Capitalism, Income Inequality and Civil Rights

In a speech yesterday, US Federal Reserve chairperson, Janet Yellen, voiced concern about the unprecedented level of wealth and income inequality and its harmful effect on the U.S. Economy. While economists occasionally give such warnings about the adverse effects of such widening inequality on the economy, for political reasons, the social and political ramifications and consequences of it are generally ignored and avoided. I’m not talking about the direct and well known correlation between poverty, on the one hand, and crime and incarceration, on the other. That, too, gets acknowledged, if not by government officials, but by social scientists, who occasionally are quoted in the media. What usually gets left out from discussion is the effect such accumulation of wealth has on civil liberties and democracy.

Basically, a class society has an inherent contradiction with true democracy. As wealth gets accumulated in fewer and fewer hands, so does power, which naturally limits participation in decision making and leaves the task of setting policy and priorities to fewer and fewer powerful individuals – or rather corporations – who through their bought out politicians, end up making all policy decisions and charting course for the entire nation, which given their global reach, power and influence, affects much of the world. This narrowing of political clout and influence, in turn, creates the grounds for even more wealth accumulation and income inequality, which consolidates the power of those at the top even further, making it virtually impossible to effect any meaningful change in overall policy. Within such socioeconomic conditions, politicians cannot be independent of the ruling class or represent the will of the majority. If a political party, which relies on the help and support of the powerful ruling minority to get elected, tries to undermine their power or not act in accordance with their interests or agenda, it will quickly lose that support and become irrelevant. To remain relevant, it must fall in line.

Concurrently and in parallel, as more and more segments of the population join the ranks of the poor and struggle to survive and as the middle stratum empties and polarization intensifies, the ruling minority of multibillionaires gets nervous about revolts and takes steps to preempt and prevent any challenge to their rule and power. As this trend continues and the vast majority are stripped of rights to political participation, they are also gradually stripped of their civil rights. The reason is rather obvious. Civil rights only have meaning in relation to political influence and participation. One needs such rights only for effecting political change and if that’s forbidden and prevented, there are no civil rights or democracy to speak of. If you try to organize and agitate for change in policy or priorities – such as against war or against the so called “free trade”, etc. – that will affect their bottom line, or if you challenge their power or rule, you will be stopped.

In order to effectively predict and prevent any serious attempt at causing change and to always stay one step ahead, they will naturally gather intelligence on the public and monitor their activities, especially anyone who might lead such effort. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was routinely pursued and spied on by the FBI and was even on their list of individuals to be eliminated. The court hearing the civil lawsuit brought by his widow and family for his death, mentioned the collusion by some “unnamed government agency” in bringing about his assassination. After him and Malcolm X, who were obvious targets (not to mention the Black Panthers whose members were openly assassinated by the FBI), the leaders, organizers and activists of every social movement in recent history have been pursued and spied on and sometimes jailed on fake charges. The FBI or the local police has even inserted spies within anti-war and social justice organizations and movements, including the movement to end the war in Vietnam in late 1960’s and early 70’s, the movement for nuclear disarmament in the 80’s, the “antiglobalization” movement (which throughout the 1990’s, had gripped the US and its European allies for their neoliberal policies of imposing devastating austerity on the poor of the developing nations through “free trade” agreements), the movement against the war on Iraq and the latest Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. Even environmental and animal rights organizations have not been spared. During the demonstrations against Iraq war in 2003, Los Angeles Times reported that LAPD had inserted one of their own into an anti war organization. New York Times reported in 2011 on the role of the CIA in monitoring the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. And these were in addition to the NSA’s massive spying program, which had gone on for many years and were made public by Edward Snowden.

Social media has been a double sided sword. While it has given the public freer and more unfiltered access to information and analysis, which it used to get exclusively from corporate and Pentagon friendly mainstream media, it has also given the government of the billionaires the means to closely monitor the discussions among and even thoughts of the citizenry. The Occupy movement, in particular, which for the first time, raised awareness of the class divisions between the “1% and 99%” and connected the income and wealth inequality to capitalism, served as a warning shot to the government, which after going on offensive to crack down on the movement, it quickly passed the NDAA, which gave the President the right to order the military to detain anyone, indefinitely and without charges or due process. In addition, the police whose numbers have steadily grown, have also been given more latitude and freedom to conduct searches and make arrests. High number of incarceration is yet another aspect or form of increasing level of social control, which stems from widening gap between the rich and the poor and consolidation of power at the top.

While capitalism emphasizes the individual and individuality, breaks down sense of community and cooperation and advocates the rights of the individual in the abstract and in theory, in practice, it continues to chip away at democracy and democratic and civil and privacy rights of the people and frets at and tries to prevent unity among the population. Capitalism, despite its empty claims, it’s inherently and naturally irreconcilable and in conflict with true democracy. Democracy is only meaningful in as far as it allows and encourages the participation of the majority to exert influence on policy for the interest of the largest majority and to raise the living standards and level of comfort and security of that wide majority, rather than make them subject to the rule of a tiny minority of super wealthy and powerful individuals who hold all levers of power and control, which allows them to suppress and control the majority for their own selfish interests.

The discussion on income and wealth inequality must also include and be viewed in the context of perpetual wars, which are conducted for expansion of the corporate Empire and consolidation of power globally over as many people of the world, as possible, who like the working people of the US and its allies, are viewed as nothing but subjects to be controlled, suppressed and exploited by transnational corporations, who rule through installed dictators. The dichotomy between imposing ruthless and heavy handed dictatorships in client countries by the Empire, on the one hand, and a seeming though fake and deceitful democracy at home, is not to and cannot last for long, even in its fraudulent and hollow form. The tendency and move towards stripping away the rights of working people at home, as their economic situation continues to worsen and nears those overseas, is unmistakable and unstoppable within the current system.

The Politics and Purpose of Islamophobia: How Bigotry Against Muslims Helps Sell Endless Wars

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Some TV show hosts and commentators, such as Bill Maher and so-called authors like Sam Harris, and others, seem to be on a mission, lately. What kind of mission would be a good question to ask and ponder. Maybe if we first analyze their comments and complaints, we can find out. Mr. Harris, for one, seems so concerned for Muslims that they are themselves more than anyone else victimized by their own religion that he is desperately trying to enlighten them and liberate them from their own faith. Bill Maher, on the other hand, is more upfront about it: he proudly and openly shows his contempt for Muslims and Islam. He’s quick to point out, of course – of course – that his issue is not Muslims, per se, or at least, not all Muslims, but their religion. So, in a way, he’s also, I suppose, concerned about the poor Muslims who have such a bad religion! It’s like seeing someone eat some bad food and trying to stop him for his own sake.

But, the truth of the matter is that he and people like him hate the people who have that religion, which they don’t approve of, rather than the religion, itself. Actually, if you think about it, it’s not even that they hate them for having that religion, but that they hate those who happen to have that religion. These are two different things. After all, religion is just a set of teachings and beliefs and all religions have teachings one may not approve of. Religion is what you either believe or accept, or you don’t. If you don’t agree with its teachings or set of beliefs, you just don’t accept it as your religion. So, religion itself is never the issue. People are. The primary focus for these individuals is the people, rather than their religion. Religion is just an excuse for hating people, just as skin color is, among others. If you’re going to hate one group or another, you can always find reasons.

The question that should be asked is: why now? Why has Islam, or more accurately, Muslims become such an issue, now? What is it about our times that has brought “the problem” of Islam and its followers to fore and made it an urgent issue facing humanity that the likes of Mr. Sam Harris want to solve? Has everyone already got rid of their own reactionary, superstitious and medieval mindset, left over from the dark ages, except Muslims, who should now be educated about their religion by the likes of Sam Harris and Bill Maher? Yes, there are terrorists who happen to be Muslims. Oh wait, they also seem to have dark eyes and dark hair. Wait, their nose also seems to be a bit larger than the Europeans’! What else can we notice about them? If their actions are because of their religion, then there must also be a connection between their dark eyes and hair and their actions, too. The funny thing is (if we can call it that) that these anti-“intellectual” and “sophisticated” idiots say that they agree that not all Muslims are the same, but continue to focus on Islam, which is a way to group them together, and hence reach that very generalization which they deny they’re committing.

If your issue is religion in general or religious thinking such as the acceptance of a divine power and creator and unquestioning acceptance of what a book says or what a prophet has said centuries ago, then you will most certainly find that all religions are pretty much the same and quite similar in that respect. If you want to promote scientific thinking and show that religious thinking is wrong, therefore, it makes no sense to focus on one religion. But, that’s not what these people are after. Underneath all the anti-Islam rhetoric is a deep-seated, not so much xenophobia, mind you, but pure and simple bigotry.
Yes, there are Muslims who do such horrible things as beheading people, which occurs in Saudi Arabia more than any other place, and there are Muslims who don’t and are horrified by it. There are Muslim countries with repressive laws against women, including US friend and ally Saudi Arabia which these anti-Islam crusaders don’t focus on and there are Muslim countries which have elected women as president. There are African countries with majority of Christians who mutilate female genitals and there are Muslims who think that’s a horrible thing to do.

So, what is their mission, if not ridding all humanity of the evil of all religion? What mission can they be on, precisely when the US is going to war against several countries which happen to have Muslim majorities, except give ammunition to such endless wars? They say liberals are being soft on Islam and are not telling the truth about it. Really? Is that the main problem we’re having in our times? Is that what liberals should be talking about which they’re not? It’s not endless wars that we all should be concerned about and try to stop, which liberals are mostly silent about? It’s not the climate change, it’s not hunger, poverty or imperialism? It’s not the genocide taking place in Palestine, which liberals like Bill Maher are conveniently ignoring, but the issue of Islam and Muslims is? Is it a coincidence that at a time of perpetual wars for Empire and corporations, we find some of our “intellectuals” deeply concerned about the religion of those very people the US is bombing? Isn’t that what Netanyahu is trying to do – connect Muslims to terrorism and use that to keep up Americans’ support for the genocide?

If the belief in a certain religion made people terrorists, then it should follow that all – or at least most of – those who follow that religion must be terrorists. And, if one religion was able to make all or most of its followers terrorists, then all religions must be able to do that since they’re not that different in their teachings or power of persuasion. But, they don’t say that all Christians are like Timothy McVeigh or the Nazis or the KKK. The fact is: all the following four logical permutations exist: Muslims who are terrorists, non-Muslims who are terrorists, Muslims who are not terrorists and non-Muslims who are not terrorists. So, on what ground can anyone generalize? Oh, I forgot: they don’t generalize. They say more Muslims are terrorists than any other religious group. But, when reminded about the Crusaders, they say that was a long time ago, whereas now, it’s mostly Muslims who are terrorists. But, what about Nazis who massacred so many Jews in the 20th Century? What about Zionist Jews who went to Palestine from Europe in 1947-1948 and terrorized and massacred Palestinians by shooting and bombing and murdering them and driving them from their homes in the thousands and hundreds of thousands? Were those a long time ago, too? Aren’t the Israelis still terrorizing and massacring Palestinians? Why not attribute that to their religion, too? Why not blame the wars and murderous interventions of the US government on Christianity? Isn’t this mostly a Christian nation with its leaders all proclaiming to be devout Christians?

If their bigoted arguments all seem so stupid and absurd, it’s because bigotry is hollow, shallow and downright stupid. But, although it’s stupid, stupidity is not the main feature of their bigotry; hatred is. And hatred is what’s dangerous. And hatred of one group of people by another is precisely what a super wealthy ruling class at the helm of a mighty corporate Empire needs and uses to make its endless wars more acceptable to its population.

US Attacks on African American Men, From Tuskegee to Crack Cocaine

While most of world’s attention was on the Iranian revolution in 1979, there was also a revolution in the Central American nation of Nicaragua, that year, led by Sandinistas, which led to the overthrew of the last of the Somoza dynasty, the much hated dictator, Anastasio Somoza, who was a US puppet, kept in power by the US. To counter the revolution and overthrow the social democrat Sandinistas and return the US-backed dictatorship to power, On 4 January 1982, President Reagan signed the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the CIA the authority to recruit and support a mercenary death squad who came to be known as the Contras, short for la contrarrevolución (the counterrevolution) with $19 million in military aid, even though as it became clear later, the CIA had been involved in the counterrevolution from the beginning. With the help of the US, which was financing, training, arming, and advising the mercenary group, they were blowing up bridges, highways, ports, government buildings, power plants and massacring supporters of the revolution, especially in the countryside. In December 1982, the New York Times reported that the ‘covert activities have become the most ambitious paramilitary and political action operation mounted by the C.I.A. in nearly a decade…‘” In the fiscal year 1984, the U.S. Congress approved $24 million in Contra aid, despite the fact that the Sandinista government won the majority of the votes in a 1984 election, which was hailed as free and fair by international observers. However, after the revelation that the CIA had been directly involved in mining and blowing up Nicaragua’s ports, and since the contras failed to win the hoped-for popular support or military victories and since their human rights violations were becoming a liability for the US, despite pressure by the Reagan Administration, the US Congress cut the funding for the Contras in 1985.

But the funding of the Contras continued, covertly, nonetheless, which upon revelation, became known as the “Iran-Contra affair”, whereby the Reagan Administration was selling weapons to Iran, which itself was against US law, and funneling the proceeds to the Contras to circumvent the Congress. When overt support for a death squad becomes damaging to US credibility, overt becomes covert.

But this was not the only way they were raising money for the counterrevolution in Nicaragua. In 1984, in what was comparable only to the vile and notorious Tuskegee Experiment, the CIA organized and directed the trafficking of cocaine from Central America and its distribution in crack cocaine form, among African Americans in South Central Los Angeles. The profits from this drug trafficking was then sent back to the Contras.

This was investigated and reported in a series of articles titled “Dark Alliance” by investigative journalist Gary Webb in 1996 in San Jose Mercury News. The Reagan administration shielded inner-city drug dealers from prosecution to keep the CIA role in the drug trafficking a secret. In the aftermath of this revelation, which came to light due to the tenacious investigation by Webb, the CIA, with the help of major newspapers, including Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times, began a campaign of character assassination against him, and tried to discredit both him and his findings. As a result, San Jose Mercury backed away from the story, effectively ending Webb’s career. He was found dead in his apartment from two gunshot wounds in the head in 2004, which was announced suicide.

Since his death, major newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, have reversed their original pro-CIA position and defended Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series. Esquire wrote that a report from the CIA inspector general “subsequently confirmed the pillars of Webb’s findings.” LA Weekly also reported on May 30, 2013 in an article titled: “Ex-L.A. Times Writer Apologizes for ’Tawdry’ Attacks.”, that “Webb was vindicated by a 1998 CIA Inspector General report, which revealed that for more than a decade the agency had covered up a business relationship it had with Nicaraguan drug dealers like Blandón [the top drug dealer with ties to CIA - SS]“

in 2013, Nick Schou, an LA Weekly journalist, told the story of Gary Webb in a book titled “Kill the Messenger”, which has been made into a movie by that same title, currently in movie theaters in select cities.

This was the second attack on African American men in recent history, the first being the Tuskegee Experiment of 1932 to 1972, when the U.S. Public Health Service pretended to give them free Healthcare when in reality it was deliberately infecting them with syphilis to see how the disease progresses if left untreated.

The significance and egregiousness of helping to distribute crack cocaine among African Americans, which caused an epidemic among them, becomes clearer when you consider the fact that it was done precisely at a time when a “war on drugs” had been declared and which the Reagan Administration (whom Obama often speaks highly of) had escalated, putting in jail, for years, those who possessed or distributed it, while shielding those who trafficked it into the country from prosecution. Today, despite the government complicity in creating this epidemic, many still remain in jail, even for minor possession charges. The incarceration of many black men, some for long periods, can be considered the third government attack on them. And finally the fourth is the shooting and killing young black men by racist cops on a regular basis.

66 Years of Genocide, 66 Years of Lies!

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The barbarism and sheer brutality that the world witnessed in Gaza last August was not the first and by all accounts and indications will unfortunately not be the last. Indiscriminate carpet bombing of densely populated residential neighborhoods, apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, ambulances and even designated UN shelters for children might have come as a shock to those who, thanks to US media blackout, didn’t have a chance to see before, but it wasn’t a surprise to Palestinians, who have lived under brutal occupation since 1948, when the colonial settler state of Israel was founded in occupied Palestine. Occupation of a land and ethnic cleansing of its inhabitants to make room for foreign settlers who have the desired religion or ethnicity cannot be accomplished without such massacres and indeed massacres have been a routine occurrence in Palestine; so much so, in fact, that Israeli authorities refer to them as “mowing the lawn”.
During all these years of brutal occupation, which has sent millions of Palestinians into refugee camps in neighboring countries, to live as rejected, poor, homeless and landless refugees without adequate clean water or services, while those who stayed behind continued to be murdered or incarcerated and tortured or made homeless, the US government has continued to pour money into the occupation, to the tune of billions of dollars every year, has given almost unlimited amount of weapons and military equipment to the occupation forces and has continued to defend and protect Israel in the UN, against Security Council resolutions demanding an end to the occupation. The excuse has been that “the two sides must come to the table and negotiate”. These so-called “negotiations” were meant and have been used as nothing but a cover to continue to demolish Palestinian homes, to evict them from their own land and build new settlements for new settlers, who go from the US, South America, Europe and elsewhere to settle on land cleansed of its original inhabitants because they have just the right religion or ethnic background. Upon arrival, these settlers are given a home and become citizens and have rights which Palestinians living there for millennia don’t have. The only outcome of these “negotiations” have been more home demolitions, more land grabs, more settlements and more massacres of Palestinians. Any act of resistance by the victims of the occupation is used as an excuse to murder even more of them and for the US to give the occupying army more money and replenish their stockpile of weapons and bombers and fighter jets, and to stand in front of the microphone and say: “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Any child can understand that “negotiating” with your occupiers when their tanks are surrounding your homes and their fighter jets and attack helicopters are overhead and their soldiers are patrolling your streets and neighborhoods and when they come at will and take away your leaders is total nonsense and ludicrous. And the results speak for themselves. As the occupation and ethnic cleansing continues, every act of resistance by the occupied is used as the pretext to massacre more of the occupied population, including women and children, and when that round of “mowing the lawn” is over – until the next round – the US “presses the two sides to negotiate”, in order to obfuscate the issue of occupation and ethnic cleansing, to give itself legitimacy for aiding and abetting the war crimes and genocide and to make it look like it’s a fair broker between “the two sides”. They speak of “the two sides” as if they’re equal or equally at fault. The myth that “they can’t get along” or that “there is no easy solution” is deliberately perpetuated to hide the real problem which is the occupation and ethnic cleansing and the racist ideology it’s based on. Palestinians agree to these bogus “negotiations” because they have no choice – it’s their only hope to get a reprieve from the massacre – and Israelis agree because it gives them and the US the diplomatic cover to go on with their ethnic cleansing and genocide. Indeed, as soon as the “talks” are over, Israel builds new settlements, as they began right after the “talks” in Cairo, which when reported in the media Obama “criticized” with his mouth, while his hand unaware of what his mouth was doing, signed new shipment of arms to Israel.
What has become clear to anyone who pays any attention to this ongoing genocide is that the enabler of this genocide is none other than the US government, and as Professor Noam Chomsky observed, it will continue as long as the current US policies continue. And, these policies will continue as long as the US government remains beholden to the Wall Street banks and other large corporations and their billionaire shareholders and owners who own and control the government and set those policies.
To boycott Israel is to boycott Wall Street, McDonald Douglas, Northrop, Boing, Monsanto, Exxon-Mobile, Bank of America, Walmart and others. To boycott Israel is to stand with the victimized and defenseless people of Palestine and with those who stand with justice and against massacres and genocide. To boycott Israel is to stand against racism and injustice and against Democrats and Republicans alike who represent big business and imperialism and go to war for the Empire. To boycott Israel is the essence of being human.
We don’t have to look back at history and say how barbaric those people who killed so many were. This is happening now. This is on us.

Seven Wars and Counting: The Real Purpose of US Wars

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The US, under Bush and Obama administrations, has by now committed bombing campaigns or all out wars against seven nations and has imposed economic sanctions on two others, which itself is an act of war. Unless we’re so numbed to the idea of a perpetual multi-front war that we cease to think rationally anymore, we must see that we’re entering dangerous uncharted waters and the future doesn’t look so bright – unless it’s lit up by nuclear blasts. The excuse for these wars has always been that “we can’t sit idly by and let atrocities go on”. In Afghanistan, it was the Taliban who had to be destroyed because they gave sanctuary to and refused to turn in Al Qaeda members who plotted the 9/11 attacks against the US, even though they were armed and funded when fighting the Soviets in 1980’s. In Iraq, it was the brutal dictator, Saddam, who might have had plans for aquiring a nuclear weapon, which he then might have used on a neighboring country or given to terrorists. In Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, there are Al Qaeda members or sympathizers whatever that means, who could be plotting to kill Americans. In Libya, it was the brutal dictator Qaddafi, who had to be removed from office by bombing Libyan cities and population centers, shortly after he tries to unify African nations and move away from dependency on the West, economically, militarily and politically. And now, in Syria, it’s the terrorist group ISIS that has to be destroyed. Syria is the same country, by the way, that Obama almost bombed last year on a different pretext, but backed off from because there was too much domestic and international opposition. If last year not enough people were convinced that it was that nation’s turn to be bombed, now there are, and so it is being bombed. And again, it so happens that Syria does not cooperate with US plans for the region or with its allies, namely, Israel and Saudi Arabia. And while all this is taking place, Iran, too, remains in their crosshairs, no matter how many concessions it makes.

But, what does the US scorecard look like, after all these wars and military interventions, many are rightly asking. What kind of results has the US obtained from these actions, aside from killing over a million people, mostly Iraqis? It depends on whom you ask, but even pro-Obama liberals (yes, surprisingly, they still exist, though not as many as before) admit that the results don’t look very promising and the stated objectives – whatever they may be (many aren’t sure what those even are) – are not being met, and cannot be met and we’re not even talking about all the human lives that these wars have destroyed.

If what you’re taking away from all this is that the US tries to punish brutal dictators, who commit atrocities against their people and who pose a threat to world peace and stability, or to end terrorism, but that it’s not succeeding and not achieving peace and stability, despite all the bombings and interventions, then you’re missing the whole point. First of all, the claim that the US is acting as the “world policeman” is totally false and misleading and a total misrepresentation of the reality, meant to deceive the public and nothing else. Indeed, if the US is a policeman, it’s a very corrupt, violent, sadistic and thuggish gangster of a policeman, who uses his guns to steal, rape and plunder. It aids and supports the most brutal and corrupt dictators around the world when the interests of its corporate Empire can benefit from them and punishes only those who stand in its way towards achieving total and complete world domination. It raises no objection over Saudi Arabia’s corrupt Kings who aid and fund terror organizations like ISIS, or about the daily beheadings going on there. This so-called “policeman” is fine with brutal crackdown of demonstrators in Yemen and Bahrain, but undertakes a massive bombing campaign against Libya for doing exactly that. It screams about the police reaction to cocktail Molotov throwing demonstrators in Kiev when the government isn’t “friendly” towards the West, but remains quiet when its newly installed government massacres hundreds in East Ukraine. It gives chemical weapons to Saddam to use against Iranians during a war Saddam started and then it says Syria must be bombed because it used chemical weapons, which it never proved. It overthrows democratically elected leaders and installs and supports hated dictators and goes to war against defenseless people, and worst of all, it aids the apartheid state of Israel in its genocide against Palestinians. Some policeman, right?

So you see: it’s not atrocities the US tries to stop and it’s not brutal dictators it wants to punish and depose. And it’s not even terrorism or extremism it wants to fight and uproot. What bigger terrorism than giving weapons and money to the occupiers of Palestine to bomb hospitals, schools and apartment buildings full of defenseless men, women and children? If there is a bigger terrorism than that going on now, I want to know.

So, the lesson is not that “the US tries to be the world policeman, but it can’t or it’s too hard or too costly”. Nor is it that “you can’t bomb terrorism out of existence”, though that’s certainly true, too. The purpose of the corporate Empire is neither stopping atrocities committed by dictators, nor putting an end to terrorism, but rather what you can often see if you pay attention and read between the lines, and that is: world domination for corporations. After all, the actions of an entity, whether it’s a drug cartel or Mafia or the collective of powerful transnational corporations pushing their global agenda through the military industrial complex in Washington, is inseparable from its purpose and intent. The purpose and intent of this corporate collective, which has amassed an incredible amount of firepower and economic and political prowess, is to control world resources, labor and markers, in order to make as much money for corporations and their wealthy owners, as possible, and so anything that comes on their way must be removed, by any means necessary, including devastating wars and genocides. That’s the essence of what’s happening in our world, today.

This state of affairs is not normal, no matter how many times the Empire’s media tells us that. Being in perpetual war and causing so many deaths is not normal. We must not accept the kind of world greedy corporations are trying to impose on us. We must change the direction this is taking us all.

Freedom of Speech and the Rule of Law under Capitalism

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The curfew in Ferguson, Missouri against any kind of protest continues. Eight peaceful protesters were arrested just yesterday for continuing to demand justice for Michael Brown, who was shot and killed multiple times, execution style, while holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender, with the killer cop continuing to remain on police payroll.

Protests have been declared illegal in the city. But, not to worry because the curfew is not for ever; it will last only as long as the protests persist. Get it? You’re free to protest when you’re not protesting, but when you do, it’s illegal! In the land of make believe, where we can pretend there is no climate change, why not also make ourselves believe that we have freedom of speech – the so-called First Amendment Rights. But, if you look more carefully, you’ll see that the real use of the Amendment – or the Constitution in general – is for propaganda. If you pay attention, you will see that the government of the 0.1% has used the Amendment, and in fact the entire Constitution, as a propaganda tool far more than that Amendment or the Constitution has been used to protect the common man or woman – the remaining 99.9%.

Speaking of the Constitution, it grants the Congress and only the Congress the authority to decide matters of war and peace, not the Pentagon and not the generals leaning over and staring at a map in the War Room of the White House. And yet, US troops are routinely sent to wars and US bombers regularly bomb sovereign nations, often without even the prior knowledge of, let alone discussion and voting by, the Congress. As I write this, US troops are going back to Iraq after they left three years ago, according to an agreement signed by the then Iraqi government and President Bush, and US bombers are bombing Syria, another sovereign nation, against both US and international laws. And where are people’s representatives as all this is happening out of the War Room? On their 54-day Summer vacation! But don’t be surprised. That’s what a bought out Congress looks like. You see, the point isn’t to do things the right way or the legal and constitutional way. The point is to defend the interests of the class of wealthy owners who bankroll them and put them in office. And, as long as the corporate Empire gets its wars and the profits it seeks for its corporations and keeps the owners’ class happy and the population quiet and quelled, it matters not to them. Their attitude about people’s civil and democratic rights is the same: give them lip service for public relations and run roughshod over them when the interests of the 0.1% so demand. That’s what they call democracy and “the rule of law”, which in reality is the law of the rulers.

During the recent climate change march, which drew some 400,000 people to the streets of New York, many carried signs pointing to the root cause of the problem, which is none other than capitalism and that to fight climate change, we must fight capitalism and corporate profiteering that drives it. That this has become a subject being discussed on a relatively broad scale, after being shunned, avoided and censored for so many decades is a step forward and progress whose time has long come. But, that’s only one aspect of capitalism that’s come to fore and that’s only due to its cataclysmic effects looming over humanity and the planet. What capitalism is still successfully hiding from humanity is its incongruence and utter contradiction with basic human freedom and democracy, just as it does with care for the planet and environment. In that, black protesters of Ferguson have more in common with white marchers in New York than meets the eye.

US Strikes “ISIS Targets” Within Syria in Preparation For A New Regime Change

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The US, with the help of reactionary and despotic governments of Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, has begun launching airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) “targets within Syria”, over the objections of the Syrian government, which itself has been in battle with the terrorist group for over 3 years. Ironically, IS (or ISIS), along with other Islamist groups that have been trying to overthrow the Syrian government to establish an Islamic Caliphate, has been getting funding, arms and support from the very states, including the US and especially Saudi Arabia, who are now supposedly fighting the terrorist organization!

The goal for the US and its allies was clear from the outset: to do regime change in Syria, as they did in Iraq and Libya. What’s been different is the method, which unlike in Iraq and Libya, involved the use of terror groups such as ISIS. Despite the stated goal of defeating the latter, the real goal remains the same as it was 3 years ago, and as it was last year, when Obama announced his plans for conducting a bombing campaign, but backed off in the face of domestic and international opposition and accepted the Russians’ proposal for destroying the nation’s chemical weapons, instead. The stated pretext then was to punish Assad – by bombing Syrian people – for using such weapons against his own people, which was never proven and on the contrary, there were several credible reports that the chemical weapons were in fact used by the “rebels”, with the help of US allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The goal hasn’t changed. It’s still the same as it was 3 years ago, as it was a year ago. The goal of the US corporate Empire or the military industrial complex doesn’t change every year or even every decade and doesn’t depend on who’s in the White House. That goal was made clear in the document titled “Strategy For A New American Century”, published as the 1990’s were coming to an end, which stated that in the new era (hence the phrase “New Century”), when there is no serious military challenge anymore, such as the former Soviet Union, to the rule of the Empire, it will forcibly remove any government that presented an obstacle and refused to accept its complete and total hegemony and rule, which is ultimately the rule of the corporations, in pursuit of complete world domination for profits. That’s the real reason for the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and in Syria, which, in reality began 3 years ago, but which was stepped back from, temporarily. If last year the pretext was the chemical weapons, now it’s ISIS, which was created, or at the minimum, funded and supported with the help of those same governments which are now supposedly fighting it. This has a very familiar sound to it: in 1980’s, too, they armed and funded the Mujaheddin of Afghanistan to fight the Soviets who then turned on them and became their enemies to be fought against. This inhuman and cynical formula seems to work for them: use terrorists to overthrow governments they deem unhelpful, and then use those same terrorists as pretext for “endless wars” after you’ve scared the daylights out of the public. The idea of permanent wars is becoming such a part of the American psyche and culture that one almost misses its incredible absurdity. A Fox News host said about this new war: we’re finally getting back to being Americans again: we have some people to kill.

Once again, the US and its reactionary allies, including Saudi Arabia, which beheads people regularly in public, without any US media saying anything about it and which supports Sunni Islamist terrorists in the region, have found an excuse to bomb a country whose government refuses to comply with Washington’s wishes and plans for the region, which call for cooperation with Israel and defeating Palestinian struggle for self-determination, among others. This is why their plan, after the bombing campaign, includes “training and arming the Syrian rebels”. It’s a formula that’s been used many times before: “soften up” through heavy bombardment and then go in with “military advisors”, “special forces”, CIA operatives, hired mercenaries from neighboring countries and private contractors, none of whom are considered “boots on the ground”, to finish the job.

The Empire does not enter a war with a group of terrorists who, according to Homeland Security, intelligence agencies and the FBI pose no domestic threat. It enters a war to remove an “unfriendly” government to move one step closer to its long term goal of total world domination for its corporations. As it’s been said before, McDonalds enters a country on the wings of McDonald Douglas. Bombers always come before the Monsanto’s and Exxon-Mobiles. If you understand that, you understand imperialism and the real reasons for imperialist wars, including the new one against Syria. While they’re on route for regime change in Syria, they’ve already been setting the groundwork for it in Iran with economic sanctions and embargo. While their approach in Syria resembles the one used in Libya, their plan for Iran is more like Iraq, where they accused the regime of possessing weapons of mass destructions and weakened it with years of economic sanctions which resulted in the death of half a million children even before the first bomb was dropped. Afghanistan, on the other hand, needed no such groundwork. 9/11 was enough to begin the war there. What changes is the pretext; otherwise, there is a common thread through all of these wars. Since they see Russia as an obstacle, too, to their long term plans, they miss no opportunity to surround it with NATO military bases in preparation for an eventual confrontation and regime change. Nor is China forgotten. Obama has moved new aircraft carriers and battleships to the Pacific, to the shores of China, and has shored up its Australian ally, while, according to reports, planning to spend about a trillion dollars to update and improve US nuclear arsenal. If they seem to be preparing for WWIII, it’s because they’re thinking WWIII. That’s how determined the corporate Empire is to achieve a complete, total and unchallenged world domination.

The war against Syria, which this new war is really about, will not eliminate terrorism. If anything, it will whip up even more hostility and will be used to recruit more young people to fight Americans. And those who undertake these wars know that. But, no matter, because that’ll give them even more ammunition to continue with their “endless wars”. Let’s not forget that one of the demands of the US of Iran is to end its “support for terrorism”, as ridiculous and baseless as that demand is, as the backup excuse, in case Iran completely scraps its nuclear program, which to this day, there is no evidence linking it to nuclear weapons. Terrorism is not what concerns the US. Governments that refuse to accept US corporate rule are. Terrorism is a pretext for such wars to achieve world domination, as such wars are a pretext for Islamist terrorists to recruit followers, creating a perpetual tug of war between the two sides, which imperialism finds quite helpful for its ends, as do the reactionary Islamists for theirs.

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