Waiting for our wits to grow sharper? Could be a looong time.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts, unattributed internet sources (via Freedom From Religion Foundation).

Looks like the universe is going to have to wait one hell of a long time.

The Cognitive Bias Codex, 2016 is a collaboration between Buster Benson, who recategorized Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases, and John Manoogian III, who transformed Benson’s work into this stunning image:

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And it’s not even my birthday!

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny including slurs, racism, violence against logic, incoherence, banality, Nazis, sex toys.]

I had almost forgotten about this, what with all my squirrel monitoring duties and sofa painting and suchlike. But buried in my inbox was a gift from the WordPress gods in the form of two consecutive auto-moderated comments, written in response to a post I wrote back in July about the harms of benevolent sexism, and purporting to offer “an opposing viewpoint.”

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And now for something completely different.

Behold, and be mesmerized:

Interested in documenting one of the oldest animals on Earth, Barcelona-based production company myLapse set to capture the minimal movements of brightly colored coral, recording actions rarely seen by the human eye. The short film took nearly 25,000 individual images of the marine invertebrates to compose, and photography of species, such as the Acanthophyllia, Trachyphyllia, Heteropsammia cochlea, Physogyra, took over a year.

The production team hopes the film attracts attention to the Great Barrier Reef, encouraging watchers to take a deeper interest in one of the natural wonders of the world that is being rapidly bleached due to climate change. You can see more up-close images of the coral species featured in this film on Flickr. (via Sploid)

Tell me again what religions have to offer that comes anywhere close to the majesty and deep beauty on offer in our natural world.

[h/t Caine]

New feature! New acronym! VERY EXCITING.

A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship. –Chalmers Johnson

In the ordinary course of going about my life—you know: tormenting conservatives, torturing faith healers, smashing the patriarchy, extracting $82 billion worth of amusement for readers out of the Religion-Industrial-Complex, sounding the alarm about the deadly squirrel menace, all the usual stuff—I have found myself repeatedly thinking a very specific sentiment: most US citizens have no idea what our government does or who it serves. And to be clear, by “most,” I mean the vast, overwhelming majority.

This is true for a number of reasons. It starts with our grade schools serving up steaming piles of shit: the noble escapades of Christopher Columbus, the warm and cooperative relationship between Native Americans and European colonialists we celebrate as a national holiday, a justice system that produces justice, our fearless and vaunted adversarial press, the great cause of democracy for which US citizens routinely sacrifice blood and treasure all over the world, the moral meritocracy of capitalism and The American Dream™, and on and on. Don’t even get me started on the myths we are fed about race. NEWSFLASH: there is no part of U.S. history or culture that is not inexorably linked to Africans dragged to this country in chains, and forced to work under the most brutal conditions imaginable, thereby amassing great wealth for America’s Owners. It continues to this day.

And then of course our rancid corporate media piles it on, 24/7/365, its sins of omission frequently far greater than its whitewashing of reality. We USians are surely among the most propagandized populations in the world, ever. The fog is so thick, we choke on it.

But this is what a ruling class does. This is what a ruling class has always done, and will always do. And so, quite understandably, most US citizens have no idea what our government does or who it serves.

Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves.

MUSCHNIWOGDOWIS

#muschniwogdowis

!!!

OMG don’t you love it?! I LOVE IT. This ingenious new hashtag is guaranteed to be trending worldwide on Twitter. Any minute now.

Okay, maybe it’s a little clunky. Also: practically unpronounceable. But I am nevertheless finding it very, very useful.

Today’s demonstration of its utility comes courtesy of this headline in The Nation: The Obama Administration Has Brokered More Weapons Sales Than Any Other Administration Since World War II. You can read the whole thing for yourself for a nice overview of how it all works, though not for all the nasty little devils in the details. But the takeaway is this: the Executive Branch of the US government, from the Pentagon to the State Department to the Commander-in-Chief, is a dedicated worldwide sales force shilling for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrup Grumman.

Here is one example of how it works:

Take the administration’s proposed new 10-year aid deal with Israel. If enacted as currently planned, it would boost US military assistance to that country by up to 25 percent—to roughly $4 billion per year. At the same time, it would phase out a provision that had allowed Israel to spend one-quarter of Washington’s aid developing its own defense industry. In other words, all that money, the full $4 billion in taxpayer dollars, will now flow directly into the coffers of companies like Lockheed Martin, which is in the midst of completing a multi-billion-dollar deal to sell the Israelis F-35s.

What looks like a $40 billion US taxpayer gift to Israel is actually a $40 billion US taxpayer gift to Lockheed Martin. Israeli citizens, by the way, enjoy excellent universal health care, including mental health treatment and dental care for their kids. Unlike, say, the very same US citizens shelling out that $40 billion.

Hell, why not just hand it over directly to Lockheed, with the tiny little caveat that it reincorporate itself as a non-profit? (Hahaha. Oh man, sometimes I really crack myself up.)

__________

I remember reading something somewhere sometime about war profiteering once being considered an unconscionable crime, if you can believe it. Moneymaking from warmaking is evil, generating as it does massive profits for an elite few out of volatility and violence for the many. Now it is quite literally the American Way.

The ‘defense’ budget is three quarters of a trillion dollars. Profits went up last year well over 25%. I guarantee you: when war becomes that profitable, we’re going to see more of it. –Chalmers Johnson

In closing, ask yourself this question: if America’s Owners (the permanent power factions in Washington DC, a.k.a. the deep state) are perfectly willing to bomb and invade sovereign countries at will, to destabilize and violently overthrow the democratically elected leftist governments of countries whose resources they feel entitled to exploit and install brutal tyrants to guarantee unimpeded access, to assassinate and neutralize labor activists, minority and indigenous organizers or indeed anyone who poses even a minor threat to the profit-making schemes from which they so richly benefit, do you believe for one second that they will ever allow leftists in the US to amass sufficient power to turn the ship of state 180 degrees and put it to work creating more just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies?

Aww fuck, I’m sorry. That was a loooong question. Makes my new acronym seem downright pithy by comparison, doesn’t it?

#muschniwogdowis.

Have a nice day

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 3: Yes and hahaha no.

UPDATE: WordPress apparently black holed a few of sentences re: Purvi Patel (and some formatting tags). I fixed it—I think.

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does mention: rape, sexual assault and violent abuse, including against children; mental illness including suicidal ideation; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

To briefly recap: While atheist Big Willie Jerry Coyne is notoriously prone to poo flinging, he also said some very interesting things in his Darwin Day lecture at the British Humanist Association (and elsewhere). I transcribed a few sections of his talk because I’d like to have a handy link to it to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. I also thought some readers here just might (a) find some of this talk as worthwhile as I do (see Part 1), and/or (b) enjoy my documenting Coyne’s insulting, dismissive, nearly comical obliviousness to his privilege (Part 2).

Part 3 focuses on a section of the Q&A wherein Coyne manages both to say some more really cool stuff, and then go into full mansplain-to-the-feminists mode and pull a classic Dear Muslima.

CAUTION:
POO FLINGING AHEAD.

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Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 2: NOPE.

(Part 1 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does contain discussion of: child sexual assault, abuse and death; suicide; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; homophobia; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

Just a reminder: in the intro to Part 1, I noted that while atheist Big Willie Dr. Coyne may communicate some very useful and interesting things in this lecture (and elsewhere) that readers here may find worthwhile, he is exasperatingly prone to poo flinging, and I fully respect the decision of anyone who decides to pay him no attention whatsoever on this basis alone. As I said, FWIW I do not allow Coyne’s poo flinging in the remaining portions of the transcript to go unrebutted.

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Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 1: YES!

In February Jerry Coyne delivered the British Humanist Association’s annual Darwin Day Lecture in London. For those unfamiliar, Coyne is an evolutionary biologist, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and the author of Why Evolution is True (which I have read) and Faith vs Fact (which I have not). He is a fierce critic of creationism and a fiery proponent of atheism; he blogs prolifically about these and other topics at Why Evolution Is True.

I genuinely like Jerry Coyne. He comes across as knowledgeable and affable, the kind of person I’d really enjoy sitting next to at a dinner party. Of course that doesn’t mean I agree with him all of the time, and in fact his annoying propensity to shit all over straw feminists is fucking exasperating (more on that in Part 2), as is his comical obliviousness to his own privilege (more on that later too).

But hey, nobody’s perfect. We can all decide for ourselves who we will expose ourselves to, on which topic(s) and under what circumstances. For example, Richard Dawkins is dead to me, barring his (highly unlikely) resurrection into a state of semi-self-awareness minimally capable of basic human decency and rationality. On the other hand, when a good friend recommends Jerry Coyne’s Darwin Day Lecture to me, I might be inclined to put on my (metaphorical) biohazard suit so as not to get splattered with (metaphorical) shit, and check it out. Those with less privilege are always making such calls: suit up and wade into the muck, or maybe sit this one out. Otherwise we would consistently miss out on some interesting and useful knowledge, and worse, we would hardly ever go to any dinner parties at all.

I get the Spidey-Sense that anyone reading this who is in some marginalized group(s)—i.e., not white, male, straight, cis-, able, etc.—is nodding along with me, because microaggressions are A Thing to which those privileged along these axes tend to remain haplessly oblivious. So I completely respect your making a different call about paying any attention whatsoever to Coyne (or Dawkins or anyone else).

But I found (some of) Coyne’s lecture, entitled Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?, fascinating. Moreover, he provides support for my point in this post, namely that:

there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a robust welfare state (especially quality universal single-payer health care) decreases religiosity, while economic insecurity (with respect to wages, housing, food, etc.) increases it. See, e.g., Phil Zuckerman’s book “Society Without God.” Fiscal conservatism in the form of [American Atheists president] Dave Silverman’s “small government, low taxes, a free market” is entirely antithetical to taking the path most likely to get us to the very outcome he seeks: the death of religion.

I transcribed portions of Coyne’s lecture because I think readers may be genuinely infotained by it, but mainly because I’d like to have an easy link to it in order to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. In case it helps you decide whether to continue reading: I do not allow Coyne’s aforementioned (metaphorical) poo flinging in these portions of the transcript to stand unrebutted, and in any case no poo is flung in Part 1.

Tl;dr:

TRIGGER WARNING: Jerry Coyne.
(especially Part 2.)

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Caleb Maupin at the Trade Union Center of Brazil. UPDATED [video].

UPDATE: The video is now available.

__________

I had been working on something to post today when I received an email from my colleague Jeff Brown at The Greanville Post, forwarding the text of this recent speech by Caleb Maupin in Brazil. It’s long, but well worth the read.

Caleb Maupin is a USian journalist and activist living in New York, whose work focuses on police brutality, mass incarceration, imperialist war and global capitalism.

A couple things came to mind as I read this. First is the fact that the US taxpayer subsidizes the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $700 billion a year. That figure, by the way, comes from those notorious lefty pinkos over at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Second is the fact that the US military is the single largest consumer of fuel in the world.

Third is this recent article: The Clinton-Backed Honduran Regime Is Picking Off Indigenous Leaders, remarkable only because it appears prominently in The Nation. That publication, which fancies itself super savvy and uber-liberal but is in reality a predictably banal tool of the neoliberal status quo—has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, so the anti-Clinton framing isn’t surprising. (I guess this makes them revolutionaries now? Whatever.) No, what’s remarkable about it appearing in The Nation is that an attempt to construct a hit piece on Clinton actually reveals how our government operates, has always operated, would have operated whether or not Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State at the time and—barring some extraordinarily unlikely turns of events—will continue to operate no matter who wins the next presidential election(s). It’s actually kind of hilarious.

Last, Loyal Readers™ know I am not exactly a fan of conspiracy theories; I believe human behavior, culture and politics can almost always be better explained by emergent properties of various systems and environments, much more akin to the unguided processes of biological evolution than to events specifically directed by nefarious villains and Sooper Secret evil cabals. For one thing, no one thinks themselves a terrible person acting strictly out of greed or malice. Not even Hitler th0ught that. But sometimes, what we might call conspiracies, perhaps for lack of a better word, really are operating in plain sight. And regardless of how they came into being (emergent properties goddammit!) it would be foolish if not impossible to deny their existence.

The question, then, naturally becomes what can be done about them. In my view, virtually the only thing that can diminish a dominant system of power in the modern world is another dominant system of power, whose interests happen to be in conflict (usually temporarily). For a recent example, consider the ramifications of Apple’s battle against the FBI and the National Security State. Amassing such power for the presently powerless becomes a necessary first step, and Caleb Maupin offers some insights and suggestions as to how to accomplish that. It would, however, be foolish to forget what those dominant systems of power are perfectly willing and capable of doing to be sure that it never, ever happens. See, e.g., that Nation article linked above.

When the video of his speech becomes available, I will update this post.

__________

Oil Price Manipulation and the Global Capitalist Crisis


calebmaupin

Presentation given by Caleb Maupin at the Second Congress of the Trade Union Center of Brazil, February 25, 2016 in Brasilia.

It such a deep honor to be here in Brazil, at a conference of labor leaders.

I’ve always had the utmost respect and admiration for organized labor.

I know that I’m looking out into an audience of brilliant minds, experts, people who are very skilled, and who have carefully refined the art of organizing the working people of Brazil to fight for justice.

I’m invited here today, from what I understand, because of my expertise in the field of economics and politics. I’m going to speak about the global economy, the price of oil, and what can be done. I thank you for the invitation.

I want people to sit back in your seat, relax, and get comfortable. Take a few deep breaths. I’m going to hit you with a lot of information in the next hour and a half, but I think it will clarify a lot of things.

I know there are a lot of things going on in Brazilian politics which are directly linked to oil. I’m not going to directly comment on these things. I’m going to talk about the global economy, and put everything in context.

Oil Bankers: The Richest People in the World

Who is the richest person in the world? The international media often tries to answer that question for us. Names get floated around like Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffet — sometimes they’ll mention an Arab sultan or prince. Forbes magazine publishes a list of the richest people in the world.

All of this utter nonsense.

Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffet, the king of Saudi Arabia, all of these people are poor men compared to the ones who have real power. These people are listed as the richest people in the world, because they are so poor, that they have all of their money listed in their own name.

Those who are really rich, those with the most wealth, power and influence, have astronomical amounts of wealth, often so much money that their total net worth cannot even be calculated.

The richest people in the world can be described in two words: oil bankers.

The House of Rockefeller, the House of Morgan, the Carnegies, the Rothschilds, the Mellons, the Du Ponts — these oil and banking dynasties sit at the center of a small network of deeply entrenched power and influence, dominating the economies of the United States and western Europe, and most of the rest of the planet.

Let’s take the most powerful family of oil bankers, the Rockefellers, as a case study.

When Nelson Rockefeller, one of the many heirs of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil cartel of the 1880s, was being questioned by the US Congress in 1974, some of the most brilliant investigative reporters, journalists, and economists assembled to cover the hearing.

Among them, none of them could determine exactly how much money Nelson Rockefeller really had.

In his own name, Mr. Rockefeller personally had a few billion dollars. The rest of his money was tied up in an elaborate network — thousands of trusts, small corporations, and foundations he controlled.

When testifying before Congress, Nelson Rockefeller was asked about his control of Chase Manhattan Bank. He testified, honestly, “I don’t own a single share of Chase Manhattan Bank.” He was telling the truth. He personally did not have a single cent invested in Chase. However, one of the trusts he controlled owned well over 325,000 shares of stock in Chase Manhattan Bank.

That was back in the 1970s. Today the wealth and influence of one of two most powerful oil-banking cliques is combined. The House of Rockefeller holds control of the largest super-major oil company, Exxon-Mobil, as its personal property. In addition, this powerful family jointly controls an entity called JP Morgan-Chase with the Morgans, another powerful family in the United States. JP Morgan Chase is the largest banking entity in the entire world.

The Morgans, now partnered with the Rockefellers, are descendants of an infamous Wall Street legend named JP Morgan. Not only do the Rockefellers and Morgans control JP Morgan Chase, they also control a company called General Electric, the sixth-largest firm in the United States.

There is no key aspect of the global economy that the oil bankers haven’t put their stamp on, and tried very hard to craft in their own interest. General Electric ranks 21st among corporations contracted by the US military. This entity controlled by the Rockefellers and Morgans has over 6,674 contracts with the Pentagon, bringing in over $2 billion a year in US military projects alone. You can be sure that the US military brass is very concerned about making sure that the Rockefellers and the Morgans are happy with whatever decision they make.

Furthermore, the global media conglomerate called NBC Universal, which includes MSNBC and Comcast, is openly controlled by General Electric.

Universal Studios, one of the “big six” in Hollywood, is also their property as well.

Most art museums in the United States are directly linked to Rockefeller foundations, if not directly controlled by them — like the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Without the direct approval of the Rockefellers, we may never have known the names Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock.

Almost every major college and university in the United States depends on money from Rockefeller-controlled foundations, a relationship that puts academia under the direct control of the oil bankers.

More interestingly, the US Central Intelligence Agency crafts its policies and conducts its research with a private foundation called the Council on Foreign Relations. Exxon-Mobil and variety of Rockefeller Foundations, along with the Ford Foundation, completely bankroll this powerful institution of academics and former US elected officials.

The Council on Foreign Relations, controlled by oil bankers, is essentially the brain of the CIA. The smartest minds in the United States are paid six-figure salaries to carefully make proposals and calculations about how the United States should wield its influence around the world. Put simply, the Council on Foreign Relations thinks it up, but the CIA does it.

And even the manner in which the CIA operates around the world is directly accountable to the Rockefeller, Morgan, and Ford dynasties. The CIA does very little work on its own. CIA agents aren’t generally the ones getting their hands dirty, conducting military coups, kidnapping people, torturing people, etc.

The CIA generally has the job of finding dupes and allies in the country of interest, instructing them, advising them, and letting them carry out the tasks that serve US foreign policy interest. The key way for the CIA to help those doing its dirty work around the world is connecting them to Wall Street-controlled non-governmental organizations and foundations.

The CIA goes into a country. It finds people to carry out its mission, and then the network of wealthy families that control Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, British Petroleum, and Royal Dutch Shell pay them for it.

The National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute — the whole network of activist groups controlled by George Soros — fund the activities of the CIA’s allies, dupes, and collaborators in almost every corner of the globe.

You can find the money of the wealthy oil banking families in the United States all over the world, and often on multiple sides of different political issues. The oil banking dynasties, working with the CIA and the Pentagon, use their funding and money like an expert sports gambler. If you put money on both teams, you are guaranteed to win almost every game.

Every country in the world has money from the oil bankers somehow manipulating its political process. Organizations that say they advocate “democracy,” “human rights,” “economic freedom,” and “social justice” are getting money from the big oil bankers and getting instructions from the CIA.

If you want to find the people who run the world, the quietly powerful global elite, you don’t have to look for the Illuminati, the Freemasons, or some secret society. Look at the major oil companies and banks in the United States and Western Europe and the families whose money is historically tied up in them.

The four major oil corporations in the United States, the “super-majors” as they are called — Chevron, British Petroleum, the Rothschilds’ Royal Dutch Shell, and the Rockefellers’ Exxon-Mobile — don’t really compete with each other. They function as much like a trust or cartel as is legally possible in the United States. They set the prices of gasoline together. They discuss increases and drops in production among each other.

A number of smaller corporations, which are indirectly owned by the same people that own the Big Four, follow right behind them. An oil company called Marathon is technically an independent company, but it’s really just a subdivision of Exxon-Mobil, another descendant of Standard Oil. It’s technically a competitor with the Big Four, but this only true on paper.

US foreign policy cannot be separated from the power of oil corporations. This should be obvious from a distance. What countries have been the biggest enemies and military opponents of the United States in the last three decades? Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Russia, Iran. All of these countries are major oil exporters.

And who pays for the Council on Foreign Relations? Who does business with the Pentagon? Who owns the banks at the center of the European Union? Who funds both the Democratic and Republican Parties in the United States? Who funds the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party in Britain?

The very ground on which the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan was constructed was a personal donation from the Rockefeller family.

Henry Kissinger, one of the leading influential figures in setting US foreign policy, is a complete creation of the oil bankers. He worked for the Rockefellers before he worked in Washington.

If you look at the think tanks where decisions are made by powerful leaders, you’ll see that roughly the same people work at them and the same people fund them. The Asia Society, the Brookings Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, the Heritage Foundation;  it’s not hard to find out where all of these policy-setting institutions get their money. You can always trace it back to oil bankers.

So with that in mind, I am going to answer the following questions:

So, why did the oil-price drop in 2014? Why does it remain below $30 per barrel? What is the relationship between oil and development? Why is the global economy facing a crisis?

The Fruits of High Oil

Let’s go back to the first year of the 21st century. Following 2001, the policies crafted by the Council on Foreign Relations and carried out by US president Bush and Tony Blair in Britain had one obvious impact: they drove oil prices up.

When Iraq was invaded on March 19th, 2003, the US military destroyed the country’s infrastructure with a cruise missile torrent known as “shock and awe.” Iraq was one of the leading oil producers in the world. It was removed from the world market. Millions of Iraqis died.

The price of oil went up.

Almost immediately after Iraq was destroyed, the US, Britain, and Israel began to escalate an international campaign against one of Iraq’s neighbors and one of Saddam Hussein’s biggest enemies: the Islamic Republic of Iran. A barrage of media propaganda insinuated that Iran was trying to build nuclear weapons, and the international community was rallied to put sanctions on Iran. The sanctions restricted Iran’s ability to export.

The price of oil got even higher.

In 2008, the US-aligned regime in Georgia attacked the Russian-aligned territories of South Ossetia. Georgia is a country that is completely aligned with the United States. It purchases military hardware exclusively from the United States. US-NATO troops are stationed in the country.

Georgia attacked South Ossetia, which Russia was obligated to protect. In response, Russia and Georgia had a war.

In response, sanctions were placed on Russia, restricting its right to export oil on the international markets.

As Bush left office in January 2009, the oil prices had reached the highest levels in world history: over $110 per barrel.

The four super-majors were making record profits.

The Council on Foreign Relations, the Pentagon, the CIA, all directly linked and accountable to the four super-major oil companies, had carried out a series of policies that resulted in astronomically high profits for the four super-major oil companies.

This cannot be dismissed as merely a coincidence.

However, in the process of engineering US foreign policy toward making astronomical profits, the four super-majors created major problems on the international markets.

In Venezuela, Chavez took office in 1999, and enacted a new constitution. He beat back the 2002 coup d’état against him, due to his popularity with rank-and-file soldiers.

In 2003, as oil prices were rising, Chavez drastically altered the nature of the Venezuelan nationalized oil resources. He reoriented Venezuela’s oil so that the proceeds would go almost entirely into the domestic budget.

Chavez became amazingly popular as he provided free healthcare, free education, and other services to the population in Venezuela. Chavez and the United Socialist Party set up an oil-funded apparatus of activists. Venezuela became an opponent of the United States on the global stage, as the Venezuelan state got stronger due to the high oil prices.

Russia got stronger also. During the 1990s, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was an economic disaster. Massive unemployment, massive crime. The country depopulated as people fled in order to survive.

But with the oil boom, Vladimir Putin was able to restart the Russian economy. The Putin government was able to put Russia back into order by exporting oil and natural gas, and funding a strong state apparatus in the process.

The booming oil prices enabled Putin to launch his National Priorities Project, vastly improving the state-run health service, subsidizing housing for low-income Russians, and creating an anti-imperialist media.

With state-controlled petroleum and natural gas, the industrial output increased by 125%. The rate of industrial expansion was 70%. The wages of Russian workers tripled during the first eight years of the Putin Administration. Between 2007 and 2014, the Russian gross domestic product increased from $764 billion to $2,096.8 billion.

The Russian state became a force to be reckoned with once again.

Summer camps for academically high-achieving youth were created, as part of the youth organization called “Nashi.” At the summer camps, the youth of Russia who are deemed to have the most potential are urged to use their skills to advance the Russian nation, not to get rich.

The Russian state aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church to forge a new ideology, a kind of anti-capitalist Christian Russian nationalism. The Russian state apparatus is influenced by the legacy of the Soviet Union, and takes pride in the defeat of Adolph Hitler. People around the world call this the “New Russian Patriotism.” The slogan that Putin rallied his supporters around in 2008 was “Together We Win.” He urged Russians to reject the western concepts of individualism and selfishness, and be part of a collective effort to build a strong country.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the high oil prices strengthened the figures in Iranian politics who call themselves “Principalists,” though they are derogatorily called “hardliners” in western media. The hostility from the United States, who dubbed Iran part of the “axis of evil,” combined with the high oil prices to give a huge boost to the ideological organizations that serve as the backbone of the Islamic Republic.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Basigue, the Islamic University system, the forces that emphasize the anti-capitalist goals of the 1979 revolution, all found themselves with lots of money. Ahmadinejad implemented a number of domestic reforms that built up the Iranian countryside, funded public works projects for Iranian workers, and strengthened Iranian labor unions.

While Chevron, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, and Exxon-Mobil were making record profits, their hired analysts were warning them that the world was slipping out of their fingers. In the post-Cold War era, suddenly a new opposition was on the scene.

Beyond Russia, Venezuela, and Iran, the Islamic socialist government of Libya grew more powerful due to the oil-price increase. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was elected President of the African Union.

Ecuador saw significant economic growth, recovering from the horrors of neoliberalism in the 1990s.

Here in Brazil, your government-controlled oil company Petrobas became the third-largest corporation in the hemisphere. Petrobas, an oil company that is not controlled by the Big Four oil corporations, with the majority of the shares owned by your popularly elected government, was larger than BP, larger than Exxon-Mobile, even larger than Microsoft.

In the parts of the world where oil is not controlled by Wall Street bankers, but controlled by popular governments, the high oil prices, inflated by US foreign policy, gave a huge boost to the living conditions of the people. People in Brazil, Russia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Iran, and Libya saw their lives getting better.

The Koch-Fracker Insurgency

And not only on the global stage did a new slew of opponents and competitors arise. Within the United States, suddenly you had a surge of financial power flowing into the hands of independent oil and natural gas companies. The Big Four oil companies can be called “big oil,” but the high oil prices and breakthroughs in technological development empowered “little oil” to be stronger than ever.

Hydraulic fracking became legal and widespread. Fracking is a practice in which boiling steam is used to extract subterranean oil and natural gas. Fracking opened up deposits of petroleum and natural gas found in the shale, the rock layer that is below the soil. Because of this technological innovation, a whole slew of tiny, unknown oil corporations suddenly emerged to challenge the monopoly of the Big Four.

Because of fracking, the United States is now the top oil and natural gas producer in the world. The 1973 oil-export ban, imposed because of the OPEC boycott, has been lifted. US oil companies can now export on the international markets.

A number of small energy corporations, who previously had almost been irrelevant, suddenly made billions of dollars. Devon Energy, a tiny energy firm based in Oklahoma, was suddenly rising up to power on the stock market. Cenovus Energy, a Canadian energy producer, pops up and starts extracting from Canada’s tar sands.

Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, US domestic oil production is rising, and with it astronomically high energy prices. Not only are the Big Four making record profits, but these “little oil men,” a crowd of swamp speculators and low-level capitalists, also made billions of dollars.

Exxon-Mobil, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the entrenched, old-money oil bankers began to move into the Democratic Party by 2007 and 2008. This is a rational decision for anyone who closely follows US politics. The demographics of US society are shifting.

The white middle class elderly FOX news viewers, the traditional base of social conservatism, is dying off. A much larger percentage of the US public is Black or Latino. Young whites also vote for Democrats and have liberal views, especially on social issues. The Republican base of white, conservative, nationalistic middle class Christians — the backbone of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush — is dying off. The propaganda style crafted by the neoconservatives is not effective any longer.

As Big Oil moved out of the Republicans, the frackers and new oil opposition moved in.

Big Oil is sophisticated in its politics. It has huge think tanks, studying trends in global economics and politics, figuring out carefully how to secure its power for the long term.

But “little oil” isn’t so sophisticated. Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, who had long been a champion of the little oil men, was nominated as the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 2008. Her base is “little oil.” One of her campaign slogans was “Drill, baby, drill!”

What she was really saying was, “Open up Alaska to the small oil corporations.” She brags that she fought against “Big Oil” as governor of Alaska, and there’s a little bit of truth in it. Palin’s husband wasn’t even a registered Republican for many years. For a long time he was aligned with the Alaskan State Independence Party, the John Birch Society, and the Constitution Party.

The politics overtaking the Republican Party in the aftermath of the Bush Administration is not the pragmatic neoconservatism crafted carefully by Exxon-Mobil in the 70s and 80s. It is ideological right-wing paleo-conservatism. These are individuals who think the United States is run by a secret conspiracy of communists. These are individuals who think the public educational system is a plot to wipe out Christianity. These are the forces who were driven out of the Republican Party in the early 1960s, after they said that Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist. These are the individuals who say Abraham Lincoln was a dictator, and that the slave-owners of the US south were justified in taking up arms against the republic.

The new oil money has turned the weakened and isolated Republican Party into a platform to fight against the Big Four oil corporations and their near monopoly on US oil profits. Unlike the Rockefellers, who have learned to use the government to secure their power, they call for “laissez faire,” “hands-off” economics. They believe if everything were privatized, everyone could be rich like them.

The billionaires of new oil money see themselves caught between two great chasms. On the one hand, they are opposing the big oil bankers who want to drive them off the market. However, they are just as threatened, if not more threatened, by the global anti-capitalist movements. The labor unions, the Occupy Wall Street protests, the mass movements for social justice — all represent the threat that their wealth could be redistributed.

They see the rising social movements against capitalism as a heartless mob, people they deem to be inferior assembling to crush them. They see in the Big Oil capitalists a group of monopolists who want to smash their independence and absorb them into the collective.

The only place they can look for consolation is the past. They call for a “new 1776.” They dream of “restoring the republic” with some kind of bloody purge.

Some people call these politics emanating from new money in the Republican Party fascism. I don’t know if this is accurate.

The Democratic Party hates two men in particular who have become the symbolic leaders of the fracking new oil insurgency. These two oil billionaires, Charles and David Koch, the inheritors of an oil company called “Koch Industries,” have become the target of scorn by the voices of the Democratic Party and its allies.

Let me pause for a moment, and tell the story of how the Koch Industries was born, how the Koch family made their billions and became the leading insurgents against the oil monopolies within the domestic United States. This story contains many lessons about the role of oil in the world economy.

Oil and the Rise of Russia

The father of the infamous Koch brothers was chemical engineer Fred Koch. In 1927 he invented a new method of thermal cracking, transforming crude oil into gasoline. The big oil bankers tried to put him out of business. They took him to court 44 different times. In one instance they were proven to have actually bribed the judge to rule against him.

Fred Koch was nearly ruined in the United States. The big oil men were not going to let him in on the business. But this was 1927, and there was another place for oil innovators to turn. Koch found himself invited to the Soviet Union.

Prior to the Bolshevik revolution, the Russian Empire had been one of the leading oil-exporting countries. 150 different oil companies were invested in the Baku oil fields in Azerbaijan, part of the Czarist empire. The foreign oil companies easily overpowered and controlled the local oil barons. Very few Russians made money from the empire’s oil fields.

The biggest owners in the Baku oil fields were the Nobels, a Swedish family that owned an oil company. The French wing of the Rothschild banking dynasty had their own oil corporation, and they also owned a large amount of Baku oil. Both Nobel and the Rothschild oil corporations eventually merged into the megacorporation currently called Royal Dutch Shell.

Starting in 1898, the Baku petroleum output was larger than the entire domestic output of the United States. Half of the oil in the entire world was being produced in areas controlled by Russia.

As a result of its important role in the world economy, Baku was one of the few areas within the Russian Empire to have electricity. However, 95% of electricity was used for industrial purposes. The working peoples of Baku, half of them Turkish Muslims, the other half Christian Armenians, lived in shacks. They made poverty wages.

The peoples of the entire Russian Empire were living in extreme poverty. Russia was supplying the entire world, especially the mighty British Empire, with oil. Britain’s victory in the First World War was won with tanks, airplanes, and military trucks powered by Russia’s petroleum.

But the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Moldovans, the Azeris — they didn’t get any wealthier. Russia and the surrounding countries had backward agrarian economies. Mass starvation and malnutrition was routine.

A famous incident occurred in 1901. The Rothschilds banking family owned an oil refinery, located in Georgia, in the city of Batumi. The oil workers at this refinery went on strike demanding better conditions. The leaders of the oil workers union were arrested and taken to jail. So, in 1901, a crowd of thousands of Batumi oil workers, with guns blazing, ripped down the walls of the prison and freed their comrades. It made headlines all over the world.

The leader of the crowd that broke open the jails and freed the oil workers was a 23-year-old seminary school dropout. At the time he went by the nickname Koba. He would eventually be known to the world by the name Joseph Stalin.

Yes, the peoples of Russia and the surrounding countries knew it. They knew it in their bones that they were supplying the modern industrial economy of the 20th century with oil, making a lot of bankers rich, while they themselves were poor.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the British armed forces seized the oil fields of Baku. But over the course of the civil war, the Bolsheviks took them back. Lots and lots of blood was spilled in Baku and the rest of Azerbaijan. It was a hotly contested territory.

In the 1920s, most of the oil wells had been destroyed during the fighting. The Soviet government desperately needed oil production to get going again. Lots of foreign technicians and experts were brought in to help industrialize. Fred Koch came to Russia in 1929 to train Soviet oil technicians.

Fred Koch, an American oil chemist, watched as an agrarian, Third World country become a world industrial power in a few short years. Between 1928 and 1936 the Soviet Union became the biggest producer of steel in the entire world. The Soviet Union also produced more tractors than any other country in the world. Of course, oil production went through the roof. The entire country was lit up with electricity.

The huts of rural villages where Soviet peasants lived were replaced with modern apartment buildings. Running water was provided for the entire country as well. Illiteracy was wiped out.

This was the 1930s. The rest of planet was having a Great Depression. But with a planned economy, the Soviet Union was booming. It built skyscrapers, and the beautiful Moscow subways. The newly constructed university system trained the children of illiterate peasants to grow up and become the scientists who first conquered outer space.

No, the Soviet Union did not become the worker’s paradise many of the global Marxist and communists expected it to be. It was not heaven on earth. It was a society that had many big problems, which eventually played a role in its destruction.

But what the Soviet Union did between 1928 and 1936 was go from being an impoverished country, controlled by Britain and France as almost a semicolony, to gaining the status of a superpower. This is what happens when a society takes control of its resources and its economy. This is what happens when nations and peoples pull together to resist economic domination, and begin to chart their own course.

It doesn’t require Marxism-Leninism. It doesn’t require Soviet-style command economies. It requires economic independence. It requires mobilization of people. It requires leadership that loves the homeland, not the international bankers and billionaires.

Fred Koch was horrified by what he saw. Today, Fred Koch’s two children sit at the center of a coalition of low-level American capitalists, billionaires who feel they’ve been excluded from the club. Fred Koch’s two sons certainly hate communism, socialism, cooperation, and solidarity with every bone in their body, despite the fact that the work of Fred Koch as a chemist was essential in building the Soviet Union.

Saudi Oil Suicide and the CIA

In 2014, the high oil prices that had been engineered by US foreign policy came to a sharp and sudden end. Suddenly, without any warning or real market justification, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began putting oil on the international markets. Saudi Arabia started putting tens of millions of barrels of oil onto the market every day.

This huge influx of oil caused demand to decrease, and the price to drop. But the Saudi Kingdom did not stop. The Saudis continued putting petroleum onto the international markets, and expanding their oil production apparatus.

Even though they cannot afford it, the Saudis take out loans, and continue building an even bigger oil production apparatus. Saudi Arabia is losing money, going nearly bankrupt, but it keeps putting oil onto the markets.

The crown prince, the son of King Salman, announces that Saudi Arabia is transitioning away from oil.

A policy of shifting away from oil might make sense in Venezuela or Russia, but not in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a giant desert. The country has two things: sand and oil.

Since 2014 the oil price has been dropping. It’s gotten below $30 per barrel.

Saudi Arabia is having huge internal problems. On January 1 of 2016, 47 people were beheaded. Many of them were dissidents, including the leading Shia Cleric Ayatollah Al-Nimr. Riots are going on. Oil workers are unemployed, starving, and rioting.

Why is this happening? Why would the Saudis bankrupt themselves? Why would they slit their own wrists?

You have to look deeper.

Since the 1940s, when US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established relations with the House of Saud, the oil has never really belonged to the Saudis.

Aramco, the Saudi oil company, has always just been a middle man. Saudi oil is controlled exclusively by the Big Four. The US oil trust – BP, Shell, Chevron, and Exxon-Mobil — have always dictated exactly what the Saudis do with their oil.

The Saudis now have the fourth-largest military budget of any country in the world, and they purchase their weapons exclusively from the United States.

The Saudis are not independent. Saudi Arabia is just an extension of the big oil bankers who run Wall Street.

Saudi Arabia is dropping the price of oil intentionally because their bosses are commanding them to do so. This is a strategy that was cooked up inside the Council on Foreign Relations.

The goal is to put Iran, Russia, and Venezuela out of business. It’s to beat back the wave of independence around the world that was spawned by the high oil policies of the Bush years. The goal is also to put the Koch brothers, Sarah Palin, and their crew of new oil billionaires out of business.

The goal is to restore the monopoly of the oil bankers.

I was in Caracas during the December election, and I saw firsthand what the CIA, their Saudi puppets, and their Rockefeller overlords are doing to that country. I saw lines around the block for ATMS, for toilet paper, and for other supplies.

The victory of the Venezuelan opposition at the polls was a direct result of a relentless effort to cash-starve Bolivarian socialism.

Russia has been forced to cut its domestic budget by 10%. The state-owned oil money that stabilized Russia is being cut back. The hope is to weaken Putin.

The oil-price drop brought Iran to the negotiating table. It put Iran in a situation where it was willing to make huge concessions, and give up its peaceful nuclear energy program.

Meanwhile, the fracking billionaires in Oklahoma and Texas are hurting. Energy stocks are dropping lower than ever. BP has already bought up a few of the fracking firms.

Don’t doubt for a moment that the oil-price drop is part of US foreign policy strategy. We even have a confession of sorts from the son of Ronald Reagan. Michael Reagan said:

“Since selling oil was the source of the Kremlin’s wealth, my father got the Saudis to flood the market with cheap oil.

“Lower oil prices devalued the ruble, causing the USSR to go bankrupt, which led to perestroika and Mikhail Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Empire.”

Obama is now doing the same thing, according to Michael Reagan.

The oil-price drop of the 1980s also served political purposes, and it was also carried out by Saudi Arabia.

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union was reorienting its economy toward selling oil. France, West Germany, and other European countries announced that they were more open to purchasing Soviet oil.

The Soviet government launched a project to build the Urengoy pipeline, an oil pipeline also called the Trans-Siberian pipeline. This was a gigantic oil pipeline that connected the Siberian oil fields with Western Europe. The Soviet government invested billions of dollars in this project, expecting that in the 1980s they would be able to use this pipeline to sell oil to Europe.

After billions and billions of dollars had been spent by the Soviet government, the Saudis dropped the oil prices, the same way they are doing now. The pipeline was completed in 1984. Because of the oil-price drop, it never even paid for itself.

This was a large factor in the economic problems facing the Soviet Union in the 1980s, which led to perestroika and eventually the end of the Soviet government.

The Wal-Mart Computer Crash

Price manipulation, the artificial dropping and raising of commodity prices — this is how John D. Rockefeller created Standard Oil, the corporation that is the direct ancestor of today’s super-major called Exxon-Mobil. John D. Rockefeller became the master of what Americans now know very well as a Wal-Mart scheme.

The store called Wal-Mart in the United States has ruined the economies of thousands and thousands of cities and municipalities by setting up shop and lowering its prices. Wal-Mart starts selling TVs, radios and kitchen supplies at the lowest prices imaginable. That is, until all the other stores go out of business. Then, it raises the prices higher than ever, because it has a monopoly.

But the oil Wal-Mart scheme is getting out of control. The price of natural gas always follows right behind oil, and it’s cheaper than ever. The price of copper and steel is dropping lower than ever also. Gold is low. Silver is low.

All the key commodities are losing value. Following right behind the oil drop, prices are dropping in almost every sector.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart, the retail store that is biggest employer in the United States, is laying off people in droves. Stores are closing, because Americans cannot afford to keep buying the way they once did.

During the 1990s, Alan Greenspan legalized all kinds of predatory lending practices, allowing people to get ripoff credit card and housing loans. As the spending power of the US public decreased, the idea was to keep the economy going. They created an economy of rabid consumerism. They taught the people of the United States — who had seen their standard of living rapidly decrease; who had lost their good-paying industrial jobs; who were paying tens of thousands of dollars just to go to college — to spend money that they do not have, and temporarily prop up a decaying economy.

But Wal-Mart capitalism is failing. The American middle class is dead. The American dream, the house with the white picket fence has been foreclosed.

The oil-price drop has made gasoline cheaper than ever. But go to any gas station in the Midwest on any given day, and I can promise you will see a car pull up. It will have a mother in it, and one or maybe two children in the backseat.

She will pull up to the gas station, and she will reach very carefully for the gas pump, and she will very carefully stick it into her gas tank, and put $4 gas into her car.

Just two dollars of gas! Why? Because that’s all she can afford. One dollar of gas can get her kids to school the next day. It can get her to work after that. It’s just enough to keep going.

For a long time in the United States, the white workers and the billionaires had an understanding. It went like this: The billionaires got to go all over the world and slaughter people and murder people. They had coups in Latin America. They dropped bombs in Vietnam and Korea. They built a huge nuclear arsenal. They beat down, exploited and oppressed the African Americans and Latinos.

The deal was that, as long as the white workers went along with this, and didn’t get in the way, and kept waving the flag and cheering for empire, they would get TV sets, cars, houses — the so-called “American Dream.” A high standard of living.

But this agreement was terminated. In the 1980s it started to gradually erode, and in 2016 it is completely gone. The white American middle class is suffering, civil liberties are disappearing, and the country is in an economic meltdown. Youth from the South and Midwest are fleeing to the coastal areas — California, Manhattan, and New England — because life has become unlivable in the once-prosperous industrial heartland.

The problem in the oil markets is just a reflection of a bigger problem. The computer revolution of the 1990s has made production so efficient. Decades ago they had book binderies. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of people would be employed in factories binding books. Today they have a machine that can be operated by a single person. Files are uploaded, a single button is pushed, and books come out.

The computer revolution has resulted in mass poverty for millions of people. Millions of people are starving, fleeing their homes, becoming migrants, because they no longer have a place at the assembly line. The global apparatus of production has become so efficient, that millions of people are not needed any longer. They no longer have a place at the assembly line.

Because they aren’t being hired any longer, the millions of people cast out of production are not spending money. They are not purchasing the billions and billions of dollars worth of goods that are being so efficiently churned out.

A glut of overproduction is threatening the planet.

Millions of people in Africa and the Middle East, who are no longer profitable to the billionaires and capitalists, are packing themselves onto ships and fleeing to Europe. People in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are spreading out all over the world. People in Mexico and Guatemala are fleeing to the United States in order to survive.

Everywhere there is a huge abundance of resources and products, but a shortage of jobs and livelihoods for the people.

“Accumulation through Destruction”

As my friend the brilliant economist Bill Dores has explained, capitalism has moved into a mode called “accumulation through destruction.”

How did the United States become the unrivaled center of the world economy anyhow? After the Second World War, the rest of the world was destroyed.

The US economy is centered around war. It’s a vulgar kind of Keynesianism. US corporations keep their profits rolling in by building bombs, tanks, drones, and other military hardware to kill people around the world.

The USA has a system of prisons for profit. Private corporations are paid to lock away people who break the law in prison. There is an economic incentive for high crime rates and for people to be locked in jail. The United States has the largest prison population in the entire world, because imprisoning people is a way to make money.

One of the biggest myths purported by the capitalists is this idea that markets create and unleash innovation. If you think the free market creates innovation, tell me: why does Hollywood make the same movie over and over and over again?

Yes, capitalists take risks, but they would prefer not to. They want the most secure investment possible. They want to maximize profits; they don’t have any other purpose.

Where did the computer revolution in technology come from? Many trace it back to the decoding machines constructed during the Second World War. This wasn’t the innovation of private capitalists and the market.

During the war, Roosevelt sat down with the capitalists, and said, “We are going to defeat the Nazis.” He said, “In order to defeat fascism, you must give up your economic freedom. You must function as a part of a team. You must obey the democratic government and world for the good of the country.”

The United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France did not defeat the Nazis by allowing corporations to make endless profits. NO!

During the war, even in the capitalist west, the corporations went under complete government management. They obeyed the president and the military. They coordinated everything for the defense of democracy. Some of the first computers were designed by smart people, hired by the government, and unleashed to invent and develop new methods for winning the war.

China has Broken Free

The media coming from the western world does not acknowledge the problem of capitalist over-production. No, western media commentators and economic analysts have a single, one-word answer about what is causing the problems of the global economy: China.

They don’t explain how, or why, but somehow China is to blame. They say “China did it.” They call it the “Chinese slowdown.”

It’s very important that we talk about what’s actually going on in the Chinese economy, because it actually points to the way out of this insanity.

Back in the 1920s and 30s China was called the “sick man of Asia.” A very large percentage of the population were drug addicts. The British had actually forced China to accept heroin and opium imports. The drugs allowed China to be economically crippled and enslaved.

Parks in major Chinese cities were reserved for white Europeans. They famously had signs that said “No dogs or Chinese allowed.” Imagine what it must have been like for Chinese people, a people with such a proud, beautiful history, to see signs like that put up within their homeland.

The western capitalists have completely re-written history. They tell us that Asia, and Africa, and Latin America, and the Middle East have always been poor. But this is a lie!

While my ancestors in Ireland and France were living in caves, people on this continent had vibrant civilizations, the Incas, the Aztecs, the Maya.

The Middle East was the cradle of civilization with Hammurabi, Mesopotamia, and Persepolis.

The African continent had Timbuktu and the Pyramids of Giza.

The western colonizers are not “civilizing” the peoples they have conquered. They are not “developing.”

When the British Empire went to India, they saw the vast textile industry. They did not invest in it and develop it. They burned down the textile mills! They forced the people of India to buy their cloth from Britain.

In Mexico today, the farmers have been tossed off their land. They once grew their own food, but now they purchase it from US food corporations.

The imperialists don’t want producers. They don’t want nations and peoples to develop. They want captive consumers. They want to conquer markets, destroy production, and force everyone to purchase from them.

Long before 1949, the imperialists had been “investing” in China. They had been doing business there, but the Chinese people were poorer than they had ever been.

In 1949, this changed. A new government came into power. China had never had any steel production, but with assistance from the Soviet Union, China launched its steel industry in the 1950s.

China began to produce its own cotton, its own clothing. China built power plants and hospitals.

In 1961, the Soviet Union cut off its aid to China. China could not depend on Soviet assistance any longer. Briefly it attempted to be more egalitarian than the Soviet Union. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong, Lin Biao and the Gang of Four tried to move closer to a kind of utopian vision of communism.

In 1978, the policies shifted. Deng Xiaoping said, “To get rich is glorious.” Many people see this statement as embracing capitalism. But it was the opposite. He said, “Poverty is anti-communist, but to get rich is glorious.”

He said that China could not become a prosperous nation by redistributing poverty. Deng Xiaoping’s vision of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” was based on raising the level of productive forces.

As China stepped back from the command economy, it started importing all kinds of western products, and allowing western capitalists to do business. Wall Street started making lots of money from China.

But at the same time that western corporations were investing in China, and selling Chinese products, the Chinese Communist Party was keeping a firm hand on things. Corporations had no freedom.

No other society in history has executed billionaires. But every Chinese business owner knows that if he gets on the wrong side of the Communist Party, he could be dead.

Recently, the owners of a McDonald’s meat distributor in China, a US-based corporation called OSI, were caught distributing rotten meat to the public. The Communist Party leaders in Shanghai dragged them out of their offices in handcuffs. Executives from this wealthy US corporation have been put into prison.

So what is this Chinese slowdown? What does it have to do with the world economy?

China has stood up. What started in the mountains with Mao Zedong and the Eight Route Army has resulted in an entirely new situation for the whole country. China had no steel mills in 1949. Today, 50% of the world’s steel is produced by China’s government-owned and -controlled steel industry.

China makes its own cars, its own cell phones, its own satellites. The Chinese slowdown is the result of the fact that China is no longer buying things from the colonizers and imperialists. The Wall Street bankers cannot depend on making money from China, because China has stood up. It has its own independent economy.

Yes, there is a slowdown on the Chinese stock market, the vehicle created for western investment. But Chinese society is doing very well. The wages of the average Chinese worker have tripled since the dawn of the 21st century. In 2012, the wages of Chinese industrial workers increased by 14%.

Even CNN admits that almost every day another Chinese person becomes a millionaire. The world tourism industry is having a boom because there is now a wave of Chinese tourists. Chinese people whose grandparents were illiterate and lived as peasants serving landlords almost as property are going on vacations to Paris, the United States, and the tropical islands.

China has risen up out of centuries of degradation and poverty. Millions and millions and millions of Chinese people now have a lifestyle that many people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America can only imagine.

How did they do it? They did it by taking control of their economy.

Capitalism = Profits in Command

There’s a lot of confusion about capitalism and socialism these days. Some people say China is capitalist, because it clearly doesn’t have an economy like what existed in the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Bernie Sanders is running for president saying he believes in socialism. When asked what socialism is, he says its means “a government that works for everyone.” If this is all that socialism means, then every candidate should be called a “socialist.” No candidate admits they want the government to function exclusively for an elite.

There is so much confusion.

What is capitalism? The best definition of capitalism I can find comes from Friedrich Engels, the close collaborator of Karl Marx. He explained what capitalism was by saying, “Under capitalism, the means of production only function as preliminary transformation into capital.”

Capitalism is a system where houses don’t get built because people need shelter. Under capitalism, houses are built so landlords and bankers can make money from selling and renting them.

Under capitalism, food isn’t produced so that people can eat it. Food is produced so that capitalists can make money selling it.

Capitalism is a system where money gives the orders, and the rest of society follows behind the insanity of the market.

What is the alternative? You can call it “socialism,” you can call it “people’s power,” you can call it “central planning” — you can call it whatever you want.

The alternative is when rational human beings run the economy, and force it to function for the good of society.

In the world today, there is another kind of government that is emerging. It’s a kind of government that derives its strength from community organizations, labor unions, and a mass involvement on the part of ordinary people in public affairs.

My friends here in Brazil, I tell you this carefully — and I don’t tell you this as an American, I tell you this as someone looking at the world and trying to make sense of it:

Don’t give up Petrobas! Don’t let Rockefeller, Carnegie, Du Pont, and Rothschild come into Brazil! Preserve your independence! Preserve your republic and domestic control of your natural resources!

If you want a strong prosperous country, you cannot hand over your economy to the Wall Street bankers. They function to destroy economies.

The brilliant man, a longtime activist in New York City who has travelled all over the world, and dedicated his life to fight for justice — I mentioned him before, Bill Dores — the man who taught me to think beyond politics to economics, if he has taught me anything, it is that Wall Street does not bring development. It does not seek to play fair on the world market. It wants to destroy any people or nation that rise up and start building themselves up. It wants people divided, poor, desperate, and dependent.

Fighting For a Better World

The forces of evil behind modern international capitalism have no loyalty of any kind. These capitalists aren’t patriotic. They aren’t religious. They don’t worship any God but money. They blindly and fanatically worship their own profits, and they obediently follow wherever the crazed, irrational, invisible hand described by Adam Smith directs them to go.

I believe there is a deeper truth in the universe. I believe that right and wrong do exist. I believe that there is a higher purpose to life than simply a mad pursuit of money.

The only alternative to the insane greed that has seized the western world is popular power. The people must be in motion. They must be demanding justice and equality. They must stand arm in arm to fight for their rights. They must take control of the economies, and force them to function for public good.

The work that all of you are doing as labor leaders is essential.

I was particularly touched to be invited to a conference of labor leaders. When I was ten years old, living in rural Ohio, I was not thinking about politics. But my mother was a librarian.

Some of the librarians in her system were being harassed on the job. They wanted security. They met with the bosses and the bosses refused to provide it. So, as part of the Service Employees International Union, they went on strike.

As a ten-year-old child, I walked the picket lines, and learned the importance of class struggle. I learned never to cross a picket line, and that when working people stand together, great things can happen.

The particular library that my mother worked at was safe. They did not need security. But this did not matter to her and her co-workers. If their sisters walked out, they walked out with them. An injury to one is an injury to all!

This is worker’s solidarity. This is the hope for the future of humanity.

Long live worker’s solidarity! Long live the CSB (Trade Union Center of Brazil)! Long Live People’s Power!

Dear men: read this stuff kthx.

Dear beloved men:

Yes, I know you’re a liberal, feminist guy. You totally get it! You really do. For example, you regularly read my blog because you like what I have to say about various and sundry issues that shape our shared world.

But there is something you don’t get. You can never get it, not really. Because the world we share frequently looks very different through the eyes of women. Note that this doesn’t mean you see the world more objectively and women (or others) less so, nor vice versa. It means that, although we inhabit the very same spaces and travel the same paths, our experiences are objectively different.

Think of it this way: if you’re white in the USA, you probably do not live in fear of police, whereas if you’re black you do (for very good reasons that I’m sure I don’t have to explain to readers here). Your educational experience in public school settings is likely to be drastically different, from the physical infrastructure, access to quality materials and technology, to what happens if you get in trouble. I cannot ever really understand what it is like to experience the world as a person of color does. While we all inhabit a culture that reinforces white supremacy in a million ways 24/7/365—such that even very young black children internalize it—I cannot know what that experience is like as a person of color.

But that fact should not stop me from listening to, learning from and empathizing with people of color. Indeed, as someone with a conscience and a desire to make our world a better place, it demands it. It also demands that I leverage my white privilege to right the wrongs of racism, because people of color cannot.

I’m sure you can see where this is going: the same principle is at work with sexism. Like racism, it is not always blatant; much of it operates below the level of conscious awareness. This is why I need you—yes, you, my dear d00d—to listen to, learn from and empathize with women, and to leverage your male privilege to right the wrongs of sexism, because women cannot.

To that end, here are things I want you to read:

Why Women Smile at Men Who Sexually Harass Us. Olsen, H.B., Medium (Feb. 2016).

The White Knight Delusion. Wilkinson, A., The Baffler (Feb. 2016).

Abortion ban linked to dangerous miscarriages at Catholic hospital, report claims. Redden, M., The Guardian (Feb. 2016).

Buzzfeed Writer Harassed off Twitter for Urging “Not-White, Not-Male” Writers to Pitch to Buzzfeed Canada. Cox, C., The Mary Sue (Feb. 2016).

This Facebook post by Harper Honey (shared with permission):

Trust Your Gut! Sara, M., Femnasty (Feb. 2016).

Not a Nice Story. Darcy (Guest Post), Love Joy Feminism/Patheos (Feb. 2015).

The remarkably different answers men and women give when asked who’s the smartest in the class. Paquette, D., Washington Post (Feb. 2016).

Conservative Trolls Have Been Suggesting Men Go into Women’s Restrooms to Help Legislators Discriminate Against Trans People. Brownstone, S., The Stranger (Feb. 2016).

NYPD Really Wants You To Know They’re Cracking Down On Subway Perverts. Chung, J., Gothamist (Feb. 2016).

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When you read these things, you will notice that women inhabit a very different world than you do. We are not safe from gendered harassment, abuse and violence; not on crowded subway trains or at quiet bus stops, alone or with friends, at our jobs, in the toy aisle at Target, on the street, at small dinner parties, in public restrooms, on Twitter, in our own homes, in fucking hospitals. We cannot escape our gender and bias against it. We are routinely demeaned, diminished and degraded in virtually every facet of our lives, from cradle to grave, in countless ways, both blatant and perniciously, infuriatingly subtle. Most of us learn from a very young age that we can never, ever really let our guard down among men—nor, frankly, among women (and others) who support, consciously or otherwise, the individuals, institutions and cultural practices that perpetuate male privilege. Some of us may have made a devil’s bargain, but it is not an inherently irrational choice. I’m not sure it is a choice at all, at least for some.

And you will also surely have noticed that all of those links are from February alone. I made no special effort to seek these stories out; they were sprinkled among literally dozens of open tabs in my browser. It was only when I went to compile a link roundup last week that I realized how many they were in number.

Was that too big an ask of me, that you read all of ^that stuff? Well, consider your privilege: you can look away from any or all of it, any time. You can ignore all of it, without much risk (if any) to your career or your mental health or your physical safety or your life. We cannot. Ever. That’s why I want you to read it—all of it—even (especially) if you don’t want to: to give you some glimmer of what it is like for us to exist in this world. I am asking you to listen to, learn from and empathize with women, and to leverage your own privilege to right the wrongs of sexism.

Here is what that might look like:

Learn to see it for what it is. I’ve written before in some depth about microaggressions, and studies that reveal (a) microaggressions may be more harmful than overt bigotry, (b) racism, sexism, other -isms are mainly perpetuated due to unconscious bias, and (c) it is extraordinarily difficult to get (presumably well-meaning) people to realize they are acting in an unfairly biased manner. I won’t rehash all of that in detail here. But there are other behaviors that you might pay attention to. For instance, while you personally do not harass, abuse or rape women, people you know almost certainly do. These are not strangers hiding in the bushes: they are your fathers and brothers and sons, your friends and co-workers, admired professional colleagues and community members in good standing, who “would never do anything like that.” But don’t take my word for it: they will tell you so themselves. The d00d cracking “jokes” about physically/sexually assaulting women, or making “funny” quips about women as intellectually inferior, untrustworthy, manipulable, sex objects, obstacles to be overcome, etc., is telling you exactly how he thinks of us, and treats us whenever he can get away with it.

Call it out when you see it. Sexist and predatory men take your laughter, however insincere, as validation. They take your silence as validation. They take shitty beer commercials that objectify women as evidence that their views are valid and the norm. One thing that can help change the culture in which unconscious biases flourish and predatory weasels operate with impunity is men shutting that shit down. In social situations: “Not cool, d00d.” “Wow, not funny.” “Did you just grab that woman’s ass? That is seriously messed up.” “What the fucking fuck is wrong with you, you fucking fuck?” In work and school situations: “Yes we heard you the first time Bob, but now we’d all really like to hear what Cynthia has to say.” “Rani just made that suggestion Malcolm, I’m glad you agree with her.” You see, when we do this, we are abrasive, oversensitive, humorless feminazis who cannot take a joke OBVIOUSLY. We need you to do it.

Believe us. When we tell you this shit is happening, all the fucking time, know that we’re not “playing the victim.” FYI: there is no reward for being a victim, much less one that somehow makes it worth being victimized in the first place.

You, my beloved men, are not “the enemy,” so much as the systems that uphold your privilege at the expense of ours is the enemy. I am asking for your help in dismantling them. Interrupting them. Burning them the fuck down.

Just as racism is whites’ problem to solve, sexism is yours.

You’re creative, and resourceful. I know you can and will find ways to disrupt and smash this shit to pieces. It might even turn out to be fun, if a little uncomfortable at first.

Thanks for your consideration.

Have a nice day.

palacehappyface

The banishment of John, Part 3.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia, eliminationism, misogyny and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

This is the last installment.

Part 2 left off in the middle of my meticulous dismemberment of John Miller’s final, terrible comment, at which point he had finished addressing commenter khms (who responded to him beautifully here, as did Rotary Wing here). John now turns to address Your Humble Monarch™ directly. But before I finishing dissecting this specimen, please allow me to reiterate some important points to bear in mind.

NOTE 1: There is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither reason nor facts are likely to penetrate their reality distortion fields enough to sway them in the direction of understanding or accepting reality—and in fact, a backfire effect may occur. There are, however, at least two reasons to make an exception to this rule. The first is for the infotainment of others, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, Loyal Readers™, young and impressionable children, etc. The second exception is for the pleasure to be found in the sharpening of one’s (rhetorical) fangs, whether in preparation for the aforementioned audiences or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to discern under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment in addition to material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking here I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

Shall we?

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Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers …

It is absolutely adorable that John thinks the US is a democracy, or that the permanent power factions in DC  (i.e. the deep state) value the concept of democracy for anything other than the ease with which they can exploit it.

It is super sweet that John thinks the rule of law operates here.

It is positively precious that John thinks “freedom of speech” is a cherished principle in these United States.

It is particularly priceless that John thinks equality for women and girls is now,
or has ever been, a defining feature of Western society.

It is deliciously delightful that John sees Western civilization as a beacon of freedom from institutionalized paedophilia, rather than practically being defined by it.

It is seriously stunning that John believes routine genital mutilation is somehow unique to Muslim cultures.

And it is really remarkable that John views the separation of powers as A Thing That Exists—except, of course, in the sense of powers being separated from We, the People.

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These values need to be cherished and protected.

I seem to recall “freedom of religion” being a cherished and protected value of this much-touted Western culture. I guess I must have made that up, because it’s missing from John’s list of “core values of Western culture.”

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I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’.

Really? Aww, come on! That’s an easy one! TO MAKE IT BETTER. Funny thing about that, though: the biggest obstacle to making progress on any of these fronts is people like John, whose willful ignorance magically allows them to see themselves, their uninformed and toxic views and the evil that results as somehow benevolent, despite all evidence to the contrary.

A real conundrum.

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Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one! See, e.g., the entire fucking history of Australia. [h/t Rotary Wing.]

On a related note, I now wish to demonstrate for Loyal Readers™ my astonishing psychic abilities: without having ever met John, interviewed him (or others about him), researched into his background, seen a picture of him, or indeed learned anything at all about him except through his comments here, I am willing to bet the entire Palace Treasury that in addition to being a (cisgender) male, John is also white, straight and Australian-born.

TA-DA!  My mad clairvoyant skillz simply cannot be explained away by guessing that:

  • John doesn’t see racism in Australia, because he has never been, and likely will never be, oppressed in any way because of his race.

I AM FUCKING AMAZING AMIRITE.

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We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis.

How nice for John and his friends. Some people would loooooove to be interested in those things, but they’re kinda busy with other things. Things like fleeing violent conflicts and keeping themselves and their children alive.

By the way, it turns out that the Aussies are interested in a few other things, too.

__________

If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around.

I appreciate the offer, but…

You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

I have no idea what any of that means. But if it means “people who are like John,” I (dis)respectfully decline.

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When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies.

Wow, it sure is a mystery why Muslims immigrants to Australia might wish to live in enclaves.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s… people like John.

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It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

It’s a real shame the Australian government is so cash-strapped and has nothing better to spend money on. Besides directly creating the conditions that lead to Islamic terrorism and mass migrations of Muslims in the first place, OBVIOUSLY.

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I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules.

Gosh, I wonder what exactly these “cultural rules” might be, how they might be enforced in a diverse society, and who will enforce them. Are they anything like, you know, “laws”?

If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else.

For example, to prison? I must be off my game, because I sort of agree with John here.*

*Except we all know that by “cultural rules” John doesn’t mean laws. He means something else entirely, more along the lines of an Official Real Australian™ Dress Code For Women, as we shall see.

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People then have a choice, fit in or ship out. Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women.

That John thinks he can simultaneously write comments like the one we’re addressing here, and also claim to be part of a society that welcomes Muslims, is…um, interesting. And by now it will surprise no one that John is just as WRONG about Atatürk getting rid of “the head gear” as he is about everything else:

Even though he personally promoted modern dress for women, Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] never made specific reference to women’s clothing in the law, as he believed that women would adapt to the new clothing styles of their own free will. He was frequently photographed on public business with his wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head in accordance with Islamic tradition. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern Western clothes. But it was Atatürk’s adopted daughters, Sabiha Gökçen and Afet İnan, who provided the real role model for the Turkish women of the future. He wrote: “The religious covering of women will not cause difficultyThis simple style [of headcovering] is not in conflict with the morals and manners of our society.

[emphasis mine.]

Yes, John is oddly obsessed with superficial conformity to (arbitrary) local dress codes, especially for women. I was momentarily curious as to whether John would have similar objections to Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and curls. Or to nuns wearing habits. Or to Sikhs wearing turbans. Or to Hindus wearing bindis on their foreheads and other traditional garb. Or ooh! OOH! To priests wearing collars! Now I personally think priest collars should not just be permitted but actively encouraged, because (a) it makes them stand out such that I can easily avoid or engage with priests as I see fit, and (b) I’ve always had a serious fetish for hawt priests. WIN-WIN.

australianorthodoxjews

Australian Orthodox Jewish men with the head gear.”
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, JEWS!

carmelitenunsaustralia

Australian Carmelite nuns with “the head gear,”
plus some d00ds.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, NUNS!

australiansikhsprayervigil

Australian Sikhs, some with “the head gear,”at a prayer vigil for a mass murder at a Sikh temple by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wisconsin (USA).
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, SIKHS!

australianhindus

Australian Hindus.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, HINDUS!

robgaleaaustralianpriest

Fr. Rob Galea, Catholic priest in Australia.
OMFG *swoon*
Don’t worry, sweetheart! If mean old John tells you to “FIT IN OR SHIP OUT!” you just come right over here and sit by me. :D

But then suddenly I remembered that I don’t give a fuck what John thinks, as long as he thinks it somewhere else.

However for the record: the people pictured here are just as “Australian” as John is. Whatever that even means.

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These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

Okay, I’ve been around the Interwebz a time or two, so please allow me to translate John’s drivel for you. By “the sisterhood,” John means his warped caricature of feminists, i.e., a group of humans which (a) includes no men and no Muslims, (b) has no understanding of misogyny, especially Islamic-flavored misogyny, and (c) lacks John’s in-depth and comprehensive understanding of culture and symbolism.

… as opposed to, say, John having no fucking clue what women in virtually every culture in the world including his own must navigate just to survive.

Interestingly, actual feminists want a world where everyone—and yes, “everyone” even includes Muslim women!— is free and encouraged to wear whatever the fuck they want.

And, until it is safe for everyone to choose to wear whatever the fuck they want without oppression resulting, everyone needs to STFU about whether, when and where it is appropriate for Muslim women to wear “the head gearbecause we do not live in that fucking world goddammit.

Seriously, do people even think for one second about the choice they want some of the most oppressed people in the world—immigrant Muslim women of color—to make here? Be shunned by your family and everyone you know in the religious community to which you belong, or, apparently, be judged and demonized by the Johns of the (supposedly “free”…) wider society?

palacefuckyou

Please accept this hearty Palace FUCK YOU.

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When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

OMG YOU GUYS! John has figured out the solution to misogyny! And it’s so simple, I cannot believe we didn’t think of it before! It’s… people like John policing what women wear! Fit in or ship out, bitchez! And for good measure, blaming the women of a persecuted religious minority—many of whom are also women of color in predominately white (and white supremacist) societies—for perpetrating their own oppression, if for whatever reason they do not conform strictly to local, provincial standards of dress. (Hey, I wonder if the dress standards John espouses are gender neutral. I’m just kidding! LOL! I crack myself up.)

____________

Incidentally, this is how I picture John dressing:

johnswear

Note in particular the lack of “the head gear,” such lack being customary and characteristic of Real Australians™.

All of this^ he is (and damn well ought to be) 100% free to wear, no matter how repulsive I or anyone else may find his personal style or reasons for presenting himself the way he does.

Everyone should have that freedom.

THE END.

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Wherefore, and in Due Consideration of All of the Foregoing Acts of Unrepentant Conservatism, Which Having Been Finally Exhausted of All Explanatory and/or Entertainment Value, Let It Be Known Throughout the Land That

John Miller

is Hereby Forever Banished to

All of the Other Places on the Internet
(Most of Which By the Way are Generally Not as Reality-Based and Fun as This One.)

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banishmentjohnmiller

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Let us rejoice, for John Miller’s odious stench shall ne’er again befoul this Palace!

CHEERS.

red&whitewinecheers