Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build all the bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks. You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly. Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain. You fasten all the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion' As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud. You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins. How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you That even Jesus would never Forgive what you do. Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul. And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand over your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead.------- Bob Dylan 1963
- See more at: http://angrybearblog.com/2013/06/u-s-median-wealth-only-27th-in-the-world.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Hzoh+%28angrybearblog.com%29#sthash.8sZ6wTCw.dpuf
There is by now an overwhelming catalogue of evidence revealing the depth and breadth of the corporate- and state-sponsored assaults being waged against democracy in the United States. Indeed, it appears that the nation has entered a new and more ruthless historical era, marked by a growing disinvestment in the social state, public institutions, and civic morality. The attack on the social state is of particular importance because it represents an attempt to shift social protections to the responsibility of individuals while at the same time privatizing investments in the public good and undermining the bonds of communal solidarity. The renowned sociologist Zygmunt Bauman makes this clear in his definition and defense of the social state:
A state is "social" when it promotes the principle of the communally endorsed, collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences. . . . And it is the same principle which lifts members of society to the status of citizens—that is, makes them stakeholders in addition to being stockholders, beneficiaries but also actors responsible for the benefits' creation and availability, individuals with acute interest in the common good understood as the shared institutions that can be trusted to assure solidity and reliability of the state-issued "collective insurance policy." The application of that principle may, and often does, protect men and women from the plague of poverty—most importantly, however, it stands a chance of becoming a profuse source of solidarity able to recycle "society" into a common, communal good, thanks to the defense it provides against the horror of misery, that is, of the terror of being excluded, of falling or being pushed over the board of a fast-accelerating vehicle of progress, of being condemned to "social redundancy" and otherwise designed to "human waste."1
Matters of politics, power, ideology, governance, economics, and policy now translate unapologetically into a systemic disinvestment in those public spheres that traditionally provided the minimal conditions for social justice, dissent, and democratic expression. The reign of the commodity, with its growing economy of individualism, privatization, and deregulation, offers a market solution for all of society's problems. Yet, given that the apostles of neoliberalism work tirelessly to destroy with naked power the numerous essential institutions of social justice and social protections that exemplify the social state, it is clear that solving society's problems is not their goal. Neoliberalism aims to enhance the wealth and power of those already rich. No longer responsive to the social contract and the preservation of labor, neoliberalism "shifts into a mode of elimination that targets most of us—along with our environment—as waste products awaiting managed disposal."2 Unfortunately, neoliberalism, or what might better be called "casino capitalism," has become the new normal.
Unabashed in its claim to financial power, self-regulation, and a survival of the fittest value system, neoliberalism not only undercuts the formative culture necessary for producing critical citizens and the public spheres that nourish them, it also facilitates the conditions for producing a bloated defense budget, the prison-industrial complex, environmental degradation, and the emergence of "finance as a criminalized, rogue industry."3 It is clear that an emergent authoritarianism haunts a defanged democracy now shaped and structured largely by corporations.4 Money dominates politics; the gap between the rich and poor is ballooning; urban spaces are becoming armed camps; militarism is creeping into every facet of public life; and civil liberties are in shreds.5 Neoliberalism's ideology of competition now dominates policies that define public spheres such as schools, allowing them to be stripped of a civic and democratic project and handed over to the logic of the market.6 Regrettably, it is not democracy, but authoritarianism, that remains on the rise in the United States as we move further into the twenty-first century.
The ideas of Marx have never been more relevant than they are today and are reflected in the thirst for Marxist theory at the present time. In this three part article, Alan Woods will deal with the main ideas of Karl Marx and their relevance to the crisis we're passing through today.
[This article was written for the 4th Issue of the In Defence of Marxismmagazine which was a special edition to mark the 130th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx in 1883. ]
It is 130 years since the death of Karl Marx. But why should we commemorate a man who died in 1883? In the early 1960s the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson declared that we must not look for solutions in Highgate cemetery. And who can disagree with that? In the aforementioned cemetery one can only find old bones and dust and a rather ugly stone monument.
However, when we speak of the relevance of Karl Marx today we refer not to cemeteries but to ideas—ideas that have withstood the test of time and have now emerged triumphant, as even some of the enemies of Marxism have been reluctantly forced to accept. The economic collapse of 2008 showed who was outdated, and it was certainly not Karl Marx.
For decades the economists never tired of repeating that Marx’s predictions of an economic downturn were totally outdated. They were supposed to be ideas of the 19th century, and those who defended them were dismissed as hopeless dogmatists. But it now turns out that it is the ideas of the defenders of capitalism that must be consigned to the rubbish bin of history, while Marx has been completely vindicated.
Not so long ago, Gordon Brown confidently proclaimed “the end of boom and bust”. After the crash of 2008 he was forced to eat his words. The crisis of the euro shows that the bourgeoisie has no idea how to solve the problems of Greece, Spain and Italy which in turn threaten the future of the European common currency and even the EU itself. This can easily be the catalyst for a new collapse on a world scale, which will be even deeper than the crisis of 2008.
Even some bourgeois economists are being forced to accept what is becoming increasingly evident: that capitalism contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction; that it is an anarchic and chaotic system characterised by periodic crises that throw people out of work and cause social and political instability.
The thing about the present crisis was that it was not supposed to happen. Until recently most of the bourgeois economists believed that the market, if left to itself, was capable of solving all the problems, magically balancing out supply and demand (the “efficient market hypothesis”) so that there could never be a repetition of the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.
Marx’s prediction of a crisis of overproduction had been consigned to the dustbin of history. Those who still adhered to Marx’s view that the capitalist system was riven with insoluble contradictions and contained within itself the seeds of its own destruction were looked upon as mere cranks. Had the fall of the Soviet Union not finally demonstrated the failure of communism? Had history not finally ended with the triumph of capitalism as the only possible socio-economic system?
But in the space of 20 years (not a long period in the annals of human society) the wheel of history has turned 180 degrees. Now the erstwhile critics of Marx and Marxism are singing a very different tune. All of a sudden, the economic theories of Karl Marx are being taken very seriously indeed. A growing number of economists are poring over the pages of Marx’s writings, hoping to find an explanation for what has gone wrong.
Paresh Chattopadhyay on the economic ideas of Lenin's, as opposed to Marx's socialism.
Economic Content of Socialism in Lenin Is It the Same as in Marx? Paresh Chattopadhyay Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay) January 26, 1991. In the following lines we propose to discuss critically how Lenin conceived of socialism as a new form of society and to what extent his concept of socialism could be considered Marxian. As the title of the paper indicates, we shall be concerned here basically with the economic content of socialism considered purely as a theoretical category. It should be emphasised that we are not concerned here with the (practical) policies Lenin pursued, before or after October 1917, towards the realisation of socialism. Ours is an exercise in pure theory. In what follows, Section I summarises Lenin's main ideas on socialism's economic content, Section II examines these ideas in the light of Marx's writings on the subject, while Section III concludes the paper.
I The discussion of socialism considered as a specific economic-social formation does not figure much in Lenin's writings as a theoretical category before 1917. Even then it is difficult to accept the statement of a contemporary Hungarian economist that "prior to the 1917 socialist revolution Lenin made only sporadic allusions to the pattern of the socialist economy".(1) True, beginning with the Bolshevik seizure of political power in October 1917, the problem of building a socialist economy in his country increasingly preoccupied Lenin's mind. However, while this preoccupation concerned socialism's implementation in practice, Lenin's most comprehensive discussion of socialism as a purely theoretical category—particularly with respect to its economic content—antedates the October seizure of power and is found mainly in the famous pamphlet The State and Revolution, unfinished though its composition was. On the other hand, in Lenin's post-October writings there appear important theoretical formulations on socialism. Here we shall be trying to touch upon what we consider to be Lenin's most significant writings on the socialist economy, before and after October 1917, and we shall be paying particular attention to the relevant discussion in The State and Revolution.
Lenin makes a distinction between socialism and communism as well as identifies socialism with what is already, according to Marx, the "first phase of communism". Thus he holds that "from capitalism mankind can pass directly only to socialism" and that "socialism must inevitably grow...gradually into communism".(2) Similarly, after posing the question, "what is communism and what distinguishes it from socialism?", he answers that communism is a "higher social form" compared to socialism, the latter being the "first form of the new society".(3) On the other hand, Lenin explicitly identifies 'socialism' with Marx's "first phase of communism",(4) while referring, at the same time, to the "scientific distinction between socialism and communism".(5) Consistently with the latter argument he speaks of two distinct "transitions", one "from capitalism to socialism" and the other "from socialism to communism".(6)
Coming to socialism itself, Lenin conceives it as a system of "social ownership of the means of production and the distribution of products according to the measure of each one's labour".(7) By "social ownership of the means of production" or, alternatively, "the common ownership of the whole of society over the means of production",(8) Lenin means—negatively speaking—the abolition of "private ownership of the means of. production",(9) where, again, by "private ownership" he means "private ownership of separate persons (otdel'nykh lits)".(10) In socialism "the means of production have ceased to be the private ownership of separate persons, the means of production belong to the whole society".(11) Positively speaking, "social ownership of the means of production" signifies for Lenin "the means of production belonging to the working class state power", or "the ownership of the means of production being in the hands of the (working class) state", as he puts it in one of his articles.(12) He calls the enterprises as being of "consequent socialist type" when these, including the land on which these are situated, "belong to the (working class) state".(13)
Continuing on the transformation of the property form, Lenin observes that under socialism, since "it will be impossible to usurp the means of production and turn them into private property, the exploitation of individual by individual will be impossible".(14)
As regards the distribution relations in socialism—understood as Marx's "first phase of communism"—Lenin, paraphrasing Marx's 'Marginal Notes' of 1875, observes that "every member of society, performing a certain part of the socially-necessary labour, receives from society a certificate to the effect that he/she has done a certain amount of labour". Then, "after a deduction is made of the amount of labour going to the public fund" every labourer receives, against the certificate, a corresponding amount of products from the public store of consumer goods and thus "receives from society as much as he/she has given to it". Following Marx textually, Lenin points out that this "equal right" of the labourer, being an application of an equal measure to different people, in fact implies inequality and hence does not cross the "narrow horizon of bourgeois right". Lenin infers that this "bourgeois right" in socialism necessitates the presence of the "bourgeois state" to enforce it, of course "without the bourgeoisie".(15)
Lenin further observes, referring to the "first phase of communism", that since communism cannot yet be entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism, there will be (in its first phase) "equality of all members of society (only) in relation to ownership of the means of production, that is, equality of labour and wages".(16) But somewhat differently, in the first phase of the communist society "all citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state...that is, a single country-wide state syndicate...with equality of labour and pay". (17)
Finally, as regards exchange relations, Lenin excludes commodity production from socialism. The end of capitalism would signify for him "the elimination of commodity production",(18) and in the new social order "organised and state-wide distribution of products" is to be "substituted for commerce".(19) In the same way the Party Programme adopted in 1919 under his direct guidance emphasises the need for "applying measures for extending accounting without money and for preparing the elimination of money".(20)
Now Lenin's position that we have cited here—namely, the incompatibility of socialism with commodity production—refers to his texts composed before the start of the 'New Economic Policy' (NEP) (in 1921). There is a fairly widespread view that this position changed in his writings beginning with NEP, and that in these writings Lenin emphasised commodity production's compatibility with, if not its necessity under, socialism.(21) This view, we submit, is not quite correct.
What changed in Lenin's perspective in the period after the so-called 'War Communism' was not his basic position on commodity production in relation to socialism but rather the way he envisaged such production in relation to the transition to socialism. Indeed, as can be seen from Lenin's writings and speeches after the period of 'War Communism', his sole preoccupation during the last years of his life is with the specific problems of arriving at socialism—in the absence of proletarian revolutions in western Europe—in the situation of Russia's backward economy marked strongly by traits of pre-capitalism.
Lenin admits earlier policy mistakes of the Bolshevik leadership in this regard. "We", he writes on the fourth anniversary of October, "reckoned on establishing—directly commanded by the proletarian state—the state production and distribution of products on communist lines in a small-peasant country. Life has shown our mistake." Now he realises that in a "small-peasant country" (like Russia) socialism has to be reached "by way of state capitalism"—"led" by the "wholesale merchant".(22) Lenin asks the party, in the "contemporary transitional economy from capitalism to socialism",(23) to "grasp trade as the link...in the transitional forms of [our] socialist contribution...to create the foundation for socialist social-economic relations".(24) When Lenin says that "commodity exchange with the peasantry" forms "the economic foundation of socialism",(25) he seems to mean that commodity production and exchange are the elements not of socialism itself but they serve as "mediating links" for the "transition from patriarchalism and small production to socialism",(26) as "firm footbridges to socialism through state capitalism".(27) On the contrary, "the socialist exchange of products", Lenin emphasises, "are not commodities in the politico-economic sense of the term".(28)
When, in one of his last compositions, Lenin asserts that "there has been a radical change in our whole point of view on socialism", this "change" has little to do with Lenin's basic position on commodity production in the future society. This "change" rather refers to the new emphasis on the "growth of co-operation" and the necessity of "cultural revolution'—away from the earlier preoccupation with the "winning of political power"—for "an advance to socialism" (pereiti K sotsializmu) requiring a "whole historical epoch".(29)
A giant mansion right below the Chapel of the Rocks in Sedona, Arizona. (Photo: Adam Gessaman / Flickr)The Global Power Project, an investigative series produced by Occupy.com, aims to identify and connect the worldwide institutions and individuals who comprise today's global power oligarchy. By studying the relationships and varying levels of leadership that govern our planet's most influential institutions — from banks, corporations and financial institutions to think tanks, foundations and universities — this project seeks to expose the complex, highly integrated network of influence wielded by relatively few individuals on a national and transnational basis. This is not a study of wealth, but a study of power.
Many now know the rhetoric of the 1% very well: the imagery of a small elite owning most of the wealth while the 99% take the table scraps. This rhetoric and imagery was made popular by the growth of the Occupy movement, so it seems appropriate that a project of Occupy.com should expand on this understanding and bring the activities of the global elite further to light.
In 2006, a UN report revealed that the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth, with those in the financial and internet sectors comprising the “super rich.” More than a third of the world’s super-rich live in the U.S., with roughly 27% in Japan, 6% in the U.K., and 5% in France. The world’s richest 10% accounted for roughly 85% of the planet's total assets, while the bottom half of the population – more than 3 billion people – owned less than 1% of the world’s wealth.
Looking specifically at the United States, the top 1% own more than 36% of the national wealth and more than the combined wealth of the bottom 95%. Almost all of the wealth gains over the previous decade went to the top 1%. In the mid-1970s, the top 1% earned 8% of all national income; this number rose to 21% by 2010. At the highest sliver at the top, the 400 wealthiest individuals in America have more wealth than the bottom 150 million.
(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)At the end of May, it was revealed that a new bill for the regulation of the banking and financial sector was, for all intents and purposes, drafted by Citigroup. This is only the latest in a long list of what can only be called legalized corruption at the highest levels of American power, which has ultimately led to no meaningful policy or legal change in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Avid readers of intrepid Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi and others cannot help but be sickened and struck by the impunity and hubris of America's financial elites, even as astute students of history will point out the previous moments when the power and influence of financiers has overshadowed economics and politics.
Edward Snowden: the Espionage Act says nothing about exemptions for leaks claiming to be in the public interest. Photograph: Reuters
If Edward Snowden is ever brought back for trial in the US, he would almost certainly be prosecuted under a law dating back to the first world war and which lawyers say is so broadly worded it would leave the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower with little room for a defence.
The 1917 Espionage Act has gone through some amendments over the years but its language still reflects the security concerns of a century ago, with references to railroads, forts and telegraphs. But its all-encompassing character has stood the test of time. Section 793 of the law makes it an offence to take, retain or transfer knowledge "with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of theUnited States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation".
The law does not stipulate whether the information involved would have to be classified, as that word was not in usage at the time the act was passed. More importantly from Snowden's point of view, it says nothing about exemptions for leaks claiming to be in the public interest. READ MORE
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin’s The Making of Global Capitalism is a landmark study of the construction and evolution of the American capitalist empire. To my knowledge, it is the best in existence, wide-ranging in time as well as in space, perceptive, deeply informed, and sophisticatedly nuanced in its analyses.
Its analytical focus is on ‘globalization and the state’, and its main general theoretical argument is that ‘states need to be placed at the centre of the search for an explanation of the making of global capitalism’. This is, of course, a deliberately provocative statement, thrown into the face of the mainstream globalization discourse of the past quarter of a century on the left as well as on the right. It is a very welcome re-focusing of our lenses, which I basically sympathize with. Apart from trying to convey to my Cambridge students the still crucial importance of nation-states in current world society, I have found reason to take issue with the ‘Global cities’ conception of a few cities as ‘commanding’ the world economy, and increasingly detached from their state hinterlands.
However, there are some basic problems hidden in the Panitch-Gindin formulation. The first is the meaning of ‘global capitalism’, i.e. the explanandum. It is nowhere defined and dated in the book, which makes any explanation of it rather foggy. Apparently, the authors imply its emergence in the 19th century, as its first great crisis is located in the 1870s. But just two lines before that, on the same page (331), we are told that it took American capitalism and the American state ‘to make global capitalism a reality’, which points to some later date. And another few lines upwards on the same page, we are referred to the Communist Manifesto and informed that it was only by the beginning of the twenty-first century that capitalist social relations had spread ‘over the entire surface of the globe’. READ MORE
Anonymous has dumped a trove of NSA documents on the newly-infamous Prism surveillance program and on “GIG,” or Global Information Grid, a file-sharing network to “facilitate widespread sharing of trusted information and rapid adaptation of forces to changing mission needs.” Though some documents, dating to 2008 when Prism reportedly began, may already have been publicly available, the leak was meant as a timely reminder that data
A screenshot of Boundless Informant: The color scheme ranges from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance). (Image via the Guardian)Following their recent report that the United States government is conducting massive and covert surveillance of phone and internet communications, the Guardianrevealed Saturday new details about a government software program that tracks and maps by country the "voluminous amount of information" sapped from their "Orwellian" exploits.
According to documents viewed by the news outlet, the program called Boundless Informant uses an individual computer's IP Address to categorize by location government surveillance intercepts and filed reports of 'metadata,' which includes the identities of the sender and recipient, and the time, date, duration and location of a communication. READ MORE
Former drone operator says he's haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths - A former Air Force drone operator who says he participated in missions that killed more than 1,600 people remembers watching one of the first victims bleed to death.
Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.
“The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.
“I can see every little pixel,” said Bryant, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, “if I just close my eyes.”
Scientists Discover Massive Methane-Based Ecosystem | Popular Science: Methane seeps allow life to flourish in otherwise fairly barren deep sea environments. This is the third seep documented on the Atlantic Coast, and is much bigger than previously discovered sites, with areas up to a kilometer long and hundreds of meters wide. Mussels can survive in seeps through chemosynthesis, a process that utilizes bacteria in their gills to turn methane into energy. The seep's surrounding ecosystem also contained sea cucumbers, shrimp and fish, some of which exhibited what the researchers call "unusual behaviors," though they did not elaborate.
This blog may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. All posts are clearly attributed by name and active link to the original author and website. I am making such material available on a non-profit basis for educational, research and discussion purposes in my efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in US Copyright Law, Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. Consistent with this notice you are welcome to make 'fair use' of anything you find on this web site. However, if you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. More information at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.