Educate yourself about the TPP with Bill Moyers, Yves Smith, and Dean Baker

If enacted, these laws will be an end-run around existing laws and institutions created to protect us.  Their goal is to continue the transfer of our rights as citizens to transnational corporations, eliminating regulations and “opening markets.”  As they simultaneously oppress and steal from us, they will have removed all legal mechanisms for us to fight back.  It is an obvious threat to activism of any kind and a major worldwide threat to all working people and our environment.

The TPP/TTIP are essentially neoliberalism enshrined in trade law.  The laws will be used to extract wealth, consolidate corporate power, and quell dissent. The agreement has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” Consider how much damage has been done to our country – and others – by massive corporations and financial institutions who used NAFTA to rip good jobs out of our hands, only to give them to unprotected workers in other countries, where the corporations polluted and exploited with impunity. Then the manufactured crisis of 2007-08 was unleashed on us by the same people. They have stuck the knife in, they have turned it, and now they want to finish us off and put the final nail in the coffin of anything resembling freedom or democracy.

When the global corporate elite control everything, the only thing left will be for us to consume, produce and obey.  If we have been marginalized to such an extent that we are unnecessary to that system, then the system has no place for us and asks that we not be seen, or preferably die quietly.  We aren’t far off from this now.  Millions suffering in poverty, a rapidly dwindling middle-class, the rich reaching new heights of wealth every day. They have bought the political system, they have instituted mass surveillance, militarized police forces, corporate control of almost every aspect of our lives…and that is not enough for those who constantly want more.

People who are still paying the bills, have retirement, can buy a few high tech consumer goods, help their kids out every month, maybe take a vacation now and then, somehow think they’re immune. If they think about the reality of our situation as a country (and as a world) they may despair or shrug and think, same as it ever was…but it’s not.  Things have changed. We have never had a global elite like this in the history of the world. Collectively, they have and control more wealth and power than has ever existed in history.  They cross borders with impunity, have no allegiance to any state, play entire countries off of each other, raid pension funds and government treasuries…the list is seemingly endless.  They write the laws and they make the rules.  If they can’t “outsource” your job, they are trying to replace every worker they can with a machine – and not just blue collar workers…

Even if TPP is never enacted, a variation will be – or a thousand variations, stuck into laws and trade agreements around the world.  NAFTA has had a massive impact on all of us. As clinton fast-tracked it and pressed for China’s entry into the WTO, most of us chose not to listen to the people who were trying to warn us about it.  Now, the TPP promises to be a thousand times worse. Intellectual property rights enabled pharmaceutical companies to keep poor people in need from getting access to generic drugs (and many middle-class americans), they helped monsanto make criminals of millions of farmers. Now it seems Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an aspect of existing trade agreements under the WTO, are a major focus of the TPP. Not only will they criminalize even more of the world, they will use TRIPS to clamp down on the internet and all of its users. They believe they can succeed where SOPA and PIPA failed.

Of course, the earth, our environment, is front and center in most big trade agreements written by corporations.   When a transnational corporation sees an opportunity for exploitation in a particular country, say oil drilling, but a government (and more importantly, it’s citizens) doesn’t want it to happen, that would be considered, in trade-speak, a “barrier to trade.”  We don’t know the details because all of these trade negotiations are taking place in private, but leaks from preliminary documents indicate they want to get paid – with our tax dollars – on the projected income losses from not being able to exploit a resource.  The logic is twisted and perverse.  It is the logic of capitalism.  So, not only do they want to more “efficiently” exploit more of the earth with impunity by “opening markets,” it appears they also want to be paid – by us – for doing nothing.

It’s time to be honest with ourselves and have a sense of urgency.  Whatever your situation is today, it is not static. There are dynamic changes happening and the corporations writing the TPP in secret are at the vanguard of those changes. The only true way to fight this is to realize it is part of the same neoliberal agenda that corporations and venal politicians are using to privatize education, water, steal money out of our pockets through the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) “economy,” make war, sell weapons, and displace huge populations around the world.

Many people are beginning to see the same policies enacted in different countries with the same wealthy elite benefiting and the same working people paying the price – just talk to anyone in Britain…

So, first we need to learn about what is happening and realize its profound impact.  Then we need to organize to fight a capitalism that is using neoliberal strategies to oppress and exploit the planet – and all but a few of its inhabitants.  Not only do we need to organize world wide, but we need to have a vision of what we want. I suggest we create a way of life that puts people before profits.  No time like the present…

Gore Vidal, writer’s perspective: Smithsonian Institution (1999)

This is classic Gore all the way. A video in which Vidal names the 1%, calls for the legalization of drugs, excoriates the prison pipeline, and wonders, why, after terrorizing so many, we haven’t been bombed yet.

P.S. If you’re not patient, “fast forward” past the introductions.

Common sense

Common sense. It’s a double (actually triple) entendre. Brand is considered “common” in the English class system (yes, even though he is rich now) and is offering what I consider common sense political – and even spiritual – analysis. There is a third meaning as well to those familiar with Thomas Paine.

Of course, nothing he’s saying is new. Many have said it before and many are saying it now, but few have the access to media Brand has, and even fewer have his following. In media terms, his audience – the audience he carries around with him if you will – far exceeds even the most popular television show’s audience on its best night. For example the finale of Breaking Bad garnered a 6.6 million audience share. As of today, Brand has 7,366,715 followers on twitter – and I think it’s safe to assume that number represents a fraction of his fans worldwide who aren’t following him on twitter.

Not only is he articulate – often eloquent – concerning our current situation as humans on a planet increasingly controlled by corporate power and the politicians they pay for, but he has every skill needed to deal with media “journalists” and all of the various and sundry lackeys of the elite who populate our popular media landscape.

Aside from being a skilled debater (he would make a joke here), he is extremely quick-witted and capable of encapsulating complex thoughts in pithy “sound-bites.” While he has many other skills perfectly suited to communicate through the media, his most important trait is his humanity. Simply put, he cares about other people and believes people generally tend toward good impulses rather than ill. Again, there are others who appear in the media who still have their humanity, but Brand can communicate it better than most. They used to call it, “the common touch.”

So, who cares? Well, I guess it depends on who you are. Most people on the left have been trying to communicate some variation of these ideas for quite a long time now, with very little success. The prominent left’s reaction to Brand’s interview with Paxton is a testament to how fractured and divisive the left has become – and an object lesson in what some lefties do with their access to the media. Of course, some of this is airing dirty laundry, but now is as good a time as any if a certain faction of what’s left of the left wants to be on board for any actual popular resistance, let alone “lead” it.

Mark Fisher discusses these issues and how Russell Brand matters in his article, “Exiting The Vampire Castle.”

On December 5th, 2013, Doug Henwood interviewed Fisher for his radio show and podcast Behind the News. Though there is a bit of academic language thrown around, I think he does a nice job of summing up the way I would. Essentially, he supports what Brand is doing in the media, rejects divisive “indentitarianism,” calls for putting class firmly in the center of left discourse, and for getting back to practicing solidarity and common cause.

I want to end here, but because we are where we are, it seems more of a whimper than a bang. These calls have been made before (though I sense more energy building behind the critique of identity politics). The truth is, we have to call out even those calls, because after a certain point, talk and theorizing will beget even more talk and theorizing if that is the bulk of left “action.” I am not diminishing the need for those things; in fact, acting and theorizing are not mutually exclusive – but we will eventually have to do the hard organizing work they did generations ago, because about half of us will have very few other options. This isn’t a static situation by any means. There will be another manufactured crisis. It will be worse than the last one. The same corporations will be responsible.

The elite have embraced Neoliberalism and are using a series of policies based on that economic philosophy to organize the entire world in their image. It is a world where everything is commodified, i.e., made into something that can be bought or sold, where everything owned by the public and everything for the public good is privatized and only exists to generate profit, where no one has privacy and everyone is a number.

While capitalists of the past may have had visions of world domination, it would be difficult even for them to conceive of how much capital has been consolidated and what those capitalists (yes, mostly in the form of corporations) have been able to do with that capital. They are utilizing a neoliberal agenda that enacts and enforces laws using politicians and global organizations to reorganize the very structure of our lives. From food and water to oil and jobs, from education to housing, our lives are being reshaped by global capital. This is the threat. This is what is happening before our eyes. They have more power and wealth than has ever existed in history and they are using it on people in the same way all over the world.

In the end, this may turn out to be their greatest weakness. If exploited and oppressed people understand the same thing being done to them is being done to their brothers and sisters around the world, they can begin to talk. When they talk, they can begin to organize, and then together we can fight the corporate power that exists only to exploit for profit. A worldwide class war perpetrated against working people demands worldwide solidarity and organizing.

Unions like the IWW with international aspirations never really achieved their goals. Now, the consolidation of capital by a relative few corporations and individuals using the same set of policies all over the world may have created the conditions for the first actual worldwide movement of people to come together and with one voice say, “basta!”

Educate yourself about the TPP with Bill Moyers, Yves Smith, and Dean Baker

This is an end-run around left and/or liberal activism and a major threat to all working people around the world. The TPP will be used to extract wealth, consolidate corporate power, and quell dissent in the most wicked, nefarious, and brutal ways possible. The agreement has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” Consider how much damage has been done to our country – and others – by massive corporations and financial institutions who used NAFTA to rip good jobs out from under us, only to give them to unprotected workers in other countries, where the corporations polluted and exploited with impunity. Then the manufactured crisis of 2007-08 was unleashed on us by the same people. They have stuck the knife in, they have turned it, and now they want to finish us off and put the final nail in the coffin of anything resembling freedom or democracy.

The myth of the american dream has become superfluous to our global corporate elite. It is simply no longer necessary for them to continue the lies. When the myths are gone and they have crushed the last dreams, the only thing left will be for us to consume and obey. Look around. We aren’t far off. Millions suffering in poverty, a rapidly dwindling middle-class, the rich reaching new heights of wealth every day. They have bought the political system, they have instituted mass surveillance, militarized police forces, there is corporate control of every aspect of our lives…and this is not enough for those who constantly want more.

People who are still paying the bills, have retirement, and can buy a few high tech consumer goods, help their kids out every month, maybe take a vacation now and then, somehow think they’re immune. If they think about the reality of our situation as a country (and as a world) they may despair or shrug and think, same as it ever was…but it’s not. Things have changed. We have never had a global elite like this in the history of the world. They cross borders with impunity, have no allegiance to any state, play entire countries off of each other, raid pension funds and government treasuries, they write the laws and make the rules and the only use they have for us is as labor to exploit – and maybe as consumers (if they actually produce anything).

Even if TPP is never enacted, a variation will be – or a thousand variations, stuck into laws and trade agreements around the world. NAFTA has had a massive impact on all of us. Most of us chose not to listen to the people who warned us about it as Clinton fast-tracked it and pressed for China’s entry into the WTO. Now, the TPP promises to be a thousand times worse. Intellectual property rights enabled pharmaceutical companies to keep poor people in need from getting access to generic drugs, they helped monsanto make criminals of millions of farmers. Now it seems Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an aspect of existing trade agreements under the WTO, are a major focus of the TPP. Not only will they criminalize even more of the world, they will use TRIPS to clamp down on the internet and all of its users. They believe they can succeed where SOPA and PIPA failed.

Of course the earth, our environment, is front and center in most big trade agreements written by corporations. Not only do they want to more efficiently exploit more of the earth with impunity, they want to rig the system to pay them – with our tax dollars – when they see an opportunity for exploitation, say oil drilling, but a country (and it’s citizens) doesn’t want it to happen.

It’s time to be honest with ourselves and have a sense of urgency. Whatever your situation is today, it is not static. There are dynamic changes happening and the people writing the TPP in secret are at the vanguard of those changes. The only true way to fight this is to realize it is part of the same neoliberal agenda that corporations and venal politicians are using to privatize education, steal money out of our pockets through the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) “economy,” make war, sell weapons, and displace huge populations around the world.

Many people are beginning to see the same policies enacted in different countries with the same wealthy elite benefiting and the same working people paying the price. So, first we need to realize what is happening, then we need to organize to fight it. Not only do we need to organize world wide, but we need to have a vision of what we want. I suggest we create a way of life that puts people before profits. No time like the present…