The promoters of war don’t deserve a place in America’s mainstream discourse any more than white supremacists do. This was recently made clear when Senator Marco Rubio tweeted an image of a bloodied Muammar Gaddafi in apparent reference to what he hopes will befall Nicolas Maduro.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
The promoters of war don’t deserve a place in America’s mainstream discourse any more than white supremacists do. This was recently made clear when Senator Marco Rubio tweeted an image of a bloodied Muammar Gaddafi in apparent reference to what he hopes will befall Nicolas Maduro.
As horrifying and potentially criminal as Rubio’s death threat was, it’s nothing new in the rhetoric of American warmongers. Recall Hillary Clinton’s sadistically jovial line after the murder of Gaddafi about how “we came, we saw, he died.” Or Ted Cruz’ promise during his 2016 presidential campaign to indiscriminately “carpet bomb” populations in the Middle East. Or the 2017 statement from the war criminal John McCain about North Korean “extinction.”
These quotes reflect the defining paradigm of America’s political culture. Violence, ignorance, and the belief in our country’s “exceptionalism” are celebrated while the world’s poor and vulnerable people are crushed under the boot of empire. This culture of brutal conquest has been with us since colonial slavery the Native American genocide, and it’s continuing in the modern age with similar brutality; at least five million Muslims have been killed in the Middle Eastern wars that America has instigated since 1990, with our terroristic bombing and drone campaigns continuing to escalate.
The goal of neoconservatives like Clinton, Cruz, and Rubio is to make this paradigm of violence continue for the foreseeable future. With the rise in recent years of an intensely pro-war Democratic Party that calls for escalations with Russia and glorifies war criminals like George W. Bush, the culture of war in America has become thoroughly bipartisan. This has let war propaganda become utterly ubiquitous in our society. From the media sensations around unverified claims of Russian meddling, to the calls from pro-war pundits and politicians for the U.S. not to withdraw from Syria, to the current effort to demonize Nicolas Maduro for the purpose of carrying out a coup in Venezuela, there’s a push for ever more war, ever bigger military budgets, and the censorship and stigmatization of those who oppose the imperialist agenda.
If this push towards war doesn’t end soon, it will result either in an unprecedented holocaust or in the extinction of life on earth. With the return of the U.S./Russia cold war tensions and the breakup of the INF nuclear treaty, a threat of nuclear war between America and Russia has appearedthat’s even worse than the one from the last century. America’s arms race with China presents another factor that could spark world war. As the United States continues to aggress against Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, which align with the Russia/China axis, a conflict of such a scale is made even more possible.
This is the horror that we’re living with as a result of letting the neoconservative ideology become normalized. Neoconservatism is a symptom of America’s period of micro-militarism, the term that historians have for when an empire reacts to its own decline by waging war with increasing intensity. The goal that neoconservative zealots like John Bolton have of conquest against the disobedient nations, submission from Russia and China, and the creation of a 21st century U.S.-dominated unipolar world is part of a desperate attempt to restore America’s imperial hegemony. And the fact that most of these things are unattainable won’t stop the neocons from lashing out against the rest of the world in increasingly belligerent fashion.
The consequences of this late-stage imperialist paradigm can be as bloody at home as they are abroad. As the anti-war blogger Caitlin Johnstone has observed, America’s mass shooting problem partly comes from the war propaganda that the country is saturated with:
Lack of scientific inquiry notwithstanding, what else [besides America’s immersion in war propaganda] could explain the uniquely American mass shooting epidemic? Surely access to firearms is a factor, but other countries like Switzerland have similarly liberal gun laws without anything like the level of violence seen in the US. Surely mental health is a factor as well, but neither mental health problems nor lack of healthcare is a problem unique to the US. There is nothing like the mass shooting epidemic in the United States anywhere else in the world, nor indeed anywhere else in recorded history. Name me one thing unique to America that could possibly explain its unique mass shooting problem besides the fact that the American psyche is necessarily pummeled with war propaganda day in and day out in order to manufacture consent for US war agendas, and sometimes the mind gets bent so far it breaks.
The politicians and pundits who choose to propagate war agendas so that they can ride the gravy train of American imperialism are actively working to multiply the violence in the world. People like Rubio are a threat to peace, to the truth, and to human decency overall. In an ideal world, they would be pushed to the margins of our discourse, allowing us to focus on ways to nurture and enrich humanity instead of on ways to conquer and kill.
Monday, February 25, 2019
When directed in the right way, anger is a very useful emotion. It can motivate us to defend what we love with a ferocity and determination that mere enthusiasm can’t make us have. This is why as we fight for our rights as poor and working people, we need to embrace the anger that our oppression gives us.
We should be angry because we’re being beaten down every day under a dystopian society where the rich reign supreme. Half of Americans are now in or near poverty. 70% don’t have more than $1000 in savings. 8 in 10 are in some level of debt. A third of American households can’t afford food, shelter, or medical care. 18 million are in extreme poverty. Many of those who aren’t homeless or deprived of essential resources can only live in relative stability because they’ve had to put themselves in unpayable debt, with American credit card debt being at record levels and more Americans than ever now being behind on their car payments. We’re trapped in a rigged economic machine that’s been steadily destroying the middle class since neoliberalism took hold four decades ago, and that will keep pushing more of us into poverty as long as it exists.
This isn’t happening because there isn’t enough money to go around. It’s an act of theft against us that’s being done by a group of capitalist elites. Amid the dismantling of much of the social safety net, the shifting of the tax burden onto the poor, the shipping out of millions of jobs to third world countries, the legalization of many corporate crimes, the privatization of many essential services, the widespread stagnation of the American minimum wage in recent decades, and the emergence of a corporate stranglehold over the U.S. government, our economy and our political system are designed to serve a ruling cabal of billionaires and mega-millionaires. The statistic about how the top 0.1% of Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom 90% illustrates how far the country has fallen into this feudalistic kleptocracy.
And the attitude that the oligarchs have towards us means we can take their attacks personally. Though some rich people like Warren Buffett express sympathy for the poor, the ruling class is largely brimming with contempt for society’s most vulnerable people. Just look at the rantings of the millionaire Republican propagandist Rush Limbaugh, who’s written: “The poor in this country are the biggest piglets at the mother pig and her nipples…We need to stop giving them coupons where they can go buy all kinds of junk…I don’t have compassion for the poor.” Or at the taunts towards the poor from Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who’s said to her country’s poor and working people: “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.” There are many more quotes like these from the rich and their defenders, and their statements reflect the studies that show empathy tends to be rarest among the highest social classes.
These people see us as nothing more than obstacles to their megalomaniacal power trip. And they’re prepared to use violence against us if we try to end the order they’ve set up.
This is shown by the fact that throughout America, the ruling class has filled police departments with leftover military equipment-a development that’s already escalated the amount of police killings of unarmed poor people, especially poor people of color. They’ve expanded the annual American military budget to an unprecedented $717 billion while allowing the president to use the military as a domestic police force. They’ve weaponized U.S. intelligence agencies into a political police, as was recently confirmedwhen former FBI leader Terry Turchie said in an interview that the FBI’s mission is to keep progressives and socialists “out of government.”
The increase of censorship against anti-war and left-wing online journalists that we’ve seen in recent years is just the first stage of how the centers of power plan to crack down on dissent. As the Macron government’s violenceagainst the Yellow Vest protesters has foreshadowed, America’s corporate state is going to increasingly speak in the language of brutal force.
These acts of repression are the only way the oligarchs know how to respond to the looming crises of global capitalism. They don’t understand the plight of the poor, and they’re entrenched in a worldview that rationalizes their own greed. None of them want to end capitalism, and most of them don’t even want capitalism reformed through expanded social welfare policies. The dominant mentality within the American political establishment is that ever more public services need to be cut, that the rich should pay even less taxes, and that corporations should go with even less regulations. Socialists, meanwhile, are seen as an enemy that needs to be purged.
This is the clueless ruling class selfishness that President Trump displays with his recent declaration of global war on socialism; the super-rich feel like it’s their right to keep grabbing up the world’s resources, and they’re confused and angered when anyone objects to this. As was revealed in one part from a 2017 interview with millionaire Democratic donor Stephen Cloobeck, the super-rich simply can’t grasp why it’s wrong to hoard great wealth while others live in poverty: “It is very, very disturbing when I hear the millionaire or billionaire word. And I’ve told them [Democratic leaders] to stop it. Knock it off. Because everyone wants to do really well, and this is the world of aspirations.”
As the political prisoner Assata Shakur has said, “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” We need to apply this principle to our current struggle.
We have to build institutions that go up against the corporate power structure. Electoral presences like the Green Party, the Socialist Equality Party, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation should be part of our focus, since third parties in America have historically been key to effecting change. We have to organize protest efforts that take away the power of the elites by shutting down the system they depend on, as can be done through general strikes and nonviolent mass protests that disrupt traffic. There must be a mass working class mobilization towards revolutionary action, and the labor strikes that are sweeping the world should only represent the start of what’s to come.
Most importantly, all of these actions need to be infused with the aim of overthrowing capitalism. Capitalism is at the root of why the oligarchs are in power, because capitalism is built on the subjugation of those who don’t own the means of production. We have to keep pummeling the system through strikes and protests until the corporatist government loses its control, allowing for an independent citizens commission to phase out the nation’s use of fossil fuels, dismantle America’s imperialist foreign military involvements, and establish a socialist system with no rich and no poor.
What motivates me to help carry out this revolution is not just my eagerness for creating a better society, but my outrage at what the capitalist class is doing to me and to most other Americans. I know many of you feel the same anger. And we’ve got to leverage this anger towards wresting power from the aristocracy.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
The network of “humanitarian” Syria regime change groups recently experienced yet another major PR crisis. On February 9, James Harkin, a journalist who’s written for The Guardian and the Financial Times and is the director of the Center for Investigative Journalism, published an article in The Intercept titled What happened in Douma? Searching for facts in the fog of Syria’s propaganda war. Harkin’s conclusions were essentially reiterations of what less mainstream journalists had found in the past, which meant he likely would have experienced blowback if he’d talked about them during the height of the pro-war Syria propaganda campaign in April of last year. According to Harkin’s investigations, sarin had not been used at the site of the supposed Douma chemical attack, and the hospital scene had apparently been staged.
Shortly afterward, this assessment of the April 2018 Douma incident was confirmed by a statement from the BBC reporter Riam Dalati. Dalati Tweeted: “After 6 months of investigations, i can prove without a doubt that the #Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital. All the #WH, activists and people I spoke to are in #Idlib or #EuphratesShield areas. Only one person was in #Damascus.”
Acknowledging these basic realities about what happened in Douma is now accepted within the mainstream of journalistic discussion. And the relatively mild challenges to the official narrative that Harkin and Dalati presented come after a mountain of evidence has appeared against the claim that Assad had “gassed his own people.” According to interviews made by the renowned journalist Robert Fisk, witnesses to the incident suffered not from gas poisoning but from dust inhalation. This version of the story was later supported by other witnesses to the Douma incident, who testified at the Hague in April of 2018 that they hadn’t experienced chemical poisoning. Given these facts, it makes sense why Fisk also reported that White Helmets members on the scene had needlessly incited panic by dishonestly shouting “Gas!” in a triage center.
During those weeks in April, the efforts from the media to attack all journalists and academics who challenged the official Syria narrative were extreme, to the point where people couldn’t help but notice how uniform and seemingly coordinated the behavior from the press was getting. And even now, as the official narrative about the Douma incident falls apart beyond repair, the West’s pro-war Syria propagandists are trying to delegitimize Harkin and Dalati’s findings.
In response to Dalati, the Global Public Policy Institute’s Tobias Schneider tweeted in a noticeably defensive manner: “Almost a year later, people are still squabbling over the intricacies of the 7 April 2018 Douma chemical attacks. Madness.” Schneider, who has ties to the neoconservative Atlantic Council and is complicit with the GPPI’s connections to a network of pro-regime change oligarchs, has also announced that the GPPI will be publishing an analytical study “on the logic underpinning the Syrian regime’s systematic use of improvised chlorine bombs in particular.”
These defenses from the propagators of the Syria war propaganda feel so desperate because they’ve been caught in too many deceptions. At this point, anyone who looks at even the most mainstream accounts of recent events in Syria will find not just that the Douma hospital scene was staged, but that the White Helmets made a deliberately false report about the incident. If they look into James Mattis’ admission last February that there’s no evidence Assad was behind the April 2017 chemical incident, they’ll also find that our government and media have lately engaged in a pattern of lying to us about Syria.
If they search a little deeper, they’ll find the appalling series of lies that have went into these and the many other Western charges against Assad. For instance, the fraudulent nature of the White Helmets has now been proven beyond all dispute; last December, a UN panel detailed organ harvesting and staged attacks. (This revelation follows the fraudulent reports and recruitments of jihadist sympathizers that the White Helmets have been long known to engage in.)
They’ll also find that the emergence of the White Helmets has correlated with maybe the most extensive and sophisticated war propaganda campaign in history.
The White Helmets, created by the British ex-mercenary James Le Mesurier in March 2013, were almost immediately able to get $123 million in funding from the U.S. and UK governments, as well as from Western NGOs and Qatar. This sudden investment in the “humanitarian” imperialist front group came at a cynically strategic time. For the last two years prior to then, Western governments had been engaged in a violent effort to destabilize Syria by activating their trained army of anti-Assad jihadists. Amid the death and destruction that was befalling Syria, the White Helmets were able to sell themselves as a legitimate and much-needed group of aid workers.
But the White Helmets and the other facets of the Syria propaganda operation have since tried too many tricks for their propaganda tactics to now be sufficiently effective. In addition to the fraudulent gas attack claims of April 2018 and April 2017, in August 2013 Western authorities claimed Assad had committed a chemical attack in Ghouta. This narrative then collapsed when an analysis by genuine weapons experts found that the missile which delivered the sarin had a short range, and that it therefore likely came from rebel territory.
Similar findings came out after it was claimed that Assad had committed a chlorine attack in April of 2014; United Nations investigators learned from the townspeople of Al-Tamanah that Syrian rebels had staged an attack and fed the story to a credulous Western media.
These kinds of hoaxes and theatrics have happened over and over again. So far I’ve mentioned only a few of the West’s false flag chemical attacks; despite the fact that Syrian jihadists have access to chemical weapons have used these weapons numerous times, media coverage has consistently tried to blame the Syrian government for these attacks.
Just as disturbing has been the war psyop factory’s exploitation of Bana al-Abed, the Syrian refugee child who’s been manipulated by adults into publicly voicing demonizations of Assad and Putin. As the Syrian journalists Khaled Iskef has assessed, the campaign of pro-war deception surrounding al-Abed is only one example of how children have been used as propaganda weapons in the attempts to slander Assad. “This is child exploitation to create the propaganda that promoted the terrorists in East Aleppo and was being used to destroy Syria,” Iskef has said in one of his video accounts of the events in his country.
Much of the blame for the propagation of these deceptions has involved the complicity of Hollywood institutions, media organizations, and public figures. The author J.K. Rowling, as well as the football star Colin Kaepernick, have participated in the attempts to legitimize the Bana al-Abed psyop. Netflix’ extremely misleading film “The White Helmets,” along with the Academy Awards’ decision to give the film an Oscar, have also reinforced this vast effort to fuse war propaganda with popular culture.
Even after all this, the neocons have failed in their quest for regime change in Syria. Russia has successfully countered the West’s army of jihadists, the Syrian people have mobilized to defend their country, and the effort to manufacture consent for the war has been crippled. But the desperate attempts from figures like Schneider to maintain the official narrative about Syria should still be countered, because their aim is to justify a new phase in the war against Assad. Neoconservatives in the House and the Senate have lately been leading an effort to impose sanctions against entities that engage in transactions with the Syrian government, an act of economic warfare which is aimed at preventing reconstruction in Syria and further weakening the Syrian state.
As journalists and social media users, we should continue to bring up all the lies that our government and media have told us about Syria in the last eight years, as this is a way to minimize the harm that the U.S. is still capable of doing to the Syrian people. And since Western imperialists have already lost control over the narrative about Syria to a considerable extent, this may not be too hard a task for us.
Monday, February 18, 2019
1-The ruling class has spent so much effort towards demonizing socialism and communism for a reason: an uprising against capitalism is not a paranoid vision from Fox News pundits, but a realistic scenario that’s happened in many past capitalist societies. The Russian revolution of 1917 gave the capitalist class good reason to instigate the Red Scare, and the next defeats of capitalism in Cuba, North Vietnam, and other countries have since continued to legitimize the elites’ fears of such an overthrow happening in America. Despite the right’s absurd efforts to characterize the Democratic Party as socialist, capitalists and their propagandists attack socialism so much because they have reason to fear a socialist revolution. An end to capitalism is what scares the ruling class the most.
2-The prospect of the end of capitalism scares the rich so much because this is the only scenario where they won’t be able to foreseeably recover their dominance over society. When inequality has been lessened by reforms to capitalism-like during the American New Deal, or during the creation of the capitalist Scandanavian welfare states-the rich have been able to remain the dominating class, and then eventually undo the reforms that were made. The New Deal was the most ambitious attempt to “fix” capitalism in history. But by the late 1970’s, the propagators of neoliberalism began to reverse these policies, creating our current situation of extreme economic inequality and corporate oligarchy.
The same has been the case for the Scandinavian countries, wherein the welfare state has been rolled back, neoliberalism has taken hold, and inequality has risen in recent decades. Capitalism always gives the rich the ability to undo pro-worker reforms. If capitalism were taken out of the equation, this fall into plutocracy wouldn’t happen.
3-Capitalism lets the rich have this despotic control because capitalism is built on inequality. Letting the means of production be owned by a small group of business elites inevitably makes those elites become paid vastly disproportionately to the labor that they actually do. Nobody accumulates a billion or a million dollars through their own work alone. The existence of an upper class is the result of mass theft against the lower classes, who produce the vast majority of society’s wealth. And because capitalism creates this disproportionately powerful class, capitalism always leads to the rich expanding their power.
4-Because of this fundamental illegitimacy of the capitalist class’ wealth, they use all possible rationalizations to justify how society is set up. At the core of the pro-capitalist argument is the claim that some amount of inequality is necessary, since we supposedly need wealthy people to create jobs and economic growth. But do we really need the rich in order to have a robust economy and workforce? And do we need “economic growth” as capitalism defines it? The truth is that a stable, prosperous society is entirely possible under socialism-in fact, it’s much more possible under socialism than it is under capitalism.
East Germany’s socialist economy was able to virtually eliminate poverty and maintain a strong workforce. Cuba has been socialist for more than half a century, and it’s an exceptionally sustainable state; it still shows no signs of heading for collapse, for the reason stated by the website Vassar Sustainability: “the country covers their present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” And the Soviet Union further proved how effective a socialist economy is. As Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation points out in her defense of the Soviet economic model:
From being the least developed of the big European countries at the time of the revolution, 40 years later the Soviet Union was the second largest economy in the world, trailing only the U.S. It was the most rapid economic development ever, by any country. This despite the fact that after barely a decade of initial rapid development in the 1930s, two-thirds of the industry and much of the agriculture was destroyed by the Nazi invasion beginning in 1941. And contrary to what we see on the History Channel, it was the Soviet Union that bore the brunt of the Nazi war machine and destroyed it — but at a cost of 27 million killed. The U.S. death toll in WW II was about 400,000 — a huge toll itself but about 1.5 percent of the Soviet death toll.
Before the revolution, much of the population went through life without ever seeing a doctor. In 1966, a leading U.S. medical journal wrote that “life expectancy doubling in the last 50 years. …At present time, the Soviet Union graduates annually about as many physicians as there were in whole Russian Empire before the First World War. Of all the physicians in the world today, more than one in five is Soviet … while only 1 person in 14 in the world today is a Soviet citizen.” (Mark G. Fields, American Journal of Public Health, November 1966)
Cuba alone disproves the claim that socialism always fails. A look at the CIA coups and outside economic sabotage that’s characterized the fall of other socialist states shows that socialism doesn’t fail from its own merit. And our current world situation proves that capitalism, not socialism, is the system that’s threatening to end civilization as we know it.
5-“Growth” as capitalism defines it is a recipe for collapse. Capitalism is inherently unsustainable, because it demands endless expansion. Marx foresaw that “its own colossal productivity would bring capitalism to its knees, by making socialism followed by communism both materially possible and logically necessary.”
This claim about capitalism being fundamentally sustainable has been vindicated time and time again by world events, like the seven-year cycle of recessions that’s been going on in the United States since World War II. Even in relatively stable times, capitalism is engaged in a process of boom and bust, where many people routinely see their livelihoods uprooted for the benefit of the ruling elites. And when capitalism is especially unfettered, like it was before the Great Depression, it implodes on a global scale.
Right now, capitalism is experiencing a crisis that dwarfs all of its past ones. This crisis consists not just of the prospect of a coming new Great Depression that neoliberalism has created, but also of the ecological collapse that’s drastically reshaping our planet. The destabilization of the climate, the mass die-off of the insect population, and pollution crises like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Flint water contamination are all consequences of capitalism. And until capitalism is replaced, humans will continue to destroy the planet that lets them live.
6-Capitalism reinforces the selfish and cruel mindsets that are tearing our world apart. Capitalism, especially in its modern neoliberal version, promotes a worldview of greed and ruthlessness. The poor are blamed for their poverty, the rich are seen as deserving of all of their wealth, and empathy and generosity are viewed as weaknesses. This lack of empathy infects both the rich and many of those in the lower classes; in many of the countries where neoliberalism has been imposed, people have lost their sense of solidarity with the poor or (more frequently) become hateful towards Muslims and immigrants.
This worldview is the only thing that can make capitalism feel morally justified. It gives the emperor clothes by making it seem like the oligarchs earned their wealth all on their own, and it justifies the daily cruelties against the people who’ve lost in the game of capitalism. When society is dominated by a philosophy that holds love and compassion in contempt, it becomes rotten; war and militarism are glorified, bigotry and hate are exacerbated, and the environment is seen as a commodity that’s separate from humans. The capitalist mindset is an anti-human mindset, and fascism is this mindset’s logical conclusion.
Both materially and spiritually, capitalism is a wound on humanity, pulling us into the apocalypse while clouding our collective judgment. In the 21st century, the fight against capitalism isn’t just a struggle between the workers and the rich. It’s a struggle between the selfish human impulses that threaten to make us self-destruct, and the hope that we’ll evolve into a species that can sustain itself.