Category: Admin

KPFA Special Programming- Block The Boat

KPFA Special Programming- Block The Boat, August 16, 2014, from Berkeley and the Oakland Docks, California. Protesters successfully blocked Israeli Zim ship Piraeus, from unloading in Oakland to oppose Israeli apartheid.

Hour One

Hour Two

Segment at Berth 57, Block The Boat

Mesh Networks Can Save the Internet

With FireChat, we can send texts and images even if no Internet access or cell phone coverage.

This free app works on iOS and Android smartphones. It connects the devices together forming a peer-to-peer decentralized mesh network.

Some burners may say ‘just keep the phones off’, others told us that this might be useful, especially to those who are going together as families with their children. Now you know it’s there, it’s up to you.

Want to give it a try? Grab it before you go

From A Ukraine Friend

3 Gas pipelines west (1)

Had my friend in Central Ukraine comment on this Zerohedge report. Here’s what he sent today:

Hey Brother John!

I read the comments-fun! [in the zerohedge article] At least people are looking at it from THE GAS MONEY VIEWPOINT-which is constructive, though shallow- reality says it’s a mega-billion dollar game between Putin & the West. Putin must win, otherwise besides loosing markets (where they not only sell, but also buy) there’s a threat of a 5-8 min missile reach to Moscow from Ukraine [if the EU manages to convince Ukraine to host NATO protection] The West- is in a win situation in that case of return fire (preventive!) not a single EU citizen will be killed! The Russians will have to kill their own kind called “Ukrainians”!

In case Ukraine gets sold to the EU by the crooks [Yatsenyuk] who got to power instead of the famous ex-con-[Yanuchovich] the country will loose its heavy industry, agriculture, free medicare & a bunch of other stuff- winners don’t need competition & wont share their meal with despised losers!
If Russia imposes a friendly government in Ukraine- the EU will get a super strong competitor in the east that is self sufficient & will have to go seek survival contracts in Russia, which is not easy at all while the the middle class situation in the west is getting worse..
Politics is prostitution- a fact.

I believe all this ongoing crap in the world is meant to wake people up & realize themselves as humans & quit this bloody manipulation by reptilians or whatever you call this evil entity that manifests clearly in politicians & bureaucrats of all kinds. Humans are producers of good & value added products. Manipulative practices-are evil and that’s finances (the legitimate way of stealing from producers) and politics that serves financiers!

Violence, lies, theft, sex (in lieu of love) & greed, that’s what rules the world today- sick life experience! Patience & sober minds look like an acceptable remedy to survive (at least spiritually-which is believed to be the imperishable part of us) Fastidious & hypocritical? Just kidding!

More on The Palantir Paypal Connections To Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is forming a new news service with PayPal’s Pierre Omidyar. Here’s some of the company information to what all this is connected to.
Forbes on Palantir’s Karp.

Glenn Greenwald, PayPal and the Truth


Flirting with Sauron: The Risks of Trusting the Snowden Story
Posted on January 1, 2014 by Kevin Ryan

[From Kevin’s Blog, blocked by some virus protocols]

Last June, Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian revealed that Edward Snowden was the NSA insider behind “one of the most significant leaks in US political history.” Snowden explained his motivations through Greenwald by saying, “There are more important things than money…. harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.” Such altruistic motivations were welcome news at the time but have come into question recently given that only a tiny fraction of the documents have been released nearly a year after Snowden started working with Greenwald. Perhaps more importantly, billionaire Pierre Omidyar is funding Greenwald’s slow release of those documents and Omidyar’s Paypal Corporation has highly suspicious links to NSA spying and other dangers to civil rights.

It was originally reported that the number of documents Snowden had stolen was in the thousands. Today, however, that number is said to be nearly two million. This calls into question Snowden’s early statement, as reported by Greenwald, that he “carefully evaluated every single document to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest.” The huge, new number also reveals that less than one tenth of one percent of the documents (only about 900) have actually been released to the public.

How could Snowden have “carefully evaluated every single” one of what is now being said to be nearly two million documents? He only worked for Booz Allen Hamilton for a few months. According to NSA Director Keith Alexander, Snowden also worked directly for NSA for twelve months prior to that, which is interesting. But still, that would require carefully evaluating thousands of documents a day during that entire time. Didn’t he have a job apart from that?

Journalist Margie Burns asked some good questions back in June that have not yet been answered. She wondered about the 29-year old Snowden who had been a U.S. Army Special Forces recruit, a covert CIA operative, and an NSA employee in various capacities, all in just a few, short years. Burns asked “How, exactly, did Snowden get his series of NSA jobs? Did he apply through regular channels? Was it through someone he knew? Who recommended him? Who were his references for a string of six-figure, high-level security jobs? Are there any safeguards in place so that red flags go up when a subcontractor jumps from job to job, especially in high-level clearance positions?”

Five months later, journalists Mark Ames and Yasha Levine investigated some of the businesses in which Greenwald’s benefactor Omidyar had invested. They found that the actual practices of those businesses were considerably less humanitarian than the outward appearance of Omidyar’s ventures often portray. The result was that Omidyar took down references to at least one of those businesses from his website.

sauron eyeIn December, whistleblower Sibel Edmonds broke the news that Omidyar‘s Paypal Corporation was implicated in the as-yet-unreleased NSA documents from Snowden. Moreover, Edmonds had been contacted by an NSA official who alleged that “a deal was made in early June, 2013 between the journalists involved in this recent NSA scandal and U.S. government officials, which was then sealed by secrecy and nondisclosure agreements by all parties involved.”

Omidyar, the son of Iranian exiles, certainly has some highly suspicious business associates at Paypal. Here are a few of the most influential of Omidyar’s Paypal colleagues.

Max Levchin, a co-founder of Paypal, has openly stated his support for NSA spying on Americans.
Alex Karp is now the CEO of Palantir, which is the most important company providing spying technology to the NSA. Palantir’s advisors include Condoleezza Rice and former CIA director George Tenet. The word Palantir refers to the seeing stones used primarily by the dark lord Sauron in The Lord of the Rings novels. From 2005 to 2008 the CIA was Palantir’s patron and only customer.
Peter Thiel has some interesting right-wing connections. Thiel started his career working for the CIA-linked law firm Sullivan & Cromwell and then Credit Suisse Group. In 2009, Thiel said, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,”
These facts about Omidyar’s Paypal colleagues should raise the level of skepticism about his new media venture with Greenwald and the slow release of the documents stolen by Snowden. It’s clear that Snowden’s whistleblowing has been co-opted by private corporate interests. Are those involved with privatization of the stolen documents also colluding with government agencies to frame and direct national discussions on domestic spying and other serious matters?

The possibilities are endless, it seems. Presenting documents at a measured rate could be a way to acclimate citizens to painful realities without stirring the public into a panic or a unified response that might actually threaten the status quo. And considering that the number of documents has somehow grown from only thousands to nearly two million, the few insiders could release practically anything, thereby controlling national dialogue on many topics.

We live in an age of information war. It does not serve the public interest well to ignore that fact at any time based on pre-conceived notions of what corporations, governments or journalists are capable of. Let’s hope that Greenwald, who has done some good work revealing government misconduct, will immediately release all of the stolen documents, speak to the claims of an alleged deal made with government officials, and admit the risks with regard to Omidyar and his Paypal colleagues.

A Terrible Normality by Michael Parenti

Untitled 1_html_6f60c8a3Through much of history the abnormal has been the norm. This is a paradox to which we should attend. Aberrations, so plentiful as to form a terrible normality of their own, descend upon us with frightful consistency.

The number of massacres in history, for instance, are almost more than we can record.  There was the New World holocaust, consisting of the extermination of indigenous Native American peoples throughout the western hemisphere, extending over four centuries or more, continuing into recent times in the Amazon region.

There were the centuries of heartless slavery in the Americas and elsewhere, followed by a full century of lynch mob rule and Jim Crow segregation in the United States, and today the numerous killings and incarcerations of Black youth by law enforcement agencies.

Let us not forget the extermination of some 200,000 Filipinos by the U.S. military at the beginning of the twentieth century, the genocidal massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks in 1915, and the mass killings of African peoples by the western colonists, including the 63,000 Herero victims in German Southwest Africa in 1904, and the brutalization and enslavement of millions in the Belgian Congo from the late 1880s until emancipation in 1960—followed by years of neocolonial free-market exploitation and repression in what was Mobutu’s Zaire.

French colonizers killed some 150,000 Algerians. Later on, several million souls perished in Angola and Mozambique along with an estimated five million in the merciless region now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The twentieth century gave us—among other horrors—more than sixteen million lost and twenty million wounded or mutilated in World War I, followed by the estimated 62 million to 78 million killed in World War II, including some 24 million Soviet military personnel and civilians, 5.8 million European Jews, and taken together:  several million Serbs, Poles, Roma, homosexuals, and a score of other nationalities.

In the decades after World War II, many, if not most, massacres and wars have been openly or covertly sponsored by the U.S. national security state. This includes the two million or so left dead or missing in Vietnam, along with 250,000 Cambodians, 100,000 Laotians, and 58,000 Americans.

Today in much of Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East there are “smaller” wars, replete with atrocities of all sorts. Central America, Colombia, Rwanda and other places too numerous to list, suffered the massacres and death-squad exterminations of hundreds of thousands, a constancy of violent horrors. In Mexico a “war on drugs” has taken 70,000 lives with 8,000 missing.

There was the slaughter of more than half a million socialistic or democratic nationalist Indonesians by the U.S.-supported Indonesian military in 1965, eventually followed by the extermination of 100,000 East Timorese by that same U.S.-backed military.

Consider the 78-days of NATO’s aerial destruction of Yugoslavia complete with depleted uranium, and the bombings and invasion of Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Western Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now the devastating war of attrition brokered against Syria. And as I write (early 2013), the U.S.-sponsored sanctions against Iran are seeding severe hardship for the civilian population of that country.

All the above amounts to a very incomplete listing of the world’s violent and ugly injustice. A comprehensive inventory would fill volumes. How do we record thecountless other life-searing abuses: the many millions who survive wars and massacres but remain forever broken in body and spirit, left to a lifetime of suffering and pitiless privation, refugees without sufficient food or medical supplies or water and sanitation services in countries like Syria, Haiti, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Mali.

Think of the millions of women and children around the world and across the centuries who have been trafficked in unspeakable ways, and the millions upon millions trapped in exploitative toil, be they slaves, indentured servants, or underpaid laborers. The number of impoverished is now growing at a faster rate than the world’s population.  Add to that, the countless acts of repression, incarceration, torture, and other criminal abuses that beat upon the human spirit throughout the world day by day.

Let us not overlook the ubiquitous corporate corruption and massive financial swindles, the plundering of natural resources and industrial poisoning of whole regions, the forceful dislocation of entire populations, the continuing catastrophes of Chernobyl and Fukushima and other impending disasters awaiting numerous aging nuclear reactors.

The world’s dreadful aberrations are so commonplace and unrelenting that they lose their edge and we become inured to the horror of it all. “Who today remembers the Armenians?” Hitler is quoted as having said while plotting his “final solution” for the Jews. Who today remembers the Iraqis and the death and destruction done to them on a grand scale by the U.S. invasion of their lands? William Blum reminds us that more than half the Iraq population is either dead, wounded, traumatized, imprisoned, displaced, or exiled, while their environment is saturated with depleted uranium (from U.S. weaponry) inflicting horrific birth defects.

What is to be made of all this? First, we must not ascribe these aberrations to happenstance, innocent confusion, and unintended consequences.  Nor should we believe the usual rationales about spreading democracy, fighting terrorism, providing humanitarian rescue, protecting U.S. national interests and other such rallying cries promulgated by ruling elites and their mouthpieces.

The repetitious patterns of atrocity and violence are so persistent as to invite the suspicion that they usually serve real interests; they are structural not incidental.  All this destruction and slaughter has greatly profited those plutocrats who pursue economic expansion, resource acquisition, territorial dominion, and financial accumulation.

Ruling interests are well served by their superiority in firepower and striking force. Violence is what we are talking about here, not just the wild and wanton type but the persistent and well-organized kind. As a political resource, violence is the instrument of ultimate authority. Violence allows for the conquest of entire lands and the riches they contain, while keeping displaced laborers and other slaves in harness.

The plutocratic rulers find it necessary to misuse or exterminate restive multitudes, to let them starve while the fruits of their land and the sweat of their labor enrich privileged coteries.

Thus we had a profit-driven imperial rule that helped precipitate the great famine in northern China, 1876-1879, resulting in the death of some thirteen million. At about that same time the Madras famine in India took the lives of as many as twelve million while the colonial forces grew ever richer.  And thirty years earlier, the great potato famine in Ireland led to about one million deaths, with another desperate million emigrating from their homeland. Nothing accidental about this: while the Irish starved, their English landlords exported shiploads of Irish grain and livestock to England and elsewhere at considerable profit to themselves.

These occurrences must be seen as something more than just historic abnormalities floating aimlessly in time and space, driven only by overweening impulse or happenstance. It is not enough to condemn monstrous events and bad times, we also must try to understand them. They must be contextualized in the larger framework of historical social relations.

The dominant socio-economic system today is free-market capitalism (in all its variations). Along with its unrelenting imperial terrorism, free-market capitalism provides “normal abnormalities” from within its own dynamic, creating scarcity and maldistributed excess, filled with duplication, waste, overproduction, frightening environmental destruction, and varieties of financial crises, bringing swollen rewards to a select few and continual hardship to multitudes.

Economic crises are not exceptional; they are the standing operational mode of the capitalist system. Once again, the irrational is the norm. Consider U.S. free-market history: after the American Revolution, there were the debtor rebellions of the late 1780s, the panic of 1792, the recession of 1809 (lasting several years), the panics of 1819 and 1837, and recessions and crashes through much of the rest of that century. The serious recession of 1893 continued for more than a decade.

After the industrial underemployment of 1900 to 1915 came the agrarian depression of the 1920s—hidden behind what became known to us as “the Jazz Age,” followed by a horrendous crash and the Great Depression of 1929-1942. All through the twentieth century we had wars, recessions, inflation, labor struggles, high unemployment—hardly a year that would be considered “normal” in any pleasant sense. An extended normal period would itself have been an abnormality. The free market is by design inherently unstable in every aspect other than wealth accumulation for the select few.

What we are witnessing is not an irrational output from a basically rational society but the converse: the “rational” (to be expected) output of a fundamentally irrational system. Does this mean these horrors are inescapable? No, they are not made of supernatural forces. They are produced by plutocratic greed and deception.

So, if the aberrant is the norm and the horrific is chronic, then we in our fightback should give less attention to the idiosyncratic and more to the systemic. Wars, massacres and recessions help to increase capital concentration, monopolize markets and natural resources, and destroy labor organizations and popular transformative resistance.

The brutish vagaries of plutocracy are not the product of particular personalities but of systemic interests. President George W. Bush was ridiculed for misusing words, but his empire-building and stripping of government services and regulations revealed a keen devotion to ruling-class interests.  Likewise, President Barack Obama is not spineless. He is hypocritical but not confused. He is (by his own description) an erstwhile “liberal Republican,” or as I would put it, a faithful servant of corporate America.

Our various leaders are well informed, not deluded. They come from different regions and different families, and have different personalities, yet they pursue pretty much the same policies on behalf of the same plutocracy.

So it is not enough to denounce atrocities and wars, we also must understand who propagates them and who benefits. We have to ask why violence and deception are constant ingredients.

Unintended consequences and other oddities do arise in worldly affairs but we also must take account of interest-driven rational intentions. More often than not, the aberrations—be they wars, market crashes, famines, individual assassinations or mass killings—take shape because those at the top are pursuing gainful expropriation. Many may suffer and perish but somebody somewhere is benefiting boundlessly.

Knowing your enemies and what they are capable of doing is the first step toward effective opposition. The world becomes less of a horrific puzzlement.  We can only resist these global (and local) perpetrators when we see who they are and what they are doing to us and our sacred environment.

Democratic victories, however small and partial they be, must be embraced. But the people must not be satisfied with tinseled favors offered by smooth leaders. We need to strive in every way possible for the revolutionary unraveling, a revolution of organized consciousness striking at the empire’s heart with the full force of democracy, the kind of irresistible upsurge that seems to come from nowhere while carrying everything before it.


Michael Parenti


Jan. 25, 2013

San Francisco Labor Council Joins NALC in Calling For Restablishment Of The US Postal Bank

Resolution to Investigate the Establishment of a Postal Banking System

Whereas, expanding postal services and developing new sources of revenue are important
components of any effort to save the public Post Office and preserve living-wage jobs; and

Whereas, many countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Japan, have a long and
successful history of postal banking, where customers do their basic banking at their
neighborhood post office; and

Whereas, in the U.S. a Postal Savings system operated successfully from 1911 to 1967,
providing a safe and efficient place for customers to save and transfer funds – until it was killed
under pressure from the banking industry. Postal Savings was set up to attract the savings of
immigrants accustomed to saving at post offices in their native countries, provide safe
depositories for people who had lost confidence in private banks, and make it more convenient for
working people than private banks (since post offices were open substantially longer than bankers’
hours); and

Whereas, postal banks, called Kiwibanks, are now thriving in New Zealand, with bank branches called
PostShops in local post offices – “putting us in more locations than any other bank in New Zealand
literally overnight (without wasting millions on new premises!)” [Kiwibank website] In an early “move
your money” campaign, New Zealanders voted with their feet. In an island nation of only 4 million,
Kiwibank attracted 500,000 customers away from the Australian big banks in just four years; and

Whereas, the giant banks that dominate the U.S. financial and political system are corrupt institutions that
defrauded homeowners in the mortgage scandal, and engaged in complex multi-Billion dollar hijinks
that brought on the 2007-09 financial crisis. The American working people have lost faith in these banks
as a trustworthy place to put their hard-earned money; and

Whereas, a USPS bank would offer a “public option” for banking, providing basic checking and savings
– and no complex financial wheeling and dealing. Postal banks could serve the 9 million people who
don’t have a bank account and 21 million who use usurious check cashers, giving low-income people
access to a safe banking system; and

Whereas, the Post Office is uniquely positioned, with a lot of branches around the country and an already
successful business in money orders. It is a trusted and venerable institution older than the Constitution, at
a time when people do not have much trust in banks. It is funded not with taxes but with postage stamps,
which buy the labor and machines to transport your letter 3000 miles. It is the only U.S. agency that
serves all its customers six days a week. And it is perhaps the last form of communication that protects
privacy, since tampering with the mail is against federal law; and

Whereas, the Post Office should be saved and it can be saved. A Postal Bank, combining teller services
with postal services, could help achieve this, while at the same time offering a competitive alternative to a
runaway Wall Street banking monopoly that Congress seems unable to control; and

Whereas, the 2012 National Convention of the National Association of Letter Carriers unanimously
adopted an almost identical resolution, calling for the postal unions to investigate the establishment of a
Postal Banking System in the U.S.

Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council urge Congress and the Executive Branch to
investigate the possibility of the establishment of a public Postal Banking System in the U.S. – drawing on the rich
experience of successful postal banking in Germany, France, Italy, Japan and New Zealand – and using our
unprecedented network of post offices to provide safe basic checking and savings to our hundreds of millions of
postal customers; and

Be it finally resolved, that we forward this resolution to affiliate unions, area labor councils, Calif. Labor
Federation, AFL-CIO and Change to Win Federation, for concurrence and action.

Submitted by Lili Beaumont, NALC 214, and adopted by the Executive Committee of the San
Francisco Labor Council on August 6, 2012.


Tim Paulson
Executive Director


Latest From Parenti

Reflections on Politics and Academia: An Interview with Michael Parenti

Noted political scientist Michael Parenti was recently interviewed by another noted political scientist, Carl Boggs. The interview originally appeared in the academic journal New Political Science, June 2012. It is presented here in its entirety.

More at:

CB:  In your book To Kill a Nation, your focus on a multitude of crimes carried out by U.S. and NATO forces during nearly three months aerial bombardments – preceded by roughly a decade of economic, political, and military efforts to destroy Yugoslavia as a unified nation — .brought widespread outrage from leftists as well as liberals who uncritically accepted the Western demonization of Serbs as the party singularly guilty of atrocities during the long and bloody civil war.  My own generally positive review of your book elicited similar harsh responses.  How, in your opinion, could American progressives normally critical of U.S. interventions abroad suddenly become so myopic in the case of Yugoslavia?

MP: Most U.S. leftists want to open toward those to the right of them and eschew those to their left. Their prime passion seems to be making war against communism or what they call “Stalinism,” a largely undefined and rather dated demon. I’m talking about people on the intellectual and sectarian left, not the Tea Party reactionaries. Many of the liberal-left saw Milosevic as the last Stalinist in Europe who had to be done in. So they readily swallowed the mass media’s fabricated  stories about genocidal atrocities allegedly committed by the Serbs. They stood shoulder to shoulder with NATO, the CIA, the Pentagon, the White House and mainstream media, the same usual suspects whom they say we should never trust. They believed every demonizing story fed to them about the Serbs. To give just one example: they believed that 100,000 people in Kosovo were slaughtered by the Serbs and that the Trepca mines were filled with corpses. No such mass graves were found and in the Trepca shafts not even a shoe or belt buckle was found.  Actually the Serbs were the ones who had the largest multi-ethnic populations in their republic, including Croats, Albanians, and Slovenians; the Serbs were not  indulging in ethnic cleansing and certainly not genocide. The Kosovars fleeing south during the war openly exclaimed that they were running from the NATO bombings not from a Serbian Juggernaut. I have all the sources and citations in To Kill a Nation, almost all of them western sources including ones from the United Nations and even NATO.
But it is a familiar scenario: U.S. leaders demonize the targeted leader, in this case the democratically elected Milosevic, and this gives them license to bomb his people—with depleted uranium no less.  In my book The Face of Imperialism I call it “Privatization by Bombing.” I was in Serbia a few weeks after the 78 days of  bombing and noted that only government-owned and worker-owned factories, utilities, hotels and the like were bombed. The privately owned Hilton Hotel and other private companies had not a scratch.
What is unusual is that so many lefties got suckered into this “humanitarian war” scenario. As I say, I think some of them are fighting the ghost of Stalin, possessed as they are by their knee-jerk anti-communism. The Serbs were targeted by the U.S. imperialists  because they were the biggest ethnic group, the one most against secession, and with a working class that was more socialist than in any other of the Yugoslav republics.

CB:  The process of globalization is usually presented in mainstream (and standard political-science) discourse as something of a natural phenomenon – an inevitable tendency of the world economy toward heightened integration, transnational communication, prosperity, and (in some readings) democracy.   You have written, in contrast, that globalization is no inexorable process but rather a conscious, planned design by multinational corporate interests to expand the realm of capitalist markets and profits, making it anything but a development favoring economic prosperity and political democracy.  Can you elaborate on this argument?

MP:  In  The Face of Imperialism I have a chapter dealing with globalization; I take a couple of pages to criticize those Marxists who seemed unable to grasp what globalization is. As with the conservatives, many Marxists (but not all) missed the whole nature of the struggle. They saw globalization only as a process of expanding investment-which Marx and Engels described long ago, so why the fuss. But those of us who actually knew something about the free trade agenda—including farmers, workers, students, and intellectuals all over the world—understood that under globilization’s free trade agreements public services can be ruled out of existence because they cause “lost market opportunities.” Laws that try to protect the environment or labor and health standards already have been overturned in many countries for “creating barriers to free trade.” Globalization monopolizes production by removing protections for small producers and farmers who are then undersold and driven out by heavily subsidized corporations.
What is also overthrown is democracy itself, the right to have laws that are protective of the social wage, human services, and local economies. Globalization elevates investment rights above all other rights. Globalization also attempts to monopolize nature itself, allowing corporations to lay exclusive claim to basic resources of life, including farm seeds, rice, corn, and even rainwater. It is not free trade; it is monopoly investment. The results are disastrous for Third World nations and not good for any of us except the 1%.

CB:  The severe economic crisis we have experienced in the U.S. – and the world – during the past few years is often understood as either a temporary downturn or a cyclical adjustment within an otherwise healthy, dynamic growth-oriented “market” system.  After all, previous crises have typically been followed by sustained phases of development.  Is there something qualitatively novel, more deeply structural and long-term, about the present crisis?

MP: Recessions are difficult and painful for us but not such a bad thing for Corporate America. Recession allows giant firms to more easily swallow up smaller ones (or other giants) thereby increasing oligopolistic concentration and diminishing competition. Profits keep flowing in while corporate tax rates remain lighter than ever (as even the Wall St. Journal recently reported).  Recession also tames or totally defeats labor unions. And the general public learns humility too. The 1% does not want a public that is well educated and well informed, free of debt, able to organize and make demands, directed by a strong sense of entitlement and high expectations, advocating not-for-profit social programs and services. Recessions often teach the working public to stay in its lowly place and work harder and harder for less and less. Crisis, panic, recession, and poverty are the common conditions of free-market capitalism not the rare exception. Take a look around the world at (to name just a few) capitalist Nigeria, capitalist Indonesia, capitalist Hungary, capitalist Bosnia, capitalist Haiti, capitalist Honduras, and soon-to-be capitalist Libya.
But capitalism is also a self-devouring beast. One function of the capitalist state seldom mentioned, even by Marxists, is to protect capitalism from the capitalists. If the 1% become too successful in their frenzied pursuit of profits and their furious determination to roll back all regulations and restraints, they may well destroy their own system. The plutocrats will plunder everything and everyone in sight, including other capitalists. Toss the global ecological crisis into this witch’s brew and we may well be headed toward monumental disaster. In the middle of it all we have a president (Obama) who keeps jacking up the military budget and is now spending billions to build the first new (and utterly dangerous) nuclear plant in decades, announcing proudly “I believe in nuclear power.”

CB:  You have written, in your book Contrary Notions, that “the important legitimating symbols of our culture are mediated through a social structure that is largely controlled by centralized, moneyed organizations.  This is especially true of our information universe whose mass market is pretty much monopolized by corporate-owned media.”  This offers a rather monolithic view of media culture in the U.S.   Do you see any signs, or sources, of fissures in this system – of a break from the hegemonic order?

MP: The corporate owned mass media are not as perfectly reactionary as media owners might want. All sorts of information can be found buried in the back pages of the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, and other mainstream publications—or even stuck right in the headlines. Some of it can be quite revelatory, if you know how to connect the dots. Troublesome events peek through the haze: recession, poverty, enormous public debt, horrific military interventions, corrupt lawmakers, thieving financiers, renditions and torture, unprecedented natural disasters—but these are not things we lefties inventively pull out of our radical hats. They really exist. Reality is radical.  Often the media have to report something about these unpleasant realities, and when they do, this convinces the moneyed reactionaries that there exists a “biased liberal media” that tries to make capitalist society look bad.
As for “fissures” in the communication universe, well, there do exist a few hundred non-profit community and campus radio stations that occasionally allow a dissident voice on the air. I do about 35 radio interviews a year on small stations all around the country that broadcast to very small listening audiences. There also are a few under-financed tiny circulation magazines that offer some leftist perspectives. And then there is the Internet which has the defects of its own virtues, with websites and blogs that extend across the entire political spectrum, and hundreds of self-appointed columnists and commentators of all political hues.
Still the moneyed class and its acolytes control almost the entire communication universe. Getting heard by larger publics is an uphill battle if you have no access to major media. I speak from direct experience. I usually get over 100,000 hits a month on my website, while Glenn Beck gets millions of hits and has many millions of viewers and listeners (and makes millions of dollars). Can he really be that much more intelligent and informed than the rest of us? Or is he just more ideologically correct and therefore better marketed by superrich interests? So the Internet has provided an outlet but—given the way moneyed resources are distributed—it is difficult to create a level playing field.

CB:  In your book God and His Demons you write: “God’s wonders never work more mysteriously – and deleteriously – than in the propagation of religion itself.  Religion is widely credited with being the great progenitor of moral virtues, but looking at the actualities of history we cannot help noticing how frequently religions have served as instruments for promoting intolerance, autocracy, and atrocity.”    To what extent has this kind of religious dogmatism influenced the contemporary rightward shift in American politics, in which Christian fundamentalists (among others) seem fully possessed of a combination of righteous moralism, nationalist xenophobia, and political authoritarianism?

MP:  As I note in God and His Demons, many fundamentalist groups are completely hostile toward “godless” secular democracy; they are uncompromising totalitarian theocrats and openly say as much. They are dedicated to infiltrating the various institutions of this country. About 25 years ago I was invited to speak at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Academy’s political science department was using my textbook, Democracy for the Few. No kidding. I had an interesting time and made some nice friends. But today I would not be allowed through the gate. The Academy has been taken over by Protestant fundamentalists as has other military centers and bases throughout the armed forces.  More generally, the fundamentalist worshippers have played an active role injecting theocratic values into political discourse, especially with such receptive reactionary presidents as Reagan and George W.
The clearest case of theocratic intrusion into secular politics was Pope John Paul II’s destruction of liberation theology throughout Latin America, a CIA sponsored suppression that needs more revelation than the few pages I gave it in my book. And of course there is a circular effect. The secular reactionaries fund the fundamentalists in whatever ways they can and even appoint some of them to public office. So church impacts upon state and state bolsters the church, all in a mutually reactionary direction, a marriage made in heaven—or more likely somewhere else.

CB:  Returning to the Occupy movement and its many offshoots, can we find cause for optimism here at a time when our experience with other contemporary social movements has been somewhat less than positive.  Popular insurgencies rooted in global justice, antiwar politics (Iraq), and immigration rights, for example, have generally stalled and failed to achieve much political articulation or durability.  Might one identify something entirely different about this new insurgency – different enough to justify renewed optimism for the future?

MP: That’s a crystal ball question. Who can say?   I would qualify what I said earlier about the imperium. It is horribly powerful but neither invincible nor omnipotent. There have been victories and changes. In my lifetime I have seen Jim Crow driven off its pedestal. I have seen a peace movement that eventually almost paralyzed the U.S. war effort in Indochina and raised a ferment on the domestic front that shook up our institutions and our very lives. There have been dramatic gains by feminists and gays, and now a sudden explosion of class fightback by the Occupy movement. Uprisings are unpredictable things. Nobody expected the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, not even the Egyptologists and Middle East specialists.  If they did, they certainly kept it to themselves. Everything may seem hopeless and then suddenly the people find something in themselves and each other and the democracy is out on the streets.
I guess the best approach is the one offered by Antonio Gramsci who said we must have “a pessimism of the mind and an optimism of the will.” That is, we must be able to look at how grim things can get and have no sunshine illusions about what we face, but we must also keep fighting as if it made a difference and had an impact—because sometimes it does.
Let me end by thanking Carl Boggs for his efforts in putting this interview  together. It’s a privilege to be interviewed by someone of his caliber.

More Banking Fraud: LIBOR and No One Goes To Jail

Will Lawsuits Sink the Ships?
Titanic Banks Hit Libor Iceberg

At one time, calling the large multinational banks a “cartel” branded you as a conspiracy theorist. Today the banking giants are being called that and worse, not just in the major media but in court documents intended to prove the allegations as facts. Charges include racketeering (organized crime under the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO), antitrust violations, wire fraud, bid-rigging, and price-fixing. Damning charges have already been proven, and major damages and penalties assessed. Conspiracy theory has become established fact.

In an article in the July 3rd Guardian titled “Private Banks Have Failed – We Need a Public Solution”, Seumas Milne writes of the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal admitted to by Barclays Bank:

It’s already clear that the rate rigging, which depends on collusion, goes far beyond Barclays, and indeed the City of London. This is one of multiple scams that have become endemic in a disastrously deregulated system with inbuilt incentives for cartels to manipulate the core price of finance.

. . . It could of course have happened only in a private-dominated financial sector, and makes a nonsense of the bankrupt free-market ideology that still holds sway in public life.

. . . A crucial part of the explanation is the unmuzzled political and economic power of the City. . . . Finance has usurped democracy.

Bid-rigging and Rate-rigging

Bid-rigging was the subject of U.S. v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, a ten-year suit in which the U.S. Department of Justice obtained a judgment on May 11 against three GE Capital employees. Billions of dollars were skimmed from cities all across America by colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. Other banks involved in the bidding scheme included Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and UBS. These banks have already paid a total of $673 million in restitution after agreeing to cooperate in the government’s case.

Hot on the heels of the Carollo decision came the LIBOR scandal, involving collusion to rig the inter-bank interest rate that affects $500 trillion worth of contracts, financial instruments, mortgages and loans. Barclays Bank admitted to regulators in June that it tried to manipulate LIBOR before and during the financial crisis in 2008. It said that other banks were doing the same. Barclays paid $450 million to settle the charges.

The U. S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission said in a press release that Barclays Bank “pervasively” reported fictitious rates rather than actual rates; that it asked other big banks to assist, and helped them to assist; and that Barclays did so “to benefit the Bank’s derivatives trading positions” and “to protect Barclays’ reputation from negative market and media perceptions concerning Barclays’ financial condition.”

After resigning, top executives at Barclays promptly implicated both the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve. The upshot is that the biggest banks and their protector central banks engaged in conspiracies to manipulate the most important market interest rates globally, along with the exchange rates propping up the U.S. dollar.


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