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It is a wonderful time to be alive.  Our social sphere is a dividedly partisan uncharitable hot mess.  Nothing gets done because the status quo recognizes that people working together have the capacity to radically alter society.  Internecine conflict and partisan yelling matches are not an accident.  They conveniently combust all the oxygen in the public sphere, keeping threatening systemic change far at bay.

Consider, we fecklessly embrace capitalism and the ruthless exploitation and environmental destruction that goes along with it.  Yet, at the same time we have our scientific classes raising the alarm that we are rapidly making our planet uninhabitable.  A few eyebrows are raised, but in general, the system continues to chug along.  Here is one foundational parts of our capitalism system, the ever present race for the bottom and thus maximum profitability (at all costs).

It’s gonna suck when the earth strikes back and decides our defining passion for hoarding slips of paper is not a desirable evolutionary trait.  Pete Dolack writes for CounterPunch:

 

“And as the race to the bottom continues —  as relentless competition induces a never-ending search to find locations with ever lower wages and ever lower health, safety, labor and environmental standards — what regulations remain are targets to be eliminated. Thus we have the specter of “free trade” agreements that have little to do with trade and much to do with eliminating the ability of governments to regulate. And as the whip of financial markets demand ever bigger profits at any cost, no corporation, not even Wal-Mart, can go far enough.

Despite being a leader in cutting wages, ruthless behavior toward its employees and massive profitability, when Wal-Mart bowed to public pressure in 2015 and announced it would raise its minimum pay to $9 an hour, Wall Street financiers angrily drove down the stock price by a third. Wal-Mart reported net income of $61 billion over the past five years, so it does appear the retailer will remain a going concern. Apple reported net income of $246 billion over the past five years, so outsourcing production to China seems to have worked out for it as well.

The Trump administration’s trade wars are so much huffing and puffing. Empty public rhetoric aside, Trump administration policy on trade, consistent with its all-out war on working people, is to elevate corporate power. Nationalism is a convenient cover to obscure the most extreme anti-worker U.S. administration yet seen. Class war rages on, in the usual one-sided manner.”

  Longish essay on counterpunch, this pull quote doesn’t reflect the thesis of the piece, but rather something that should be concerning to progressives and people who want to see change in society.  The status-quo is resilient for a reason, and not taking that into account pretty much dooms whatever project you happen to be working for to failure.

 

 “It’s foolish to think that the failure of previous non-violent protests to change state structures can be blamed on the failure of the tactics, rather than the failure of the underlying politics in other domains. Those mass movements either did not achieve popular support, or, more poignantly, they did, but that support was coopted and channeled into an electoral theater and a political leadership that undermined and effectively annulled their goals, and turned energetic popular opposition back into apathy and acceptance. The transition from millions of antiwar protestors on the streets against the Vietnam and Iraq wars to <crickets> in the face of Obama’s Libya-Syria-Yemen-drones-around-the-world wars, illustrates that sad political dynamic.”

And there we have the problem folks.  The status-quo only persists because we allow it to.  Without changing the underlying political structures and features of a democracy, you can only count on one aspect, and that is ‘more of the same’.

The writers over at Media Lens have really outdone themselves. This will be in the next edition of the textbooks about media analysis and what happens once you go against the status quo. Russel Brand has made the mistake of categorizing and identifying what is wrong with our economic systems and society. Watch as the liberal press rallies against what can only be a threat to the system they inhabit.

Part 1 – The Fun Bus

 

 

“Brand’s Newsnight performance, then, was an inspiring cri de coeur. But a 10-minute, impassioned, ill-formed demand for ‘Change!’ from a lone comedian is not a problem for the media’s gatekeepers. It makes for great television, enhances the illusion that the media is open and inclusive, and can be quickly forgotten – no harm done.”

 

Brand’s new book, ‘Revolution,’ is different – the focus is clear, specific and fiercely anti-corporate. As we will see in Part 2 of this alert, the media reaction is also different.

Brand begins by describing the grotesque levels of modern inequality:

‘Oxfam say a bus with the eighty-five richest people in the world on it would contain more wealth than the collective assets of half the earth’s population – that’s three-and-a-half billion people.’ (p.34)

And:

‘The richest 1 per cent of British people have as much as the poorest 55 per cent.’ (p.34)

But even these facts do not begin to describe the full scale of the current crisis:

‘The same interests that benefit from this… need, in order to maintain it, to deplete the earth’s resources so rapidly, violently and irresponsibly that our planet’s ability to support human life is being threatened.’ (p.36)

For example:

‘Global warming is totally real, it has been empirically proven, and the only people who tell you it’s not real are, yes, people who make money from creating the conditions that cause it. (pp.539-540)

We are therefore at a crossroads:

‘”Today humanity faces a stark choice: save the planet and ditch capitalism, or save capitalism and ditch the planet.”

‘The reason the occupants of the [elite] fun bus are so draconian in their defence of the economy is that they have decided to ditch the planet.’ (p.345)

And so ‘we require radical action fast, and that radical action will not come from the very interests that created and benefit from things being the way they are. The one place we cannot look for change is to the occupants of the bejewelled bus.’ (p.42)

The problem, then, is that ‘we live under a tyranny’. (p.550) The US, in particular, ‘acts like an army that enforces the business interests of the corporations it is allied to’. (p.493)

But this is more than just a crude, Big Brother totalitarian state:

‘A small minority cannot control an uncooperative majority, so they must be distracted, divided, tyrannised or anaesthetised into compliance…’ which means ‘the colonisation of consciousness by corporations’. (p.165)

Brand notes that 70 per cent of the UK press is controlled by three companies, 90 per cent of the US press by six:

‘The people that own the means for conveying information, who decide what knowledge enters our minds, are on the fun bus.’ (p.592)

He even manages a swipe at the ‘quality’ liberal press:

‘Remember, the people who tell you this can’t work, in government, on Fox News or MSNBC, or in op-eds in the Guardian or the Spectator, or wherever, are people with a vested interest in things staying the same.’ (p.514)

Thus, the ‘political process’ is a nonsense: ‘voting is pointless, democracy a façade’ (p.45): ‘a bloke with a nice smile and an angle is swept into power after a more obviously despicable regime and then behaves more or less exactly like his predecessors’. (p.431)

The highly debatable merit of voting aside, anyone with an ounce of awareness will accept pretty much everything Brand has to say above. Put simply, he’s right – this is the current state of people, planet and politics. A catastrophic environmental collapse is very rapidly approaching with nothing substantive being done to make it better and everything being done to make it worse.

Even if we disagree with everything else he has to say, every sane person has an interest in supporting Brand’s call to action to stop this corporate genocide and biocide. A thought we might bear in mind when we subsequently turn to the corporate media reaction.

 

Part 2. – Backlash.

Read the rest of this entry »

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