Spreading the Modern Myth: HRC can STOP Trump … & so deserves our support

September 26th, 2016

First of all … Democrats HAD someone who could STOP Trump, beat him hands down … but their “leaders” chose not to support him. Their “minds” had been made up (and apparently paid for) … years ahead of time, as it turned out.

Ahhh … so MANY still do not get it … tsk, tsk

… a new female Kissinger for our world — just what we need.

— Are people blind, or do they voluntarily put their heads into the sand?

• A candidate gets over $200K for individual speeches … whose contents the people of this country … must not ever know … do not “deserve” to know …

— What is wrong with this picture??

Many now defending HRC have attacked JILL Stein and third parties in general for not having a chance. Hmmm … why are their chances so small? A lack of significant ideas or plans? If not, … then, why?

Wellll … actually, THAT situation has been … created — over DECADES — by both Democrats themselves, & also by Republicans manipulating rules to undemocratically keep alternative voices quiet … or out of the way. Aided, clearly by mainstream Media Pundits who are funded by … the same funders of the two parties.

… and this all is additionally advanced, in fact, by people, not unlike many commentators out there, who pontificate in their seemingly reasonable way about the “impossibilities” of 3rd parties. Pontificators who … do NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING, to change things for 4 years until another Presidential Election rolls around.

… and Wham, Bang, … there those folks are again.

… 3rd parties and our very democracy continue being short-shrifted, and worse … they are ACCUSED … of causing the problem — when it is exactly those that do NOTHING but COMPLAIN every 4 years who are both the victims and CAUSES of the lack of democracy. For SHAME!! Just LOOK at how they verbally mistreat those who actually go out on a limb, spend time & money at not little personal risk to bring the beginnings of such needed change. And then the myth purveyors … attack them … as “unrealistic” & “unreasonable”.

… I ask you, WHO … is UNREASONABLE?

Dammit! It is just such pious arrogance that KEEPS the oligarchy growing with ever greater power each year. Bernie woke a lot of folks UP to that fact, yet so many watched passively as he was thrown under the bus. Many of them now say Hillary must win to avoid Trump. Clearly, THIS year HRC IS the oligarchic candidate par excellence.

— LOOK AROUND YOU CAREFULLY. Really SEE (& understand) WHO … are to blame. One thing for sure … it ain’t ME, babe.

YOU MUST SUPPORT CHANGE … IN ORDER TO GET IT!

Why Debate Rigging is TERRIBLE for America

September 26th, 2016

When the rigged rules keep 3rd parties out of the televised presidential debates, crucial Topics & Issues important to the American People — and for democracy in general — are not even BROUGHT UP, much less debated!!

The 2 Least Trusted Candidates, along with our unquestioning, compliant & colluding Corporate Media, actually end up RESTRICTING the SCOPE of discussing what is VITAL to the nation during an election season.

• It is not merely the candidates that the public does not get to hear — and consider — there are TONS of potentially BETTER IDEAS that all of us are essentially ROBBED of! We effectively are NOT PERMITTED to KNOW those thoughts are being discussed nationally. Dictatorship, anyone?
… So much for the “freedom & democracy” we often kill people around the world to “defend.” We DICTATE and LIMIT what our voters even get to HEAR!

• Is there even ONE mainstream “journalist” with enough Courage & Insight to actually SAY that??

— When interviewed about the Debates, Dr. Stein & Gov. Johnson SHOULD emphasize that.

Prime-Time, Fantasy Unity-Time DNC Puts Disney to Shame

July 26th, 2016

(from the BernieSanders FB site on the Monday of the DNC in Philly)
I hear and share the disappointment of many here. Yet I understand that the solid, seriousness of the programs discussed by Bernie in his national campaigns & rallies, about education, healthcare, banks, prison, TPP and more, ARE important for the future of this nation and indeed the world. That these issues are rebutted or glossed over by the Machine-DNC is galling at best.

— Their campaign is based upon fear of Trump and intimidation, but not of the vision and courage to make our democracy work for us all, as it COULD and SHOULD.Berners At Convention

— While Trump clearly is the Beacon for Bigots, this Elite-driven DNC represents the cold, calculating lengths to which our corporate oligarchy is willing to go to maintain THEIR control over the Power Structures of the Nation and to marginalize America’s People from any process of governance.

— They could, in a flash, nominate Bernie, roundly defeating Trump, their declared nemesis and bringing new millions of people into the process. But for those heartless vultures, Bernie is the UNDECLARED nemesis they set out to destroy … and basically DID.

—Then they BLAME the Victims (an old Dem favorite Game): don’t yell, don’t complain, don’t boo, don’t be disrespectful, don’t leave the party … etc. It is a childish playground bully mentality that is reflected SQUARELY in our current foreign policy. We do what we WANT to do to whomever we name or blame, … then cry: “Do not complain, do not fight back, resistance is futile”, etc. — OR, we’ll attack you, drone you, steal your election … whatever.

— You SEE, WE too … are treated … as Enemies if we seek fairness, economic justice, participation, … democracy. That’s how they have treated the Sanders movement: as enemies. There is a war on democracy in the USA, and Dems do their part, when not pretending that it does not exist.

— So all their sweet staged words do NOT compensate. We are their enemy, they thus are ours … or at least enemies of democracy, fairness, decency, and our Constitution … and of their OWN Rules, to be honest. Their “superdelegates” (Supermen?) are REQUIRED to vote for Sanders who is the most likely to win, but they will NOT.

— I, for one will NOT sleep with the enemy.

Can Democrats be changed? One thought on that question.

July 3rd, 2016

“Dems are lost cause” says man who ran Nader’s campaign in Florida


nader-sander-dems©KATU
Over several decades, progressives have claimed their efforts were guided by the goal to change the Democratic Party from the inside, and, as the Progressive Democrats of America claim, from the outside as well. Any progress? Have any of their efforts succeeded? [Read original KATU interview]. Do the still oft-repeated “spoiler” claims of of the 2000 race which brought W to the White House, have validity?

“Spoilers” & Ranked Choice Voting
Must there never be a challenge to the two-party system? Are there any ways third party candidates could legitimately be heard and run without upsetting “the horserace”? Ranked-choice voting (a popular example of which is IRV, or Instant Runoff Voting) claims to allow voters to chose multiple candidates, and prioritize them, so that if their 1st choice does not win, their vote goes to the 2nd choice, and so on. Would that be difficult to achieve? 

“IRV works like this: Voters are asked to rank their candidate preferences when they vote. Voters indicate their first, second, and third choices in every contested race. If no candidate receives a majority of votes after tallying all of the first choice votes, the bottom vote getter is eliminated, and the voters who had selected that last place finisher as their first choice then have their second preferences counted instead. This algorithm repeats until a majority outcome is achieved, and a winner is declared. Naturally, if there is a majority winner in the first round of tallying votes, then there is no need to go to second preferences.”
— a definition from The Matt Gonzalez Reader

If, for example, IRV, were able to eliminate completely the so-called Spoiler Effect, then why wouldn’t the Democrats who claim Nader “spoiled” Gore’s chances in 2000, do everything in their power to help us GET this remedy? Why, in fact, would they actively OPPOSE it, like they did in the San Francisco mayoral race in 2002? They brought in heavy-hitters like Gore and Bill  to get a last-minute court injunction against IRV to keep likely winner County Board of Supervisor President (and Green candidate) Matt Gonzalez from winning with an IRV coalition vote, and get THEIR candidate into office. It seems they are really about control, any way they can get it.

Could it be they just don’t want to confront any truly progressive opposition — either from the outside like Nader or Gonzalez, — or as with Sanders in 2016, from the inside, either? Maybe … they are just opposed to … democracy … and its rules … anything “of, by and for” the People.

Interview & Article
How does this relate to the idea that the Democratic Party is … a “lost cause”? That is a conclusion of an interview by Portland’s KATU which gives a glimpse at the rationale behind this claim. The title is “Man who ran Nader’s campaign in Florida & supports Sanders says Dems are lost cause.” Read the full interview.

[What really happened in Florida in 2000?]

Save

Killing the Messenger … a Few Thoughts

June 28th, 2016

On June 28th, progressive news site Common Dreams made an unusual plea for operating cost donations. They are running short in their latest campaign, and indicate that at least some of the more typical “larger” donations have fallen off … because the donors were unhappy with … the treatment CD had given their favorite candidate, … Hillary.

CD published this as a story/plea with the title “Killing the Messenger” … thus our own title. There is a link to the original article below.

Given how the Hillary campaign has treated ANYTHING modestly “progressive” during this “election cycle” — and especially after the antics of their Platform Committee this week, trashing all crucial progressive proposals. I just found it necessary to send their editor a letter on the situation in which Common Dreams finds itself. My letter follows:


Dear Editor and CD staff,

It is a shame that you find yourself in this position. I read your message and wish I could personally help more at this moment … .

Nevertheless I felt I wished to comment on what you have shown, to help find the most appropriate solutions.

You say you seem to have lost some of your “larger” donors, a number of whom have written you complaining about your coverage of Bernie and lack of support for Hillary — if I understand correctly.

This is bad. Bad for you … and thus bad for those of us who turn to you.

However, it is no coincidence that “larger” donors may favor Hillary. Nor is it a coincidence that they would berate or attack you for having favored a candidate favoring a People’s Agenda. This is EXACTLY what Hillary Democrats have done to the Sanders campaign from the get-go. They oppose his policy ideas, his reasoning, his supporters, his campaign in general … ACT to HARM our ability to see and incorporate a New Agenda of actual democracy in our nation … AND they make threats.

There is a perfect parallel in today’s ragged political scheme. People are pressured to vote AGAINST, not FOR. Much of the pressure comes from economic origins. CD has been more than lax on 3rd party coverage, even when it fits clearly into your stated goals. Jill Stein, now polling at 7% for example, is getting more coverage on CNN and DN! than on your site. Bias always exists in any situation and is hard to avoid completely, but now, I fear, you are seeing the results of some biases being thrown back into your face.

Democrats who wish to “control” their impressions in the progressive public, now seem to be doing what they did to Sanders, et. al., … to you.

They PRESUME that if you are to get their money, you are to reflect THEIR thinking and politics, and celebrate THEIR candidate … even if there are thousands of reasons her agenda, partners, and goals have NOTHING to do with your publication. This past week of solid BETRAYALS to progressive policies brought to the Platform Committee of the Democratic Party only reinforces the immense gap between their Lip Service PR and a continual LACK of interest and willingness to address the needs of working America: dealing with minimum wage, universal healthcare, education costs, fracking, climate, TPP, etc.

They desire to act like Republican Light for their sponsors … with no blame or recriminations from anyone. Beyond hypocrisy.

They seem to have but ONE message for America today: CLICK your heels because of Donald Trump … then shut up and vote.

I can feel your pain in terms of donations, but these people — in SPITE of what they may think — do not OWN you just because they can muster “larger” donations. That seems to be how they see the world. Common Dreams does not.

You must find ways to succeed, that do not succumb to this kind of blackmail which frighteningly has largely become the Democratic modus operandi. Right now they are applying this kind of blackmail to … the ENTIRE nation. We ALL suffer. We must ALL find solutions. We must ALL refuse … to CAVE IN.

The original article:  http://commondreams.org/killing-messenger 

Brazil, USA, Dems, the Glass Ceiling … & Democracy

June 17th, 2016

— Reflections on Mark Weisbrot’s The Brazilian Coup and Washington’s “Rollback” in Latin America and our notions of democracy — here, and abroad


Glass Ceiling? … On Women Presidents?
•  The USA (Power, Parties & Media) talks a lot about possibly getting its first female president, even while it is totally silent as the first woman president of Brazil is being illegally removed from office … with our help.

— Deceit & hypocrisy, anyone?

Weisbrot spoke of seeing newly-elected Lula in Porto Alegre at the World Social Forum, standing under a sign denouncing U.S. war plans in Iraq. It was actually January 2003, though, not 2002, Mark.

Attending that Social Forum, there were organizations and NGO’s from all over the globe. That included the U.S. Green Party. There was no representation, however, from the United States’ Democratic Party to such a world-wide Peoples’ Event. Nor that year, nor ever, … and we should be mindful of that fact.

• It was a few months later that in Miami, Clinton, Dems and friends faced off with the AFL-CIO & other pro-labor groups (including the Green Party) to push for yet another NAFTA-type “trade” agreement—the FTAA—and its thoroughly undemocratic deals leading to their culmination in today’s TPP. For the first time at a U.S. public event, we saw a military-equipped police force (armed and dressed by the Iraq war budget) throw senior citizens and others to the ground for … protesting.

• At one public event in Miami, union leaders, ever-loyal to their precious DNC, prevented both Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader from being allowed as speakers at the main rally. I attended the meetings where that prohibition was decided, albeit against many opposing votes. Ultimately, Dems went on to screw their union “friends'” positions (despite their displayed loyalty) on the trade deal, just as it had done so many times before. All led … by … Clinton.

Unionists warned Greens at the Rally, “you had better not ‘spoil’ the next election, running your own candidate” even as they themselves had censored the best speakers available for the event.

— SO, very little new has happened this year with the Democratic Party … though the specific Clinton has changed. They still betray workers and attack or silence anyone who DEFENDS the working class and questions our oligarchic status quo.

— The Sanders phenomenon indicates the first wide-spread skepticism and revolt in decades. Even Carter says we live in an oligarchy and not a democracy. And was Bernie ATTACKED now, as were Kucinich & Nader in 2000 & 2003? Any doubts? See a pattern?

— Sanders was indeed attacked … by the PARTY … and by the Media. Certain subjects are taboo for the oligarchic-owned Dems in oligarchic-run USA. In 16 years we see things have only gotten WORSE! Yet the deaf & dumb Hillbots are still out there telling us that WE … are a threat.

Glass Ceiling? … Thoughts On Women Presidents.

Today, the U.S. (the one envisioned by Hillary) is mum on the Coup currently occurring in our largest Southern neighbor and ally, Brazil. They were a bit more vocal and evident in Honduras. While the outcome in Brazil is as yet unknown, our government has obscenely abandoned supporting democratic principles there, to encourage new policies of the “temporary” government which, among other things, make Brazilian resources readily available to buy.

— It appears our own government wants to head back to the days of Latin America staying in our back yard, minding our orders. That is also the way that Democrats rule, so it seems.

•  The USA (power, parties & media) talks of getting its first female president, even as it is totally silent while the first woman president in Brazil is being illegally removed … with our help.

— Deceit & hypocrisy, anyone?

see: The Brazilian Coup and Washington’s “Rollback” in Latin America

History and Responsibility — A Lesson for July 4th

June 22nd, 2014

us_flag-1t-xthin
[ NOTE: This was published on the OpEdNews website in July 2008, and is based upon the original article written near another July 4, while working as a media coordinator at Florida International University, circa 1997.
— Much of this still seems quite relevant today.  ]


Some things I heard at work the last few days has caused me to reflect on some basic issues about our society and the upcoming “birthday bash” of the USA. Some people were complaining that it’s going pretty hard on middle class white citizens these days. Hard to get a job. Pushy Latinos. Arrogant blacks. People in positions of power they don’t deserve. You know and I know, I was told, that sometimes we’re better qualified for those jobs. But they get them. As I sought a way to counter those views with reason and with clarity, I came face-to-face with … history.

We need a new sense of history. Our pioneer past and our technological present leave each one of us as separated points (thousands of them), not a fabric. The concept of news with its immediacy (not to mention market value) suspends us in time like unfolding chapters of a cosmic soap opera, the next chapter of which now lies in the mind of the Author, dependent solely upon his will and his mood.

“How did we Get Here?” one might ask. “What does it matter? We’re here now!” seems to be the common reply. “Forget that old stuff. Lighten up. Today is the First day of the Rest of your Life,” goes the popular wisdom. That might well be a useful perspective for personal history, but it doesn’t quite work that way for a society. The crisis of not knowing what History is, nor how to interpret it, comes down upon us heavily and repeatedly. And—yes—does affect our individual lives.

The notion that somehow we, as a nation, have escaped History, together with the tradition/myth of independence and self-reliance, gives rise to thinking that we are not responsible for the way things turned out, nor for correcting them, unless we choose to do so as an act of good will.

Thus, the concepts of reparations or affirmative action are often seen by the white majority to be generally unfair, individual acts which would be better seen and judged on a one-to-one basis. The thought that something might have happened in the past which explains the present conditions is not usually acceptable. Historical responsibility is unfortunately either barely understood or incomprehensible. If, as “common sense” dictates, each man is responsible for himself and his own destiny, how is it possible that we should give special privileges to some? Do we dare presume that everyone starts out on equal footing?

Here is one of the great ironies of any debate on racism and responsibility: it is taken as a given in mainstream American social ideology that the individual trumps the common or collective. Many writers and politicians use this “principle of individual merit” to denounce social efforts such as affirmative action or reparations, and claim each instance must be seen individually, each case judged on own its merit. Those admirable individual strengths of any European who just stepped off the boat, might well stand him in good stead, even while overcoming hardships, yet a black man in similar circumstances would likely have his individuality entirely dismissed from over 50 yards away. Deep-rooted racism permits the hypocrisy of the mainstream embracing the collective when it comes to punishment, and have that trump the individual should he be black.

However, a hundred fifty years ago, or ninety, or thirty, or ten, there were any number of real, individual, unfair and unthinkable acts committed by real people in their own time, who also thought little of the past, much less the future. Those acts, those countless acts of repression, torture, horror, separation, and degradation—to the degree of not allowing black people to learn to read or even possess their own names—have had long term effects. They violated the most basic principle given as the reason for founding this nation and society: Equality. Equality to be, to know, to have opportunities—the famous “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

What many fail to realize is that that entire heritage, that history came about through the real (if often inflated) “histories” and actions of real people in a real struggle over real conditions which plagued them in their own times. What they left to us (or to anyone who cares to know), are not bedtime stories, but rather the stories of the values they had felt compelled to fight for. We like to wave the banner that we contend stands for those acts and those values. As we do so again this year, we should be aware of the struggles and sacrifices necessary for all of us to continue to stand for those principles for all our citizens.

This July 4th, you can do something significant for yourself and for your friends. Remind each other that history is not just a funny hat that someone once wore, or a talking robot at Disney World; remember, rather, that it is the sum total of what people did each day over the years. To those who say, “It’s not my fault—my ancestors didn’t have slaves!” point out to them that they lived in an economy that did. For those who claim, “I’m not to blame—my grandparents came from Ireland (or Lithuania, or Spain),” remind them that at the time they came here seeking a new life, whether they knew it or not, they were coming to a country that already had a historic debt to pay, and likely fleeing one whose debt was too big to pay.

You might not have contributed to the historical debt, but when the time comes to “pay it off,” would you rather do so with dignity and conscience, or in the streets, with pain, loss, and blood?

A. Kobrin

Author’s NOTE: This is based upon an article written near another earlier July 4, while working as a media coordinator at Florida International University (FIU), circa 1997. It was “resurrected” when the 2008 N’COBRA (National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations) Conference was held at FIU. Reparations, one of America’s “forbidden thoughts” (nod to Chomsky), one of many taboo topics that until touched and examined deeply, will always keep America at arm’s length from acknowledging, confronting and dealing with its Reality.

# # # #
— The author is an educator, web consultant, photographer, visual anthropologist, and acivist who seeks a re-dedication to democracy through participation; he has been active in a number of local organizations, and the Green Party.

 

“They Hate Us for Our Freedoms”

April 3rd, 2014

“They Hate Us for Our Freedoms.”

When W. Bush pronounced this about supposed cave-dewlling adversaries out to destroy the fundaments of our democracy, how many thought this might as well refer to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Apparently, there were earthquakes in both Chile and Washington, D.C. today.

– – – – – – – – – –

These two pieces in CommonDreams give a taste of what SCOTUS has in mind for this year’s definition of “democracy.”

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/02-0

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/03-6

Robert Jensen’s reflections on Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2013

Thanksgiving Anxieties, Political and Personal — the holiday taken with a grain or two of salt.

In his op-ed piece below, Robert Jensen, journalism professor from Austin, wonders: “Don’t many of us feel just a bit uncomfortable with a holiday that is defined by obligatory family gatherings that often cover up unresolved strife and/or apathy; thoughtless overeating simply because so much food is available; spectacle sports that have become painfully close to Roman gladiator contests; and relentless consumption that often involves buying stuff that many people don’t really want and no one really needs?”


Thanksgiving Anxieties, Political and Personal

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
By Robert Jensen, a Truthout Op-Ed

“Are you the guy who hates Thanksgiving?”

The man posing that question on my voicemail continued with a sharply critical comment about one of the essays I have written in recent years about the holocaust-denial that is at the heart of that U.S. holiday. My first reaction was not to argue but to amend: “I don’t hate Thanksgiving—I just think it’s appropriate to critique a celebration that obscures the reality of the European conquest of the Americas.”

That description is accurate, at one level—my rejection of Thanksgiving is more intellectual than emotional, a political decision to reject that distortion of history. Whatever the actual details of the 1621 celebration involving Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians (and there is ongoing debate about various factual claims), Thanksgiving is one way the dominant culture minimizes or denies the larger historical context of Europeans’ genocidal campaign against indigenous people to acquire the land base of the United States. Without that genocide, there is no United States. For the victors’ descendants to take a day off to give thanks without acknowledging that seems, well, just a bit sociopathic.

I have taken several cracks at making this case, from several different angles,

“No Thanks to Thanksgiving”

“Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Thanksgiving”

“How I Stopped Hating Thanksgiving and Learned to Be Afraid”

“The Meaning of Thanksgiving”

and I continue to believe the argument is sound and that we should all take it seriously. Until we can tell the truth about our history, there is little hope for the future. But rather than restate that case, this year I’m thinking more about the questions raised by that one word, “hate.”

I recognize that my discomfort with Thanksgiving can’t be explained completely by a judgment based on an intellectual argument. I don’t hate Thanksgiving, in some irrational way, but it’s true that as an adult I have never really much enjoyed the holiday, even before I developed a clear political critique. Some of the sources of that discomfort are mundane: I’m a vegetarian who comes from a dysfunctional family, and I don’t care for football or shopping. So, a holiday identified with turkey and traveling home doesn’t have much to offer me. I get by just fine without the NFL, and the increasingly inescapable connection between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the pathological consumption cycle known as “Christmas shopping” makes me surly.

OK, so maybe I do hate Thanksgiving, but my critics should at least recognize there are some perfectly rational reasons behind the emotional reaction. As with most human responses, the intellectual and emotional elements are intertwined and hard to tease apart. If I can acknowledge that about my critique of Thanksgiving, it seems only fair that the staunch defenders of the holiday do the same. Is not the intense defense of Thanksgiving also in some ways an emotional reaction?

And, if those of us on different sides of the Thanksgiving divide can recognize the complexity of our reactions, can we consider whether there are any shared values before concentrating on disagreements? I feel alienated from the dominant culture on Thanksgiving, not because I dislike the idea of gathering with others to give thanks but because of both the larger political context (about which I recognize my critics and I disagree) and an increasingly numbed culture (about which my critics and I may find common concerns).

In other words: Don’t many of us feel just a bit uncomfortable with a holiday that is defined by obligatory family gatherings that often cover up unresolved strife and/or apathy; thoughtless overeating simply because so much food is available; spectacle sports that have become painfully close to Roman gladiator contests; and relentless consumption that often involves buying stuff that many people don’t really want and no one really needs? Of course not everyone in the United States has access to all these markers of affluence, but these Thanksgiving Day routines are more the norm than aberration.

These reflections are not confined to one day; we live in this corrosive culture 365 days a year. For me, much of what is considered “normal” in the United States isn’t very appealing. I think we eat too much cheap food, are spectators to too much cheap entertainment, and buy too much stuff (some of it cheap and some expensive, but all costly to the larger living world). And many people struggle with family dynamics that are stuck in unresolved pathologies which quietly coerce people into ignoring problems for the sake of family “harmony.”

I have long felt that at the heart of Thanksgiving is a denial of reality and an exercise in numbing ourselves, individually and as a culture. I am not claiming that everyone’s celebration of Thanksgiving is defined by these negatives; individual experiences vary widely, of course. But the alienation I’m describing is not hard to understand, and not limited to a few surly people on the margins.

And whatever one’s personal relationship to the holiday, the political question remains: Why is it “normal” in the United States to celebrate a holiday that is based on a profound distortion of history? That kind of inquiry should lead us to related questions.

— Why is it “normal” to embrace the hierarchy and wealth inequality of corporate capitalism, even though most of us claim to hold moral and/or theological principles that are rooted in the centrality of human dignity, equality, and solidarity? How compatible is capitalism with the values that are essential to a decent human community?

— Why is it “normal” to assert that we are the world’s most advanced democracy, without acknowledging that the concentration of wealth in the U.S. economy has left most of the population outside of the formal political process? Are capitalism and democracy compatible?

— Why is it “normal” to express concern about environmental issues without ever questioning an economic system that is obsessed with the very growth that is undermining the integrity of the ecosystems on which are own lives depend? Is capitalism compatible with a sustainable human presence on the planet?

I do not believe there are simple answers to those political questions but I’m pretty sure they are relevant questions, and I can’t imagine dealing honestly with the steadily mounting problems of social injustice and ecological unsustainability unless we face such questions. I’m also pretty sure that my personal reaction to Thanksgiving raises relevant questions about our family relationships and culture that also demand an honest accounting.

And I am absolutely certain that in both political and personal arenas, denial is an impediment to meaningful progress. If we can’t deal honestly with these problems, it’s unlikely that we will have much to give thanks for in the years to come.


Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (City Lights, 2013); and We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out.

On SUFFICIENCY in Surveillance-Land

November 19th, 2013

Out-of-control SPYING is needed in a world by those whose false values and processes are destructive and dangerous to the vast majority, and produce natural self-defensive opposition by those simply seeking to live a decent life.

Among the most blind-sided values venerated by run-amok profiteers, is EFFICIENCY. So much of our world has bowed down before that deity.

“SUFFICIENCY,” on the other hand, is about getting what we NEED, not necessarily whatever we CAN. This has been clearly shown in a metaphor by the brilliant author and analyst Jeremy Rifkin. My wife, he said, is looking for her husband to be there for her in many ways, not merely as an efficient man. Efficiency is quite a different beast from sufficiency. With an enormously different outcome. It can be, and often is, totally divorced from both quality and desirability.

EFFICIENCY — getting the MOST, for the LEAST effort — very often completely misjudges Reality and Costs, though it pretends to be the best way to act. It often is a highly misused and distorted concept, twisted to justify the desires of some at the expense of others. It can be “efficient” to have and control cheap workers. It is not efficient to BE one.

Yes. Our Economic Wizards, our god-like self-declared “Masters of Profit and Loss” RARELY understand the most basic of notions … COST! Funny, isn’t it?

They IGNORE, or often don’t even SEE, any of the SOCIAL COSTS — those costs produced by their profit-making processes which are left for the surrounding society to pay. Like cleaning up runoff poisons dumped as “waste by-products” into our water supply. These are the costs of … Cleaning Up Their Messes. These may well be the result of their manufacturing (for their profits) — but they let the Public pay for it! Social costs.

How could they miss such a Basic Element while calculating their “bottom-lines”?
• Is it gross economic incompetence?
• Perhaps, they just like it that way, or,
• They might prefer it as simply cheaper — even though it is neither correct nor fair, or
• maybe, … they just don’t care.

That might make some of them liars, socio-paths, thieves, or worse.

How about the incredible health costs incurred by so many folks ingesting highly-promoted, and lowly-nutritious junk food lining our supermarket shelves?

NOTE: Dismissing the REAL Costs of Social Costs is not unlike dismissing Collateral Damage of drones. This is a Symptom of literally Delusional, Self-Righteous, Morally Bankrupt elements in a society.

“Let someone else pay,” they say. “Let them eat cake.”

Going forward, we should seek SUFFICIENCY — for a truly sane, solid, and sustainable world.