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Implications of the Surveillance State


By Mark A. Goldman

Even those who are deeply incensed at the thought that the NSA and others are snooping on every American do not necessarily understand what the implications are; how this program has already destroyed most of what we thought it meant to live in America.

Most Americans do not realize that the country that exists in their minds has already been dismantled. In some sense this ignorance is now our only hope… but only because our illusions are really our cherished memory of what we think we have and what we really want. Only now what we think we have no longer exists and if that’s what we still want, it will have to be reclaimed… it will have to be won all over again for we now live under a tyranny that we don’t all yet recognize or experience because up until now the dismantling of the Constitution has been a secret or at best a taboo topic for public discussion.

No branch of government now operates as it was originally intended or visualized by the Framers. Those who are in control have corrupted every important aspect of what it means to live in freedom and in a democracy. We have to deeply lie to ourselves in order not to see what we have become as a nation, as a people.

Those who hold high office are being blackmailed. They live in fear of losing face, status, reputation, position, money, or whatever is important to them. They follow orders and no longer think for themselves. Many don’t even know that what they believe has been programmed into them, defining the limits of what they are allowed to think if they wish to hold onto their position in life.  You don’t have to be an elected official for this to happen to you.

To be elected to public office requires that you gain favor from certain individuals who possess wealth and power. And yet you can’t get elected unless you get enough votes. So to get elected and to stay in office you have to tell voters what they want to hear but later, behind closed doors, do just the opposite of what you told them. You have to ignore injustices you discover and sign legislation that contributes to injustice in ways you may not even understand. And those injustices can include some of the most horrific crimes that human beings can contemplate and carry out against other human beings.

You have to spend your time dialing for dollars rather than doing the people’s business. You have to pass legislation that funnels money into the hands of the already privileged and undeserving few at the expense of ordinary citizens. You have to support war and war crimes. You have to tow the party line, fall into place, and follow the lead of people you fear. If you don’t fall into line you can be destroyed by someone who has the goods on you and knows how to use that illegally gathered information to get what they want. There are exceptions, of course, but you live and operate within the confines and in an atmosphere of systemic corruption. And this is true whether you are a judge, an elected official, or an appointee to a position of power.

The specifics that prove what I am saying is true, are what whistleblowers have been trying to tell us and what those in power don’t want us to know; for if too many of us did know and understand, and if we believed in ourselves, we might actually try to do something about it and succeed.

Of course if we never try and don’t succeed, we will continue to lose more of our freedoms, our wealth, our dignity, and our happiness.

via Implications of the Surveillance State.

Austerity Today- Austerity Won’t Work if the Roof Is Leaking


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 Austerity Won’t Work if the Roof Is Leaking


New York Times
Hasn’t Germany been one of the most outspoken advocates of fiscal austerity after the financial crisis? Yes, and that’s not a contradiction. Fiscally responsible businesses routinely borrow to invest, and so, until recently, did most governments 
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Anxious, austerity-minded, but worldly: the young Britons of Generation A
The Guardian
This is Generation Y, born between the 1980s and the millennium, hammered by the recession andausterity. Generation Y faces more years of financial slowdown, but what is to become of the cohort following in its footsteps, arguably moving through an 
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Labour and the Tories’ woes show our political system is breaking apart
New Statesman
On the other side of the political aisle, activists from the People’s Assembly Against Austerity don’t think much of Labour either. One of their luminaries, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, spelled out why in his Staggers piece last week, berating 
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Potential Mistakes (Wonkish)
New York Times (blog)
Understating output gaps leads to excessive demands for austerity and excessive complacency at central banks; this perpetuates the depression; and the longer the depression goes on, the more misleading the standard estimates become. So it’s good news 
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Municipal workers protest in Greece over government layoff plans
Press TV
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its fifth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs.” Greek municipal employees have held demonstrations against 
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Calls for a 5pc rise in welfare cash for our poorest OAPs
Herald.ie
Age Action Ireland says the cumulative impact of a series of austerity budgets is having a devastating impact on our senior citizens. The advocacy group has pleaded with the Government, particularly Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, to include a 
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Bulgaria’s president calls for early elections amid mass anti-government protests
The Province
The government of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski took office after the May 12 early elections following the resignation of his predecessor Boiko Borisov amid antiausterity protests. The appointment of controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski as head 
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Teen ‘lying on the road for an hour’ in wait for ambulance
Irish Independent
AUSTERITY measures are to blame for leaving a 14-year-old girl lying on the road awaiting an ambulance for more than an hour, the union representing HSE ambulance drivers claims. Also in this section. Robinson at festival · Dissident arms haul is 
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Social Justice Ireland wants Govt to increase pension payments
Irish Examiner
Cuts to income and services have left pensioners at breaking point, it was claimed today. Age Action warned Government that the cumulative impact of multiple austerity budgets was having a severely damaging effect on the most vulnerable of older people.
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The withering of America’s exception agriculturelle
Financial Times
Lacking the money for a proper stimulus and the time to wait for the healing power of austerity, Europe’s leaders have pinned their economic hopes on trade with the US. Negotiations on the proposed transatlantic trade and investment partnership, which 
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Ipsa: MPs’ role in our democracy ‘should be recognised’
Telegraph.co.uk
Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) chairman Sir Ian Kennedy admitted that theausterity being felt by the country made its review of MPs’ salaries and pensions tougher, but said that the role MPs play in a democratic system means they 
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China: luxury dining goes mid market
Financial Times (registration) (blog)
There is plenty of room for skepticism about whether Beijing’s latest austerity drive will have any lasting impact on the per capita consumption of Lamborghinis by government officials. But in one area it clearly has had a marked effect: luxury dining.
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Italian austerity drive forces Vatican to pay more property tax
BusinessGhana
More ». Italian austerity drive forces Vatican to pay more property tax. News Date: 5th July 2013. The Vatican said Thursday it had to pay an extra 5 million euros (6.5 million dollars) in property tax last year as a result of austerity measures 
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Bill Hicks on Politics – Comedy short video


A Bill Hicks bit on politics that is as relevant now as when he delivered it.

via Bill Hicks on Politics – Comedy short video | NO LIES RADIO.

How Spin Doctors Have Turned Democracy On Its Head


Charity starts at home, as the saying goes. So the very least that can be expected of communication consultants is that they are successful at communicating.

And they have been successful – well beyond expectations. They have not only managed to take a front-and-center seat in electoral campaigns, they are now also sought after to promote both government policy and lobbying objectives.

It has become hard to even imagine any ambitious leader, or political party, not making use of their services. Sometimes several are hired – one can’t be too well advised. So the communication business has prospered big time thanks to major or particularly astute public figures and some prestige-building wins.

Along with the leaders they advised, over time the consultants themselves began to become better and better known by playing up their role in the winning or exercise of power by their man – one thinks of Tony Blair’s Alastair Campbell, George W. Bush’s Karl Rove, and François Mitterrand’s (and later Jacques Chirac’s) Jacques Pilhan.

Some communication consultants engaged actively in self-promotion. Jacques Séguéla, co-founder of the RSCG (Havas) communication agency, sometimes made it sound as if he were the one who won France’s presidential election in 1981. Others let others do the talking while never denying rumors about just how great the extent of their influence was. They peppered their conversation with the titles and names of important people, sometimes divulging insider tidbits or referring to the VIPs by their first names to suggest the closeness of the relationship.

Quite naturally, story-telling specialists lend themselves to story-telling, and we have Alastair Campbell (Mark Bazeley) at the side of Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) in Stephen Frears’s 2006 film The Queen, or a fictional, romantic U.S. president (Michael Douglas) constantly being updated on poll results by his closest consultant (Annette Bening) in Rob Reiner’s 1995 film The American President. That’s unless the communicator actually morphs into a democratic hero himself, as in the 2012 Chilean movie No, in which an ad man becomes a principal agent of General Pinochet’s downfall.

Undoubtedly not the least of the successes of communication consultants is having made it via morally ambiguous means. Just as all election campaigners can’t come out the winner, neither can communication consultants – unless they’re also advising the opponents.

Big groups like Euro RSCG can pretend that it’s not the same teams that are “conceiving” rival campaigns. Other consultants – like one who was proud of handling “three presidential elections for 17 candidates” – vaunt advising multiple candidates. Without conflict of interest, of course!

Brains in the shadows

There are still some lingering bad smells associated with the communication business that – like all new and not very legitimate endeavors, particularly in democracies where opinion is supposed to be sovereign and commitment motivated by conviction and altruism – at first prospered in the shadows.

And mystery may indeed be largely responsible for the reputation such consultants have today. After their semi-veiled éminence grise era, they have emerged into the open where they enjoy the ambiguous power-and-cynicism-fueled prestige of spin-doctors. One doesn’t really know if that’s a term of reprobation, admiration, or if it is simply coldly realistic.

The big collective win of communication consultants has been to make people believe. First and foremost – in them. That success is even bigger if you consider that it was won using a very basic vocabulary borrowed from advertising: knowing the market (in this case, citizens); segmenting those citizens politically via polls and focus groups; and applying recipes borrowed from social psychology to present the products – which is to say, candidates, images, platforms.

The activity generated its own success. The existence of permanent yardsticks for public opinion (polls, surveys) requires communication consultants to manage that opinion. Are the polls “bad”? The communicators are at hand to turn “bad” to “good.”

Consultants in political communication can no doubt be seen as part of the long tradition of princely counselors, and in line with the present professionalization of politics, division of political work, and replacement of militants by mercenaries.

Of course, communicators can’t force political leaders to employ them and cannot be accused of the evils from which they benefit. But they can’t be exonerated either.

And having made themselves indispensable, they ask for top dollar – thus increasing the costs of politics to the state and hence taxpayers.

It is also true that political marketing has gone some way to creating disillusionment with democracy. Does it really mean nothing that citizens are treated like consumers, that the procedures of marketing commercial products has been applied to them as “targets” of tactics and cynical calculation?

The objective of communication is winning. But at any price? It comes expensive if you consider the financial costs but even more the moral costs inflicted on democracy.

Effect and outcomes can no longer be ignored as they have been in the past – for example in conjunction with famous ad campaigns like the one concocted by Edward Bernays for American Tobacco. The goal was to break the taboo that forbade women from smoking in public.

Based on the work of a psychoanalyst who associated cigarettes with penises, Bernays decided to create a link between feminism and smoking. At New York’s renowned Easter Day Parade in 1929 he organized a group of women to light up for photographers. The next day the image of the suffragettes and their “torches of freedom” had been circulated all over the country.

Today we know that “smoking kills.”

Alain Garrigou is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Paris-X-Nanterre.

via How Spin Doctors Have Turned Democracy On Its Head – All News Is Global |.

via How Spin Doctors Have Turned Democracy On Its Head – All News Is Global |.

A Call to Educate


Author

The following will focus on the relationship between planned political education and left activism. If there is a justification for this, it lies in the history of the worker’s movement itself. Almost every significant step toward the self-emancipation of the working class has rested on a deep and thoroughgoing emphasis on the educational development of those indispensably involved.

Careful planning and organisation of political education among activists and workers, within and without their respective organisations, is always centrally important. In an attempt to provoke discussion, some questions are raised about the different strategies for the development of educational forms worthy of the movement the present generation of socialist activists hope to build.

The most influential socialists of the 19th and 20th centuries all realised the necessity of ensuring workers take ownership of, and develop, the knowledge necessary for self-emancipation. Certainly Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, along with many other pioneers of the movement, were never prepared to neglect this necessary work, not under threat of exile, not in the midst of revolutionary upheavals, not during imprisonment, conditions of civil war and/or counter-revolutionary witch-hunts. Realising that action has to be theoretically informed, they never stopped studying, analysing and writing, throughout their lives. They have done much to prepare the ground, providing many useful signposts for subsequent generations, yet the necessity for intensive scholarship and focused dissemination of knowledge has not diminished in the slightest. Socialism is, after all, inherently educational; it is in essence one great international and intergenerational educational movement. The development of every new socialist activist rests on the materials purposely left for them by previous generations. The books and pamphlets left behind are essentially the materials to facilitate distance education; the goal of each contribution being to facilitate the creative power of the proletariat on an individual and collective basis. The task of socialist activists is to facilitate the working-class in its efforts to take its destiny into its own hands. Doing so presupposes a heightened political consciousness, which is perhaps why Rosa Luxemburg insisted ‘we shall hardly make any progress without a clear understanding of the work of proletarian self-education’.

Most present day socialists do recognise that political education is a major part of their role as political activists.  Few really expect to fully develop their theoretical knowledge, their critical skills when applying political ideas to a changing system, through practical activism alone. Yet sometimes little thought is given to the kind of educational philosophy adhered to, or sufficient consideration given to what is most appropriate to the organisations being built. Where little thought is given to this the educational development of activists is dealt with in an ad hoc way; emphasis may be given to ‘learning through struggle’ – a key element of any organised attempt to facilitate the educational development of rank-and-file activists, but still only an element.

Assuming that attempts to remedy the general neglect will intensify in the immediate future, the question remains: what kind of education is appropriate to the self-emancipation of the working-class? The first concern must be, I would argue, to free activists (and all those they hope to influence) from what Latin American educators refer to as the ‘banking’ form. Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire used the concept of banking to characterise educational practices in which intellectual leaders ‘deposit’ knowledge and then ordinary activists assume the passive role of ‘depositories’ of that knowledge. These relations of intellectual domination and subordination are analogous with Freire’s depiction of formal schooling, where oftentimes, instead of communicating, the teacher uses communiqués and makes deposits, which the students patiently receive, memorise and repeat. The scope of action allowed to the participant extends only as far as receiving, filing and storing the deposits.

It should be immediately obvious that educational practices that in any way resemble the above are not conducive to the self-education and self-determination of activists, and not particularly helpful to a working class struggling against bourgeois ideological forms. However, such relationships are not at all uncommon among the organisations of the left. Those that fail to prioritise and carefully plan political education inadvertently permit elements of the banking form to hold sway. This would not be so inappropriate if the goal were to help people blend seamlessly into the multiple bureaucracies that comprise contemporary capitalism. But something entirely different is required if the freest and fullest intellectual development is to be attained, if the levels of political consciousness required for self-emancipation are to be realised among any significant number. Conservative educational forms are generally repellent to workers in any case; they usually see enough hierarchy in the workplace, and very often, have had enough of education that rests on authority. An ‘education for liberation’ requires dialogical exchanges rather than communiques, collaborative learning rather than ‘top-down’ hierarchal instruction, and an emphasis on learning how to think rather than what to think.

It is often said that to change the world it is necessary to understand it first. To put it another way, the self-emancipation of the working class can only proceed through the self-education of the working class. But what is the best way to facilitate this? It goes without saying that socialists learn through experience. Of course they do. All human beings learn through experience, whether at the individual or the organisational level. However, an experience (through struggle or otherwise) does not teach anything in particular. The same experience can teach the socialist one thing, the religious fundamentalist another, the bourgeois economist yet another. What is learned largely depends on the vantage point in the structure of social economy, and on the level of political culture. Quite apart from class interests, the same set of experiences can lead socialist activists, within their respective formations, to draw very different conclusions from one another. This is because the significance and meaning of an experience has to be uncovered through its formulation within a particular communicative environment. It is no accident that groups with different theoretical and analytical means of interpreting an experience can draw different lessons from it. In the end it is theory, coupled with the level of political culture previously attained, that determines whether or not lessons appropriate to the goal of self-emancipation will be learned. The political consciousness of activists and workers advances through experience, but the potentiality for that development is something that has to be carefully planned and acted upon in advance.

There are several possible approaches to political education and to facilitating the development of political consciousness. One way is to encourage that key texts be read. Another is to attempt to teach the basic tenets of Marxism via semi-public lectures, debates etc. All are helpful. But the means by which an activist comes into contact with useful information is perhaps less important than how the process of self-education is facilitated. To begin that process the participant has to move beyond reading and listening, and on to the independent application of ideas to the world that needs to be understood / transformed. That presupposes the formation of dialogical and collaborative relationships with co-learners/facilitators, which presupposes a relative independence from bureaucratic control, formal leaderships and approved experts.

Unfortunately, sometimes on the left a teacher/learner dichotomy is allowed to emerge. When this happens a select few become intellectual leaders, and then education becomes rote. This is never appropriate. Where this happens, only the pretence of free discussion can remain. In the absence of progressively planned educational provision, knowledge tends to be treated as a possession to be handed down. In the process, basic egalitarian principles, such as ‘the fullest development of each must be the condition for the fullest development of all’ hardly feature, and much of the alienation that prevails in capitalist society is reproduced among activists. In some cases a rough division of mental and manual labour prevails, coupled with attendant justifications, which approximate the bourgeois myth of meritocracy.

It is difficult to learn to think critically, if pressured to uncritically accept analyses and positions handed down by a select few. Messy as it is, a culture of intellectual mistrust is always essential. It was not for nothing that Marx lived by the motto ‘doubt everything’. There can be no deferral to a leadership when it comes to investigating, questioning and setting knowledge against developments in the real world. It is not enough for a select few to take theoretical work seriously. Theory is what distinguishes Marxist organisations from other organisations, and only to the extent that ordinary members have managed to make the theory their own, developed it within themselves and in the struggles/campaigns they find themselves involved in. It is necessary that the vast majority learn how to apply theory to events, to develop themselves as Marxists. Any organisation committed to the self-emancipation of the working class must proactively facilitate this. The political consciousness of activists cannot be advanced by simply listening to and accepting the various positions developed centrally. To treat people as passive recipients of ‘correct ideas’ is to propagandise. As Freire puts it, it is to ‘domesticate’ rather than ‘educate’. It is to realise acceptance of the organisation’s analysis and various positions, but without adequately facilitating the activist’s own capacity to comprehend and analyse. Conversely, where self-education is facilitated, the activist builds him/herself up, necessarily drawing knowledge indiscriminately from every available source, growing with every position challenged and every contribution made to the memory of the organisation they are building.

Two questions immediately present themselves: (1) given the central importance of education in the worker’s movement, why is political education very often neglected on the far left? (2) given that we know the difference between educational forms that facilitate critical independent thought, and those that serve to stunt it, why do we opt for the latter?

I would suggest that these questions cannot be answered apart from the problem of left sectarianism, which is always and everywhere a major problem. The standard (though inadequate) definition of sectarianism is: putting the narrow interests of one’s own organisation ahead of the interests of the working class. Quite obviously, this is a major obstacle insofar as it prevents the necessary pooling of educational resources across the left and those available to the working class generally. In addition to preventing activists from working together to build the most effective struggle against the common enemy, it creates an inability on the part of activists to accept and/or build upon the ideas of other forces on the left. It severely limits exposure of activists to new ideas and undermines the possibility of constructive dialogue. It helps perpetuate group-think among leaderships, and directs rank-and-file members who are hungry for knowledge into intellectual strait-jackets, ultimately repelling them.

The more sectarian the organisation the more inclined it is to neglect rank-and-file education, or to adopt quite conservative educational practices. Insofar as intellectual leadership is conferred on particular individuals, insofar as a division between intellectual and practical activity is permitted to emerge, the goal of education becomes that of propagating the view among members that their own organisation is the repository of truth, that the perspectives of its leadership represent true socialist principles.

A closely associated problem with the development of activists on the left is a high turnover of members (excepting the few organisations that are comprised of a small number of lifelong members). Where a high turnover is expected any relaxation of the organisational focus on recruitment necessarily leads to decline. As such, many of the forces on the left are forced to enter into a perpetual competition for new ‘customers’. There are many laudable methods for ensuring that potential new members choose one organisation over another, but the easiest method seems to be to fetishize ‘our analysis’ and to paint competing organisations in as bad a light as possible. This is what lies behind a great deal of what passes for criticism. When this method is adopted by competing organisations a vicious circle of mutual suspicion and reaction develops. Thereafter, it becomes difficult to deal with the issue of sectarianism in any serious manner, since it is only ever raised in a sectarian way. The would-be activists among the advanced layers of the working class are understandably repelled by this. They are further repelled by the bureaucratic centralism that they experience when interacting with the left in campaigns. But to the activist fully caught in the logic of sectarianism, most other groups appear to be sectarian (one’s own group appears free of the problem).

Though particular organisations exhibit the effects of sectarianism in a more obvious way than others, it has to be understood as a systemic problem. It finds expression all across the left in so many different ways, with almost every activist, in (or outside of) every formation somehow affected – no matter how hard some struggle to rise above it.

The point is that associated practices are always and everywhere incompatible with the free exchange of ideas and the full exploitation of educational resources and supports otherwise available. The effects do not merely prevent collaboration among the organised left. They can take the form of blanket hostility to independent activists and fellow travellers, for example with respect to the perspectives of academics and independent scholars. As with every other expression of anti-intellectualism, this is something that socialists can have nothing to do. All too often ideas that need to be taken seriously are dismissed as ‘elitist’. Sometimes it is because the ideas run contrary to established positions and views, but occasionally it is simply a matter of ‘I don’t understand this discussion, I feel excluded by it – therefore it is elitist’.

There does not appear to be any clear criteria for blanket dismissal of analysis produced by apparent rivals on the left. Evidence-based criticism tends to be dismissed as quickly as purely sectarian ‘criticism’. When judging the ideas of rival organisation the source often appears more important than the content. In some cases the fact that some of the necessary intellectual work takes place in third-level institutions is enough grounds for dismissal, even if those involved consciously subordinate their own interests, voluntarily spending a great deal of their time producing analyses that they hope will be of use to all forces on the left. No doubt third-level institutions produce esoteric trivia by the bucket-load. However, ideas should never be ignored because they appear impenetrable to most of us, or simply because of where they are produced. Ignoring any scholarly or scientific work, and failing to establish links with those developing it, is always a major mistake. There are after all socialists in third level institutions. Most may not be interested in joining the left as it exists, but many could still play a useful role in helping to build a left movement. On top of this they have considerable influence; quite apart from the public credibility they might command, they represent a bridge to the 150,000 students enrolled at third-level in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) at any given time.

Though the charge of elitism is very often justified, the sad reality is that educational practices in political organisations on the left can be far more elitist than anything existing (or tolerated) in third-level institutions. The exceptions to this tendency demonstrate that this does not have to be the case. Education can either foster an unquestioning adherence to the views advocated by an intellectual leadership, or it can function to facilitate each and every member to develop their theoretical, analytical and argumentative skills to their fullest possible potential. This can only be realised in an environment of dialogue, based on an equality of participation.

Every form of activism is communicative. Every form of activism is educative. People become active in order to change society, and know that this can only be realised by working with others to change people’s minds. When people become activists they are always partly motivated by their own quest for knowledge, for a heightened level of political consciousness, for understanding, meaning, self-determination and capacity to influence others positively. One of the great problems faced under capitalism is that of unrealised human potential; the system increasingly stands in the way of fulfilled lives, of a fully human development. It cannot be assumed that an activist will remain in a group where nothing is offered in response to this condition – in organisations that do not facilitate their development as activists (which has to be seen as a lifelong development), and that do not offer them the opportunity to make the meaningful and worthwhile contributions they are capable of making. Failures in this respect mean that both the activist/s and the organisation/s suffer. There is really no way around it; left parties/organisations have to use whatever resources are available to facilitate the fullest possible educational development of all that need it, which means everyone. An education that is hierarchical, limited according to the opinions of intellectual gatekeepers, or limited to approved lists of key classical readings can in no way suffice.

Insofar as the conditions touched upon here represent obstacles to effective political education across the left, the solution lies with group work, with dialogue, with inclusive and participative educational structures. It has to be acknowledged that members listen more, question more, contribute more and develop more, in small self-directing learning groups. If self-education is the goal then speechifying has to be replaced with spaces that permit, and require, all participants to practice formulating and verbalising thoughts in response to every event/topic/struggle. Education does of course require that the most useful knowledge be made available to participants, that there are educators/facilitators capable of providing initial guidance in this respect. However, participants can quickly learn how to do this by themselves on a collaborative basis. They do not need to know everything, or create the impression that they know everything. Since the goal is to begin, and thereafter foster, the process of self-education among activists, participants have to take responsibility for their own education, for evaluating existing perspectives, for learning to set perspectives against available evidence and developments, in this way building new knowledge, identifying gaps and further complexity, making a worthwhile contribution to individual and collective understanding.

There are, it should be noted, a considerable number of independent activists, a few party activists, and several newly formed forums/groups/initiatives, that recognise the immediate need to resolve the above issues. Even more fortunately, there is a growing appetite among a smaller but expanding group of activists to meet this challenge head on.

via Irish Left Review | A Call to Educate.

via Irish Left Review | A Call to Educate.

Bannon leaps to defence of Health Minister


The local health service couldn’t be in better shape.

That, at least, was the message delivered by Fine Gael TD James Bannon despite evidence last week which indicated trolley logjams were back with a vengeance with over 300 people in hospitals without a bed.

Rather, Mr Bannon pointed to significant reductions in waiting times and the spectre of a new Longford primary care centre as reasons to be optimistic going forward.

“On taking office two years ago, Minister (James) Reilly committed to overhauling the health service from the crisis state it was left in by the previous Fianna Fáíl-led Government, to a world class service that the people of this country deserve.

“While it won’t happen overnight, there has been significant progress made so far with a 73 per cent reduction for patients waiting three months for treatment, a 79 per cent reduction for those waiting six months, a 97 per cent reduction for those waiting nine months, and a 100 per cent decrease for those waiting on treatment for more than twelve months.”

Mr Bannon chose not to refer to the 312 patients left on trolleys last Wednesday (March 27) at various hospitals nationwide. “Since the end of February 2011, waiting lists longer than a year for inpatient and day case procedures have been eliminated in 15 hospitals and waiting lists longer than nine months for these procedures have been eliminated in nine hospitals,” he said.

via Bannon leaps to defence of Health Minister – Local – Longford Leader.

via Bannon leaps to defence of Health Minister – Local – Longford Leader.

 

Goldman Sachs and Friends Looking to Privatize Water


Goldman Sachs and Friends Looking to Privatize Water

download (1)

We have already seen what happens when banking becomes globalized and seeks to off put risks onto the public taxpayer.  Globalization was, and still is, a financial disaster which we will be living through for some time to come.  The main effect of globalization of the financial system is great wealth inequality.

What do you think would happen if water sources and distribution systems were similarly privatized through globalization?  Goldman Sachs and other large companies are fully aware of the profit-making potential in controlling access to water supplies and are preparing for this next big profit-making scheme.

Goldman Sachs , GE and World Resources Institute (WRI) held a summit in February 2013 to discuss the US “deficit” in their water infrastructure.  These discussions included public-private partnerships, water rights, private activity bonds (which are tax-exempt), pricing, water efficiency, decentralized systems, fracking, etc.  The areas focused on were Southern Nevada, New York and Southern California.  The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas was presented at the summit.  “Aqueduct will assist companies to think about water risks related to supply chain, manufacturing and investment.”  The shared-risk model looks a lot like the financial risk model and we know how that turned out!

goldman-sachs-europa

A Cry for Humanity


Our World is one of rampant corruption and of unmitigated greed, of bankrupt morality and of thriving injustice. Our World is one of disinformation and misinformation, of conflicts of interest and of boundless deceit. Our World is one of celebrated ignorance, of indolent skepticism and of contagious apathy. Our World is one of omnipresent egoism, of distractions both blatant and devilishly elaborate. Our World is one of decrepit institutions, of malfunctioning systems and of an incompetent establishment. Our World is one of political homogeneity, of mass-produced bureaucrats and of depressing hypocrisy. Our World is one of conscienceless capitalism, of deaths both tragic and utterly preventable. Our World is one of counterfeit guardians, of clandestine pogroms and of censored protestors. Our World is one of impotent charity, of scandals too heinous to even believe. Our World is one of the privileged and the unfortunate and of a divide that has now become immeasurable. Our World is one of misplaced respect, of intellectual cowardice and of absent belief. The delusional puppet of the Global Ruling Class, our World is doomed to inevitable failure, regression and disorder.

Enough Is Enough.

“They” gambled with our livelihoods in the hope of inflating their coffers and lining their pockets. “They” refuse to take responsibility for what their avaricious recklessness has created. “They” serve only one another and ignore the demands of the majority. “They” hide behind a serpentine structure that camouflages their fraud and duplicity. “They” maintain that nothing can be changed, that inequality is necessary. “They” prefer to profit than to support social progress and development. “They” mislead and deceive habitually – “they” rarely have time for the truth. “They” gladly sacrifice their integrity in exchange for material wealth and luxury. “They” promote and propagate their secret agendas both subliminally and flagrantly. “They” craft and erect enticing diversions wherever and whenever possible. “They” advocate a culture of self-obsession, of compliance and of consumerism. “They” hail a perverted and disfigured caricature as an example of true democracy. “They” have abandoned substance in exchange for unbelievably tiresome sophistication. “They” promise urgent and fundamental reform but never deliver when they have the power. “They” pretend to be champions of nobility but soon change their colours given the opportunity. “They” manufacture pandemic fear and abuse it for unwholesome purposes. “They” insist that the State be kept as far removed from the Public as is legally feasible. “They” silently amass prodigious fortunes worth millions and billions of any currency whilst thousands perish everyday of causes that are financially preventable. “They” continue to exploit an unjust framework at the expense of the voiceless and the innocent. “They” use land for recreation and entertainment while many are forced to survive without shelter. “They” can afford to bailout broken fiscal systems but pay no attention to the sick or to the hungry. “They” quote national borders as the chief excuse for their negligence and inhumanity. “They” have no desire to improve our lives – unless, of course, they can find a way to benefit. “They” are selling us synthetic freedom and we are giving them international domination.

Enough Is Enough.

The problems of contemporary global society are manifold: biased judiciaries, amoral food and medical companies, an unelected Free Market dictatorship, a self-serving and treacherous Political Class, merciless and ubiquitous corporatism, a spineless and venal Media, a monetarily distended Entertainment Industry, thousands of avoidable quotidian deaths, carefully manipulated news acting as surreptitious propaganda, a veritable dearth of transparency and accountability, ineffective and diminutive taxation for the prosperous, increasingly encroaching commercialism, a Popular Culture predicated on indifference and narcissism, an Economic System that has become cripplingly convoluted, gargantuan unemployment and pressurized emigration, the deliberate suppression of significant public information, discreetly endorsed bigotry and dwindling civil liberties, Multinational Trade Laws that impoverish the disadvantaged, execrable genocides that are uniformly disregarded, spurious democracy and institutionalized inequality, a Global Ruling Class that is both anonymous and totalitarian – the list regrettably goes on and on and on and on.

My friends, this pathetic state-of-affairs has become untenable. From Washington D.C. to Canberra, from New Delhi to Brasilia, from Brussels to Pretoria and from Abuja to Jakarta, too many people are dying, too many children are suffering, too many injustices are going unpunished, too many lies are being told. At present, we live in a world paralyzed by avarice and blighted by duplicity, devastated by vanity and incapacitated by exploitation. Worldwide, the Authorities repeatedly refuse to listen to any of our grievances, to empathize with our predicaments. In spite of our objections, of our calls for change and widespread reform, they have done absolutely nothing to ameliorate the condition of international society.

I say that now is the time for us to stand up for what is right. To stand up for freedom and to defend equality, to resurrect democracy and to protect our humanity. We, the People – the almighty majority, we do not need a Ruling Class to show us how to live and to tell us what to value. Now, I do not contend that I know the “right” way – that I know the solutions to our many and varied difficulties. But what I do know is that the current approach is failing and that it is not the only approach that we as human beings may take. I believe that if we as a society honourably discuss and analyse our problems, if we permit each and every disparate voice to be heard, that we will be capable of finding a better answer to our dilemmas, an answer that is more democratic and egalitarian. For, I feel that it would be more socially prudent and responsible to take a long time to make the correct decisions than to take a short time to make erroneous decisions. I genuinely do not doubt that we, the Population, can find another way to live, regardless of the assertions of the Ruling Classes that change is ultimately impossible. I refuse to believe that the status quo is unchangeable. There has to be a fairer, more humane structure for civilized government.

But none of this is remotely obtainable in our world in its present state. The Global Ruling Class has all the power and is in complete control of society. However, I maintain that this is only because we, the People, have allowed such a dire and dismal situation to gradually arise. With their influence over Politics and the Global Economy, over Popular Culture and, indeed, over the Media too, they have succeeded in distracting us, deluding us and deceiving us. They have succeeded in neutralizing the purity of democracy. But none of that is important if we stand up today. Please remember that we are the majority and they are the minority. In spite of their weapons and their dominance, in spite of their affluence, together, our force is unquestionably indomitable and unstoppable. Every instrument that they wield in their oppression of freedom and equality is but a product ofhuman ingenuity and innovation. Therefore they can be destroyed. Therefore they can be replaced. Therefore we can make a better world if we remain united and refuse to be divided.

And so now I urge you to take all necessary action, to do everything possible to bring about the overdue demise of the reign of the Global Ruling Class. Whether you are a student in the United Kingdom or a construction worker in Angola. Whether you are a farmer in the People’s Republic of China or an artist in Guatemala. Whether you are black or white, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, of any religion, of any race, of any profession, of any sexual orientation, please remember that you are a human being above and beyond anything else, that underneath all cosmetic divisions we are all in fact one and the same. Ergo, you are automatically entitled to Freedom, to Democracy and to Equality, to live in a respectable community, to a world devoid of treachery. Therefore, go forth and sabotage this disgraceful system, demolish this vile edifice of inequity and inhumanity. Take your money out of the contaminated banking network – boycott every foul pillar of monetary impropriety. Go on indefinite strike and encourage others to do the same. March in the streets and in the squares from dawn to dusk until they surrender. Occupy all public space until they submit to our demands. Put up posters and distribute leaflets informing people of this righteous cause. Saturate the Media with our message – with the Truth. Complain to the Ruling Class until they are sick of hearing, seeing, knowing you. Represent those who are unable to express their despair and dissatisfaction. Tell everyone, everywhere of the struggle for justice in our society. Fight until you can fight no more for Freedom, Equality and Democracy.

It is only via these honest methods that our objectives can be eventually achieved. We will not be presented with our goals – we must procure them for ourselves. There are those among us who believe that we must resort to violence in order to fell the Global Ruling Class, but I feel that we owe it to all lost knights of liberty to give peace one final opportunity to triumph. However, I must warn you that irrespective of who you are, irrespective of what your opinion is, irrespective of where you come from or of the reasons for which you may be demonstrating, I can guarantee that “they” will beat you down, that “they” will penalize you, that “they” will not show you any mercy or understanding should you challenge their authority and defend what is good and what is right. Remember Ian Tomlinson. Remember Scott Olsen. Remember the Martyrs of Syria. Remember the Fallen Heroes of the Russian Federation. “They” are an old institution and have witnessed many unsuccessful challenges to their supremacy. “They” will not be overthrown so easily, so rapidly.

And if your conviction begins to waver, if your resolve begins to dissipate, just glance nonchalantly at the world and it will all come flooding back. Wealthy investors being illicitly bailed out with your stolen taxes. Ordinary people being punished for the greed and carelessness of the Ruling Class. Opulent bonuses, pensions and severance packages for unrepentant financial criminals. Supposed paragons of virtue selling death machines to dictators whilst concurrently abusing the vulnerable indirectly. Whitewashed massacres in Mexico, in Sri Lanka and in South Waziristan, to name but a few. Thousands of individuals dying of fiscally preventable causes everyday as mercenary companies post recurrent profits in the millions and billions of dollars. Mendacious politicians using parliamentary expenses to defraud their unsuspecting people while public healthcare and educational services are blamed for corporate and administrative malpractice and incompetence. Celebrities earning obscene fortunes while children starve and remain shelterless, a media too preoccupied with its own debauchery to report on crimes of greater gravity. And, all the while, none but a few intrepid voices in the dark talk of the truly grotesque nature of contemporary society. Don’t worry, my friends, it should not take more than a moment to remember why our degenerate world is in urgent need of a revolution.

What this movement represents, what this campaign symbolizes is inherently and fundamentally incorruptible and virtuous. Nobody can deny that the idea that every human being has a right to freedom, equality and democracy, that everybody is entitled to water, healthcare, food and shelter is, in itself, unreservedly honourable and indisputably commendable. We must never forget this. Regardless of what the Global Ruling Class may say, regardless of what they may do to us, regardless of how many of us may perish in this most valiant and heroic of struggles, this idea can never and will never be destroyed. This idea can never and will never be perverted. This must always be remembered. No matter how many of us may fall, no matter how hard they may strike us, we shall thrive beneath the scythe of their violence, we shall multiply underneath the pall of their tyranny. The greater their oppression, the grander our retaliation shall be. Nothing shall defeat the purity of our virgin aspirations.

And so now I kneel before you in unprotected supplication. I beg of you, every one of you, to resist fell apathy and insouciant distraction. Turn off your televisions. Put down your magazines. Switch off your computers, your mobile phones and your music players. Forget celebrities. Forget all plastic fantasies. Ignore the football – ignore all of their contrived diversions. Think of the future, think of the injustices of the present. How much more money must they take off us before we decide to do something? How many more innocents must die before we decide to say something? Think of your children – think of the thousands starving as we speak. It will never end until we stand up and make our presence felt. They do not care about our plight, about our difficulties. What must they do before we finally say “ENOUGH!”? What must they do before we finally decide to make it end?

Now, I am not a socialist. I am not a terrorist. I am not a conspiracy theorist and neither am I an anarchist. What I am is a humanbeing who believes that people can do better. That the Human Race is capable of building a world of greater beauty. I have yet to read Milton’s poetry. I have yet to see Van Gogh’s mastery. I have yet to savour Mozart’s brilliance. I have yet to behold all of nature’s wonders. But, nonetheless, I am willing to give my life, to sacrifice everything that I have for what is good, for what is just, for what I know to be pure and true. For the deprived and for the dying, for the weak and for the hungry, for the young and for the old, for the sinless children of the future, I can no longer tolerate the wretched state of our society. I can no longer stomach the dishonesty, the avarice. Please, I beg of you to disregard what cold experience may have taught you. Please, I beg of you to believe once more in the virtue of humanity. Please, I beg of you to solemnly trust that this loathsome planet can be changed. Please, I beg of you to join me in this most decent and noble of campaigns. Please.

For Equality. For Democracy. For Freedom.

The Power lies in Our hands.

via A Cry for Humanity | Irish Student Left Online.

via A Cry for Humanity | Irish Student Left Online.

Good Friday Fun


Good Friday Cartoons

 

 

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He was not white enough!!!

 

 

The Muslim Political Participation In Ireland


Ireland has rapidly become a multicultural and multiracial society. This upheaval gave platform to the existence of diversity of religions and ethics of various communities residing in Eire. The Muslim Modern existence in Eire can be traced back to the early 1950s. To a large extent it is difficult to get accurate statistics on Muslim population in Eire. However, according to the 1991 census, the number of Muslims was 3,873. Apparently the number of Muslim population was largely underestimated.

A substantial increase occurred to the Muslim population in 2002. According to the 2002 census Muslim population scored 19,147. The present population, according to the last census conducted in 2006, is estimated to be 32,000. Nevertheless, the true figure is a little bit more than 55,000. It is obvious that the Irish Muslim community has passed through a number phases involving changes, transitions and progress. Nevertheless, due to a number of difficulties and hurdles the Muslim political contribution can hardly be discerned in the Irish arena.

One of these obstacles is lack of motivation. At this point it should be marked clearly that creating this motivation and promoting it are a reciprocal responsibly that should be shouldered by Muslim organizations and leaders on one hand and Irish politicians on the other hand.

It is not fair to solely blame the Muslim community for their isolation with regard to the Irish political life. The Irish political system is supposed to take the initiative and encourage Muslim societal activities and cooperate with Muslims so that they can participate in all societal affairs and particularly the Irish political activities. However, few might argue to the contrary, but it is obvious that they are heedless of the fact that the ways for Muslim political participation are narrow with uneven surface and still not prepared enough to accommodate the Muslim participation. Their argument is usually manifested in their statements that endeavour to force Muslims to adopt assimilation that obliterate their distinctive identity.

Given the fact that Muslims, organizations, leaders and laymen, bear a portion, possibly huge and fundamental, of the responsibility for the Muslim political indifference, the politicians and the regulations still bear an essential portion thereof. There is no doubt that the regulations pertaining to citizenship and permission to stay in the state profoundly affect a section of the immigrants when it comes to their political interaction. These immigrants are concerned with the process of making decisions at various levels.

At this point it is worth mentioning here that motivating political participation in general constitutes one of the objectives of many specialized organizations in Europe e.g. Bundeszentrale f?r politische Bildung located in Germany. This issue is of a paramount importance to the extent that political participation of the minorities in America attracted a number of political sciences researchers and it was described by the Committee on Comparative Politics – Social Science Research Council (USA) as “The Crises of Participation”. In the current Irish situation emerges the need for setting up a governmental office specialized in political participation of the minorities.

Motivating political participation is a matter that can neither be accomplished by mere good intentions nor by positive instructions e.g. equal opportunities, as some might claim. It should be founded on the significance of the awareness of the importance of political participation and its profound impact on the positive integration among the various communities forming the texture of Irish society. Motivating political participation leads to averting societal crisis deemed to be a platform to isolation and gehtoing. Hence, one should raise the following question. Is the political system flexible enough to be amended to suit the contemporary societal changes in terms of accommodating the new communities and including members thereof.

In the same context the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia stated that members of the E.U. are in need of developing their politics aiming at accomplishing equality for Muslim minorities. It also encourages the initiative of positive integration aiming to create an environment that enables the Muslim communities all over Europe to participate in all ranges of the societal activities.

In spite of the above mentioned one cannot claim that Muslims are released from blame. As leaders and organizations they have a fundamental role to encourage the Muslim political participation. They should answer legal issues pertaining thereto. In cooperation with political leaders they are supposed to organize workshops and seminars to raise awareness about the Irish politics. They should look into arguments and counter arguments regarding the permissibility and impermissibility of Muslim political participation.

About Author: Ali Selim

via Islamireland.ie | The Muslim Political Participation In Ireland.

via Islamireland.ie | The Muslim Political Participation In Ireland.

Goldman Sachs and “Fictitious Capital”


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Goldman Sachs contributed mightily to the financialization of the economy and in its wake helped destroy the work of both capital and labor.  Because the justice system and the government decided to save the financial sector rather than save the economy by writing down the debts of the banking system, we are now trying to pay down debt that cannot be paid.  Michael Hudson has written extensively on what that means here.

Instead of promoting capital investment in an alliance with industry and government, financial planners have sponsored a travesty of free markets. Realizing that income not taxed is free to be capitalized, bought and sold on credit, and paid out as interest, bankers have formed an alliance between finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) to free land rent and monopoly rent (as well as debt-leveraged “capital” gains) from taxation.

The result is that today’s economy is burdened with property and financial claims that Marx and other critics deemed “fictitious” – a proliferation of financial overhead in the form of interest and dividends, fees and commissions, exorbitant management salaries, bonuses and stock options, and “capital” gains (mainly debt-leveraged land-price gains). And to cap matters, new financial modes of exploiting labor have been innovated, headed by pension-fund capitalism and privatization of Social Security. As economic planning has passed from government to the financial sector, the alternative to public price regulation and progressive taxation is debt peonage.  (from Michael Hudson’s article called From Marx to Goldman Sachs:  The Fictions of Fictitious Capital)

via Goldman Sachs: Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts: Goldman Sachs and “Fictitious Capital”.

via Goldman Sachs: Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts: Goldman Sachs and “Fictitious Capital”.

OUT WITH THE OLD- THE VATICAN


Out with the old- The Vatican no smoke without fire-either a new Pope on the way or else they are burning incriminating documents

via Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

via Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

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