Ecosystems, Cybernetics and the Club of Rome

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace*

Adam Curtis

BBC (2011)

Part 2

Film Review

Part 2 in this series discusses how utopian ideas about computers led the scientific community to promote a totally erroneous model of natural ecosystems.

The term ecosystem was first defined by ecologist Arthur Tansley. He mistakenly believed that ecosystems work just like computers – that all of nature is linked through organized networks that self-regulate by means of feedback loops. As ecology became the predominant scientific discipline of the early seventies, he and his colleagues went so far as to portray these interconnected networks as electrical circuits. Meanwhile Silicon Valley computer engineers, heavily influenced by Ayn Rand’s radical individualism (earlier post), as well as this erroneous view of ecosystems, made a deliberate decision in 1968 to focus on personal computer technology rather than mainframe computers.

The work of Tansley and his colleagues would be totally discredited by new data that would emerge demonstrating were chaotic and unpredictable and tended towards wild fluctuations that never returned to an equilibrium point. Like many scientists, the early ecologists had oversimplified and distorted the data they collected to fit their model of nature as a self regulating system.

The Rise of Cybernetics

Meanwhile the scientific community’s fascination with computers would also give rise to the field of cybernetics, which looks at society as if human beings were a vast interconnected system of machines. Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome, was a strong proponent of this systems-oriented view of both nature and society. A strong egalitarian, Bucky envisioned a society (which he referred to as Spaceship Earth) that did away with authoritarian hierarchies and allowed people to live together as equal members of a closed system that would self-regulate – as a spacecraft does.

In the early seventies, disillusioned by the failure of the anti-Vietnam War, a half million young Americans left the cities to start experimental non-hierarchical communes in the countryside. It would be the largest mass migration in US history. Their goal was to create egalitarian communities in which people sacrificed their individuality for the benefit of the system.

Most of these communes would fail. Curtis blames their failure, without any real evidence, on a rigid absence of structure that allowed stronger and more dominant personalities to dominate and bully weaker ones. He likens the failure of the commune movement to the failed Color Revolutions* of the 1990s – which left Eastern European countries even more corrupt and unequal.

He seems to be making the case that egalitarian societies are impossible, which I strongly question. In my view the Color Revolutions failed for the same reason as the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions: because they were instigated, organized and funded by the CIA, State Department (and George Soros in the case of Eastern Europe) for the purpose of installing new governments favorable to US corporate interests.**

Enter the Club of Rome***

Two additional outcomes of the new field of ecology would be the formation, in 1968, of the elite roundtable group the Club of Rome and the first international environmental conference in Stockholm in 1972.

In 1972 the Club of Rome commissioned a study based on the theory that all human and natural activity was merely a vast interconnected system of feedback loops. The MIT computer scientists they hired developed a complex computer model based on the best population, resource, industrial production, agricultural production and pollution data. Their modeling, which the Club of Rome published in their 1973 bestseller The End of Growth, predicted major economic and environmental collapse in the first decade of the 21st century. The book maintained that the only way to prevent environmental and economic collapse was for western societies to give up their fixation with continuous economic growth.

The European left became extremely concerned that growth restriction would lock the ruling elite (who ran the Club of Rome) into their existing positions of privilege and power. They launched major protests against The End of Growth. They argued the proper role of the environmental movement should be to end the greed of political elites. That being said, the computer modeling on which the book is based predicted the 2008 economic collapse.


* Title of 1967 monograph distributed free by California cybernetics enthusiast Richard Brautigan. Available for $400 from Abe Books

**Serbia Otpor (Resistance) Revolution (2000), Georgia Rose Revolution (2003), Ukraine Orange Revolution (2004) and Kirghizistan Cotton Revolution (2005) – see The CIA Role in the Arab Spring

***The early Club of Rome was financed by corporate oligarch David Rockefeller, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (see  and the Ford Foundation. The two latter entities are well known conduits for CIA funding (see CIA-funded Foundations)

 

The Failure of Nonviolence

failure of nonviolence

The Failure of Nonviolence: From the Arab Spring to Occupy

 By Peter Gelderloos (2013 Left Bank Books)

Book Review

You occasionally read a totally mind bending book that opens up a whole new world for you. The Failure of Nonviolence by Peter Gelderloos is one of them, owing to its unique evidence-based perspective on both “nonviolent” and “violent” resistance. It differs from Gelderloos’s 2007 How Nonviolence Protects the State in its heavy emphasis on indigenous, minority, and working class resistance. A major feature of the new book is an extensive catalog of “combative” rebellions that the corporate elite has whitewashed out of history.

Owing to wide disagreement as to its meaning, Gelderloos discards the term “violent” in describing actions that involve rioting, sabotage, property damage or self-defense against armed police or military. In comparing and contrasting a list of recent protest actions, he makes a convincing case that combative tactics are far more effective in achieving concrete gains that improve ordinary peoples’ lives. He also explodes the myth that “violent” resistance discourages oppressed people from participating in protest activity. He gives numerous examples showing that working people are far more likely to be drawn into combative actions – mainly because of their effectiveness. The only people alienated by combative tactics are educated liberals, many of whom are “career” activists working for foundation-funded nonprofits.

Gelderloos also highlights countries (e.g., Greece and Spain) which have significantly slowed the advance of neoliberal capitalism via combative resistance. In his view, this explains the negative fiscal position of the Greek and Spanish capitalist class in addressing the global debt crisis. Strong worker resistance to punitive labor reforms and austerity cuts has significantly slowed the transfer of wealth to their corporate elite, as well as the roll-out of fascist security measures.

The Gene Sharp Brand of Nonviolence

Gelderloos begins by defining the term “nonviolent” as the formulaic approach laid out by nonviolent guru Gene Sharp in his 1994 From Dictatorship to Democracy and used extensively in the “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. This approach focuses exclusively on political, usually electoral, reform. Gelderloos distinguishes between political revolution, which merely overturns the current political infrastructure and replaces it with a new one – and social revolution, which overturns hierarchical political infrastructure and replaces it with a system in which people self-organize and govern themselves.

The nonviolent approach Sharp and his followers prescribe relies heavily on a corporate media strategy to promote their protest activity to large numbers of people. This obviously requires some elite support, as the corporate media consistently ignores genuine anti-corporate protests. As an example, all the nonviolent color revolutions in Eastern Europe enjoyed major support from the State Department, billionaire George Soros and CIA-funded foundations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Republican Institute.

Is Nonviolence Effective?

Gelderloos sets out four criteria to assess the effectiveness of a protest action:

  1. It must seize space for activists to self-organize essential aspects of their lives.
  2. It must spread new ideas that inspire others to resist state power and control.
  3. It must operate independently of elite support.
  4. It must make concrete improvements to the lives of ordinary people.

As examples of strictly nonviolent protest movements, Gelderloos offers the “color” revolutions (see 1 below), the millions-strong global anti-Iraq war protest on February 15, 2003 and 2011 Occupy protests, which were almost exclusively nonviolent (Occupy Oakland being a notable exception).

In all the color revolutions Gelderloos describes, the goal has been strictly limited to replacing dictatorship with democracy and free elections. None attempted to increase economic democracy nor to reduce oppressive work and living conditions. In fact, most of the color revolutions forced their populations to give up important protections to integrate more thoroughly into the cutthroat capitalist economy.

So-called “democracies” such as the US are just as capable as dictatorships of engaging in extrajudicial assassination, torture, and suspension of habeas corpus and other legal protections. However US corporations generally find “democracies” more investment-friendly. Owing to greater transparency, they are less likely to nationalize private industries or arbitrarily change the rules for doing business.

Besides failing to meet any of his criteria, the 2003 anti-Iraq war movement failed to stop the US invasion of Iraq and the 2011 Occupy protests failed to achieve a single lasting gain.

Successful “Combative” Protests

He contrasts these strictly nonviolent  protests with nearly 20 popular uprisings (see 2 below) and two (successful) US prison riots that have incorporated “combative” tactics along with other organizing strategies. Most have been totally censored from the corporate media and history books or whitewashed as so-called “nonviolent” actions (e.g., the corporate media misportrayed both the 1989 Tiananmen Square rebellion and the 2011 Egyptian revolution as nonviolent protests).

The US, more than any other country, uses prison to suppress working class dissent. Most prison struggles employ a diversity of tactics combining work stoppages and legal appeals with property damage, riots and attacks on guards. Nonviolent protest tends to be particularly ineffective in the prison setting. A nonviolent hunger strike usually reflects a situation in which prisoners have so little personal control that the only way to resist is to refuse to eat.

Gelderloos also analyzes a number of historical combative uprisings, pointing out their relative strengths and weaknesses. He devotes particular attention to the Spanish Civil War (a failed working class revolution), the anti-Nazi partisan movements during World War II, combative Indigenous peoples resistance to European colonizers and autonomous liberated zones created in Ukraine, Kronstadt, and Siberia following the Bolshevik Revolution and in the Skinmin Province of Manchuria in pre-World War II China.

Who Are the Pacifists?

He devotes an entire chapter to the major funders and luminaries of the nonviolent movement. Predictably most of the funding comes from George Soros, the Pentagon, the State Department and CIA-funded foundations such as USAID, NED, and NIR. Among other examples, Gelderloos describes the Pentagon running a multi-million dollar campaign to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers to promote “nonviolent” resistance to US occupation.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. Examples of political/regime change color revolutions:
  • Philippines – Yellow Revolution 1983-86
  • Serbia – Bulldozer Revolution 2000
  • Georgia – Rose Revolution 2003
  • Ukraine – Orange Revolution 2004
  • Kyrgyzstan – Tulip Revolution 2005
  • Lebanon – Cedar Revolution 2005
  • Kuwait – Blue Revolution 2005
  • Burma – Saffron Revolution 2007
2. Examples of combative uprisings:
  • 1999 Battle of Seattle – contrary to media whitewashing (I was there), the combative component wasn’t a matter of a few Black Bloc anarchists breaking windows. Numerous “peaceful” marchers joined in destruction of corporate storefronts, looting and throwing rocks at police. Inspired 3rd world WTO delegates to shut down Doha round of WTO negotiations.
  • 1990 Oka Crisis (near Montreal) – in which Mohawk warriors took up arms to stop a golf course expansion on their lands. Successful in defeating the golf course expansion.
  • 1994 Zapitista (Mexico) – armed uprising against NAFTA. Successfully seized space, liberating numerous villages which continue to be run by popular assemblies.
  • 2000 2nd Palestinian Intifada – successful in seizing and defending space, defeating the CIA/Israeli army invasion of Gaza in 2009. Inspired combative insurrections in Tunisia and Egypt.
  • 2001 Kabbylie Black Spring armed protest to liberate Berber territory occupied by Algeria. Successfully seized space to bring back traditional assemblies and reverse erosion of Berber culture. Won increased autonomy of Kabylie, including official recognition of Berber language.
  • 2003-2005 Bolivia Water and Gas Wars against strict water privatization implemented by Bolivian government and Bechtel. Successful in ending years of Bolivian dictatorship, slowing advance of neoliberalism and restoring indigenous autonomy. Received no elite support until 2005 union and political party support elected the movement into government, putting neoliberalism back on track.
  • 2006 Oaxaca (Mexico) Rebellion – coalition of indigenous people, teachers and workers fought police and military and ran Oaxaca by popular assembly for one month. No elite support until assembly taken over by politicians who convinced them not to fight back against the military. Greatly improved quality of life while it lasted.
  • 2006 CPE France – combative (rioting, burning cars, fighting police and occupying public buildings) uprising against new legislation allowing bosses to fire younger workers without cause. Defeated new law.
  • 2008 Athens insurrection – millions-strong armed uprising (consisting of arson attacks on banks and police stations, occupation of vacant lots and buildings to create community gardens, community centers and popular assemblies) triggered by police murder of a teenager. Besides destroying debt and tax records and providing brief period of self-governance, it inspired new cycle of anarchist activity throughout Greece.
  • 2009 Guadalupe General Strike – inspired by poor living standards, especially high cost of living combined with low wages and high unemployment. After three days of rioting, setting fire to cars and businesses and opening fire on the police, demonstrators won an increase of $200 euros per month in the lowest salaries and 19 other demands.
  • 2009 Oscar Grant riots (Oakland) – prompted by police murder of an African American named Oscar Grant. Spontaneous rioting, property damage, looting and shooting back at police. Resulted in first case in California history in which an on-duty police officer was charged with murder. Influenced Occupy Oakland to adopt a diversity of tactics that included combative resistance.
  • 2010 Tunisian revolution – contrary to corporate media white washing, this was a violent uprising in which protestors burned tires and attacked the office of the ruling party. It failed to create any new self-organized spaces. It only received elite support, which pressured Tunisians to accept a purely political solution (i.e. regime change), when local authorities failed to quell popular unrest. Economic tyranny and police abuse/violence remain unaddressed.
  • 2010 15 M Movement and General Strikes (Spain) – millions took part in general strike against austerity measures incorporating sabotage of the transportation infrastructure, blockades, looting, rioting and fighting with police. Established numerous police-free zones (which persisted for months) throughout Spain run by popular assemblies. Occupied numerous hospitals and primary care centers and established urban gardens and collective housing facilities. Prevented privatization of numerous health clinics and inspired anti-capitalist focus of Occupy movement.
  • 2011 Egyptian revolution – combative rebellion (contrary to corporate media claims that it was nonviolent). Protesters burned over 90 police stations and used clubs, rocks and Molotov cocktails to defend themselves against police and government thugs. Set up self-governing assemblies in Tahrir Square and inspired a large number of activists to remain in the streets to fight the repressive Islamic government that replaced Mubarak.
  • 2011 Libyan Civil War – began as spontaneous uprising but quickly transformed into a foreign military intervention. Gelderloos uses Libya to demonstrate why revolutions that wish to end oppressive social relations must never allow military or political revolution to assume precedence.
  • 2012 Quebec student movement – rioting, looting, property damage and fighting back against the police prompted by massive tuition hike. Provided thousands of young people direct experience of self-governing assemblies and successfully spread critiques of debt, austerity and capitalism throughout Canada. Forced government to reverse tuition hike.
  • 2013 Mapuche (indigenous nation occupied by Chile and Argentina) struggle – long history of combative resistance continues to present day. Employs both nonviolent and combative methods, including arson, sabotage against mining and logging companies and armed land occupations. In January 2013 (5th anniversary of unprosecuted police murder of Mapuche teenager) they liberated large tracts of land.

Originally published in Dissident Voice

An NSA-approved Guide to Revolution

Activists who advocate for violent revolution don’t advertise their views on the Internet for obvious reasons. That being said, Storm Clouds Gathering treads a really fine line with their recent. Revolution: An Instruction Manual. They don’t exactly advocate using violence to dismantle corporate fascism. But they don’t really condemn it, either. Instead they argue from perspective that revolutions are mainly won by psychological means and it makes most sense to attack the state where they are weakest.

The filmmakers are totally non-ideological in their approach to dismantling capitalism. In fact, they begin with the assertion that any revolution with a an inflexible pre-ordained view of the desired outcome is doomed to failure.

They then share a general overview of their own vision – a loose confederation of self-governing communities similar to the Iroquois Federation. This was the model for the Articles of Confederation, which was the founding document of the United States of America before the bankers and mercantalists used the Constitution to strip the 13 original states of their power.

Audience Participation Required

The film is interactive and requires audience participation. In fact, it stops at 1:47 minutes until the viewer answers “yes” or “no” whether they believe the system can be reformed. If they click “yes” the video ends. I clicked “no.”

The strategy the filmmakers lay out for dismantling the corporate state involves removing, one by one, what they identify as the three “pillars of power”:

  1. Control of the “public mind,” as it concerns patriotism and nationalistic beliefs, such as freedom, democracy and terrorism.
  2. Control of money and finance through money creation, taxation and inflation.
  3. A state monopoly on violence to compel obedience through fear.

How They Got Past the NSA Censors

The film finishes quite abruptly by recommending people read three books on revolution, including Gene Sharp’s From Dictatorship to Democracy. This was an extremely wise choice, as this is the training manual the State Department and CIA-linked foundations widely distributed to activists engaged in the “color” revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring.

I have written at length about the CIA role in financing the nonviolent movement, as well as nonviolent guru Gene Sharp’s historic links with the Pentagon, State Department, and US intelligence.

Thierry Meysson, editor of Voltaire Net, was the first to go public (in 2005) with Sharp’s longstanding links to the military-intelligence complex.* The only weakness of Meysson’s original article is his failure to cite his references. I researched the sources and confirmed each of his original assertions for a 2012 Daily Censored article entitled The CIA and Nonviolent Resistance.

Also see How the CIA Promotes Nonviolence, The CIA Role in the Arab Spring and How Nonviolence Protects the State

*In 2002, Meysson’s The Big Lie was also the first to expose US intelligence involvement in 9-11.

The CIA Role in the Arab Spring

arabesque americaine

(more from my research for A Rebel Comes of Age)

L’Arabesque Americaine (French edition – not available in English yet)

by Ahmed Bensaada (2011 Michel Brule)

Book Review

The current military junta in Egypt supports growing suspicions that the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011 were simply “color revolutions” – like the so-called “color revolutions” George Soros and CIA-linked foundations orchestrated in eastern Europe a decade ago.

Despite a few autocratic dictators being deposed, in each country the rich keep getting richer, the poor keep getting poorer, and US corporate and foreign policy interests continue to take precedence over labor rights and public welfare.

In Arabesque Americaine , Ahmed Bensada assembles a wealth of data  suggesting that the “Arab Spring” was first and foremost a destabilization/regime change operation, funded and orchestrated by the CIA, State Department and historic CIA-funded foundations. His book is unique in that it provides a carefully researched and referenced account of each of the “democracy exporting” foundations, along with the totals it gave each country and group in 2009.

Bensaada, a French Canadian who was born and received his early education in Algeria, devotes special attention to the Egyptian revolution – and the role played by Google’s star employee Gael Ghonem.

A brief outline of the topics covered:

Chapter 1 — the secret American funding and orchestration of the so-called “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe , with particular focus on Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004) and Kyrghizistan (2005). In each case, pro-Soviet governments were overthrown by mobilizing disaffected, pro-Western young people — financed by the CIA, State Department, and Pentagon linked “democracy manipulating” foundations. The latter include National Endowment for Democracy (NED), National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the International Republic Institute (IRI),Freedom House (FH), the Albert Einstein Institution, the Center for Non Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — and George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI). Several “color revolution” veterans were used to help organize Arab Spring protests. The uncanny similarity in protest symbolism (see video below) was no coincidence.

Chapter 2 — detailed discussion of the above think tanks and foundations, which includes a description of the their government funding, as well as the subversive activities (espionage, election rigging, an popular destablization activities) they have promoted in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Iran that oppose America’s pro-corporate agenda.

Chapter 3 — the promotion, by the State Department and these think tanks and foundations, of new technologies in Middle East destabilization campaigns. The Tor Project, developed by Google, the US Naval Research Lab and State Department-linked Human Rights Watch, is an example. Tor supposedly permits anonymous navigation of the Internet in countries (with the exception of the US) with heavy Internet censorship. Bensaada also explores the role of Movements.org and the Alliance of Youth Movements in promoting social media to international youth activists. Movements.org is run by Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas and a former adviser to both Condolizza Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Jason Libman, another Google employee formerly employed by both the State Department and the Pentagon. AYM executive director David Nassar was formerly employed by NDI, USAID and IRI. In 2008 the State Department brought future Arab Spring activists to the US to teach them to use Facebook and Twitter, with the assistance of Sherif Mansour from Freedom House, Larry Diamond from NED, and national security adviser Shaarik Zafar.

Chapter 4 — focuses on Egypt, with particular attention to the role played by Google employee Gael Ghonem. Ghonem, who was given paid leave from his job to participate in the Tahrir Square uprising, created the Facebook page “We are all Mohamed Bouazizi” after the Tunisian fruit seller set himself on fire. In 2009, Ghonem also set up a Facebook page for Egyptian exile Mohammed El-Baradei. This was in advance of El-Baradei’s February 2010 Cairo visit to explore. The visit, according to Wikileaks cables, was organized through the US embassy. This was a full year before the Tahrir Square protests.

Chapter 5 — the pro-democracy organizations in other Arab countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen, and Syria) financed by the State Department and specific “democracy manipulating” foundations.

Chapter 6 — summation and analysis that explores the ethical dilemma faced by many Egyptian activists on learning the non-violent manuals they were using were the creation of CIA and State Department Funded think tanks and Foundations.

Below a video illustration of the “color revolution” symbols that were incorporated into the Arab Spring revolutions.

***

Rebel cover

In A Rebel Comes of Age, seventeen-year-old Angela Jones and four other homeless teenagers occupy a vacant commercial building owned by Bank of America. The adventure turns deadly serious when the bank obtains a court order evicting them. Ange faces the most serious crisis of her life when the other residents decide to use firearms against the police SWAT team.

$3.99 ebook available (in all formats) from Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/361351

The Role of Youth in Making Revolution

soweto

(Sharing more of my research for my new novel A Rebel Comes of Age)

Much has been made of the role of youth in sparking the “Arab Spring” revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. The willingness of Arab citizens to rebel against some of the world’s most oppressive regimes is a new and significant phenomenon. It highlights the distinction between political and psychological oppression. Psychological repression is a state of wholesale resignation, when a population believes any resistance will be totally crushed.

The Role of Youth in Sparking Revolution

Youth are nearly always the engine behind any movement to throw off psychological oppression. Older people have an overwhelming drive for “business as usual.” Austrian-born child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim credits this drive for the failure of European Jews to resist the Nazi campaign to enslave and exterminate them. Teenagers, in contrast, possess an illusion an illusion of immortality. They often find it difficult to grasp the finality of death.

Lessons from History: Soweto and the Intifada

Both the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa and the first Palestinian Intifada (1987) were initiated by teenagers. Both South Africa and Palestine were riding the crest of a baby boom and faced high youth unemployment. In addition, both the South African townships and occupied Palestine faced a general breakdown in parental authority. In both settings, parents traveled long distances (to Johannesburg or Israel). A whole generation of children, were left on their own to raise themselves. The link between the breakdown of parental authority and youth rebellion is a major theme of my first novel The Battle for Tomorrow.

The Anti-Apartheid Movement

The 1976 Soweto uprising is widely credited as the start of mass popular resistance to apartheid. The students who started it came from a generation that essentially raised themselves. Strict pass laws implemented in the 1950s forced many black residents to give up to their homes in South African cities and move to black-only townships or Bantustans, where there was no work. The only work open to black men was in remote work camps at the gold and diamond mines. While Sowetan women worked as domestics and nannies for white families in Johannesburg and only returned to their own children on weekends.

In 1976 Soweto teenagers had a lot in common with homeless teens, third world street children and “young carers” (children who care for parents with physical or mental disabilities or drug and alcohol problems). Forced to look after themselves from an early age, it’s typical for these teenagers to exhibit  precocious maturity.

Conditions that Politicized the Bantu Schools

The event the triggered the 1976 uprising was a decree requiring that all Bantu schools teach their subjects in Afrikaans (the language of the original Dutch settlers of South Africa), rather than English. Owing to atrocious conditions in the Bantu schools, students were already highly politicized. While education in white schools was free, black parents were charged 51 rand a year (a half month’s salary) The Bantu schools were also incredibly overcrowded, with sixty or more students per class and teachers who often had no education qualifications.

The prelude to the June 16 uprising was a classroom boycott in early June of seventh and eight graders at Orlando West Primary School. Students from seven other Soweto schools immediately joined in. On Sunday June 13th, 400 students met in Orlando (hard to imagine without cellphones Facebook  or Twitter) to call for a mass boycott and demonstration for June 16th. They also made a pact not to inform their parents, who they believed would try to stop them.

On June 16, fifteen to twenty thousand students age 10-20 in school uniform met at Orlando West Secondary school to march to the stadium. When the students refused to disperse, the police opened fire, killing several. The others went wild, throwing rocks and bottles at the police and setting fire to all symbols of apartheid – government buildings, liquor stores, beer halls and trucks, buses and cars belonging to white businesses.

Where Deadly Police Force Fails

The next morning rioting spread to other townships, as well as to Pretoria, Durban and Capetown with “colored” (mixed race) and Indian students also joining the rebellion. The police were totally unable to quell the rioters, even with force, owing to the students’ greater numbers and their total disregard for their own safety. It would take sixteen months for peace to be restored in the townships.

(To be continued, with a discussion of the role of teenagers in the Palestinian  Intifada.)

***

***

Rebel cover

In A Rebel Comes of Age, seventeen-year-old Angela Jones and four other homeless teenagers occupy a vacant commercial building owned by Bank of America. The adventure turns deadly serious when the bank obtains a court order evicting them. Ange faces the most serious crisis of her life when the other residents decide to use firearms against the police SWAT team.

$3.99 ebook available (in all formats) from Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/361351

The Way Forward

battle

Guest Post by Steven Miller

(In this final of 6 guest posts, Miller discusses the role of reform in drawing people into action against the state.)

Nothing Can Be Done by Fighting for Reforms and Nothing Can Be Done Without Fighting for Them

We can summarize the salient features of the situation. Speculators wield massive political power in the US and the world. This is rooted in their absolute control of all forms of technology as private corporate property. At the same time, corporations are merging with the state. Speculators direct the capitalist class to use state political power against the people. They are engineering an escalating class war from the top against the rest of society. The capitalist class is compelled to implement electronic laborless production only in the narrow and limited ways that guarantee corporate profits.

Speculators crashed the economy in 2008 by bundling toxic mortgages into “investment tools”. Now they are doing the same with rents. Meanwhile, the situation has metastasized. There is no longer just one economic bubble. The Masters of the World are addicted to financial warfare based in bubble wars. In essence, these are just sophisticated video games that are played 24 hours a day using the assets of the public. Like days of yore, armies of mercenaries rampage across the land, despoiling the public. Like video games, they produce thrilling speculative battles with individual winners and losers. Unlike video games, they do this with the necessities of life.

So… can this situation be reformed? In other words, can the power of capital be limited or significantly altered so that the current crisis of destruction can be reversed, so that humanity can develop a sustainable economy that benefits people, rather than debasing them?

The answer is pretty clear: there can be no significant reforms. Capitalism’s feeble efforts to address Global Warming indicate this. As with the economy itself, capitalism is driving things inexorably towards greater instability and crisis. Reforming even one aspect of the situation – simply halting evictions, for example – would take a social movement on a scale never before seen. Even the uprisings of the Arab Spring have not fundamentally altered the situation. Everything today is influenced by the subjective understanding of the enormous class of people who can only survive by working.

The paradox is that nothing can be won by fighting for reforms and nothing can be won without fighting for them. There are no revolutionary reforms by definition. Reforms do not alter political power, yet reform is what draws people into action against the state. People must engage in the revolutionary struggle for reforms by doing the teaching, by elevating the discussion of where these political struggles are headed. This includes presenting a revolutionary vision of what society could be if technology were used to create real economic democracy, with democratic popular control of technology guaranteed at every level.

Capitalism intends to control and sanitize this debate:

Capitalism is a sorry excuse for an economic system. With no present viable alternative, contemporary capitalism continues to produce cruel economic results and a twisted morality. But a debate is underway. Even the Harvard Business School, the birthplace of many of capitalism’s excesses has a large project in ‘Rethinking Capitalism.” (23)

So re-think this. Everyone sees that the private corporate control of technology is not sustainable. It inevitably leads to short-term thinking, based only on the interests of private profit. This produces nightmares in every direction from climate change to corporate agriculture, new diseases, Big Pharma and the despoliation of the environment from the insane overuse of petroleum in all forms. Corporations are behind it all.

But the corporate control of technology is not an Act of God. In fact, in the ‘90s, the US Post Office proposed developing an open and democratic Internet for everyone. Bill Clinton immediately squashed that one, intoning that corporations are the best way to develop this amazing tool. Since corporations inevitably deform the potential uses of technology in order to make a profit, they are not fit to control it. Period.

Youngdahl can see “no present viable alternative” because he cannot imagine the public seizure of private corporate property. Capitalism uses its Media-Industrial State to confuse the issues. We are supposed to believe that democracy is an economic system, which it is not. Then they confuse the concepts of the government and the state. We are supposed to rail against “big Government” when government is a fundamental necessity to guarantee people the things they cannot provide for themselves. Like sewers, for example. What people really don’t like – as we see with the NSA scandal – is the capitalist state, not the government.

Some people believe that we can succeed in replacing the rule of the 1% by ignoring it and building local cooperative efforts. This view is what Chris Hedges argues in “Overthrow the Speculators!”:

We can wrest back control of our economy, and finally our political system, from corporate speculators only by building local movements that decentralize economic power through the creation of hundreds of publicly owned state, county and city banks… Public banks also protect us from the worst forms of predatory capitalism.” (24)

Interesting question. Why bother to get rid of simply the worst forms of predatory capitalism? It’s still predatory; it’s still capitalism.

Today Americans are under an onslaught from ALEC, the corporate lobbyists who write the corporate laws, the NSA and public surveillance in many forms, a governmental refusal to regulate capitalism in any form, plus the legalizing of extraordinary rendition and drones. The state is not going to permit any weeds to grow in the garden of speculation. This strategic question is not something to ignore.

Takeovers can work both ways. America has reached the point twice before where forms of private property were strangling the very life out of society. In the 1770s, when the 13 Colonies were the private property of the King, the American people rose up and abolished this private property. This power was exercised through private corporations, such as the Virginia Corporation, which raised private armies of mercenaries. Corporations today have reclaimed this power, aided and abetted by the Department of Homeland Security. In the 21st Century, there are more private police than public police in America.

In the 1850s, private property in slavery controlled all three branches of government – the Presidency (which includes the army), the Supreme Court, and the Congress. Slave property worked day and night to extend its rights over the rights of regular people, through the Dred Scott decision, the Fugitive Slave Act and a host of other actions. Recognizing that they could no longer continue to live free, the North waged the Civil War to expropriate private property in slaves and break their political power.

Move To Amend – an organization developed to abolish corporate rights as people and money as speech – is one group that addresses the issue of expropriation: “Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.” (25) After all, if corporations can expropriate the public – as they are actively doing today – the public can expropriate the corporations.

The third time is the charm.

Steven Miller, Oakland, California, January 2014 –  nanodog2@hotmail.com

….And a big Shout-Out to the Zapatistas – 20 years ago today!

References and Resources

23)  Jay Youngdahl. “2013 was a year of Heroes and Hope”. East Bay Express. 12-25, 2013

24)  Chris Hedges. “Overthrow the Speculators!”. 12-29-2013

25)    The Myth of Corporate Personhood. Turning the Tide.
photo credit: ryanophilly via photopin cc

***

Steven Miller has taught science for 25 years in Oakland’s Flatland high schools. He has been actively engaged in public school reform since the early 1990s. When the state seized control of Oakland public schools in 2003, they immediately implemented policies of corporatization and privatization that are advocated by the Broad Institute. Since that time Steve has written extensively against the privatization of public education, water and other public resources. You can email him at nanodog2@hotmail.com

Originally posted at Daily Censored