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The Importance of the October Revolution for Women’s Liberation

NOVANEWS

Dorte Grenaa

Report to the ICMLPO Seminar on the significance of the October Revolution, Stuttgart, June 2017, delivered by Dorte Grenaa, Chair of the Workers ’ Communist Party of Denmark APK

The October Revolution of 1917 and the struggle to build a whole new society without exploitation remains a great source of experience and inspiration for the world’s working class and working people. The October Revolution meant a fundamental change in women’s lives and opportunities. The decisive factor for this was that state power was in the hands of the working class, leading directly after the abolition of the cause of the special oppression of women – the right of private property.

“Ever since private property in land and factories has been abolished and the power of the landowners and capitalists overthrown, the tasks of politics have become simple, clear and comprehensible to the working people as a whole, including working women. In capitalist society the woman’s position is marked by such inequality that the extent of her participation in politics is only an insignificant fraction of that of the man.” (Lenin, The Tasks of the Working Women s Movement in the Soviet Republic, September 1919)

By organizing the whole society around the principle of abolishing the exploitation of people, the Soviet state under the dictatorship of the proletariat worked to abolish all forms of economic, social, cultural and political inequality, including the inequality between men and women that exists in any class society.

The tasks of the young workers’ power, to build the new society after the October Revolution, were enormous. Until then, society had only been developed to serve a small, rich upper class under the czarist regime, the landlords and church.

Most of the population lived in the countryside, in a semi-feudal barbaric society. They lived in poverty, where hunger, sickness, ignorance, oppression and brutality prevailed, where relationships between people were marked by deeply ingrained feudal features. The woman was considered the slave and property of the family and the man. It was said that the peasant treated his animals better than his wife and daughters. In the Central Asian republics, polygamy and the sales of brides were quite normal.

Socialist social development took place at an unprecedented pace and scale, despite all attempts to destroy it both by internal reactionary forces and the surrounding imperialist world. The October Revolution was a tidal wave of revolutionary social power and energy. It set millions in motion to develop the productive forces to create a better material basis for a new society. At the same time, a dialectical process was set in motion to create the most important force – the new free human being.

For the Bolshevik party and the revolutionary movement, it was obvious that this should apply to both men and women.

The Soviet state was aware from the beginning that special efforts had to be made to create conditions to change the situation of women. The State not only put forward equal legal rights, but it created the social structures necessary for women to use these equal rights and practice real equality. Lenin described this both in principle in and concrete detail.

2. The principles of equality in the Constitution, the law and the family

A few months after the October Revolution, a completely new legal system was developed, the foundation of which was women’s full equality in society, work and family life.

A new marriage law was introduced in which the old concept of the “head of the family” was banned and all laws based on the slavery of woman were abolished. Marriage became a private matter between two persons. There was no legal distinction between married and unmarried, registered and unregistered marriages. Also, the hideous patriarchal term “illegitimate children” for children born out of marriage was abolished. All children were given equal rights and considered equal. Men and women were equal in inheritance.

Both women and men were free to choose their life partner, their job and profession. Both parties could retain their original citizenship, their name and their right to self-determination in every detail. Women and men also had the same rights concerning divorce. Both parents were obligated to the care and education of their children regardless of marital status. The Soviet Constitution was the first state in the world to introduce the right to vote to all persons of both sexes over 18 years of age.

The introduction of the principles of equality in the constitution and legislation was a huge sign of a whole new view of the woman as an equal fellow human being and citizen.

3. Women’s work changes character

The Soviet State introduced equal pay for equal work. What capitalism has not yet managed to do for more than a century since the demand was raised, the working-class state implemented in a few months. It gave women the opportunity to achieve economic independence, which they knew from bitter experience was so necessary for their independence.

Many labour rights in production were introduced. The working day was continuously reduced by several hours in the following years. At the same time, it was a working day that included time for vocational education. Social rights covering sickness, unemployment, pregnancy, disability and family support in case of death as well as a national state pension were introduced.

Recognizing that women can also have children, special labour rights and social security were introduced for working women. Many considerations for occupational safety were taken already at the start of pregnancy. Maternity leave was introduced – two months for physical work, six weeks for intellectual work. When she went back to work, the mother had the right to have to breast-feed her baby. Mothers received full pay during maternity leave, as well as special support to cover additional expenses and childcare during the first nine months after the birth of her child.

A society that lacked almost everything, and at the same time reduced working time – something like that had never been seen before. A planned economy was introduced, free of anarchistic capitalist over-production and over-use of resources. In the summer of 1930 it succeeded in eliminating unemployment. The former offices for the payment of unemployment benefit were transformed into centers for planned distribution of labor power.

The first five-year plan’s technological changes in industrial production created new and different jobs for women. Collectivization of agriculture liberated forces that created a new wave of revolutionary energy and mobilized women in the countryside. The cooperatives gave women completely new opportunities to use their abilities and labor.

Before 1917 under the czarist regime, women’s work during the day was characterized by slave-like work in agriculture and unskilled, low-paid women’s work in factories. After working hours women had to work a second, unpaid job at home and with the children.

The October Revolution changed the character of women’s work into organized collective and social work. The development was fastest in large- scale production and state-owned plants, in which the workplaces were tailored to both men’s and women’s needs. The work was combined with education, with the family and children, with residential areas and transport. This development was naturally slower in the countryside, in the cooperatives and in small-scale farming.

4. Access to education on a mass scale

In a society where the majority was illiterate, education had been a privilege for a very few and production had not been developed, education would be a key issue. It had to be developed on a mass scale and at a fast pace, especially for women who had previously been culturally and socially deprived.

All educational institutions were opened to women so that they could improve their practical, social and intellectual abilities. Special support was given to complete education in all sectors. The Soviet state began the construction of an entire polytechnic school system with associated educational institutions, from schools for children to technical schools and working-class universities. At the same time, workers and peasants organized libraries, reading rooms and education in reading and writing in co-operatives, in factories, in the public sector and in residential areas. The whole community was involved in this giant project. For example, children and young people taught grown-ups to read and write as part of the eradication of illiteracy.

For women in the countryside and the cities, participation in education was an opportunity to qualify for more jobs. But it was also a recognition of the fact that women have minds that want to learn, eyes that want to see, ears that want to hear and voices that want to be heard.

The church and religion, which under the czarist regime were an enormous power and a constant source of oppression and overshadowing of women, were now separated from the educational systems. Religion was considered a private matter.

5. Protection of children and mothers – Access to legal abortion

Before the October Revolution, the great majority women did not have the opportunity to give their children a secure upbringing, or to decide how many children they would have. Child mortality was sky-high, women died in childbirth and from having too many children. Women were ashamed and died from illegal abortions carried out in inhuman conditions by quacks.

In 1920 a law gave women access to abortion within the first three months of pregnancy. It had to be performed only by doctors in hospitals and was free for women workers. It was granted for health or social reasons if it could put either the child or the mother in difficulty. The decision was made by a committee consisting of a doctor and two women workers. Such committees were established at every “Women’s Advisory Centre”.

A decade after the legalization of abortion, the Institute for Maternal and Child Protection found that it had not yet been possible to eliminate all dangerous, illegal abortions. They pointed out two different reasons. First, in some places, there were still many culturally disadvantaged women who did not dare to seek access to legal abortion, especially in the countryside. Second, especially in the cities, there was not enough hospital space for everyone who wanted an abortion. But there had been a reduction in the number of illegal abortions and the mortality rate on a quite significant scale.

In the struggle to eradicate illegal abortions and prevent women from needing to have an abortion, the Soviet Union prioritized several elements. These were: to expand the health and hospital services, to ensure knowledge of and access to contraception and to develop a good social care system – and of course the goal-oriented work to provide all citizens with human conditions.

In 1918, the organization of an extensive Mother-Child Care Program me began. For the Soviet Union, the health of the individual was a social concern. Systems and structures were created to ensure that the best health facilities and expertise were obtainable for everyone in society, especially for pregnant women, infants, children and other groups with special needs. Infant and maternity clinics, maternity homes for mothers with infants were created, courses in infant care and children’s clinics were established.

To ensure child care while the parents were at work, the building of nurseries and kindergartens was also considered a social task. They were developed at the factories, in the residential districts and in the villages. Similarly, schools, youth clubs and youth associations were organized.

All these actions were of major importance to women’s social participation and independence.

6. Socialization of house work and collective solutions

For women to participate on an equal footing with the men in the building and administration of the new Soviet state, it was necessary to address the thousand-year-old problem of the double work of a job and the everlasting repetitive housework. The tying of women to individual housework in each family had to be replaced by collective solutions through the socialization of housework.

Public kitchens as collective eating places, collective laundries and shops to repair clothes were created. In 1923, the Department of Public Nutrition, Narpit, was established. It was an initiative to improve the population’s poor nutritional state and to assist in the development of public eating places.

This issue was also considered in the organization of new homes and cities. In 1917 the housing shortage was serious everywhere. In the old working-class areas in the cities neither gas, electric light, water nor sewers existed. People were crammed together in small, dark and humid homes. Now, new towns were being built, where the most advanced building were collective houses. These had common dining rooms, common libraries and reading rooms, common rooms for children where they could play and study. There were only a short distance between work, home, schools, institutions, shops and leisure sports and cultural houses, all with light, air and green spaces in between them.

The transition from individual, small farms to cooperative ones meant the abolition of centuries-old slavery for poor peasant women. Collective farm machinery replaced harsh physical work for women. In the cooperatives, women worked on an equal footing in all kinds of work, such as driving tractors. The cooperatives created crèches, kindergartens and schools. Women gained access to knowledge and education.

In the Soviet Asian republics with deeply ingrained patriarchal feudal clan class societies, it was the youth and young women who took a leading role in the women’s movement, often at great risks. In these republics, it was necessary to create special clubs, schools and reading rooms for women only.

A special form of information work among the nomads was called “the red tents”. With a midwife, librarian and teacher, they went from place to place and taught women to read and write as well as childcare and legal issues. They also organized a workers’ union for women carpet weavers in the existing home industry. In the mountains, similar “mountain cabins” were established.

The issue of women’s liberation and collective life are inextricably connected. Life in small, individual family groups is far more limiting for women than for men. For women, it is harder to overcome the concern for the small family in order to participate in public and social tasks because of her main responsibility for the family’s well-being.

Collective living with shared childcare, household and culture released an immense amount of energy and resources, when millions of women could be exempt from hours of individual work with home and children every day. The Bolshevik Party applied this viewpoint through the power of example and by creating the material conditions for this to be possible.

7. Women’s participation and organization in the revolution

Women workers played a major role in the revolutionary movement from the uprising of 1905. The Bolsheviks worked to organize the women into trade unions. They fought for women’s rights and for the unity in the working class against backward prejudices among many male workers. Mass strikes and demonstrations were organized among the women workers. Women’s demands for equal pay, maternity leave, kindergartens and protection against abuse and violence became an integral part of the Bolshevik Party’s political programme.

In 1914, women accounted for 25% of the industrial workforce; in 1917 it grew to 40%. During the First World War, unskilled women were primarily drawn into the textile industry and the metallurgical war industry. In the October Revolution of 1917, the masses of poor women in the countryside joined the demands for peace, bread and land. The population in the countryside at the time represented 80% of the entire population.

Lenin’s and Stalin’s Bolshevik Party were fully aware that a revolution could not be carried out without women’s participation and support and that special systematic work among women was necessary to achieve this. Either the masses of women would be won for the revolution or lost to reaction.

The Bolshevik women participated in the illegal revolutionary work. Like the men, many of them were arrested and sent into exile in Siberia. During the October Revolution of 1917, Bolshevik women took part in the revolutionary activities. They participated in the armed struggles and fought and died side by side with the men in the Red Guard.

The Bolsheviks’ line in the organization of women was to raise demands for equality and to fight against women’s oppression; but at the same time to explain that the prerequisite for implementing this was a socialist revolution. The newspaper Rabotnitsa, with Krupskaya1 and Kollontai2 as editors, played a special role in training, raising and mobilizing women around this and their role in the revolution.

Even before the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Party had a relatively large proportion of women members, because the Communist Party paid attention to work among women and insured that their abilities and energy would be set free. Conferences were organized to discuss with women workers and peasants how best to carry out this work.

After the October Revolution, the centre of special work among the masses of women under the leadership of the Party became the so-called “delegate assemblies of women workers and peasants”. In each enterprise and everywhere, one delegate was elected for every ten women. The “delegate corps” was formed whose duties were: 1) to inform women about their rights and teach them how to use them, 2) to increase their political understanding, and 3) to prepare them to participate in the work for the socialist society.

The prominent Bolshevik Nadezhda Krupskaya described how women and men changed with the development of the revolution and felt like “masters of production”. In a speech at the joint plenary session of the Communist Party in 1927, she emphasized the enormous and constant continuing development of consciousness that resulted from the October Revolution:

“If we compare a modern village with an old village, we will see that, maybe, in the sense of wealth it has not gained so much, but what do we see? We see the village busy with enormous organisational work. We see a lot of organisations there – village councils, committees of mutual assistance, the Komsomol, Women s Section, etc. We see cooperation that holds a tremendous upheaval in the economy of the village. And so, when you see how the whole village is committed to the new principles of reorganising their lives, then one recalls the words of Vladimir Ilyich – the nail of building socialism is in organisation.”

The Bolshevik Party also made great special efforts to involve and secure women’s participation in the leading bodies of Soviet power at all levels, from top to bottom, and in all sectors to ensure the true democracy that the power of the working class – the dictatorship of the proletariat – created.

8. The importance of the October Revolution for the women of the whole world

The October Revolution changed the view of women and their view of themselves. A new image of women – as equal citizens and fellow-fighters – was created, and it reverberated among all the women of the world.

The official history of the European Union states that European women were given the right to vote because they showed themselves as equal partners during World War I. This is complete hypocrisy and deception. They were not given anything. It was not the least the pressure of the October Revolution and the new view of women that forced most capitalist governments to give in to the women’s long struggle for the right to vote.

Millions of women in the western world had been drawn into production as part of the working class during the First World War. However, without the October Revolution, this would have been regarded as a temporary historical phenomenon. Instead the October revolution meant a great inspiration for the struggle and social participation of women and the working class for their rights and for a revolutionary change.

Only two decades later, Soviet power succeeded in destroying fascism in the victory over Nazi Germany. One of the reasons for this was the changed situation of women under socialism. Women were trained and prepared not only to go into war production and fight behind the lines, but to carry out the same military and civilian tasks as men. The women were no longer only a reserve that could be taken in. The Soviet people had doubled their strength by women advancing as equals.

With the revisionist seizure of power after Stalin’s death and the progressive restoration of capitalism, many of women’s great achievements were also reversed and replaced by setbacks. Today, women of the former Soviet republics face all the problems that women’s oppression under capitalism leads to. The previous great achievements of the October Revolution and the building of socialism are being kept hidden, in the capitalist as well as the former socialist camp.

The enormous progress achieved under socialism demanded an exertion of great dimensions that are hard to imagine today. The society lacked everything that could create the conditions for a better life – bricks to build kindergartens with, books and lights to learn to read, sufficient food for the children, water to wash, machines to produce, raw materials, power plants, infrastructure – and not the least education of an entire population to build a whole new society.

In addition, the progress of women required a showdown with centuries of religious, patriarchal, feudal and male-chauvinist thinking, whose influence had spread into the ranks of the working class itself, and thus, also into the Bolshevik party’s own ranks. The struggle for women’s liberation was and had to be put forward as part of the continuing class struggle under socialism.

If one asks: Did women achieve full equality and liberation in the period of building socialism after the October Revolution, then the answer must be no. It was simply not possible in the historically short period and under such conditions to create and achieve the complete material, political, social and cultural conditions for full equality in all fields. But the fact is that they achieved more than anyone had done before or since.

The October Revolution fully confirmed the theses about the women’s struggle for liberation that the great German Communist leader, Clara Zetkin,3 has summarized. Some main conclusions are:

1) that the struggle for liberation of women workers cannot be separated from the overall struggle of the working class and the revolutionary struggle for socialism; 2) that women’s final liberation can only be won through revolution and the building of socialism under the leadership of the communist party; 3) that women’s involvement and participation are crucial to the victory of the revolution and socialism and that special systematic work among women must be organized and implemented to ensure this.

This is still true in 2017. The ICMLPO’s platform for women’s struggles is based on the same basic theses.

For today’s young women in the European countries, gender equality in legal terms seems to be a matter of course. They have not known anything else. But at the same time they see that the prerequisites for this equality in practice depends on the woman’s class situation and that, as a human right, women’s rights do not apply to all people.

Millions of working women in the European countries and the EU face mass unemployment, inequality, poverty, loss of social rights, the breakdown of the public health, education and social systems that are being privatized only for those who can afford them. Women face violence, maltreatment and sexual molestation; they fear for the future of their children, the threat of war and environmental disasters.

The October Revolution confirms the complete superiority of socialism as a social system, as long as the working class has power. And although socialism does not exist as a system today, we still live in the era of imperialism and socialist revolution, where socialism is on the agenda.

Friedrich Engels, in his work, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State”, from 1884, referred to the introduction of private property as the world historic defeat for women. The October Revolution, with abolition of private property, showed and shows the way to women’s world-historic victory.

1) N. Krupskaya (1869-1939) was one of the leaders of the revolutionary Bolshevik movement. After the October Revolution, she played a key role in the development and construction of the new education system, and was Deputy People’s Commissar for Education responsible for adult education and for the development of public libraries. Krupskaya was a member of the Supreme Soviet, of the CPSU(b) leadership and also Lenin’s life partner.

2) Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952) was a Russian communist revolutionary and from 1915 a member of the Bolshevik Party. She became the world’s first woman minister \ after the October Revolution. She was People’s Commissar for Social Welfare and later ambassador to Norway, Mexico and Sweden.

3) Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) played a major role in the organization of German women workers, both as a theorist and leader of the international socialist women’s movement and in the German and international communist movement. In 1910, Clara Zetkin organized International Women’s Day on March 8.

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Contextualising sexual harassment

NOVANEWS
Sexual harassment

By Lawrence Davidson

Primitive instincts

Sigmund Freud published his book Civilisation and Its Discontents in 1930. Having witnessed World War I, Freud knew that discontent was part and parcel of the human condition. The question he sought to answer was why that was so.

The short answer he came up with goes like this:

Human beings have instinctual drives such as sex and violent aggression – expressions of the identity. Left unchecked they would destroy any hope of settled life and high culture. According to Freud, civilisation is the vehicle humans have created to control these inherent drives. Civilisation and its various component cultures create rules and regulations – as well as feelings of remorse and guilt (expressions of a culturally attuned superego) – that result in either suppression or sublimation of these primitive drives.

However, the results are not perfect, especially when it comes to controlling violent aggression. Indeed, as a consequence of the mass slaughter that was World War I, Freud came to the conclusion that human beings have a deep and permanent “death wish”. Even at less drastic levels of aggression, most societies experience frequent episodes of domestic violence, and a high degree of across-the-board neuroses.

In the Freudian scheme, control of the instinctual sexual drive (itself another form of aggression) is supposed to be a bit easier. Eros can be sublimated into the creation of beauty (art) as well as various intellectual achievements. Yet here too, what has evolved are imperfect controls, especially when encapsulated in cultures that promote male domination.

If one does not like Freud’s ideas, the whole issue of the activation and control of aggression and sex can be looked at in terms of brain function. In other words, our brains have evolved to promote survival and reproduction – originally in the pre-state, pre-tribal primate bands of distant prehistory. These tasks involve multiple parts of the cortex and amygdala, thalamus and hypothalamus, and so forth. There is one area of the brain that is particularly important in keeping instinct from running amok – the prefrontal cortex. Slow to mature (it is not fully on line until one’s mid-twenties) it is this part of the brain that exercises “executive function”. It encourages you “to do the right, though perhaps harder, thing”.

The role of culture

Despite the fact that the physical manner in which most individuals experience these primitive and instinctual drives is similar, culture makes a difference in how aggression and sexual urges are expressed. For instance, most of the world’s cultures are patriarchal. That is, they overtly assign authority, both in the public and private realms, to men. Men are supposed to exercise that authority within the confines of their culture’s rules and regulations. Sometimes these are relatively strict, damping down the “macho” impulses that rationalise aggressive physical and sexual behaviour. More often they condone or even encourage “macho”.

Keep in mind that the assignment of authority is the assignment of power, and power is the ability to act with aggression. Thus, in a patriarchy, it is with men that the issue of control is most immediate. If there are not sufficient mechanisms within such cultures that identify specific aggressive behaviour as unacceptable, or promote public shaming, or just generate a heck of a lot of remorse and guilt, you are going to have high degree male recklessness – everything from schoolyard bullying to criminal violence, as well as the sexual “acting out” we now see as not just rape, but also sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment as a worldwide problem

The common definition of sexual harassment is as follows: “uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behaviour of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or student)”. The legal definition in the US pertains chiefly to the workplace, where the unwelcome approach has the connotation of blackmail – something like, “Do this with me or you won’t get promoted.” There are also a myriad number of state and local laws that cover a wide range of situations. Many of these have been on the books only since the 1960s and, unfortunately, are not uniformly enforced.

It is hard to get exact numbers unless you start adding up the results of hundreds of surveys and polls that address the whole range of harassment-related situations. And these only give you the approximate numbers of reported incidents. Time Magazine had a series of particularly scandalous cases at Cornell and Harvard Universities in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and came up with an estimate that “as many as 18 million American females were harassed sexually while at work in 1979 and 1980”.

If this estimate is anywhere near accurate, the problem of sexual harassment has to be huge. We know it can’t be just a US problem. It has to be a worldwide phenomenon.

Sad to say, such a horrid diagnosis should not be surprising if sexual aggression stems from evolution-based drives and societal accommodation to this primal instinct through the encouragement of machismo male characteristics.

What to do?

If in nothing else, Freud was correct in seeing that culture is, albeit imperfectly, our only plausible line of defence. It takes on this role by serving as a guide for the prefrontal cortex – a guide to the “right, though harder, thing to do”. The problem is that, to date, patriarchal cultures have not defined the protection of the subordinate gender as a necessarily “right” thing. They are more interested in directing male aggression into pathways compatible with patriarchal power structures. In other words, the guide is corrupt.

Although this is the way it is, it is not the way it has to be. It is possible to reshape cultural concepts. For better or worse, religions and empowered ideologies have been doing this for a long time. However, their targets have not been male aggression, sexual or otherwise.

But now we may have a window of time when this important subject can be rethought – rethought to the end of improving the cultural assistance given to the mature prefrontal cortex. Along these lines, here are some potential steps to consider. All should be pursued in a non-ideological way. Let’s keep religion and politics out of these efforts, and let science and evolutionary awareness be our tutors.

— Educate both men and women about the nature of the primitive instincts they are subject to. As it is, most individuals grow up without having a clue about what they are experiencing. Explain the need to manage these instinctual urges in reasonable ways. Explain that this means maintaining responsible cultural values.

— Sexual egalitarianism should be implemented by law and then taught as “what is right” from kindergarten through college. The gender biases inherent in patriarchy should be seen as part of an unfortunate past history – like racism.

— Devise instructional lessons to prepare young folks for serious relationships and marriage based on egalitarian principles. Such lessons should be at least as detailed as those needed to get a driver’s license.

— Use the media to create a popular cultural environment that strongly condemns sexual harassment and other forms of aggression. The media should encourage serious remorse among bullies and harassers.

Conclusion

Do these suggestions sound like some civil authority should be allowed to shape how we think? Sorry, but in every culture, past and present, something like that has always been the case. You can also safely assume that those primitive instincts have always been playing with your mind.

And what have all the age-old, status quo cultural rules brought us so far? Civilisation? Well, perhaps. But it is a civilisation that still suffers periodic outbreaks of aggressive violence and rationalises a tradition of unwanted sexual behaviour abetted by patriarchal values. Not surprisingly, current laws, as they reflect the current state of culture, haven’t been very effective in holding either form of aggression back.

Now that the sexual harassment genie seems to have escaped the bottle, we can see the problem more clearly. It’s time to pursue serious culture renovation – to take on those primitive instincts and thoughtfully develop better, non-doctrinaire cultural ways to manage them. One thing is for sure, they are not going to go away on their own.

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Is Bitcoin a Reaction to US Dollar Hegemony?

NOVANEWS

Blockchain technology and the birth of the so-called cryptocurrencies finds deep roots in three contributing factors: the advance of technology: the manipulation of global economic and financial rules; and the persistent attempt to weaken the national economies of countries that geopolitically challenge the US power system. In this first article I address these issues from a financial point of view, in the next analysis I intend to dive into the geopolitical aspects and broader the perspective on how Russia, China and other nations are taking advantage of a decentralized financial system.

Many national economies seem to have begun the process of protecting themselves from what seems like an inevitable economic trend. De-dollarization — dumping dollars for other goods of value — has become popular not only with countries but also with ordinary individuals as a result of global technological growth and increasing access to the Internet. The financial markets are generally reflecting this same trend.

The US dollar is the world’s most dominant reserve currency. The planning and financial rules that accompany this situation are decided in the United States for the benefit of Washington and a few of her allies. This has been reflected in the creation of the petrodollar, the abolition of the gold standard, and the most recent financial crisis of 2008, with the senseless process of quantitative easing. All these economic decisions have been made with the precise aim of prolonging American domination of the global economy, artificially propping up an unsustainable financial system.

The practical consequences of this unsustainability have led over time to thoughts of a practical alternative, both to escape from the domination of the dollar and to re-anchor the economy to real value. The need to circumvent this situation has become especially urgent for countries with a large amount of dollar-denominated debt, or where they face the prospect of being excluded from the SWIFT international payment system.

It is therefore not accidental that countries like Iran and Venezuela, but also Russia and North Korea, have resorted to alternative methods to operate in the global economic space. Washington’s political decision in 2012 to remove Iranian banks from SWIFT immediately set off alarm bells for several countries. The need to escape from the possibility of being excluded from SWIFT became urgent for countries under the threat of Washington. An alternative payment system was thus born in 2015, christened the Cross-Border Interbank Payments System (CIPS), unsurprising founded by China. Basically a copy of the SWIFT system, it serves the role of being a backup system should the Americans seek to exclude from SWIFT recalcitrant countries. A more radical solution has been sought by Venezuela, with the country creating its own virtual currency. President Maduro has announced the creation of a crypto state currency based on the value of oil and supported by barrels of oil worth over five billion dollars. Venezuela has been forced to take this step because of a scarcity of US dollars in the country brought on by the economic warfare visited on the it by Washington, which has succeeded in driving the country into a deep crisis.

This search for fresh liquidity is a gamble for Maduro, who even hopes to be able to trade with allied countries in the new currency, thus circumventing international bans. Even North Korea is said to operate in bitcoin, thereby circumventing the international system of prohibitions and blockades.

The sanctions on Russia, and the influence that Washington exerts with the dollar on the global economic system, has led Moscow and Beijing to a de-dollarization agreement, establishing the yuan gold standard. Russia sells hydrocarbons to China, which pays for them in yuan, then Russia immediately converts the yuan into gold at the Shanghai Gold Exchange, in the process bypassing Washington’s sanctions.

This situation is being replicated in country after country. The United States increases financial and economic pressure on countries through such international bodies as the IMF and the World Bank, then these countries organize amongst themselves to push back against the interference. Technology has facilitated this strategy of decentralization against the center that is London and Washington, the financial heart and primary cause of manifold global problems. Firstly, the possibility of the unlimited printing of dollars has distorted global economies, inflating stock markets and causing national debts to grow out of control. Even the gold markets are manipulated by virtue of the abundance of easy money and such ponzi-scheme tools as derivatives and other forms of financial leverage. All too predictably, as seen in 2008, if it all comes crashing down, the central banks are going to bail out their partners through the mechanism of quantitative easing, guaranteeing unlimited cashflow and leaving taxpayers, along with the small players in the financial markets, to carry the burden.

It is probably too early for the common man to understand what is happening, but in fact the dollar is depreciating in relation to some more tangible assets. But gold continues to be corralled by parallel financial mechanisms and other financial instruments created for the sole purpose of manipulating the financial markets on which the common man depends in search of modest gains. As with others, the gold market suffers from the combine power of the US dollar, centralized financial institutions and market manipulation. Entities such as the FED (and their owners), criminally colluding and working with private banks, hedge funds, rating agencies and audit companies, have made immense wealth by driving the world into a debt scam that has stripped normal citizens of their future.

What is happening in the cryptocurrency markets in not only occurring in parallel with the spread of the Internet, smartphones and the increasing ability to operate in the digital world, but is also seen as a safe haven from centralized financial regulators and central banks; in other words, from the dollar and fiat currencies in general. Whether bitcoin will prove to be a wise long-term investment is yet to be seen, but the concept of cryptocurrencies is here to stay. The technology behind the idea, the blockchain, is a definitive model for decentralized economic transactions without any intermediary that can manipulate and distort the market at will. It is the antidote to the debt virus that is killing our society and spreading chaos around the world.

Washington is now left to deal with the consequences of its demented actions against its geopolitical adversaries. The decision to remove Iran from the SWIFT system, and the ongoing economic war against Russia and Venezuela, have pushed the People’s Republic of China to obviate any direct attacks on its financial system by creating an alternative economic system. The goal is to warn the United States and her allies that an economic alternative exists and is already operational, ready to be opposed to the Euro-American system if necessary. Washington does not seem to want to renounce the role of manipulator and ruler of world speculative finance, and the obvious result of this is the creation of a financial system that is slowly working against the current one. Lack of anonymity and the centrality of systems seem to be the two fundamental elements of the current financial system that orbits around London and Washington. An anonymous, decentralized and technologically reliable system could be exactly what Washington’s geopolitical adversaries have been looking for to end the US-Dollar hegemony.

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“Fractures, Fears and Failures:” World’s Ruling Elites Stare into the Abyss

Next week will see some 2,500 bankers, hedge fund managers, corporate CEOS, government officials and celebrities descend once again on the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Paying $55,000 a head as the price of admission, one could well assume that the representatives of the financial and corporate oligarchy drawn to the annual meeting, and the lavish parties that accompany it, have a lot to celebrate.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index published last month established that the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest 500 billionaires—many of whom will be in attendance—rose 23 percent over the past year, making them $1 trillion richer than at the end of 2016. And the obscene amounts of wealth keep rolling in, with the Dow closing at 26,000 Wednesday, recording its fastest ever 1,000-point rise.

Yet the principal report issued as the basis for the four days of meetings and closed-door discussions presents a picture of a global ruling elite living in mortal fear that growing economic and social crises, and, above all, the threat of world war and social revolution, may rob them of not only their fortunes, but their heads as well.

Titled “Fractures, Fears and Failures,” the WEF’s 2018 Global Risks Report includes subheads such as “Grim Reaping,” “The Death of Trade,” “Democracy Buckles,” “Precision Extinction”, “Into the Abyss”, “Fears of Ecological Armageddon” and “War without Rules.”

The report was drafted in conjunction with a survey conducted among nearly 1,000 banking and business executives, government officials and academics, which found that 93 percent of them feared a worsening of confrontations between the major powers in 2018. Fully 79 percent foresaw a heightened threat of a major “state-on-state” military conflict. The report cited both the confrontation between the US and North Korea, which has created the greatest threat of nuclear war since the height of the Cold War, and the increasingly complex inter-state conflicts produced by Washington’s military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

The fears of global war are well-founded. Last month, US President Donald Trump presented his new National Security Strategy, targeting Russia and China as “revisionist powers” standing in the way of the US assertion of global hegemony, and outlining an aggressive first-strike nuclear war policy, including against adversaries using conventional or cyber weapons.

This policy has been further fleshed out by a draft Nuclear Strategic Posture document to be unveiled by Trump later this month calling for the development of new smaller and more “usable” nuclear weapons for deployment on battlefields in Eastern Europe and Asia, making a full-scale global conflagration all the more likely.

This year’s gathering at Davos—sealed off and surrounded, as always, by thousands of troops and police—will be overshadowed by the attendance of Trump, the first US president to make an appearance since Bill Clinton 18 years ago. Aides indicate that Trump intends to deliver his standard “America First” tirade to the final session of the gathering.

While Trump’s speech may provide a particularly crude rebuff to the official slogan of this year’s forum— “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” —it will constitute only one of the more noxious symptoms of the unraveling of the entire previous framework for international economy and politics under the impact of capitalism’s deepening contradictions and the incapacity of the various rival capitalist state to create a new “shared future” or mend the world’s fractures.

The contents of the WEF risk report point to the deep and insoluble character of the crisis gripping global capitalism.

The document states that while “headline economic indicators,” i.e., the soaring rise in share prices that have fattened the portfolios of the Davos attendees, are positive, this only “masks continuing underlying concerns.”

“This has been the weakest post-recession recovery on record,” the report states, adding, “Productivity growth remains puzzlingly weak.”

The world capitalist economy, it continues, is beset by “unsustainable asset prices, with the world now eight years into a bull run; elevated indebtedness … and continuing strains in the global financial system.”

In a section titled “Into the Abyss,” the document warns:

“Against a backdrop of domestic and international political strife—and with economic policy-makers already operating in uncharted territory—the eruption of another global financial crisis could overwhelm political and policy responses. A systemic collapse of the sort that was averted in 2007-2008 could push countries, regions or even the whole world over the edge and into a period of chaos.”

In addition to “rising military tensions,” “military buildups,” “proxy conflicts” and multiple “flashpoints” threatening war, the document points to the danger of rising social tensions within every capitalist country.

“In many countries the social and political fabric has been badly frayed by many years of stagnating real incomes,” it states, pointing to figures illustrating decelerating wages and rapidly rising social inequality.

“High levels of personal debt, coupled with inadequate savings and pension provisions, are one reason to expect that frustrations may deepen in the years ahead,” the report states.

It also recalls the 2014 WEF Global Risk Report’s warning that one of the world’s greatest threats was a level of youth unemployment so high that it threatened to create a “lost generation.” The report notes dryly that in the four years since, this level has remained “broadly static.” It warns that with so many millions of young people without work, “generational clashes over fiscal and labour-market policies” may erupt.

Concern over explosive social divisions is coupled with a worried section dealing with the Internet, headlined “Digital Wildfires”. It decries “the intentional use of social media to spread misinformation,” i.e., exposures of the real conditions confronting working people in every country, as a challenge to “global governance.” The report welcomes measures taken by Google and Facebook, as well as governments, to crack down on the “disruptiveness of online misinformation” through outright censorship.

The political conclusions drawn by the report are particularly stark:

“Democracy is already showing signs of strain in the face of economic, cultural and technological disruption. Much deeper damage is possible: social and political orders can break down. If an evenly divided country sees polarized positions harden into a winner-takes-all contest, the risk increases of political debate giving way to forms of secession or physical confrontation. In these circumstances, a tipping point could be reached. A spiral of violence could begin, particularly if public authorities lost control and then intervened on one side with disproportionate force. In some countries—with widespread ready access to weapons or a history of political violence—armed civil conflict could erupt. In others, the state might impose its will by force, risking long reverberating consequences: a state of emergency, the curtailment of civil liberties, even the cancellation of elections to protect public order.”

In other words, the world’s financial oligarchy is assembling in the exclusive and scenic Alpine resort of Davos to hold a frank discussion on the prospects for a new world war, the eruption of social contradictions into civil wars and the imposition of police state dictatorships.

What is described in the WEF report are conditions already emerging in the United States and every major capitalist country.

In 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, Leon Trotsky wrote of a capitalist ruling class that “toboggans with closed eyes toward an economic and military catastrophe.” While the WEF risk report suggests that at least some elements of today’s ruling elite see the catastrophe on the horizon, they are as powerless as their forebears of 80 years ago to prevent it.

This places the greatest urgency upon the working class formulating its own independent strategic response to the global capitalist crisis, based on the perspective of uniting workers of every country in the fight to reorganize society on socialist foundations.

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Trashing the Planet for Profit

NOVANEWS

Introduction

Before I began this essay I read through some of my past forays that mentioned climate change and capitalism, the first I think, being in 2006 where I opined in a piece on the ‘War on Terror’:

Perhaps the impending climate catastrophe as well as the genocidal actions of the US will force us to finally start thinking and acting ‘outside of the box’ but without a clear idea of where we are heading or how to get there, currently the situation looks dire. — WOT is to be done?  2 November, 2006

In the intervening years, things have gotten even more dire on pretty much every front. It appears that the world’s political and business elite are even more entrenched inside their box. Except, we do know what has to be done, so why, in the face of the obvious, do we not act to forestall catastrophe?

Pessimism, Progress…

For the most part, us lefties are optimists. We believe in the future, in progress, that things will get better, eventually. That the ludicrous idea that capitalism is the ‘end of history’, that in spite of its relentless propaganda, and notwithstanding the defeat of the first socialist experiments, that there is a future beyond capitalism, conditional of course, that we come together to fight for it, as there’s nothing inevitable about it.

But as things stand, it may well be that the human race is not included in that future. Bacteria maybe, but not us.

Personally, I’ve always been an optimist, that in the future, eventually things would get better. Progress, revolution. Not in my lifetime perhaps but eventually we would move beyond capitalism to a sane society. One not driven by greed and short-term gain for the few. Until that is, the reality of climate change hit home, but more on this later.

And the Personal…

After my father died when I was 10, my mother got together with a family friend and he became not exactly a replacement for my father but let’s say, almost, for around 12 years (he died in 2016). Like most of my family and on both sides, he was also a lefty. A talented person. Royal College of Art, a designer, an actor, singer, song writer and lecturer, and a communist his entire life (he was 85 when he died). Like me, he was an optimist. He believed in a better future, better than this miserable present; until a year or so before his death that is (I think he starved himself to death because of his change of heart).

I surmise that what brought about this change was his belief that it was already too late, we had reached the proverbial ‘tipping point’ and there was no going back. He believed that the changes wrought on the biosphere by 200 years of industrial capitalism were now irreversible. We were on the slide toward catastrophe and there was nothing we could do about it given the stranglehold the 1% have on the world. Perhaps even worse, that no matter what we did now or in the future, it was already too late to halt, let alone reverse, catastrophic (to us) climate change.

Trashing the Planet, one plastic bottle at a time

When I was a child, in fact into my teens, containers came in only three types; glass/ceramic; paper/wood/cardboard and metal. All were recyclable and for most part, they were. Our milk was delivered to the front door in glass bottles, by our Coop milkman, Billy. There was no deposit on them, we left the (clean) empties for Billy to collect, returned to the bottling plant where they were washed and reused, at least three times before being recycled. And as a teenager I worked every Saturday on that Coop milk float, horse-drawn, would you believe. The horse knew the route better than we did. It knew at which house we stopped for tea and chocolate digestive biscuits and when to move on. Billy rarely touched the horse and I never did, I was frightened of it, it liked to bite.

And we bought our fruit and veg in paper bags from the local greengrocer, not a hundred meters from where we lived. Ditto the bread, from the bakery, fresh baked twice a day, one hundred meters past the greengrocers.

Nostalgia? Perhaps that’s a small part of it but the recent statistic that in a few years time there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish goes to the very heart of an economic system that can only see profit and worse, can’t see beyond today, beyond short-term gain, even if its actions threaten its own future as a class, as a system. Insane? You bet!

But as I’ve written many, many times before (herehereherehere, and here to name a few), the 1% think they can survive the coming conflagration, that their money, power, technology and weapons will enable them to ride out the coming storm, sacrificing the defenceless of the planet in the name of profit.

The problem is that we are witnessing exponential, negative feedback, so what was predicted say 10 years ago as a ‘breathing space’ of 30 or 50 years in which to take steps to halt the slide is now predicted to be ‘only’ 10 years and no doubt soon it will be upon us. No years! How can one be positive in the face of these revelations without entering a state of denial or resignation?

Even more repulsive, the 1% have no problem sacrificing vast swathes of humanity to preserve their privilege and the rule of capital. The ‘other’ are after all, ‘surplus to requirement’. A vast army of surplus labour, global in scope, not needed by the privileged few. And the effects of climate change are happening now, never mind ten years time, in places like Bangladesh and Puerto Rico. Firstly, by doing nothing to change the economic system that’s caused it and secondly by doing nothing where climate change has already caused unimaginable disasters and suffering.

We can’t say we haven’t been warned

56 years ago, in 1962, Rachel Carson wrote ‘Silent Spring’, about the disastrous effects of synthetic pesticides on the environment and on us. For her trouble:

“Carson was violently assailed by threats of lawsuits and derision, including suggestions that this meticulous scientist was a “hysterical woman” unqualified to write such a book. A huge counterattack was organized and led by Monsanto, Velsicol, American Cyanamid — indeed, the whole chemical industry — duly supported by the [US] Agriculture Department as well as the more cautious in the media.” – Climate Change: World War III by another name? 4 December 2008, By William Bowles

Over 50 years later climate scientists have suffered comparable attacks, with the sociopath Trump, who far from being the exception to capitalist rule, actually personifies it in all its naked barbarity. The only differences is that Trump publicly avows that he doesn’t give a damn! What we witness with Trump’s irrational attacks is a system at the end of its tether so-to-speak. Enraged by its failure to achieve total hegemony over the planet, it lashes out like some wounded beast. Unless stopped, it threatens nuclear Armageddon to add to its list  of genocidal crimes against the planet and its peoples.

Is it too late?

But what are the chances of overthrowing capitalism before it’s too late to stop, let alone reverse the changes wrought by this insane system? Can organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and indeed, a whole slew of ‘green’ pressure groups, force the capitalists to reverse their suicidal trajectory?

Not until they stop avoiding the issue of confronting capitalism itself rather than the ‘morally uplifting’ but ineffectual route of the personal act e.g., not buying stuff in plastic bottles. Not that, as individuals, we shouldn’t stop buying stuff in plastic bottles but that real change can only come through collective actions, as a class that collectively opposes capitalism and furthermore advocates an alternative way of living. For myself, I don’t see any other alternative than to some form of socialism.

Thus the current drive against the production of plastic bottles once more puts the onus on us, or the current fad around plastic-lined paper coffee cups (all ten billion of them) again, it puts the onus on us. But there is no call to ban their production or ban the production of the endless stream of plastic cartons, wrappings and boxes that are filling up the oceans and our waste tips. Make us pay for it instead with a levy (tax) on their sale. A tax no doubt that will be used to wage ever more wars on the planet. And we have to face the fact that we can’t have our cake and eat it, when it’s the planet and its peoples that paying the price for our useless and unhappy lives, in spite of the gadgets and 4K TVs.

As ever, the public and the planet pay the price for capitalist, profit-driven production. But ultimately it is actually our responsibility but it’s of a different order than being obedient but ‘responsible’ consumers by recycling this and that. It’s by tackling the issue at its root, capitalism. This is a qualitatively different struggle that requires not individual actions (though they are important), but organised, collective action to transform the way we make our living; our economic mode of production.

Moreover, it will require sacrifice on our part. We will have to decide how want to live our lives. I fear however that by the time we decide that going into debt to buy all the crap that ends up sitting in cupboards unused across the nation (allegedly 30% of it), it will be too late for us to do anything about it.

What is to be Done?

So, is it hopeless? Everything in me cries out, no, it’s not hopeless! We can do something about it before it’s too late. But what exactly, are the somethings that we need to do?

I think some of the initial somethings are self-evident, well at least to me. For example, the existing environmental/green groups need to wake up and smell the coffee and join with what’s left of our left and in turn, what’s left of our left needs to wake and smell the coffee too and put a stop to its imperial thinking and stop telling the rest of the planet what to do and concentrate on the problem of how to deal with the contradiction of being privileged citizens of the Imperialist world and at the same time calling ourselves socialists. Furthermore, what’s left of our left needs to stop cannibalising itself by spending most of its time attacking the various left factions and focus instead on tackling the real enemy, capitalism.

There is another issue which I fear is probably even more difficult to deal with and that’s our understanding (or lack of it) of what happens outside the imperial ‘bubble’ we live in. A friend of mine pointed it out to me the other day, noting that I had the advantage of having lived on three continents, including Africa. I had, at least in theory, the advantage of knowing what it was like to experience the reality of a world shaped by imperialism, one that has enabled me to step outside that bubble of imperial privilege, that influences even the most allegedly radical lefty.

It comes down to the ability to empathise, or not, with another person’s reality. To be able to put one’s self in another person’s shoes. To see and experience their reality rather than impose our own onto theirs. Hence an alleged lefty, indeed a ‘professional’ lefty like Tariq Ali, who said in 2012:

“He [Assad] has to be pushed out” – Assad must go to save Syria from interventionRT, 15 February 2012

By what right does Ali say this? The issue really is not about whether Assad should or shouldn’t go but about Ali’s almost divine right to lay down the law about another country from his privileged position as a citizen of Empire. The fact that he said it allegedly in the context that it would avert Western intervention if Assad stepped aside, totally misses the point, for if Assad was to go, it would mean that Imperialism had succeeded in its objective without the need for intervention! Duh! Ali attempted to rationalise his position by stating that:

“[Ali] believes that once Assad falls, the new government will keep good relations with Iran, because this will be in the interest of the new democratic government.” – Tariq Ali says Assad has to go: I’m depressed – no, I’m outraged, By William Bowles, 15 February 2012

I responded, ‘What new democratic government?’ Total wishful thinking on Ali’s part as it assumes that that’s what the West wants, a democratic government and should Assad step aside, that’s what Syria would get. Duh! Talk about self-delusion!

It exemplifies the contradiction of being an alleged socialist at home and enjoying the privilege of being part of the Empire’s intellectual elite and paid very well thank you very much, whilst dictating to Syria what it should and shouldn’t do. I fail to see the distinction between Ali’s arrogance and that of the West, that called for exactly the same thing! Assad has to go!

Furthermore, it reveals the gulf that has to be bridged between us and the proverbial ‘them’, the ‘other’. No mean stretch. It also illustrates the problem we face here, at home, in the belly of the beast of coming to terms with our responsibilities to the planet that we have raped for the past 500 years and continue to rape in order to preserve our (relative) privilege.

Perhaps this in part explains why collectively, we refuse to accept responsibility for the state of the planet. Yes, ultimately, it’s the economic system, capitalism that’s doing the damage but surely it’s time we also accept responsibility for our role in maintaining an unsustainable economic system, a system that in the short term we all benefit from.

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YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017 Top Ten Conspiracies

NOVANEWS
BY 

Patrick Henningsen and Shawn Helton
21st Century Wire

Once again, we’ve arrived at our New Years Eve wrap-up of some of the most compelling and conspiratorial stories of the year. Like in years past, 2017 presented a polarizing political landscape, further exposing the current establishment paradigm. Unlike the establishment gatekeepers, when we use the word ‘conspiracy’ here, we are talking about a real crime scene. Whether it was the ousting of thousands of western-backed terrorists in Iraq and Syria or a string of ‘known wolf’ attacks amplified by made-to-order media agitprop, or the heavily manufactured Russia-gate narrative relentlessly pushed by mainstream outlets and Deep State actors  – it seemed there was no shortage of topsy-turvy stagecraft designed to mislead and confuse the masses at a time when the real world is undergoing some significant geopolitical realignments.

As was the case in 2016, there were many high-profile incidents and individual stories which didn’t make our annual compendium (but they are worth mentioning) – like the ‘red herring’ laced New Year’s Eve mass shooting at Turkey’s Reina nightclub that kicked off 2017 in classic Daily Shooterfashion, along with other dubious events like Fort Lauderdale’s FBI-known shooter and subsequent CNN media circus. On the political front, it was a banner year for astroturfing starting with “The Resistance” which spent most of the first 3 months of the year demanding Trump’s impeachment before he had served 100 days in office. As part of these efforts, we saw Hollywood and the Democratic Party’s choreographed women’s march backed by political agitator and perennial globalist George Soros, as well as MoveOn.org and other Soros-backed protests which followed Trump’s highly controversial immigration ban, as contentious resignations by key members of the Trump White House loomed large. The stage was then set for Antifa’s US ‘riot tour’ which culminated the Charlottesville riots in Virginia followed by a series of ‘social justice’ protests over Confederate statues, followed by more extremist left-wing “antifascists” foot-soldiers like ‘black bloc‘ throwing molotov cocktails and smashing buildings for kicks. And that only scratches the surface of what transpired in 2017.

Other notable stories throughout the year included the Trump administration’s decision to announce the creation of an ‘Arab NATO‘ headquartered in Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest state sponsored of terror (US being the largest).  That geopolitical gambit then teed up the Trump White House to announce that the US Embassy in Tel Aviv would begin proceedings to move to Jerusalem, a shift which some critics believe is further evidence of an ultra-Zionist agenda encroaching on Israeli-occupied Palestine and the West Bank. On the Asia front, questions emerged over what North Korea actually has in terms of ICBM missiles and a nuclear deterrent, while in the Middle East speculation raged about Saudi Arabia’s historic palace purgeand sabre rattling in the region. The year then saw the exposure of a giant US-NATO-Saudi weapons trafficking operation using diplomatic flight in order to arm terrorists in Syria and Iraq. 2017 also saw the mainstream media continue to market the media construct known as Bana of Aleppo, expecting the public to believe that an 8 year old girl who could not speak English was running a Twitter account from war-torn (and terrorist-occupied) East Aleppo from the autumn of 2016 – all the while waxing poetic about the evil Assad, and the evil Russians and calling for US military intervention in Syria… pure propaganda and a clear case of child exploitation. Interestingly, this outlandish Bana propaganda myth campaign has been shamelessly promoted by the multimillionaire Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. 2017 also saw a wave of intelligence releases, set in motion by the CIA, who released more than 12 million documents pertaining to covert war programs, psychic research and the Cold War era, further outlining the symbiotic relationship between the agency and American media. This was followed by Wikileaks exposing much of the CIA’s cyber hacking capabilities in their ‘Vault 7’ and later in their Vault 8publications. Towards the end of the year, a new twist in the downing of MH17 revealed an apparent Netherlands cover-up, as another bizarre Daily Shooter event, the Texas Church shooting, would later disappear from headlines. Around the same time frame, new questions also emerged in the Sandy Hook saga concerning prior knowledge of the FBI, as New York was then stricken by a known wolf truck attacker. In December it was finally announced that after being held in prison for two years without trial, the Fed’s Bundy Ranch Standoff case was declared a mistrial. However, most of the year’s controversial stories were quickly pushed to the back page, buried underneath an avalanche of ready-to-go Weinstein-inspired sex abuse scandals involving Hollywood’s elite punctuated by obligatory hashtag campaigns like #MeToo, before snagging a number of high-profile news media personalities and some of Washington’s most coveted swamp dwellers. As an onslaught of new accusations flooded the media, the sordid revelation of a Congressional slush fund used to payoff sexual harassment accusers made headlines. The whole situation conjured DC‘s Conspiracy of Silence regarding tales of sexual misconduct in days past.

All in all, it was another year of ‘hyper-real’ media propaganda, as some stories published by mainstream media led to a cascade of retractions and corrections, and in certain cases, provided an all to convenient mask for other politically charged news throughout much of 2017. Unlike the mainstream media ‘official’ conspiracies (like Russiagate), these ones are actually real…

10.  The JFK Files  Over the course of 2017, one of America’s most compelling conspiracies was reignited following the release of thousands of intelligence files long-held by the CIA and FBI. In late October, the Trump administration called for the release of the remaining JFK files, citing the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act deadline placed into law in 1992. While the material released was reportedly a mix of new and old, some critics declared that the recently declassified files revealed even more startling evidence related to the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. This prompted larger legacy media establishments to provide a murky retelling of the JFK saga.  Predictably, a week after the releases, one newer CIA memo stated that any links between the CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald, were “unfounded.” In essence, the JFK file releases appear to have been a way for the political powers that be to shut the door on a conspiracy that has an overwhelming amount of information suggesting CIA links not only to Oswald, but many of the characters surrounding the case. In reality though, as newfound interest in the JFK files was reawakened, it cast light on the over five decade old case, reopening the door to coup d’état claims concerning JFK and Cold War era ‘false flag’ terror. In particular, terror created by Operation GLADIO, a CIA-NATO construct, which utilized covert armies to subvert the political interests of various nations through the implementation of a Cold-War era strategy of tension. The further one digs into America’s seedy underworld of organized crime, intelligence operations, unlikely coincidences and secretive relationships concerning the mysterious plot to kill Kennedy, a highly intricate web of activity emerges that points to a compelling case beyond almost any other modern-day conspiracy.

1 Grenfell Tower

9. Grenfell Tower Fire & Cover-Up – It was Britain’s biggest domestic disaster post WWII, and from the minute this story broke, reports of government and corporate corruption began to surface. This real-life Towering Inferno featured some of the most surreal revelations, including a corrupt government Qango known as TMO (Tenant Management Organisation) who had paid a contractor to install highly flammable petroleum-based ‘cladding’ on the building, supposedly to meet ‘green sustainability goals’ but also to cover-up what wealthy property developers deemed as an eye sore (social housing high rise building), part of London’s continuous and rampant ‘gentrification’ property bubble agenda. The controversy did not stop with the fire itself though, as residents and concerned members of the public began to question the abnormally low death count which was being trumpeted by the media and the government agencies. Meanwhile, thousands of residents from Grenfell Tower and the surrounding buildings continued to suffer and mourn the loss of loved ones and friends – leaving in indellible scar on the community – while the government’s elite Common Purpose management class continued on with business as usual. Six months on,  the public is still wondering whether anyone will be arrested, or held to account for this unprecedented story of criminal negligence. In one of its most seminal episodes, the SUNDAY WIRE radio show, along with its affiliate the UK Column, drove the investigative agenda early on in this story, with the mainstream media later picking talking points covered by this independent media outlet.

8. The Crisis in Yemen – Back in January 2015 – while the world was focused on the war in Syria, 21WIRE first raised the alarm over Yemen after it noticed the insatiable war-time president Barack Obama, along with Deep State and Pentagon media outlet CNN began drifting out talking points about Yemen. It wasn’t long after that, in March 2015, that Saudi Arabia – with the full military and political backing of the US and UK, began an undeclared war of aggression against Saudi’s neighbor Yemen. Nearly three years on, with tens of thousands slaughtered by Saudi airstrikes dropping their newly purchased US and UK munitions (and even enjoying air refueling by the US military) and with the Saudi and US military blockade which is keeping much-needed humanitarian aid from entering the war-ravaged country leading to mass starvation and disease outbreaks like cholera on the peninsula – why isn’t the international community calling out the illegal war against Yemen for what it is – genocide? In order to prop-up their fake narrative on Yemen, the US and UK mainstream media conglomerates and their state propaganda directors from intelligence agency information warfare units have concocted a new batch of official disinformation lies and myths used to muddy the waters of this important discussion and ultimately justify their slaughter and arms sales bonanza in Yemen. On balance, what the US, UK and Saudi Arabia have done to Yemen is by orders of magnitude worse than what Nazi Germany did to its neighbors in the initial phase of WWII. Nothing less than a new Nuremberg Trial will be suitable to help correct this act of international barbarism.

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7. London’s GLADIO-style Attacks  On March 22nd, an apparent two-pronged terror attack stretched from London’s Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square. In the days leading up to the London attacks, it was revealed that Met Police rehearsed a ‘terrifyingly realistic’ drill on the River Thames prior to yet another known wolf act of terror taking place. Adding to the drama, the London attacks occurred exactly one year after the Brussels airport bombingsIn addition, the bizarre and unexpected event took place during a massive uptick of Western allied involvement in the Syrian conflict and in less than 24 hours, London authorities revealed that the British-born attacker named Khalid Masood, (after media outlets erroneously reported the wrong suspect) was already well-known to MI5 and had worked in Saudi Arabia sometime between 2005-2008. Shortly after the attack, it was revealed that eye-witnesses reported seeing multiple assailants at the crime scene, this was something that directly contradicted the official story. In fact, in those reports, it was suggested that at least two individuals participated in the large-scale attack in one of the most heavily surveilled parts of London. This aspect of the case was quickly buried by major media outlets, echoing other high-profile cases involving ‘known wolf’ terrorists. In recent years, there’s been a pattern of multiple suspects often witnessed or said to be involved in other terror-related events. This proved to be the case in the aftermath of the Nice, France truck attack, as well as the Brussels airport bombing in 2016. Rather incredibly or unbelievably, London’s acting Police Commissioner Craig Mackey, just so happened to be at the scene to ‘witness’ the Parliament Square attack on Pc Keith Palmer. All in all, the latest symbolically charged ‘ISIS-approved’ attack on the verge of spring, appeared to be an effort to polarize the perception of Western viewers with yet another round of wartime propaganda, while also providing a media smoke screen for recent US military action in Syria. By early summer, just after the Manchester arena bombing, London once again became a target of a purported multi-pronged terror event right on the heels of the UK’s hotly contested 2017 general election. Afterwards, a number of questions were raised following the London Bridge attacks, just as there were following the Parliament Square, Westminster Bridge attacks and the Manchester Arena attack. It’s important to note the common thread between each suspicious event, and the recent UK attacks are no exception – there’s now indisputable evidence linking MI5 and MI6 British security services to various ‘known wolves‘ prior to carrying out the terror crimes mentioned above. The precarious relationship between security and terror is an ongoing pattern seen after almost every major terror attack on Western soil. Throughout 2017, the London attacks seemed to increase racial and ethnic tensions in the West, while also pushing the public into accepting a more direct military intervention in Syria, and new police state measures and surveillance powers in the UK – prompting us to ask, who benefited the most from the London Attacks? We’d say the answer to that question is pretty obvious now…

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6. Manchester’s ‘Known Wolf’ Arena Attack – Another day, another conspiratorial crime. In this case, the public was witness to yet another known wolf  terror attack allegedly carried out by an ‘ISIS-inspired’ individual who, as with numerous other cases, was under the gaze of MI5. The man named in the Manchester bombing attack, Salman Abedi, was also tied to a terror group supported by NATO in Libya during the operation to oust Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. The Manchester arena attack proved to be more than just blowback from security operations gone awry, it provided further evidence of complicity on behalf of the West in the ‘War On Terror’ era. While some researchers and analysts were a buzz with the numerological synchronicities associated with the Manchester attack, others noted some very real political circumstances and significant timelines surrounding this apparent mass-tragedy in Manchester. The event just happened to arrive on the heels of a monolithic arms deals with Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion dollars that will total $350 billion over the next 10 years, and only shortly after the Manchester attack, there were US-led coalition airstrikes supposedly targeting ISIS in both Syria and Iraq – that killed 121 civilians in the process. The strikes led to increased tension, placing external pressure on the Russian-led Astana Peace Agreement in Syria, while continuing to benefit the strategic movements of ISIS in Syria. The really damning link however, was exposed by one major UK Government eyesore after the Manchester attacks: the revelation that a community of ‘outlawed’ Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) terrorists were in fact living in close proximity to the Manchester attacker Abedi, and directly connected to Abedi himself. This was a deeply troubling development for a public unaware of the nearby danger, as British security services and officials allowed this ‘thriving’ group of fighters to reside in the UK seemingly without consequence or disclosure of their previous activities – until the Manchester attack. So naturally, when it was revealed that Ramadan Abedi (the father of the purported Manchester suicide bomber) was also a member of the UK government-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and was believed to have been a part of LIFG during the NATO-backed regime change operation in Libya in 2011 – it only raised more questions concerning the attack. It’s worth noting, Libya’s militant governor of Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, was also a part of the Mujahideen fighters closely linked to Bin Laden who became known as al-Qaeda. In fact, Belhadj “returned to his home country [in 1995] as head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an underground paramilitary organisation dedicated to Gaddafi’s downfall.” Over the years, Belhadj was incarcerated and turned loose back into the field after being rendered by the CIA and British security services. As of 2015, despite the Manchester attack links to LIFG, the group is still on the US State Department’s Delisted Foreign Terrorist Organizations. In the days after the attack, authorities released CCTV imagery apparently depicting the Manchester attacker Abedi, in what appeared to be a way to dramatize the bombing through emotionally charged imagery, as the media obscured other facts and connections observed in the aftermath of the attack itself. The Manchester attack was similar to other high-profile incidents used to distort public opinion in the wake of media styled mass-tragedies.

5.  The Las Vegas Mass Shooting – October 1st marked the return of the Great American Mass Shooting – a real record-breaker, complete with a shocking mile-long crime scene that stretched from the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino to the nearby Route 91 Festival, where thousands of concertgoers suddenly became a target. Although America had seen a host of smaller, less sensationalized mass shootings throughout the course of 2017, including the bizarre Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting and the strange Programmed to Kill Texas Church shooting, the high-profile Las Vegas calamity resuscitated the trauma inducing imagery so prevalent in the post-9/11 War On Terror era. This made-for-TV event was designed for media shock and awe, like “the 9/11 of Mass Shootings.” Over the past several years, 21WIRE has chronicled many bizarre shootings and mass casualty incidents that have rippled across America and Europe. These events have become a new kind of ritualized ‘crimescape’ moving well beyond ‘security’ concerns, but now accompanied by a complete range of  socio-political mainstream media talking points including race, religion, ‘gun reform’, ‘social media concerns’ and domestic extremism – while concurrently obscuring and obfuscating the forensic reality of the crimes themselves. We’re told that this tragic shooting attack was carried out by a classic “lone gunman” – one individual without a criminal past (or nay past, as far as we could tell) – but there proved to be much more to the story. Adding to this ‘hyper-real’ incident, the main suspect in the Las Vegas tragedy was also revealed to be a multi-millionaire ‘players club’ member, 64 year-old Stephen Paddock. With no motive and no criminal history, Las Vegas police were tasked with uncovering details of a crime overseen by billionaire bosses at MGM Resorts International and the FBI. As authorities failed to uncover a clear motive for the crime, police scanner audio, along with eye-witness testimony suggested that multiple shooters may have been at the scene, although this aspect was downplayed by mainstream media. This was quickly followed by several official ‘revisions’ in the timeline of the shooting and even the crime scene itself, as evidenced by this disastrous press conference which failed to yield any new information in the case. The star-witness of the shooting, Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos, also vanished and was declared “missing” right before a major media interview, only to resurface much later on the oddest of media venues, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” giving media gatekeepers the chance to run interference for DeGeneres‘s slot machine business partners at MGM. Along the way, bizarre media performances by Paddock’s brother, Eric Paddock, only prompted more questions and deepened the mystery surrounding this surreal case. While the public waited for MGM to release CCTV footage of the alleged shooter Paddock, not one tape materialized, except for an older tape from 2011. Staged photos of the Mandalay Bay crime scene led to other forensic questions concerning the weaponry used, compounding other acoustic anomalies already noted. Other confusing elements of the case included the missing hard drive from Paddock’s laptop, another brother’s arrest, the wiring of $100,000 to his live-in girlfriend’s (Marilou Danley) home country, the Philippines, Paddock’s previous employment at the predecessor company of Lockheed Martin, a reported break-in at one of his homes after the shooting, the absurd insertion of an “ISIS-inspired” motive (which a number of dubious click-bait media outlets ran with), and later seeing a back drop of active shooter related drills and government activity, along with details suggesting Paddock may not have been alone and much more. In the search for answers in America’s largest-ever mass shooting, months later, we still have yet to see any CCTV footage of the alleged killer or his whereabouts leading up to the tragedy, as he moved in and around Las Vegas. Imagine that: no CCTV footage. While some have attempted to make sense of the Las Vegas shooting tragedy, there are reports of a major push to revamp security in the hospitality industry through the use of gunfire detection systems, X-ray, body scanners and facial recognition in the wake of this confusing, if not partly manufactured event. The popular media concept of a lone wolf killer in today’s world has reprogrammed the public mind in the very same way that the serial killer phenomenon did decades ago. This new fear-based saga has ushered in a string of improbable Hollywood-style scenarios, inducing a frozen apathy across the masses. Rather than looking deeply at crime scene forensics or pouring over piles of collected data, these Daily Shooter crimes hold the public psyche hostage… until the next unexplained mass tragedy. Until the next episode…

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4. Syria’s Sarin Gas False Flag – In less than 24 hours after the highly dubious alleged chemical attack on April 4th (reported to be Sarin gas by Western media) in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib province of Syria, wide-scale unsubstantiated condemnation laid blame at the doorstep of the Syrian government and Russia following the release of video footage that had yet to be forensically scrutinized. In fact, the mainstream media flooded the airwaves with a bevy of circumstantial and speculative evidence – a far cry from actual hard evidence. Leaders in Washington and Western media outlets once again set the stage for wider military intervention in Syria. Days after the release of a forensically unproven chemical attack out of Khan Shaykhun, US President Donald Trump ordered a military strike on the Syrian government’s Shayrat Air Base in response to the alleged chemical attack in Idlib. Trump’s missile strike won him instant praise from the Pentagon media oracle CNN, as well as giddy celebrations by war-mongering neocons in the US. Perhaps the most telling aspect of  Syria’s most recent mass casualty terror tragedy, was the suspicious involvement of the US-UK-NATO-Gulf state backed NGO known as the White Helmets– a group who once again was witnessed in wartime imagery that was not only full of anomalies but a production designed to evoke an emotional response rather than one based in rationality. Since their inception in late 2013, the White Helmets have largely conducted their so-called rescue operations in rebel-terrorist held areas in Syria, while producing an unprecedented amount of western-oriented war propaganda for nations deeply invested in arming and backing rebel-terrorists vying for regime change in Syria. Nearly two weeks after the alleged sarin gas attack, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Theodore Postol directly disputed claims concerning the official US report regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack out of Khan Shaykhun in the “rebel-held” terrorist-occupied Idlib province of Syria. Postol’s initial analysis, along with its addendum, appeared to echo what MIT research affiliate and former US Congressional staffer Subrata Ghoshroy observed in the aftermath of the Syrian chemical incident in East Ghouta, Damascus in 2013. In addition, other award-winning American journalists like Seymour Hersh and Gareth Porter also exposed the “sarin attack” narrative as a fabrication promulgated by a corrupt OPCW – but their reports were muted by mainstream gatekeepers. Both apparent attacks in Damascus and Idlib, were claimed through the presentation of dubious video imagery and suspicious photographs as a main source of evidence. Despite the absence of any real forensic investigation, the western media proclaimed ‘certainty’ over images and videos largely supplied by the dubious ‘NGO’ known as the ‘White Helmets.’ It would later be revealed that on April 4th, the Syrian Air Force had also struck a warehouse in Idlib where chemical weapons were said to have been produced and stockpiled by US-backed militants. What was most disturbing, was that many in US-UK leadership seemed desperate for the public to buy into any WMD claims without concrete proof and in the process, they deliberately pushed heavily propagandized imagery presented on social media as proof of the as yet forensically unproven sarin gas attack. In essence, the whole event became a wag the dog moment ensnaring not only the White House, but many leaders in the UK as well.

3. White Helmets Fraud – The White Helmets. Who are they, who created them, who funds them, and which master do they serve in Syria? In the US and in Europe, these fundamental questionsroutinely go unanswered by the western mainstream media organizations and government officials. Since first appearing on the western media scene in late 2013, the UK and US government-funded pseudo ‘NGO’ known as the White Helmets has achieved cult-like status as their pictures adorn the front pages of newspapers and CNN breaking news segments about Syria. For the last 4 years, their principle function has been to produce a steady stream of “anti-Assad regime” and anti-Russian propaganda tailored for western audiences. Since 2015, 21WIRE led the way in asking these important questions, and in 2017 the overwhelming pressure of mounting evidence of the White Helmet fraud eventually led to various shoddy academics in the US and in the UK mainstream media outlets attacking 21WIRE and its writers for challenging the official White Helmets narrative – and for exposign how the UK government has been channeling hundreds of millions of pounds into terrorist-occupied areas of Syria under the thin guise building “civil society” (US and UK trojan horse) organizations in Syria. Establishment attacks included one mainstream media outlet promoting the White Helmets, The Guardian newspaper in the UK. According to The Guardian anyone who dared to question their official government-sanctioned narrative were ‘conspiracy theorists’ and somehow part of a secret ‘Russian-backed propaganda campaign.’ Despite mountains of evidence including various fake rescue videos, colluding in acts of murder and extreme violence and evidence which clearly depicts the dodgy ‘search and rescue’ groups’ members as dual members in armed al Qaeda terrorist affiliates operating in “rebel-held” opposition areas of Syria – western mainstream media are still determined to play dumb on this issue, which only goes to prove just how ignorant mainstream gatekeepers are as to the realities on the ground in Syria, or worse – how controlled are mainstream editors’ desks by the western intelligence apparatus. Either way, Toto has already drawn the Wizard’s curtain all the way back – and it’s only a question of time before western media apologists and clueless politicians retreat into full “no comment” mode on this issue.

2. The Russia-Gate PsyOp – It’s been 18 months since the Democratic Party and the US mainstream media launched its “Russia-gate” narrative, claiming that Moscow had hacked the DNC, John Podesta and somehow influenced the result of the US 2016 Presidential Election. 18 months later, there’s still no evidence to substantiate this mainstream conspiracy theory – making Russiagate easily the biggest fake news story of the year. What’s most telling about this ‘official’ conspiracy theory (as it turns out, it’s the mainstream that peddles the grandest conspiracy theories) is that its proponents have to resort to publishing repeated lies and wild exaggerations in order to maintain the pillars supporting their narrative. So desperate were the New York Times to tie Trump to Russia that it even claimed that ‘the Russians’ where creating Facebook pages about puppies in order to ‘confuse and mislead’ vulnerable American voters. New York Times also had to retract their central lie which claimed that 17 US Intelligence agencies had all agreed that the Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election – but still we hear legions of mindless ‘journalists’ and shaky politicians like Adam Schiff (who, not surprisingly is also promoting the White Helmets) repeating that same old canard. As part of Washington’s new McCarthyite red scare reboot, the US government labeled Russian international media network RT, and RT America as “foreign agents” – forcing the channel and its journalists to register with the US government under old outdated pre-WWII espionage legislation. Other fake claims by US media include ‘Kremlin bots‘ deployed on Facebook to mess with the fragile minds of potential voters on social media, and CNN’s all-time classic: an “Exclusive!” no less – claiming that the Russians somehow infiltrated the computer game Pokemon Go in order to ‘sow confusion among Americans.’ Honestly, we couldn’t make it up if we tried. What’s beyond ironic is that the same media who has been constantly crying “fake news!” as their prime talking point to explain how Trump beat Clinton – has been dutifully recycling their own fake news narrative for over a year now. This one will surely go down in history as the biggest political hoax of all-time – and all of the mainstream media outlets who helped promulgate this myth should also go down with it. Sadly, too many mentally-challenged lawmakers in the US, UK and Europe are actually basing their foreign policies of this mainstream fake news myth – which is all too convenient for an ever-inflating the US defense budget, NATO’s breakneck expansion eastward, and also for Brussels’ new roll-out of its EU Army

1. ‘Fake News 2.0’ – 2017 was the year of fake news. Last year, we crowned Fake News 1.0 as our top conspiracy, but this past year has seen it ascend to an entirely new level. From the beginning, this faux crisis had a clear set of political objectives. The first was to provide a scapegoat for Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic imploding presidential run, and secondly, to try and prop-up the establishment’s official conspiracy theory that somehow the Russians were spreading ‘fake news’ across social media and alternative media websites – in order to help Donald Trump win the election. On this front, many of us are indebted to Trump for branding CNN with the meme that keeps sticking, as the President hit CNN’s bumbling White House correspondent Jim Acosta, with Trump pointing to Acosta and saying, “You are fake news!” live on national TV. If was a glorious moment for sure. Newspapers like the Washington Post performed a key role for the US Deep State by pushing-out fictional news features like the one claiming 200 of the leading alternative media websites were part of some Kremlin-orchestrated network of websites carrying out “active measures” (a defunct Cold War term) propaganda against the American people. The Post even presented a bogus anonymous construct, a website called ‘PropOrNot‘ in order to try and make their conspiracy theory look official. Around the same time, a radical progressive academic from Merrimack College in Massachusetts published a “fake news list” – a database and virtual ‘blacklist’ designed to defame and slander any independent media outlets who happened to veer from the party line and challenge the policies of Hillary Clinton and Obama. Dr. Zimdars heavily politicized ‘list’ was promoted by  the LA Times which, like the fraudulent story published in The Post, claimed that hundreds of alternative media websites were producing ‘fake news’ and ‘conspiracy’ stories and therefore were unreliable as information sources. It wasn’t long before the establishment began referencing these politicized lists, holding them up as ‘proof’ of some crisis in what the liberal intelligensia proudly dubbed a “post-truth” world. Despite the establishment’s insistence on pushing this faux crisis, an increasing number of smart news consumers came to realize that for at least the last century and half, the establishment’s tightly-controlled information syndicate has been able to manufacture its own consensus reality through the use of their own ‘official’ fake news. By channeling public opinion in this way, the mainstream press has helped facilitate a number of engineered outcomes – including war. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the fake news’ circus, is that Silicon Valley monopolies like Google and Facebook have taken it upon themselves to manipulate their online platforms in such a way that they are choosing which websites and news sources will be ‘de-ranked’ and effectively hidden from the view of most users, and, in the case of Facebook – censoring real information presented by independent, non mainstream journalists, but allowing political operatives to abuse their problematic “communitarian” information policing system to strike off ‘offensive’ content. As a result a number of leading alternative commentators have been banned from Facebook for completely illegitimate reasons. Finally, we can reveal the ‘2.0’ aspect of the establishment’s ‘fake news’ faux crisis – a false pretext to unleash a wide-ranging program of internet censorship – and it’s already begun. Reasonable people should be under no illusions: Google Inc, Facebook and global monopolies like them it are the closest thing to a classic fascist-corporatist behemoth you will find in the world today. Both Google and Facebook are both actively colluding with big government and other mainstream media partners, and are guilty of ‘stealth censoring’ through either their A.I. filtering algorithms, or through flagged websites on a database used to de-rank leading independent and anti-war sites like 21st Century WireAnti-War.comConsortium NewsGlobal Research and countless others. Furthermore, Facebook is now on record as admitting to colluding with both the US and Israeli governments to delete ‘undesirable’ accounts. This is a corporation which is now actively and opening violating US laws, which is engaging in criminal activity by any other definition. These are not the only threats posed by these corporate fascists. The very same corporate digital barons have also been busy colluding with politicians in order to repeal Net Neutrality – as part of the elites’ final end-run to marginalize and ultimately crush all independent and dissenting voices online who threaten the primacy of mainstream groupthink, and who could get broader traction among the population if the playing field was truly a level one. Not only is this illegal under antitrust laws, but it represents a brutal form of fascism. It’s now clearer than ever that Silicon Valley executives and government bureaucrats cannot be trusted to manage the most important public utility of the new century – the information super highway.

So if the mainstream press can no longer be trusted, then who can you trust for objectivity and accuracy? Again, we have to ask the question: who’s watching the watchers?

Answer: We are.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Posted in Politics, World0 Comments

150 Years After Capital: Reading Marx as Life Grounded

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

“One basis for life and another basis for science is an a-priori lie” – Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 1845.

Marx’s Base-Superstructure Theory (BST) has long been a major object of controversy. It is deeply embedded in a monumental corpus of system-challenging analysis while secondary interpretations are deeply conflicted and rarely reliable. In general, partial takes and opposed propagandas militate against primary-source understanding. Within the last 35 years, a sea-shift of global culture to anti-foundationalist relativism has uprooted the very idea of a common base or ground. 

The Productive Base as the Ground of Society and History

Marx’s fundamental concept, the productive base of historical societies is more or less forgotten amidst ‘Marxism is dead’ pronouncements. Yet Marx’s principal idea remains intact – that the material conditions of historical societies – opposed to God or human concepts – determine human affairs. This principle is the first onto-axiological step of Marx’s base-superstructure theory (BST). It begins by repudiating the conceptual idealism of philosophy from Plato to Hegel which supposes that disembodied Ideas determine material reality, rather than the other way round.  In his German Ideology(completed in 1846 at 28 years), Marx mercilessly satirizes neo-Hegelians flattering themselves that the “ideas in their heads” determine the real world, quipping that they think drowning occurs because the victim is “possessed by the idea of gravity”.  This unpublished study is also where Marx introduces the foundational first principle of his base -superstructure theory (emphasis added as henceforth): “Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, religion, or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence”.  We see here the primacy for Marx of human reproduction evolving beyond Nature’s available provisions – a continuation of natural evolution into species self-construction increasingly “subjugating Nature to its sway”.  Yet what is not examined is exactly what these forces of production are producing once the industrial revolution of capitalism occurs. Marx originally says “means of life” but these are not defined beyond a primitive list beginning “food, habitation, clothing, and so on”.  Life necessities that productive forces must produce have no criterion. We return to this unexamined first principle of Marx’s base-superstructure theory in depth ahead.

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Marx’s work begins with the purpose “to stand philosophy on its feet again” by grounding critical thought where none had before, in “society’s material mode of production”. His then work takes on the revolutionary political edge for which he is most famous – the iconic Manifesto of the Communist Party written with Frederick Engels in 1848. Here Marx’s philosophy of the material base of society and history moves to a sweeping 10-Point social program, much of it instituted within the next century – extension of existing industrial development to state ownership, graduated income tax, free education for all children by public schools, and a national bank.  Marx’s theory has been in this way largely proven in practice against the standard assumption to the contrary. Yet it is not until his 1859 Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (CPE) that Marx sets out an incisively principled account of his base-superstructure theory as “the guiding thread of my studies”. Since this canonical statement carried through in Das Kapital is widely misunderstood as a mechanistic determinism in which all elements of society are uniquely determined by the ruling economic system, it requires our close inspection. “In the social production which men carry on”, Marx begins his paradigm statement of the BST, “they enter into definite relations that are indispensible and independent of their will”.

This is thought to be a statement of hard determinism against free will. But it is, more modestly, a statement of unacknowledged facts in the ‘free society’ capitalism is assumed to be. Wage or salary work must be done by the great majority to stay alive “independent of their will”. Their “definite relations” are materially determined by the employer who must also follow market demand at the lowest costs with ‘no choice in the matter’. Behind this “wage slavery”, Marx emphasises in Capital lies the “great expropriation of the people from the soil, from the means of subsistence, and from the means of labour- – [by] violent  and painful methods”. They must sell their labour into oppressive servitude, or they do not survive. In the beginning, Marx explains in his Capital account, this servitude was enforced by mass hangings, floggings, pillories, and deprivation of children. Today social humiliation, loss of face and destitution as well as starvation again re-enforces this system in capitalist globalization and new ‘freedoms for investors’.

Marx’s ‘economic determinism’ is not, as often charged, a false metaphysics or reductionist mechanism,.  His revolutionary objective of the “self-government of the direct producers” is the opposite. Yet Marx’s BST militantly rejects any kind of voluntarism lor ‘utopian socialism’. The mode of production that produces a society’s means of life, he argues at the most general level, must be developed to a stage where the direct producers are organised in a collective form to historically replace the ruling capitalist system.  This is why he asserts in his definitive CPE “guiding thread of my studies” that production relations must “correspond to a definite stage of development of men’s material powers”. This is “the productive base” that prior philosophers overlooked or ignored on which slave-owning, feudal or capitalist social systems are raised and which ruling cultures assume as “everlasting” or “eternal”. Applied to our present condition, the argument remains forceful. Workers and employers alike are forced to compete to the lowest denominator of conditions, however life destructively in process and consequencee. This is why Marx generically summarizes in the next sentence of this central statement of the BST that the “the totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society [emphases added] – the real foundation [or base] on which the legal and political superstructure arises”.

Marx is opposed to this economic determinism, but organises the facts as they are against ‘ideological illusions’. His base-superstructure theory is the result. A socially self-directing mode of production is his ultimate objective. Most commentators ignore this complex argument and charge that Marx is denying the autonomy of individual consciousness, free choice, and democratic processes. Yet Marx’s master verb for superstructure determination by the economic base here is entsprechen- to correspond to or comply with. This underlying principle applies tas well to the state and legal institutions of a society. They must comply with the  ruling ownership structure society’s forces of production, or be selected outas materially impossible, unviable, or inefficient. Marx’s BST is in this way a theory in unrecognised parallel with Darwin’s Origin of the Species, a work which Marx considered the scientific correlative in evolutionary biology of his account of the social struggle for survival in historical evolution , as he says in Capital seven years later). In both cases, determining factors of life adaptation do not determine specific outcomes in Marx’s or Darwin’s theory, but set the range of material possibility within which life-organizations must develop or die. One reason for the 150-year-old misunderstandings of Marx’s base-superstructure theory is that he does not clearly define this unifying principle or others in his towering and original investigation.

Marx requested Darwin to write a prefatory note for the publication of Capital, but Darwin declined.  The anecdote is well known, but not that Darwin’s refusal occurs in neat accordance with Marx’s lead principle of economic determinism. In its terms, Darwin’s choice space is not denied, but affirmed by Marx’s invitation.  Darwin chose not to accept in line with the strong social selective pressures against endorsing a work laying bare the capitalist class establishment within which Darwin moved and depended for his research. It is an implicit basic principle of Marx’s BST determinism that people normally retreat into the preconceptions of the ruling order and its “forms of social consciousness” in adaptation to their social environment. Here as well, Marx does not define these suggestive ‘forms of social consciousness’ (gesellschaftlichen Bewußtseiformen).He lets the concepts manage on their own in their contexts without criteria.  Yet to attribute mechanical determinism or hard behaviorism with no inner world to Marx BST does not follow, as he makes clear in his Preface to Capital when he writes: “My standpoint”, he says, “can less than other make the individual responsible for relations for whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them”.  That is, individuals are not responsible for the social system of relations which they must function within (an idea that goes back to graduating year of secondary school). Yet Marx insists, as most philosophy does not, that subjectivism is incapable of understanding the real world or changing it. This is why he ridicules Kant’s moral will independent of consequences, Max Stirner’s ‘Omnipotent Ego’, neo-Hegelianism, and all commentary which revolves within a materially impotent “consciousness in itself”. His Theses on Feuerbach is the iconic expression of Marx’s unprecedentedly activist ontology and epistemology.  He says in these notes, Thesis II : “The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a merely scholastic question”.

Marx would be hard on most postmodernism, analytic theory, and academia in general today. Yet his base-superstructure theory is most easily de-mystified and undistorted when reading attends to its material model – a building foundation and a superstructure raised upon it. No superstructure can stand without a foundation, and this could be called an “inexorable law”. But this does not mean the superstructure conforms to the base by ruling out all alternatives within its range of permission.  Nor, conversely, does it mean that the base will change in virtue of those alternatives.  Superstructural phenomena must, in Marx’s BSTcomply with the underlying mode of production, or face strong selective pressures against to typical extinction. This is why Marx argues the laws, policies and state in a society must correspond to survive, and why he mocks those who think a legal proclamation will change social realityif there are not the material conditions to enable it to occur. In logical terms, Marx’s straightforward meaning may be summarized without militant mood : all legal, state and ideological phenomena must be consistent with the society’s material reproduction at the established level of society’s productive provision of means of existence, or they will not arise in the first place and normally perish if they do.

Social Being Determines Consciousness

Marx continues his BST ‘guiding thread’ to write that “definite forms of social consciousness correspond to a society’s mode of production”. This has led to many competing interpretations, dogmas and denunciations. Yet to test it, one may ask: Where is there not correspondence in global capitalism between ‘ruling forms of social consciousness’ and ‘the economic structure’?  More specifically, do we find in official society and mainstream media that the dominant meanings of “freedom”, “responsibility”, “productivity”, “and “justice” are do not comply with  the capitalist system? An easy refutation would be any published conception of these anchoring normative concepts which opposes, say, the rightness of private profit. Or rejects the assumption that citizens must sell their services to employers as their duty to society? As Marx’s many examples show, forms of social consciousness regulate like a syntax beneath awareness of them.

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Marx continues his explanation with perhaps the most controversial sentence of his work. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being determines their consciousness”.  For this, Marx is held to be declaring a materialist reductionism, or the epiphenomenal nature of human thought, or denial of moral choice, or undialectical simplification, or a soulless doctrine. It is true that Marx repudiates  the opposite of any theory which excludes material foundations from its understanding.Thus received philosophers and press commentary, for example, are ridiculed by Marx and more specifically, religio-moral certitudes reflecting capitalist rule. Yet since all words and languages are social constructions , Marx’s  claim is obviously true in a now accepted way. The most studied philosophers of the twentieth century, Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein, declare language as the “home of Being” and “the limit of thought” respectively, and contemporary etymology presupposes language’s social and historical nature. Marx’s most controversial claim that “social being determines consciousness” is hardly off-base except that Marx’s BST argues that the social is primarily determined by the economic structure that must and will be overthrown. In BST terms, this line of thought is rejected as socially unacceptable. This is how, as Marx provocatively describes it in many different contexts, a realm of illusory cover stories and concepts which blinker out the capitalist system’s oppressions and exploitations while purporting the highest moral motives of its lead agents and promoters. Consider Marx’s most bitingly witty asides in this light: “The Church of England will more readily pardon an attack on its Thirty-Nine Articles than 1/39th of its income” . This is the same Marx that in The Holy Family talks of religion as the “spirit of spiritless conditions, the heart of a heartless world” ”  –  thus affirming the spirit and the heart that he is said to deny, but castigating the capitalist church investments, rents and hypocrisies grinding the unseen poor. Marx’s insulting but revealing BST analysis also lays bare the institutionalised veils of doctrine masking the cupidity of the Conservative Party and its Lords:  “The high Tory hymns the beauties of the British Constitution, the Crown and the Law until the day of danger snatches from him the confession that he is interested only in – Ground Rent.”

Marx’s base-superstructure method of laying bare private capital gain underneath the moral pomposity and robes of religion, the constitution, and the law still applies to, for example, US politicians’ invocation of “God’s blessing” and “our sacred Constitution”.  Yet establishment ideology is also structured, Marx implies, to vilify and justify elimination of any opposition to capitalist rule – as in anti-communism hated and persecuted as heresy during and since Marx’s work.

Freedom in Marx’s Base Superstructure Theory

Long the primary reason for repudiating Marx’s base-superstructure theory has been its alleged denial of individual freedom. Yet his work from the beginning is devoted to freedom as of ultimate value, preferring Epicurus to Democritus in his doctoral thesis solely because the theory of Epicurus allowed freedom into an arbitrary “swerve” of atoms against the “far more scientific” Democritus who is the first mechanist in history.  The mechanism Marx continues to oppose ever after is the mechanism of capitalism itself: which he argues, in a 40-year through-line of texts, systematically abolishes individuals’ and societies’ self-determination.

While ‘conservative’, ‘liberal democratic’, ‘libertarian’ and ‘neo-liberal’ trends dominant in the contemporary era speak of ‘democratic capitalism’. Marx’s BST contends that visibly competing parties, governments, theories of society, and moralities conform to the ruling economic structure and are disposed to eliminate whatever challenges it. Marx often uses the concept of a “reflex” mechanism here.  In his focus on English capitalism as the central example of base-superstructure understanding, his scope is unprecedentedly global before its time – including not only Britain with its world empire and former colony, the United States, taken into empirical account, but West European countries behind in capitalist development, as well as adversary Russia and vast colony India and East Asia Company, not to mention his anthropological investigations into pre-historical social formations. Threading throughout his BST analysis, he discusses the determination of societies within the limits of their natural resources and mode of production.  After many years of this cross-cultural study, Marx concludes that all societies will be compelled to adapt to the “pitiless laws” of the capitalist system because of its far superior “productive force development”. 150 years of evidence since Marx’s scientific claim generally confirms it despite wide repudiation for its determinism.   Marx’s acceptance of these laws, which are not laws of nature as he supposes(and economic science still does) is the deepest unfreedom of his doctrine.

Technological determinism is the ultimate regulator of Marx’s base-superstructure theory.  Few revolutionaries since seem to understand that this theoretical position  rules out the success of state seizure for socialist revolution without a developed productive base – as history since Marx has significantly borne out as well as refuting his prediction of proletarian revolution in advanced capitalist societies. Yet Marx also predicts social transformation to a “many-sided” working class “ready and able to meet any change of production;” as well as technological replacement of labour to allow “free time “” from the “realm of necessity”. These are unifying themes from Marx’s early EPM to Volume III of Capital (organised and published posthumously).  In spite of his main failed prediction, Marx is rather prescient in anticipating the material possibilities of freedom by technological and worker development, and how they are “fettered” by the capitalist economic structure within which all lower-cost benefits of technological advances (for example, labour-saving machinery) go to capitalists as the working day increases.

Marx’s evolving productive base is also a form of social biology, but in the opposite mode of recent sociobiology’s reduction to gene-set animal repertoires. It is grounded not in genes but in humanity’s distinguishing feature as a natural species and the origin of human freedom: “the capacity to raise a project in the head before it is constructed in reality”. (Capital, “On the Labour Process”). This distinguishing ground of historical materialism is brought into revealing alliance with Darwin’s classical Origin of the Species when Marx connects “nature’s technology” to human society’s “organs of technology” as the ultimate basis of historical development: “Darwin has interested us in the history of Nature’s Technology i.e., in the formation of the organs of plants and animals, which organs serve as instruments as of production for sustaining life. Does not the history of the productive organs of man, of organs that are the material basis of all social organization, deserve equal attention?” (Capital, “The Development of Machinery”). In this still under-theorized evolutionary advance Marx identifies: (1) the forces of selection are increasingly social, not natural; (2) organic instruments are evolved by creative cooperative production, not instinctual repertoires; and (3) Marx’s base-superstructure theory is the framework within which this historical as opposed to natural evolution is understood.  Human freedom is enabled by and set within this distinctively human framework of understanding. This Marxian framework fits well to today’s world of electronically organised production and communication systems. It is in such ways that development of society’s ‘technology organs’ for Marx extends the limits of human free will by selecting for the most powerful productive forces to enable growing control of material necessity and the natural world.  Yet Marx’s Capital is unaware, as lead philosophers and economists remain today, of the cumulatively increasing violation of life needs and necessity by exponentially multiplying technological powers. Ever expanding productive forces serving human wants without limiting criterion of life necessity is not recognised by Marx’s base-superstructure theory as an issue.

What Base-Superstructure Analysis Is and Is Not

Marx’s BST argument is ahead of his time in recognising the lead role of technological sciences in society’s reproduction, and claims individual action and social order must correspond to it or not survive – the essence of base-superstructure theory. Yet Marx often overreaches without criteria or mediating steps of argument – as in his fundamentalist BST aphorism in The Poverty of Philosophy: “The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord, the steam engine gives you society with the capitalist”.  These are striking claims of correspondence between the basic variables of the BST, productive force development and the economic anatomy of society, which, Marx argues, determine the state, legal and ideological superstructures. Yet aphorisms can mislead in their acute simplicity, and so the eminent Marxologist G.A. Cohen deploys this arresting slogan into a functional model of the BST in his much referenced Marx’s Theory of History-A Defence (1978)Yet Marx’s BST is not one-to-one functional here or elsewhere, but as contexts usually indicate, the determining factor sets a delimited range of possibility within which the determined phenomena fall. For example, in capitalism there are many ideological phenomena which conflict with each other, and so can hardly be described as all functional for the economic structure determining them when they are mutually incompatible with each other. Many ideas and ideologies compete for belief and market share in capitalism, but the only feature in common among them is that they all conform to it with no required function. The relationship within the material mode of production between productive forces and relations has a similar logic of explanation. The relations of production comprising the economic structure have different possibilities of consistency with the stage of productive development for which they are the integumentMarx loathed capitalism because of its documented mass oppressions  which are beyond necessity in his searing Capital account of its operations. The “Primitive Accumulation” he reports here shows how inhuman the origins of capitalist wealth have been. They cannot be so described if there is no choice space of their agents to a better alternative. Marx is clear that capitalist relations of production were imposed far necessity, “accomplished with merciless Vandalism and under the stimulus of passions the most infamous, the most sordid, the pettiest, the most meanly odious”.

Consistent with these origins of capitalism, the facts have been concealed then and since without any disconfirmation of them. Far less heinous alternatives in developing modern production forces have since occurred in more rapid and efficient transitions from a hand-mill to a machine-run economy.  In this sense, the functionalist account of capitalism succeeding feudalism is an unwitting white-wash. Certainly the full story of the malignantly violent and mendacious torture, murder and robbery of the poor and defenceless is told in painfully documented historical detail not only by Marx, but by the statesman William Cobbett writing before Marx in his A History of the Protestant Reformation in England, Ireland and Wales (1824-27). Against strip-down to known formula, Marx’s base-superstructure theory is in substance inspired by the passion to stop the shockingly vile impositions of capitalist rule, working indefatigably for life-protective state regulation by the Factory Acts and the Ten-Hour Working Day. Marx also recognised the wide range of material possibility beyond functional necessity in various forms of co-operative production in his day – for example, Proudhon’s co-operative banking system in France and Owenite co-operatives providing life security to workers. He scathingly dismissed them, but only in theory-bound certitude of the industrial proletariat’s revolution alone could work in the long run (although in fact Proudhon’s co-operative bank still flourishes in France and co-operative factories with life security for workers have emerged since across continents).

On the other hand, Marx recognises what dogmatic anti-capitalist advocates of revolution do not.  In his Preface to Capital the peaceful possibility of instituted public regulations within even imperial capitalist relations of production is incisively advocated if there are devoted public servants “as competent, as free from partisanship and respect of persons as are the English factory inspectors, her medical reporters on public health, her commissioners of inquiry into the exploitation of women and children, into housing and food” (emphases again added unless indicated Marx’s). As these long-evolving public life protections since Marx are defunded today in totalizing commodification and privatization for profit, we can better see the critical moral choice-space of material possibility for Marx to make transformative life-and-death differences within capitalist society by documented truth and civil commons institutions.

“Dialectical materialism” is also a famed attribution to Marx, although he never used Engels’ term. More deeply, while Marx sought a rigorously scientific theory,  dialectics is not disconfirmable by evidence. Certainly Marx emphasises what dominant positivist methods expel:  ever-changing phenomena and interrelationships, driven by conflicting tendencies viewed in their totality, and issuing in qualitative transformations.  Further, Marx is early on fascinated with the “strange music” of dialectics, and he acknowledges “coquetting” with dialectical expressions – as in “the negation of negation” at the end of Capital. But the brilliant autodidacts Engels and Lenin mistake an invaluable epistemological theory for a naturalist ontological metaphysics. Most relevantly telling here is that Marx’s base-superstructure theory is explicitly defined by permanent historical primacy of one factor, the productive base, while dialectics in principle excludes any such ultimate material base or primacy.

Marx’s base-superstructure theory is also not grounded in class antagonism as such in which solely anti-capitalist standpoints and political-economic class mechanics  are favorite forms. In these and other cases of de-basing Marx, the stage of productive development is dropped from foundational status, although it is for Marx the ultimate driver of historical materialism and workers’ struggle towards a higher social order. Revealingly, the concept of class does not occur in Marx’s own “guiding thread to my studies”:  because it is political and so superstructural in his BST explanatory framework. Class antagonism as an effective factor of social change is certainly crucial in Marx’s BST, but confined to periods of contradiction between productive force “organs” and economic-rule “anatomy”.  Thus Marx directly says in his Preface to Capital “It is not a question of the higher or lower degree of development of class antagonism that results from the laws of capitalist production.  It is a question of these laws or tendencies themselves working with iron necessity towards inevitable crises [Krisen]”. Always for Marx’s BST the anticipated workers’ revolution is by the agency of direct producers in common moving the counter-productive rich and their “ideological prize-fighters” out of office by the force of higher productive capacity of the “associated producers”.

Today’s most famous version of Capital is also worthy of mention here because it   completes the erasure of Marx’s base-superstructure theory, But in this case it is it is in the form of an equally thick volume as Capital with the same title (and bold update subtitle of the twenty-first century). Little noticed in the immense attention to it in Western culture, Thomas Picketty’s now world-renowned CAPITAL(2012) has no productive development base and no economic determiner. All attention is on growing inequality of income distribution, with rising concern for inequality of income.  Little known, Marx himself explained the equality craze in his first chapter of Capital as a capitalist concept derived from abstract labour and commodity payment which has “acquired the fixity of a popular prejudice . . . in which, consequently, the dominant relation between man and man, is that of owners of commodities.”  Yet Picketty’s research does not fit the mould of “bad conscience and evil intent of apologetic in place of genuine scientific research” which Marx saw in the Political Economy of his day. Picketty demonstrates growing income inequality built into the system which post-Marx ‘Economics’ erases. Yet his Capital strips out every substantive category of the original while naming itself after it. No productive forces and relations or equivalent, no economic anatomy or structure, no class rule and subjugation of direct producers are to be found. ‘CAPITAL in the twenty-first century’ instead reports a multitude of marginal income differentials over time – a rising money-metered inequality which statistically confirms capital’s ever more dominant share of wealth. In this exposure, Picketty’s work is a valuable factual refutation of a long official claim of ‘growing equality of opportunity in capitalist democracies’, and a demonstration of what Marx predicted but was long ridiculed for doing so – the law-like trend of capitalist society to ever more wealth to the few and ever less relative wealth to society’s direct producers.

Max Weber’s canonical The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism (1926 in English) is still more well-known (at least to scholars), and widely thought to have refuted Marx’s economic determinism. Yet Weber’s paradigm example of Benjamin Franklin rather confirms Marx’s BST and its core General Law of Capital Accumulation, M-C-M1. .  In fact the young Franklin expresses this self-maximizing value-calculus in translucent affirmation of Marx’s formula and exponential money returns for self (emphases added):  “Remember time is money – – Remember, that money is of the prolific, generating nature.Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more – – He that murders a crown [by using it], destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds” (pp. 48-9, emphases added). From the start of the private money-capital sequence, whatever does not conform to it is ruled out, including  life itself.  Weber sees this fanaticism in passing, and there can be little doubt that the money worship long ruling the world is here expressed in pure form. Yet Weber further equates this early testament of greed-is-good to Protestantism, although Franklin was like Adam Smith a Deist not strictly a Protestant. And to be fair to Franklin, this credo of avarice should be distinguished from his later refusal to patent his iconic Franklin Stove to keep it in the great civil commons of science he himself benefitted from. As for Franklin’s testament to money-capital growth before life, it had already been instituted generations before by  private joint-corporate-stock investor ships like the venerated ‘Mayflower’ seeking maximum profit in ‘America’ where corporate-charter rights were as quickly as possible turned into multiplying money fortunes for the overseas invaders behind eco-genocide of the first peoples. In contrast to Weber, Marx’s BST argues that Protestant religion is a cover story for the opposite of Weber’s hypothesis. It is not worship of a protestant God that is  the origin of capitalism, but rather the capitalist system worships itself as God.

Closer to home, the Marx-descended movement of ‘Critical Theory’ is true to Marx’s giant intellect, but focuses on erudite ideological critique of capitalist culture. Marx’s productive base more or less disappears into a new school of thought. The next generation of Critical theory led by Jürgen Habermas abandons class analysis altogether and – in line with capitalist ideology – defines the market system as a technical given and relocates action to what Marx called the ‘legal superstructure’. Whereas the elder critical theorist Herbert Marcuse argues from a life base of Freudian Eros and capitalist-system suppression of life by the dead singularity of corporate-state positivism, Habermas strips the “life-world” itself (Lebenswelt) down to background assumptions of social belief which have no life coordinate to them. Base-superstructure theory is effectively erased to confirm it.

Continuing clarification and confirmation of Marx’s BST in subsequent schools of thought, the more globalized “postmodern” movement adopts Marx’s contesting posture, subaltern politics, and abuse of metaphysics, but obliterates all traces of Marx’s productive base and universal message (as, for example, “totalitarian” or “terrorist”), garnering enormous publicity for its groundless alternative.  Again we can see that Marx’s BST core of economic determinism is proved to work in many ways so as to erase its explanatory framework itself. When John-Paul Sartre, world famous for his existentialist master works in philosophy, biography and drama, moves from his radically individualist choice space explorations to deepen Marx’s theory by situating individual consciousness and action within a comprehensive social framework of social determinations of the existential predicament  of “the monstrous construction with no author”, as in his Search for a Method, his work effectively disappears from the academy with only his pre-war Being and Nothingness spoken of. In short, Sartre is written out of philosophy once he adopts base-superstructure theory to existentialize it.

Because Marx’s base-superstructure theory continues to apply to post-Marx capitalist ‘globalization’, Stalinist mechanism becomes its inverting ideological caricature and ‘Marxian’ theory itself delinks from the productive baseBST continues to be confirmed in principle as it is dismissed.

Economic Determinism, Darwinian Selection and Social Revolution

Image result for Marx’s ultimate goal is liberation from the ruling capitalist class

Most commentaries on Marx miss the permutations and combinations of base-superstructure theory. Few comprehend the underlying modus tollens logic that ruling systems are sustained by a dominant normality to eliminate whatever opposes them. In BST terms, legal, political and ideological forms conform to society’s material mode of production, or they do not survive – a logic of explanation parallel to the survival/extinction laws of evolutionary biology. Marx’s implicit principle of economic determination by selection out of what does fit the ruling property order can be understood in this sense as evolutionary biology at the historical level, As Marx says in his Preface to Capital, “the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history”.  In fact, history is not a natural process insofar as its laws are made, not found in nature. Indeed Marx’s own theory implicitly seeks and predicts the social supersession of natural process and its ultimate law of dominance by physical force.  Yet both evolutionary and historical materialist theories recognise selection and extinction of life forms that adapt or not, survive, flourish or die, in the struggle for continued life. Marx, however, is the first to argue for the revolutionary necessity of surpassing the brutality of natural evolution by the unity of the industrial working class against the ruling class system of “hitherto existing society” which always “pumps out surplus labour from the direct producers” to enrich the masters, lords or capitalists” (Capital III, “Genesis of Capitalist Ground-Rent”). Marx’s ultimate goal is liberation from the ruling capitalist class as the last with productive development the material base of doing so.

For Marx’s BST, however, species liberation only becomes historically possible with industrial mass production to organise it. Human survival and extinction, class domination and overthrow are based on technological development which eventually outgrows the old form of control and appropriation of society’s means of production to bring about a higher stage of society led by a new ruling class, the direct producers themselves – the core original idea of the base-superstructure theory.  “Capitalism”, he famously writes, “begets its own negation with the inexorability which governs the metamorphoses of nature”. Darwin’s field of study excludes this possibility a-priori, and so fits far better to capitalism.  Neo-Darwinians, among others, think replacing natural scarcity and the social struggle for a higher form of life are unthinkably against human nature. They argue that only individual genetic modifications and greater numbers of offspring can explain any species’ struggle for survival: which BST explains, in turn, as capitalist ideology positing Nature as the justification of the dominance of the few and their non-productive servant classes.

Marx so repeatedly scorns the ‘human nature’ form of justification of capitalism that many wrongly conclude that Marx has no concept of human nature at all: there is only human plasticity and operant conditioning. In fact, Marx oppositely emphasizes humanity’s ultimate nature as creative, the capacity “to raise a project in the head (der Copf) before erecting it in reality” (typically translated as “imagination”). This is the distinctive human nature which lies behind the historically rising progression of materialist powers of production that Marx grounds in as the determining base of any society or epoch. This productive ground rather than Euro-racism, as some think , drives Marx’s  theory.

Marx’s revolutionary theory is the most controversial element of base-superstructure model, but can be deconstructed into an underlying regulating sequence across history: 1. a social revolution in a society’s law, politics and ideology is propelled by 2. ever more open class struggle to 3. fit to a higher stage of development of the productive base of society 4. than the prior ruling-class economic structure can manage  5. without forfeit of society’s stage of material production.  

In the rare periods of successful social revolution, Marx offers an original causal explanation: Only when productive force development goes beyond the fetters of the established ruling-class relations of production can a social revolution occur.  Marx’s guiding framework is concisely stated by his ‘guiding thread’ as follows (with application to contemporary society in square brackets: “At a certain stage of their development, the material forces of production [think of the Internet] come into conflict with the existing relations of production – or – what is but a legal expression for them – with the property relations within which they had been at work before [private -profit copyright, patent and control over published meanings]. From forms of development of productive forces, these relations [of corporate ownership profit] turn into their chains. Then occurs a period of social revolution [the creators of knowledge deciding on commons publication and open access in cumulative transition from the for-profit ‘information economy’ to the ‘knowledge commons’].

The knowledge revolution has already largely occurred with internet commons capacities increasingly surpassing private corporations in expertise and originality.  In BST terms, it has “burst the fetters” of corporate copyright, patent and censorship. The corporate media are ever less able to compete in agile, immediate, video-record reporting of events and depth analysis of them not subjugated to capitalist-media selection against non-conforming facts and understandings. On the other hand, BSTanalysis can also recognise that the media of public record are still profit-run capitalist commodities, surveillance and interference in communications are widespread, the internet is itself permeated by mindless commercials and trivializing social media chatter, and undercover agents harass lead exposers of the appropriating classes and their war criminal states. Both sides of this revolutionary-versus-capitalist struggle can be laid bare by advanced BST method. There is systematic selection against whatever does not conform to the established order, but new technology and knowledge creators outgrow the fetters.  This contemporary application of Marx’s BST is returned to ahead in contrasting ‘knowledge creators and workers’ today to ‘the physical input class’ of the proletariat in The Productive Agency of Social Transformation 150 Years after Capital.

At the macro level of interface with evolutionary biology, Marx’s BST suggests new technologies as evolutionary organs of human society outgrowing the economic anatomy in transformation of the social body into new form.  To the question of whether a revolutionary process is by cumulative transition or by radical disjuncture, Marx’s implicit answer is that both processes are involved. Society is an “organism always changing” while the “birth-pangs of revolution” presuppose a long process in “the natural laws of its movement” which “can neither clear by bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments the obstacles involved – – but can shorten the and lessen the birth-pangs”. The underlying common ground of both disjunctive and cumulative-transition understandings of social transformation is that any uprising organisation of material forces must be more efficient and productive than the established system’s mode of production to enable historical success. This is why Marx asserts in his definitive BST explanation: “No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed, and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions have matured in the womb of the old society.”

While Marx’s theory of revolution is disconfirmed in the necessity of proletarian revolution in industrialized societies, it is plausibly confirmed by the capitalist revolution against the feudal system, the paradigm case of his base-superstructure theory. The bourgeoisie overthrows the king-lord control of the social order in compliance with the new capitalist system of dispossessed  labour, mass production and private profit in place of feudal landlords fees and ties of loyalty and labour-military service. In all cases feudal or capitalist, one historical ‘law’ of BST holds: Increasing contradiction between productive forces (determiner) and ruling-class control of them (determined) within the productive base itself, restructures the legal, political and ideological establishments into correspondence with the demands of the higher productive stage advancing beneath these superstructural phenomena “in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out”.

Considered in this light, the question arises: does the BST apply to post-Marx attempts at revolutionary socialism in China, Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam and much of Latin America? It does not apply, unlesswe focus on the productive force development of these societies after their state revolutions against the tyrannical and productively stunted regimes they overthrow: most clearly in their advancing the educated well-being of the working class and rapid technological development. It is a negative confirmation of Marx’s theory that these revolutions are warred upon continuously by lead capitalist states to undermine their rising productive development, in particular of workers’ collective health, education, welfare and security. These converse confirmations of Marx’s BST principle of social revolution, although nowhere stated, fit with its implicit general law of history that  no society ever forfeits its stage of development of productive forces if it is to survive. The converse is: despoil any society’s rising stage of development and the society will be unable to survive.

This has been inner logic of the last century of history, and applies well to elimination of socialist ideas within the US and allied industrial societies since Marx. Majority-world societies seeking social liberation from inhuman exploitation and oppression invariably suffer multi-levelled assault by dominant capitalist forces of media, finance and sponsored armed attack – frequently more mass-murderous than the Prussia-France immolation of the radically democratic Paris Commune which Marx rivetingly analyses in his Civil War in France 1871. Although Prussia and France were at war, their leaders combined together to bloodily annihilate the Paris Commune as Marx documents, showing how even in wars against each another , modern states are “the executive committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (as the Communist Manifesto incisively expresses this BST norm). Class war of the capitalist class against the working class is nowhere better proved. .The dots are rarely connected , but the BST converse law of  counter-revolution can be usefully applied to France- US invasions of ‘communist’ Vietnam , US-led Chile social destruction the same year as the US was defeated in Vietnam, continuous war-criminal occupation  of Palestine destroying even their age-old productive olive groves, to the Iraq eco-genocide from 1991 on followed by Syria and Libya, the US-led death squads and financial wars on social reform governments and movements for the poor through most of Latin America over 50 years to today, and so on in demonstration of Marx’s reasons for reviling this epochal system.  Of deep theoretical note, all these cases confirm the converse law of counter-revolution creatively deducible from base-superstructure principles.

Self-Maximizing Growth and Marx’s Aporia of Productive Object 

Marx’s base-superstructure theory implicitly recognises that the ultimate value base and driver of capitalism is the “fully developed shape [of] the money form” in terms of which all decisions of what commodities to produce and how they are produced are made solely to maximize revenue returns to private capital owners in cycles of increasing accumulation: in general formula Money-Commodity-More Money or M-C-M. As Marx also arguescapitalist investors are “personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class relations and class interests”, and so are a-priori indifferent to what life is degraded, exploited and destroyed in multiplying private money profits with no cumulative limit (Marx’s Preface, Chapter I,  and Chapter  XXV of Capital).

This is the meta program of Marx’s BST to which productive forces are subjugated until their capitalist fetters are outgrown by a higher stage of productive-technological development. Until this predicted “period of social revolution”, every moment of production is competitively forced into lock-step sequences of the meta program.   While Marx’s BST is confirmed by capitalist history up to “social revolution”, a deep-structural issue emerges. How can Marx or his followers believe that the results of this totalizing system of life oppression, immiserization and life capital rundown must inevitably result in a completely opposite outcome of “social revolution”, “dictatorship of the proletariat”, and “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”?  How can life-coherent thinking go from an ever more life-despoiling capitalist system with its life-blind program built into its globally multiplying growth to a certain revolt of its system slaves against everything its history has constructed to inevitably triumphant social revolution to final rule of the direct producers to successful ordering of the forces of production to citizens’ life needs and capacities?

There is no clear criterion of any step of this inspiring vision. For a long time, the revolutionary theory was hitched to a Hegelian master-slave dialectic ending in complete reversal, or made a mechanistic science of revolution in which iron political rule decided how all must be determined, or – in a word – to some version or other in which life value itself and its measure are assumed away as an issue (as in all received economic science), and nowhere spelled out to govern decisions over forces of production and their growth (as in Marx’s theory). The BST does not offer a solution to this problem, nor ‘scientific socialism’. Economic science today even less has an answer to the basic question: what is the criterion of a life need that production is for?

Marx focuses rather on the socialist logic he sees built into the competing large scales of capitalist production  – “an ever-expanding scale, the co-operative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour in instruments of labour only usable in common, the economising of all means of production by their use as means of production of combined socialised labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world-market, and with all this the international nature of the capitalistic regime” (Chapter XXXII Capital). Marx’s  analysis is breathtaking in scope, but what remains absent is the underlying life base and laws of ever more productive-force development. That this development must be consistent with the universal needs and capacities of humanity, its natural biosphere and fellow creatures does not enter Marx’s (or other) theory is as an issue. The ultimate requirement of human species evolution in any form is, as elsewhere, presupposed away in confidence of productive and technological development as an ultimate base of society’s future, a secular Providence.

In Capital, Marx restricts the parameters to be considered to the technology used and the collective wage labour as historical agency that does it. “The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails”, he writes in his first sentence of Capital presents itself as “an immense accumulation of commodities. The commodities of which all wealth consists in capitalist society, Marx observes, are always produced in accordance with the master organising principle of their production and profit, M-C-M. They are the values of the system in whatever form they take, and are defined in the same first page of Capital as material use-values for wants – – – whether they spring from the stomach or fancy makes no difference”. Marx underlines this criterion of commodities by his approving footnote citing Nicholas Barbou’s radically subjectivist principle: “want is the appetite of the mind and as natural as hunger to the body”.  It is these commodities which are the productive force object for Marx, the materializations of all wealth of capitalist society, and constitute all the technology and productive forces making them to be inherited by socialism.  

It does not occur to Marx as a profound problem that these very technologies and productive forces are driven solely by the compulsion to sell anything to moneyed desires for the lowest inputs costs and highest profits over generations – even if their processes and products are in principle indifferent o all depredatory effects on organic and ecological life systems.  That this system is held to be the material ground of productive forces by which revolution against capitalism by is necessitated and socialism/communism inevitably follows is Marx’s core theory of social normality and change. What is not evidently noticed by anyone – because it is also still assumed elsewhere – is that Marx’s Capitaldefinitions have opened the floodgates for life-destructive forces and commodities to presumptively count as “productive forces”, “goods”, and “use-values” in ever more immensity of “commodities”, “growth” and “development” as necessary, productive and good in the long term.

With no life standard or criterion to distinguish life-destructive from life-enabling productive forces and products, how can the cumulative looting and polluting of humanity’s and other species’ life support systems by capitalism which Marx first recognises as systematic, be possibly prevented over generational time? How can ever more life-blind technologies, commodities and consumptions driven by insatiable profit and commodity demand at the same time be regulated, steered and stopped from cumulative life-world destruction masked for centuries as “development” and “growth”?

This is the great aporia of Marx’s base-superstructure theory. He thinks that productive workers’ democracy in control of the vast wealth of capitalist technologies and commodities can solve these capitalist-made problems. His principles of democracy coming from the Paris Commune and enshrined in his Civil War in France as well as his Gotha Program, both after Capital, are impeccably democratic against the standard descriptions of Marx’s determinism. But democracy in itself cannot solve the ultimate problem that is not seen. Marx base -superstructure theory uniquely recognises and seeks to overcome the money-powered construction sapping the world with its vampire grip, and he scientifically proposes a towering Promethean vision of government by the direct producers in its stead. Yet we are still left with the fatal flaw of the epoch – no regulating principles of production to select for human and natural life carrying capacities rather than for their unintended cumulative despoliation by industrial technologies and commodity growthAs this system increasingly threatens human and planetary life organisation, there remains still no life-capital metric to steer ‘economic growth –not even human life necessities – with which productive forces and technology must be consistent for evolved life and society to survive or flourish.

The dominant model of ‘the economy’ from Adam Smith on is life-blind in its categories, but Marx’s revolutionary theory does not solve the problem. Life necessities, organisation and parameters of better and worse have been, and continue to be, excluded at every step of ‘productivity’ and ‘growth’.  Marx’s base-superstructure theory sees deeply into the problem of the dehumanisation of labour, but not of the planetary life host being run down in its collective life capital bases with most extracted masses, energies and commodities made wastes in weeks. Under ‘free trade’ (which Marx supported to hasten revolution), commodities of every kind must be transported with increasing loads and distances of carbon miles on habitat-destroying routes through land and sea through to consumers’ bodies widely addicting and disabling them by non-communicable diseases and toxic throwaways into the soil, water and atmosphere as industrial sinks. Most of these problems of industrial technology and multiplying material powers also existed in earlier form in Marx’s day, but the concepts of ‘increased productivity’, ‘growth’, and ‘development’ were not challenged.

Marx envisions in his Grundrisse notebooks to Capital a future state in which “once the narrow bourgeois form is peeled away”, there can be “the evolution of all human powers as such unmeasured by any previously established yardstick”. But what if the ‘bourgeois form’ cannot be peeled away because it built into the productive forces themselves? The life-base ‘yardsticks’ to prevent loss of universal life necessities on earth in their mutual interdependence, or even to ensure commodities satisfy needs without reducing life capacities of their consumers, do not exist. As in the capitalist system to be overthrown, there is no defining measure of the requirements of the ‘means of subsistence’ that production is for. (Meanwhile evolutionary biology assumes the opposite of an answer – the more a species population multiplies, the more successful it is as a life form.) Marx sees the problem of unlimited growth in the competitive capitalist frenzy to grow private money stocks – “Accumulate! Accumulate! This is Moses and all the prophets” – but the accompanying limitless multiplication of technological forces and commodities is not conceived as the problem, but rather the solution.

Marx’s labour theory of value engages ‘means of subsistence’ in the reproduction of wage-labour, but allows for their unlimited growth in conflation of wants and needs. In Capital Volume II,  Marx is poignantly unaware of the problem (emphases added): “Regardless of whether such a product as tobacco is really a consumer necessity from the physiological point of view, it suffices that it is habitually such”.  We see here how the relativization of life necessity to habitual wants can, in Marx’s conception of the base of society, drive productive forces through the human organism and the biosphere with no BST limit.  It is noteworthy that tobacco products continue to be mass produced with even the Chinese Communist Party government – still teaching Marxism in its schools – investing in mass cigarette production as it cements over the fields and rivers and replaces bicycles with fossil-fuel motors to ‘grow productive forces’, ‘satisfy people’s wants’ and ‘takes its place on the world stage’.  There is no theoretical resource to disqualify such commodities, productive technologies and their continuous growth in Marx or Marxism in general.

As with Marx’s sustained yards-of-cloth example in Capital, what ultimately counts is the living labour and value that goes into the production of the commodity price and capitalist profit, as well as the illusions that conceal the source of surplus labour and value.  But no precautionary measure exists in Marx’s productive force development to prevent or select against the long historical trend to systemic and cumulative life system destruction. Marx’s Grundrisse ,which is masterfully informed on technological and social development, even strikingly observes: “War developed earlier than peace: the way in which certain economic relations such as wage labour, machinery, etc develop earlier – – – – – – The money system completely developed there only in the army [of the Roman Empire]”. In Notebook 4, (italics added) Marx also observes that in the “commune stage” of human evolution, “the difficulties commune encounters can only rise from other communes, which have either previously occupied the land and soil, or which disturb the commune in its own occupation. War is therefore great comprehensive task, the great communal labour  – – ”. How poignant these italicised words are after a century and a half of productive forces and commodities multiplied to ever new organs and heights of human species power.  To sharpen the point of no life ground or criterion in Marx’s BST to select against the ancient interlock of productive and destructive forces, the lead capitalist society’s production system invests $2,000,000,000 of pubic money per day in war preparations, labour and ongoing wars with nothing in base-superstructure theory to prioritize life support systems. Capitalist colonialism in Marx’s era ruled as well by superior kill-and-destroy technological development and slave-labour commodities with no questioning of its ‘productive force development’. The ultimate life-and-death contradiction within capitalist ‘productive forces’ is not recognised.

Re-Setting Base-Superstructure Theory to the Life Ground

Marx’s base-superstructure theory begins with humanity distinguishing itself from other animals by production of the means of life. Yet ‘means of life’ disappears as a category after 1847 in Marx’s corpus, and is replaced on the first page of Capital by commodities serving desires not needs. Marx enters capitalist economic understanding in order to rout it, but shares its first premise of market desires as the driver of production. What happens out of view is that commodities and the productive forces making them are structured only to satisfy subjective desires backed by money demand.  The inner drama of Capital featuring “material use-values” versus “the money form” loses its life footings on page 1 beneath notice. Productive forces mass manufacture commodities which are increasingly disabling and addictive in their consumption.  Marx sees them as values because they embody labour hours. Yet if we take into account the life and life capital effects of industrial commodities from extraction through processing to product through consumer bodies to wastes through the biosphere  – all in motion in Marx’s day – a darker picture than unprecedented ‘productive force development’ and ‘‘immense wealth of commodities’ to ground socialist revolution emerges.

This unseen problem does not disappear if we drop Marx’s labour theory of value – long a controversy in which Marx is predictably dismissed although the theory originated in Smith and Ricardo and is replaced by a purely subjective theory of willingness-to-pay. Nowhere does any measure of life capital or life value enter into theory or measure. True productive value measured by the yardstick of life capacity gained is not yet conceived (although implicit in medical and ecological sciences). Commodities are use-values or goods even if they degrade and disease their life hosts through their consumption and wastes. No generic metric metric of life capacity gains or losses can be found.   A momentous entailment follows. If ‘productive forces’ or ‘technological progress’ are defined as that which produce material use-values in ever higher quantities for acquired wants by lower labour input into their products, then however life and life-carrying capacities are systemically depredated by their processes and products of production, they are still productive forces, development and growth. Tthey may be harmful by replacing life necessities in their production and consumption with junk-foods, weapons, built-in pollutants, eco-degrading machines screened out as disvalues, and life capacity gains and losses nowhere entering into even the Marxian bottom line. This is the ultimate contradiction of the epoch that Marx’s theory does not provide the resources to resolve.

Re-setting base-superstructure theory to the life-ground is required, and Marx began his historic work in promise of this. In the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, he exalts “human needs” as enabling motivators and extenders of human “species being” into and forming the natural environment with the life activity of consciousness in realising capacities in a world humanity which “beholds itself in a world it has created”. Productive work “is the objectification of man’s species being”, he writes in the EPM and “the history of industry – – is the open book of man’s essential powers”.  Humanity is realised, he writes in Theses on Feuerbach, against commodity consumerism, “only when the object becomes for him a human object”.  Production, he continues in The German Ideology one year later in 1846, is “a definite form of expressing their life”, as “what they are – – both with what they produce and how they produce” (Marx’s emphases).  The beginnings of Marx’s base-superstructure theory are in these ways focused on production as driven by universal human life needs and capacities transforming the world in creative action – a “conscious self-transcending of coming to be”.

Image result for wealth of nations smith

Yet once inside the ruling method of modern science where redundant and externally observable sequences alone count as scientific, Marx’s BST is bound by its chains even as he seeks to transcend them. It is worth citing here the earlier philosopher and founder of modern Economics, Adam Smith, to get a sense of the theoretical origins of the ghoulish rationality into which Marx submerges himself to master the dismal science. In his monumental Wealth of Nations, the founding text of the “moral science”, Professor Adam Smith argues for his time and the epoch that “among the inferior ranks of people the scantiness of means of subsistence can set limits to the further multiplication of the human species; and it can so in no other way than by destroying a great part of the children which their fruitful marriages produce” (Book I, Chapter 3, “Wages of labour”).

Social Darwinism before Darwin is the deep structure of this thought system in which sacrifice of the least reverses Christianity in its name. Yet once inside this grim grip of method, Marx the scientist leaves behind Marx the philosopher of human liberation. The unique human capacity of “species being” and “free conscious activity that adopts the species as its object” is dropped from his work after 1846. “Means of life” as what productive forces produce silently disappears after Wage Labour and Capital in 1847. As Marx’s study becomes research-submerged in seeking the theory-suppressed origin of profit and the inner logic of the capitalist system he abhors, the ennobling categories of the early and unpublished manuscripts disappear. In ironic reduction by the economic determinism he is the first to identify, Marx’s early first principle in the EPM  is forgotten: “One basis for life and another basis for science is an a-priori lie”.

By the time of Capital, Marx’s productive forces have no life-value framing left to distinguish them from life-destructive forces.  They are no longer that which produce means of life without which life capacities wane and diebut manufactured commodities, including ever larger-scaled cannon and machine powers devastating the natural world across cultures and destroying pre-industrial peoples at the same time. Marx like the epoch does not shrink from conceiving the life-annihilating powers. For the BST, no life sacrifice is too great for the inevitable future communism it projects. We see here the epochal pattern of technological, mass and economic powers fastened to great visions that even humanist to the core cannot find the life-ground on which every moment depends.

What Marx studies in unprecedented depth is the money-value process of brutally competitive production of commodities to maximize outputs, lower costs and private profits, and he stands throughout for the “living labour” of the industrial productive forces, the humanity of its bearers, their development of life capacities, the surplus labour-value extracted from them with no payment. He documents in words of fire the most extreme system oppressions and torments on record. This is why Marx’s work is so uniquely resonant across peoples over 150 years.  Yet his productive base remains without any life-carrying capacity criteria to steer against the inhuman mass-productivism of Stalinism, Taylorism or China or towards ecological sustainability by full recycling. At the same time, on the level of collective agency, the BST notion of productive class cannot in principle enlist the great and creative life forces of first peoples, subsistence farmers, household labour, student masses, identification with fellow species, and green consciousness to ground a life-based transformation beyond the money-ghoul disorder. Productivism across opposing classes escalates volumes of material outputs as ‘more goods’.

Marx’s Capital is not a “theoretical anti-humanism” (as Louis Althusser argues) because his theory is driven by a Promethean humanism so insurgent that it is certain of a proletarian dictatorship bringing in the final emancipation of humanity.  On the other hand, when human life capacity gain or loss do not figure into the value calculus of productive forces or the commodities they produce, we can see the disastrous outcomes in the long run with no life capital base recognised.  As in natural evolution, unavoidable tragedy is built into the struggle for survival  – the mors immortalis of all species and societies dying into new forms. For Marx’s historical materialism, the redeeming certitude is that the industrial productive powers ‘surpassing all prior societies put together’ will finally enable an overthrow of the capitalist still stamped with the beast: which he finds in unspoken poetic justice, ‘digs its own grave’ by the joint cooperative labour powers and machines it builds to overthrow it. Yet the theoretical problems of Marx’s BST come back to one buried meta issue. If technological development is the ultimate measure of a society’s historical advance, what is the life standard or principle whereby society can know the difference, in either capitalism or socialism, between this assumed material progress and, in historical fact, long-term life-commons ruin?  The “precision of natural science” that Marx attributes to “the material mode of production” lacks any criteria benchmarks to satisfy the ultimate question.

The question of ‘the illusion of progress’ has been posted in many quarters, but nowhere are the dots joined of the lost life-ground of Marx’s base-superstructure theory as well as the epoch.

The Missing Life Capital Base of Marx’s Base-Superstructure Theory

Re-set of Marx’s productive base to principled consistency with human and natural laws of life and life support systems is the missing foundation of historical materialism as well as the capitalist system from the start. Yet in all cases and at all levels, the measure of life necessity that is blocked out is undeniable once defined: any material need or necessity is that without which life capacities of any kind are reduced or die – from oceans to songbirds to human brains. While Marx does not penetrate to this unifying principle or its implications for system transformation, it is implicitly presupposed in both his attacks on the capitalist system and his revolutionary alternative to it. This underpinning value code may be tested by any case of denunciation or affirmation in Marx’s analysis which does not conform to the italicised principle. It is measurable and applicable to all productive plans and practises, with organic medical practises and public health programs implicitly guided by it. This life-value base and metric also defines the universal life necessities which constitute the “realm of necessity” Marx recognises as that which all societies’ modes of production must provide for – and, in value logic entailment,are better or worse in accordance with how well they do so.

Can Marx’s BST be re-set to include this missing collective life capital base? There seems only way do so, and that is comprehension of the following three moments of any life-coherent value system across generations: all enduring life value is that which (i) produces more life value (ii) without loss and (iii) with cumulative gain. The sole concept in any language which comprehends these three moments of lasting values in terrestrial time is life capital whose collective form includes every social asset through time from the sciences and arts to stable hydrological cycles to a public healthcare system to pollution-abating and recycling technologies to regional biodiversity and arable lands, and food seed banks, to local, national global aquifers, rivers, sewers and filter systems. The “collective” modifier is in fidelity to Marx’s methodolological collectivism which understands social systems in terms of social entities rather than as atomic aggregates to which the dominant economic, medical and biological sciences are still bound.

Yet the concept of ‘capital’ itself has been so narrowed down to money demand appropriating profit in limitless accumulation that anti- or pro-Marx ideologues cannot think past the dominant meaning.  This is a quintessential paradigm block.

We can test the unifying principle of collective life capital in Marx’s base-superstructure theory by seeking any value affirmation or negation which conflicts with it. In onto-axiological terms not found in economic or political theory, every value is a life capital value if it reproduces and gains in yield consistently with other life capital: as in any good way of life and as in Marx’s implicit life-value code of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.  This missing life-coherence principle fits to Marx’s base-superstructure theory in all that its states or implies as social objective. For example, all sound public infrastructures and services as well as natural resources can be defined, evaluated, tracked in gains and losses of life-carrying capacities and needs, and made consistent with one another in sustainable flourishing in accordance with this underlying life capital method and measure: the very definition of Marx’s otherwise undefined and misunderstood ‘communist society’, as can also be tested in his texts from the EPM to the Gotha Program. The principal problem of the BST as well as the capitalist epoch is lack of principle to comprehend these common life capital bases and the life-coherent knowledge to sustain consistency among them. Conversely, the ultimate problem of capitalism is that it is life-capital blind in M-C-M1—n principle, and is cumulatively life-destructive by the powers of its technologies disaggregating all that exists for private profit as the overriding end of ‘growth’. Marx’s entire corpus and BST method is an encyclopedically learned testimony to this underlying disorder without naming it, or preventing its productivist-led recurrence in societies self-described as ‘communist’.

While Marx leaves capitalist misrule to the ‘inevitable proletarian revolution’ to resolve, capitalist centuries have so built systemic life destruction into ‘development’ and ‘growth’ that it requires this ultimate re-set to life capital parameters that Marx does not provide. The appearance of capitalism’s incomparably great productive powers masks even to Marx what is, in fact, cumulatively depredating technological forces, methods and commodifications  despoiling the very life carrying systems of human and natural evolution on the planet. A century and a half after Capital, the macro economy remains without a collective capital base or equivalent on which all depends and interdepends. Neo-liberal state policies dictate defunding, privatizing and de-regulation of whatever social life-support systems and life-protective regulatory control have evolved over a century, including those advocated by Marx – work-time limits to a shorter working day (now growing); public banks (now privatized in even currency issue); nationalized industries (privatized for profit almost everywhere); and a graduated income tax (increasingly pushed into reverse).

At the same time, the productive force development of capitalism hardly provides the production forces for primary life necessities themselves. Even assuming a future ‘government of associated producers’, it must re-set production itself to life capital terms, criteria and investment. The basic need of a place to live is now everywhere controlled by private rentiers and banks producing for profit not homes with a housing-production system not structured for peoples’ needs. The ultimate life capital necessity of clean water to drink is so ignored by existing productive force development that two-thirds of the world now runs short of it. Where publicly owned and managed clean water supply exists – the life foundation of any society or production system – it is privatized into throwaway plastic bottles charging more than the price of oil while public water sources are run down by industrial farming and vehicle pollutions across the globe. Nourishing foods, the universal life necessity that launched the capitalist revolution by large-scale farming and international trade now mass produces nutrient-deficient and disease-causing substances leading non-infectious epidemics of disease, suffering and death.

Together these degenerate trends –all called ‘more productivity’ pose the greatest threat to human and fellow life in history and perhaps the species time on earth, most deeply of the planet’s life carrying capacities themselves. Only by the recognition and metric of a collective life capital base, quantifiable by the money investment required to sustain each of its domains in proportion to the life capacities destroyed without it, is the problem built into the productive forces themselves soluble in principle. If the common life asset is already depleted and polluted beyond recovery, it is at least known with a defined category to measure the life-carrying capacities lost, and required henceforth for social transformation to be consistent with the universal life necessities now being deprived and despoiled without recognition of it.

Marx’s BST, including in particular its theory of social revolution, does not have the resources to resolve this ultimate problem nor even recognise it. Without the collective life capital base and measure to ground base-superstructure theory, the cumulative capitalist forces of life-system destruction remain built into the revolutionary productive forces themselves.

The Productive Agency of Social Transformation 150 Years after Capital

Marx believed that industrial workers (the proletariat) would rise up around the world (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

At the heart of Marx’s base-superstructure theory, Capital contends that the industrial working class or proletariat is “disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself” to revolt against it – a signature contention which has been widely followed. Yet a logical slippage occurs in Marx’s argument which is not recognised. For within “this very mechanism of capitalist production”, no other purpose is allowed but to serve the M-C-M1 “law of motion of modern society” which, by Marx’s own description, operates solely to lower money costs for capitalists to pump out maximum profit. In particular, there is no freedom of time, motion or speech in assembly-line production progressively analysed into constituent phases and programmed to extract maximum life energy from workers to maximize profit. What has gone unnoticed is a fallacy of equivocation between the production process of workers bound to serve total capitalist command within the industrial workplace and workers joining together outside this workplace on the basis of their collective interests which are systematically expelled from it. As Marx himself says elsewhere in Wage Labour and Capital, “life only begins for the labourer where his bought labour ceases”.

Marx also claims in this most revolutionary passage of Capital that the industrial proletariat is “growing in revolt” and “always increasing in numbers”. Here the error is not logical, but factual.  The industrial proletariat since Marx’s Capital – perhaps due in part to it – has been progressively replaced by automated systems which in the last half century have multipled industrial job reduction, separation of work functions into globally scaled assembly-lines, and systematic deprivation of collective worker leverages of strike, union association, local market demand, and job security. Here again Marx’s base-superstructure theory of social transformation needs to be re-set to remain applicable. In fact, the class most superseding and displacing the industrial proletariat has been knowledge creators and workers who emerge everywhere that symbolic capabilities and activities replace physical inputs in production – the greatest revolution in productive development since Marx. While the physical-input class has been effectively terminated in capacities to organise or lead social transformation, knowledge creators and workers are bound by exact learning and the sciences within at and at the top of material production systems across cultures as well as outside them. Yet what they still lack, like Marx’s BST itself, is comprehension and action in accordance with the collective life capital bases (as defined in the prior section) on which all depend in the clean water they can drink, the nourishing food they can eat, the life security they can move or sleep in, and so on through all the life carrying capacities of social reproduction each must have accessible to live and live well as individuals as well as societies.

On the other hand, knowledge creators and workers and their are already organising, unifying and disciplining investigations and mass resistance to capitalist life destructions and degradations of  life systems and links on a case-by-case basis. These include campaigns against and for species extinctions and conservation, rainforests and animal habitats of every kind, human water sources across the planet, atmosphere and ocean carbonization , toxic and diseases-causing foods and working conditions, political corruption and tax evasions, children’s rights and gender liberation, environmental degradations and pesticides or herbicides, trade treaties depriving workers of jobs and life security of citizens, US-led war criminal policies and actions, exposure of secret and mendacious political dealings against the common interest,  public electricity infrastructures, dirty oil extractions and transportations crossing planet in pollution of means of life on every level – – – the domains of battle for life and life support systems against capitalist invasions for private profit are increasing in numbers and revolt. What still lies ahead for this emergent agency of global social transformation is connective knowledge and action across common life capital bases now still isolated from each other in conception and execution towards cross-cultural public policy formation in comprehensively life-coherent definition leading societies on every front out of the degenerative trends deepening within material production itself as well as the ownership structure and political and ideological planes laid bare by base-superstructure theory. This requires ‘disciplined, organised and united’ understanding within and outside workplaces at a level only adumbrated by Marx’s BST. As he knew it is not just a question of ‘ideas seizing the masses as a material force’, but of public authority investigation, action and law consistent with    objective and scientific knowledge across public spheres of life protection and enablement.

Marx’s Preface to Capital is far-seeing in defining the leading lines of the knowledge vocation and its search for truth, objective understanding of the facts, and social defence of universal life necessities for those deprived of them across domains:

where there are plenary powers to get at the truth (Marx’s emphasis): if it was possible to find for this purpose men as competent, as free from partisanship and respect of persons as are [emphases added] the English Factory inspectors, her medical reporters on public health, her commissioners of inquiry into the exploitation of women and children, into housing and food.

Observe how encompassing these life capital bases are and the ‘plenary powers to get at the truth’. Observe how Marx supports the knowledge-creation capacities of the most developed capitalist society to seek the truth across the most basic domains of life production and reproduction.  Consider then this logic of knowledge evolution as the ultimate species, survival and development advantage of humanity through historical and natural time increasingly connecting and leading the rest.  This is the collective life capital knowledge base which advances in the deepest contradiction with the private money-command system of capitalism, and what alone outgrows its vampire grip – 150 years after Capital.

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New Year’s Message and Warning from a War Correspondent

NOVANEWS

Sometimes it is useful to take a break from news bulletins and newspapers, and even from ‘friendly’ Internet publications.

Occasionally it is good to realize that there are actually two parallel realities that are constantly competing for the ‘hearts and minds’ of people living all over the world. There is real life and ‘fake life’. There is reality and elaborately manufactured pseudo-reality, which is designed to appear more real than the reality itself. It is like that chemically produced green apple shampoo that smells more authentic than the fruit itself. 

*

Periodically I disappear into some jungle or a war zone, in Afghanistan, Southern Philippines or in the middle of plundered Borneo Island. When I return to what some people would readily describe as the‘normal world’, and a news bulletin unexpectedly confronts me at some airport lounge, everything suddenly appears to be bizarre, grotesque, totally surreal, at least for the few initial but excruciating moments.

It is because most of the mainstream news communiqués and analyses are produced in the plush comfort of an armchair, or at a mahogany writing table, thousands of miles from shrapnel, sweat, torn flesh, blood, burning forests, polluted waterways, and the other horrors which are, in fact, nothing other than the true reality for billions of human beings inhabiting our planet.

Remembering how things really feel, taste and smell I get desperate. I don’t recognize places described by the mass media. We are talking about two different universes; yes, about two absolutely opposite realities.

*

If mainstream reporters go to the field, they are well equipped with bulletproof vests, helmets, with 4×4 vehicles (some of them also bulletproof), with excellent life and health insurances that include airlifts and other evacuation clauses, as well as with hefty salaries and other compensation schemes. On their chests and their backs, it says loudly and explicitly “PRESS”.

So what am I bitching about? Is it wrong to compensate people who are risking their lives, or to try to protect them?

No, it is not; of course it is not wrong.

Except, there is that one tiny ‘but’… You can never, ever get ‘too close’ to anything real, this way. You cannot turn yourself to a buffoon or a walking media Rambo, and expect to uncover something hidden, something important, and something thoroughly groundbreaking.

If you over-protect your life, over-insure your each and every step, you’d build a thick wall between yourself and the real life.

If you go into the field looking like this, you will be spotted and questioned, and you will need all sorts of permits and stamps. It is almost like declaring: “I’ll play by your rules, I’ll not rock the boat, and I’ll let you monitor each step that I take”. Imagine arriving while being decked out like that and attempting to cover genocide in Papua! Good luck, really. About official permits, if you are from a ‘friendly’ mainstream agency, you can get them almost immediately. Yes, of course, organizations such as the BBC or CNN could easily supply you with all the necessary credentials. You could even count on an official government armed ‘escort’, or you could count on an escort supplied by friendly (to the West) ‘rebel groups’. Not to speak of all those ‘all you can eat’ press briefings.

However, the chances that real people would talk to you would be slim. But would you care about hearing from real people if you work for an official mainstream newspaper or a television channel? I doubt it. Real people could, God forbid, say real things, instead of what you are ordered to ‘discover’ in such places as Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria or Afghanistan. In the end, you’ll hear what you came to hear and report, and your writing and clips would be mainly in accordance with the established stereotypes.

Then what, how? Who could do it; who could describe reality, and actually stay alive?

In a brilliant film directed by Oliver StoneSalvador (1986), one of the main characters declared:

“You got to get close to the truth. You get too close, you die.”  

He died, but what he said – that is precisely it! There is this invisible, imaginary line, in the air or on the ground, somewhere. You never see it, but if you have worked in many war zones before, you sense it, and it is what actually saves your life. It saves it often, most of the times, but of course not always. Those who usually die are men and women who make crucial mistakes during their first attempts, before developing their instincts. What I’m talking about cannot be taught; it is not logical – it’s just ‘there’.

To get as close to the truth as possible, one has to work, fast, decisively and with certain precision, avoiding obvious blunders.

People around you have to trust you, and you yourself have to know whom to trust and from whom to hide.

You are on your own, or at least most of the time you are.

All this guarantees nothing, but these are some of the basic preconditions, if you want to understand a conflict, a war.

Working in devastated places is very emotional, very deep, and sometimes you get overwhelmed, and sometimes your glasses get blurry. You make mistakes; hopefully not too many. Occasionally you go after a particular story, or you know generally what you want to find and a story bumps into you, or you stumble over it, or it just hits you frontally, brutally and at full strength.

If it is good, it is never just ‘reporting’. It is much more than journalism, or it is simply shit. There must be some poetry in what you are doing, there has to be also philosophy and humanism, as well as plenty of context and ideology and passion.

There can be no ‘objectivity’ in this work: objectivity is just an illusion, a fairytale dispersed by mainstream media. But you should never lie: you witness and say what you have to say, the way you believe it should be said, and while you do it, it is your obligation to inform your readers and viewers where precisely you stand.

As a human being, as an artist and thinker, you should always take sides. But your position – on which side of the ‘barricade’ you stand – has to be clear and honest. Otherwise you are a liar.

*

The bitter but essential truth is: Even if you put your life on the line, even if you get badly injured or psychologically exhausted, do not expect much gratitude or support.

Many local victims – people whom you came to defend – will suppose and even tell you straight to your face that ‘you came to get rich using their suffering and misery’.

Your readers in wealthy countries will imagine that you are being generously funded. They were conditioned to believe that there are no altruistic individuals, governments and countries left on this earth.

The reality is quite different: if you work independently, if you refuse to repeat lies and take orders, to merge with the mainstream, if you go against the interest of the West and its allies and ‘clients’, the chances are that you will get zero financial support, no protection whatsoever and absolutely no perks.

You may get millions of readers, of course. And you can recycle your reports in your books and films, as I did in my more than 800-page long Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. If your writing is good, your books will sell, somehow, even if they attack the establishment frontally. But don’t count on any support from ‘friendly governments’ or wealthy but ‘left leaning individuals’. There is no Engels around, these days. You are really on your own. Trust me, you are.

You and your determined work may save several villages, or if you are very good, you could make a difference on a global scale. Your writing or your films may help to stop a war. But never expect any official recognition, any practical backing or even mercy from your readers. In 2015, after making several films and writing books about several particularly horrid war zones, mostly in Africa, I totally collapsed. For several weeks, I was not able to move. I thought it was the end. There was no help at all coming from those millions of my readers living in all parts of the world. At that time I made my condition public. Still nothing. Few letters of ‘moral support’ arrived. Few: “Be strong, the world needs you!” In the end, it was my close family circle that literally pampered and rescued me and put me back to my feet and into fighting order.

This is not a reproach, just a warning to those who are getting ready to fight for the survival of humanity: “You will be totally on your own. You will most definitely collapse on several occasions.”

Still, I know no other way how to live meaningfully. I would never trade my life with the life of anyone else.

*

There is another very important and revealing piece of information, which I’d like to share with you, my readers.

In 2017 I worked in several extremely dangerous parts of the world, including Afghanistan, the Pakistani-Afghan border during the exchange of fire between the two countries, on the Turkish-Syrian border in Euphrates area during the Turkish invasion, in the war-torn southern Philippines, in Lebanon and in the fully devastated (by logging and mining) Indonesian part of the Island of Borneo.

Afghanistan Soviet tanks cemetery

I drove all around Afghanistan, with no protection, no security and no one covering my back. My friend who doubled as my driver and interpreter was the only man I could count on. Sometimes I held the wheel myself. We even made it into the Taliban controlled territories and drug-infested slums of Kabul. All in a 20 year old, beat up Toyota Corona.

In all these places, I did not see one single Western mainstream reporter. Not one!

Where were they, all those media superstars, I don’t know, but most likely they were holed up somewhere at the NATO headquarters, or at least in the only remaining plush hotel in Afghanistan – Serena.The same can be said about the southern Philippines, although there, to be ‘objective’, one Aussie colleague actually got hit by a sniper’s bullet, just couple of days before I arrived.

Do never trust those who write about the suffering of others exclusively from the safety of their living room couches. It is fine to write from there, of course, but only after you have actually seen the people you are talking about; after you have seen them at least once, for a substantial amount of time, after you have listened to their stories, to their desperate cries, and after you have got very dirty and very scared yourself, and truly desperate, in short: after you have got right there, near that invisible line which separates life from death, and after you have tasted the water of the proverbial river Lethe.

*

But back to where I began.

Imagine: I leave the places where people are fighting for survival, or where they are fighting for true freedom, or against imperialism. I hardly have time to take a deep breath, to recover from food and air poisoning, to change into some presentable clothes, and it all hits me directly in my face: I see some news bulletin, I read articles published by mainstream media, and while doing it, I absolutely don’t recognize the world, which I have witnessed in all its rainbow of colors, with all its glory and its misery.

I feel ‘out of place’.

I know, some call it ‘Vietnam Syndrome’. There are many other definitions for these feelings, or for this outrage, or desperation, or whatever you want to call it.

You suddenly feel it, you know it: somewhere far away where you had been living and working just several hours ago, there is still what could be defined as the ‘real world’, inhabited by real people. And then, right now, there is this other world, which over imposes, almost fully covers(and even dwarfs) that real one, by using its mainstream clichés and false mass-produced certainties.

*

This year – this ‘departing year’ 2017 – has definitely not been a good year for our planet.

A group of nations, which has been controlling the world for already several centuries brutally and shamelessly, is pushing us, our entire human race, closer and closer towards complete disaster, towards a showdown, towards a confrontation that may abruptly terminate millions of innocent human lives.

I’m concerned. I’m very concerned. I have already witnessed indescribable calamities in so many places. I know, I can perfectly well imagine, where all this could lead.

Colonialism is always wrong. Imperialism is always wrong. Cultural, religious or economic supremacy theories are wrong, with absolutely no exceptions.

If a group of nations from one relatively small continent has been continuously usurping the entire world, shaping it to its advantage and enslaving people of other colors, beliefs and values, it is all unmistakably wrong.

But the world is like that – brutal, unjust, and controlled by one aggressive, greedy, sly and arrogant minority. The world is still like that. Once again, it is increasingly like that.

And I cannot stand such an ‘arrangement’.

I don’t want it to be like that. I’m tired of covering grief, pain, horror and violence. I’m exhausted of filming or photographing perpetual destruction and downfalls.

That’s why I’m writing this, at the very end of the year 2017. Perhaps it is just one more futile attempt to stop something inhuman and unnecessary from happening.

Perhaps it is almost impossible to cut through the pseudo-reality manufactured by the mainstream media, academia and ‘culture’. Or maybe it’s not impossible. I actually believe that ‘it is never too late’, as I believe that nothing in life is truly ‘impossible’.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!

Let me inform you that the world is totally different, actually much more beautiful and diverse than you have been told. Even most of those places that are now in flames are beautiful. And if left in peace, they’d thrive.

The world is worth fighting for. It is worth defending.

Don’t ever trust the “news” and “information” which is being disseminated by those who are continuously trying to loot and enslave the world. Trust only what you see and hear, and what you feel. Trust people who are in love with this world, if you manage to identify them. Trust your own senses, your inner logic, and your emotions.

Do not vote for bombing or putting sanctions on any foreign country, anywhere on Earth, before you see it with your own eyes, before you are really convinced, before you talk to its people, and before you truly understand what they are saying. Do not make decisions or conclusions after staring at the television set only. Remember: pseudo-reality kills! And it wants you to participate in this murder.

Go!

Discover!

After US bombing near Mosul Iraq 4

See for yourself. I hope to encounter you, at least some of you, in Syria, in North Korea, in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Russia, China, South Africa, Cuba, and Eritrea –also in hundreds of other great places, which have been brutalized and smeared by those who are dreaming about making this entire world thoroughly banal, consisting only of a few super-wealthy nations served and fed by all those “others”that have been reduced to slavery.

After seeing the world with your own eyes, after understanding it, I’m almost certain that you will agree with me: right now there are two parallel realities on this planet. One consists of true human lives and human stories, the other one only of trivial but manipulative interpretations of the world. One (true) reality is longing for progress, kindness, optimism and harmony; the other (fake one) is constantly spreading uncertainty, nihilism, destruction and hopelessness.

It is not only what they call “fake news”, it is an entire ‘fake reality’ that has been manufactured by the establishment and upheld by men and women with helmets, bulletproof vests, 4WD’s and prominent PRESS insignia.

Once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!

Happy Discovery Of The World!

Happy Struggle For Survival Of Our Precious Planet!”

Year 2018 will be crucial. Let us all join forces in order for Humanism and that beautiful lady called ‘The True Reality’survive, to prevail, and to triumph.

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The need for cooperation and unity

NOVANEWS
Competition vs cooperation

By Graham Peebles

The natural instinct of human beings is towards cooperation and sharing. However, distorted by competition, personal ambition and nationalism, self-interest and greed have become pre-eminent motivating forces, distorting action and corrupting the policies of governments.

Competition is a pervasive element within all aspects of contemporary society, it is thought by many to be a positive and natural part of the human condition, and one that drives innovation and change. Loyal believers in competition assert that in the world of business it serves the consumer by driving down prices and creating virtually unlimited material choice, and will, some claim, be the driving force for environmental salvation. To be blessed with a competitive spirit, it is argued, strengthens an individual’s ability to succeed and overcome rivals; it stimulates “development” and advances in all areas — after all, if the urge to compete and achieve were negated, then what would motivate action?

Competition and its consequences

While there is a degree of truth in some of these claims, the negative impacts are a great deal more serious and far reaching.

Achieving the “prize”, succeeding, s the fire within the competitive furnace, whether the aim is status, a higher salary, increased market-share or greater financial profit.

Competition, and the broader economic doctrine of which it is an essential part, promotes conflict and maintains division; it feeds intolerance and sets individuals and groups (regions and nations, for example) against each other. Selfishness and greed are encouraged, abundance and dominance – of others, of a market or a region, of a way of thinking – is the goal. Apple  wants to monopolise the mobile phone market, for example, and would happily drive all its competitors out of business – annihilate the opposition. This is true of all companies, of course — naturally, because they are in business for one reason, to make money, and the larger the market share the greater the profit. Yes, certain organisations may have an “ethical framework” within which they operate, but faced with a choice between profits and ethics, profit typically triumphs.

Achieving the “prize”, succeeding, is the fire within the competitive furnace, whether the aim is status, a higher salary, increased market-share or greater financial profit. Within the current polluted paradigm, governments design policies which they believe will enable their nation, (some nations are more prone to this than others), to “compete in the world-wide marketplace”, to capitalise on the opportunities that the digital age offers, and so on. Education, which has been totally contaminated by competition, is seen principally as a supplier for industry, with programmes designed to produce young people with the skills they need to compete internationally – to create the workers of the future. Schoolchildren are made to compete with a certain academic standard and, perhaps indirectly, more broadly with their classmates; streaming is widespread and takes place even in nursery classes in some countries, with two-year-olds being separated from one another based on “ability”.

Happiness, contentment and collective harmony are either totally ignored or considered to be side effects of a strong economy and a materially wealthy society.

Countries are spoken of as if they were mere corporations, with government ministers operating more like boards of directors than an elected group representing the people. Prime ministers and presidents behave like travelling salesmen/women, jetting around the world promoting the nation’s wares. Virtually all policy decisions are made based on a desire to strengthen the economy in the face of increased global competition, with the health of a nation limited to the strength or otherwise of its economy. Happiness, contentment and collective harmony are either totally ignored or considered to be side effects of a strong economy and a materially wealthy society. Yet countries with buoyant economies – America, Britain and Japan, for example – are littered with social problems, mental health issues and of course inequality.

The need for cooperation

The world is besieged by a range of problems, many, if not all of which are firmly rooted in outdated socio-economic structures. The interconnected environmental catastrophe and the threat of nuclear conflict constitute the most critical issues facing humanity. Both threaten the survival of the human race and the planet, and, if we are to face these global issues, both demand a totally new approach. Then there is the worldwide epidemic in mental health illness, what we might call “the crisis of consciousness”, which to a significant degree flows from the values and behaviour promoted by the socio-economic system.

To meet these unprecedented crises, it is imperative that competition be laid aside in favour of cooperation. Governments, industry, specialist bodies and civil society all need to work cooperatively and, crucially, cooperation needs to be allowed to take place within the consciousness of the individual. This will naturally happen when the sociological elements that lead to internal conflict are removed, allowing harmony and contentment to gently flower.

… cooperation needs to replace competition in all areas, tolerance substituted for prejudice and hate, sufficiency and sharing encouraged in place of excess and greed.

The old ideologically-based systems with their divisive materialistic values are incapable of meeting the needs of the time and, as growing numbers of people realise, must be cast aside in favour of altogether more humane, just and synthesising methods. At the core of any alternative approach must be the aim to create an environment in which unity is sensed and realised. This is the single most important step for humanity; all flows from this unifying seed, all divisions fall away in light of this experience.

Humanity is one, and the structures within which we live, and the values and behaviour they encourage need to allow for the recognition of this essential truth. To this end certain, “principles of goodness”, many of which have been held as ideals for generations and are now being widely spoken of, need to be actively inculcated. Chief among them is cooperation, together with sharing; cooperation needs to replace competition in all areas, tolerance substituted for prejudice and hate, sufficiency and sharing encouraged in place of excess and greed.

As Albert Einstein rightly said, we must “abandon competition and secure cooperation [as] the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars… The stakes are immense, the task colossal, the time is short.” As well as areas of governance, and global issues such as climate change, cooperation needs to become the guiding light within all economic matters. It is here that the fire of competition has been lit and from here, under the banner of commercialisation and market forces, that it has spread, and it is here that it must be extinguished.

The purpose and methods of business need to be redefined; competition and the profit motive need to be negated, cooperation, collective endeavour and social responsibility encouraged. The world does not need multiple companies making and selling the same things; it is absurd. Yes, some degree of choice is desirable, but high quality goods, made (increasingly by machines) in an environmentally sustainable manner to serve the needs of humanity should be the aim. With a shift in attitudes away from material greed and competition-led division, such a rational development becomes possible.

When competition is replaced by cooperation, the tendency towards comparison and conformity will also fade, allowing cooperation with oneself to take place. The desire to conform to an image of the self promoted by parents, friends and society at large, to compete with others – siblings, classmates, work colleagues, and so on – which is widespread, gives rise to notions of superiority and inferiority and both exert pressures of one kind and another, resulting in internal conflict, anxiety and other mental health illnesses. Within an atmosphere of cooperation and understanding this pressure, which is perhaps most heavily felt by young people under 30s, will quickly dissipate, allowing tolerance of differences and celebrations of diversity to take place.

Cooperation is a fundamental quality of the time; it sits within a trinity of the age alongside unity and sharing. The expression of each of these galvanising principles strengthens and expands the manifestation of the other two; cooperation naturally evokes acts of sharing, which builds unity. Likewise, when we unite, cooperation and sharing occur. The introduction of these essential principles of change into all areas of contemporary life will lay a foundation of social harmony and allow the socio-economic structures to be re-imagined to meet the needs of all.

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George Monbiot: We Need a New Political Story of Empathy and Sharing to Replace Neoliberalism

NOVANEWS

By Mark Karlin

George Monbiot. (Photo: Verso Books)

George Monbiot. (Photo: Verso Books)George Monbiot ardently believes in the “politics of belonging.” In this interview with Truthout, he explains the argument put forward in his book Out of the Wreckage: Humans are altruistic, but we need a new story of empathy and shared development to overcome the propaganda of the neoliberal story.

Mark Karlin: You begin your book with the importance of the stories we accept as our personal narratives as members of society. How did we end up with the neoliberal story prevailing?

George Monbiot: Starting with the formation by Friedrich Hayek and others of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, the neoliberals, with sponsorship from some very rich backers, built a kind of international network. They set up think tanks, sponsored and captured academic departments, brought journalists and editors into their meetings, and managed to insert advisers into key political departments. They knew that, when Keynesian social democracy was broadly accepted by parties across the political spectrum, that they had no chance of immediate success. But they were patient. Across the course of 30 years, they built their networks, refined their arguments, and brought more and more people into their orbit. They knew that when an economic or political crisis came along, they would be ready to go. As Milton Friedman remarked, “When the time came that you had to change … there was an alternative ready there to be picked up.”

Every generation or so, political stories need to be refreshed or replaced.

But most importantly, they had something which their opponents did not: a new story. Every generation or so, political stories need to be refreshed or replaced, partly because the politics they seed runs out of steam or becomes corrupted or weakened by attacks, partly because people become bored and complacent. This is the grand mistake that those of us who want a generous and inclusive politics have made: We have failed to produce a new, well-developed political story since John Maynard Keynes wrote his General Theory in 1936. Our failure to do so is a formula for eventual collapse.

Neoliberalism is, at heart, a self-serving racket: an elaborate theory that serves as an excuse for the very rich to release themselves from the constraints of democracy: tax, regulation, decent pay and conditions for their workers, care for the living world and all the other decencies we owe to each other. But the reason it caught on is that it was framed within the classic political narrative structure that has worked again and again throughout history, that I call the “Restoration Story.” This goes as follows:

Disorder afflicts the land, caused by powerful and nefarious forces working against the interests of humanity. The hero — who might be one person or a group of people — revolts against this disorder, fights the nefarious forces, overcomes them despite great odds and restores order.

This is a fundamental metanarrative, to which we are innately attuned. They fit their politics around this structure, and told their story with panache and persuasive power. The reason we are stuck with neoliberalism — despite its manifest failures, particularly the financial crash of 2008 — is that its opponents have produced no new, coherent Restoration Story of their own. The best they have to offer is a microwaved version of the

The violent and destructive behavior of the few is more salient in our minds than the altruistic and cooperative behavior of the many.

This is what I seek to address in Out of the Wreckage, which learns from the success of neoliberalism and other movements which have used this narrative framing, and tells a whole new Restoration Story that I believe is appropriate for our times.

Implicit and explicit in your book is the contention that people are by nature altruistic and communal. Given the current triumph of the rugged individualism narratives in most developed and extracting nations, what evidence underlies your contention that we inherently are part of a belonging society?

Over the past 20 years or so, there has been a remarkable convergence of findings in neuroscience, psychology, anthropology and evolutionary biology. They all point to the fact that humankind, as an article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology puts it, is “spectacularly unusual when compared to other animals” in our degree of altruism. There’s a list of references to scientific papers on this subject in Out of the Wreckage.

We also have an astonishing capacity for empathy, and a tendency toward cooperation that is rivaled among mammals only by the naked mole rat. These tendencies are innate. We evolved in the African savannahs: a world of fangs and claws and horns and tusks. We survived despite being weaker and slower than both our potential predators and most of our prey. We did so through developing, to an extraordinary degree, a capacity for mutual aid. As it was essential to our survival, this urge to cooperate was hard-wired into our brains through natural selection.

We do not need to change human nature, we need to reveal it.

But the great tragedy we confront is that this extraordinary good nature has been hidden from us, partly by our own perceptions. We have an inherent tendency to look out for danger. The violent and destructive behavior of the few is more salient in our minds than the altruistic and cooperative behavior of the many.

Of course, in any nation, there are people who do not share the general tendency toward altruism and empathy…. Unfortunately, they are disproportionately represented at the top levels of government and business. The current US president is a good example. We see them, and the way they behave, and tell ourselves that this is what human beings are like. It is not. It is what 1 percent of human beings are like.

But the other reason for this tragedy of misperception is that we are immersed in a virulent ideology of extreme individualism and competition, which tells us, against all the scientific evidence, that our dominant characteristics are selfishness and greed, and that this is a good thing, as it stimulates enterprise, which produces wealth, which will somehow trickle down to enrich everyone. This is the central ideology of neoliberalism, which valorizes and centralizes our worst tendencies, and celebrates the inequality and domination that results. One of our principal tasks is to replace this false story with what the science tells us about who we really are. We do not need to change human nature, we need to reveal it.

What is the difference between provision of services by the state and the role of robust communities?

I do not want to dismiss the importance of state provision. It remains crucial. The character of a society is determined by whether or not the state provides good public services and a robust social safety net. When governments fail to defend their people in this way, insecurity and precarity rule, and society as a whole becomes harsher and more susceptible to fear, hatred and reaction. But we make a mistake if we imagine that we can leave everything to government alone.

The problem with relying only on government is that it contributes to alienation. The state delivers services from on high and tends to push people into silos to ensure they receive the right provision. Alongside other alienating forces, it can undermine social cohesion and the sense of belonging, if it is not balanced by community action. It can also leave us feeling dependent and highly vulnerable to budget cuts. In fact, many people now suffer the worst of both worlds: mutual aid and self-reliance were eroded by the necessity of state provision, but now that state provision is being withdrawn, leaving people with neither.

So, we need, in pursuit of the new vision I’m seeking to promote, what I call the “Politics of Belonging” to revive community life. There are two ways of doing so that interest me.

The first is the development of a rich participatory culture: community projects designed to bring in as many people as possible, some of which will require very little commitment or skill, which gradually proliferate into what practitioners call “thick networks.” There are some spectacular examples, like the movement in Rotterdam that began by turning a disused Turkish bath house into a public reading room, and ended up spawning 1,300 projects and community enterprises. Eventually, you reach a tipping point, at which community participation becomes the norm rather than the exception, and so many social enterprises, cooperatives and other community businesses are formed that they begin to comprise a major part of the local economy.

The second is the reclamation of the commons, one of the four great sectors of the economy that we always forget. (Our debates tend to focus on only two: the state and the market, neglecting both the commons and the household). The commons [are] resources owned, managed and shared equally by a community. It has been relentlessly attacked by both state and market. I believe that the restoration of the commons is crucial for the restoration of community, democracy, a sense of belonging and the living world. It is the commons that makes sense of community. In the book, I give examples of what this means and how the restoration can take place.

What is the “single transferable vote system” and why is it important to writing a new story of belonging?

This is the simplest and most direct form of proportional representation. At the moment, we have, in countries such as the UK and the US, electoral systems that are designed to concentrate power and keep democratic aspirations in check. They ensure that some people’s votes count for more than others. In the UK, for example, our first-past-the-post electoral system creates two classes of voters: the majority, who live in constituencies in which power is unlikely to change hands, and can therefore be safely ignored, and a minority (reckoned at 800,000 out of 45 million electors) of floating voters in marginal constituencies, who must be courted and flattered and assuaged with all the resources at parties’ disposal.

Proportional representation means that the number of seats allocated to a party in a parliament or congress should reflect the number of votes cast. Of the various forms of proportional representation, I favor the single transferable vote because, while it is directly proportional, it also sustains a sense of local attachment. Voters choose their representatives by name from geographical constituencies. It possesses a crucial political quality: simplicity. Voters write numbers on the ballot paper beside the names of the candidates they favor, in order of preference. If their first choice of candidate already has sufficient votes, or has no chance of election, their vote is switched during the count to their second choice.

How would participatory budgeting work?

I think it would be better to ask: “How does it work?” It’s been working with great success in Brazil since 1989, and in other places more recently.

In the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, where it began, about 20 percent of the municipal budget — the portion devoted to infrastructure — is allocated by the people. The process begins with public meetings that are used to review the previous year’s budget and elect local representatives to the new budget council. Working with the people of their districts, these representatives agree [on] local priorities, which are then submitted to the budget council. The council weights the distribution of money according to local levels of poverty and lack of infrastructure. In Porto Alegre, around 50,000 people are typically involved in the development of a budget. Yes, 50,000. Never let anyone tell you that people aren’t ready for participatory democracy.

Brazilian cities with participatory budgets have experienced sharper declines in infant mortality and better health care and sanitation than those using traditional budgeting. The number of clinics, schools and nursery places in poor areas increases; water supply improves; rivers are cleaned up; poverty declines faster than elsewhere. The poor and their problems can no longer be ignored.

Local gangs and mafias lose their power, as people have other means of securing social protection. The exchange of favors and corrupt practices declines. The language of government changes, allowing anyone to understand the issues at stake and the means by which decisions are made. Good infrastructure comes to be seen by citizens as a right, rather than as a favor to be handed down from on high.

But exercising control over part of the municipal budget is not enough. We need to find ways to extend the process in two directions: to allow citizens to determine a greater portion of local budgets, and to introduce participatory budgeting at the state and national levels. This is initially difficult, but I believe there are various clever ways in which it can be done. It has to begin with the recruitment of sympathetic governments that are prepared to start experimenting with raising the scale of the model.

What is your answer to an individual who asks, “How do I begin to step into this new story of communal belonging?”

I believe that the Big Organizing models developed by the Sanders campaign in the US and the Corbyn/Momentum campaign in the UK provide a thrilling template for how we can change politics at the national level. The technique is in its infancy, and its use in both campaigns was experimental. But in both cases, from a standing start and under highly inauspicious circumstances, these models gave the candidates a real chance of gaining power.

Since then, the techniques have been developed and refined, and it’s not going to be long before we see a series of spectacular wins by genuinely progressive candidates on the back of this model. But it can also be deployed, especially in conjunction with the very useful tactics developed by the Indivisible movement, in pursuit of specific campaigns. I feel we are only just beginning to see what proliferating networks of volunteers using digital technology as well as direct human contact can now achieve. If we get this right, it is my belief that we will become unstoppable.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on George Monbiot: We Need a New Political Story of Empathy and Sharing to Replace Neoliberalism

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