Talk Nation Radio: Hawes Spencer on Charlottesville’s Summer of Hate

Hawes Spencer is a journalist who has reported for the New York Times, NPR, the Hook, and other publications. He has taught journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University. For over two decades, Hawes Spencer edited two weekly newspapers in Charlottesville, Virginia, both of which he co-founded: C-ville Weekly and The Hook. As the editor of the Hook, his staff delivered 149 awards from the Virginia Press Association during its nine-year run. His new book is called Summer of Hate: Charlottesville, Virginia. Hawes Spencer lives, as I do, here in Charlottesville, Virginia. We discuss his new book.

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Russia’s Economy Little Harmed by West’s Sanctions

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

Despite Barack Obama’s economic sanctions against Russia, and the plunge in oil prices that King Saud agreed to with Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry on 11 September 2014, the economic damages that the U.S. and Sauds have aimed against a particular oil-and-gas giant, Russia, have hit mostly elsewhere — at least till now.

Amazingly, Obama’s violent February 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych (an overthrow that the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor called “the most blatant coup in history”) has caused Ukraine’s economy to plunge even further than Russia’s, and corruption in Ukraine to soar even higher than it had been before Ukraine’s coup. Ukraine’s economy has actually been harmed far more than Russia’s was by Obama’s coup in Ukraine and by Obama’s subsequent economic sanctions against Russia (sanctions that are based on clear and demonstrable Obama lies but that continue and even get worse under Trump). 

Whereas the well-being of Ukrainians plunged drastically between 2013 (the last year of the government that Obama overthrew) and 2017, the well-being of Russians was virtually the same during 2017 as it had been during 2013 (the final year before The West punished Russia in 2014 for Russia’s responses to Obama’s Ukrainian coup).

Bloomberg News headlined on 4 February 2016, “These Are the World’s Most Miserable Economies” and reported the “misery index” rankings of 60 national economies in 2015, and of 63 national economies as projected in 2016, all based on a standard ranking-system that calculates “misery” as being the sum of the unemployment-rate and the inflation-rate. They also compared the 2016 projected rankings to the 2015 actual rankings.

Top rank, #1 both years — the most miserable economy in the world during 2015 and 2016 — was Venezuela, because of that country’s 95% dependence upon oil-export earnings (which crashed when oil-prices plunged). The U.S.-Saudi agreement to flood the global oil market destroyed Venezuela’s economy.

#2 most-miserable in 2015 was Ukraine, at 57.8. But Ukraine started bouncing back so that as projected in 2016 it ranked #5, at 26.3. Russia in 2015 was #7 most-miserable in 2015, at 21.1, but bounced back so that as projected in 2016 it became #14 at 14.5.

Bloomberg hadn’t reported misery-index rankings for 2014 showing economic performances during 2013, but economist Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University did, in his “Measuring Misery Around the World, May 2014,” in the May 2014 GlobeAsia, ranking 90 countries; and, during 2013 (Yanukovych’s final year as Ukraine’s President before his being forced out by Obama’s coup), Ukraine’s rank was #23 and its misery-index was 24.4. Russia’s was #36 and its misery index was 19.9.  So: those can be considered to be the baseline-figures, from which any subsequent economic progress or decline (after Obama’s 2014 Ukrainian coup) may reasonably be calculated. Hanke’s figures during the following year, 2014, were reported by him at Huffington Post, “The World Misery Index: 108 Countries”, and at UAE’s Khaleej Times, “List of Most Miserable Countries” (the latter falsely attributing that ranking to Cato Institute, which had merely republished Hanke’s article). In 2014, Ukraine’s misery-index, as calculated by Hanke, was  #4, at 51.8. That year had 8 countries above 40.0 in Hanke’s ranking. Russia was #42 at 21.42. So: Russia’s rank had improved, but, because of the globally bad economy, Russia’s absolute number (not the rank) was slightly worse (higher) than it had been before Obama’s coup in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia. By contrast, Ukraine’s performance had suddenly gotten far worse, ranking #4 at 51.80 in 2014, after having been #23 at 24.4 in 2013. In other words: Ukraine’s “Economic Misery” soared immediately after the coup.

The figures in Bloomberg for Russia were: during 2015, #7 with a misery-index of 21.1; and projected during 2016, #14 with a misery-index of 14.5; so, Bloomberg too showed a 2015-2016 improvement for Russia, and not only for Ukraine (where in the 2016 projection it ranked #5, at 26.3, a sharp improvement after the horrendous 2015 actual numbers).

“Hanke’s Annual Misery Index — 2017” in Forbes, showed 98 countries, and Venezuela was still #1, the worst; Ukraine was now #9 at 36.9; and Russia was #36 at 18.1.

Thus: whereas Russia was economically stunningly stable at #36 from start to finish throughout the entire five-year period 2013-2017, starting with a misery-index of 19.9 in 2013 and ending with 18.1 in 2017, Ukraine went from a misery-index of 24.4 in 2013 to 36.9 in 2017 — and worsening its rank from #23 in 2013 to #9 in 2017. During that five-year period Ukraine’s figure peaked in the year of Obama’s coup at 57.8. So, at least Ukraine’s economic misery seems to be heading back downward in the coup’s aftermath, though it’s still considerably worse than it was before the coup. But, meanwhile, Russia went from 19.9 to 18.1 — and had no year that was as bad as Ukraine’s best year was during that period of time.

And, yet: that coup and the economic sanctions and the U.S.-Saudi oil-agreement were targeted against Russia — not against Ukraine. Of course, Ukraine’s performance plunged not because of the anti-Russia sanctions, but because of Obama’s coup.

If the U.S. were trying to punish the people of Ukraine, then the U.S. coup in Ukraine would have been a raving success; but, actually, Obama didn’t care at all about Ukrainians. He cared only about the owners of America’s weapons-making firms and of America’s extractive firms. Trump did likewise, by intensifying both Obama’s war against Russia and Obama’s support for the Obama-imposed post-coup Government of Ukraine.

During that same period (also using Hanke’s numbers) the United States went from #71 at 11.0 in 2013, to #69 at 8.2 in 2017. U.S. was stable, as was Russia.

Saudi Arabia started with #40 at 18.9 during 2013, to #30 at 20.2 in 2017. That’s improvement, because the Kingdom outperformed the global economy.

During the interim, and even in the years leading up to 2014, Russia had been (and still is) refocusing its economy away from Russia’s natural resources and toward a broad sector of high technology: military R&D and production. 

On 15 December 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute headlined, “Sales by Largest Arms Companies Fell Again in 2013, but Russian Firms’ Sales Continued Rising,” and reported, “Sales by companies headquartered in the United States and Canada have continued to moderately decrease, while sales by Russian-based companies increased by 20 per cent in 2013.”

The following year, SIPRI bannered, on 14 December 2015, “Global Arms Industry: West Still Dominant Despite Decline,” and reported that, “Despite difficult national economic conditions, the Russian arms industry’s sales continued to rise in 2014. … ‘Russian companies are riding the wave of increasing national military spending and exports. There are now 11 Russian companies in the Top 100 and their combined revenue growth over 2013–14 was 48.4 per cent,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman. In contrast, arms sales of Ukrainian companies have substantially declined. … US companies’ arms sales decreased by 4.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014, which is similar to the rate of decline seen in 2012–13. … Western European companies’ arms sales decreased by 7.4 per cent in 2014.”

This is a redirection of the Russian economy that Vladimir Putin was preparing even prior to Obama’s war against Russia. Perhaps Putin redirected it in response to the entire thrust of the U.S. aristocracy’s post-Soviet determination to conquer Russia whenever the time would be right for NATO to strike and grab it. Obama’s public ambivalence about Russia never persuaded Putin that the U.S. would finally put the Cold War behind it and end its NATO alliance as Russia had ended its Warsaw Pact back in 1991. Instead, Obama continued to endorse expanding NATO, right up to Russia’s borders (now even into Ukraine) — an extremely hostile act.

If Putin responded by building the world’s most cost-effective designers and producers of weaponry, Russia wouldn’t only be responding to America’s ongoing hostility — or at least responding to the determination of America’s aristocracy to take over Russia, which is the world’s largest trove of natural resources — but would also expand Russia’s export-earnings and international influence by selling to other countries weaponry that’s less-burdened with the costs of sheer corruption than are the armaments that are being produced in what is perhaps the world’s most corrupt military-industrial complex: America’s. Whereas Putin has tolerated corruption in other areas of Russia’s economic production (figuring that those areas are less crucial for Russia’s future), he has kept Russia’s weapons-making-and-marketing socialized — controlled entirely by the state — and thus avoids the capitalistic situation of weapons-makers controlling the Government’s foreign policies and military via the “revolving door” between the military and private industry, and via weapons-making firms buying politicians to authorize weapons-makers’ policies. Socializing the production and marketing of armaments is the only way to retain national independence. America’s aristocracy had aimed to end that in Russia. Putin refused. Ever since he first came into office in 2000, he has transformed post-Soviet Russia from being an unlimitedly corrupt satellite of the United States under Boris Yeltsin, to becoming truly an independent nation; and this infuriates America’s aristocrats (who had gushed over Yeltsin).

The Russian government-monopoly marketing company for Russia’s weapons-manufacturers, Rosoboronexport, presents itself to nations around the world by saying: “Today, armaments and military equipment bearing the Made in Russia label protect independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of dozens of countries. Owing to their efficiency and reliability, Russian defense products enjoy strong demand on the global market and maintain our nation’s leading positions among the world’s arms exporters. For the past several years, Russia has consistently ranked second behind the United States as regards arms exports.” That’s second-and-rising, as opposed to America’s first-and-falling.

The American aristocracy’s ever-growing war against Russia posed and poses to Putin two simultaneous challenges: both to reorient away from Russia’s natural resources, which the global aristocracy wants to grab, and also to reorient toward the area of hi-tech in which the Soviets had built a basis from which Russia could become truly cost-effective in international commerce, so as to, simultaneously, increase Russia’s defensive capability against an expanding NATO, while also replacing some of Russia’s dependence upon the natural resources that the West’s aristocrats want to steal.

In other words: Putin designed a plan to meet two challenges simultaneously — military and economic. His primary aim is to protect Russia from being grabbed by the American and Saudi aristocrats, via America’s NATO and the Sauds’ Gulf Cooperation Council and other alliances (which are trying to take over Russia’s ally Syria — Syria being a crucial location for pipelining Arab royals’ oil-and-gas into Europe, the world’s largest energy-market).

In addition, the hit to Russia’s economic growth-rate from the dual-onslaught of Obama’s sanctions and the plunging oil prices hasn’t been too bad. The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” predicted: “Growth prospects for 2015-2016 are negative. It is likely that when the full effects of the two shocks become evident in 2015, they will push the Russian economy into recession. The World Bank baseline scenario sees a contraction of 3.8 percent in 2015 and a modest decline of 0.3 percent in 2016. The growth spectrum presented has two alternative scenarios that largely reflect differences in how oil prices are expected to affect the main macro variables.”

As of 15 February 2016, Trading Economics was headlining “Russia GDP Annual Growth Rate” and reported: “The Russian economy shrank 3.8 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, following a 4.1 percent contraction in the previous period, according to preliminary estimates from the Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev. It is the worst performance since 2009 [George W. Bush’s global economic crash], as Western sanctions and lower oil prices hurt external trade and public revenues.” The current percentage as of 17 September 2018, is 1.9%, after having plunged down from 2.2% in late 2017, to 0.9% in late 2017; so, it is rebounding.

The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” went on to describe “The Government Anti-Crisis Plan”:

On January 27, 2014, the government adopted an anti-crisis plan with the goal to ensure sustainable economic development and social stability in an unfavorable global economic and political environment.

It announced that in 2015–2016 it will take steps to advance structural changes in the Russian economy, provide support to systemic entities and the labor market, lower inflation, and help vulnerable households adjust to price increases. To achieve the objectives of positive growth and sustainable medium-term macroeconomic development the following measures are planned:

•Provide support for import substitution and non-mineral exports;

•Support small and medium enterprises by lowering financing and administrative costs;

•Create opportunities for raising financial resources at reasonable cost in key economic sectors;

•Compensate vulnerable households (e.g., pensioners) for the costs of inflation;

•Cushion the impact on the labor market (e.g. provide training and increase public works);

•Optimize budget expenditures; and

•Enhance banking sector stability and create a mechanism for reorganizing systemic companies.

So: Russia’s anti-crisis plan was drawn up and announced on 27 January 2014, already before Yanukovych was overthrown, even before Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland on 4 February 2014 instructed the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine whom to have appointed to run the government when the coup would be completed (“Yats,” who did  get appointed). Perhaps, in drawing up this plan, Putin was responding to scenes from Ukraine like this. He could see that what was happening in Ukraine was an operation financed by the U.S. CIA. He could recognize what Obama had in mind for Russia.

The “Russia Economic Report, May 2018: Modest Growth Ahead” says:

Global growth continued its 2017 momentum in early 2018. Global growth reached a stronger than-expected 3 percent in 2017 — a notable recovery from a post-crisis low of 2.4 percent in 2016. It is currently expected to peak at 3.1 percent in 2018. Recoveries in investment, manufacturing, and trade continue as commodity-exporting developing economies benefit from firming commodity prices (Figure 1a). The improvement reflects a broad-based recovery in advanced economies, robust growth in commodity-importing Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs), and an ongoing rebound in commodity exporters. Growth in China – and important trading partner for Russia – is expected to continue its gradual slowdown in 2018 following a stronger than-expected 6.9 percent in 2017.

Putin’s economic plan has softened the economic blow upon the masses, even while it has re-oriented the economy toward what would be the future growth-areas.

The country that Putin in 2000 had taken over and inherited from the drunkard Yeltsin (so beloved by Western aristocrats because he permitted them to skim off so much from it) was a wreck even worse than it had been when the Soviet Union ended. Putin immediately set to work to turn it around, in a way that could meet those two demands.

Apparently, Putin has been succeeding — now even despite what the U.S. aristocracy (and its allied aristocracies in Europe and Arabia) have been throwing to weaken Russia. And the Russian people know it.

PS: The present reporter is an American, and used to be a Democrat, not inclined to condemn Democratic politicians, but Obama’s grab for Russia was not merely exceedingly dangerous for the entire world, it is profoundly unjust, it is also based on his (and most Republicans’) neoconservative lies, and so I don’t support it, and I no longer support Obama or his and the Clintons’ Democratic Party, at all. But this certainly doesn’t mean that I support the Republican Party, which is typically even worse on this (and other matters) than Democratic politicians are. On almost all issues, I support Bernie Sanders, but I am not a part of anyone’s political campaign, in any way.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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RT & Former UK Ambassador Exposing CIA-MI6 Control Over Western ‘News’ Media

Eric Zuesse

It’s an old story, but each time that an example of it occurs, it is hidden, instead of reported.

The fact that America’s CIA has the cooperation of all major news-media in the the United States is well known and long-established, such as in the following two obscure places:

http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

spartacus-educational.com/JFKmockingbird.htm

The CIA is one of the major extensions of America’s part of the international Deep State, the few thousand U.S. billionaires, who are the only people that actually control U.S. foreign policies. They also control the nation’s major news-media so that their foreign policies — such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the invasion of Libya in 2011 — will be supported by enough Americans in order to re-elect the politicians, such as Hillary Clinton, who had voted for or otherwise enabled those invasions. These billionaires also own controlling blocs of stock in their international corporations, which, of course, benefit from such invasions.

So: here’s the latest clear instance of it, and this one reflects the British portion of the international Deep State:

On September 23rd, Craig Murray, the former UK Ambassador who quit the UK’s foreign services as a whistleblower against the Deep State, reported a brazen fabrication by the onetime-progressive British newspaper the Guardian, a smear which had been targeted against both Julian Assange and the Government of Russia, and which aimed at continuing to hide the Deep State’s ongoing aggressions against Russia and against governments that are friendly toward Russia. Murray closed:

It is very serious indeed when a newspaper like the Guardian prints a tissue of deliberate lies in order to spread fake news on behalf of the security services. I cannot find words eloquent enough to express the depth of my contempt for Harding and Katherine Viner, who have betrayed completely the values of journalism. The aim of the piece is evidently to add a further layer to the fake news of Wikileaks’ (non-existent) relationship to Russia as part of the “Hillary didn’t really lose” narrative. I am, frankly, rather shocked.

One of the reader-comments to Murray’s article recommended and linked to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV_PLCC6jeI&feature=youtu.be

which exposes the profound corruption of America’s Democratic Party and how its billionaires control left-of-center voters by deceiving them into voting in political primaries for these billionaires’ politicians to become the Party’s nominees in general elections. The billionaires control the international corporations and ‘news’-media and their tax-exempt PR fronts the ‘non-profits’, so as to fool enough voters in order to turn America’s national elections into merely contests between different brands of fascists, liberal versus conservative.

The next day, RT, Russian Television, bannered, “Guardian’s ‘deliberate lies’ over Assange Russia plot slammed by Craig Murray”, and the reader-comments there were similary strong against the Deep State that controls Western ‘democracies’.

The present news-story about ’news’-lies has not yet been reported in any of the major ‘news’ media in The West. In case none of these major ’news’-media has yet learned of this important matter, this news-report about it is being sent today to all major ‘news’ media in The West, in order to provide each one of them its opportunity to report upon the corruption behind today’s Guardian, and behind all of them. So, now none of them can say they didn’t know of this. Each will either report it, or else continue to hide it. But it’s an important news-story, regardless of whether or not they report it.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally End?

We all know the Status Quo’s response to the global financial meltdown of 2008 has been a travesty of a mockery of a sham–smoke and mirrors, flimsy facades of “recovery,” simulacrum “reforms,” serial bubble-blowing and politically expedient can-kicking, all based on borrowing and printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan, quatloos, etc.

So when will the travesty of a mockery of a sham finally come to an end? Probably around 2022-25, with a few global crises and “saves” along the way to break up the monotony of devolution. The foundation of this forecast is this chart I prepared back in 2008 (below).

This is of course only a selection of cycles; many more may be active but these four give us a flavor of the confluence of crises ahead.

Cycles are not laws of Nature, of course; they are only records of previous periods of growth/excess/depletion/collapse, not predictions per se. Nonetheless their repetition reflects the systemic dynamic of growth, crisis and collapse, and so the study of cycles is instructive even though we stipulate they are not predictive.

What is predictable is the way systems tend to follow an S-curve of rapid growth with then tops out in excess, stagnates in depletion and then devolves or implodes. We can see all sorts of things topping out and entering depletion/collapse: financialization, the Savior State, Chinese credit expansion, oil production, student loan debt and so on.

Since each mechanism that burns out or implodes tends to be replaced with some other mechanism, this creates the recurring cycle of expansion / excess / depletion / collapse.

I plotted four long-wave cycles in the first chart:

1. The credit expansion/renunciation cycle. a.k.a. the Kondratieff cycle. Credit expands when credit is costly and invested in productive assets. Credit reaches excess when it is cheap and it’s malinvested in speculation and stock buybacks, and as collateral vanishes then credit is renunciated/written off.

This is inexact, but obviously the organic postwar cycle of expansion has been extended by the central bank money-printing / credit orgy.

2. The generational cycle of four generations/80 years described in the seminal bookThe Fourth Turning. American history uncannily tracks an 80-year cycle of crises and profound transformation: 1860 (Civil War), 1940 (world war and global Empire) and next up to bat, 2020, the implosion of the debt-based Savior State and the financialized economy.

3. The 100-year cycle of inflation-deflation described in the masterful book The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. The price of bread remained almost constant in Britain throughout the 19th century. In contrast, the 20th century has been characterized by inflation–the U.S. dollar has lost approximately 96% of its value since the early 20th century.

Another characteristic of this cycle is wage stagnation: people earn less even as costs of essentials rise, a dynamic that inevitably leads to political crisis and upheaval.

The end-game for inflation is destruction of fiat currencies, i.e. rising inflation or complete loss of faith in paper money. This is of course “impossible,” just like World War I, the Titanic sinking, the global meltdown of 2008, etc. Impossible things happen with alarming regularity.

4. Peak oil, which does not mean the world runs out of oil, it simply means oil production no longer rises to meet demand and eventually declines even as new fields are brought online. It can also mean that the price of energy rises to the point that consumers can either buy energy or they can keep the consumer economy afloat, but they are no longer able to do both.

Many observers are confident that fracking and other technologies will enable current energy profligacy to continue unabated as the U.S. production of oil and natural gas soars.

All this surplus energy in North America sounds wonderful, but that doesn’t mean the world as a whole has escaped Peak Oil. Even if fracked wells didn’t deplete in a year or two (they do), that expansion of production will not replace the loss of production as supergiant fields in Mexico, the North Sea and the Mideast enter the depletion phase. Yes, technology can extract more oil, but technology is costly. The days of cheap natural gas may have arrived, but the days of cheap oil are numbered.

How all this plays out is unknown, but even raising U.S. production might not be enough to maintain current production levels. Since several billion more people desire the U.S.-type lifestyle of energy profligacy, then what are the consequences of the mismatch between global demand and supply?

What happened to crude oil production after the first peak in 2005?

We can also posit that “good-paying jobs” in developed economies are also tracking an S-curve. The post-industrial decline in labor has many causes, but the Internet is a key factor going forward as the Web, AI, Big Data and mobile telephony leverage all sorts of productivity gains without the pesky overhead, costs and trouble of employees.

This reality was masked by the initial boom in Web infrastructure that topped out in 2000, and again by the credit-fueled global malinvestment in real estate that topped out in 2007 and soon by the topping out of the social media/mobile app tech boom, the third stock market bubble and Housing Bubble #2.

Once these bubbles have popped, the reality of long-term employment stagnation can no longer be masked.

Credit bubbles are not engines of sustainable employment, they are only engines of malinvestment and wealth destruction on a grand scale.

A number of other questions arise as we ponder these dynamics. How “cheap” will all that energy be to those without full-time jobs? How will 100 million workers support 100 million retirees, welfare recipients and parasitic Elites plus Universal Basic Income as costs rise, taxes soar and wages stagnate?

The Status Quo is unsustainable on a number of fundamental fronts. How long it can maintain the facade of stability and sustainability is unknown, but the global willingness to squander additional years on artifice and propaganda suggests that another four years will fly by and the end-game will be at hand whether we approve of it or not.

Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Book Sale: (September only) Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform is now $2.99 for the Kindle ebook, a 25% savings, and $6.95 for the print edition, a 22% savings.

Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It is now $2.99 for the Kindle ebook, a ridiculous 70% discount, and $10 for the print edition, a 50% savings. 

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Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

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The Gamification of Tyranny

It looks like we’re headed for a brave new world where all citizens are rated on their loyalty to the state and are punished for wandering from its narrative. 

Call it the gamification of repression. 

In China, the supposedly communist state—in fact, it is an advanced form of crony capitalist authoritarianism that Marx would have disapproved—is busy setting up a rating system for all citizens. According to a paper written by an academic at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon, scores are based on professional conduct, corruption, type of products bought, peers’ own scores, and tax evasion.

The author left something out, however. This social credit system will also be used to marginalize and stigmatize those who criticize the state. 

China’s nominally communist government says the system and its massive database will allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step. 

In addition to scrutinizing online activity and acting on tips by snitches, the system will tap into China’s sprawling network of surveillance cameras, said to number around 200 million across the country. Facial recognition will ID individuals and follow their every move in search of behavior worthy of a low score. Those gaining a high score will be allowed access to credit facilities, cheaper public transport, and even shorter wait times for hospital services. They will also be banned from travel and decent employment. 

Although the system isn’t slated to be fully rolled out until 2020, pilot projects are already being used to ensnare enemies of the state. For instance, the journalist Liu Hu received a negative score and was blacklisted for criticizing China’s political corruption. He is under house arrest, his social media accounts were shut down, and he is unable to travel. This is reminiscent of travel restrictions placed on dissidents in the Soviet Union.

If you think you’re free of this kind of tyranny because you live in America, think again.

Everybody knows the NSA and its contractors are collecting our most private and intimate information. Travel bans are enforced through no-fly lists and these are imposed on political activists as well as the innocent caught up in the surveillance system. You can lose your position at a university for thought considered unacceptable to a politically correct orthodoxy. The state intervenes when a business concern refuses to sell products to people the seller finds objectionable. In numerous ways, the state hinders, bans, and criminalizes behavior in parasitic fashion, the end result being overcrowded industrial prisons and a bounty in revenue generation through fines, assessments, penalties, and taxes.

Our social media accounts are scoured by the NSA, FBI, and the CIA for any sign of political misdeed. The state is able to monitor our behavior online in real-time. It has turned our cellphones into tracking devices. The tech giants often collaborate with the state and hand over our data without a constitutionally mandated search warrant. The data on our phones is surrendered at the border.

The latest signpost of ever encroaching corporatist-government fascism can be seen in the social media purge, which through evolution will ultimately remove all content from the internet deemed “extremist” by the state—and for the state that is everybody right or left who moves beyond permissible parameters set by the state.

Meanwhile, a huge internal security apparatus little different than what was used in the former Soviet Union is growing in size, arming itself to the teeth against the citizenry. It has deputized local law enforcement and showered it with all kinds of weapons, turning local police into armies controlled by the federal government. 

Meanwhile, we are aghast at the behavior of China—or some of us are—and this is exploited to ramp up hostility toward China while buttressing Trump’s trade war. The ruling elite exploit the fear of China and Russia as part of an effort to check China’s move into a resource rich Africa and threaten Russia on its borders. 

Most important is the project to derail China’s Belt and Road Initiative, aka the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road which poses a threat to neoliberal control of markets and the global economy. We are witnessing this being tested in the South China Sea and the China-Indochina Corridor as the US engages in provocative behavior against the Chinese navy.

Most believe we live in a democracy when in fact we live under a soft corporate-banker fascist police and surveillance state. I say “soft” because in the United States the government has mastered the art of control through media, not simply the corporate media, but also woven through the products of an entertainment industry that collaborates with the Pentagon and the CIA. 

The state has done this for a very long time in America—from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the FBI’s COINTELPRO and beyond. Technology has given the state the ability to covertly destroy its political enemies, whereas previously it took a lot of footwork.

Admittedly, this isn’t in-your-face like China’s social credit system, but the end result approaches what China is after—total control of the population and the removal of all serious political opponents challenging the state’s hegemonic rule. 

Kurt Nimmo is the author of Another Day in the Empire: The Reign of George W. Bush and the Total War Neocons. Read his blog here.

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