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An excerpt from the above linked-to blog post by Off Guardian follows:
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OffG’s PayPal account has been frozen for what are described as “security” reasons. We have no access to the funds you have donated and – given PayPal’s history with other alternative news sites – it’s possible we may not be able to regain access.
= == =====
The Off Guardian managers have enough to deal with without PayPal’s viciousness. That would be the same company that, together with other financial businesses, orchestrated a banking blockade of the people’s champion, Wikileaks. Comments by participants (including myself) often don’t show up on the Off Guardian website and no one can figure out why. Personally, As they use a WordPress platform (I blog on WordPress myself), I wouldn’t be surprised if WP was behind the problem, or partly behind it. The WP community has watched with dismay as WP has gradually gone into the toilet. I’ve been rescued by the cleverness of one WP blogger who has tech smarts and has created some scripts that rescue some of WP’S desirable features like the sparkline and like WordPress’s original and robust classic editor.
“Wikileaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history. This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups. Since 7th December 2010 an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union. The attack has destroyed 95% of our revenue. The blockade came into force within ten days of the launch of Cablegate as part of a concerted US-based, political attack that included vitriol by senior right wing politicians, including assassination calls against Wikileaks staff. The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or transparency. The US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add Wikileaks to a US financial blockade. But the blockade of Wikileaks by politicized US finance companies continues regardless.” – Wikileaks
Also from The Wikileaks website:
On 7 December 2010, the same day Julian Assange was remanded to prison without charge, an extra-legal banking blockade was erected against WikiLeaks – as a direct result of WikiLeaks’ publications – by a number of US financial services giants including PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Bank of America and Western Union.
More than 1,000 people took part in a harmless online protest against the blockade, which attempted to flood the PayPal website with network requests.
The banking blockade against WikiLeaks was subsequently found to be illegal in the European courts and most of the companies involved, including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, have conceded defeat.
A number of the PayPal blockade protesters were charged by US authorities. For almost four years these protesters, most of whom had never engaged in a protest before, faced threats of imprisonment for what was by all accounts a harmless measure against extra-legal economic censorship.
The most well-known subgroup, the “PayPal 14”, had a significant victory on Thursday, beating felony convictions and jail time.
Each will still have to pay $5,600 in “restitution”, a figure drastically lower than the $5.5 million in “damages” that PayPal initially, and falsely, claimed. Supporters of the protesters, including the Wau Holland Foundation, have raised monies to defray these costs.
Stanley Cohen, a defence attorney for Mercedes Haefer, one of the accused, said last year that the terms of the plea deal were reached “based upon strength, not weakness; based upon principle, not acquiescence”.
“It did not involve cooperation and did not involve any of the defendants renouncing their conduct. They all stood up and said: ’We did what you said we did… We believe it was an appropriate act from us and we’re willing to pay the price’.”
WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange said: “When I first heard about these protests against the financial censorship of WikiLeaks I was in prison, and this expression of popular will lifted my spirits. I know first-hand how grinding years of court cases can be, but also the pleasure in standing up for what you believe in. I encourage everyone to do what they can to help the PayPal 14 and others to get back on their feet as they clear these hurdles.”
SUPPORT THE PAYPAL 14: http://thepaypal14.com/
DONATE TAX FREE WITHIN THE EUROPEAN UNION: https://www.wauland.de/en/projects/paypal14/
I clicked on both links at the bottom of that announcement and they were dead. Why?
WordPress boasts that it “powers 28% of the internet.” In my opinion, that means that it is probably up to no good. Why? A behemoth like WP would not be ignored by the monsters who run the Corporatocracy. One way or another, they will use WP. If they can’t use it, they will kill it. They might take some time to get around to killing it, but that’s how they roll. We haven’t had juicy revelations, via former staffers or leaks or intrepid investigative journos, but give it time. Look at Wikileaks, which was subject to a financial blockade (which involved rule-breaking) as a way to cripple it. It was big and could not be used by the gangster Corporatocracy, ergo… Off Guardian isn’t big, yet, but perhaps it is making more waves than I am aware. And while the editors there stick to their principles, and continue speaking truth to power and practicing democracy, it can’t be used by the gangster Corporatocracy, although Camelot propaganda has snuck in via an editor of OG named Kit.
You may naively think that if you follow all the rules, you will be fine. That’s just not the case. Within the gangster Corporatocracy, being lawful isn’t exactly the ticket – for the 99%. The one law that ‘might’ be the ticket to success, for unprincipled people within the 99%, is serving power no matter how corrupt it is. (I consider 1% of the 99% to be ethically healthy. The rest of my camp are zombies! You are not automatically righteous just because the Corporatocracy victimizes you, primarily via neoliberal capitalism and austerity.)
Let’s suppose that WP’s management is working with the police state, the way Silicon Valley does. (Peter Thiel, an original founder of PayPal, today is a happy Trump supporter and Chairman of the vile Palantir.) That could mean anything. That could explain why Off Guardian is having technical difficulties. And perhaps the technical difficulties, created by idle hands (toward useful activity) in the Devil’s workshop, were actually a sign of things to come.
What I find interesting about all of this is that Off Guardian carries a few links to news and information sites, one which is Pierre Omidyar’s “The Intercept.” I’ve posted comments to Off Guardian before about the back and forth between the smart Pando Journos who dug into Pierre Omidyar’s connection to nazi Ukraine, as a funder of its installment. If any of their editors had a reaction, those were private reactions. How, I wonder, do they feel about former PayPal owner and current First Look/ The Intercept owner Pierre Omidyar now? First Look is impressive in looks and content. That’s not hard to pull off when you are a billionaire. (And yet their search feature is rubbish. I must have connected with someone naive in the organization when I pointed that out and she agreed and said she would look into it.) Pando writers, whose expertise is in startups, Silicon Valley goings on and internet technology, are paying attention still. (I can’t afford to sign up there, so I’m missing much. I wonder whether it would be less chaotic if I did pay up. Right now, I find the site to be like an acid trip.) In 2014, Paul Carr wrote “The Intercept decides entire country can’t be trusted to know that America is listening to its calls.” I just read it. Comments are now closed, which is to be expected after three years. But I looked through all the names of the commenters because I wondered; If journos like Carr are so passionate about things that other journos are saying, then Why can’t they themselves comment? (Or is it all on Twitter, which I have no use for.) They are informed and their comments would be useful, as opposed to 99% of what I see. But First Look did allow 400 comments before closing them. That’s a hell of a lot better than many other orgs. Anyway, Here’s an excerpt from that article:
“Wikileaks isn’t the only former ally that has now turned on Omidyar’s quarter billion dollar journalism project. Members of the Anonymous hacker collective have launched a campaign to encourage readers to pirate copies of Greenwald’s new book about the Edward Snowden leaks. Anonymous’ beef centers around Greenwald joining forces with Omidyar who they hold partly responsible for the “PayPal 14″ case.” (Regarding that case, Ignore what the major media say about the “attack” on PayPal’s operation and about the character of the participants. This was nothing more than civil disobedience, no different than a harmless sit-in at a politician’s office or something. No computers were damaged. No information compromised. Business was simply held up for a period of time.)
About the PayPal 14, RT News noted: “The US Justice Department pursued felony charges against 14 individuals alleged to have participated in a distributed denial-of-service attack against PayPal in late 2010 after the website stopped processing donations to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks due to the organization’s publication of classified State Dept. diplomatic cables.” (See “Greenwald’s book tour draws ire from Anonymous hactivists.”)
Pierre Omidyar doesn’t own PayPal now, but how much different in outlook and culture is PayPal under Dan Schulman since it was spun off in 2014? Afterall, The PayPal mafia (a term taken from a 2007 Fortune Magazine article) is said to keep good relations with all of the chief figures of the companies spun off from it over the years. There’s reportedly a lot of sharing of ideas and information between them.
Dan Schulman’s PayPal is behaving the way Pierre Omidyar’s PayPal behaved. Actions speak louder, and sometimes more loudly, than words. It wasn’t Pierre Omidyar’s PayPal that stabbed Off Guardian, but he did far worse to Wikileaks and currently runs First Look and its media organization, The Intercept, which Off Guardian links to on its website. And while Off Guardian is far from being subject to a widespread banking blockade, nevertheless, here’s Dan Schulman’s PayPal behaving like child of Pierre ‘nazi-enabler’ Omidyar.
“Why does PayPal discriminate against Palestinians?” by Jesse Rubin
A commenter attaching a comment to the top of post-linked to article by Off Guardian asked whether we should launch a petition challenging PayPal’s decision here. I then commented, riffing off of that comment:
Perhaps. But this is the 1%’s modis operandi. They break the (written and unwritten) rules. They will not lose in the class war. If they had a principled belief in law & order and the rule of law, then we could challenge them. But they don’t have. When they can’t win by playing by the rules – donors via PayPal to Wikileaks or OG or what have you – then they toss the board. They resort to force. They terrorize. They will even resort to characterizing international humanitarian law (IHL) as offensive and a tool of terrorists if IHL can help the people who are trying to defend themselves against the global pacification program (with the people as the target) underway, as Jeff Halper explains in “War Against The People.”
“By claiming the need to securitize against a threat, the securitizing agent also creates an inherent justification of its actions. An “enemy” is identified and demonized, or a “threat” is identified and an “emergency” – often a permanent emergency – is declared, all of which casts the securitizer as the victim, the one acting in self-defense.” Which I think will work when the audience is already both dependent on the kindness of the securitizer (the police state) and in fear of it. And once people (too few whom are principled) act, which can include making a decision, rationalization and self-justification follow – if the rationalizer is conflicted about his (or…) chosen course. Rationalizing wrong behavior and thinking normalizes it. Halper continues: “This, of course, obfuscates the self-serving aspects of conflict and framing. Warfare is often less about defeating genuine enemies or making the world a safer place than it is about profiteering and power.
“Monitoring uncomfortable laws and enforcing them in tendentious ways is another understated element of securitization. One can regard the emergence of international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights covenants as an example of how non-hegemonic actors arising out of civil society have acted through the UN system to institute laws and articulate norms that constrain the actions of hegemonic powers. One can argue, as do Dillon and Reid, that the “universal” values they promote are themselves a mechanism of capitalist hegemony hiding behind liberal forms of governmentality, capable of imposing core discpline over the entire world-system if applied in self-serving ways. The fact that IHL is implemented mainly by the stronger on the weaker; the trial by the International Criminal Court only of people from Third World countries, and then primarily Africans, is a case in point, as well as the fact that the US has refused to join it. And, of course, as with the rulings of the International Court of Justice and even UN resolutions, the hegemonic elites can simply ignore them. All this reinforces the impression that IHL is wielded more as a weapon of the core against the unruly peripheries than as an instrument of the weak to redress structural inequities.” -pages 81 & 82
The law & order crowd know how to beat us via strategic lawbreaking. And Chris Hedges is right, we need to do it too, but non violently. We must stop cooperating. I would add, we who can. It’s called civil disobedience. The 1% and its tools will call it terrorism. But they’re not afraid of the outgunned, mostly law-abiding (and therefore weak) people. They’re not afraid of God either, unfortunately for them.
Sign the petition here: http://ijvcanada.org/minister-of-national-revenue-revoke-jnf-canadas-charitable-status/
Thank you Independent Jewish Voices Of Canada!
*edit, May 31, 2017 – I received an email from Box today. It was a reply to my response to Aira’s first email to me, 8 days after my complaint to them about the deletion of my file. I have no idea whether she’s just brushing me off. The curtness would suggest that she/Box is. Her suggestion that the deletion may have been an accident on my end could be good. I don’t know. I only know that I’m no more impressed with Google-loving Box now than I was before this incident.
Getting from A to B can be very difficult when gatekeepers find you. Or just bad luck.
“I have seen something further under the sun; that the swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.” – Solomon (under inspiration and before he deviated) at Ecclesiastes 9:11
I’ll tell you a little story about what happened to me recently, when I was reviewing the page on my WordPress blog titled “Who is Arrby?” and you can decide for yourselves whether my luck was bad and that’s all or my luck was bad because a bad person or persons found me. No great damage was done when Box deleted my link to three verses of The Christian Bible that I had uploaded to their service, where I have a paid account. But when I found that deletion, I had no choice but to deviate from other things, somewhat, and investigate. If you paid someone to store your files in the cloud and found that they were deleting your files, even if it’s one, and if those files were simply verses from the Bible, without commentary by you or added content of any sort, you would not just shrug it off. Nor could I.
What’s with Box anyway? The above page is what greets me when I go to Box.
This is the email I sent to Box when I discovered that Box had deleted the link to my file:
On my blog, A Yappy Trade Barrier, I have a “Who Is Arrby?” page. I am Arrby. And I link to a passage in the Christian Bible. It can be found at Luke chapter 22. This is it: “However, there also arose a heated dispute among them over which one of them was considered to be the greatest. But he said to them: “The kings of the nations lord it over them and those having authority over them are called Benefactors. You, though, are not to be that way. But let the one who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the one taking the lead, the one ministering. For which one is greater, the one dining or the one serving? Is it not the one dining? But I am among you as the one serving.” -Luke 22:24-27
That scripture is one I often quote online and so I uploaded it to Box. I’m sorry if Box folks hate Christianity (and mine isn’t like most), but on what basis did they delete that short, simple link-to passage?
Box: “This shared file or folder link has been removed.”
“link-to” was a typo. I meant ‘linked-to’. It took Box EIGHT DAYS to respond to my question, even though it dealt with a serious matter. True, It didn’t involve financial information or critical inter-governmental information, but So what? It’s the principle of the thing.
When I first found this deleted link, I immediately found the link to their forums and posted a comment about it, asking exactly the same question I posed to Box in my above email. (See image below.) Another Box customer responded. I didn’t realize right away that he wasn’t a Box employee. In our back and forth (not in the forum but in Box’s private messaging system) I was informed by Doug that he wasn’t a Box employee. But he was also alarmed by the possibility that Box was censoring the content of its customers.
Our (Doug, aka dfsixstrings, and myself) correspondence in Box’s private messaging system:
Sent: 05-22-2017 06:20 AM
Would you mind sending me the link to your blog? I’d like to test this out for myself. Reshare the link if you need to. I’ll give you feedback after I have a chance to review it. thanks, Doug
Sent: 05-24-2017 08:23 AM
What happens if you remove the “benefactors” link and recreate it? If you do this and then they remove it again – I think you have conclusive proof that this is intentional. As it is now, they could always say something just happened to go wrong. From what you’ve shown me, I can’t really tell anything. All I can see is that the link is inactive.
Sent: 05-25-2017 04:50 AM
I’m not a box employee – I’m a customer and contributor on the forum. I’m just here trying to help. I’m also curious to see if they are filtering your data. Box says that it differentiates itself from other cloud storage in that they are a content delivery/management system. If they are filtering “what” can be delivered there are tons of issues I have with that. The least of which is privacy concerns.
Sent: 05-25-2017 07:24 AM
There is a setting in box to automatically unshare shared files after a designated number of days. You may want to take a look and see if this is a possible cause for the unshared file.
Eight days after my initial email and forum complaint to Box, Box contacted me. See the image below:
For clarity, I’ll type out the above email (with the timestamp: May 30, 7:38 AM BST):
Thanks for getting in touch with Box User Services. I am happy to help and I am sorry to hear that you felt that way. I have gone ahead and restore [sic] files from our end. You may want to check on that. Please let me know if you need more questions from here. Have a good one!
Box User Services
My response to Aira, just sent (today, May 30, 2017), follows:
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Aira: Thanks for your reply.
It was actually alarming. Any normal person WOULD refer to the deletion of a file by a cloud storage service (including one in which the user is a paying customer, as I am) as censorship. My deleted file, which you haven’t explained at all, consisted of three verses from the Christian Bible and no links or other commentary. That’s all it was. I AM SORRY that you feel that my reaction indicated that the apparent censorship that Box (or someone allowed to interfere with Box operations) was not acceptable.
And I note Box’s failure to respond to my complaint in a timely fashion, especially considering the issue at hand is censorship. How do you think that looks?
= == ====
Part of my message in the above email was garbled. “I AM SORRY that you feel that my reaction indicated that the apparent censorship that Box (or someone allowed to interfere with Box operations) was not acceptable” should have looked like this: “I AM SORRY that you feel that my reaction indicated that the apparent censorship that Box (or someone allowed to interfere with Box operations) employed was unacceptable.” That’s still a bit clunky but I think that what I did write got my point across.
I then updated dfsixstring with the following message:
Hello again. I’ve been busy working a string of 12 hr shifts that leave me with no time and zero energy or I would have responded to you by now. I did upload a completely new file and checked it the next day. It seemed fine. I haven’t had a chance to check it until this morning (5:00am, Tuesday). I also received an email from a Box employee named Aira. It was quite alarming actually. Here’s a screenshot (which I uploaded to Box):
You’ll notice that there’s next to no info in her email. Also, It took them an astonishing 8 DAYS to reply. And her statement that she’s sorry I felt that way (censorship) suggests that they actually did something, or their partner Google did something, bad here. Any normal person would describe the deliberate deletion of my link as censorship. Therefore, I AM SORRY THAT BOX THINKS THAT CENSORSHIP IS OKAY.
I just may blog about this on my blog, A Yappy Trade Barrier.
Now, In the absence of information and unambiguous language (from Aira), I am forced to read into her email what I have read into it. But I do acknowledge that, while my interpretation of the event of my deleted link and Box’s response to my complaint about it (including the incredible delay, incredible when you consider it’s in connection with a matter of apparent censorship) really smells bad and looks like censorship, That isn’t the same as my knowing for sure what is going on here.
And what does Aira mean by “I have gone ahead and restore [sic] files from our end.”? Because I don’t see any change from the time when I uploaded the deleted file a second time. Shouldn’t there now be that file and a second (restored) one? I know that the file and the link are not the same thing, but one goes with the other, ergo….
As time goes on, it looks less good for Box. Then again, All of these (tax evading, usually) companies are really enemies of the people. Some of them can be a real problem. How many of us use tax-evader, NSA-loving Google? I don’t know much about WordPress, politically, but over the years it has gone downhill. I would guess that, as another behemoth corporation that millions depend on, it is not a friend of the people. The US-dominated Corporatocracy would not allow it to be. It’s approach is like that of the South American police states (of the southern cone of SA) that, with tacit approval from the US, created plan Condor. There was to be no escape for dissidents protesting dictatorships and the barbarity that goes with them as each Condor member state agreed to treat other member state’s enemies as its own. Remember how those with power in the gangster corporatocracy get it; They engage in strategic rule-breaking. The global capitalist system was designed and built by the United States and it uses whatever (lawless, one way or another) means – terrorism, regime change, assassinations, death squads – it deems effective in order to maintain it and to dominate it.
It was illegal for the US and its agents to force down Evo Morales’s presidential plane in a bid to grab Edward Snowden, who they thought might be aboard that plane. He wasn’t. That the act was illegal didn’t stop them. The UN has more than once called upon Sweden and the UK to quit its unlawful detention of Julian Assange and compensate him for it. The UN, when it does things that the US disagrees with, is just ignored. The rules don’t matter. In going after Wikileaks, the US exerted pressure on behemoths like Paypal (not hard to do when the behemoth is supportive of the police state) to cripple Wikileaks’s donor flows. It doesn’t matter that Wikileaks was not and is not a criminal organization and those donating to it care about democracy and donated, legally, to Wikileaks from that motivation. Normal, law-abiding people are not supportive of the secrecy that police states enjoy and they are not supportive of the impunity for crimes and acts of terror that police states, calling themselves democracies, enjoy, which is why those normal people support Wikileaks! And those police states view ‘that’ as a crime.
When I found out, through a Box announcement, that Box was partnering with Google, it wasn’t good news to me. And when I complained about it, Box simply deleted my post and called it a rant. This is how the Corporatocracy’s behemoths behave. They bully and terrorize us into submission. In a capitalist, and interconnected, world, How does one function when the LAWLESS corporatocracy state targets you, should you choose to not back down? Afterall, The monsters own and run the world and they have lawlessness on their side.
“It puts under compulsion all people – the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves – that these should be marked on their right hand or on their forehead, and that nobody can buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.” – Revelation 13:16,17
We are all cogs within the machinery of the vicious, anti-God wild beast of corporatocracy. The only issue is: Do you resist? Which is what those do who have responded to the issue of universal sovereignty a certain way, namely with a pledge of loyalty to the Creator.
“Google hosts fundraiser for climate change denying US senator” by Suzanne Goldenberg
“Google, Corporate Press Launch Attack On Alternative Media” by Brian Turbeville
Aira (Box Customer Success)
May 31, 8:11 AM BST
Thanks for getting back. We apologize for the inconvenience.
However, Box don’t have access to delete any files on User’s account. It may have deleted accidentally on your end.
We have a high volume of email as of the moment, and we need to prioritize the older one. I apologize for that.
Please let me know if yo need more assistance from here.
Box User Services
*edit, May 22, 2017 – “This world’s leaders, comprised of smart, educated, worldly and informed people (and some within this crowd are much dumber than others, which is beside the point) who very publicly (not honestly) commit the worst crimes (selling weapons to IS and Saudi Arabia and literally helping monsters like those to create hell on earth).” That sentence needs to be the same minus the “who” and the last set of parentheses. I was probably going to make this sentence longer, but decided to chop it up and missed the “who,” which renders the sentence grammatically strange.
A healthy national sovereignty can only be relatively good. It can only be temporary, even without the existence of the wild beast of corporatocracy.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Thomas Fazi follows:
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The last year has seen the Right and extreme Right capitalise on the dissatisfaction and despair fostered by neoliberalism – and usher in a ‘post-neoliberal order’. Their success is based on championing and monopolising the idea of national sovereignty, but only of a certain kind. The Left has accepted their discourse that national sovereignty goes hand in hand with exclusivist and right-wing ideas, rather than attempting to reclaim it as vehicle for change.
= == ==========
I will not give this blog post my usual ‘disappeared’ treatment, although, in plain English, the post ‘has’ disappeared. Off Guardian’s website has issues. I could just email them with my post, but, as I’m blogging about Thomas Fazi’s article anyway… Also, They have enough to deal with. My online (disappeared, so far), typo-corrected response to the above linked-to article follows:
Well, That there’s not a Left nor a Right isn’t the only idea that writers can’t make their minds up about I see. Neoliberalism is alive and well say some (I think most, still) and that it is dead say others.
I’m not an economist, but I don’t think I’m stupid.
If the core of neoliberalism is inequality, and if neoliberalism (having nothing to do with Liberal philosophy or Liberal Parties) is about corporations (not nation states) having more freedom at the people’s expense, primarily via free trade agreements (which aren’t going away just because they might be done differently; state to state rather than sweepingly with multiple states signing on all at once), then why would the Right (which is evil) jettison that? Good is now bad? This world’s leaders, comprised of smart, educated, worldly and informed people (and some within this crowd are much dumber than others, which is beside the point) who very publicly (not honestly) commit the worst crimes (selling weapons to IS and Saudi Arabia and literally helping monsters like those to create hell on earth). Then regular people without a solid moral foundation look on and notice all of that, concluding that “Those people know right from wrong and there they are doing evil like champs. I guess good must just sometimes be bad.” I go with Jesus, who said that you cannot slave for God and Riches. He also said that if the light that is in you, is in fact darkness, then how great that darkness is. But it’s a free universe. Go with whoever you want. If your saviour is imperfect, and getting more imperfect all the time (Donald Trump), humankind, Well I guess we’ll just have to see how that turns out.
I think it’s worth noting what Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin say about neoliberalism in their book “The Making Of Global Capitalism.” Consider:
“The American state has played an exceptional role in the creation of a fully global capitalism and in coordinating its management, as well as restructuring other states to these ends. Although there has also been a certain renewed fashionability of the term “empire” to designate the United States, the imperial practices of the American state are usually presented as accompanied by economic decline and explained in terms of fending off challenges from rival states. The reality, however, is that it was the immense strength of US capitalism which made globalization possible, and what continued to make the American state distinctive was its vital role in managing and superintending capitalism on a worldwide plane.” -page 2
Indeed, even targets of US aggression look to the US to “superintend” the money system which they operate within, which is problematic – for them.
“The mechanisms of neoliberalism – understood in terms of the expansion and deepening of markets and competitive pressures – may have been economic, but neoliberalism was essentially a political response to the democratic gains that had previously been achieved by working classes and which had become, from capital’s perspective, barriers to accumulation. It was only on the most stylized and superficial reading that the state could be seen to have withdrawn. Neoliberal practices did not entail institutional retreat so much as capitalist expansion and consolidation of the networks of institutional linkages to an already globalizing capitalism.” -page 15
“Anti systemic?” Does Thomas Fazi mean anti-establishment? Does the author really believe that the corporatocracy is dead, that the global capitalist system designed and created (mostly) by the US post World War 2, whose existence uncle Sam’s favored (now; it’s always changing) states benefit from (by not being targets for regime change and strategic rule-breaking via sanctions and tricks), even though their 99 percenters (Chile, Russia) don’t benefit, has been shut down? Why is it that countries like Venezuela and Haiti cannot stay free despite having the luck (and good sense of enough citizens, with and without power) of finding people’s champions (Chavez, Aristide) who will lead them away from the Washington Consensus (of one, in some ways), which means neoliberalism (http://bit.ly/2qAVz3g)? It’s precisely because 1. they are not ‘outside’ the US designed and dominated capitalist system and 2. uncle Sam will break the rules in order to win once he’s targetted a nation. If Russia was truly outside of the corporatocracy, What would sanctions mean? And it’s not just economics and finance. Hugo Chavez, for example (exactly as was the case for Mohammad Mossadeq), allowed the private (rightwing) media in his country all the freedom in the world – which they abused. They happily aided and abetted uncle Sam and foreign, US-based investors, who were trying to undermine ‘dictator’ Chavez with all kinds of lies, propaganda and demonization. Which is ironic, since rightwing leaders everywhere are attacking alternative media, labelling it as fake news that can undermine national security, thus demonstrating that media can indeed channel national security-threatening fake news. Of course, The state and its media allies have the power to impose its definition of ‘national security’, or anything else, on the nation.
“It became increasingly clear that the project of European integration had little or nothing do with a more progressive variety of capitalism that would challenge the American empire, but was rather part and parcel of the ongoing integration of Europe itself into global capitalism under the aegis of the American empire.” – Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, page 203 of “The Making Of Global Capitalism.” That’s the same Leo Panitch who insisted that Alexis Tsipras did ‘not’ betray the Greek people. Which just goes to show that very educated and smart people can say really dumb things.
In uncle Sam’s world, namely the only world we have, you can’t be free (or neutral, as any number of leaders, like Mossadeq and Tito found out the hard way). You can resist, but you won’t see the world’s champion of democracy wish you well and leave you alone to make your own path. That’s not what the CIA and the NED and it’s tentacles do. That’s not what democracy means to those monsters. Democracy means that when the powerful (like conventional mobsters) don’t like what you’re doing, they will do something – anything – about it until you are no longer doing it. In the case of uncle Sam and his agents, the CIA and NED et al, that means funding the opposition to the people’s champion. That then develops into a foundation for coups. Just ask Dilma Rousseff. What would Venezuela’s godless, rightwing opposition want elections for when uncle Sam will just hand Venezuela over to them in a coup, eventually? That’s what’s coming, or the US wouldn’t be preparing for it (demonizing the people’s champion, spreading propaganda and lies to undermine the Venezuelan state etc).
“Capitalism’s response” probably should be “capitalists’ response.” There’s the overall situation and then there’s details. Capitalism – which is state capitalism; There’s no actual existing pure capitalism outside of farmers’ markets in your local parks etc – has obviously undergone some changes (finance capital has displaced industrial manufacturing capital) and, as a matter of fact, so can neoliberalism. Changes are one thing. Elimination is another.
“threatening a meltdown of the global economy” What does that mean to the mafia capitalists within the gangster corporatocracy? Those ones simply break rules to get their way. If they want a system which works for them, to remain, then they will strategically break whatever rules (written and unwritten) they need to break in order to maintain it. Their insurance policy? As (the much maligned, by the Left and Right) Chomsky points out, it is to have the people bail them out when they are criminally reckless and get themselves, and us, into trouble. And that happens whether the people agree to it or not. Does the author really believe that Trump (and his ‘words’) is an honest response to the unrestricted freedom of abusive banksters and Wall Street and unpatriotic CEOs? One of his first acts after convincing dumb people that his words meant something good, was to do exactly the same kind of deal with Carrier (in which Carrier succeeded in extorting the US government for a handful of jobs and no actual commitment to care about Americans – http://bit.ly/2q5MrzY), as any of his predecessors would have done. And then to pretend that he didn’t. It’s up to people, including Trump’s uncaring supporters, to care enough to notice.
“neo-nationalist”? Fascism is on the rise, or I should say, is intensifying, everywhere. No question. As I read more history, I find it astonishing how the smashed state of Nazi Germany didn’t at all result in the obliteration of nazism. I’m reading Ervand Abrahamian’s “The Coup – 1953, And The Roots Of Modern US-Iranian Relations” at present. And lo and behold, Iran had (has?) its nazis (who the West used to destablize Mossadeq, just as they use nazis everywhere to do the same), and there’s connections back to the German nazi state. Having said that, I think it would be a mistake to conclude that the corporatocracy’s managers, by which I mean thinkers, would like to get rid of the nation state. It’s a useful concept, like Camelot (saint JFK, to use Hersh’s language). If the people have elections and leaders who purport to represent them, then they can be bamboozled into thinking that they have democracy and can, even without systemic change, change things for the better via elections etc.. Note that others (not amateur bloggers like myself) are pointing out that various plans (by the US, which will not seriously be opposed by its allies) for the mideast include shattering Iraq into three areas, Sunni, Shia and Kurdish, as well as the division of Syria and even, eventually the shattering of other Arab states like Egypt. The idea is not to get rid of nation states, but to make them weak – partly by pitting different groups against each other – and no threat to US interests. The idea of Greater Israel envisions such ‘nation-building’ among Israel’s neighbors, so that its power – as it continues to abuse Palestinians jailed on their rapidly vanishing land – can’t be challenged. But a nation state is a nation state, big or small, weak or strong. Indeed, Small, weak states with fascist dictators who will keep the people in check while mafia capitalists (like those who comprise the Egyptian military/government) do destructive, exploitative business as usual are ideal.
“Since 2011, world trade has grown significantly less rapidly than global GDP, and has now begun to shrink even as the global economy grows, albeit sluggishly. World financial flows are down sixty per cent since the pre-crash peak.” I’m sure that’s true. But, again, it all works according to economic rules and cause and effect and so on, none of which matters when gangsters run things. Things can break, according to the economic definition of ‘break’, let us say. But that doesn’t matter to mafia capitalists who make the system ‘work’ anyway (the insurance policy of big banks, namely the little guy and ‘his’ government, for example). What are you going to do about them? If you need real democracy and real freedom, including democracy and freedom in the electoral marketplace, but can’t have it because the gangsters who have captured governments and all that goes with them, including electoral systems, won’t let you have it, then how will you get that back? To get back democracy and freedom you need democracy and freedom, and, in this world, you can’t have it.
This is where Chris Hedges, and others, are right. The people also have to strategically rule-break and disengage, as Chomsky-basher James Corbett has advised (http://bit.ly/2q2XMSv). You must resist, non violently. You must rebel. I personally don’t think that that’s enough, but then again I don’t believe that I’m my own savior. Which doesn’t mean that I think Hedges and Corbett are entirely wrong. Civil disobedience, together with whistleblowing, are indispensable. But the indispensable tool that those ones would use to accomplish their (non violent) fightback are not off the corporatocracy’s radar. The people are losing the internet as I type. Trump’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is going full steam ahead with plans to kill of net neutrality while other leaders, like Theresa May, plan to impose a hearty censorship online (http://ind.pn/2q34Ey7). This is the real, not abstract, world.
“…right-wing forces have been much more effective than left-wing or progressive forces at tapping into the legitimate grievances of the masses disenfranchised, marginalised, impoverished, and dispossessed by the forty-year-long neoliberal class war waged from above…” That might be mis-characterizing things. I think one needs to say why rightwing forces have reached those who they’ve reached. Rightwingers are bullies. It’s always hard to challenge them. Also, The people are not automatically righteous because they are lied to and victimized by exploiters and demagogues. Even though societies have been designed to make people stupid, especially via consumerism in richer countries, the people still have some responsibility here. Caring means knowing. People don’t have to give in to the pressures and inducements entirely. They can, if they care and wish to, think (actively, not passively) about the state they are in and the messages they are being bombarded with by the state and its media allies. But, mostly, they don’t. People don’t spend as much as a minute thinking, actively, about important things in a week. The bread and circuses (with the bread component diminishing in influence) approach of elites is working. But that’s not altogether because their manipulations are so effective. It’s also because people themselves have not cared enough. Everyone, victim and victimizer, is trying to win in the godless game of ‘riches for the strongest’ in which there ‘has to be’ losers. People need to wake up and see that the problem is this neoliberal/neoconservative paradigm of ‘riches for the strongest’. That game is the problem. We need a new game in which there are no losers. Of course, How would we deal with those who disagree with that?
Obviously, I don’t agree with the idea of nation states that attempt to disappear the Creator, who, in fact, is the only one who can deal with root problems, like beastly individuals, sickness, old age and death.
I myself have argued that Brexit, for example, is the kind of shock that Naomi Klein wrote about in her book, “The Shock Doctrine,” which shocks usually benefit the Right. I allude to it in another post on my blog titled “I’ve Got All These Books Lying Around.” In that post I refer to Naomi’s discussion of Milton Friedman et al’s approach to nation-building. From page 166 of “The Shock Doctrine,” the following:
It was in 1982 that Milton Friedman wrote the highly influential passage that best summarizes the shock doctrine: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” It was to become a kind of mantra for his movement in the new democratic era. Allan Meltzer elaborated on the philosophy: “Ideas are alternatives waiting on a crisis to serve as the catalyst of change. Friedman’s model of influence was to legitimize ideas, to make them bearable, and worth trying when the opportunity comes.”
With the Civil Rights movement and the New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and students actually learning things in schools and feeling free, to a degree, to criticize society’s movers and shakers, elites in the US (and elsewhere) became alarmed. Their unease with developing democracy was reflected in the Trilateralists’ document titled “The “Crisis Of Democracy” and in the “Powell Memorandum.” In other words, in the US, you had a rise of democracy among the people, partly because of the educational system, which had not yet been tamed. The flip side of that ‘problem’ is that you didn’t have a democratic society or leaders, in government or in the private sector, which Klein is referring to when she writes about “the new democratic era.” Which gets to the crux of the matter. We are looking at how fascism rises. It rises ‘naturally’, via self-modified individuals who decide that getting and keeping power, however they might accomplish that, is the highest value humans can possess. And it rises in response to the outbreak of democracy, which comes from those who, while not perfect, haven’t modified themselves into monsters who believe (never fully) in inequality and violence and deception, as neoconservatives and neoliberals do. This is where shocks come in. Imperfect societies, which come from imperfect humans and that’s that, can lead to discontent and rebelliousness. So along come the self-modified believers in inequality who now pose, a la Jeffrey Sachs, as saviours who will completely remove the old, broken system and replace it with one that works for everyone. Of course they lie. And when the people trust them, not fully cognizant of their self-modified nature, that then leads to a situation where the new leaders remove the old system, replacing it with the exploitative system that they’ve been waiting around to impose. The thing is, As bad as that old, democratic system is, it was built with at least some input from citizens and was to an extent democratic. The new system will be less democratic, for that’s how elites want it. And they will give the people bread and circuses enough to allow them, if they are willing (which they’ve been) to fool themselves into thinking that they’ve gained democracy when in fact they’ve lost it.
Holly Sklar wrote:
Domestic stability and international stability were closely linked under the umbrella of the welfare/warfare state. Policy makers and presidents like John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson stepped up efforts to fight the worldwide “war on communism” (read “war for capitalism”) alongside the domestic “war on poverty”-with the support of liberals, big labor, and big business. (“Cold War liberalism” is the name given to the dominant ideology of the postwar period.) Corporations reaped lush profits from domestic military production and rapidly expanded out into the empire which U.S. foreign aid remodeled and U.S. guns protected. Stability at home was maintained with varying doses of butter (expanding social welfare programs in the context of a prosperous economy) and political repression (McCarthy era of the 1950s; FBI and CIA counter-intelligence programs to disrupt and destroy progressive movements in the 1960s and 70s; systematic police brutality against Chicano/as, Blacks, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans.
Note that the Third World Traveler website’s search feature is no longer useful. I typed in “Trilateralists” was met with no returns, although that word should have brought up Holly’s above entry, and others. And try finding a contact for those who look after the site. It’s appalling really.
So I agree with Thomas Fazi about the need for the Left to be as quick as the Right in taking advantages of shocks, which they haven’t been. But that doesn’t mean that what he discusses can’t be… discussed.