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The Real Enemy Is Within
By Chris Hedges/ Truthdig/ September 6, 2015
If you are not dedicated to the destruction of empire and the dismantling of American militarism, then you cannot count yourself as a member of the left. It is not a side issue. It is the issue. It is why I refuse to give a pass in this presidential election campaign to Bernie Sanders, who refuses to confront the war industry or the crimes of empire, including U.S. support for the slow genocide carried out by Israel against the Palestinians. There will be no genuine democratic, social, economic or political reform until we destroy our permanent war machine.
Militarists and war profiteers are our greatest enemy. They use fear, bolstered by racism, as a tool in their efforts to abolish civil liberties, crush dissent and ultimately extinguish democracy. To produce weapons and finance military expansion, they ruin the domestic economy by diverting resources, scientific and technical expertise and a disproportionate share of government funds. They use the military to carry out futile, decades-long wars to enrich corporations such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. War is a business. And when the generals retire, guess where they go to work? Profits swell. War never stops. Whole sections of the earth live in terror. And our nation is disemboweled and left to live under what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” Libertarians seem to get this. It is time the left woke up.
Blue Nation Review
“Bourgeois society faces a dilemma,” socialist Rosa Luxemburg writes, “either a transition to Socialism, or a return to barbarism … we face the choice: either the victory of imperialism and the decline of all culture, as in ancient Rome—annihilation, devastation, degeneration, a yawning graveyard; or the victory of Socialism—the victory of the international working class consciously assaulting imperialism and its method: war. This is the dilemma of world history, either-or; the die will be cast by the class-conscious proletariat.”
The U.S. military and its array of civilian contractors operate as enforcers and hired killers across the globe for corporations, many of which pay no taxes. Young men and women, many unable to find work, are the cannon fodder. The U.S. military has served as the handmaiden of capitalism since it committed genocide against Native Americans, carried out on behalf of land speculators, mineral companies, timber merchants and the railroads. The military replicated this indiscriminate slaughter at the end of the 19th century in our imperial expansion in Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean, in Central America and especially in the Philippines. Military muscle exists to permit global corporations to expand markets and plunder oil, minerals and other natural resources while keeping subjugated populations impoverished by corrupt and brutal puppet regimes. The masters of war are the scum of the earth.
It was the war profiteers and the military, as Seymour Melman has pointed out, that conspired after World War II to keep the country in a state of total war, deforming the economy to continue to produce massive amounts of weapons and armaments in peacetime. The permanent war economy is sustained through fearmongering—about communists during the Cold War and about Islamic jihadists today. Such fearmongering is used not only to justify crippling military expenditures but to crush internal dissent. The corporatists and the military, which have successfully carried out what John Ralston Saul calls a “coup d’état in slow motion,” have used their political and economic clout to dismantle programs and policies put in place under the New Deal. Brian Waddell writes of this process:
The requirements of total war … revived corporate political leverage, allowing corporate executives inside and outside the state extensive influence over wartime mobilization policies. … Assertive corporate executives and military officials formed a very effective wartime alliance that not only blocked any augmentation of the New Dealer authority but also organized a powerful alternative to the New Deal. International activism displaced and supplanted New Deal domestic activism. Thus was the stage finally set for a vastly extended and much more powerful informal U.S. empire outside its own hemisphere.
The war machine is not, and almost never has been, a force for liberty or democracy. It does not make us safe. It does not make the world safe. And its immense economic and political power internally, including its management of the security and surveillance state and its huge defense contracts, has turned it into the most dangerous institution in America.
Military expenditures bleed the federal budget—officially—of $598.49 billion a year, or 53.71 percent of all spending. This does not, however, include veterans’ benefits at $65.32 billion a year or hidden costs in other budgets that see the military and the war profiteers take as much as $1.6 trillion a year out of the pockets of taxpayers. The working and middle class fund the endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and a host of other countries while suffering crippling “austerity” programs, massive debt peonage, collapsing infrastructures, chronic underemployment and unemployment and mounting internal repression. The war industry, feeding off the carcass of the state, grows fat and powerful with profits. This is not unique. It is how all empires are hollowed out from the inside. As we are impoverished and stripped of our rights, the tools used to maintain control on the outer reaches of empire—drones, militarized police, indiscriminate violence, a loss of civil liberties, and security and surveillance—are used on us. We have devolved, because of the poison of empire, into a Third World nation with nukes. We are ruled by an omnipotent, corporate oligarchy and their Pretorian Guard. The political class, Republican and Democrat, dances to the tune played by these oligarchs and militarists and mouths the words they want it to say.
C. Wright Mills in “The Power Elite” warns of a military machine that not only holds the political and economic life of the nation hostage but also has the ability to form public opinion. The Pentagon spends $4.7 billion a year and has some 27,000 employees who work on recruitment, advertising, psychological operations and public relations, according to a 2009 report by The Associated Press. But millions of dollars more for propaganda are hidden within classified budgets. The Pentagon places its commentators and pundits on the airwaves, produces “news” stories for the press, has ubiquitous advertising, runs junkets for Wall Street capitalists and elected officials and manages how Hollywood and television portray war and the military. Mills writes:
… [I]n all of pluralist America, there is no interest—there is no possible combination of interests—that has anywhere near the time, the money, the manpower, to present a point of view on the issues involved that can effectively compete with the views presented day in and day out by the warlords and by those whom they employ.
This means, for one thing, that there is no free and wider debate of military policy or of policies of military relevance. But that, of course, is in line with the professional soldier’s training for command and obedience, and with his ethos, which is certainly not that of a debating society in which decisions are put to a vote. It is also in line with the tendency in a mass society for manipulation to replace explicitly debated authority, as well as the fact of total war in which the distinction between soldier and civilian is obliterated. The military manipulation of civilian opinion and the military invasion of the civilian mind are now important ways in which the power of the warlords is steadily exerted.
Boldface added by BPR Editor
The Evidence Keeps Pouring In: Capitalism Just Isn’t Working
By Paul Buchheit/ Common Dreams/ August 24, 2015
To followers of Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan, and to all the business people who despise government, ‘community’ is a form of ‘communism.’ Even taking the train is too communal for them. Americans have been led to believe that only individuals matter, that every person should fend for him/herself, that “winner-take-all” is the ultimate goal, and that the winners have no responsibility to others.
To the capitalist, everything is a potential market. Education, health care, even the right to water. But with every market failure it becomes more clear that basic human rights can’t be bought and sold like cars and cell phones. The pursuit of profit, when essential needs are part of the product, means that not everyone will be able to pay the price. Some will be denied those essential needs.
Capitalism hasn’t been able to control runaway global inequality. For every $1.00 owned by the world’s richest 1% in 2011, they now own $1.27. They own almost half the world’s wealth. Just 70 of them own as much as 3.5 billion people.
Capitalism has not been able — or willing — to control the “race to the bottom” caused by “free trade,” as mid-level jobs continue to be transferred to low-wage countries.
Nor has capitalism been able to control global environmental degradation, with trillions in subsidies going to polluters that don’t even pay their taxes, and with corporations ignoring any semblance of social responsibility as they seek ways to profit from global warming.
Job Creation Failures I
With or without globalization, middle-class jobs are disappearing, even higher-end positions in financial analysis, medical diagnosis, legal assistance, and journalism. Artificial intelligence is making this happen. Millions of Americans have had a role in the great American productivity behind this technological takeover, but capitalism allows only an elite few of us to reap the disproportional profits.
Reports of job recovery are based on low-income jobs, many of them part-time. Layoffs are cutting into the military and technology. Gallup discounted Wall Street’s job-creating ability. As noted by former Wall Street Journal Associate Editor Paul Craig Roberts, the US rate of unemployment is 23 percent when long-term discouraged job-seekers are included. That’s close to the unemployment rate of the Great Depression.
Job Creation Failures II
Closely related to employment woes is the collapse of corporate investment in new product R&D, from 40 cents per dollar in the 1970s to 10 cents now. CEOs are choosing instead to spend almost all of their profits on buybacks and dividends to enrich investors.
Health Care Failures
The capitalist profit motive allows the cost of a hepatitis pill that costs $10 in Egypt to sell for $1,000 in the United States, and the cost of a blood test to range from $10 to $10,000 in two California hospitals (a 100,000% markup at the second hospital).
Patent abuse is one of the factors making this possible. Pharmaceutical companies can tweak a drug with a minor change to create a “brand new” drug with a new patent.
Another health-related scam that affects most of us is bottled water. According to Food & Water Watch, about half of it is filtered tap water with fancy names, as evidenced in one case by an actual “tap water” labelon a company’s product. Yet with the demise of community water fountains, and the barrage of advertising for “safe and pure” drinking water, unsuspecting Americans pay dearly: for the price we pay for a bottle of water we would be able to fill up that bottle a thousand times with tap water.
Because of the “invisible hand” of the free market, in just 35 years the investment wealth of the super-rich has gone from 15% of middle-class housing to almost 200% of middle-class housing.
A remarkable story of privatization failure is told in the story of charter schools in Florida, where Jeb Bush still holds dear to his delusions of free-market educational success.
That’s just one example. In general, charters are riddled with fraud and identified with a lack of transparencythat leads to even more fraud. Since 2001 nearly 2,500 charter schools have been forced to close their doors, leaving over a quarter-million schoolchildren between one bad business decision and the next. A report from PR Watch summarizes the billions of dollars spent on charters without accountability to the public.
Chris Hedges wrote: “Human life is of no concern to corporate capitalists. The suffering of the Greeks, like the suffering of ordinary Americans, is very good for the profit margins of financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs.”
People become meaningless in a successful capitalist system.
We Are All Greeks Now
Posted on Jul 12, 2015
Zero for 40 at Predicting Attacks: Why Do Media Still Take FBI Terror Warnings Seriously?
By Adam Johnson/ FAIR/ July 1, 2015
On Monday, several mainstream media outlets repeated the latest press releaseby the FBI that country was under a new “heightened terror alert” from “ISIL-inspired attacks” “leading up to the July 4th weekend.” One of the more sensational outlets, CNN, led with the breathless warning on several of its cable programs, complete with a special report by The Lead’s Jim Sciutto in primetime:
The threat was given extra credence when former CIA director—and consultant at DC PR firm Beacon Global Strategies—Michael Morell went on CBS This Morning (6/29/15) and scared the ever-living bejesus out of everyone by saying he “wouldn’t be surprised if we were sitting [in the studio] next week discussing an attack on the US.” The first piece of evidence Morell used to justify his apocalyptic posture, the “50 ISIS arrests,” was accompanied by a scary map on the CBS jumbotron showing “ISIS arrests” all throughout the US:
But one key detail is missing from this graphic: None of these “ISIS arrests” involved any actual members of ISIS, only members of the FBI—and their network of informants—posing as such. (The one exception being the man arrested in Arizona, who, while having no contact with ISIS, was also not prompted by the FBI.) So even if one thinks the threat of “lone wolf” attacks is a serious one, it cannot be said these are really “ISIS arrests.” Perhaps on some meta-level, it shows an increase of “radicalization,” but it’s impossible to distinguish between this and simply more aggressive sting operations by the FBI.
In any event, this nuance gets left out entirely. As I’ve previously shown, in the media’s rush to hype the threat, the fact of FBI-manufactured—or at least “assisted”—terror plots is left out as a complicating factor altogether, and the viewer is left thinking the FBI arrested 50 actual ISIS sleeper cells.
Nevertheless, the ominous FBI (or Department of Homeland Security) “terror warning” has become such a staple of the on-going, seemingly endless “war on terror” (d/b/a war on ISIS), we hardly even notice it anymore. Marked by a feedback loop of extremist propaganda, unverifiable claims about “online chatter” and fuzzy pronouncements issued by a neverending string of faceless Muslim bad guys, and given PR cover by FBI-contrived “terror plots,” the specter of the impending “attack” is part of a broader white noise of fear that never went away after 9/11. Indeed, the verbiage employed by the FBI in this latest warning —“we’re asking people to remain vigilant”—implies no actual change of the status quo, just an hysterical nudge to not let down our collective guard.
There’s only one problem: These warnings never actually come to fruition. Not rarely, or almost never, but—by all accounts—never. No attacks, no arrests, no suspects at large.
Here’s a selection of previous FBI and DHS “terror warnings” over the past 14 years, not a single one of which actually predicted or foiled a terror attack:
October 2001: “Potential use of chemical/biological and/or radiological/nuclear weapons“
November 2001: California bridges
February 2002: “Hollywood studios”
May 2002: Statue of Liberty
June 2002: “Around the Fourth of July holiday”
July 2002: Stadiums
August 2002: “Landmarks”
October 2002: “AQ to attack Amtrak”
November 2002: “Spectacular Al Qaeda attacks”
February 2003: “Apartments, hotels, sports arenas and amusement parks“
May 2003: “Possibility of multiple attacks”
May 2004: “Attempt to affect the outcome” of presidential election
July 2004: “Military facilities and large gatherings” on July 4th
August 2004: VA hospitals
January 2005: Dirty bomb
March 2005: US/Mexican border
October 2005: NYC & Baltimore subways
March 2006: “Sporting events”
June 2007: Colleges
December 2007: “Shopping malls in Chicago and LA”
November 2008: “Al Qaeda to attack transit during Thanksgiving”
November 2010: Mass transit in New York City
October 2011: “Americans in Europe” facing “commando-style AQ attack”
February 2011: “Financial institutions”
May 2011: “Threats of retaliation”
June 2011: Al Qaeda “hit list”
September 2011: “Small planes”
September 2011: “New York City or Washington around…10th anniversary of 9/11”
September 2011: Airports
March 2012: “Terrorist hacking”
August 2012: Anarchists blowing up bridge during Tampa RNC
September 2012: “Islamic violence over movie”
August 2013: “San Fransisco on high alert”
November 2013: “cyber attacks”
April 2014: “College students abroad”
December 2014: ISIS targeting Mississippi River bridge
December 2014: ISIS “sabotaging US military personnel” over social media
April 2015: ISIS targeting “parts of California”
May 2015: ISIS targeting “military bases”
A casual search reveals the FBI and DHS are a pitiful 0 for 40 warning of terror attacks—some of which were specifically about 4th of July threats, none of which materialized in any way. This should not be considered a comprehensive list of all threat warnings transmitted by media; I tried to narrow the scope to warnings that were at least in some way specific.
The actual terror attacks carried out on US soil—the Times Square bomber, “Underwear bomber,” Boston bombing and Garland attacks—were accompanied by no such warnings. (Nor were the often deadlier terrorist attacks by right-wing white terrorists–but terrorism in this category is rarely if ever the subject of FBI warnings.)