“Thus now I have come to recognize the recently implemented sanctions against North Korea as an ‘injustice’.”
Above is a short excerpt from the letter that I received in May 2016, a letter from one of my readers, Mr. Kim Dol, a young South Korean professional based in Seoul.
Mr. Kim Dol, it seems, has been lately suffering from a gradual but irreversible loss of faith in the official dogmas that have been shaping his worldviews for most of his life – dogmas manufactured by his own country, South Korea (ROK), as well as those that have been imported from the West. He discovered countless contradictions between simple logic and what he was told, and expected to believe. He began questioning things, and searching for alternative sources.
That is how he found me. Online, he began reading my essays, as well as the essays of other comrades.
His letter arrived when I had been living for a month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working on my new political novel while literally confronting the neo-liberal and neo-fascist government of the Argentinean President, Mauricio Macri.
Argentinian people had been fooled and they were now quickly waking up to a social, economic and political nightmare. The US was going to build military bases in at least two territories of this proud and essentially socialist nation. Prices were going up, privatization was in full-swing, and social benefits melting away. Protests erupted all over the capital. The fight for Argentina was on!
Simultaneously, in neighboring Brazil, a clique of cynical, corrupt, white and mostly evangelical members of the pro-Western ‘elites’ managed to overthrow the socialist government of Dilma Rousseff.
Mr. Kim Dol’s letter was timely. The Empire was on the offensive, destroying Latin America, while provoking Russia, China and the DPRK (North Korea).
An enormous military conflict, even a Third World War did not appear as some improbable and phantasmagoric scenario, anymore.
Mr. Kim Dol solicited several questions. His letter and queries were simple, honest and essential. Obviously, they were addressing some of the philosophical and political concerns of South Korean people. I decided to reply, but on one condition: that this exchange would be in the form of an interview, and made public. He agreed. I asked whether he’d mind using his real name? He responded, bravely, that he’d have no problem with that whatsoever.
The great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, in two previous articles in the London Review of Books («Whose Sarin?» and «The Red Line and the Rat Line») has reported that the Obama Administration falsely blamed the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for the sarin gas attack that Obama was trying to use as an excuse to invade Syria; and Hersh pointed to a report from British intelligence saying that the sarin that was used didn’t come from Assad’s stockpiles. Hersh also said that a secret agreement in 2012 was reached between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to set up a sarin gas attack and blame it on Assad so that the US could invade and overthrow Assad. «By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria». Hersh didn’t say whether these «arms» included the precursor chemicals for making sarin which were stockpiled in Libya, but there have been multiple independent reports that Libya’s Gaddafi possessed such stockpiles, and also that the US Consulate in Benghazi Libya was operating a «rat line» for Gaddafi’s captured weapons into Syria through Turkey. So, Hersh isn’t the only reporter who has been covering this. Indeed, the investigative journalist Christoph Lehmann headlined on 7 October 2013, «Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria» and reported, on the basis of very different sources than Hersh used, that «Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry». And, as if that weren’t enough, even the definitive analysis of the evidence that was performed by two leading US analysts, the Lloyd-Postal report, concluded that, «The US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT». Obama has clearly been lying.
“Contrary to the rising-tide hypothesis, the rising tide has only lifted the large yachts, while many of the smaller boats have been dashed on the rocks.” Joseph Stiglitz, economist
American plutocrats and their political lackeys in congress have implemented a plan that’s putting pressure on wages and further decimating the already-battered middle class. By sustaining high levels of unemployment over a long period of time, US elites have “restructured the labor force”, which is a pretentious-sounding expression that means they’ve created a permanent underclass that’s willing to slave-away at demeaning, part-time jobs for mere peanuts without uttering a peep of protest. This metamorphosis of the workforce has taken place mostly in the shadows, concealed behind a thick fog of state propaganda touting the fictitious “recovery”, a recovery in which long-term jobless workers have abandoned all hope of finding gainful full-time employment and resigned themselves to a lifetime of scrambling from one odious task to the next just keep a roof over their heads and the wolves away from the door.
After eight years of applying this coercive ‘starvation strategy’, the plutocrat’s ‘grand plan’ is finally coming into focus. According to economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger’s new paper titled “The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015″:
“All of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.”
“Alternative work arrangements”? You mean there’s been zero growth in ordinary 9 to 5, 40-hour-per-week jobs in the last 10 freaking years???
Indeed, that’s exactly what it means. It also means that Obama’s relentless crowing about the phantom “recovery” is mostly bunkum. There is no recovery. It’s an invention built on the ruined lives of people who have been forced to take all-manner of servile, low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs just to keep food on the table. That’s Obama’s glorious recovery in a nutshell. Here’s more from the World Socialist web Site:
“All US job growth for the last decade came in “alternative work arrangements”—people working as independent contractors, temps, through contract agencies or on-call—according to a study published Tuesday by Princeton University and the RAND Corporation…
The actual number of contingent full-time workers rose from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015, an increase of 9.4 million. Since total US employment rose by 9.1 million during this period, the number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.” (Temps and contractors accounted for all US job growth since 2005, World Socialist Web Site)
Repeat: “The number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.”
Great. So we’re actually going backwards, is that what they’re trying to say?
I’ll try and keep this gracefully short: Mario Draghi ‘unleashed’ a bazooka full of desperate tools on the financial markets yesterday and they blew up in his face faster than you could say blowback or backdraft (and that’s just the start of the alphabet). This must and will mean that Draghi’s stint as ECB head is for all intents and purposes done. But…
But there are two questions: 1) who has the power to fire him (not an easy one), and 2) who can replace him. Difficult issues because the only candidates that would even be considered for the job by the same people who hired -no, not elected- Mario -and who will still be in power after he’s gone-, under present conditions, are carbon copies of Draghi. They all went to the same schools, worked for the same banks etc.
So maybe they’ll let him sit a bit longer. Then again, the damage has been done, and Mario has done a lot of destruction, is what the markets said yesterday. But to replace him with someone who’s also already lost all credibility, because they supported Mario every step of the way, carries a very evident risk: that nobody will believe in the entire ECB itself anymore. If you ask me, it’s crazy that anyone still would, but that’s another chapter altogether.
Not that Janet Yellen and Japan’s Kuroda and China’s Zhou Xiaochuan should not also be put out by the curb. While they may -seem to- vary in approaches today, they all started from the same untested, purely theoretical and entirely clueless origins. Just saying. None of them have any idea what negative rates etc will lead to. They’re all in the same rabbit hole. And that’s not a joke, it’s deeply sad.
Ultra-low interest -even negative- rates and bond purchases to the tune of $1 trillion a year, Mario’s schtick, exist all across the formerly rich world. And they all do for the same purpose: to make the people think that they, and their economies, are still rich. Just so bankers can take from them whatever it is they still do have. Think pension funds, investment funds.
Why did this pandemonium of ZIPR and QE ever get started? Because central banks, and the economists that work within them, edged along by bankers who risked behemoth losses, said the most important thing to do was to ‘save’ the banking system, and they can always find some theory to confirm that preference.
But the banking system is where the losses are, and it’s where the risks are. Which are then both transferred to Joe and Jane Blow, who subsequently have less to spend, which defeats the alleged central bank purpose of ‘stimulating’ the economy.
Draghi’s argument for the new (water-)bazooka measures is that without them, Europe would face ‘awful’ deflation. But it’s his very measures that create and encourage deflation. So who still knows how to count beyond 101? Good question.
But anyway, I just wanted to say that Draghi’s gone in all but physical presence. And if they keep him on for a while longer, that means that what happened today will happen again, just faster. Big risk.
No Super Mario no more.
What happened with Draghi yesterday is eerily reminiscent of the ‘glorious’ Bernanke days, when ‘poor’ Ben would make one of his weighty announcements and the effects he was looking for would fizzle out within hours. In full accordance with the law of diminishing returns, Draghi’s new and far more desperate measures lost their very meaning even within the space of barely more than half an hour. This EURUSD graph says it all:
That is ugly. That has meaning. Much more than Mario -the former Goldman Sachs executive- himself and his paymasters will be willing to acknowledge. It means the financial world is now ready to bet against Draghi. Like they bet against China.
Europe’s best hope, somewhat ironically, is German resistance against Draghi, which yesterday reached a point of no return. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard gave a perfect example overnight of why that is:
Professor Richard Werner from Southampton University, the man who invented the term QE, said the ECB’s policies are likely to destroy half of Germany’s 1,500 savings and cooperative banks over the next five years. They cannot pass on the negative rates to savers so their own margins are suffering. “They are under enormous pressure from regulatory burdens already, and now they are reaching a tipping point,” he said.
These banks make up 70pc of German deposits and provide 90pc of loans to small and medium firms, the Mittelstand companies that form the backbone of German industry. Prof Werner said these lenders are beingpunished in favour of banks that make their money from asset bubbles and speculation.
“We have learned nothing from the financial crisis. The sooner there is a revolt in Germany, the better,” he said.
Draghi’s done. This hole is too deep for him to climb out of.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
In his celebrated book Industry & Empire Eric Hobsbawn (1998:13) affirms: “The Industrial Revolution points out the deepest transformation experienced by human life in the history of the world, registered in written documents. During a short period this revolution coincided with the story of just one country, Great Britain. Upon it, or rather around it, an entire world economy was built, that allowed it to temporarily reach an influence and power previously unknown by any State of its dimensions”. It is in that historical moment when Great Britain emerges as the first great industrial State-nation in the world, a fact that raises the threshold of power to almost unreachable levels for the other States and that turns England into the greatsubordinating State of the international system:
There is a moment in universal history in which Great Britain can be described as the only workshop in the world, its only mass importer and exporter, its only imperialistic power, almost its only foreign investor; and for that same reason its only naval force and the only country with its own world policy. (Hobsbawm, 1998: 37)
Having completed the Industrial Revolution before any other State, Great Britain automatically elevated the threshold of power. As a logical consequence, from that moment on all other States of the international system that might desire to maintain their respective autonomies were obliged to carry out their own industrial revolution. To not become subordinated, all the States in the international system had to quickly industrialize. During the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century France had been the main rival of England, as much in politics as in economy. Until the mid-17th century, “France was richer than Great Britain, though its riches were more poorly distributed, and the peasants in particular found themselves overwhelmed with very steep taxes, in favor of a landowner class that was practically inactive. Until the Industrial Revolution, French industry had been ahead of that of the English in the employment of complicated machinery and in the development of large factories. But the weight of the prolonged wars weighed heavily on the French economic system and hindered post-war France from assimilating or applying new production techniques based on vapor energy, until far after its establishment in Great Britain” (Cole, 1985: 83). France clearly emerged impoverished from the wars of Napoleon. Nevertheless, it preserved its traditional supremacy in the silk industry, its possessed an industrial bourgeoisiewith a marvelous talent for production of small quantities of articles of high quality, good taste and sky high prices.1 What’s more, the country provided for its own needs, in agricultural material, in such a way that it reached a certain degree of prosperity and a great capacity of accumulation of capital, as soon as the effects of war wore off. Nevertheless, “Politically and economically France was poorly equipped to rival with Great Britain in the global market. Its coal stores were small.
[…] In those circumstances the ancient causes of rivalry between France and Great Britain tended to disappear for the most part. French and British industries had been developed following different lines, and it was improbable that the French would be able to effectively threaten English industry with its new production systems in the world market” (Cole, 1986: 84). To this acute observation of Cole’s it must be added that, despite the fact that France had institutions that were ideally apt for capitalistic development, despite the fact that the ingenious and inventiveness of its businessmen were unparalleled in Europe, despite the fact that Paris was and international financial center just as important as London, despite the fact that France possessed great capital reserves that it exported to the entire continent; the French business sector did not invest in national industry: “The prudent French businessman preferred to manufacture luxury products rather than products of mass consumption; the prudent financier preferred to promote industries abroad rather that in his own country” (Hobsbawm, 2006: 183). This explanation of this radical paradox, according to Eric Hobsbowm, in which “private initiative and economic progress only go hand in hand when the one provides benefits to the other that are higher than other forms of business. In France it did not happen as such, though through France the economic growth of other countries was fertilized” (183). Without and effective State impulse that would promote the development of an important industry, without a pro-industrial economic policy, without a financial policy that would channel credit towards the foundational industries, France was barely able to reach the present threshold of power (set by Great Britain) at a level high enough so as to not become a subordinated State, but it was absolutely incapable of challenging the English worldwide hegemony. Incredibly, the cause of this handicap was none other than neglect, on behalf of the French State, of that necessary State impulse to orient its policy and economy towards levels similar to those of Great Britain. From the different paths taken by the bourgeoisie and the French State in the orientation of its activities emerges the incapacity of arguing over world supremacy with Great Britain.2
America is proud of capitalism. Proud of the competition which has produced a dazzling array of inventions and consumer products. Any incursion resulting in government control of the “free market” is generally met with outcries of that old bugaboo: “Communist infiltration!”
The activities of the United States abroad have become redolent of resource grabs. Under the banner of “Making the world safe for democracy,” her aggression has resulted in an amalgamation of other countries’ resources. Oil and minerals top the list.
Far from protecting her own citizens’ property and economic interests, however, the domestic activities of the US increasingly reveal finely honed mechanisms resulting in asset seizure and transfer of wealth.In order to accomplish these aims, certain established checks and balances have been nullified or bought off.
Government regulatory agencies are thus high on capitalism’s “Enemies List.” Many of these regulatory agencies were rendered largely ineffective under former President George W. Bush. The EPA, the FTC and other agencies pledged to protect the public went under administrative chiefs who were unfriendly to regulation and believed that their best governance would be to subvert the regulatory agencies they they were appointed to oversee.
As detailed by Thomas Frank, in his 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew, “… Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we saw during the Bush era was not an accident….It was made possible by the triumph of a particular philosophy of government, of a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society.”
There is a quasi- religious aspect to the worship of the free market. The free market, we are told, will inherently provide for the crème de la crème to rise to its proper altitude. The invisible hand of the free market will enable only the best products to succeed. And the devotees will tell you that this is in everyone’s best interest.
However, consumerism has a dark side. Where everything is commodified, everything becomes gaged by its monetary value alone. Other considerations—truth, beauty and emotional attachment come to mind—may suffer under a bottom line valuation system.
And this brings us to a recent manifestation of trading people for money—selling Granny to the nursing home. Cash for Granny is exactly what Sunrise Senior Living is offering. The verbiage is slightly spun in an effort to obscure its crassly predatory intent, but the facts are in evidence: Sunrise will pay you $2000 for a successful recommendation of a vulnerable and elderly individual to its nursing facility.
The commodification of human beings is sometimes termed “human trafficking.” Americans were shocked and dismayed back in 2008 when the judicial scandal known now as “Kids for Cash” unfolded in the news. Two Pennsylvania judges were charged and subsequently found guilty for accepting kickbacks when they ordered juvenile offenders into private detention facilities. As it turned out, the judges had struck a backroom deal with Robert Merckle, the builder of two Pennsylvania detention facilities and were being handsomely remunerated in remanding children, including first time offenders with such minimal violations as mocking a principal on Myspace or trespassing in a vacant building, into extended detention in Merckle’s facilities.
The scandal rocked the nation. After an investigation determined that the two judges received over $2.6 million from PA Child Care and its sister facility, Western PA Child Care, and after an initial plea agreement did not produce what a federal judge determined to be satisfactory conduct on the part of the two judges, a criminal trial ensued.
Andre Vltchek is by far one of the most engaging truth tellers out there, tirelessly working for the greater good. He captures the sentiment of the vast majority of thinking people with his piece below on US Elections, that pitiful farce repeated every four years.
I am consecutively stuffing my ears with various airline earplugs, in order not to hear the news blasted on the radio.
I am closing my eyes when the topic appears on TV, even on RT or Press TV.
I skip newspaper headlines.
I beg my friends, comrades and relatives not to bring up the subject in front of me.
I don’t want to know anything about the US Presidential elections!
It is not some sort of pose or “rebellion”; it is just an honest, powerful fear of having my brain damaged, my thoughts derailed from searching for alternative humanistic and political concepts.
I see no need to know who, from all those already pre-approved by the Regime and therefore allowed to “compete”, is going to get nominated by his or her political gang, and who will be finally mounting the saddle of that static wooden horse which is as a rule galloping nowhere, inspires no one and only jumps around crushing with its heavy murderous horseshoes everything and everyone who dares to demand true freedom.
Go and follow elections; even participate in them! If you believe in Western multi-party “democracy”, good for you! Or bad!
Decades, in fact centuries, of the terrible stagnant political scene in North America and Europe has taught you nothing? Then go for it and stick those pieces of marked paper into a carton box!
It was done for ages, that paper insertion. The same thing, when slaves were being chained and shifted from Africa to that “New World”, when hundreds of millions were exterminated by Western colonialism, when the Chinese people were brought to North America for horrible labor, and treated like animals. It was done when the first and the second generation of Europeans were annihilating almost the entire native population of North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.
The West created elections. So that the elites from within the white race, as well as the white race in general, could justify the brutality with which they have been ruling the world. They need to feel that they are fulfilling the wishes of the world, or at least of their own citizens.
The moneyed and bellicose clans always get elected; there are ways to assure it.
Several Greek philosophers protested: they were defending direct democracy, the direct “rule of the people”. They were sidelined, or silenced altogether.
During the previous US Presidential elections I was in Nairobi, Kenya, where my good friend, an Indian bookseller at Yaya Center, was pushing on me several Greek classics.