Archive | November 27th, 2019

Zionist puppet UAE pilot joined bombing of Gaza

A Palestinian child can be seen among the rubble after Israel carried out an air strike in Gaza [File photo]

A Palestinian child can be seen among the rubble after Israel carried out an air strike in Gaza [File photo]

Zionist journalist Edy Cohen has claimed that Zionist puppet Emirati pilot participated in the bombing of Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip three weeks ago during his training on Nazi air force F-35 fighters.

In a tweet, Cohen challenged Dubai’s Deputy Chairman of Police and Public Security, General Mossad agent Dhahi Khalfan, to deny the presence of an Emirati pilot in the Nazi air force during the bombing of the Gaza Strip three weeks ago.

Cohen’s claim days after the Emirati General called on Arabs to recognise Nazi reality which he said “wants nothing but destroy the Arab world”.

In response to the tweet, Cohen accused Mossad agent Khalfan of being complicit in assassinating the Hamas leader, Mahmoud Mabhouh, in Dubai in 2010.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, UAEComments Off on Zionist puppet UAE pilot joined bombing of Gaza

Bolivian Police Gas Funeral March in Latest Crack-Down

by: OLIVIA ARIGHO-STILES

Photo by Olivia Arigho Stiles.

La Paz, Bolivia

Last Thursday thousands of people descended into La Paz from El Alto carrying the caskets of eight people shot dead by police earlier that week. Emotions were running high and protestors had tears streaming down their faces. They had assembled peacefully to demand justice.

“Áñez, murderer. We want your resignation”, they shouted. “Justicia!”. It was not a march in support of a political party; it was a march of grief and fury.

Around thirty minutes later, the police dropped cans of tear gas over the marchers, forcing the families to abandon the coffins on the ground under the hot sun. As the tear gas floated across Plaza San Francisco, people implored “calma, calma” to prevent a crush as the crowd fled.

The dead had been among those blockading the natural gas plant at Senkata, El Alto in protest at the new interim government of Bolivia. In total, nine were shot by state forces on Tuesday in a military operation to unblock the plant, which supplies most of La Paz’s gas.

The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights this week convened open meetings across Bolivia to assess the current human rights situation. At one, a woman described how her husband was not involved directly in the Senkata blockade but was shot by the military “like a dog in the street”.

The protest on Thursday comes as Bolivia enters a deep impasse following the removal of former President Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader. The present juncture is marked by institutional breakdown, political reprisals and near-unprecedented state violence. The week before, eight cocaleros (coca growers) were massacred by state security forces as they protested against the new government in Sacaba, Cochabamba.

According to Bolivian human rights organization CIDOB, there have been 32 people killed and 700 injured in the several weeks of unrest which engulfed Bolivia after the elections on October 20. Speaking to some at the protests, many fear the unofficial count is higher. The security forces have impunity after the new government passed a decree which exempts them from criminal responsibility when using force.

On Thursday there was a sizeable contingent of students from Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), the main public university in La Paz, who formed a human chain to pass water to the protestors. This marks a shift from previous anti-coup marches in which university students as a bloc, were largely absent. Under the leadership of opposition-supporting rector Waldo Albarracin, UMSA has been a nexus of anti-Morales activity and in the two weeks after the elections, UMSA students were key instigators of anti-Morales blockades. But these students shouted “Fascistas, no pasaran”, indicating that the violence of the post-coup government may have provoked a volte-face.

Meanwhile, the government, headed by religious conservative Jeanine Áñez, continues its McCarthy-esque purge of officials appointed under the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), issuing highly politicized and seemingly arbitrary arrest warrants. It should be remembered that Áñez’s party only received 4% of the popular vote in the election.

It is clear that the scale of the new government’s clampdown far exceeds the mandate for an interim government. On Friday the new Minister of Government Arturo Murillo issued an arrest warrant against Morales and former minister Juan Ramon Quintana for “sedition and terrorism”, and promised that he would be seeking the maximum sentence of thirty years in prison. This follows the circulation of an audio recording apparently between Morales and cocalero leader Faustino Yucra Yarwi, in which Morales is heard ordering the blocking of food entering La Paz. The recording has not been independently verified. Morales is currently in political exile in Mexico.

But it is not only Morales and high-profile Masistas who have been targeted. Trade unions, mayors and local officials linked to the MAS have faced threats and reprisals, and in some cases, arrest warrants. Officials have had their houses burnt down. The heads of both Chambers of government were forced to resign after threats of violence. This week the State Attorney General also announced an arrest warrant for Nicolas Laguna, the former director of the Digital Communications agency known as Agetic. He is wanted as part of an investigation of alleged electoral fraud in the elections of October 20.

Morales first took power in 2006 with his social movement backed party, the MAS. His resignation on November 10 came after the head of the Bolivian armed forces ‘suggested’ that he resign following a police mutiny in cities across the country. This followed two weeks of mobilization by anti-government protestors over accusations of fraud in the elections on October 20. It also coincided with the release of the report by the organization of American States which suggested there had been ‘manipulation’ in the vote count. These allegations of fraud have been contested by US thinktank, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

Many of the blockades across the country have now lifted after negotiations with the government and protestors, but La Paz and other cities are still experiencing food and gas shortages and food price increases. There are long queues to buy bread, chicken, eggs and petrol, amongst other items and chicken has been rationed to avoid speculation. On Saturday the government arranged for twelve tones of meat to arrive by air in El Alto, to circumvent the blockades.

On Friday there were confrontations at a landfill site in K’ara K’ara in Cochabamba which had been the site of several protests. 26 soldiers were reportedly injured as they attempted to unblock the dump.

However, there are signs that an uneasy deténte may have been reached. On Saturday night the political parties in the legislature agreed for new elections to take place, which was ratified by Anez on Sunday. There will be a new electoral court within 20 days and following that, elections within 120 days in which neither Morales nor ex-Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera will be permitted to run. But as families mourn those assassinated by the state and with the country enveloped in fear and repression, an enduring political settlement looks unlikely.

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Labor’s UK General Election Manifesto

by KENNETH SURIN

Photograph Source: Jeremy Corbyn – CC BY 2.0

Those of us who attended the Labour Party annual conference in September knew from the resolutions passed there that the party’s manifesto for the next election would offer a vision of socialism not seen since the immediate postwar Labour government.

While not all conference resolutions find their way into the manifesto, there was enough at the conference to indicate that the party was going to repudiate the 40 years of neoliberalism prevailing since Thatcher took office in 1979, and continuing to the present day even though New Labour was in office from 1997 to 2010.

A politico-economic structure that has been in place for decades can’t be overturned by a party’s single term in office, so ideally Labour has embarked on a project that will require it to be in power for at least 3 full parliamentary terms, that is, 15 years. Labour’s manifesto seems to be predicated on this timeframe.

+ Labour, once in office, will discard the Tory deal and negotiate a new deal within 3 months. This deal will be put to the public in a referendum, with Remain as an option, within 6 months.

+ Labour will sponsor a “green industrial revolution”, creating a million jobs and 800,000 apprenticeships in the ecological and energy sectors. Included in this plan will be offshore wind and carbon capture schemes, and a nationwide plan to upgrade and insulate homes.

+ Labour will construct up to 100,000 new council houses and apartments every year, as well as 50,000 “genuinely affordable” new homes a year with open-ended tenancies. There will be a tax on holiday homes, a cap on rents with payments linked to inflation. New “renters’ unions” will be created so tenants can defend their rights. Rough sleeping will be ended within 5 years. The finance minister John McDonnell has earmarked £75bn/$87bn to fulfil these commitments.

+ The NHS budget will increase by 4.3% every year. Privatization will end, free annual dental care check-ups will be provided, and there will be a £1.6bn/$1.86-a-year increase in the budget for mental health services. Labour will introduce free personal care for the elderly and impose a “lifetime cap” on payments for social care.

The NHS would not be part of any trade deal negotiation with the US.

+ University tuition fees will be scrapped, maintenance grants for students will be reintroduced, and the running of schools will be returned to councils and headteachers instead of the private sector academies. There will 30 hours of free childcare for all pre-school aged children, and a Sure Start centre will be put in every community.

+ Labour will scrap the cruel Tory Universal Credit welfare system, the 2-child limit for benefits and the welfare cap, and introduce a “minimum living wage” of at least £10/$11.60 an hour, while ending zero hours contracts that are the basis of the gig economy, strengthening trade union rights, and introduce an immediate 5% increase in pay for public sector workers, followed by annual above-inflation pay increases.

Labour will also not implement the Tory-imposed sudden increase in the female pension age to 66.

+ In an ambitious renationalization programme, Labour will return rail, mail, water and energy to public ownership, and provide free full-fibre broadband via a publicly owned company.

+ 22,000 more police officers will be recruited, legal advice aid restored, and protections for victims of revenge porn will be introduced. A national refuge fund to support rape crisis centres and a commissioner for violence against women and girls will be created, and the Domestic Abuse Bill, shelved by the Tories, will be reintroduced.

Labour will finance these pledges with additional income tax paid by those earning more than £80,000/$93,000 and a surcharge on those classified as “super-rich”, that is, those more than £125,000/$145,000, which will bring in £5.4bn/$6.3bn, and corporation tax, upped from 19% to 26%, will raise approximately £24bn/$30bn.

Other measures, including as reversing Tory tax cuts, curbing tax evasion, and ending the absurd “charitable” status granted to private schools, would bring the revenue chest up to the required £83bn/$97bn.

Labour is also proposing an £11bn/$13bn windfall tax on oil companies.

Ukanian mainstream media got into a froth over how these ambitious plans were going to be financed, and the rightwing-trash-tabloids predictably yelped “Cuba”, “Venezuela”, at these pledges, with BoJo Johnson joining in the chorus, as was to be expected.

Better informed and less biased commentators noted that Labour’s plans have more in common with Scandinavian socialism than anything approximating to Bolivarism (not that the latter resembles in any respect its massively distorted depiction in the Ukanian tabloids).

Labour has been behind in the opinion polls since BoJo called the general election, and this brave attempt at overturning decades of neoliberalism could be what brings True Labour (as against Blair’s ersatz New Labour) into office.

After a first week of repeated gaffes, BoJo’s handlers are now shielding him from the public. He’s pulled out of a second TV debate with Corbyn.

Corbyn comes across on TV as a gentlemanly uncle, so it may be beyond him to ask the one question so far posed by an interviewer to BoJo that left him gulping and twitching like a fish out of water gasping in its death throes for a smidgen of oxygen.

The dastardly question: how many children do you have?

BoJo has had children with a string of mistresses, and his inability to count them does not bode well for his stewardship of an economy that will be hugely impacted in complicated ways by Brexit.

Not that BoJo cares– Brexit was his ticket to power, and he doesn’t give a shit about how he got there or what he will do now that he has got there.

He measures his survival one lie or deception at a time.

Posted in Campaigns, UKComments Off on Labor’s UK General Election Manifesto

Is Naziyahu Ready to Inflame War to Escape His Legal Troubles?

Is Netanyahu Ready to Inflame War to Escape His Legal Troubles?

by: JONATHAN COOK

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The decision to indict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on three separate criminal counts pushes the country’s already unprecedented electoral stalemate into the entirely uncharted territory of a constitutional crisis.

There is no legal precedent for a sitting prime minister facing a trial – in Netanyahu’s case, for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was charged with corruption in 2009 but only after he had resigned from office.

Israeli commentators are already warning of the possibility of civil war if, as seems likely, Netanyahu decides to whip up his far-right supporters into a frenzy of outrage. After a decade in power, he has developed an almost cult-like status among sections of the public.

He called for mass protests in Tel Aviv by supporters on Tuesday night under the banner “Stop the coup”.

The honorable thing would be for Netanyahu to step down quickly, given that the two elections he fought this year ended in deadlock. Both were seen primarily as plebiscites on his continuing rule.

He is now the country’s caretaker prime minister, in place until either a new government can be formed or an unprecedented third election is held.

His departure would end months of governmental near-paralysis. The path would then be clear for a successor from his Likud party to negotiate a deal on a right-wing unity government with rival Benny Gantz, a former army general.

Gantz’s Blue and White party has made it a point of principle not to forge an alliance with Netanyahu.

Previous experience, however, suggests that Netanyahu might prefer to tear the house down rather than go quietly. If he is allowed to press ahead with another election in March, he is likely to stoke new levels of incitement against his supposed enemies.

Until now, the main target of his venom has been a predictable one.

During the April and September campaigns, he railed relentlessly against the fifth of Israel’s citizenry who are Palestinian as well as their elected representatives in the Joint List, the third largest faction in the Knesset.

Shortly before last Thursday’s indictment was announced, Netanyahu was at it again, holding an “emergency conference”. He told supporters that a minority government led by Gantz and propped up from outside by the Joint List would be a “historic national attack on Israel”. The Palestinian minority’s MPs, he said, “want to destroy the country”.

Such a government, he added, would be an outcome “they will celebrate in Tehran, in Ramallah and in Gaza, as they do after every terror attack”.

This repeated scaremongering had an obvious goal: rallying the Jewish public to vote for his far-right, now overtly anti-Arab coalition. The hope was that he would win an outright majority and could then force through legislation conferring on him immunity from prosecution.

Now he appears to have run out of time. After three years of investigations and much foot-dragging, the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has finally charged him.

According to the Israeli media, Netanyahu turned down opportunities for a plea bargain that would have seen him resign in return for avoiding jail time.

According to the most serious allegation, he is accused of granting media tycoon Shaul Elovich benefits worth $500 million in exchange for favourable coverage.

Weighed against the crimes he and other Israeli leaders have perpetrated over many decades against the Palestinians in the occupied territories, the offences he is indicted for seem relatively minor.

Nonetheless, if found guilty, Netanyahu faces a substantial prison sentence of up to 10 years. That makes the stakes high.

All the signs now are that he will switch his main target from Israel’s Palestinian minority to the legal authorities pursuing him.

His first response to the indictment was to accuse the police and state prosecutors of an “attempted coup”, claiming they had fabricated the evidence to “frame” him. “The time has come to investigate the investigators,” he urged.

As one Blue and White official told the veteran Israeli reporter Ben Caspit: “Netanyahu will not hesitate to sic [unleash] his supporters on those institutions of government that represent the rule of law. He has no inhibitions.”

Technically the law allows a prime minister to continue serving while under indictment and before a trial, which is still many months away. Assuming Netanyahu refuses to resign, the courts will have to rule on whether this privilege extends to a caretaker leader unable to form a new government.

Netanyahu is therefore likely to focus his attention on intimidating the supreme court, already cowed by a decade of tongue-lashing from the Israeli right. Critics unfairly accuse the court of being a bastion of liberalism.

But bigger dangers may lie ahead. Netanyahu needs to keep his own Likud party in line. If its members sense he is finished, there could be a rapid collapse of support and moves towards an attempt to overthrow him.

The first hints of trouble emerged on Saturday when Gideon Saar, Netanyahu’s most likely challenger in Likud, accused him of “creating an atmosphere of chaos” by denigrating the legal authorities. On Tuesday he went further calling on Netanyahu to quit.

After the failure by both Gantz and Netanyahu to put together a coalition, the task was passed last week to parliament. Its members have just over a fortnight left to see whether one of their number can rally a majority of MPs.

This brief window could provide an opportunity for Saar to move against Netanyahu. On Sunday he submitted an official request for the Likud party to hold a snap leadership race.

Observers fear that to allay this danger, Netanyahu might consider not only inflaming his base but also setting the region alight with a conflict to rally the rest of the public to his side and make his removal impossible.

In fact, the Israeli media reported that shortly before September’s election, he had tried to pull precisely such a stunt, preparing a war on Gaza to justify postponing the ballot.

He was stopped at the last minute by Mandelblit, who realised that the cabinet had been misled into approving military action. Netanyahu had reportedly concealed from them the fact that the military command was opposed.

In recent weeks, Netanyahu has stoked severe tensions with Gaza by assassinating Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al Atta. Last week he launched airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria.

When Olmert was being investigated for corruption in 2008, Netanyahu sagely warned of the dangerous confusion of interests that might result. “He will make decisions based on his own interests of political survivability rather than the national interest,” he said.

And that is precisely the reason why many in Israel are keen to see the back of Netanyahu – in case his instinct for political survival trumps the interests of stability in the region.

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Relatives of Jerusalem prisoners: Let the media stop playing our nerves about the exchange deal


By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Illegally Nazi occupied JERUSALEM – Relatives  of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have expressed dissatisfaction with the publication of news about details of an expected prisoner exchange deal between the resistance and the occupation entity, especially in light of the resistance’s denial of talk about the deal.

The families of the Palestinian prisoners said that they did not find any benefit in what was published by some media, and that caused the ceiling of expectations about the upcoming deal, which relatives of prisoners to relieve their children from the prisons of the occupation.

It did not hide the forgiveness of Zamil, the fiance of the prisoner leader Hassan Salama dissatisfaction with what was published on the media, and adds in an interview with Jerusalem news  as a prisoner fiancée and that the families of prisoners in general accustomed to the media, Nazi regime to play their nerves with regard to talking about prisoners and exchange deals.

She asserts that she did not expect the Palestinian media to do so and play with the nerves of the prisoners’ families. Ghufran points to the need to take the news from its sources and make sure before publishing.

Sahl Naffa, father of the prisoner Azmi Naffa, a student at An-Najah University, expresses his grief and his condition as he follows the news about the prisoners’ issue by saying, “I have seen the report several times and memorized his words, analyzed, examined and refuted him.

He continues in an interview with  Quds news  “searched for the word, for a phrase, for a character, was understood that Azmi name exists, I looked for just a hint of beam informing through that freedom close, I looked for something in the report Atmonna that this report Leach already a journalist and not Competition between journalists who first published I did not find, I searched for something linked to that the report leaked from the resistance, and it is true, I did not find.

Naffa believes the media was quick to publish the report, noting that he found no use in publishing it, “especially because it reduces expectations, such as excluding the deal for the prisoners of command of Kamarwan Barghouti and the prisoners who were arrested after 2009.”

“I would advise the media and in the event of such reports to raise expectations and be a support for negotiators and not be an obstacle to them.”

Regarding the feelings of the prisoners’ families , Naffa confirms during his interview with  Jerusalem News that the families of the prisoners “need to be understood and not need to manipulate their feelings.”

It is noteworthy that the Palestinian media have dealt with the details of “being talked about” about a prisoner exchange deal between the resistance and the occupation, and mentioned numbers and names of Palestinian prisoners in the prisons of the occupation and the possibility of their exit.

Hamas denied media talk of developments in a prisoner exchange deal between the Palestinian resistance and the occupation entity.

A member of the political bureau of the movement and the official file of prisoners, Musa Dudin, denied what was reported in media reports on the movements and developments in the exchange file.

He stressed that the stalemate in this file is borne by the Zionist occupation and its leaders, and said, “ We hope the Palestinian media to be in their responsibilities in dealing with this file, and to take into account the sensitivity of the issue to prisoners and their families, and draw any new in this file from the competent authorities only. ”# Prisoners# Occupation# Hamas

We heard the voice of the homeland ..

The prisoner Afaneh stole his youth, but his spirit resisted his bars 

Analysts to “Jerusalem”: the scene in the entity of occupation is tense and Netanyahu to the abyss

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Relatives of Jerusalem prisoners: Let the media stop playing our nerves about the exchange deal

After Evo, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia

by VIJAY PRASHAD

Photograph Source: Sámediggi Sametinget – CC BY 2.0

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was overthrown in a military coup on November 10. He is now in Mexico. Before he left office, Morales had been involved in a long project to bring economic and social democracy to his long-exploited country. It is important to recall that Bolivia has suffered a series of coups, often conducted by the military and the oligarchy on behalf of transnational mining companies. Initially, these were tin firms, but tin is no longer the main target in Bolivia. The main target is its massive deposits of lithium, crucial for the electric car.

Over the past 13 years, Morales has tried to build a different relationship between his country and its resources. He has not wanted the resources to benefit the transnational mining firms, but rather to benefit his own population. Part of that promise was met as Bolivia’s poverty rate has declined, and as Bolivia’s population was able to improve its social indicators. Nationalization of resources combined with the use of its income to fund social development has played a role. The attitude of the Morales government toward the transnational firms produced a harsh response from them, many of them taking Bolivia to court.

Over the course of the past few years, Bolivia has struggled to raise investment to develop the lithium reserves in a way that brings the wealth back into the country for its people. Morales’ Vice President Álvaro García Linera had said that lithium is the “fuel that will feed the world.” Bolivia was unable to make deals with Western transnational firms; it decided to partner with Chinese firms. This made the Morales government vulnerable. It had walked into the new Cold War between the West and China. The coup against Morales cannot be understood without a glance at this clash.

Clash With the Transnational Firms

When Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism took power in 2006, the government immediately sought to undo decades of theft by transnational mining firms. Morales’ government seized several of the mining operations of the most powerful firms, such as Glencore, Jindal Steel & Power, Anglo-Argentine Pan American Energy, and South American Silver (now TriMetals Mining). It sent a message that business as usual was not going to continue.

Nonetheless, these large firms continued their operations—based on older contracts—in some areas of the country. For example, the Canadian transnational firm South American Silver had created a company in 2003—before Morales came to power—to mine the Malku Khota for silver and indium (a rare earth metal used in flat-screen televisions). South American Silver then began to extend its reach into its concessions. The land that it claimed was inhabited by indigenous Bolivians, who argued that the company was destroying its sacred spaces as well as promoting an atmosphere of violence.

On August 1, 2012, the Morales government—by Supreme Decree no. 1308—annulled the contract with South American Silver (TriMetals Mining), which then sought international arbitration and compensation. Canada’s government of Justin Trudeau—as part of a broader pushon behalf of Canadian mining companies in South America—put an immense amount of pressure on Bolivia. In August 2019, TriMetals struck a deal with the Bolivian government for $25.8 million, about a tenth of what it had earlier demanded as compensation.

Jindal Steel, an Indian transnational corporation, had an old contract to mine iron ore from Bolivia’s El Mutún, a contract that was put on hold by the Morales government in 2007. In July 2012, Jindal Steel terminated the contract and sought international arbitration and compensation for its investment. In 2014, it won $22.5 million from Bolivia in a ruling from Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce. For another case against Bolivia, Jindal Steel demanded $100 million in compensation.

The Morales government seized three facilities from the Swiss-based transnational mining firm Glencore; these included a tin and zinc mine as well as two smelters. The mine’s expropriation took place after Glencore’s subsidiary clashed violently with miners.

Most aggressively, Pan American sued the Bolivian government for $1.5 billion for the expropriation of the Anglo-Argentinian company’s stake in natural gas producer Chaco by the state. Bolivia settled for $357 million in 2014.

The scale of these payouts is enormous. It was estimated in 2014 that the public and private payments made for nationalization of these key sectors amounted to at least $1.9 billion (Bolivia’s GDP was at that time $28 billion).

In 2014, even the Financial Times agreed that Morales’ strategy was not entirely inappropriate. “Proof of the success of Morales’s economic model is that since coming to power he has tripled the size of the economy while ramping up record foreign reserves.”

Lithium

Bolivia’s key reserves are in lithium, which is essential for the electric car. Bolivia claims to have 70 percent of the world’s lithium reserves, mostly in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats. The complexity of the mining and processing has meant that Bolivia has not been able to develop the lithium industry on its own. It requires capital, and it requires expertise.

The salt flat is about 12,000 feet (3,600 meters) above sea level, and it receives high rainfall. This makes it difficult to use sun-based evaporation. Such simpler solutions are available to Chile’s Atacama Desert and in Argentina’s Hombre Muerto. More technical solutions are needed for Bolivia, which means that more investment is needed.

The nationalization policy of the Morales government and the geographical complexity of Salar de Uyuni chased away several transnational mining firms. Eramet (France), FMC (United States) and Posco (South Korea) could not make deals with Bolivia, so they now operate in Argentina.

Morales made it clear that any development of the lithium had to be done with Bolivia’s Comibol—its national mining company—and Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB)—its national lithium company—as equal partners.

Last year, Germany’s ACI Systems agreed to a deal with Bolivia. After protests from residents in the Salar de Uyuni region, Morales canceled that deal on November 4, 2019.

Chinese firms—such as TBEA Group and China Machinery Engineering—made a deal with YLB. It was being said that China’s Tianqi Lithium Group, which operates in Argentina, was going to make a deal with YLB. Both Chinese investment and the Bolivian lithium company were experimenting with new ways to both mine the lithium and to share the profits of the lithium. The idea that there might be a new social compact for the lithium was unacceptable to the main transnational mining companies.

Tesla (United States) and Pure Energy Minerals (Canada) both showed great interest in having a direct stake in Bolivian lithium. But they could not make a deal that would take into consideration the parameters set by the Morales government. Morales himself was a direct impediment to the takeover of the lithium fields by the non-Chinese transnational firms. He had to go.

After the coup, Tesla’s stock rose astronomically.

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How Not to End a Forever War

by CHARLES PIERSON

Photograph Source: A. Lourie – Public Domain

I love “caper’ movies. There’s nothing like a gang of lovable rogues executing an elaborately planned, seemingly impossible crime. President Donald Trump, while in no way lovable, pulled off the perfect caper when he grabbed the White House three years ago. Now Trump has launched a new caper: stealing Syria’s oil. Danny Ocean, eat your heart out.

We got the story straight from the horse’s ass in a series of Trump tweets and press conferences. Trump’s abrupt decision on October 6 to withdraw US forces from Syria (leaving the Kurds to the mercy of Turkey which launched an incursion into northeastern Syria on October 9) was followed less than two weeks later by the announcement that the US would be leaving from 900 to 1200 combat troops plus 30 Abrams tanks in Syria to “secure” the country’s oil fields. Another 500 to 600 troops will be left in Syria to fight ISIS, the Pentagon announced on Sunday.

Trump has had oil on the brain for decades. Trump tells anyone who will listen that he was against invading Iraq, but since we did, we should have taken the oil in order to pay for the war. Trump speaks often of the value of Syria’s oil fields, which are located primarily in Syria’s eastern province of Deir ez-Zor. The Pentagon, which opposed Trump’s initial decision to withdraw US troops, seized on Trump’s oil obsession to convince Trump that the US has to keep a limited number of troops in Syria in order to protect Syria’s oil.

The Syrian Falcon

If you’ve seen a few caper films, you know how often a scheme falls on its face. The eponymous statuette in The Maltese Falcon, turns out to be worthless. Trump doesn’t know it now, but Syria’s oil is shaping up as his Maltese Falcon.

Trump thinks that Syria’s oil will “reimburse” the US for its efforts in Syria. He thinks that American corporations are eager to extract Syria’s oil.[1] But as Juan Cole remarks: “This is a pipe dream. No oil major would be interested.”

Why not? Because Trump is wrong about Syria having a “massive” amount of oil. It doesn’t. Syria is not Saudi Arabia. Or Venezuela, or Iran, or Iraq, or Kuwait, or any of the world’s other top oil producing states. Syria has a “piddling amount of oil,” according to Robin Wright of the New Yorker. Even at its pre-war peak, Syria produced no more than 350,000 to 400,000 barrels of oil a day. Saudi Arabia produces ten million barrels a day. What’s more, since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, oil production has plummeted 90%. Much of Syria’s oil production infrastructure has been destroyed during the course of the war (including by the US, which bombed the Syrian oil fields when they were in the hands of the Islamic State).[2] It will take years and billions of dollars to get Syrian oil production back to prewar levels. Lucian Truscott writes in Salon that “If Trump thinks ExxonMobil or any other American oil company can just move into Syria and start pumping oil and making profits, he’s dreaming.”

“A Hell of a Fight”

You can’t have a caper without a crime. Trump is on the verge of a big one. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a torturer and mass murderer who Syrians have been trying to overthrow since 2011. Yet that does not change the fact that legally the Syrian state is the owner of the country’s oil. This means that Trump’s proposed oil heist may constitute “pillaging” (theft during wartime), a war crime under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. The Pentagon claimed on November 7 that the US would not be keeping any of the revenues from Syria oil sales. Instead, revenues will go to the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. This flatly contradicts Trump’s statements about “keeping” Syria’s oil in order to defray US outlays for its military operations in Syria.

Trump realizes that he is risking a violent clash with Assad, ISIS, or Russia. That’s fine with him. During his October 27 press conference, Trump said that “we are leaving soldiers to secure the oil. And we may have to fight for the oil. It’s okay. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight” (emphasis added). Trump has said that he wants to end America’s “forever wars.” Yet he is unfazed by the prospect of going head to head with Russia or the Syrian Arab Army, or renewing US fighting against ISIS.

I am not certain that the US did the right thing going into Syria, but we took on obligations when we did. Chief among these is not to betray America’s friends. I don’t agree with commentators who argue, in effect, that it is okay to betray the Kurds because they’re used to US betrayal. Trump has shown that he cares more about oil than he does about our Kurdish allies. If the US is going to have troops in Syria, they should be protecting people, not property. We should end the “forever” wars, but not this way.

Notes.

1. At an October 27 press conference called to announce the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by US Special Operations Forces, Trump said: “And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it [extract Syria’s oil] properly.”

2. Later in his October 27 press conference, Trump said: “[M]uch of the machinery has been shot and dead. It’s been through wars.” But does Trump appreciate just how much work it will take to get Syria’s oil flowing again? There is no sign that he does.

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Murder Like It’s 1495: U.S.-Backed Counterinsurgency in the Philippines

by NICK ALEXANDROV

Norma Capuyan, vice chair of Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC). Photograph Source: Keith Kristoffer Bacongco – CC BY 2.0

Two men, soldiers probably, noticed Bai Leah Tumbalang. This was last August. She was in Valencia City, in the Philippine province of Bukidnon. The men drew near on their motorcycle, followed her, then pulled up to shoot her in the forehead. She died immediately.

But her death was not random, not senseless. With it her killers signaled that protecting native lands is a sin, unpardonable. Because Tumbalang “was a leader of Kaugalingong Sistema Igpasasindog to Lumadnong Ogpaan (Kasilo), an organization whose members campaigned against the entry of mining corporations in Bukidnon and for the defense of their ancestral domain.” And people like her, doing similar work, get gunned down again and again in the Philippines.

In terms of slain environmental activists, “the Philippines was the worst-affected country in sheer numbers” last year, Global Witness reports. Beverly Geronimo, 27, was active in the Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA), and like Tumbalang against major mining firms. She was walking her eight-year-old daughter home when two men, armed, stopped her and shot her to death. Father Mark Ventura, 37, an anti-mining and indigenous rights advocate, “was blessing children after a Mass” when a man in a motorcycle helmet came from the room’s far side with a gun, firing twice and killing him. Thirteen members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW) were occupying part of “a vast sugar cane plantation…when about 40 armed men surprised them,” killing nine— “including three women and two teenage children”— and lighting “three of the bodies on fire.”

Global Witness charges the Philippine military, “working in collusion with powerful private interests”— those Kasilo, TAGUAFA, the NFSW and others oppose— with these murders. You can charge the U.S. government as well. No Southeast Asian military gets more Washington funds than the Philippines, with security aid totaling $1.35 billion from 2000 to 2020. Obama was far more generous than George W. Bush to Philippine forces, bestowing $651 million to his predecessor’s $400 million. For those pining for pre-Trump days, it’s comforting to know Obama worked to leave a legacy.

The best-funded security program is Foreign Military Financing (FMF), funneling nearly $650 million to Manila since 2000. Defense News describes FMF, in general, as “a grant given to U.S. allies to allow them to buy defense equipment”— specifically “goods made in the United States,” making it “a boost for the domestic defense industry.” Washington’s other priorities include Section 1206 authority and Section 333 authority to build capacity, together blessed with $218 million for training and arming Philippine troops.

These soldiers, empowered with U.S. money and guns, have devoted themselves to a series of counterinsurgency initiatives since the millennium. Oplan Bantay Layalaunched in 2001, spanning President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s two terms (2001-2010) and was, according to human rights organization Karapatan, “by far the bloodiest and most brutal counterinsurgency campaign unleashed on the Filipino people by any president.”

Oplan Bayanihan followed, running from 2010 to 2016 to coincide with Benigno Aquino III’s presidency. The policy aimed, officially, “to reduce the capabilities of internal armed threats” like the Communist New People’s Army (NPA), to “clear” NPA-held land while reducing the number of NPA fighters. In reality, Philippine soldiers stormed indigenous and peasant communities, killing whoever they wanted— a legacy current President Rodrigo Duterte carries forward with Oplan Kapayapaan.

Lito Aguilar’s wedding was imminent. He needed fish for the feast, so he took Christopher Abraham, a fellow abaca farmer, with him to the nearest river. They never returned. Soon after the murders, the Philippine Army issued a statement claiming the two men were NPA members killed in a skirmish with state forces. Leonila and Ramon Pesadilla were active in the Compostela Farmers Association (CFA), an anti-mining peasant group the military decided was really an NPA front. The couple was with their five-year-old grandson one evening when they heard a knock on the door. It was a pair of assassins who shot Leonila five times, Ramon six times and killed them both. Cindy Tirado was guilty of living with an NPA member: Jay Mendoza, her boyfriend. Emma Tirado, Cindy’s mother, claimed soldiers captured her daughter, tortured her, then ended her life. Cindy’s body was found with fractured arms, her genitals “shattered with a bullet.”

These killings, a hallmark of Philippine counterinsurgency, seem to reveal the policy’s real aims. A U.S. mercenary, an ex-Marine, gave perhaps the best possible summary of these goals decades ago. “The army is not killing communist guerrillas,” but rather “murdering the civilians who side with them.” He was in El Salvador in the 1980s, when Washington gave that country’s army $6 billion as it proceeded to slaughter tens of thousands of civilians. Report after report concludes that Philippine forces work, in part, in this tradition.

But their killings of land defenders, of indigenous activists, also conform to older custom. Think of early U.S. history: “With the growth of transcontinental railroads came more settlers, and calls to obtain the raw materials and minerals that lay within the territories remaining under Native American control in the West,” writes historian Adam Burns. “US soldiers often massacred Native peoples who were not willing to sign away their lands and instead stood their ground.”

U.S. officials still see native groups as obstacles in this sense— as barring mineral extraction, for example. Washington was eager to help Manila survey its mineral deposits. In 2005, the U.S. Geological Survey outlined plans “to conduct the first phase of a mineral resources assessment of the Philippines,” to find “major deposits of copper, gold, nickel, chromium, and other minerals,” like cobalt, to exploit. But three years later, U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney complained that, on the island of Mindanao, mining had yet to meet its potential. “One of the most significant challenges facing large-scale mining operations is dealing with the current residents of the lands to which they have obtained mineral rights,” she elaborated. She singled out “indigenous people with ancestral, albeit unrecognized by the legal system, claims to the mineral-rich areas” as especially problematic. You saw above the Philippine Army’s treatment of anti-mining activists.

Not that reading about these killings conveys their horror. We’re online. We’re addicted to websites or applications reaping our data, collecting our fossilized Internet records to sell to other firms. There’s gold in our phone circuit boardscobalt in the batteriesWe wait in trafficfor a train, nickel-containing stainless steel in the cars. In our houses, more than 400 pounds of copper wires and plumbing interlace the walls, 300 pounds in our apartments. We live in 2019.

It could have been centuries earlier for Bai Leah Tumbalang, for Father Mark Ventura. It could have been 1495 as that year slipped away from the indigenous Taíno, on Hispaniola— the island Columbus invaded. The Spanish severed the hands of, effectively bled to death, any Taíno failing or refusing to mine enough gold. It was a sin, unpardonable, not to enrich others, not to work so others could profit. The transgressions of Philippine land defenders are much the same. Their deaths show the traces of early modern barbarism in our age.

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Assange, Zuckerberg and Free Speech

by NICK PEMBERTON

Photograph Source: Anthony Quintano – CC BY 2.0

“That philosophy died yesterday, since Hegel or Marx, Nietzsche, or Heidegger—and philosophy should still wander toward the meaning of its death—or that it has always lived knowing itself to be dying… that philosophy died one day, within history, or that it has always fed on its own agony, on the violent way it opens history by opposing itself to nonphilosophy, which is its past and its concern, its death and wellspring; that beyond the death, or dying nature, of philosophy, perhaps even because of it, thought still has a future, or even, as is said today, is still entirely to come because of what philosophy has held in store; or, more strangely still, that the future itself has a future—all these are unanswerable questions. By right of birth, and for one time at least, these are problems put to philosophy as problems philosophy cannot resolve.”

—Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference 

“Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. In a modern economy it is impossible to seal oneself off from injustice.

If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neo-corporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.

If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whose hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes.

The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering.

Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them.”

—Julian Assange

Congresswoman, I — I’m not sure I’m in a position right now to evaluate any given post against all of the different standards that we have.

—Mark Zuckerberg, speaking to Rashida Talib

This time, more than any other, is a time for free speech absolutism. It is a time where the influence of one’s speech can be bought. Corporations are considered people. Truth is not defined by people, it is defined by corporate interests—namely profit. Sectarianism has at least culturally collapsed, creating the potential, although not a guarantee, of a united global revolution against the prevailing ideology of capital. Now is not the time for censorship. Now is the time to leave the truth behind all together and accept something greater. We must transcend truth and begin to live in material reality that is not conscious of anything except for the mission at hand and the urgency of life itself as the material clock of both ourselves and civilization as we know it nears midnight.

Along the same timeline, we became aware of the torture of Julian Assange, who along with Chelsea Manning, revealed the truth about the United States war against the Middle East. Daring to speak freely meant torture. A simple formula. It was with irony that Mark Zuckerberg, the head of the media platform Facebook, defended free speech without noting Assange. It was not ironic though that the doctrine of liberal aligned corporate authoritarianism came down against both Assange and Zuckerberg. One a hero, one a phony, but both appearing quite plainly to defend free speech, even, if not especially, the so-called dangerous variety.

Julian Assange exposed the ugliness and cruelness of American Empire and hence has become a monster fo American society. He must be extinguished. We are numb to his torture. We do not hear his truth. For Assange to speak truth, we would be false. For Assange to be false, we would be speaking truth. The easier path has been taken, but Assange still brought progress. He muddied the arch of Empire. Such is the political prisoner that Mark Zuckerberg should have defended in the defense of his social media platform, Facebook.

Facebook wants to cut costs by not hiring anyone to review the advertisements on its page. Zuckerberg will never admit his thirst for money so he must defend himself philosophically. He makes the claim that unless speech is threatening or dangerous, there is no way to be able to decide if it is true. Or at least for his company to do so, I guess. Because they are unbiased, or something. They only believe in money. Along the way Zuckerberg gives us a history lesson of those who spoke truth and brought society forward. He points to these people having their speech suppressed. He rightly said these people were considered to be false in their day.

Mark Zuckerberg, while citing free speech warriors throughout history, claimed to be persecuted. Pan to the tortured Mr. Assange for some insight on your condition Mr. Zuckerberg, and you may feel better about your life as a billionaire without the accountability of any kind. Mr. Zuckerberg was asked if he would take down fake advertisements. He stammered and couldn’t admit his own boldness, which collapsed in the face of any questioning. Mr. Zuckerberg, while like all billionaires, is not a genius, stumbled upon something genius. There is no difference between what is true and what is false! That assertion is absolutely correct if that’s possible.

Facebook is not a neutral platform. It is one of the world’s largest corporations and it is not on our side. But Mark Zuckerberg’s arguments for free speech, while both opportunistic and disingenuous, are absolutely correct. If Zuckerberg had anything worthwhile to say, he would have defended Julian Assange as he did with Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass. No hero is a hero of their time—but history, if it exists after climate change, will reward Mr. Assange and Ms. Manning for their efforts. In this life, even in, no especially in, the capital of the free world, free speech is a crime worthy of torture.

What Mr. Zuckerberg fails to bring up in his seemingly apolitical defense of human rights is that advertisements, both true and false, are not free speech. Just as paying for a sexual act is not consent, paying someone to say something is not the truth. Of course, finding neutral ground on such a subject is an impossibility, even if we were to somehow completely separate speech from capital. There will always be a benefit to staying silent. Rather than being paid for lies, one can simply not get punished for abstaining from the truths most crucial to not just our democracy, but the potential utility of life on earth.

This is the passive vacuum that Zuckerberg wants us to enter in to. I have no problem with Zuckerberg claiming no difference between what is true and what is false. In fact, if billionaires were geniuses, such a statement would prove it. In the previous paragraph, I noted the corruption inherent in paid speech of any kind. But let’s take money out of it, for a moment. After all, most of the content one gets on a Facebook or other social media account comes from unpaid actors who pay nothing for the site. Unlike even the most rigorous spaces of free speech application (academia), social media can and has acted as a sort of communes.

Problematizing the communes is important: the convenience of mass surveillance for the ruling class, the alienating nature of screen to screen relations, the algorithm that confirms bias, the addictive design, the culture of image that leads to depression and anxiety, the pollution of creating technology, the slave labor used to make each device, and the interruption by advertisements make this unlike your grandma’s communes. But, yes, it is a form of the social, as by design. Just as it is a form for profit, but also, with varying effects on various people and outright dismissal of not only the platform but the users is a mistake.

Even if Zuckerberg’s lofty claims about the platform were correct, could we prove his detractor’s claims that there are such things as truth and falsehood? President Trump makes this question testy. But people have swung the wrong way during Trump’s Presidency. When Trump zigs, one should always zag. Instead, pundits tend to mirror the attitude of the President but contradict him on policies.

Trump calls his detractors fake news. Trump’s detractors claim that Trump has no regard for what is true and false because he always lies (fair enough). But what backward logic they use to defy him. Trump clearly believes in the false conception of truth. He is always claiming that one thing is true, while the other is false. The media, in response, also embraces truth, often claiming the exact opposite of Mr. Trump, and by all empirical evidence, are far closer to the truth. But by engaging in even such a concept, both sides open up the door for doubt of the other because truth can be defined in the first place. For Mr. Trump, this is a positive dynamic. His job is to create doubt. This works against the liberals. Their job is, in the age of Trump, to create certainty.

What would happen if we simply acknowledged that there was no truth, as Mr. Zuckerberg did.  Mr. Zuckerberg did this not in a philosophical way, but in a capitalist profit-seeking—he wanted no company to be restricted from giving him money, no matter their values. That doesn’t mean we should dismiss the premise. Let’s say that whenever Mr. Trump called “fake news” the media simply said there was no such thing as truth, because every action in the world, and as a result every assumed truth, is not independent of the rest of the material world or its history and therefore is structurally interdependent on power relations (with or without money) that dictate whether or not we believe it as truth.

Furthermore, no actor, not Mr. Trump, nor anyone he calls “fake news” can know anything. All actors are biased and corrupted. Trump succeeds because he tears everyone else down and then claims he is the lone savior. The natural response would be not to attack Mr. Trump’s credibility (thereby reaffirming this dynamic of Trump as underdog vs. powerful establishment). Rather, one should bring Mr. Trump’s reasonable doubt so far that everyone begins questioning everything, including, perhaps, especially, those who claim to know truth. By accurately admitting that they have no knowledge of truth (at least no more than the average working-class viewer), the media would be establishing themselves as one with the people, rather than a source that knows—implicating a lack in the people. Such an arrogant strategy leaves the expectations high, too high even for a democratic outlet, let alone a corporate one. Exposing such an outlet in child’s play for Mr. Trump.

It is high time that we admit, once and for all, that our very perception of reality, if we just go by what is sensory, is false. Take the example of color perception. Color, like everything else simply relies on relativity, not absolute truth. Scientists have found that we see colors differently. Yet almost all of us call the same color red, or the same color blue. But who is to say when we see red, it is what the other person is seeing? Rather we only agree the color is red because of its relation to other colors. As long as the blue and red compare and contrast in the same way, why should it matter what each one does individually when we identify colors? After all, our language for identifying said colors are limited to these descriptive relative terms precisely because we remain, for better or worse, perceivers of only our reality.

That above problem is not the one focused on by scientists though when it comes to colors. They find that the problem goes beyond even relativity. We also see color perceptions vary on memory and emotion. How does trauma change the way we see certain colors? That is before one even gets to the physical differences in photoreceptors which would change perception. There also remains the question of biological translation. Does a short wavelength translate to blue? Not always, and not for everyone. It is entirely possible that most every color we see is false because of this translation of wavelength dealing with physical dimensions of light, rather than color itself. The physical shape of things we have to believe is more accurate because we would be running into walls if it wasn’t. To a certain extend, politics are like a wall—it is necessary to observe it accurately. But politics also occur far away and its devastating effects (such as Trump’s stripping of public health and safety measures) can often be hard to see. This is just to say that similar biological differences in perception of all things occur, even politics.

Language alone is not a perfect translation. Reading a classic Russian novel must be better in Russian, if that’s possible! How could anyone claim that a translation from one language to another maintains truth? How could even a story from the same language contain truth? Immediately all information becomes a memory. At the time of conception, truth is assumed. But soon enough it becomes obscured, and then, when recalled, misremembered.

Storytelling used to be the way information was passed down. It was a quilt weaved with many different threads. This age of certainty and of absolute truth is naturally the age of fascism. When a story is told nowadays it is not through recall or interpretation but through passive acceptance of said truth. The shift from books to the screen is what leads this. I remember my father telling me that reading a book leaves one room for sensory interpretation. The screen, on the contrary, tells us what to think. Directors play with this, the good ones do. But on a mass level, one gets the point here.

This quest for perfection has invaded our personal lives too. I am thinking especially of the precious young people who are continually beaten down. The screen life and the obsession with physical appearance lead many even progressive folks to become fascists about their own image. Endlessly modified to the point of outright dishonesty, the screen image demands perfection, not authenticity or vulnerability.

The age of the selfie is not one of narcissism. That’s a boomer take. Young people are progressive, open-minded and compassionate. What lacks is the self-confidence. The goal of boomers was to create hardness and glory. In response General X had another more sympathetic goal which was broadly speaking, to create a generation of dependent people who did not question the absurd contradictions of the American Empire of Excess. The preposterous militarism, consumerism and fascism of the aesthetic have not been questioned.

We have to draw the links between Trump’s conception of the nation-state and screen culture. Trump rose to power via the screen. First via television, then via twitter. These mass platforms encourage passivism. Trump at worst was a joke on the screen, not to be taken seriously. At best he was a God, not to be held accountable and always to be believed.

Trump has reasserted the image as the prevailing ideology in American culture. He is a serial sexual abuser, with dozens of women coming forward. He claims some women are too ugly to rape. He throws people, even children, in concentration camps because of the color of their skin. He openly mocks the disabled. He relies upon a facade of buildings he does not own, money he does not have, and insight he does not possess.

Trump, like the screen, despises any blemish. Every imperfect person—whether they be dark, poor, weak, what have you, must be brushed over with makeup. He is the filter that alters the mole or blemish. He concludes that America is itself like a body. It must have protection (inane military spending), it must have the agency to act in its own interests without a consideration for the collective world, and it must be represented by only the richest and cleanest. If these people don’t approve, then America is, as Trump, would say, a shithole country.

Trump sees America as himself. Rich, ruthless, tough. He despises the homeless on our streets because it exposes his own contradiction and the contradiction of his country. Trump relies upon racist nostalgia for his mass appeal—which allows others to bask in his glory. What America is to Trump, Trump is to the “forgotten American” (old, white and crabby). Just as Trump sees himself in America, Americans see themselves in Trump. Trump is the ultimate ‘Ok Boomer’.

We must begin to make the links between Trump’s corporate fascism and the everyday erasure of imperfection and authenticity by corporate screen culture. Now is a time where opportunism is commended and perception is skewed. Corporate nihilism degrades human’s capacity for vulnerability and intimate connection. Criticism of the mass surveillance state is necessary but we must also recognize there is a more totalizing goal going on here. The goal to infect all private relationships between people and turn them into relationships that function for profit. This includes self-hatred that must be filled with materialism. On the other side of production, it includes self-lacking that must be filled with meaningless work. It also demands hatred of others—especially at their most vulnerable moments. Association with anyone becomes either a gain or a loss and real human love is thrown out the window. So too is agency. We no longer dictate the terms of happiness. Corporations set goals and standards and we are supposed to follow.

On an aside, thinking about social media makes me want to say something: we must stand with our so-called ugly sisters and brothers the same way we do with other marginalized groups. Just as corporatism sets norms for race and gender, it also sets beauty standards. Too often compassionate liberalism hides behind the cloak of cultural opportunism where people of color, women and LGBT folks are seen as “cool” as a form of fetish largely based in sexuality. This fetish is especially problematic in white distribution of black culture. Failing to arouse the sexual imagination of the “free” liberal subject, so-called ugly people are left to believe that they are treated equally even when they know they aren’t. People engage in dishonesty when they say everyone is beautiful but do not acknowledge that some people are seen as ugly. In the age of political correctness, ugly people never get an ally because everyone is too afraid to admit that they consider some people more beautiful than others. Naturally, such a suppression leaves no outlet for ugly people to organize against said supremacy. This is intentional.

Now all of this is not to say some don’t do truth better than others. I certainly have my biases, I tend to believe Assange and Manning, not so much Trump and Zuckerberg. But who is to decide, what is true, and what is false? Assange’s torture tells us very well who decides. The rich and powerful, at the expense of the people, for the purpose of profit. Therefore any defense of free speech is welcome, just as any act of free speech should be questioned. Such is the courage of speech. Everything we say could be a lie, what courage it takes to try anyways.

The only hint we can get about truth is in a purely scientific way. What are the material benefits to saying X? What are the material downsides of saying Y? The greater the material reward for a statement, the less likely it is true. The greater the cost of a statement, the more likely it is true. For example, in Shakespeare, orgasm is death. This likely proves that either orgasm is life’s greatest pleasure, or that Shakespeare, whether because he is tricky or erudite, is life’s greatest writer, and likely, such an analogy proves both. As Mr. Assange is tortured for his exposure of war crimes, one can calculate that he has a high likelihood of truth. But what to make then of Mr. Trump’s fabrications about immigrants and the media? His power, still remarkably high despite a truly tragic Presidency for 99% of the world, gives us a hint that he, more than anyone, is fake news.

The larger problem for us seems to be the algorithm. Not just of Facebook, but of everything. The design of speech and thought these days is for profit. That means that when one says truth, they are only selling it. Now this is not just for salesmen. It is also for the consumer, which if anything, is more totalizing because it captures you off the clock., so to speak. Let’s pick on Facebook though, for this example.

Facebook aims to make one’s experience the most enjoyable and comfortable so it creepily filters advertisements and people to fit one’s desired interests and biases. This creates an environment where no one is ever challenged on anything they believe. Worse still, no one has any opportunity to confront the material production of truth, let alone their own perception of it. Rather, by constantly being reaffirmed of their own most base beliefs, everyone comes to think that they must be correct. But that isn’t so much the problem in and of itself. If everyone was correct, we would surely rather them believe it! No, the problem is that no one can even come close to the truth unless their own highly biased truth dies many times in the face of the world’s democracy of thought and experience.

Like anything else, truth can only be gained through learning and disruption, not through confirmation and progression. Neoliberalism wants us to convince us that history has progressed through innovation by the individual where said individual becomes themselves. But this is only progress of capital, where workers are seen to become themselves through the separation of their soul from their goals. If the individual shuts up and makes some money, they are seen as a success, and because they have money, they can now speak truth, even though they only came to make money through failing to question what was right in front of them. Oh dear! Bad formula.

Hegelian progress is made through conflict. It is only through conflict that any truth will come about. What Hegel saw broadly and Marx revised specifically was that as conflict is intensified, contradictions are exposed and progress is made. Corporate neoliberalism is bringing us backward, but doing so in a tricky way.

It can actually be best explained through the revisionist misreading of Hegel. Todd McGowan explains that the popular reading of thesis-antithesis-synthesis of Hegel is not only the wrong way to read Hegel, but the worst way. What this misreading assumes is that one side presents an argument, then the other side presents an argument, and then we make progress because we choose the middle ground. Hegel and Marx saw the opposite. They believed as contradictions intensified revolution occurred and then progress was made.

Let’s return to relativity for a moment. We first must problematize any conflict, especially these staged ruling class conflicts coming to head in the age of Mr. Trump. Who decides what the thesis and antithesis is? For the triangulating Bill Clinton, the thesis was corporate liberalism and the antithesis was corporate conservatism. Therefore the synthesis was corporate centralism. But where was this progress? Furthermore, if a synthesis can be made then the conflict was likely manufactured, or at least superficial.

Take another example, one that can’t be triangulated. Class warfare. The interests of the working class and the interests of the ruling class are in conflict. Compromises to this conflict can be made through synthesis, and no one is arguing that this would be of some benefit to both sides in some way. But because the conflict between the classes is material rather than manufactured ideology, neither side is interested in such a compromise. The ruling class will continue to steal, and the working class will continue to be alienated from the political. It is only through intensification of knowledge of this conflict that revolution occurs.

Now this is different from accelerating towards the bottom in a materialist sense. In this way Mr. Trump is a false prophet. Trump, like all neoliberals, does not want to accelerate class conflict, he only wants to accelerate class inequality. This, in theory, creates conditions for the conflict to be exposed but that is only because the conflict is actually deepening, which only guarantees suffering and may even set back the possibility for revolution as sectarianism, namely bigotry, is given new life as a subplot.

It is then that the abuser comes in for the compromise, once the most vulnerable have been compromised. This is merely another form of abuse, not a form of mercy. The Democratic Party only exists to stop the revolution of the working class from happening.

The goal of the global neoliberal project is against the tradition of Hegel and Marx. Rather than further conflict they simply want to consolidate wealth and ideology in one big tent. Through dulling all authentic feelings through compromise and democracy they erase the necessary language of authenticity and rebellion. To defeat neoliberalism we must not only consider all opinions, we must also evaluate all structures.

Consider the neoliberal project in relation to time. The goal of the neoliberal project is create a subject that can never reflect (through Marx or other materialist grounding) and can never dream (through King or other idealist envisioning). This is done through erasing both the past and the future through an omnipresent preoccupation with the present. Consider again the explicit misreading of Hegel. Our thesis is our future—it’s what we want to be and it’s how we imagine life going. Julia Louis-Dryfus defined happiness as having something to look forward to. Without this, we have no reason to go on. The past is the antithesis. It is what plagues our future. We battle it. To change our future we must understand our past and confront it without fear.

But this is not possible because neoliberalism slams the present in your face with an obsessive nature of temporary gains (through profit) and pleasure-seeking defined as happiness for the individual. It is in this way neoliberalism demands we form a synthesis of the present that erases both past and future. The thing about synthesis is that it must erase both the thesis and the antithesis for it to construct a structure that does not fall apart. Rather than seeking a happy medium, it degrades both sides to achieve its dishonest goal.

Now we must also consider neoliberalism more broadly. What it aims to do is destroy all authenticity because it is inconvenient for the agreeable business of usual. Any sectarianism of any kind is seen as a threat to the unity of the corporate top-down power structure. Yes, this creates the possibility of a unified underclass. But it is only when we stop making compromises with said structure which only pretends to compromise as a front for its real goal of strengthening contradiction for the purpose of more power. Compromise would be a wiser goal, and indeed that’s why they say it. They know contradiction will be fatal for the much weaker side (the ruling class) who are not only tiny in number, but far less capable of unity and community. But despite neoliberalism’s doctrine of free choices, we must admit the ruling class, like the working class, has no choice but to pursue its own interests. They simply can’t help themselves.

Choice is as false as truth is. Sectarianism, rather than fulfillment of authenticity, is now seen as bigotry (it often is, more on that another day). Yet as long as the ruling class runs the show we merely have a displacement of blame. Rather than honest hatred of a group, the ruling class blames the group they hate. Honest hatred reveals self-loathing and at the very least, takes away any form of superiority. Those who choose to hate have to no surprise never been honest about it. Although neoliberalism’s free choice doesn’t change much. The homeless are now hated because of their  “addictive” or “unstable” or “lazy” tendencies rather than openly hated as a stain on the morality of the rich. Women, under neoliberal relation, are said to enjoy violence, and that any woman who experiences violence gains pleasure from it. People of color, under neoliberal relation, are not slaves locked in cages, but criminals who “made their choices”.

But why blame the ruling class? There’s no point in that either. Blame implies at the very least an alternative reality where something could have gone differently. Forget about it. The ruling class would have done this no matter what and they will keep doing this no matter what. Their thesis (past) is criminal, their antithesis (future) is more criminal, and their synthesis, based on this furthering of contradiction, is demise. The working class then as a thesis of dignity (past), and antithesis of further dignity (future) and, as a result will have a synthesis of self-actualization which will only come through realization of material theft, the fulfillment of reparations and snacking upon the metaphorical bones of the rich.

There is a reason the free speech argument remains apolitical. When free speech is defended and upheld, it is for the right-wing. When free speech is censored, it is for the left-wing. This is because the left, not by ideology, but by material function, challenges power, and therefore has speech that is problematic, even criminal. Meanwhile, the right upholds power, so its speech is seen as free, and even positive. But speech is anything but free. It is, like everything else, bought and sold.

The question of free speech seems less important still than the question of free people. It is in this regard that just as property shouldn’t be more important than people, speech should not be more important than people. Therefore dangerous speech, unless said by a robot, must be defended! But most free speech today is not of importance, it is merely robotic and analytical.  It is the speech that is not free, the language of necessity and human dignity that demands defense because it exposes the contradiction of compromise itself. If both sides are free and independent,  if both actors are conflicting in material interests, compromise will not be wanted. Therefore, collaboration itself is false because it can only join two similar sides. And conflict is true because it can only war two conflicting sides.

This of course is the grand narrative, there are exceptions within the structure. But the fate of the ruling class, in the material sense, is doom because it is fighting the most powerful group in the world: the poor people of the world. Foolish, but inevitable, is their downfall.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, UKComments Off on Assange, Zuckerberg and Free Speech

Fidel, Three Years Later

by SUSAN BABBITT

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Fidel Castro, dead three years this month, resisted US power in a way that could be learned from. I don’t mean the Revolution. It began earlier. Castro insisted on that. Thus, the old flag and anthem were retained. The country was not renamed.

It was respect for history: of dead ends. Cintio Vitier refers to the law of the “callejón sin salida”, [1] referring to events in 1878, 1898 and 1933. That law inspired the “law of the impossible”: in poetry, art and literature.[2] It wasn’t an “impossible dream”. It wasn’t a dream.

It was deeper, broader, and the idea is ancient.

When Castro said, “Y todo lo que parecía imposible fue posible” [3] (all that seemed impossible was possible), he drew on tradition. It’s philosophical, but not one we teach.

The “law of the impossible” is about the seemingly impossible becoming actionable, which requires ideas, which generate expectations. What you see – with your own eyes – can be (rationally) dismissed if unexpected. It gets explained away. But if it becomes plausible, it merits explanation.

This part is known in philosophy, intellectually.[4]

The point is taken further in Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin. Resistance to Hitler is implausible. And indeed, Otto and Anna, who resist, are unsuccessful. They are caught. They die. Politically, they fail.

Otto is told: “You must have known you had no chance! It’s a gnat against an elephant. I don’t understand it in a sensible man like you!” Otto’s answer: “No, and you will never understand it either. You see, it doesn’t matter if one man fights or ten thousand; if the one man sees he has no option but to fight, then he will fight, whether he has others on his side or not”.

The important part of the exchange is the “No, and you will never understand it either.” It’s about acting for truth when results are uncertain, indeed, unlikely, but also, importantly, when that truth is humanness. The “law of the impossible” is humanness at risk and you can’t know that law if you don’t believe in humanness.

Fallada refers to “integrity” but that term is problematic, currently, because truth is problematic. There’s no fuzziness in this regard, though, in anti-imperialist traditions. Brazilian philosopher, Paulo Freire, for example, refers to “authentic humanity” and says it’s impossible that it not be detected.

He doesn’t defend the idea of truth about that impossibility. It’s presupposed in the struggle he lived: against dead ends. Experience of such truth made it plausible. If one knows dehumanization – dead ends – there is, as Otto says, no option.

When Otto and Anna are tried, the Nazi judge “could see recognition in the faces of the spectators in the courtroom”. At all costs, he “wanted to strip the accused of that recognition”.

It makes resistance plausible for others. But he fails. And powerful imperialist liberal ideology hasn’t stripped Cuba of recognition. It’s a fact. In Nazi prison, Reichardt, an orchestra conductor, tells Otto, “It would have been better if we’d had a good plan …. As it was we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone”.

Herein lies the ancient part of the idea: essential interdependence. It’s not just ancient. Vitier uses the word “earthy” (teluricidad) to link Cuban thinkers who defied dead ends of imperialism. It’s how they knew slavery was wrong. It was a “sentimiento de la justicia”,[5] feeling not theory.

That question of how to know something becomes urgent when what needs to be known is hard to know, seemingly impossible. But one must think there is something to be known.

When Anna urges Otto to stop distributing his postcards, Otto says, “Who wants to die. Everyone wants to live, everyone – Even the most miserable worm is screaming for life! I want to live too. But maybe it’s a good thing, Anna, … to think of a wretched death, and to get ready for it. So that you know you’ll be able to die properly, without moaning and whimpering. That would be disgusting to me …”

Anna agrees. To “die properly” is an implausible idea in the happiness-obsessed North. But it’s been rediscovered by scientists in the US: doctors.[6] They argue, compellingly, that a certain way of understanding the human condition limits medicine. It’s a way of understanding that denies vulnerability. It denies interdependence. Dr. Arthur Kleinman calls it “reciprocity”

He says “being present’ is how scientists identify aspects of a problem that are unexpected. It advances medicine. But it’s submission, giving up: of expectations for success, for example. Dr. Adam B. Hill says medicine can’t accept, in theory or practise, human brokenness.

It makes care implausible. The very idea is implausible because care is connection. It’s a way of thinking that involves service and sacrifice. And it’s irremediably contrary to “political fictions” like the “self-made man” of liberalism. Kleinman says such fictions are “fundamentally wrong”. He’s brave.

In 1953, at trial, Castro said, “To those who will say I am a dreamer let me quote the words of [José] Martí, ‘A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather the path where duty lies, and this is the only practical man . . . because he who has looked back on the essential course of history . . . knows that, without a single exception, the future lies on the side of duty.’”

Fallada tells Otto and Anna’s story (based on real events) because it sows seeds for the future. Cuba’s story is urgent for this same reason, and many do tell it. But they tell a political story, never the philosophical.

Castro should have added that looking properly at history requires sacrificing expectations: about who does philosophy, for example. It seems impossible. The intellectual superiority of the North is part of identity, like slavery was. Seeing it as “law of the impossible” – humanness at risk – is real resistance.

Notes.

1) No exit. In Ese sol del mundo moral (Editorial Félix Varela, 1996) 151 

2) ibid 

3) July 26, 1971. 

4) E.g. Hilary Putnam, “The analytic and the synthetic” (1975). 

5) José de la Luz y Caballero, 1862 

6) Arthur Kleinman, Soul of Care (2019); Adam B. Hill, Long Walk out of the Woods (2019). 

Posted in USA, CUBAComments Off on Fidel, Three Years Later

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