Chomsky: “The rich are running wild”

This clip sums up our current state pretty well. It’s nothing new to anyone who has been paying attention, but ideology can blind people. Even people watching this clip who have “trump derangement” symptoms might miss what Chomsky is saying. This is corporate power stealing as much as they can and killing with impunity. Listen to every word and sentence. If you don’t truly understand, a word, concept, or expression of an idea, research it.

For example, Chomsky mentions Greg Palast. Greg has a new book out detailing how trump will steal the 2020 election. What most people don’t know is that Greg has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that trump stole the 2016 election. Is it new that a u.s. election has been stolen? No. But most people are unaware of that fact, and for the strangest of reasons, even most on the left have discussed the trump win as legitimate. Discussing voting and elections is fine, but assuming any aspect of the voting and elections process is not corrupt and at the bare minimum broken (which Chomsky does briefly mention of course) will get us nowhere. In fact, discussion untied to action will get us nowhere. The inextricably connected issue of corporate power run amok, using the state as its play toy and free money machine, killing and decimating the systems we need to live, was here before trump and it will be with us long after he is dead and gone, so it is far from simply an issue of voting the monster out so “everything can get back to normal.”

While the republicans are as dangerous and horrific as Chomsky states, just blaming the republican party for this is disingenuous, or misguided to say the least. Chomsky does mention that we De facto have one party rule: the business party, but then he singles out republicans. It is good and right to point out how unhinged they are, but the Dems should be mentioned in the same breath.

As some might know, Chomsky has angered some on the left for always advocating for the lesser of two evils vote when it comes to the presidential election. He has doubled down on this with biden. It’s hard to take issue with Chomsky personally because he has been consistent in this view his entire life. He holds this view because he doesn’t ascribe all politics to voting. He identifies as an anarchist after all. His assumption is that people who do more politically than just walk into a booth for a couple of minutes every two years will just vote and then get back to being actually politically active. A problem with this message is that people misinterpret it to mean voting is all they have to do. Another issue is that it assumes a “free and fair” voting and elections system and tacitly promotes that idea. Yet another and possibly most obvious flaw in this logic is that when you vote for the lesser of two evils, things keep getting worse.

While it’s true that trump is in unprecedented territory, it is also true that he could not have gotten there or done as well for himself and capitalists without the last 40 years of the Dems enthusiastically implementing the neoliberal project, which is essentially class war by the rich on almost everyone else on the planet. Just in the last four years, the Dems have given this administration essentially everything it wanted, from keeping children in concentration camps, to war, from packing the courts with the federalist society judges Chomsky mentions in the clip, to more money for the military – the list goes on and on…They have not simply acquiesced to republican power, they largely agree with them when it comes to the implementation of u.s. power and because they have largely been purchased and directed by corporate power, they serve the same master: capital.

It’s important to understand everything Chomsky mentions here and it’s important to understand that voting will not “save us.” We are too far gone for that. I address the “what is to be done” question in many posts here. Essentially, in the last 50 years, the left has crumbled from within while being crushed from without. Not only has it been unable to mount a challenge to capital, it has been unable to re-win the fights it won in the past that, for the most part, the bipartisan implementation of the neoliberal project has reversed.

There has been a weak resurgence of the left since around 2011 and it has gained some steam over the years as material circumstances have continued to worsen for the majority of people, but it hasn’t been enough and in many cases it has been on the wrong path. As moribund and weak as the left is, it is our only hope to survive long term. The left has been unable to (and often refused to) organize itself, unify, and internationalize. Without everyday people (as Cornel West calls us) getting involved on the left, joining and forming organizations, and then unifying those organizations (eventually internationally), the corporate assault on everything we hold dear, including the means for life itself, will continue. If people want to see the changes they say they believe in they will have to become radical. Radical just means change at the root. We have to uproot the system of capitalism. The good news is that it will take a relatively small portion of the population to do it. The bad news is that the left has to be turned in to something new and is resisting it in many ways. It’s bleak. It’s up to us no matter what. It’s almost a cliche at this point, but Gramsci said, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” And as Chomsky just said again, time is running out.

Good luck to us all.

CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings calls for abolishing school boards

It seems we have another entitled neoliberal corporate CEO jumping on the privatize public schools bandwagon. That particular wagon is already packed full of partying millionaires and billionaires who figured out there are trillions to be made by eviscerating public institutions and funneling those tax dollars into their own pockets. The irony here is that over the years many school boards have been run by business (or pro-business) people and they have done a relatively poor job of listening to the people they are supposed to “represent.” Obviously. Of course Hastings doesn’t acknowledge that, but if his call for abolishing school boards were to come to pass, any hope for parents (or anyone else who cares about actual education) to have a voice would be obliterated. This is just one line of attack in the corporate war on parents, teachers, children, and democracy itself.

It’s part of the neoliberal corporate capture of government institutions and really every aspect of our lives, from work to water, school to energy, healthcare to retirement, food to government. Everything. The corporations want to profit from everything and they want total control of the state – and that includes you.

In this particular case, the very least you could do would be to send an email to netflix alerting them you know what hastings is doing and you will cancel your membership if he is not fired. Better yet: send an email and cancel your membership. Even better: cancel your membership and learn more about neoliberalism and how it is being used by corporations to stamp-out what’s left of democracy around the world. The best you could do: start organizing with people you know to fight it.

Perhaps if we stopped watching so much TV and used some of that time to work with other people fighting this corporate takeover, we might have a chance – and we might even feel like fulfilled, engaged, citizens, instead of bloated, alienated, addicted, depressed consumers. Well, the truth is I see little chance of that happening. I usually say I have no hope, but I guess there must be a remnant of hope somewhere because I’m taking the time to write these words. The evidence is in my friends, and it doesn’t look good. It’s up to all of us.

P E A C E

All fall down

Another “must read” from Sarah Kendzior. She is on the right track.

At the end of the article, she offers this: “You can organize and push for collective change…”

I think it is necessary and has to be done now. It is clear that whatever we have done and are doing isn’t enough in the face of of this corporate assault on working people and every institution in the land. The corporate elite and the politicians they buy are implementing a neoliberal agenda

( http://21stcenturytheater.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/david-harvey-and-others-explain-neoliberalism-these-are-the-ideas-that-became-policies-which-in-turn-rule-our-lives/ )

that is simultaneously creating the problem and making resistance harder than it has ever been. Corporations and the governments they buy are rapidly privatizing everything. They are “rent-seeking,” maximizing return, writing international trade laws, they are criminalizing poor and working people, stealing pensions, property – the list of crimes and venality seems to go on forever.

The “devaluation of people” Sarah writes of has roots in capitalism as well as neoliberalism. One has to understand both to know that while exploitation has always been key to capital accumulation, neoliberalism has been used to increase and systematize that exploitation. It is like a set of tools capitalists can use to extract wealth from individuals, cities, countries – in fact the entire world. In other words, yes, exploitation has always happened, but the consolidated power and wealth corporations have attained is unprecedented in world history. It is increasing. And they have what amounts to an organized plan, viz. A neoliberal agenda. It’s different this time. And we ignore it at our peril.

This is the (rarely reported) root cause of many of the revolts of the Arab Spring. Recently, in Turkey, neoliberal policies of privatization and the loss of public spaces sparked protest. Scratch the surface and you will find corporate interests and the politicians they pay for. In every English-speaking country, the neoliberal agenda has been forced on the “political process,” food, water, education – again, the list could go on for pages.

We need to understand what neoliberalism is as we organize to fight it. In the best Shakespearean manner, its greatest strength is its greatest weakness: It is a global phenomenon backed by many of the same corporate players. They are implementing the same policies all over the world, and through their oppression and repression, they are are radicalizing people world-wide.

They exist on greed – and the attendant fear that comes from knowing the consequences of their greed. That is why they are spying on all of us, why they are militarizing our police forces, why corrupt politicians shout down teachers, why the rich live behind walls and security cameras and lead lives almost totally separate from us (unless we’re waiting on them). They fear us. Because they know what they are doing is wrong.

Even now, as a small fraction of the earth’s population amasses most of its wealth on the backs of most of its people and the health of the land, they are more and more afraid. We have a small window, and when I look around the English-speaking world I know, I don’t see the urgency we need to have, I don’t see enough people making the intellectual connections or the necessary connections with each other.

People who are already activists and organizers need to organize under one banner. I humbly submit it should be one that is pro-human and anti-neoliberal. Then we need to organize the world, putting people before profit while fighting the neoliberal agenda. It may sound utopian or crazy, but I think it is eminently realistic – and I hope imminently realistic. Even if it’s not, simply accepting the path we’re on is not an option.

No time like the present.

Sarah Kendzior

From my latest at Al Jazeera English:

When survival is touted as an aspiration, sacrifice becomes a virtue. But a hero is not a person who suffers. A suffering person is a person who suffers.

If you suffer in the proper way – silently, or with proclaimed fealty to institutions – then you are a hard worker “paying your dues”. If you suffer in a way that shows your pain, that breaks your silence, then you are a complainer – and you are said to deserve your fate.

But no worker deserves to suffer. To compound the suffering of material deprivation with rationalisations for its warrant is not only cruel to the individual, but gives exploiters moral license to prey.

Individuals internalise the economy’s failure, as a media chorus excoriates them over what they should have done differently. They jump to meet shifting goalposts; they express gratitude for their own mistreatment: their…

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