns in private hands, the US is even less ripe for a modern revolution due to the 40 years of enforced political ignorance and political apathy that I described.

However, just as the Yellow Vests forced open a new space for honest political talk in France, the consequences of the Great Lockdown will create the space for honest political talk in the US.

The fall of the dollar, ‘Liberty or Boogaloo’, true cultural revolution – these things appear far-fetched to honestly expect (at least in late May 2020), but we can realistically expect that corona’s popping of Everything Bubble II will dramatically change the US political dialogue, like the Yellow Vests certainly did in France.

I have obviously reassessed my editorial line – no more warning, because the fight is over: the corona overreaction has knocked Western capitalism-imperialism to the canvas and it will remain floored for at least 2-3 years.

So if there was ever a time where an American could say openly, “You know, I’m not sure if those socialists ever had a single good idea, but I do know our system has definitely lost its way,” and not worry about being all alone in saying that – it is today and during the now-certain era of economic hardship.

“Our system has lost its way” is the ubiquitous, mantric phrase which always indicates the coming of revolution.

However, I’m certain that if Lenin was around in May 2020 he would do what he did between the twin revolutions of February and October 1917 – he would have forbidden the Bolshevik Party to take power because cultural conditions were not yet ripe. The capitalist-imperialist Americans (and French) are so very impressed with their own cultures that true revolution is not yet possible.

It’s fun and interesting to read a journalist write that revolutionary changes are on our doorstep already – I don’t think such journalists are personally familiar with revolution. We can’t even know just how bad it’s going to be until the West actually opens up, but after all this Great Lockdown we do know this: it’s going to be quite, quite bad for them.

Would Americans fiscally blow up America rather than go somewhat socialist for the benefit of their own 99%? This is more than just the topic for an upcoming column – it’s the question of the corona-crisis/Great Depression II era.

In whatever sense this means to you: corona is not going away. Its presence will be viscerally felt for the coming months and few years – now is the time, finally, when Americans will be receptive to the case made by true leftism.

*********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists?

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists?

May 15, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

(Hey hey, my new book is out today! Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. Buy a copy for yourself and 50 of your closest friends and Iranophobic/Islamophobic/socialism-phobic enemies.)

On May 14 France’s nurses held a protest march in Paris despite ongoing fears about coronavirus — so are they no longer rightly-guided heroes but far-right neo-fascists now?

For several months we’ve been banging pots in gratitude and watching corporations praise them in TV ads but – there they are: gathering in public, not really keeping 2 meters between each other, demanding economic policy changes, defying the advice of their well-paid bosses and generally being very, very bad children who should go straight to bed after dinner.

France’s medical staff won’t be infantilised and have no time for jokes – they are tired of enduring economic hardship and poor working conditions.

Those with overprotective parents claimed the Great Lockdown was to save just one life, but the most common justification among mature adults was to avoid overwhelming medical systems – in France they failed to heed years of public protests saying exactly that.

Excepting the Yellow Vests, nobody in France has protested more in the past couple years than medical staff – austerity has gutted a medical system which in 2000 was ranked number one in the world. I got tired of covering them. My Sputnik Français colleagues hid the tedium of our job as far as the second paragraph: “… protested in order to denounce a lack of resources. It’s a demand which is far from new.” But, you know, people gotta listen to the protesters, so work has us back on the streets again….

Had people listened earlier, France would have far fewer dead grandparents today.

In the US people were explicitly told by Western journalists to not listen to the first anti-Great Lockdown protests, in Michigan. I immediately supported the protesters (in We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state?) because, you know – we’re trying to have a democracy here. However, the fake-leftist media looked on them with loathing and terror – calling them irresponsible, science-stupid, selfish, death-crazed, martyrdom-seeking, dangerous curmudgeons and neighbors who would not loan you a cup of sugar.

So the same applies to these French nurses, right?

You would accuse them of being nonchalant about corona? (Or is their crime that they aren’t single-mindedly obsessed with corona enough?)

We can’t really say, because there is no mention of the protesting nurses in Western media, or even in French state foreign-language media. From a mixed economy model to these nurses – more of “the French bad example”.

The widespread insulting of Michiganders refused to take into account their economic situation and the fact that their type of state put them in such a vulnerable position. A stunning 25% of their workers had just become jobless, so why wouldn’t they be demonstrating to get the government’s attention? On top of that their governor imposed an extremely harsh stay-at-home order, as though this was something routine for Michiganders instead of being a (hysterical, economically-suicidal overreaction) shocking, unprecedented first which is undoubtedly more restrictive on movement than being sentenced to house arrest for having committed a serious crime.

Do I think France’s nurses are heroes? Not really – I never asked them to do my job and stand at the front lines during the Yellow Vest protests and do live interviews, giving a big target for the rubber bullets. But, then again, my local garbagemen never asked me to heroically hoist refuse cans for decades even though it’s hardly fun and statistically likely to lead to an early death. And no housewife ever asked me to take care of the kids for even one month, and that seems harder than being a garbageman. Am I a curmudgeon or conceited? No, when one accepts socialism one can’t help but view all workers are equal (capitalists never enjoy this feeling). We all deserve our 15 minutes of fame, I suppose, but caring about fame is decidedly not heroism.

But the kiddies do need heroes, so should the West start cheering: “Nurses are our heroes – except French nurses!”

There is a very worrying outcome of the recent hero worship of medical practitioners: more doctors are now entering politics. The problem with this is simple: you can’t tell a doctor anything – they are the world’s worst-know-it-alls/sufferers from God complexes. They march into a room, quite late, hand down a diagnosis with absolute certainty, which then turns out to be wrong and kills you later (CNBC: The third-leading cause of death in US most doctors don’t want you to know about), but not before you are debt-yoked to a hugely inflated bill, and then doctors imperiously march into the next room and do the same thing all over again. This is NOT a mentality conducive to the consensus-building demanded by democracy.

Well, that’s in socialist-inspired democracy. In liberal democracy technocrats rule with executive decrees, so look for more doctors in office – they can afford to campaign, after all. Thus, “the recent hero worship of medical practitioners” isn’t going to lead to sensible, humble, hard-working nurses to get into office in the West – liberal democracy systematically puts the rich into office.

‘Liberty or boogaloo’? God bless America!

The coronavirus has really laid bare how dictatorial and anti-democratic their executive-dominated system really is, no? What checks and balances, much less public opinion reflected in public policy?

Across the country governors (the presidents of states) have imposed lockdowns without a single legislative vote of approval (at least that I can find). Michigan’s governor, a front-runner to be Biden’s vice-president, seems disturbingly rankled by the existence of other elected officials: Gov. Whitmer blasts Michigan Legislature for meeting during stay-at-home order, says she will veto power-limiting bills. Historically, this trend towards executive decree “began” with Dubya Bush and the Patriot Act, but that’s an inaccurate and sentimental reading of Western liberal democratic history. However, it clearly has become de rigeur across the West, and especially in Hollande/Macron France.

Wisconsin has become the first state, finally, whose judicial branch finally got involved and struck down their governor’s unilateral decree. (What’s amazing is how the Mainstream Media coverage of this was nothing but political sniping – Republicans undermining Democrats – from the very lede sentence.)

If there really are checks and balances in Western liberal democracy they are non-existent or move too slow. The reality is that judges in general are overwhelmingly hyper-conservative and in a non-revolutionary nation do nothing but defend the status quo – why has no judge interceded to prevent the weekly mauling of the Yellow Vests, for example?

(The Vesters will be out there this Saturday, of course, but we already knew what naughty children they are. I wonder if the media will cover it? If they do I doubt they will cover them two weeks in a row.)

It was historically predictable that Michigan and Wisconsin are the first to demand their rights – the Midwest has historically been the hotbed of American “progressivism” (but they still can’t say socialist over there). The state of Missouri was the first to sue China which, LOL, is misguided but at least they are sticking up for residents of the “Show-Me State”. Texas is semi-Midwestern, and non-Americans would expect them to be the first to resist for their sovereign rights, but Texans mostly just talk a lot – like Dubya Bush: all (cowboy) hat and no cattle.

By far the most delightful, “only in America” news item actually comes from the incredibly unfunky state of New Hampshire – “armed demonstrators passed out ‘Liberty or Boogaloo’ fliers at a statehouse protest”. You must be a fake-leftist if you can’t support that, LOL!

I know that when my liberty feels too infringed I immediately break out my best boogaloo dance – it works surprisingly well. I have a “Where’s My Bailout?” t-shirt from 2008 – I need a “Liberty or Boogaloo” t-shirt to sartorially commemorate the Great Lockdown. I really have to question the alleged superiority of the American entrepreneur when I cannot yet find such a t-shirt for sale?

Western journalists have thrown away skepticism during corona, except towards protesters

French nurses go against the script and thus they get ignored, but most often anti-corona hysteria protesters just get discredited.

The reality back in April was that the Michigan gun-wavers were just a small fringe group – the overwhelming majority of protesters stayed in their car as it was primarily an “auto protest”. The Mainstream Media focused on a tiny portion of overall demonstrators in order to totally discredit the anti-establishment message.

In today’s New York Times lead economics columnist, Paul Krugman (who surely cannot boogaloo his way out of a wet paper bag) also discredits the protesters, opposes ending the Great Lockdown (“never mind what the experts say”, he condescendingly pouts) and even fails to bring up a single word about the obvious economic justification for American discontent in his article Covid-19 Reality has a liberal bias:

Indeed, the antilockdown demonstrations of recent weeks appear to have been organized in part by the same people and groups that have spent decades denying climate change.

Virus trutherism is also reminiscent of the various kinds of trutherism that ran rampant during the Obama years. Inflation truthers insisted that the government was hiding the truth about rampant inflation; unemployment truthers, including a guy named Donald Trump, insisted that the steadily improving job numbers were fake.

In my last article (which elicited no happy dancing) Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona, I noted how Western inflation gauges exclude food, energy, housing, medical care and education costs – call me a “conspiracy theorist” for saying some hiding is going on, Paul. US unemployment data counts working just one hour per week as being employed, which allows part-time work and underemployment to pad their (pre-Great Lockdown ) alleged “full employment” rate – Paul must know this, but reporting that doesn’t keep in you in New York Times clover.

The Guardian’s anti-Michigander piece (yes, I enjoy writing the word “Michigander”) I linked to from April 17 used this same “discredit-via-the-organiser” tactic – as if participants were sheep and not humans with free will – in the 5th paragraph of their story.

This is the same tactic we saw against the Yellow Vests. In the 21st century West being lower class and making economic demands automatically makes one a far-right, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, deplorable neo-fascist. Unfortunately, political understanding will progress not one millimeter with such an unfactual position, yet there is huge popular Western support for such a political interpretation.

People also think I eccentrically enjoy writing the term “fake-leftist”, but it’s really quite necessary: in the US the term “leftist” is refused by Democrats as too radical, so they prefer what Krugman used in his headline – “liberals”. US liberals have only the scantest leftist economic component to their ideology – when you press them to be honest they are resolutely anti-socialist and inevitably support not just neo-imperialism but even many aspects of far-right neoliberalism. Yes, they do not openly claim to be “leftist”, but they certainly falsely and opportunistically present themselves that way. This is why “fake-leftist” can and should be used synonymously with “liberal”.

Liberals, fake-leftists and corona hysterics have two things in common: they are now hissing and booing at the French nurses, and they cannot boogaloo.

**********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory?

May 09, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory?

By Ramin Mazaheri – for the Saker Blog

A party built around climate change is a luxury only the West can afford, and like most luxuries it is a corrupting influence.

While covering a protest in France several years ago a union member told me how she hoped Iran would stop selling its oil in order to protect the environment.

“Sure,” I told her, “how many billions of euros can we expect France to send us so we can buy food?” I assume she is still ignoring this inconvenient truth and enormous flaw in climate change demands on non-Western countries.

Nobody knows how things will shake out in May 2020 – just how bad the West’s Double Bubble + Great Lockdown economy will soon be – but prior to coronavirus green parties were poised to become a top two party across the West for the first time. In 2019 European Parliament elections they shockingly won 10% of seats and 13% of France’s.

That’s not a majority, but the up-to-the-minute reality is that everybody else has been discredited across the Eurozone: the conservatives, the fake-leftists/pseudo-socialists, the nouveau centrists like Emmanuel Macron, the real-but-disliked leftists. Voters who don’t go far-right have only one choice, and that’s a Green party.

The corona overreaction is throwing a spanner into the works, but are we really predicting a revolution in the Western political trajectory?

It’s certain that the neoliberal response cannot possibly satisfy the lower classes, thus incumbents aren’t going to survive their next election: the next five years should be the same as pre-corona – green parties will play the role of ineffectual opposition/status quo-enforcers to far-right corporate fascists who are more jingoistic than patriotic. That’s what politics will be in much of the West, though not in the two-party Anglophone world.

And yet greens will do what fake-leftists always do: screw up, sell out and falsely claim total ownership of the moral high ground.

Given that greens are the political force most poised to profit in the post-corona profit we should ask: Why are the greens such fake-leftists and so unable to provide adequate solutions for the Western lower classes?

Thomas Piketty and why we have to remind hippies that humans have feelings too, just like crystals do

On a moral level greens are human-hating Malthusians at heart – who could deny that? They put rocks and squirrels ahead of people.

On a political level the problem with handing the greens power amid an economic crisis is how very neoliberal their economics are: capitalism-imperialism fringed with a green garland is still rapacious capitalism-imperialism, after all. Perhaps because they are such animal and nature worshippers greens have totally swallowed the idea that “animal spirits” are the only thing which can possibly guide the economy. Which totem animal corresponds to the spirt of compound debt, I wonder?

We can now understand how very easy it will be for the Western 1% to pivot and embrace green parties as a “solution” to pacify the masses post-corona, much like Barry Obama rebranded the US in 2008.

To prove my point: take this extended interview from April 27 with economist-of-the-decade Thomas Piketty by The Intelligencer, which is part of the fake-leftist New York Media digital empire: here we can witness fake-leftist Westerners have it dawn on them that… oh yeah, it seems politics actually can shape economic outcomes?

Piketty is known as the “scholar of inequality”, and while such issues are the focus of leftists it does not mean he automatically is a socialist and not a capitalist. In the interview he discusses his new book and its solution to the Great Recession-cum-Great Depression 2: “participatory socialism”.

Much like Bernie Sanders (the Democratic Party chiefs he repeatedly bows to surely think: “Thank God we have a donkey like him!”) and his “democratic socialism”, Piketty also misunderstands socialism so very much that he thinks he needs a modifying adjective. At best, we can say that these fake-leftists only grasp the primary aspect of socialism (economic redistribution), but not its second, twin pillar (political power redistribution).

The idea that socialism is not “participatory” is easily and overwhelmingly disproven:

Last year Cuba approved a new constitution: “Some 133,680 meetings were held in neighborhoods and places of work and study. There were 8,945,521 participants, with an estimated two million attending more than one, so that the participation rate was approximately three-quarters of the population. There were 1,706,872 commentaries by the people, with 783,174 proposed modifications, additions, or eliminations.  On the basis of the opinions and proposals of the people, the Constitutional Commission revised the draft.  More than 50% of the proposals of the people were included in the modifications; nearly 60% of the articles were modified in some form.

Is that not “participatory” enough?

Piketty seems to have swallowed the lie that socialism has no second pillar which upholds political empowerment of the humble citizen? We see how millions of Cuban hands wrote their constitution in a bottom-up manner, as opposed to the top-down technocracy/aristocracy of Western liberalism.

Fake-leftists fear socialism because they made no personal effort to understand it, thus their conception of socialism is based on ignorance, propaganda and self-interest, and not logic or history. We see all of these things on display from the otherwise estimable Piketty in this interview.

The West gives Piketty a chance: if he doesn’t seize the moment now then he is an idol in an ivory tower

What can we expect New York Media to say when confronted with the rapacity of neoliberalism anything but, “We had no idea?!”

We should expect more from Piketty – we can judge here if he is more than just a detached theoretician who poses no threat to status quo capitalism-imperialism.

The Intelligencer: One of the main responses to the last book, at least among the American audience, was to treat r > g (Piketty’s shorthand for the fact that the returns to capital have been greater than the growth of the economy as a whole) as though it were a law of nature that could be modified only very occasionally through exceptional political change. But actually, the fact that a rich person’s bank account grows faster than the national GDP, that’s just a phenomenon created by a particular political structure too. It’s a creation of politics.

This illustrates my point: Western fake-leftists – from those approved by investor banker scions to write for New York Media group to the greens – have no idea about how politics shapes economics even though this is the very stuff which socialism’s first pillar is made of. Yes, of course economics are created by a political structure! We see that the neoliberally-indoctrinated never question their core beliefs and “animal spirits” until it is too late.

Piketty’s mildest-of-responses – apologetic and inexplicably guilty – shows why he is so appealing to fake-leftist Westerners: the West’s favourite “leftist economist” shows how his values are not based around socialist critiques but the values of diversity drawn from cosmopolitanism, and culminating in a relativistic moral nihilism which is absolutely unacceptable in the black and white field of economics, with its measurable outcomes.

Piketty: It is.

Probably I was not sufficiently clear about that.

I must say in general I have learned a lot from all the discussion from my previous book. I have learned a lot by traveling to many countries to which I had not traveled sufficiently before. I think by broadening the scope of countries and historical trajectories I look at, it also made me realize this incredible diversity of human ideologies and human imagination to restructure all the time the societies. And that’s probably the main lesson of history, that the idea that there is only one way and there is no alternative is just wrong. 

The Intelligencer: You heard that a lot starting in the 1990s and all through 2008: There’s only one way. (The standard formation of this is ‘TINA: There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism and neo-imperialism)’.)

PikettyIt’s wrong.

We “heard that a lot” from Westerners – everywhere else people who were not aspiring to being Western clients/puppets were disagreeing… and getting bombed/blockaded for it.

Being “wrong” on this issue merits a lot of public admission of shame and guilt, but Piketty is content to allow decades of deadly mismanagement to be summarised with two words! I wish my teachers had been so leniently brief when I was wrong.

He doesn’t have to be a political firebrand or a raging poet, but we need more than just two words here: Piketty’s reticence is both culturally self-serving (Piketty is French) and also dangerous because the West’s refusal to let anyone go their own way has had such deadly and impoverishing results. Their conversation continues:

The Intelligencer: Since the crash, there has been a sort of acknowledgment from places like the IMF, World Bank, Financial Times, The Economist, all these voices of elite globalized neoliberalism saying, “Okay, there are some real problems here.” But they still aren’t thinking much about alternative models.

PikettyIf you look at how things happen, you’ll see a potential for political mobilization and historical change through social and economic and political processes, which always happen much faster than what the dominant discourse tends to imagine.

The journalist is essentially saying to Piketty: give us an alternative model, please! But Piketty backs away and exonerates those entities by saying, “Well, life moves fast.”

That’s his whole answer – it isn’t much. It’s as if Piketty wants to stay on the good side of these institutions and media – to keep getting book reviews, praise and invites to speak.

Today is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – do you know the socialist version of what happened?

It only takes a few paragraphs…

What Piketty does not say is that we need to learn from the history of socialism, which is an alternative model that has been in practice for over a century but which neoliberalism violently opposes.

Western fake-leftists know what waits for them if they say that history openly: blacklisting, de facto censorship, no more invites to speak, no more fawning reviews – it’s the same glass ceiling/first-to-be-fired which vocal union members face in their jobs. This is partially why Piketty wants to invent a “new” socialist model and thus erase a century of global history – he doesn’t want to risk his position.

Another component is that for Westerners socialism in any form is not an “alternative model” but a dead model, even though – gasp! – it clearly is a victorious model. This historical revisionism/ignorance goes back to the millions-murdering formative years of industrial capitalism (the last third of the 19th century), as I wrote about last week in The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy?

Crucially, Piketty’s generation – and the one before it and the one after it – was taught that US-led “freedom” defeated fascism. Please note neither has an economic component – it is good versus evil, liberty versus repression – whereas socialism always has a loaded economic component; the pity is that its political component (democracy both direct and indirect, like in Western democracies) was caricatured into a totalitarian dictatorship by a capitalist-imperialist 1% waging perpetual war.

Thus, 75 years later the West still does not realise that WWII saw corporate fascism defeat other corporate fascists – the US, full of Jim Crow and a military-industry complex, was indeed a corporate fascist state which defeated the German and Japanese corporate fascists.

However, even that view is false propaganda! It is the Soviet and Chinese socialists who bore the brunt of the effort to topple corporate fascism in Europe and East Asia. Western ideology rejects the obviously exponentially-larger WWII sacrifices of socialist- inspired nations, and thus for them socialism is a tragic experiment instead of a victorious concept. US corporate fascism continued unabated – it began regrowing corporate fascism (now rebranded as “neoliberalism”) in Japan, Germany and the Eurozone.

This socialist analyst crucially shows how “Corporate fascism with American characteristics” was thus never discredited, until 2008.

This illogical historical analysis is why the West is so at a loss to deal with their problems caused by modern corporate fascism (neoliberalism), and why they scratch their head say “Gee, maybe politics can influence economic outcomes?” “Of course!” is what I would have said if I only was given two words, but Piketty says, almost lamenting, “It’s true.”

We can pick up directly with the interview, continuing with the journalist’s intellectual ignorance/faux-shock with Piketty’s academic detachment/indifference. They were discussing the failure of neoliberalism’s leading lights and the possibility of “thinking” about – not discussing nor implementing – alternative models.

Piketty is not about to stand up for human, suffering Yellow Vests, but he will for Mother Nature

The Intelligencer: But of course it’s also true that those people can help design the system and how it evolves, especially in the case of something like the Great Recession. How much did that recovery worsen inequality, in your view? A layman might look at the history and say, “It’s those who have access to capital who can buy distressed assets, and, as a result, unless there is really dramatic intervention, it will always be the forces of capital that benefit from the crisis.” Is that a fair read of how we emerged from the recession?

The journalist suggested the truth – capitalism is always collusion – but Piketty does not rise to the occasion.

PikettyYou’re right that the people at the top have done better once again than average. How do you explain this? I think it’s because if you take the whole compact of fiscal, social, legal, competition policy, there has been insufficient change. In the end, probably the only lesson from the 1929 crisis both from the right and the left, if you look at economist Milton Friedman, monetary economists, everybody agreed that the Federal Reserve and the central banks in Europe made a huge mistake in the 1930s by letting banks fall one after the other. The only lesson from history in a way was “We are going to do whatever it takes, we are going to print whatever money needs to be printed, in order to save the financial sector.” Indeed, it allowed us to avoid the worst, which is a complete fall in economic activity of the kind we had in the 1930s. It’s good news in a way. We have learned something from history.

The problem, of course, is that we are not going to solve everything with central banks. There was nothing else, really, in store. What I’m a bit concerned with today is that even though there’s a lot of motivation to address structural problems, in particular the climate crisis or today’s pandemic crisis, I think there’s insufficient thinking about how to change the economic rules, the organization of property relations in particular, how much private property we want. We need to take seriously the fact that the distribution of the burden has to be discussed from a democratic viewpoint, has to be distributed across income groups. Sometimes, the climate activists, environmental activists, are so convinced that the No. 1 problem is the climate that they don’t want to hear about anything that sounds like income or wages.

Piketty does, however, agree with the thesis of my 10-part series last winter: that Western bankers are the West’s vanguard, enlightened party which is tasked to “solve everything”. But Infinity QE proves that the Western “bankocracy” model cannot promote anything new – there is “nothing else, really, in store”. We should not expect any vanguard party to admit otherwise either, including the Chinese Communist Party or the Iranian Basij, because all three groups view themselves as their system’s champions and saviors. The latter two, of course, have the advantages of being grassroots in composition, thus embodying political power redistribution, who are then tasked with enforcing economic redistribution, which goes a very long way in explaining their enduring popular support. Bankocrats… not so much.

Right after “central banks” was when Piketty could have proposed a “Western, secular Basij” or a “Party for Socialism with European Characteristics”, but not only does he totally ignore these examples – he thinks he has to reinvent the wheel, which is far worse: Piketty dismissed as insufficient the century of theory and practice socialists have already given “about how to change the economic rules, the organization of property relations in particular, how much private property we want.”

If this is what this academic is teaching his 18-year old students he is letting them believe that something called “socialism” never even existed. But, for Piketty, socialism is both a dead idea and one that may make his own career dead. The interview continues:

The Intelligencer: Some climate activists think the solution is to shrink our economies. They call it “degrowth.”

And now we see clearly the reason for this article – the danger of letting greens run the corona recovery. Piketty just hinted at this when he discussed the “climate crisis or today’s pandemic crisis” (clearly, in terms of urgency the latter is the bigger crisis, yet it is secondary for Piketty) – the open Malthusianism of the Greens, which can never satisfy the 99%.

What is posited by The Intelligencer is that humans are the problems – not the tools they use nor choice of systems. It’s a fake-leftist tack which says the problem is not unfair distribution of economic and political power, but the mere act of production. Rather then perfecting socialism – let’s choose de-progress? Piketty knows he is treading on revolutionary ground with such a (dumb) idea:

PikettyWhich has to be discussed very precisely because then you need to be very careful about what exactly you are proposing to the bottom 50 percent in societies. I think it’s possible to design a plan, but we have to be very careful. In France, we had the yellow-vest movement. The government said that it was going to raise the energy tax and carbon tax for the good of the climate….

Piketty then reaches back to a Sarkozy-era initiative of carbon pricing – he has only brought up the Yellow Vests as a cautionary tale, not to relate their socioeconomic views. That is even though – despite the constant propaganda campaigns which glorified the weekly repression of them – (the rarely commissioned) polls showed the Yellow Vests have always been supported by at least 50% of the country. Piketty believes the Yellow Vests exist not as equals, peers and co-leaders but as a wild force who exist to menace the status quo as a sort of way to keep the Western elite honest.

Piketty knows, though would never say it, that if he regularly marched among the Yellow Vests he’d no longer be invited for interviews by New York Media, The Economist, the World Bank, etc. Piketty gets these calls because even as he calls for change he supports the status quo – he is as much an “EU patriot” as Emmanuel Macron and so many of their elite peers. Piketty admits later that EU patriotism is a fundamentally-elitist waste of time:

PikettyWhat this shows is that we should all be concerned about how we rewrite the system. Many people find this very boring, and I can tell you when you try to talk about the transformation and the democratization of European institutions, most people stop listening after five minutes. 

We can now elucidate the main problem of the Western left: they cannot galvanise anybody. They have no ideas and no language to excite people to support this status quo that arrived via unbloody “velvet revolutions” and which have continued via an apathy and anti-democratic disconnect built into the US-written pan-European project.

In Iran, for example, they created a new language: people like Ali Shariati combined the revolutionary language of socialism with the revolutionary language, symbols and heroes of Islam (with an emphasis on Shia heroes) to inspire the masses. Forty years later the staunchest Zionist must concede that the ability of “Revolutionary Shi’ism” to galvanise is succeeding in a broad enough manner so as to thwart any neoliberal “velvet (counter) revolution” in Iran. Contrarily, if they’d actually honor democratic votes the EU might be dissolved this very day.

Semi-pantheistic, human-hating Western greens are not about to die for change, nor are they about to inspire anyone in the lower classes (or the Yellow Vests, who expertly dissect French and EU politics).

Therefore what is interesting is not the upcoming multiyear battle between green parties and far-right parties as the new “two mainstream parties” in the West, but what comes after this: What does Europe do when their fake-leftists prove to be the same old neoliberals who sell out the masses, but this time give you more flowers?

Do they finally turn to socialism, or return to corporate fascism & neo-imperialism? Even with corona, we may need another five years to find that out.

The times make the man – who is left and who is not will be crystal clear post-corona

Piketty is not a fake-leftist on the level of the New York Media group, but he is certainly not a socialist: he supports MMT (modern monetary theory) and its notion that QE can actually be given without banker middlemen directly to the people, but not nationalising banks; he supports a basic universal income which hardly sounds like the massive redistributions enacted in the USSR, China, Iran, etc.; he laments that to pay for that “you have to have progressive taxation” instead calling for taxing only capital and the rich (in Iran, because of this fundamental socialist principle, half the country pays no taxes and no farmer does).

Piketty should be lauded for documenting inequality and some of his ideas go left of the mainstream, but he doesn’t go much further than that. The upcoming months of chaos will tell if he is an “objective” intellectual, just as journalists are supposed to be in the West – stuck in an ivory tower, where they have no social responsibility; despite their greater awareness of a problem, they are told not to feel any personal responsibility as well. The same goes for Western pop culture stars – any political involvement contrary to the 1%’s stances means no fawning airtime.

Yes, Piketty cares about inequality and changing economic structures – “Over the past ten years, we’ve been saving banks, but have we solved our problem with rising inequality, with global warming?” – but he also cares about saving the planet a tremendous, tremendous amount. He cares about it so much that he has apparently not had time to actually examine socialism and become persuaded that class warfare is continuously waged by the capitalist-imperialist 1% against the 99%.

Bottom line: In the 21st century there is no major issue which is so class-neutered as ecology.

Thus, I refuse to play along: a global ecological solution obviously requires global cooperation, which is something only socialism can offer and which is impossible under a capitalist system, as it is based instead on competition.

Talk about the environment is thus just empty talk until capitalism-imperialism is eradicated – this is why a Green party takeover will be welcomed by the Western 1% as a brand change as effective as Barack Obama was in 2008.

It’s not hard for a neo-pantheist to grasp: The West could profit from Iranian oil for decades, but once we get it – oh, the time for oil is over? Either fork over many, MANY scores of billions or: Pump away, Iran!

The reality is that if Piketty ever consistently marched with the Yellow Vests he’d realise they also care deeply about the environment. But Earth will not be destroyed before “la fin du mois” (“the end of the month” – the primary slogan of the Vesters, which illustrates how they struggle to pay their most basic bills at the end of each month) whereas the lives of millions of Frenchmen will be destroyed amid this corona hysteria. Mother Nature is not the problem – Western politics are.

It should be clear: green parties are a useless distraction – they should not be accepted as a substitute for true leftism. Maybe the Double Bubble + Great Lockdown will set off a revolution, but for now neoliberal, Malthusian, pantheistic, fake-leftist green parties remain the West’s political trajectory.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26, 2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer

Source

April 22, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

Paris has been a terrible place to live for over five years now – even tourists can tell.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015 (because they just had to draw pornographic pictures of Prophet Mohammad) kicked off a fear-based culture which has culminated in the world’s most over-policed coronavirus lockdown, with over 800,000 citations issued.

But it’s been an endless climb of “culminations” for Parisians:

Installing bulletproof glass around the Eiffel Tower (I used to walk under it going to work each day – impossible now). Did the Bataclan massacre have to result in a state of emergency two years long? Certainly President Emmanuel Macron did not have to legalise it into common police practice. From November 2018 through May 2019 huge swathes of Paris were already on lockdown as every Saturday was an undeclared National Poseur Day: pretending as if lower class protesters weren’t being provoked, gassed, beaten, water cannoned, fined, jailed, crippled and even killed. The marches continued through the failed, record-long General Strike, which collapsed in January.

Trust me when I say that the non-stop police sirens during the two-day manhunt of the Kouachi brothers after the Charlie Hebdo shootings never really ended. In the poor northern area of Paris where I live the sirens became constant – for years everyone complains of “cowboy” police who have been over-empowered, but we have no idea how they could be or if they will ever be rolled back.

And during the Great Lockdown, by everyone’s account, this has gotten even worse… but at least now the rich areas are finally getting a taste of la justice à le cow-boy – that’s the only they’ll ever be rolled back, after all.

It’s not poor-Los Angeles helicopters, but the sirens can be exhausting. As for the “it’s not there” indifference towards all those other culminations – I simply don’t have the acting/posing abilities the aesthetic-minded French have, I guess? But I also don’t have the personal stake in France which – try as they might – the French cannot possibly disguise from themselves? They simply must find it very tiring to live in a country where the government – indeed, the national trajectory – has essentially zero open backers outside the bubble occupied by Parisian elites.

It’s not just the Macron era: Francois Hollande was so unpopular he couldn’t even stand for re-election; when Nicolas Sarkozy left he bitterly said “nobody will hear of me again” because the French so deservedly enjoyed kicking him.

The reality is that – Islamophobia aside – nearly everything I’ve described has been caused by France’s historical insistence on a united Europe.

How long will it take Brussels – and its string of puppets/clients – to kill the ‘French model’?

Anti-Muslim attitude is a problem, sure, but only a class analysis provides a satisfying explanation to the undeniable 21st-century decay of French life: Muslims did not force France to stop being French – collusion among the French 1% did.

(Of course, to avoid regular class analysis discussion the French elite keep insisting: “No, it’s Muslims who are ruining France.” Typical Western fake politics.…)

Ever since Mitterrand made his infamous austerity-embracing U-turn in 1981- on what would have been Western Europe’s most-leftist policy platform ever – France has allowed itself to be fiscally leeched blood-dry over the pan-European principle to try and win over Germany to “more Europe”.

It’s an amazing martyrdom – we shouldn’t denigrate such things completely. And a large part of France’s motivation is also to end the constant German aggression that dates back to 1870.

Recent history is really quite simple: in order to woo Germany away from a neo-imperialist partnership with their Anglo-Saxon American first cousins (which has run from 1945 until today), France keeps fiscally flagellating itself and others in Europe to woo Germany into joining a pan-European project; crucially, this project initially was based on a Gaullist “mixed economy”, but that was jettisoned in favor of Anglosphere neoliberalism, globalisation and hyper-financialisation.

Maybe other Europeans want in on such a project, but Germany does not and should leave: Germany’s role has been entirely negative, their economics entirely Austrian (pro-1%, rabidly anti-socialist), and the groundwork which they have ordered is totally incapable of providing post-corona stability. Few seem to grasp this Washington-Berlin neo-fascist alliance, even though it satisfyingly explains Germany’s essentially 5th-columnist role in the EU.

However, only a blinkered nationalist analysis would stop here. France’s elite is just as 5th-columnist – they have joined Washington and Berlin because that is what neoliberal, globalist capitalism is: an international waging of class warfare.

Macron openly calls to end the French model – he is the new ‘EU patriot’

Because its basis is resolutely neoliberal and thus anti-patriotic (even within its new creation of a misguided “EU patriotism” – the accurate term is “patriotism for the EU’s 1%”), this version of the pan-European project is simply not worth it – all it has done is disregard democratic votes, empower bankers, produce Lost Decades and gut social safety nets. I personally don’t think a united, non-socialist Europe is good for the world, but I know this version of a united Europe is a catastrophe. And I know it is ruining France – I’ve not just lived it but documented it via daily hard news reporting for PressTV.

But Macron is of a new generation whose elite passionately believes that this pan-European project works – it has… but only for Europe’s elite. This unprecedented “neoliberal empire” is thus successfully perpetuating itself.

But it took a lot to get here: Hollande, Sarkozy, privatisation-puppet Chirac, Mitterrand – all of France’s elite kept sacrificing France’s 99% for an ideology of “more Europe”, which was first Gaullist-capitalist then neoliberal. Truly, the same can be said for the elite of all of Europe, but especially Latin Europe – just look at how Germany could afford a corona bailout 10 times the size of France’s bailout.

But since 2015 have no doubt: France’s Lockdown-pre-Great-Lockdown was entirely the result of widespread dissension for Brussels’ fiscal policies – this had to be repressed.

The modern French conviction that discussion-and-even-dissension is more than just tolerable but should be encouraged – this also had to be repressed.

The idea of French workers – foreign to the Anglosphere— that they should have economic stability and political-cultural influence also had to be repressed, thus the endless far-right economic reforms.

As I keep insisting, the global 1% insists that the bad example of the “French model” has to be destroyed and replaced with the US/UK/German model, with all its greater inequality, poverty and dull individual conformities and fears.

The “French model” cannot survive if the 1% is to preserve unaltered this version pan-European project which is resolutely neoliberal. This is proven by the recent diplomatic uproar caused by China’s ambassador to France, who criticised the inequality laid bare by France’s corona response:

You have a new brand of Chinese diplomats who seem to compete with each other to be more radical and eventually insulting to the country where they happen to be posted,” opined a French analyst, but I get it: a person (in this case a diplomat) comes to France and they hear so very much proud talk about liberty, equality and fraternity… but they see that the first has been so distorted by the privileged class so as to totally eradicate the second and third. The Chinese ambassador is both disappointed and fed-up with France. He has become something Westerners cannot be – politically honest and critical of Western policy – without being condemned as a “radical”.

The French 99% tries to incarnate their post-French Revolution values (within the factual context that their revolution did not stand very long), but their elite do not. Foreigners simply cannot see true French values in action because what they are seeing are 1%er, neoliberal, “EU empire” values in action. The French elites’ values are not French but “European empire”; one cannot ever become elite anymore without displaying total allegiance to this empire.

It’s dismaying, and that is exhausting as well.

But while the future now only looks worse for the 99% across France, I imagine Macron couldn’t be happier.

Corona preserves Macron’s re(de)formist gains & wipes his promise-slate clean

Maybe the coronavirus break was just what everybody needed, not only Macron?

Think about it: a historic two-month General Strike had just failed in late January. Now that the pension reform was passed unemployment reform was planned for this fall, because there is simply no constitutional way to stop Macron. The Yellow Vests certainly weren’t going to stop. How can Macron afford to keep generating such public ill will? Was there going to be another General Strike? How can workers afford to do that?

You simply can’t compute all those facts.

Thus, pre-corona France was truly at a breaking point and exhausted. France was like two wrestlers who had each other in a stranglehold, but instead of letting go both decided to suicidally and murderously maintain their grip.

The Great Lockdown preserves in amber Macron’s pension reforms – it’s over. When France goes back to work they will be rushed through Parliament, and likely amid a ban on groups (protests) of more than a few score. The Great Lockdown gives the public a chance to forget about that fight and the elite a “just move on” filibuster to questioning journalists.

But it also ends the possibility of Macron’s autumn plans for similar deforms to the unemployment system. There’s no way that can go on with the state socialistically-shouldering 60% of the Great Lockdown’s lost revenue. However, France’s 1% has been waiting decades for the pension reform – think they aren’t pleased? Think they can’t wait until autumn 2021, when Macron can make unemployment reform his farewell political legacy amid General Strike 2? You must think the 1% doesn’t play tactical class warfare, which is chess, and instead thinks in nationalisms, which is checkers.

The Great Lockdown is also the single-best thing to happen to Macron’s re-election chances.

How can he now be faulted for failing on his signature promise – to reduce unemployment to 7%? How can he be faulted by the right for any economic failure – France simply has to spend their way out of the corona overreaction? How can he be faulted on the left for any economic failure – France spent a lot on the corona overreaction (again, a pittance compared to Germany and also a bailout weighted to the 1%)? Any fiscal policy promise and failure is thus absolved with this corona overreaction-distraction.

Any social policy failure is also old hat – we must focus on a post-corona world. French PM says coronavirus outbreak ‘under control’ but warns ‘life won’t go back to normal after May 11th’ – of course Macron doesn’t want to go back to normal – his popularity was in the toilet for years; his policy, his style, his bizarre and salacious scandals (highlighted by the Benalla affair, which only French people understand) and his constant elitist gaffes ensured it could only worsen.

But election sniping is such a narrow view, even if it is the dominant Western mindset:

Macron’s entire presidency has been an open assault on the French idea of what is “normal”. Destroying the French model – to satisfy and propel the neoliberal & neo-imperial pan-European project he sincerely believes in – has always been his political raison d’être. Macron undoubtedly will view himself as leaving as a hero for all his “deforms”, whenever he departs in ignominy.

I’ve had offers to work in the US: “Why would I want to be a political journalist covering such an atrocious, atrocious political culture?” But France has become nearly identical – instead of righteous, easily-triggered emotionality the French political talk shows rely on an endless reserve of indifference and sang froid (cold blood) to reach the same neoliberal aims; instead of Trump-Putin hysteria they use Muslim-hysteria.

So what is France’s future? It is Macron versus Marine Le Pen in 2022 – they are just as intellectually and culturally exhausted, bitter and hostile as the US. They would rather repeat corporate fascism than be creative.

Must I work on behalf of Le Pen, claiming that she is a “victory via defeat”? I did that, marginally, for Trump, but I didn’t have to cover the guy everyday! More Macron would be an even bigger defeat than Biden – the Ferguson, Missouri, protests weren’t anything like the Yellow Vest repression.

The West may have all the money but they have no good answers anymore. How could corona have uncovered anything but the truth of their underlying morbidity?

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Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

by Ramin Mazaheri exclusive for The Saker log

So when did you become an epidemiologist? You seem quite willing to shame anyone not sterilising every square inch of every square inch.

And when did you become an economist? “The economy is not important now” must have been a pretty unusual PhD thesis.

We have likely all heard of “internet tough guys” – people who make bold claims or threats online, yet would flee at the sight of conflict – but who knew social media had so many people qualified to tell entire nations what to do regarding Corona?

How much of the Corona crisis has been caused by social media virtue-signallers, hypochondriacs, communications degree-holding intellectuals, helicopter Dads, bossy cows, and sheep who generally follow whatever the herd, management or pop stars tell them to do? That’s an interesting question: would we all be in lockdown prior to the internet and Facebook?

A practical follow-up question is: which nations have leadership which are perhaps even steered by social media, and which nations have leaders who can steer the national boat through choppy waters?

As socialists know and accept, a vanguard party is essential precisely because there are so many choppy waters in life. Choppy waters are doubled for socialist-inspired countries due to imposed wars, sanctions, blockades and endless cold war.

Capitalists and libertarians once again use Orwell against us – the same old, facile “some pigs are more equal than others” of Animal Farm – conflating totalitarianism with socialism, even though the two have entirely different ends and means.

Despite their absurd claims, the vanguard party concept is not anti-democratic. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel had truly universal support from every Cuban (in Cuba) I asked because he rose level by level by repeatedly showing his competence as a civil servant. The same goes for Xi of China (as I will soon remind). Nobody expected a low-ranking cleric like Khamenei to take over for Khomeini, but he has repeatedly showed his competence and abilities; go tell the tens of millions shouting “Khamenei rahbar” (Khamenei the leader) that socialist-inspired democracy, with both direct and indirect, hasn’t worked out well. In post-1917 countries one rises to the 1% via actual competence, and not just by buying elections, as in the West.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton married the governor of Arkansas, who became president, and then America was stuck with her. Emmanuel Macron did… I don’t even know how he got so far so fast, and I really don’t want to know what went on behind closed doors with him.

Regardless, are some pigs more equal than others, to pose their question?

Certainly, what you won’t hear from such socialist detractors is that China’s President Xi spent years doing hard rural work during the days of the Cultural Revolution, and then teaching illiterate farmers how to read during his Cultural Revolution nights. Now, I suppose it is technically a possibility: none of that was earnestly heartfelt on Xi’s part, and he is secretly amassing a personal fortune because the recesses of his heart are nothing but pure bitterness and hate for the socialist ideal of equality which he was forced to display and teach; he has also spent decades duping everyone in China that he is a competent public servant; Xi has zero warm sentiment for those rural citizens he worked with, and wants only revenge; any moment now Xi will launch a surprise attack of totalitarianism designed solely for his personal benefit and revenge.

These are the very real – yet ALWAYS unsaid – logical extensions of Western arguments made against vanguard parties in general, as well as against Xi. Westerners insist that socialist vanguard parties are corrupt not just at the core but all the way to the periphery.

Another unsaid logical extension is that no vanguard parties informally exist in the West. If, however, there are, it is because such people have risen to the 1% solely on merit. Xi’s supposed “merit”, is not merit at all… unlike theirs. Don’t push Westerners to explain these points – they have no answers.

Much of this applies to Iran as well – their system is based on the idea of the “guardianship of the Islamic jurist”. “Down with those opposed to the guardianship of the Islamic jurist” is always included in the “down withs”, and even before “down with the MKO, England, the US and Israel”. The vanguard party in Iran is obviously the clergy; I have written extensively and objectively about how I believe this is being bureaucratically formalised into the “Basij”, and I have discussed how the structure of the Basij has been clearly modelled on the Chinese Communist Party.

How can that be, Ramin, when Communists are atheists? Firstly, they are not. Maybe Marx was, but to hell with him on this point. Cuba is full of Catholics, but even more prevalent are those who practice Santeria; Vietnam has always constitutionally protected religion; Confucianism and Taoism, it is rarely recognised, are two sides of the same East Asian cosmological coin, and China’s intolerance on this point is being remedied. The USSR never reconciled religion and socialism, and this is a huge reason explaining why they are no more; a reason as big as Krushchevian corruption and capitalist-roading.

However, the structural and political similarities between the Basij and the CCP arise not from cosmological agreement but from the natural similarities of two countries who have had post-1917, socialist-inspired revolutions. The similarities are not “coincidental” at all, though those who misunderstand and reject socialism would surely explain away my comparisons with such sweeping, facile, pseudo-explanations. I’m not sure that you can have a vanguard party without the structures, policies and protections – as well as many of the aims and demands – which are greatly dissimilar from the CCP and the Basij? Few examples exist, sadly, for me to study and compare. Never say never, I suppose.

The idea of a formalised vanguard party – as in Iranian Islamic Socialism and other forms of socialism – does not mean totalitarianism. I suppose it could, but why can it not also mean elite governance performance? Why must we look only at the negative aspects, and not the positive? What are we – capitalist-imperialists?

The Corona crisis is not going to validate the support of formal, socialist-inspired vanguard parties in China, Iran, Cuba and elsewhere – they need no validation among their people; their bones are made.

What it will certainly do is discredit the Western model of “non-vanguardism”, “hidden-vanguardism”, “technocratic vanguardism”, “1%er-vanguardism” or whatever else you want to term their bankocratic, aristocratic, bourgeois oligarchies which govern.

The incredible spanner Western politicians have suicidally thrown into their economies will prove this: they have none of the unity, foresight, determination and especially the political modernity of countries like China and Iran, yet they are adopting similar Corona responses. It simply can’t be done without causing Great Depressions in the Lost Decade II-embarking Eurozone for certain, and also for the US economy, which disastrously combines a finance & service & consumer-based economy with non-Trumpian evangelism for self-harming globalisation.

It will take great pain, but this is what humans often require to make serious change, sadly. It will split apart families, but that is what civil war does.

I don’t know which nation will be the first to see their lower class starting to attack their neoliberal/neoliberal-client systems – and attacking as well the reactionary selfishness of the “first responders” whom they are repeatedly told to adulate – but they will all reach the same place as China and Iran: who is in charge? Who is the vanguard party to lead and staff the bureaucracy, which organises and decides on the logistics, and who needs to spread the night soil so we all can eat?

All workers are valid and equal, of course, but a vanguard party is needed to run a government. The alleged path goes capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism – the idea that no vanguard parties are needed is anarchism, and Cubans will also correct you when you call them communist: they know they are not that far. The amount of self-empowerment espoused in anarchism may not even be possible on a billions-level? These are questions for a later date….

Allow me to disqualify myself from the vanguard party: I have been passed up for management over and over (of course everyone claims this), so maybe they are right? I am used to being a powerless cog in a machine, and I quite like it now!

The people who deserve to be in vanguard parties are those who evince both the capability for selflessness as well as the capability for superior political thought. After all, some have capabilities for great artistic thought, or great engineering thought, or have great social skills – political policy certainly requires input from all sectors and classes but their bureaucrats do need to have a masterful grasp of modern political ideology, as well as a grasp of what not to do: i.e., the ideologies held by the enemies of modern political ideologies. These qualifications are evinced by people like Xi, Khamenei, Diaz-Canel and France’s Yellow Vests.

The roar that the Yellow Vests will make when France’s lockdown in over… that’s another article.

I don’t think you can find a journalist writing in any Western language who has stood shoulder to shoulder with them more often, and I can promise France: put the Yellow Vests in charge and you’ll have exceptional national governance immediately. Unlike the Iranian clergy, Chinese commies and Cuban socialist-Santeriaists, the Yellow Vests’ actual support is hard to gauge: polls constantly showed over 50% support, yet the Animal Rights Party won 2.2% in the 2019 European Parliament elections, double the Yellow Vests parties combined.

Who is the vanguard party in the US? That I cannot say – I do not think one is apparent. I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and their few public comrades are interesting given the limitations of the US political context, but they are still far from what’s necessary now, and especially far from what will be necessary given the trajectory of Great Depression 2.

The times make the man, as they say.

The West’s vanguard parties seem intent on making times as difficult for the lower classes as they possibly can. Time well spent would be turning of Western MSM, as well as social media, and reflecting on who you think should really be in charge.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

The Gangster!

ST

 Sunday, 01 March 2020 07:58

President Erdogan of Turkey has indeed lost what remained of his brain! In a mafia and gang-like show, Erdogan called on Russia, which has been pioneering the fight against terrorism, to get out of his way and allow his occupying forces to invade the more of Syria!

Erdogan, the liar and butcher, claimed in his yesterday hallucinations that the Syrian people demanded him to send his occupying forces , if not thousands of multinational terrorists into Syria!

The Syrians have every legitimate right to defend their country; has Erdogan any right to invade Syria!? Erdogan’s occupation troops were mingled with terrorists, who were too dressed in Turkish military uniforms. Should the Syrian Army and its allies welcome by roses the invading terrorists!

Erdogan’s so-called observation posts, used merely to support and take part in the war of terrorists against Syrians, might be after his crazy threats, legitimate targets. Why should Erdogan take pride in killing many Syrians and  many of their anti-terrorism allies!!? Simply because he himself is a terrorist.

This Ottoman terrorist is but a threat to the entire world. Erdogan the criminal is trying to play the role of a victim! The majority of the Syrians abroad, left in fear of terrorism, want to return back to their country. This terrorist prevents them!

As the Sputnik accurately transmitted, Turkish soldiers invaded Northern Syria. Turkish soldiers were killed while being in Syria. Idlib is not under dispute. It is part of Syria. Turkey is the aggressor nation, not the victim. If we had a fair and balanced media we would all be informed of that salient fact, not set up to support further actions against Syria for the ‘crime’ of trying to repel invaders from its territory.

The classic George Orwell novel ‘1984’ was meant as a warning to society about the destructive and freedom sapping nature of oligarchs and tyrannical nation state, not a user manual for the powerful in the 21st century but recent events in Syria highlight yet again the incredible ability of the rulers of the world in the West to use their compliant and sycophant media to create narratives that belong in fairy tales, not news bulletins.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. These are the three mottos inscribed on the Ministry of Truth building of the nation of Oceania in Orwell’s dystopian 1948 masterpiece which imagined a society of totalitarianism and perpetual war in 1984, thirty five years in the future as Orwell sat in a small farmhouse on the Scottish island of Jura to construct his warning to the world in the post WWII era. Totalitarianism may not be universal or at least recognized as such by all but perpetual war is certainly an underlying feature of the 21st century world. It used to be the case that arms companies were created to feed wars but nowadays wars are created to feed arms companies.

When a sovereign nation is attacked and/or invaded they have an inalienable right to defend themselves and repel invaders. Isn’t it pathetic to witness the brutal suppression of thousands of firefighters and other public service workers by heavily armed police in France for the ‘crime’ of protesting against damaging pension changes reported as legitimate ‘public order’ and ‘crowd control measures’ but actions by the Syrians against terrorists and foreign army invaders as being aggressive and tyrannical?

Our world is indeed more Orwellian by the day. In such an era of lies and distortions those who speak truth to power will be more brutally repressed.

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

alibrahim56@hotmail.com   

‘It Would be the End of Free Speech’: Protest Against Assange’s Extradition at Belmarsh Prison

Source

Today is the day a London court begins hearing on what looks to become (or at least precede) one of the defining cases of the decade – the extradition trial of Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder has found support from human rights advoctes from across the globe, including France’s Yellow Vest movement.

It’s chilly and windy in London, and Belmarsh Prison is definitely not the first place that comes to mind when you think of where to hang out.

But a small crowd of several dozen people, many clad in signature high-vis jackets, have come together at the nearby Woolwich Crown Court to demand freedom for Julian Assange. Some of them have spent a nippy night camped out outside the court; most arrived today.

Protesters are holding up banners reading, “Bent judges are killing Assange”, “Jail the war criminals, free Chelsea Manning”, and “No US extradition”.

The rally is organised by human rights campaigners, notably those from Reporters Without Borders and France’s Yellow Vest movement.

More

Are France’s unions even trying to win the General Strike?

Friday, 17 January 2020 11:47 AM  [ Last Update: Friday, 17 January 2020 12:07 PM ]

A banner reads in French, ‘General strike a fighting union’, as thousands of people take part in a demonstration in Nantes, western France, on January 16, 2020, as part of a nationwide multi-sector strike against the French government’s pensions overhaul. (Photo by AFP)

By Ramin Mazaheri

Due to a Western media blackout on the subject, many may be surprised to learn that France’s general strike has just begun its seventh consecutive week. It’s the longest labor movement in French history – and by half – but the Western Mainstream Media is ignoring France until this historic moment passes.

It seems about to pass soon.

French unions have done a woeful job leading the strike despite having everything going for them at the beginning.

The alleged superiority of the so-called “independent” union model – favored by the West but opposed by any country with a revolution after 1917 – is once again failing the nation, if maybe not their dues-paying members. 

The general strike is wobbling, and by January 24th the pension bill will be formally presented to the government. It is amazing rapacity, because presenting a bill amid such strikes is obviously rushing it into the safe arms of a system dominated by President Emmanuel Macron; it is also amazing duplicity, because Macron only released the pension scheme’s details just last week!

France: Clashes erupt in Lyon as unions march to oppose planned pension reform Nearly 16,000 people took to the streets of Lyon, as part of a new day of action against the government

Wasting time has been Macron’s main tactic during the general strike, despite the fact that workers and households are increasingly desperate after having gone without work for six full weeks. To be accurate, then: “wasting time” is not his tactic, but “increasing desperation”.

A simple recipe for the Macron era is: increase desperation + trace amounts of democratic discussion + rubber bullets + total control over Parliament = Macron’s deification outside of France and his vilification inside France.

But the so-called “centrist” Macron and his deviousness are well known by now – what happened to unions and their great leadership? Many French unionists have had the gall to tell me that countries with modern revolutions “have no unions” – so show us how it’s done then, Mr. Know-it-all?!

If unions can’t win this one for the nation, can they ever win one in the Western model?

This was supposed to be an easy one.

Domestic polls have never shown public support below 60% for the strike – from the start until today – nor disapproval of less than 70% for Macron’s unprecedented pension scheme.

But this was a “general strike” that lacked both “general” and “strike”

France’s transport strike drags on despite government compromise on pensionsA crippling French transport strike drags into its 39th day despite the government

.A general strike is something which union leaders never really wanted, I think. It was forced by three things, all of which were undermining the incredibly unjustified cultural faith France has in their Western union model: hospital strikes which had been going on for months (due to years of austerity cuts), wildcat train strikes that had sprouted (work-related accidents were increasing due to reduced working conditions, the result of years of austerity cuts) and the bravery and selflessness of the Yellow Vests.

Macron forced the issue with this radical pension scheme – this was to be his “Thatcher/Reagan moment”, and he wanted it that way. But unions didn’t even answer the first-round bell.

The “strike” turned out to be entirely placed on the backs of train conductors. The notable feature of this historic era is the 2-3 times longer work commutes for urban areas, as trains were shut down for weeks and over the Christmas holiday.

But where were the other labor sectors? The unions failed miserably by failing to call on them to join the “general” strike.

Unions only called six days of nationwide strikes and protests – if they really wanted to win they would have called that many in the first week alone. What this means is that most French have actually taken less than a week off to strike against the pension replacement.

General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union dockers and workers hold a banner reading ” Together for our jobs – Wages – Pension” during a rally in Marseille, southern France on January 14, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Instead of blocking the economy or, more importantly, blocking the functioning of society (no schools, no hospitals, no day care, no elder care, no anything as much as possible), unions decided only to block urban public commutes; small-town life in France has been barely touched by the general strike.

Their lack of mobilization feeds into the worst stereotypes of French laziness, but it is laziness of the bosses: it’s as if union chiefs said, “Let the public transport workers handle it all – we’re going on Christmas vacation.”

And they did!

Macron was only too happy to postpone negotiations for more than two weeks over the holiday period; union leaders incredibly outdid him by not calling for a nationwide strike or protest for nearly three weeks. I couldn’t understand it – so then why call a transport strike over the Christmas holiday at all? Why fragment your own forces?

France cheers on general strike for XmasA majority of France supports the general strike despite its extending into the holiday season.

Transport workers continued to shoulder the load alone, but why did union leaders not encourage anyone to join to them? Probably terrible leadership, strategy and organization.

France’s labor chiefs are not new, but they acted new on the job

As could have been predicted from their history, the Macron administration’s corruption gave them a golden chance to kill the pension system: Two weeks into the strike (December 17) the architect of the entire pension reform had to resign his ministry post due to allegations of corruption.

What else can you ask for?! What a gift! What a mistake from such an untested government!

A sustained, immediate, massive mobilization over such incredibly important corruption would have been hugely effective right then: How can the fruits of a corrupt minister be wholesome?

But unions did nothing to take advantage: they all went on Christmas vacation – everyone but train conductors.

All this prolongation gave the Macron administration more time to cut sweetheart deals with key labor sectors: just after the Western New Year airline pilots and cabin crews announced they had made a self-interested arrangement with the government and called off their planned strike.

Inaction from the unions gave Macron time to “divide and conquer” the strike, like always in France’s Age of Austerity, when they should have known from the beginning that this would be exactly their tactic.

The government then engaged in duplicity to sow confusion and stall. In addition to the radical “universal” and “points-based” system, the government wanted to increase the retirement age by two years. But this was always a fake poison pill – it was something the government could easily withdraw in order to appear like they were negotiating in good faith: the radical pension system is a far, far more lucrative prize for France’s 1%. On January 11 they announced they would suspend the age hike.

Then they said the suspension was only temporary.

Then they didn’t clarify when the temporary suspension would start or finish.

As clear as mud, and we all keep inching toward the January 24th formal presentation of the bill, when negotiations will be finished.

This week the participation of train conductors in the strike fell to their lowest levels – metro services in Paris are now functioning at about 20% of normal levels, but anyone using the rail service is obviously going against the strike.

But after six full weeks people tell me they have foot problems from so many long walks to and from work. Striking is hard, and unions should know that and thus pushed with all their might from the beginning. Instead, they are trying to do so now.

Out of increasing desperation, unions called for three days of national strikes this week, but attendance has been lackluster there as well.

No general sturdy enough to push past teenage anarchists

Back to the strike lacking a “general” – this became evident on the very first day of nationwide protest (December 5).

A few hundred Black Bloc protesters – who are either undercover police or anarchist idiots with daddy issues – held up 250,000 union-led protesters for four hours in Paris.

It was not an incredible show of strength by Black Bloc but an appalling display of poor leadership from unions. Yes the cops – who have way more guns, defensive armaments and training – did nothing to stop Black Bloc, but they never do: those are their orders from above, and this is old news.

What I want to know is: why did none of the union leaders have the skill to say, “We can’t let these skinny punks stop our first demonstration and provide the MSM with riot footage – that will scare the average person away from protesting and weaken our strike. Onwards! We march and Black Bloc can’t stop us!”

And Black Bloc would have stepped aside in two seconds. They don’t have weapons, they were vastly outnumbered and they are mostly trembling 21-year-olds. The violence that day was piddling – truly 1% of what a rough Yellow Vest demonstration was like.

But no union leader could grasp this reality, apparently.

Certainly, no union leader was willing to be at the front line to push ahead and tell Black Bloc that their democratic right to protest peacefully would not be denied. Cops would have never stepped in to prevent protesters from confronting Black Bloc – that would mean protecting Black Bloc openly.

Union leaders may feel their precious brains need to be protected at all costs, but their tactical capabilities are even worse than their leadership capabilities.

I don’t know what will turn around the general strike now?

Unions have fumbled away golden opportunities and failed to apply pressure when they could

have. They have, like Macron, ignored the importance of democratic public opinion.

Furthermore, there are right-wing unions and left-wing unions, after all – they do not all think alike. France’s largest union is right-wing. France is not a “socialist” country like the US claims – their political revolution was way before 1917, and it failed, too. And quickly.

The only winner here will be the Yellow Vests – their view that unions are indeed part the inept and/or corrupt mainstream political system will be vindicated if unions don’t right the ship.

Did the unions ever really want to win? Their tactics don’t give that impression – it looks more and more like this “general strike” was all to give the show of resistance, not to actually resist.

However, in the short term it’s not like Yellow Vests can provide a political solution to aid the average Frenchman – it took Italy’s Five-Star Movement eight years to win actual power.

Taking a longer, historical view, in 2017 France’s two mainstream parties were swept out of power for the first time in postwar history. If they continue on their losing track, 2020 may prove to have been the year the same broom was applied to unions. What comes after, that, is the question.

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’)

Pilots break strike unity as Macron’s ‘Thatcher moment’ is right now

December 31, 2019

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

But nobody is making a sound about it, and not even Macron.

Maybe they will now: The first union has selfishly broken ranks – French pilots and cabin crews. It’s a “universal” pension system, sure… except for the groups who Macron has to buy off to break the strike.

French President Emmanuel Macron has barely said two words about the general strike, even though it has lasted four weeks and will soon become the longest general strike ever in French history.

And many French don’t even mind. It’s a quirk of the French system I cannot yet explain: they view it as normal that Macron has not commented on the general strike because that is the domain of the prime minister.

French contradictions abound, and they think the mystery makes them appear deep: France’s president is well-known to be closest thing to a constitutional dictator the West has, and yet the PM is supposed to be given much latitude on domestic policy?

I have heard this often, but never seen it action: the idea that Macron’s PM is not beholden to the ideas and orders of his boss on the pension plan is absurd. To me it has always seen like a way for the president to have someone to blame his unpopular policies on.

But Macron has given one press conference in 2.5 years, and he didn’t say the words “Yellow Vest” in public until after 23 Saturdays, and no one seems up in arms about it (besides the Yellow Vests), so… c’est la France.

Macron will probably make a rote plea for unity at his annual New Year’s Eve wishes – the guy is speaking at 8pm, so if all you have going is watching Macron’s press conference then take heart: 2020 can only get better than 2019 for you.

The coverage of the general strike from non-French media reminds me of France’s recent coverage of the resolution (one step below a law) which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism: there was a decent amount of coverage AFTER the resolution became a fact.

This was obvious to predict, but there is an omertà regarding France’s general strike from Anglophone media – it’s almost as if they don’t want to ruin a good thing. If there was any room for leftism in the West’s “free speech means corporate media own all speech” now would be the time to be up in arms with keyboards in hands. But people repeatedly tell me they can’t find anything about it in non-French sources.

Honestly: This can’t go on in France any longer

Without any exaggeration, the French (and certainly the “French model”, aka “Capitalism with French characteristics) simply cannot sustain more austerity attacks which “re(de)form” it into an Anglo-Saxon model and here’s why: If you take home €2,500 a month in France you have a really good job (especially in 2019). If you take home $2,500 per month in the US (making about $20 per hour) your job is desirable but not really good.

Yes, 42% of Americans don’t even make $15 hour but the point is: the French model is based on low wages. The Swiss, Germans, UK, etc. – they all make much more than rich France.

The reason France accepts lousy wages was their Nordic-level social safety net: so they had guaranteed work contracts (“CDIs”), 2-3 years of decent unemployment, 5 weeks paid vacation legal minimum, cheap schools from 3 months old to PhD, cheap medical care and a good pension. Make no mistake because I know you right wingers will: This is a system which is paid for by the French worker giving up 40% of their pay check every month, and then 10% annually in an income tax. I.e., low wages.

That concept is crucial to understand. A whopping 80% of the pension system is funded by taxes on individuals and bosses, and not the state. The French pension isn’t “unsustainable” at all: if it is “underfunded” it is only on the state side, and only because the state has purposely starved it of funds via funding cuts. With the stroke of a budget pen its minor deficit could be resolved. Baby Boomers will be dropping like flies by the 2030s reducing fiscal stress- the system works, and it can last.

This explains why all neoliberals can really come with to justify junking the ENTIRE system is that it is too “complex”. Why is complexity automatically a negative thing? I’m glad these guys didn’t take up physics. The other reason they deploy is that some people – like manual laborers, those who work in hard and/or dangerous conditions – retire early to avoid death/maiming on the job due to “you’re too old for this” syndrome. They have seized upon the “injustice” of these “special regimes”. All of a sudden neoliberals care about injustice….. Of course the one-size-fits-all, universal system is as regressive (not progressive) as a flat tax, and that’s why no nation does it.

But back to how this onslaught of “reforms” is just unsustainable: reduced services which used to be covered by the state, increased prices on everything, Housing Bubble II, new jobs are all one-month renewable contracts (CDDs), you have to work until 64 instead of 60 in 2009, your pension is going to leave you barely at poverty level – you cannot have this AND low wages in France.

It is just impossible, logically. Something has to give on one of the ends.

If they are going to make it so that all the state is provides is health care and education and then citizens are on their own – the glorious Apache-killing Arizona libertarian model (with a touch of European class) – then they have to vastly inflate wages.

But nobody is talking in France about raising wages to compensate for the worse pensions, nor for any of the austerity measures.

So this can’t go on.

And yet it will – Macron is tackling the unemployment system next, i.e. later this year. Is there going to be a General Strike Act 2?

If the US and UK are any example – no there won’t be. So this may be the end of “France”. Remember the US and UK prior to Reagan and Thatcher – sure was better back then, or at least far less unequal and unstable.

Can Macron get his wish? To be the youngest (despised) leader in Western capitalist history?

One can picture Macron just white-knuckling it right now – if he can just get break this strike… the dude will go down in right-wing history. Or is it “centrist” history for Macron?

When Thatcher died there was UK police brutality at the street parties celebrating her death. That sounded about right to me. The New York Times scolded us with superstition and expressed their fake shock in their pathetic Taboo on Speaking Ill of the Dead Widely Ignored Online After Thatcher’s Death.” This is a taboo in the West – since when? The West cares about taboos – since when? I know they don’t care about taboos because they need a loan word for this rather crucial social concept – the word itself is Tongan, and the English didn’t get to Polynesia until 1773.

As I led with, French pilots and cabin crews have called off a strike they had planned for January 3 – they got a sweetheart deal from Macron, and you can all go kick rocks for calling them “stewardesses”. The Macron administration has only negotiated en masse with unions for three days out of 26 consecutive strike days – they never wanted to make a broad deal but only a few small deals in order to “divide and conquer” and break the strike.

This has worked every time during the age of austerity. I have written this many times but I will say it again, cuz some of y’all think the Western system is the apex of everything political: This is what “independent” labor unions get you – sold out. The socialist model of “we’re all in one big union” means the workers are truly in the government, not against the government… and against the good of the People, and against their fellow workers, and against their fellow unions and against, against, against it’s called “capitalism” people.

But the West is “freer” than China, Iran, Cuba, etc. Sure, free to be unequal.

Back to France: it’s getting hard, having a commute 2-3 times longer for four weeks. I’m not breaking rocks all day, but it’s grating on people.

That’s really what the “general strike” has amounted to – public transport shutdowns. The burden of the national good is basically all on the backs of rail workers. The unions have only called 3 days of nationwide protest and strikes – this means that even politically-active people have probably only taken 3 strike days of lost wages, whereas “good” rail workers have lost a month. What a stupid system they have here? Plenty of protest marches and big talk but when it’s general strike time (finally!) it’s: “I can’t afford it – let the rail workers do it.”

Truly, before we had the Yellow Vests we only had the rail workers: in the age of austerity they were always the ones (along with some of us journalists) at the front lines getting gassed and beating back cops. They have led every major anti-austerity movement. Nobody really joined them when they tried to prevent the EU-forced privatisation of French rails (Same thing back then in the media: “The rail system is bankrupt!” No it’s not, it was purposely starved of state funding.) They led the huge 1995 strike as well.

Not the stewardesses and their Top Gun flyboys. They have left France in the lurch.

I guarantee that tonight many will have a few glasses of wine and say, “Zees solidarité ees all phony!”, just to appear smart and courageous (the French are always wishing each other “good courage”), and the strike will fall apart.

That’s the France I know – Windbag France, aka Faithless France.

But we have the Yellow Vests now. Maybe General Strike 2 is République Française VI? Tides turn, the moon waxes and wane, the meek inherit a decent pension.

General striking is hard, but just don’t be a stewardess. Excuse me, Airplane Cabin Executive. Gotta love that Western model….


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’

Massive chaos as largest strike in years hits France for 2nd Day

Source

Friday, 06 December 2019

Hundreds of thousands of strikers paralyzed the transport system on the first day of industrial action which prompted closure of schools across the nation.

According to union leaders, more than 1.5 million people turned out across the country, with police using tear gas to disperse them.

Just in Paris alone, tens of thousands of people took to the streets, while more than 6,000 police officers were deployed with a decree to forbid the protesters from gathering on the Champs-Élysées or at police stations.

Police in riot gear used tear gas and truncheons to disperse protesters near the Place de la Republique. The judiciary 57 people were detained on Thursday.

Strikers on Friday were set to continue a similar pattern across the country, with widespread rail cancellations and disruption to flights expected across the nation.

French riot police clash with protesters during a demonstration in Paris, on December 5, 2019 as part of a national general strike. (Photo by AFP)

In Paris, most of the metro system shut down and hundreds of flights were expected to be cancelled.

Union leaders warned that the strike could last at least until Monday if the government did not take the right action.

“The strike is not going to stop tonight,” said Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the CGT union, on Thursday.

Paris’s bus and metro operator have said their walkout will last until Monday at the very least.

President Macron is already faced with a major challenge to his rule from “Yellow Vest” protesters, who have been holding weekly demonstrations for more than a year.

Trade union leaders are now calling on Macron to abandon his campaign promise to overhaul the retirement system.

The president has said he wants to simplify the country’s complex retirement system, which comprises more than 40 different plans, many with different retirement ages and benefits.

The new system will introduce a “points system” for retirement, which will have a significant impact on the public sector.

Until now, the sector had enjoyed special retirement systems to compensate for difficult working conditions.

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French general strike starts: 3 weeks for victory like 1995, or more Austerity Era failure?

Members of the Yellow Vest movement are being evacuated by the gendarmerie after trying to occupy the Pont de L'Etoile A52 highway tollbooth in Aubagne, southern France, on November 17, 2019, to celebrate the first anniversary of the movement. (Photo by AFP)

Members of the Yellow Vest movement are being evacuated by the gendarmerie after trying to occupy the Pont de L’Etoile A52 highway tollbooth in Aubagne, southern France, on November 17, 2019, to celebrate the first anniversary of the movement. (Photo by AFP)

Wed Dec 4, 2019 10:16AM

By Ramin Mazaheri

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Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

 

Over the decade I have lived in France I have never seen a social protest movement win their economic objective.

Wait… that’s not true: in 2015 Francois Hollande gave in to the demands of protesting police even before their protest ended. That was pretty pathetic.

And then we also have the exception of exceptions, the ever-constant Yellow Vests. They have won a small portion of their economic demands – a tiny amount of direct financial relief, no austerity budget in 2020 and preventing the government from privatizing the airports of Paris (at least temporarily).

They won by doing something which was unprecedented in France: protesting, instead of vacationing, over Christmas. They surprised everyone, including me, with their self-sacrifice, which ultimately grew to incredibly admirable proportions due to their steadfastness amid constant repression.

However, Yellow Vests are now being forced into the back seat.

Unions are leading an unlimited, general strike starting on December 5 to try and stop President Emmanuel Macron’s radically right-wing pension “reforms”.

Will their general strike work?

France’s ‘independent’ unions: if it’s good for members, who cares if its bad for the nation?

It’s so amazing how very quickly a general strike can win that it’s amazing that anyone thinks another tactic in the labor playbook is even required?

But as France’s #1 union leader, the CGT’s Philippe Martinez, told me years ago: “I don’t have a button marked ‘general strike’ which I can press.” LOL, unfortunate but true.

Again, I have never seen a social protest movement in France win their economic objective… unless we are talking about a few union members whom the government bought off with targeted concessions.

The French illustrate why “independent” labor unions might be good for a member but bad for the nation, and also why the world’s most truly progressive models don’t have labor unions which are independent from their government structure.

Since 2010 France has seen enormous, broad protest movements against wave after wave of austerity measures, but they have never succeeded in stopping them. The reason is the same old imperial logic – divide and conquer. Time after time I have watched French strikes fail because the government can quite easily give targeted concessions to just a few sectors of the workforce, and even to just a few unions within one sector of the workforce. This always has had the intended result: to reduce strike participation and provoke anger, resentment and selfishness among those who are still striking so that the movement is inevitably abandoned. France, already the land of the evil eye, has only grown more embittered and suspicious over their many failed labor movements during the Great Recession.

The Yellow Vests have totally rejected union involvement until now, and for the reason I have explained: France’s unions are self-interested, whereas the Vesters obviously promote self-sacrifice for the national good. Just like France’s political groups and NGOs, the unions are fundamentally allied with a corrupt establishment which is geared towards the pro-neo-imperialist 1% and their money-grubbing immorality.

In 1995 right-wing reforms (pushing – you guessed it – right-wing pension rollbacks) lasted three weeks and the government backed down. There were minor goods shortages, and people lost some wages, but national unity against a government’s totally unjustified, 1%-enriching policies was easily victorious.

Almost two-thirds of the nation does not trust President Emmanuel Macron to lead any sort of pension reform, so there is unity again. The reality is that Macron has a support base of just 25% which approves of whatever he does. Clearly, his remaining supporters on the pension issue are daredevils who merely want to see what the world’s very first universal, one-size-fits-all pension program will actually look like.

Such a program is totally unjust because bending rail tracks in the cold, hoisting garbage cans and – I’d say – teaching 30 kids for 8 hours a day is not something which a 64-year old person can do without serious consequences for their health and future. In a West, which makes an idol of youth and dismisses the elderly, this idea – that old people deserve a future, too – is rarer than an igloo in Ecuador.

If recent history is any guide: If Macron gives just a few crumbs to a few unions they will push past the strikers and be “scabs” to the rest of the nation with zero scruples.

This strike is perhaps a final test of union power in France: Unions have become more fragmented since 1995 – and thus less powerful – and if they fail to win here the Yellow Vests will be proven right to have excluded and denounced them.

Macron: Won’t rest until every Frenchman is an American in Paris

No nation has a universal pension system and the French government themselves truly don’t know what they are doing. No worker knows how much their new “points” will be worth upon retirement, including Macron himself. It is clear that Macron only wants to smash the current system and replace it with something more Americanized. I write that because this has been his modus operandi ever since taking office.

Macron’s policies don’t need public approval because he is not trying to get re-elected – he is trying to merely win by default in 2022, when Marine Le Pen will again serve as the scare tactic. Even if he loses he is guaranteeing himself a lifetime of lucrative speech-making in Western nations by destroying the bad example which has always been the French “mixed-economy” model.

Macron is not like Hollande in that he did not backtrack – he warned France of what he was going to do. This gives him a mere fig leaf of democratic justification (in the classic Western-model style): he claims to have won a democratic mandate for his far-right economic plans, but every adult in France knows what I just wrote – his base of support in the 2017 vote was just one-quarter of voters, because everyone else voted to block the far-right (culturally, not economically) Marine Le Pen and also to sweep out the two hated mainstream parties.

In 1995, the largest French social movement since 1968, what tipped the scale was public transport workers: they bought movement to a halt for three weeks, and they are threatening to do the same this month.

What did not tip the scales in favor of worker-class justice is France’s media.

France’s “private” media, whose editorial lines are decided by a handful of billionaires, keeps pushing this willfully stupid point about Macron’s false “mandate” which insults the intelligence of their readers and viewers. Similarly, every report about the pension reforms begins with raising the issue of the “special regimes” – which are mainly for public service manual laborers who work in conditions which no sexagenarian should endure – in an obvious ploy to create support for the far-right reform via provoking jealousy, anger and exasperation, which cannot possibly be the foundation for the proper “reform” of anything.

Not much should be expected from France’s public media, either: even though their salaries are derived from taxpayer dollars only Iranian and Russian media have been covering the Yellow Vests from the street for the past five months.

Another group which also did not tip the scales is what, “Remember ’68, man?!”, French Boomers falsely believe will do so this time around – students.

It is only via cutting off profits to the 1% that France’s leaders – in their aristocratic/bourgeois Western democracy – will ever be forced to back down. It is workers and determined adults who can and must play the deciding factor in politics. I have no idea why the youth-worshipping West thinks baby-faced students are a safer bet than tough rail workers?

Another battle which will be decided is the “blowhard” French model of influencing government – simple, often alcohol-fueled protests.

For the past decade the French have gone to a protest, taken a selfie (without smiling), gone home early and – as I’ve stated – lose. They are simply shocked to find, no matter how often it has occurred, that a government which keeps resorting to executive orders does not at all listen to public opinion when formulating public policy. The French love for self-expression may be self-satisfying, but it is a regular political failure.

Returning to the tactic of a general strike will hopefully show France that the only solution is economically hurting the 1% whom the Western liberal model seeks to protect from any possible economic losses.

Of course these failed bets – on “independent” unions, on the “independent” private media, on emotional and unsteady youth, on protests which lack the basic knowledge of the class struggle and the majority’s embrace of neo-imperialism in  the French culture – all help explain why nearly no socio-economic movements have won since 1995.

What is different this time around?

Nobody can really tell, because it all depends on the willingness of workers to sacrifice their pay checks to win something they won’t touch for decades in the future. Every society has immediate needs to satisfy, but does France have a culture which encourages thinking about the far, unknowable future?

Everybody is making the comparison with 1995, but there is no doubt that the economic and democratic condition of the average citizen is far, far worse since then.

Anti-austerity feeling has routinely been sky-high during the Eurozone’s Lost Decade, and the French keep losing their purchasing power, government services, working conditions and the social rights it has taken a century to wrest from most decidedly un-Islamic high finance. Maybe this will tip the scales?

Is France willing to walk to work for just 3 weeks, like in 1995? If not, they should be prepared to work two extra years in their old age, and for a monthly stipend which is far less than what the elderly get now.

Footnote: Two weeks after the 1995 “victory” the far-right nature of the aristocratic/bourgeois Western model asserted itself – parliament voted to allow the social security reform via executive order. In such a model the 1% is guaranteed to win and is always the primary beneficiary of government policies and tax dollars. If the French weren’t confronted by this reality before, the Yellow Vests have changed that.

Or maybe they haven’t changed that? If the strike fails, the way the Western aristocratic model inevitably betrays the lower and middle classes – and the apathy, alienation and selfishness it necessary provokes among the mass of the citizenry- will be the primary reason for failure, although this reason is never cited in the West.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

 

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