Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?

by Tom Engelhardt, billmoyers.com, March 25, 2015 This post first appeared at TomDispatch.

Excerpt

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name. And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so….it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

1. One Percent Elections

2. The Privatization of the State (or the US as a Prospective Third-World Nation)

3. The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency

4. The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government

5. The Demobilization of the American People

6. The Birth of a New System

…this period doesn’t represent a version, no matter how perverse or extreme, of politics as usual; nor is the 2016 campaign an election as usual; nor are we experiencing Washington as usual.  Put together our one percent elections, the privatization of our government, the de-legitimization of Congress and the presidency, as well as the empowerment of the national security state and the US military and add in the demobilization of the American public (in the name of protecting us from terrorism) and you have something like a new ballgame…Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.

The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books), has just been published.

http://billmoyers.com/2015/03/25/new-american-order/

Full text

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

1. One Percent Elections

Check out the news about the 2016 presidential election and you’ll quickly feel a sense of been-there, done-that. As a start, the two names most associated with it, Bush and Clinton, couldn’t be more familiar, highlighting as they do the curiously dynastic quality of recent presidential contests. (If a Bush or Clinton should win in 2016 and again in 2020, a member of one of those families will have controlled the presidency for 28 of the last 36 years.)

The 2012 presidential campaign was the first $2 billion election; campaign 2016 is expected to hit the $5 billion mark without breaking a sweat.

Take, for instance, “Why 2016 Is Likely to Become a Close Race,” a recent piece Nate Cohn wrote for my hometown paper. A noted election statistician, Cohn points out that, despite Hillary Clinton’s historically staggering lead in Democratic primary polls (and lack of serious challengers), she could lose the general election. He bases this on what we know about her polling popularity from the Monica Lewinsky moment of the 1990s to the present. Cohn assures readers that Hillary will not “be a Democratic Eisenhower, a popular, senior statesperson who cruises to an easy victory.” It’s the sort of comparison that offers a certain implicit reassurance about the near future. (No, Virginia, we haven’t left the world of politics in which former General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower can still be a touchstone.)

Cohn may be right when it comes to Hillary’s electability, but this is not Dwight D. Eisenhower’s or even Al Gore’s America. If you want a measure of that, consider this year’s primaries. I mean, of course, the 2015 ones. Once upon a time, the campaign season started with candidates flocking to Iowa and New Hampshire early in the election year to establish their bona fides among party voters. These days, however, those are already late primaries.

The early primaries, the ones that count, take place among a small group of millionaires and billionaires, a new caste flush with cash who will personally, or through complex networks of funders, pour multi-millions of dollars into the campaigns of candidates of their choice. So the early primaries — this year mainly a Republican affair — are taking place in resort spots like Las Vegas, Rancho Mirage, California, and Sea Island, Georgia, as has been widely reported. These “contests” involve groveling politicians appearing at the beck and call of the rich and powerful and so reflect our new one percent electoral system. (The main pro-Hillary super PAC, for instance, is aiming for a kitty of $500 million heading into 2016, while the Koch brothers network has already promised to drop almost $1 billion into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.)

Ever since the Supreme Court opened up the ultimate floodgates with its 2010 Citizens United decision, each subsequent election has seen record-breaking amounts of money donated and spent. The 2012 presidential campaign was the first $2 billion election; campaign 2016 is expected to hit the $5 billion mark without breaking a sweat. By comparison, according to Burton Abrams and Russell Settle in their study, “The Effect of Broadcasting on Political Campaign Spending,” Republicans and Democrats spent just under $13 million combined in 1956 when Eisenhower won his second term.

In the meantime, it’s still true that the 2016 primaries will involve actual voters, as will the election that follows. The previous election season, the midterms of 2014, cost almost $4 billion, a record despite the number of small donors continuing to drop. It also represented the lowest midterm voter turnout since World War II. (See: demobilization of the public, below — and add in the demobilization of the Democrats as a real party, the breaking of organized labor, the fragmenting of the Republican Party, and the return of voter suppression laws visibly meant to limit the franchise.) It hardly matters just what the flood of new money does in such elections, when you can feel the weight of inequality bearing down on the whole process in a way that is pushing us somewhere new.

2. The Privatization of the State (or the US as a Prospective Third-World Nation)

In the recent coverage of the Hillary Clinton email flap, you can find endless references to the Clintons of yore in wink-wink, you-know-how-they-are-style reporting; and yes, she did delete a lot of emails; and yes, it’s an election year coming and, as everyone points out, the Republicans are going to do their best to keep the email issue alive until hell freezes over, etc., etc. Again, the coverage, while eyeball gluing, is in a you’ve-seen-it-all-before, you’ll-see-it-all-again-mode.

However, you haven’t seen it all before. The most striking aspect of this little brouhaha lies in what’s most obvious but least highlighted. An American secretary of state chose to set up her own private, safeguarded email system for doing government work; that is, she chose to privatize her communications. If this were Cairo, it might not warrant a second thought. But it didn’t happen in some third-world state. It was the act of a key official of the planet’s reigning (or thrashing) superpower, which — even if it wasn’t the first time such a thing had ever occurred — should be taken as a tiny symptom of something that couldn’t be larger or, in the long stretch of history, newer: the ongoing privatization of the American state, or at least the national security part of it.

Though the marriage of the state and the corporation has a pre-history, the full-scale arrival of the warrior corporation only occurred after 9/11. Someday, that will undoubtedly be seen as a seminal moment in the formation of whatever may be coming in this country. Only 13 years later, there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization. The US military could no longer go to war without its crony corporations doing KP and guard duty, delivering the mail, building the bases and being involved in just about all of its activities, including training the militaries of foreign allies and even fighting. Such warrior corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state, including torture, drone strikes and — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of contract employees like Edward Snowden — intelligence gathering and spying. You name it and, in these years, it’s been at least partly privatized.

All you have to do is read reporter James Risen’s recent book, Pay Any Price, on how the global war on terror was fought in Washington, and you know that privatization has brought something else with it: corruption, scams and the gaming of the system for profits of a sort that might normally be associated with a typical third-world kleptocracy. And all of this, a new world being born, was reflected in a tiny way in Hillary Clinton’s very personal decision about her emails.

Though it’s a subject I know so much less about, this kind of privatization (and the corruption that goes with it) is undoubtedly underway in the non-war-making, non-security-projecting part of the American state as well.

3. The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency

On a third front, American “confidence” in the three classic check-and-balance branches of government, as measured by polling outfits, continues to fall. In 2014, Americans expressing a “great deal of confidence” in the Supreme Court hit a new low of 23 percent; in the presidency, it was 11 percent and in Congress a bottom-scraping five percent. (The military, on the other hand, registers at 50 percent.) The figures for “hardly any confidence at all” are respectively 20 percent, 44 percent and more than 50 percent. All are in or near record-breaking territory for the last four decades.

It seems fair to say that in recent years Congress has been engaged in a process of delegitimizing itself. Where that body once had the genuine power to declare war, for example, it is now “debating” in a desultory fashion an “authorization” for a war against the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and possibly elsewhere that has already been underway for eight months and whose course, it seems, will be essentially unaltered, whether Congress authorizes it or not.

A president who came into office rejecting torture and promoting sunshine and transparency in government has, in the course of six-plus years, come to identify himself almost totally with the US military, the CIA, the NSA and the like.

What would President Harry Truman, who once famously ran a presidential campaign against a “do-nothing” Congress, have to say about a body that truly can do just about nothing? Or rather, to give the Republican war hawks in that new Congress their due, not quite nothing. They are proving capable of acting effectively to delegitimize the presidency as well. House Majority Leader John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to undercut the president’s Iranian nuclear negotiations and the letter signed by 47 Republican senators and directed to the Iranian ayatollahs are striking examples of this. They are visibly meant to tear down an “imperial presidency” that Republicans gloried in not so long ago.

The radical nature of that letter, not as an act of state but of its de-legitimization, was noted even in Iran, where fundamentalist Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed it “a sign of a decline in political ethics and the destruction of the American establishment from within.” Here, however, the letter is either being covered as a singularly extreme one-off act (“treason!”) or, as Jon Stewart did on The Daily Show, as part of a repetitive tit-for-tat between Democrats and Republicans over who controls foreign policy. It is, in fact, neither. It represents part of a growing pattern in which Congress becomes an ever less effective body, except in its willingness to take on and potentially take out the presidency.

In the 21st century, all that “small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats can agree on is offering essentially unconditional support to the military and the national security state. The Republican Party — its various factions increasingly at each other’s throats almost as often as at those of the Democrats — seems reasonably united solely on issues of war-making and security. As for the Democrats, an unpopular administration, facing constant attack by those who loath President Obama, has kept its footing in part by allying with and fusing with the national security state. A president who came into office rejecting torture and promoting sunshine and transparency in government has, in the course of six-plus years, come to identify himself almost totally with the US military, the CIA, the NSA and the like. While it has launched an unprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and leakers (as well as sunshine and transparency), the Obama White House has proved a powerful enabler of, but also remarkably dependent upon, that state-within-a-state, a strange fate for “the imperial presidency.”

4. The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government

One “branch” of government is, however, visibly on the rise and rapidly gaining independence from just about any kind of oversight. Its ability to enact its wishes with almost no opposition in Washington is a striking feature of our moment. But while the symptoms of this process are regularly reported, the overall phenomenon — the creation of a de facto fourth branch of government — gets remarkably little attention. In the war on terror era, the national security state has come into its own. Its growth has been phenomenal. Though it’s seldom pointed out, it should be considered remarkable that in this period we gained a second full-scale “defense department,” the Department of Homeland Security and that it and the Pentagon have become even more entrenched, each surrounded by its own growing “complex” of private corporations, lobbyists and allied politicians. The militarization of the country has, in these years, proceeded apace.

Meanwhile, the duplication to be found in the US Intelligence Community with its 17 major agencies and outfits is staggering. Its growing ability to surveil and spy on a global scale, including on its own citizens, puts the totalitarian states of the 20th century to shame. That the various parts of the national security state can act in just about any fashion without fear of accountability in a court of law is by now too obvious to belabor. As wealth has traveled upwards in American society in ways not seen since the first Gilded Age, so taxpayer dollars have migrated into the national security state in an almost plutocratic fashion.

New reports regularly surface about the further activities of parts of that state. In recent weeks, for instance, we learned from Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley of the Intercept that the CIA has spent years trying to break the encryption on Apple iPhones and iPads; it has, that is, been aggressively seeking to attack an all-American corporation (even if significant parts of its production process are actually in China). Meanwhile, Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA, an agency barred from domestic spying operations of any sort, has been helping the US Marshals Service (part of the Justice Department) create an airborne digital dragnet on American cell phones. Planes flying out of five US cities carry a form of technology that “mimics a cellphone tower.” This technology, developed and tested in distant American war zones and now brought to “the homeland,” is just part of the ongoing militarization of the country from its borders to its police forces. And there’s hardly been a week since Edward Snowden first released crucial NSA documents in June 2013 when such “advances” haven’t been in the news.

News also regularly bubbles up about the further expansion, reorganization and upgrading of parts of the intelligence world, the sorts of reports that have become the barely noticed background hum of our lives. Recently, for instance, Director John Brennan announced a major reorganization of the CIA meant to break down the classic separation between spies and analysts at the Agency, while creating a new Directorate of Digital Innovation responsible for, among other things, cyberwarfare and cyberespionage. At about the same time, according to the New York Times, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, an obscure State Department agency, was given a new and expansive role in coordinating “all the existing attempts at countermessaging [against online propaganda by terror outfits like the Islamic State] by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.”

This sort of thing is par for the course in an era in which the national security state has only grown stronger, endlessly elaborating, duplicating and overlapping the various parts of its increasingly labyrinthine structure. And keep in mind that, in a structure that has fought hard to keep what it’s doing cloaked in secrecy, there is so much more that we don’t know. Still, we should know enough to realize that this ongoing process reflects something new in our American world (even if no one cares to notice).

5. The Demobilization of the American People

The New Robber Barons

In The Age of Acquiescence, a new book about America’s two Gilded Ages, Steve Fraser asks why it was that, in the 19th century, another period of plutocratic excesses, concentration of wealth and inequality, buying of politicians and attempts to demobilize the public, Americans took to the streets with such determination and in remarkable numbers over long periods of time to protest their treatment and stayed there even when the brute power of the state was called out against them. In our own moment, Fraser wonders, why has the silence of the public in the face of similar developments been so striking?

After all, a grim new American system is arising before our eyes. Everything we once learned in the civics textbooks of our childhoods about how our government works now seems askew, while the growth of poverty, the flatlining of wages, the rise of the .01 percent, the collapse of labor and the militarization of society are all evident.

The process of demobilizing the public certainly began with the military. It was initially a response to the disruptive and rebellious draftees of the Vietnam-era. In 1973, at the stroke of a presidential pen, the citizen’s army was declared no more, the raising of new recruits was turned over to advertising agencies (a preview of the privatization of the state to come) and the public was sent home, never again to meddle in military affairs. Since 2001, that form of demobilization has been etched in stone and transformed into a way of life in the name of the “safety” and “security” of the public.

Since then, “we the people” have made ourselves felt in only three disparate ways: from the left in the Occupy movement, which, with its slogans about the one percent and the 99 percent, put the issue of growing economic inequality on the map of American consciousness; from the right, in the tea party movement, a complex expression of discontent backed and at least partially funded by right-wing operatives and billionaires and aimed at the de-legitimization of the “nanny state;” and the recent round of post-Ferguson protests spurred at least in part by the militarization of the police in black and brown communities around the country.

6. The Birth of a New System

Otherwise, a moment of increasing extremity has also been a moment of — to use Fraser’s word — “acquiescence.” Someday, we’ll assumedly understand far better how this all came to be. In the meantime, let me be as clear as I can be about something that seems murky indeed: this period doesn’t represent a version, no matter how perverse or extreme, of politics as usual; nor is the 2016 campaign an election as usual; nor are we experiencing Washington as usual.  Put together our one percent elections, the privatization of our government, the de-legitimization of Congress and the presidency, as well as the empowerment of the national security state and the US military and add in the demobilization of the American public (in the name of protecting us from terrorism) and you have something like a new ballgame.

While significant planning has been involved in all of this, there may be no ruling pattern or design. Much of it may be happening in a purely seat-of-the-pants fashion. In response, there has been no urge to officially declare that something new is afoot, let alone convene a new constitutional convention. Still, don’t for a second think that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon and the officials of the national security state.

Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.

The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books), has just been published.

http://billmoyers.com/2015/03/25/new-american-order/

The Eight Causes of Trumpism

by Norm Ornstein, The Atlantic, Jan 4, 2016

Excerpt

However the Republican presidential primary turns out, the conditions that fostered the mogul’s rise have left their mark on the party—and America….In some ways, the most interesting political story of 2015 was not Donald Trump but the widespread pundit reaction to Trump… …But who is responsible for the rise of Trumpism? What caused the crippling migraine headaches now afflicting the toughly pragmatic conservative-establishment wing of the GOP? Here are the people and institutions who played a role—however deliberate, unwitting, or inadvertent—in laying the groundwork for Trumpism to flourish in America:… The willful suspension of disbelief by so many political professionals and analysts had multiple roots… Those roots remain resilient in the punditocracy and political community. They were and are wrong. Both Trump and a broader phenomenon—call it Trumpism—are stronger and deeper than most veteran political analysts realized or were willing to acknowledge. They are neither immediate nor transitory phenomena. The disdain for the status quo, for authority figures of both parties and other institutions, and the anger at inexorable changes in society, are real, enduring, and especially deep on the Republican side. Ideology forms a significant part of that anger, but it transcends much of the predictable divide between liberals conservatives….

Full text

However the Republican presidential primary turns out, the conditions that fostered the mogul’s rise have left their mark on the party—and America.

In some ways, the most interesting political story of 2015 was not Donald Trump but the widespread pundit reaction to Trump. Throughout the year, until a different conclusion became unavoidable, the expert consensus was that Trump was a single day or one inflammatory statement away from self-destruction, that his ceiling of support was 25 percent of Republicans at most, and even that was transitory. Another theme was that once Republican primary and caucus voters saw that Trump was anything but a true conservative—given his past support for a single-payer health-care system, his insistence on taxing the rich, and his contributions to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton—he would collapse.

The willful suspension of disbelief by so many political professionals and analysts had multiple roots. One part was a deep belief that history rules—since rogue and inexperienced candidates had always faltered before, it followed that it would happen again. Another was that nothing has changed in a meaningful way in American politics—there has not been real polarization, only natural “sorting,” and the establishment will rule, as it always does. A third was that there are certain characteristics expected of a president—prudence, civility, expertise—that would eventually cause Trump and the other outsiders like Carson, Cruz, and Fiorina to fall by the wayside.

Those roots remain resilient in the punditocracy and political community. They were and are wrong. Both Trump and a broader phenomenon—call it Trumpism—are stronger and deeper than most veteran political analysts realized or were willing to acknowledge. They are neither immediate nor transitory phenomena. The disdain for the status quo, for authority figures of both parties and other institutions, and the anger at inexorable changes in society, are real, enduring, and especially deep on the Republican side. Ideology forms a significant part of that anger, but it transcends much of the predictable divide between liberals conservatives. And even if neither Trump nor Cruz—who also channels much of the Trumpist message and approach—win a presidential nomination, it will persist, and contend for primacy in the GOP, well beyond 2016.

For the past several months, every poll has shown outsider candidates, either those vigorously attacking their own leaders and other societal elites or those having no experience at all in politics or governance, garnering over 60 percent support from Republican voters. The main insider, establishment figures hover at around 20 percent support. And of course, the most outsider, populist, and bombastic among them, Donald Trump, has led the field in the vast majority of national polls—and in most state polls, as well.

At the same time, Freedom Caucus members, the most conservative in Congress, were attacked from the right for supporting Paul Ryan as speaker—a man who is by far the most conservative speaker of the House in history. And probably the second most conservative speaker, John Boehner, was hounded from office for not being radical and tough enough.

But who is responsible for the rise of Trumpism? What caused the crippling migraine headaches now afflicting the toughly pragmatic conservative-establishment wing of the GOP? Here are the people and institutions who played a role—however deliberate, unwitting, or inadvertent—in laying the groundwork for Trumpism to flourish in America:

Newt Gingrich

From the day he arrived in Washington following his election to the House in 1978, Newt Gingrich had a strategy to create a Republican majority in the House—something that had not happened since 1954. His strategy eventually worked. Unfortunately, it also wrought immense collateral damage. Newt worked to nationalize congressional elections to reduce the advantage enjoyed by individual incumbents—and to create a climate in which Americans would be so disgusted with Congress that they would say, collectively, “Anything would be better than this.” He wanted them to throw the In Party out and bring the Out Party in.

That meant a long campaign to delegitimize Congress, politics, and politicians, and to provoke the Democratic majority to overreact, thereby alienating even moderate Republicans in Congress and uniting them against the evil Democrats. A series of scandals, real and not-so-real, including the House Bank and post office, helped. His campaign included using ethics charges as a political weapon, resulting in the resignation of Speaker Jim Wright, reinforcing the image of a scandal-ridden, insular and out-of-touch majority.

It took 16 years for Gingrich to succeed. A Democratic president provided his key. For Bill Clinton’s first two years, Gingrich and his allies worked to demonize and delegitimize Clinton, and at the same time helped House Republicans coalesce into a unified opposition from the beginning to the Clinton agenda. That made Clinton’s policy efforts a huge strain, eventually killing his signature health-reform plan. The bitter messiness—government as a scandal-plagued partisan mud battle—set up Republicans for a huge midterm election in 1994. Newt won and became speaker, although Democrats almost brought him down with a set of ethics charges that evoked those he had used against Jim Wright. Along the way, his strategy also brought with it a deeply damaged image of Congress and alienation from government, sharply enhanced partisan enmity and rancor, and tribalized politics. Gingrich assumed that when he became speaker, he could co-opt the radical outsiders he brought with him to Washington. It never happened. Their disdain for Washington, government, and Congress continued, even during their majority status. And, as Sean Theriault writes in The Gingrich Senators, many of them migrated to the Senate, making its culture more partisan and combative.

There was another Gingrich effect. One of Newt’s first acts as speaker was to get rid of the highly professional, nonpartisan Office of Technology Assessment, Congress’s scientists who could use their expertise to inform lawmakers and adjudicate differences based on scientific fact and data. The elimination of OTA was the death knell for nonpartisan respect for science in the political arena, both changing the debate and discourse on issues like climate change, and also helping show in the contemporary era of “truthiness,” in which repeated assertion trumps facts.

Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Jim Wright, William Rehnquist, and Newt Gingrich (Again)

Newt’s effort got a big boost in 1988 and 1989. Outgoing President Ronald Reagan, incoming President George H.W. Bush, every congressional leader (including Jim Wright and Newt Gingrich), and the leaders of the judiciary, including Chief Justice William Rehnquist, supported a sizable pay raise for lawmakers, top executive officials, and judges. The raise was recommended by a blue-ribbon panel to make up for a long period with no pay increase, but it came at a time of economic stagnation and enraged the public.

Nearly every Trump rally is covered in real time; every outrageous Trump statement or action gets blanket attention.

The pay raise brought a populist uprising, from Ralph Nader on the left to Pat Buchanan on the right, covered amply by press outlets like Newsweek, which portrayed Congress as a collection of pampered and rich elites more like Marie Antoinette than working Americans, with chandeliered dining rooms providing posh free meals, a first-class spa, and other services, all available to lawmakers at taxpayers’ expense.

Rush Limbaugh had been a minor talk radio host in Sacramento, just moved to New York before the pay raise brouhaha and ready to establish a bigger career thanks to the demise, a short while beforehand, of the FCC’s fairness doctrine. No doubt, Limbaugh, an immensely talented entertainer, would have been a success regardless. But the pay raise gave him a huge boost. He jumped on it, and it became the vehicle for his national rise and celebrity—and the blossoming of conservative talk radio as a major political phenomenon. Limbaugh, of course, has been joined by Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and a host of others who have built huge audiences by attacking not just evil Democrats but their own establishment leaders. Among them is Alex Jones, whose wild conspiracy theories, including that the U.S. government was involved in both the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks, and that the president, the military, and others are conspiring to take people’s guns and property and create a dictatorship, have helped generate an atmosphere of distrust that plays right into the hands of Trump. Trump, of course, went on Jones’s show and praised his “amazing reputation,” while Jones said his listeners agreed with 90 percent of what Trump stands for.

Roger Ailes

Talk radio is its own phenomenon. Cable news is another, reinforcing the impact in a different media. For years following its creation in 1980, CNN dominated cable news. Sixteen years later, Rupert Murdoch created Fox News Channel and named Roger Ailes as its head. It started with a tiny fraction of households, with no outlets in New York or Los Angeles. But Ailes transformed it into the overwhelming leader in the cable news world and the most profitable element of the vast Murdoch empire. Along the way, Ailes changed the worlds of news and politics. He did so by creating a new business model, using fast pacing and graphics, and charismatic and talented hosts. But mostly it was a model based on luring an audience of staunch conservatives who felt neglected by other television news outlets, treated with contempt for their views by a liberal mainstream media. Ailes used the slogan “Fair and Balanced” to appeal to this audience, but of course the content was neither; Fox adopted a sharp partisan and ideological viewpoint, and attracted a consistently robust audience of more than 2 million viewers of the right demographic for advertisers at any given time, which made it a highly profitable operation.

But Fox’s impact went way beyond its core audience. It became an opinion leader and agenda setter for conservatives and Republicans. It is a core source of news for Republicans. Much of the anger at Barack Obama, at Obamacare, at attempts to deal with climate change and the scientists supporting them, and even at immigration, has been fueled by Fox shows and Fox hosts. It is not omnipotent; when Trump went after host Megyn Kelly in misogynistic terms, it did not hurt his standing at all—indeed, Fox’s very success meant that many of Trump’s supporters saw it as another part of the establishment attacking their anti-establishment hero, who responded by punching back, hard. But it has had much to do with the way many other outlets, including radio, bloggers, magazines, and internet news aggregators, have organized their business models, catering to apocalyptic forces, fueling fear and anger, contributing mightily to the partisan tribalization that helps Trumpism flourish.

CNN and MSNBC

Fox’s dominance of cable news has left its main rivals, CNN and MSNBC, floundering for business models and audiences. MSNBC has tried to emulate Fox on the left, but has adjusted to doing so only in prime time hours, trying straight news during the day. CNN has tried, without notable success, to hold to a middle ground. But both have seized on Trumpmania as a way of luring viewers. Nearly every Trump rally is covered in real time; every outrageous Trump statement or action gets blanket attention. Meanwhile, equally outrageous statements by other candidates—Ben Carson saying a Muslim shouldn’t be president, Mike Huckabee saying God’s law trumps the Constitution, Chris Christie threatening to go to Defcon 1 against Russia—barely get mentioned. Trump thrives on attention, good or bad.

To be sure, there are many co-conspirators here. Network Sunday news shows like Meet the Press apply different rules to Trump, allowing him to be interviewed by telephone, something they would not do for other candidates. Eyeballs count, on TV and on websites, and since Trump provides eyeballs, the rules of journalism go out the window.

Trump can say anything, and fact-check organizations showing that his statements are false are ridiculed and attacked by those who support him.

CNN has had another, broader impact on discourse. Its longstanding attempt to be straightforward has meant that its shows either follow the Crossfire model—someone from the left edge of the spectrum yelling at someone from the right edge, or a spinner from the Democratic side facing off against a GOP spinner—or insist on bringing in “experts” from both sides to discuss or debate issues. By creating a sense that discourse is all one extreme against the other or one cynic against another, CNN has added to the corrosive cynicism that permeates politics, fertile ground for a Trump. And by having every discussion of climate change include one scientist who says it is real and manmade against another who denies it, CNN has contributed to an atmosphere where “facts” are not real—you can find an expert anywhere to deny them.

Tim Berners-Lee

What could an Englishman with no connection whatsoever to American politics have to do with Trumpism? The answer, of course, is that Tim Berners-Lee is widely credited with inventing the Internet. It has brought wondrous changes to the world—I can now sit at my desk and have immediate access to more information than the entire U.S. government, with all its resources and supercomputers, could have had in the pre-Internet days. I can watch events in the world unfold in real time. And thanks to the social media that followed, I can connect and interact instantly with multiple communities, of friends, kin, and interests.

But these remarkable advances have also brought unintended consequences, including a dramatic deterioration of civil discourse and social standards. A world with a massive cacophony of voices and sources engenders efforts to grab attention, which means shouting and shocking. On cable television, talk radio, blogs, video games, Internet comment pages and chat rooms, nothing is too coarse or off limits anymore—whether it is calling the president a “half-breed mongrel” or a monkey, or saying Mexicans are rapists and thousands of American Muslims cheered the 9/11 attacks. It is not just politics. Violence and graphic sex are everywhere, further deadening reaction to violations of societal standards. The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan had an incisive term: “Defining Deviancy Down.” It surely applies here.

Conspiracy theories, demagoguery, and anti-elitism are rooted in American culture, as the historian Richard Hofstadter ably documented in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. But when Hofstadter wrote, in the 1950s and 1960s, the collection of individuals deeply receptive to those appeals were fragmented and had limited opportunities to communicate together, form communities of interest, or engage in collective action, except via face-to-face meetings in localities. The web and social media have changed all that.

The web and its adjuncts have also changed the way people get and process information. Americans are less likely to share a common body of facts received passively via a small, collective set of sources like three television networks and one or two daily metropolitan newspapers. Now they can all actively seek out the information sources they want—and actively avoid those that provide dissonant information. And that has created a set of closed information loops for large numbers of people, supplying them with “facts” that may or may not be true. And often those “facts” are shared more widely via email and social media like Facebook and Twitter. Thus, 23 percent of Americans in 2014 did not believe that Barack Obama was born in the U.S., and an additional 17 percent were not sure. When “mainstream” media sources point out that “facts” are fiction, those who believe simply discount the mainstream sources. So Donald Trump can say anything, and fact-check organizations showing that his statements are false are ridiculed and attacked by those who support him and believe him no matter what.

Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers

There is no doubt that without direct and swift government intervention, the financial crisis in the fall of 2008 would very likely have led to a global credit freeze, and a resulting depression that would have eclipsed the 1930s. To their great credit, George W. Bush, Hank Paulson, congressional leaders of both parties, and the two presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, endorsed that swift action. But in a major warning sign, their package created a populist backlash among House Republicans, who at first rejected the package, before a precipitous drop in the Dow brought enough around to get it passed.

The effect of the bailout package was huge and still reverberates today—even more because of the actions and inactions of the Obama administration’s economic team in the still-shaky economic turmoil that followed Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. Both Paulson and his successor, Tim Geithner, focused on saving major agents in the financial system, but refused to countenance any actions to punish, or at least bring to the dock, any of the miscreants who had caused the collapse. What Americans saw was elites conspiring to protect their fellow elites—who got off scot-free, along with bonuses, while the rest of the country suffered, losing homes or seeing their home values drop precipitously, losing jobs and nest eggs. No one went to jail. In the meantime, the Obama administration put forth a tepid plan to protect homeowners from foreclosure, which was not fully implemented, and put no significant pressure on banks to free up the huge amount of capital they held in reserve to help out middle-class homeowners.

No surprise: It produced a huge populist surge. The Tea Party movement blossomed on the right, and Occupy Wall Street exploded on the left. Bernie Sanders’s strength in the Democratic presidential nomination battle is one reflection of that anger. But the Tea Party has been much stronger and more organized. Its immense support from talk radio hosts like Limbaugh, Ingraham, and Levin and from bloggers like Erickson, has helped it to defeat powerful House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary, push Speaker John Boehner out of office, and block his designated successor, Kevin McCarthy. It has also fueled the anti-establishment mood that has enabled Donald Trump to flourish.

The Young Guns: Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan

Speaking of Cantor and McCarthy, they, along with Paul Ryan, leapt to the forefront after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. The three wrote a book called “Young Guns,” heralding a new strategy, starting on or before Obama’s Inauguration, to regain Republican majorities in Congress and sweep him out of office after one term. One part of that strategy was to get Republicans to unite in opposition to anything and everything Barack Obama wanted, just as Gingrich had done to such great effect against Bill Clinton. Drawing another page from the Gingrich playbook, the Young Guns also fanned out across the country recruiting Tea Party populists to run for Congress in the midterm elections.

As with Gingrich, the Young Guns assumed they could co-opt the new radicals. As with Gingrich, it did not work.

Their playbook started with the debt ceiling—the Young Guns instructed their recruits to use it in their campaigns, an easy vehicle to show commitment to keeping the debt in check by vowing never to support an increase in the debt limit. Along with that was a promise to use the debt ceiling as a hostage, to force Obama to his knees by making him give up his key policy goals and accomplishments to prevent economic catastrophe via a breach in the debt ceiling. Thus, a new Republican majority could force repeal of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, and make the president support dramatic cutbacks in domestic government and spending.

The Young Guns told their recruits that they would act even before the debt ceiling was reached, promising a good-faith down payment on the conservative revolution to eliminate most government by immediately cutting spending by $100 billion after the new Republican majority was sworn in.

The tactics worked at the polls; Republicans won historic victories in the midterms, and achieved a robust majority in the House. But right after they arrived, the budget-cutting icon Paul Ryan was dispatched to give them bad news. They actually could not cut spending immediately by $100 billion. Ryan used “budgetspeak” to explain that the fiscal year had started well before the election, and they had to pro-rate the amount, and take into account the timetable of the budget process, so they could only achieve about a third of what they had promised. The Republican leaders staved off a revolt, but set in motion a distrust that encompassed traditional and older leaders like John Boehner but also the Young Guns themselves. As with Gingrich, the Young Guns assumed they could co-opt the new radicals. As with Gingrich, it did not work.

In the end, of course, the Republican majority in the House achieved none of its big promised goals—not the repeal of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank, not the elimination of Obama after one term, not the end of a single government agency. They were, however, able to bring to a halt any major new advances in Obama’s third and fourth years, and through the sequester cuts across-the-board in government, to sharply retard the growth of domestic programs. But those achievements meant little to a group of lawmakers and their activist supporters who had been promised the moon and were given a single slice of cheese instead.

At the same time, the promises to use debt ceiling and budget brinksmanship to bring Obama to heel resulted inevitably in Republican leaders backing down; the one time the government was actually shut down, briefly, in 2013 got them nothing in return. Added to the sense of promises unkept was a perception by conservatives of spinelessness on the part of Republican leaders—and a desire for someone who would not cave, who would respond to every slight or pushback not by reasoning or bargaining but by punching the other guys in the nose.

The deepening sense that Republican establishment leaders, inside Congress and out, were more concerned with winning and holding office than achieving policy goals, rankled and then enraged the conservative ideologues in the House. They grew unsatisfied enough even with the long-time right-wing caucus called the Republican Study Committee that they created their own rump Freedom Caucus. When most of the members of the even-more-right-wing-than-the right-wing caucus supported Paul Ryan for speaker, they were attacked—from the right. And Ryan’s masterful ability to strike a spending and tax deal with congressional Democrats and Obama itself was hit by many conservatives. Indeed, The Hill reported, “Conservative pundit Ann Coulter says Ryan, just seven weeks on the job, is ripe for a primary challenge. ‘Paul Ryan Betrays America,’ blared a headline on the conservative site Breibart.com. And Twitter is littered with references to the Wisconsin Republican’s new ‘Muslim beard.’”

But the disgruntlement went well beyond conservative ideologues, as David Frum described so well for The Atlantic. The resolve of Republican congressional leaders to strike deals with Obama to preserve tax breaks for the ultra-rich was not well-received by working-class white voters otherwise attracted to a Republican, anti-Obama message. It prepared the ground for an outsider populist alternative like Trump.

Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Mitch McConnell

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was a huge victory for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, an ardent opponent of all campaign-finance regulation who had been thwarted in 2002 when the Court upheld the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act known popularly as McCain-Feingold. Abandoning his pledge during his confirmation hearing to respect stare decisis and decide cases as narrowly as possible, Chief Justice John Roberts moved early in his tenure to take a narrow case and blow it open to a major one that challenged many decades of established law and Supreme Court decisions. Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion and provided the decisive fifth vote.

Citizens United alone did not eviscerate the campaign-finance regimen. But it, along with succeeding cases like Speech Now and McCutcheon, and the resolve of McConnell’s hand-picked members of the Federal Election Commission to block all regulations and enforcement of campaign laws and Court-endorsed disclosure requirements, turned the campaign-money system into an enhanced version of the Gilded Age, one in which limits were almost meaningless and a small number of oligarchs could dominate politics and politicians.

Interestingly, populists on the left and the right rebelled against this new order. The Freedom Caucus, for example, blocked McConnell’s attempt to remove even more limits on parties’ fundraising. So when Donald Trump condemned the role of big money, confessing that he had actively participated in buying and selling politicians but thought it was bad, attacking all his rivals for their Super PACs and billionaire sugar daddies, it drew to him even more populist support.

Barack Obama

There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Republicans do not like Barack Obama, to put it mildly. The partisan gap on presidential approval is the largest ever, and the Republican narrative on the Obama presidency is relentlessly negative. He is at once imperial and overbearing, using executive authority to run roughshod over the Constitution and trample his opponents, and weak and feckless when it comes to facing ISIS, al Qaeda, Putin, and America’s enemies. And of course, the failure of Republican establishment leaders to punch back and bring him to heel is a core part of the anger fueling Trumpism.

Obama as an illegitimate president was a theme pursued from the moment of his inauguration by ruthlessly pragmatic Republican leaders, much as they had done against Bill Clinton, as a tactical maneuver. But reinforced by tribal and social media, from Fox to Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, by “birthers” in Congress and around the country—including, famously, Donald Trump—the campaign to delegitimize Obama as a Kenyan-born socialist was more relentless and widespread. Campaigns that suggested Obama was going to seize Americans’ guns, reinforced on social media and talk radio, or plotting to advance a military coup to remain as president, advanced by Alex Jones and others as the Jade Helm conspiracy, and not repudiated by Texas Governor Greg Abbott or Senator Ted Cruz, added to the fire.

As social mores changed rapidly, the sense of frustration over a world where the social order was turning upside down became ripe for exploitation.

Race was not all of it, but it was undeniably a part, including comments like Ted Nugent’s that Obama is a “half-breed mongrel,” and Ann Coulter’s, on Fox News’s Sean Hannity Show, that the president was a “monkey” for Vladimir Putin.

Obama’s race, in many respects, became a symbol for a range of changes occurring in American society. Large numbers of working-class white Americans felt deeply unsettled as they struggled through a sluggish economy and the continuing aftereffects of the 2008 collapse—even as the 1 percent thrived more than ever. As social mores changed rapidly, including acceptance of same-sex marriage and the protests against police killings of unarmed civilians, and as social movements like Black Lives Matter emerged, the sense of frustration over a world where the social order was turning upside down became ripe for exploitation by Trump, Cruz, Huckabee, and others.

The immigration issue has been a symbol of all this change. Trump exploded as a factor on the scene when he adopted a position on immigration more extreme than other candidates—and in sharp contrast to the efforts by the Republican establishment, from Reince Priebus on down, to try to find a way to soften the rhetoric on the issue, and find a legislative solution that would give their party traction with Hispanic voters. The sharp tangle between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio over the issue—Rubio trying to “taint” Cruz by suggesting he has supported a path to legalization, Cruz emphasizing Rubio’s key role in brokering a comprehensive plan for immigration reform in the Senate—is a measure of the issue’s importance as a dividing line between insiders and outsiders, at a time when outsider status is more valuable.

Consider a world where partisan tribalism—the sense that the other party is a threat to the country, the enemy, not just an adversary—is conjoined with race, one party becoming overwhelmingly white, the other largely non-white. The challenge for national unity will be much sharper than it has been in over a century.

To be sure, many elements of this saga—raging populism; coarsened culture; bitter, invective-laced politics; demagoguery and nativism inside and outside the political world; partisan media; and an intertwining of race and politics—are not new at all in American history. The news is more about the amplified impact of these factors in a corrosive witches brew, in a modern world of new technology. The stakes are high. Comparable challenges and crises, say in the early days of the new republic, in the hyper-populism of the 1820s, in the Civil War era, and in the 1890s into the first decade-plus of the 20th century, took a decade or more to work through and return to some semblance of normalcy and national unity. It is not clear we have any more the luxury of time. When I wrote an essay for Foreign Policy a few years ago that the editors titled, “Worst. Congress. Ever.” I got a lot of feedback saying, “Come on, is it worse than the period leading up to the Civil War?” I responded, “You’re right. Isn’t it comforting to be compared to the period right before the Civil War?”

Of course, the first real contest for the nomination is still weeks away, and it might well be that Trump, Cruz, and Trumpism will falter, leaving a path open for a more traditional establishment nominee. But the factors that created this dynamic will not fade even if Trump and Cruz do. The face of American politics, and especially of the Republican Party, will be different from what most pundits have experienced or expected, for a long time to come. And the dysfunction of American politics won’t disappear or abate with a single election, or two, or three.

Norm Ornstein is a contributing writer for The Atlantic, a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal, and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/the-eight-causes-of-trumpism/422427/

When the Grandmothers Awoke

by Jennifer Browdy, YesMagazine, Mar 02, 2015

Becoming a global family, one that unites ancient indigenous wisdom with other faith and cultural traditions, is essential if humanity is to overcome the crises of climate change.

Given the global challenges humanity faces in the 21st century, we can no longer afford to maintain artificial divisions between peoples and nations. Learning from the indigenous peoples of the world, along with the wisdom-keepers of all cultures and faith traditions, we must begin to understand ourselves as part of a great human family that is itself just one strand in the web of life on our living Earth.

This was the impetus behind the journey of a group of healers, educators, and activists, predominantly women, from a variety of ethnicities including Hopi, Ojibwe, and Maori and from religious traditions as diverse as Sufi, Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist. They traveled together last summer to share their traditions and cultural stories, both among themselves and with the people they visited, in order to create a common understanding of how humans relate to one another, to other living beings, and to the Earth.

The journey was inspired by a meeting in New Zealand between Maori spiritual leader Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere and Sufi healer Devi Tide. Tide recalls Pere saying, “We’ve come to a place where we’re all in it together, we can no longer separate ourselves from each other. It’s a time of unity, a time for the indigenous wisdom-keepers to share our knowledge with the rest of the world.”

Tide tried to persuade Pere to travel and share her wisdom herself, but Pere had other ideas. “She turned around and pointed at me,” Tide recalls, “and she said, ‘It can’t come from one of us,’” referring to the Maori and other indigenous peoples. When Pere said that Tide should be the one to bring the wisdom-keepers of the world together, Tide said, “I felt like I had been hit by a bolt of lightning.”

That lightning bolt sparked the remarkable journey she led through the American Southwest, and then to New York City just in time for the People’s Climate March and the United Nations First World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

The group met with Grandmother Flordemayo of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, an international alliance of indigenous women elders founded in 2004 and dedicated to offering prayer and education as a means to strengthen the human family “for the next seven generations.”

“Now, finally, we are walking a pathway for peace together.”

Seeking to share perspectives and wisdom, the travelers visited the Hopi Reservation under the guidance of Hopi elder Pershlie “Perci” Ami and prayed at sacred sites like the Hopi Prophecy Rock, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon. “It was chaos and miracles, every day,” said Moetu Taiha, a Maori healer who helped lead the group. “It was like a kind of rebirth. We had to learn how to be a family.”

Becoming a new kind of family, Taiha said, one that unites ancient indigenous wisdom with other faith and cultural traditions, is essential if humanity is to successfully surmount the crises of the present moment.

The global human family was very much in evidence at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014, where some 400,000 people from every background imaginable gathered to send a message to world leaders that they must act immediately and decisively to shift human civilization onto a sustainable course.

In New York, the wisdom-keepers offered prayers for the healing of the Earth, first in a small ceremony in Central Park, and later center stage at the start of the huge rally. Their passion was mirrored by the great crowd in front of them.

“That moment in New York was the beginning of a new stage of unity,” Ojibwe elder Mary Lyons said. “Now, finally, we are walking a pathway for peace together,” toward a new understanding of the important role of human beings, particularly women, as stewards of life on Earth.

 http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/together-with-earth/when-the-grandmothers-awoke
Jennifer Browdy, Ph.D., teaches comparative literature and media studies at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, focusing on women’s narratives of social and ecological justice. She is founding director of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and editor of two anthologies of African, Latin American, and Caribbean women’s writing of resistance.

Human evolution

Evolutionary Leaders: In Service to Conscious Evolution -  Don Beck, Michael Bernard Beckwith, Joan Borysenko, Gregg Braden, Patrick Brauckmann, Rinaldo Brutoco, Jack Canfield, Scott Carlin, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Cohen, Oran Cohen, Dale Colton, Wendy Craig-Purcell, Stephen Dinan, Michael Dowd, Gordon Dveirin, Duane Elgin, Barbara Fields, Ashok Gangadean, Kathleen Gardarian, Tom Gegax, David Gershon, Mark Gerzon, Charles Gibbs, Joshua Gorman, Craig Hamilton, Kathy Hearn, Jean Houston, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Ervin Laszlo, Bruce Lipton, Lynnaea Lumbard, Elza Maalouf, Howard Martin, Fred Matser, Rod McGrew, Steve McIntosh, Lynne McTaggart, Nipun Mehta, Nina Meyerhof, Deborah Moldow, James O’Dea, Terry Patten, Carter Phipps, Carolyn Rangel, Ocean Robbins, Peter Russell, Elisabet Sahtouris, Yuka Saionji, Gerard Senehi, Christian Sorensen, Emily Squires, Daniel Stone, Lynne Twist, Diane Williams, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Claire Zammit, Tom Zender www.evolutionaryleaders.net  On 11.1.11 (November 1, 2011) Evolutionary Leaders gathered in meditation to hold this intention: Our intention is to transcend superficial differences that divide us – race, religion, politics, beliefs, culture – to acknowledge, experience and honor the essential bond that unites us all as one interdependent organism. We also intend to evolve in both consciousness and action so that each of us learns to perceive the whole, relate to others in wholeness, widen our definition of ‘we’ to be all inclusive and become evolutionary leaders for a peaceful, holistic, sustainable world.

Envisioning Where We Want to Go: An Interview With Evolutionary Reconstructionist Gar Alperovitz By Leslie Thatcher, Truthout, August 22, 2014         a new website — Pluralist Commonwealth — about principles of democratic ownership and on building a sustainable and

Mil­lions of peo­ple around the world find them­selves search­ing for a more mean­ing­ful, rel­e­vant, and pro­found way to engage with life. Not only do they want to become more con­scious as indi­vid­u­als, they want to per­son­ally par­tic­i­pate in the cre­ation of a bet­ter world….The fourteen-billion-year project that is our evolv­ing uni­verse has reached a crit­i­cal junc­ture where it needs con­scious, cre­ative human beings to help build the next step, together.  Con­scious evo­lu­tion for think­ing peo­ple by Andrew Cohen, Enlighten­Next magazine

…we must under­stand the fun­da­men­tal and often widely dif­fer­ing ways in which both indi­vid­ual human beings and entire cul­tures think about things and pri­or­i­tize their val­ues. Only then can we address the root causes of social frag­men­ta­tion and con­flict and cre­ate a form of global gov­er­nance that will guide the emer­gence of a new soci­ety in the twenty-first century.…There are now six bil­lion of us, and while we are more cul­tur­ally frag­mented than ever before, we are also more inter­con­nected. Every­thing is both global and local—everywhere.…our prob­lems of exis­tence have become more com­plex than the solu­tions we have avail­able to deal with them. While on the sur­face it often appears that con­flicts are tribal or involve com­pet­ing empires, or ide­olo­gies, or even national inter­ests, the real issues are in the under­ly­ing worldviews—the deeper human dynam­ics that can dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer from one cul­ture to another. It is these under­ly­ing cul­tural dynam­ics that shape the actions and choices we make, that deter­mine how we live our lives, how cul­tures sub­se­quently form, and why they often collide. …what we’re try­ing to do is cre­ate bet­ter ways for six bil­lion earth­lings to sur­vive. That is the ulti­mate bot­tom line—the health of the whole, based upon an under­stand­ing of human com­plex­ity and emergence…I real­ize this endeavor has a grand scope, but such is the nature of major par­a­digm shifts in our culture. A New Con­scious­ness For a World In Cri­sis by Jes­sica Roemis­cher from Enlighten­Next magazine

…find­ing a path­way to a viable human future is the Great Work of our time…Our envi­ron­men­tal, social, and eco­nomic sys­tems are col­laps­ing around us….This is a defin­ing moment for the human species. We have a brief win­dow of oppor­tu­nity to nav­i­gate the pas­sage from a self-destructive Era of Empire, char­ac­ter­ized by 5,000 years of vio­lent dom­i­na­tion, to an Era of Earth Com­mu­nity char­ac­ter­ized by peace­ful part­ner­ship.…This is arguably the most excit­ing time to be alive in the whole of the human expe­ri­ence. Cre­ation is call­ing us to rein­vent our cul­tures, our insti­tu­tions and our­selves. It is in our hands. We have the power. We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for. The Great Turn­ing: The End of Empire and the Rise of Earth Com­mu­nity by David Kor­ten, Jan­u­ary 27, 2008

Spirituality is a universal phenomenon. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live or what “tribe” you are a part of; you can be assured that spirituality will be a part of the psychological and social fabric of your immediate world. Why? Humans have a strong will toward meaning…spirituality provides us with a sense of morality and ethics and allows us to find a sense of peace in the face of life’s trials and tribulations. In fact, spirituality is central to being and becoming a healthy and well-adjusted human being. Spirituality also plays a role in enabling the evolution of individual and collective consciousness…
A person’s way of thinking and being is influenced by their worldview – the unique combination of attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions that inform how they personally understand and make sense of their place in the world…
3) The belief in fostering wholeness and interconnectedness, which means a universal spiritual belief that all life is interconnected and that it is your bond to all humanity that provides a sense of wholeness… Toward a “Common Spirituality”: Scaffolding for Evolving Consciousness by Richard Harmer, PhD, Noetic, December 2010

Spiral Dynamics is a powerful model and predictive theory of human development and cultural evolution…a powerful tool for understanding the complexity of human behavior. SD has been successfully employed around the globe for conceiving and implementing real-world integral solutions to social conflicts and for catalyzing individual evolutionary transformation.…this evolutionary theory and model for human development can help you understand the complex world we live in and to navigate the challenges of life in the twenty-first century.…how we think is so much more important than what we think!  Spiral Dynamics was introduced in the 1996 book Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan.… Spiral Dynamics suggests ways to move more quickly in the direction of deep dialogue and comprehensive, integral solutions…. As our world is now moving into the next stage of cultural pluralism and diversity programs, Spiral Dynamics offers a point of view that looks at the evolutionary dynamic of the deep underlying values systems….Spiral Dynamics connects everything to everything else…discover and reveal the mechanisms and stages that have characterized our long, evolutionary ascent from an animal-like existence.  EnlightenNext.org

Progressive movement and transformation

The reemergence of a Democratic left will be one of the major stories of 2014. Moderates, don’t be alarmed. The return of a viable, vocal left will actually be good news for the political center. For a long time, the American conversation has been terribly distorted because an active, uncompromising political right has not had to face a comparably influential left. As a result, our entire debate has been dragged in a conservative direction, meaning that the center has been pulled that way, too…the new militancy on the Democratic left is a consequence of a slowly building backlash against the skewed nature of our politics… the Democratic left is animated by the battle against growing inequality and declining social mobility — the idea, as [Senator Elizabeth] Warren … her allies are not anti-capitalist. Their goal is to reform the system so it spreads its benefits more widely…And here’s why moderates should be cheering them on: When politicians can ignore the questions posed by the left and are pushed to focus almost exclusively on the right’s concerns about “big government” and its unquestioning faith in deregulated markets, the result is immoderate and ultimately impractical policy. To create a real center, you need a real left. The resurgent progressives By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, January 1, 2014

Collective imagination emerges when people find strength in collective organizations, when they find strength in each other. Justice is never done. It’s an endless struggle. And there’s joy in that struggle, because there’s a sense of solidarity that brings us together around the most basic, most elemental and the most important of democratic values.” Henry Giroux Being interview by Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company, November 22, 2013

…if we take seriously the basic moral principles at the core of modern philosophical and theological systems we claim to believe in, in light of the data on social injustice and the serious threats to ecological sustainability, these questions should be central in the work of intellectuals…intellectuals…help us deepen our understanding of how the world works, toward the goal of shaping a world more consistent with our moral and political principles, and our collective self-interest. What are the forces that keep people, especially relatively privileged people, mute in the face of such a clear need for critical intellectual work? …I suspect that a desire to be accepted by peers is at least as powerful a motivation for intellectuals to accept the status quo. Humans are social animals who generally seek a safe and secure place in a social group, and there’s no reason intellectuals would be different.… When one’s professional cohort works within the worldview that the wealthy and powerful construct, the boundaries of that world seem appropriate. Curiosity about what lies beyond those boundaries tends to atrophy. Those forces have been in play for a long time, but another potentially crucial factor is the way in which confronting the reality of injustice and unsustainability can be morally and psychologically overwhelming for anyone…Intellectuals are in the business of assessing problems and offering solutions…to be a responsible intellectual is to be willing to get apocalyptic, and the first step in that process is to give up on the myth of neutrality. Intellectuals shouldn’t claim to be neutral, and the public shouldn’t take such claims seriously. American Intellectuals’ Widespread Failure to Stand Up to Billionaires and Authoritarian Power By Robert Jensen, AlterNet, July 5, 2013 

…We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world… A deep grief over what we are losing—and have already lost, perhaps never to be recovered—is appropriate. Instead of repressing these emotions we can confront them, not as isolated individuals but collectively, not only for our own mental health but to increase the effectiveness of our organizing for the social justice and ecological sustainability still within our grasp. Once we’ve sorted through those reactions, we can get apocalyptic and get down to our real work…to get apocalyptic means seeing clearly and recommitting to core values…we must affirm the value of our work for justice and sustainability…Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities—those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult—not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous…To adopt an apocalyptic worldview is not to abandon hope but to affirm life…By avoiding the stark reality of our moment in history we don’t make ourselves safe, we undermine the potential of struggles for justice and sustainability. Get Apocalyptic — The Case for the New Radical By Robert Jensen 

…Reality does shift, not merely on its own but as a result of determined minorities who learn how to use the lever of social action…Now is the time to choose our future… This means thinking big: embracing a vision so enormous it overflows our sense of the possible…The lever, [Judith Hand] says, is “people power”: the strategy and tactics of nonviolent action of all sorts. The fulcrum is any weak spot in the existing power structure, any shameful but unchallenged absurdity of power (e.g., segregated lunch counters, the British salt tax). The weight put on the lever to dislodge the fulcrum could, perhaps, be called applied moral authority… The Lever of Social Action by Robert C. Koehler

Can National Grassroots Push Depose the ‘Billion Dollar Democracy’? 

Chris Hayes: Bring on the upper-middle-class revolution!

Popular Resistance Is Percolating Across the Country — Inspiring Activism That the Corporate Media Always Ignores

We Can’t Give in to the Culture of Fear and Apathy — Channel Your Discontent into Positive Action

Transformation

“What is missing I think from the equation in our struggle today is that we must unleash radical thought. … America has never been moved to perfect our desire for greater democracy without radical thinking and radical voices being at the helm of any such a quest.” Harry Belafonte

…the role of art is transcendence. It’s about dealing with what we call the nonrational forces in human life, those forces that are absolutely essential to being whole as a human being but are not quantifiable… I don’t think it’s accidental that the origins of all religions are always fused with art, with poetry, with music. Because you’re dealing with a transcendence or a reality that is beyond articulation. And for those of us who seek to rise up against this monstrous evil, culture is going to be as important as the more prosaic elements of resistance such as a food tent, or a medical tent or a communications tent…that has just been true throughout history… the great religious writers, the great philosophers, the great artists, the great novelists, the great musicians, dancers, that’s what they struggle to honor and to sustain. And we, who are in essence when we really talk about it, engaged in a spiritual battle against forces of death, corporate forces are forces of death. We are fighting for life and we are going to need those transcendent disciplines that remind us of who we are, why we’re struggling, and what life finally is about. Chris Hedges on the Role of Art in Rebellion, Truthdig.com, Nov 27, 2013

The Big Theories Underwriting Society Are Crashing All Around Us — Are You Ready for a New World?

posted on January 30, 2014

Overview – transformation

“What is missing I think from the equation in our struggle today is that we must unleash radical thought. … America has never been moved to perfect our desire for greater democracy without radical thinking and radical voices being at the helm of any such a quest.” Harry Belafonte

- …Suddenly, the United States looks like the rest of the furious, protesting, not-completely-free world. Indeed, most commentators have not fully grasped that a world war is occurring. But it is unlike any previous war in human history: for the first time, people around the world are not identifying and organising themselves along national or religious lines, but rather in terms of a global consciousness and demands for a peaceful life, a sustainable future, economic justice and basic democracy. Their enemy is a global “corporatocracy” that has purchased governments and legislatures, created its own armed enforcers, engaged in systemic economic fraud, and plundered treasuries and ecosystems… We May Be Wit­ness­ing the First Large Global Conflict Where Peo­ple Are Aligned by Consciousness and Not Nation State or Religion By Naomi Wolf, Al Jazeera English, Posted on AlterNet.org, November 1, 2011

…what I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world…Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world…Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power.…The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history…We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable…This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened… Healing or Stealing? by Paul Hawken

…the role of art is transcendence. It’s about dealing with what we call the nonrational forces in human life, those forces that are absolutely essential to being whole as a human being but are not quantifiable… I don’t think it’s accidental that the origins of all religions are always fused with art, with poetry, with music. Because you’re dealing with a transcendence or a reality that is beyond articulation. And for those of us who seek to rise up against this monstrous evil, culture is going to be as important as the more prosaic elements of resistance such as a food tent, or a medical tent or a communications tent…that has just been true throughout history… the great religious writers, the great philosophers, the great artists, the great novelists, the great musicians, dancers, that’s what they struggle to honor and to sustain. And we, who are in essence when we really talk about it, engaged in a spiritual battle against forces of death, corporate forces are forces of death. We are fighting for life and we are going to need those transcendent disciplines that remind us of who we are, why we’re struggling, and what life finally is about. Chris Hedges on the Role of Art in Rebellion, Truthdig.com, Nov 27, 2013

Get Apocalyptic — The Case for the New Radical  

The Big Theories Underwriting Society Are Crashing All Around Us — Are You Ready for a New World?

 

Before You Give up on Democracy, Read This!

by Frances Moore Lappé, September 18, 2013, The Huffington Post

Who doesn’t feel like throwing in the towel… with congressional approval ratings at a pitiful 10 percent? For pete’s sake, even the much-reviled “socialism” has more than double the fans.

Yet a moment’s reflection tells us we can’t solve any of our giant challenges without public decision-making bodies that work. So settling for the best democracy money can buy is not an option.

And just as clear?

That we can’t we fix our broken democracy without a vision of one that could work. Human beings have a hard time creating what we can’t imagine or even name. Of course, our “vision” can’t be some pie-in-the sky, fairy-tale democracy. To be motivating, it has to be hard-nosed: grounded in all we now know — the good, bad, and the ugly — about nature, including our own.

Here’s where we might begin:

First, we stop assuming that the prevailing version of liberal democracy — elections plus markets — is the best we humans can do. Then, we appreciate what ecology has to teach us about democracy. It’s a lot. Simply put, ecology holds these main lessons: that everything’s connected and everything’s changingwith all elements shaping all others moment to moment. We, like all organisms, respond to context.

“Thinking like an ecosystem,” we can see therefore that our inherited notion of democracy as an unchanging, political structure — fixed and finished — is bound to fail. With an “eco-mind,” we realize that democracy’s first questions must be:

What are our species’ essential needs?

And, then, what specific contexts have proven to elicit our species’ capacities to build societies meeting those needs?

Anthropologists, psychologists, and our everyday experience suggest at least three virtually universal human needs: for connection, meaning, and power (understood as the need to “make our mark.”) And to meet these needs, three conditions — increasingly violated in today’s many so-called democracies — appear essential:

• The fluid, continuous dispersion of power.
• Transparency in human relations.
• Cultures of mutual accountability, instead of one-way blame.

If you doubt this short-list, just think where the opposites have taken us!

These three conditions could become our “lodestar,” as we embrace democracy understood as a way of life — not something we build once and for all, but a culture we continuously create together. I call it Living Democracy. It’s not a set system but a set of system values and conditions — the dispersion of power, transparency, and mutual accountability — that bring forth the best and keep the worst in check across all dimensions of public life, from our workplaces to our schools.

Living Democracy builds from the insight that today’s problems are too complex, interwoven, and pervasive to be solved from the top down. People rarely change by fiat. So solutions require the ingenuity, insights, experience, and “buy-in” of those most directly affected by the problems we face.

The term “living democracy” suggests democracy as both a lived experience and an evolving, organic reality — “easily lost but never finally won,” in the words of the first African-American federal judge William Hastie.

But… are we capable, many might ask?

Didn’t human beings evolve within strict hierarchies, vestiges of which linger today in gender, class, and caste power structures? Actually, no. During 95 percent of our evolution, humans lived in highly egalitarian tribes, anthropologists tell us. We kept them that way through “counter dominance” strategies because we humans thrive best when we work together, not under the thumb of one strong man.

And what does an emergent Living Democracy look and feel like?

In learning…we afford “arts of democracy” — i.e., listening, mediation, negotiation, and more — priority equal to reading, writing and “rithmetic.” Students engage in practical community problem-solving through, for example, what the Maine-based KIDS Consortium calls “apprentice citizenship.” From environmental restoration to teaching younger kids bike safety, children in hundreds of schools are getting a taste for how good it feels to make a difference. Now, in dozens of countries, children are also learning the art of mediating disputes among themselves instead of simply running to an authority or fighting.

In economic life… Seeing through the fiction of a mechanical, autonomous “free market,” an “eco-mind” sees the possibility of democratic system-rules creating values boundaries that keep power widely dispersed and markets fair, open, and aligned with nature’s laws. (Perhaps the “free market” could then be redefined as one in which all are free to participate because it is kept accessible by fair rules.).

And we go beyond “fair distribution” to also embrace “fair production“; for it fulfills the core human need for agency. Fair production suggests opportunities for people to participate in co-production via cooperatives and other forms of co-ownership. And, even now, they’re hardly marginal: Coops of all types worldwide enjoy many more members — a billion!–than there are people with shares in publicly traded companies. Cooperatives produce 20 percent more jobs than do multinational corporations. In rural India, for example, they meet 67 percent of consumer needs.

In political life and civic life… Living Democracy means rules that prevent the influence of concentrated private wealth and corporation in campaigns and lawmaking, along with election rules barring advertising and ensuring candidates’ fair access to media. But fair elections and formal political decision-making accountable to citizens — not private interests — are but the beginning. Living Democracy means multiple avenues for rewarding engagement.

One is the “Citizen Jury” that in the Global South has, for example, brought diverse interests together to come to judgment on the direction of agricultural development, leading to strengthening ecological farming. Another, the “Deliberative Poll”: In Japan in 2012 this practice helped move the government to adopt the goal of ending all reliance on nuclear power before 2040; and in Texas, a Deliberative Poll used by utility companies helped the state become a leader in wind power. A great source for exemplars of Living Democracy is Participedia.net.

In Living Democracy, citizens also become active co-creators of knowledge, as, for example, citizen water monitors responsible for gathering water quality data now in 77 countries. Citizens also contribute to community well-being by sharing their knowledge and monitoring well-being, such as Nepal’s community health volunteers.

In these arenas and more, Living Democracy is showing up worldwide. But it can’t spread quickly as long it’s invisible. So, let’s remember that we humans, too, are shaped by our ecological niche — especially our social ecology. To further the world we want, we can start consciously creating forms of democracy creating the conditions proven to enhance species’ thriving — and thus to the well-being of all species.

Adapted from Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want and from the Solutions Journal article “EcoMind or ScarcityMind: Where Do They Lead?

Copyright 2013 The Huffington Post

Frances Moore Lappé is the author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want (Nation Books) and 17 other books including the acclaimed Diet for a Small Planet.

more Frances Moore Lappé


Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/18-8

 

American Intellectuals’ Widespread Failure to Stand Up to Billionaires and Authoritarian Power

By Robert Jensen, AlterNet, July 5, 2013

This article is an excerpt from Robert Jensen’s new book, We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out  available in print and on Kindle.

Excerpt

…Why is the majority of intellectual work in the United States not challenging but instead helping to prop up the unjust distribution of wealth and power, and the unsustainable extractive/industrial system? Both intellectuals and the people who provide the resources that allow intellectuals to work should ponder this crucial question. I am not suggesting that to be a responsible intellectual one must agree with me on all these issues, that anyone who does not agree with my approach to these issues is a soulless sell-out. My argument is that if we take seriously the basic moral principles at the core of modern philosophical and theological systems we claim to believe in, in light of the data on social injustice and the serious threats to ecological sustainability, these questions should be central in the work of intellectuals…a sharp critique of intellectuals as a social formation is warranted…This analysis focuses on those doing intellectual work with the most privilege and the most autonomy. Ideally, we pay intellectuals to help us deepen our understanding of how the world works, toward the goal of shaping a world more consistent with our moral and political principles, and our collective self-interest. What are the forces that keep people, especially relatively privileged people, mute in the face of such a clear need for critical intellectual work?I suspect that a desire to be accepted by peers is at least as powerful a motivation for intellectuals to accept the status quo. Humans are social animals who generally seek a safe and secure place in a social group, and there’s no reason intellectuals would be different…. When one’s professional cohort works within the worldview that the wealthy and powerful construct, the boundaries of that world seem appropriate. Curiosity about what lies beyond those boundaries tends to atrophy. Those forces have been in play for a long time, but another potentially crucial factor is the way in which confronting the reality of injustice and unsustainability can be morally and psychologically overwhelming for anyoneIntellectuals are in the business of assessing problems and offering solutionsWe are told that it is “realistic” to capitulate to the absurd idea that the systems in which we live are the only systems possible because some people like them and wish them to continue. But what if our current level of First-World consumption is exhausting the ecological basis for life? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take that lifestyle as non-negotiable. What if real democracy is not possible in a nation-state with 300 million people? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take this way of organizing a polity as immutable. What if the hierarchies on which our lives are based are producing extreme material deprivation for subordinated people and a kind of dull misery among the privileged? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that accept hierarchy as inevitable. The ultimate test of our intellectual abilities is whether we can face the possibility that there may be no way out of these traps and yet continue to work for a more just and sustainable world…to be a responsible intellectual is to be willing to get apocalyptic, and the first step in that process is to give up on the myth of neutrality. Intellectuals shouldn’t claim to be neutral, and the public shouldn’t take such claims seriously.

Full text

Given the considerable resources in the United States spent to subsidize intellectual work, why are so many intellectuals—journalists, academics, writers—not critiquing the many hierarchical institutions and not highlighting the disastrous consequences of these systems? Why are so many intellectuals instead providing support for the institutions and systems? Why is the majority of intellectual work in the United States not challenging but instead helping to prop up the unjust distribution of wealth and power, and the unsustainable extractive/industrial system?

Both intellectuals and the people who provide the resources that allow intellectuals to work should ponder this crucial question.

I am not suggesting that to be a responsible intellectual one must agree with me on all these issues, that anyone who does not agree with my approach to these issues is a soulless sell-out. My argument is that if we take seriously the basic moral principles at the core of modern philosophical and theological systems we claim to believe in, in light of the data on social injustice and the serious threats to ecological sustainability, these questions should be central in the work of intellectuals. Based on my experience as a journalist, professor, and political activist—a life in which I have always worked in intellectual professions and interacted with many other intellectuals in various settings—I have learned that the story is complicated but that a sharp critique of intellectuals as a social formation is warranted.

First, let’s recognize that intellectual work generally comes with considerable privilege. That does not mean that intellectuals don’t work hard, make sacrifices, or feel stress. But in general, intellectuals are compensated well for work that is not physically hazardous and can be rewarding on many levels. There are many intellectuals-in-training (graduate students) and underemployed intellectuals (adjunct faculty) who face overwhelming workloads and few perks, and so we should be cautious about generalizing too much about the category of “intellectual.” This analysis focuses on those doing intellectual work with the most privilege and the most autonomy.

Ideally, we pay intellectuals to help us deepen our understanding of how the world works, toward the goal of shaping a world more consistent with our moral and political principles, and our collective self-interest. What are the forces that keep people, especially relatively privileged people, mute in the face of such a clear need for critical intellectual work? The first, and easiest, answer is individual self-interest—the status and economic rewards that come to intellectuals who serve power. Upton Sinclair put it most succinctly: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

No doubt some intellectuals make calculations about how to use their abilities to enrich themselves, but in my experience such crass greed is relatively rare. I suspect that a desire to be accepted by peers is at least as powerful a motivation for intellectuals to accept the status quo. Humans are social animals who generally seek a safe and secure place in a social group, and there’s no reason intellectuals would be different. Even when concentrated wealth and power do not threaten people with serious punishments, the desire to be a well-regarded member of an intellectual community is a powerful conformity-inducer. When one’s professional cohort works within the worldview that the wealthy and powerful construct, the boundaries of that world seem appropriate. Curiosity about what lies beyond those boundaries tends to atrophy.

Those forces have been in play for a long time, but another potentially crucial factor is the way in which confronting the reality of injustice and unsustainability can be morally and psychologically overwhelming for anyone. As the documentation of human suffering and the threats to ecological sustainability accumulate, in an era when multiple communication channels make it easy to be aware of more and more of this information, that awareness can seem to be too much to face. The desire to rationalize the suffering and imagine an easy escape is easy to understand.

Rationalization #1: Justifying Hierarchy

When humans suffer in extreme situations, such as war or natural disasters, most people in most situations find it easy to care and respond. When the suffering is ongoing and apparently endemic to the systems of the world, staying connected to that suffering is more difficult. In such situations, it can be attractive to find ways to justify hierarchy and the resulting suffering, rather than to challenge power.

There is wide consensus on the values that are central to constructing a decent human society: justice, equality, compassion, honesty, opportunity, sharing. It is difficult to imagine such a society without these basic elements: (1) the belief in the inherent dignity of all human beings; (2) a sense of solidarity with at least those in one’s community, if not beyond; and (3) a commitment to achieving a rough equality so that everyone has access to the material requirements for a decent life. That list does not assume that people are morally perfect or perfectible, but instead articulates common aspirations for ourselves, others, and society.

How do we explain the fact that most people’s stated philosophical and theological systems are rooted in concepts of equality, solidarity, and the inherent dignity of all people, yet we allow violence, exploitation, and oppression to flourish? Only a small percentage of people in any given society are truly sociopaths, those who engage in cruel and oppressive behavior openly and without a capacity for empathy. In my experience, the most common way in which people make their peace with that contradiction is to accept the claim that hierarchy and injustice are inevitable, and that the best we can do is try to smooth off the rough edges of such systems. The process can be summed up like this:

–The systems and structures in which we live are hierarchical.

–Hierarchical systems and structures deliver to those in the dominant class certain privileges, pleasures, and material benefits.

–People are typically hesitant to give up such privileges, pleasures, and benefits.

–But, those benefits clearly come at the expense of those in the subordinated class.

–Given the widespread acceptance of basic notions of dignity, solidarity, and equality, the existence of hierarchy has to be justified in some way other than crass self-interest.

–One of the most persuasive arguments for systems of domination and subordination is that they are “natural.”

So, oppressive systems work hard to make it appear that the hierarchy — and the disparity in power and resources that flow from hierarchy — is natural and, therefore, beyond modification. If white people are naturally smarter and more virtuous than people of color, then white supremacy is inevitable and justifiable. If men are naturally stronger and more capable of leadership than women, then patriarchy is inevitable and justifiable. If rich people are naturally clearer-thinking and harder-working than poor people, then economic inequality is inevitable and justifiable. If the strong are, well, stronger than the weak, then the strong will rule.

As John Stuart Mill noted in his argument for women’s rights, “[W]as there ever any domination which did not appear natural to those who possessed it?” For unjust hierarchies, and the illegitimate authority that is exercised in them, maintaining their naturalness is essential. Not surprisingly, people in the dominant class exercising the power gravitate easily to such a view. And because of their power to control key intellectual institutions (especially education and mass communication), those in the dominant class can fashion a story about the world that leads some portion of the people in the subordinated class to internalize the ideology. A social order that violates almost everyone’s basic principles is transformed into a natural order that cannot be changed.

Rationalization #2: Celebrating Technology

Facing the ecological realities is even more overwhelming. People once spoke of “environmental problems” that seemed limited and manageable, but now the questions are about whether a large-scale human presence on the planet will be viable within the foreseeable future. An honest assessment of the state of the ecosphere is frightening, and it is easier to believe that the world’s systems can magically continue rather than thinking about how radical changes in those systems are necessary — and how even with such radical changes there is no guarantee that we can avoid catastrophe.

That frightening possibility is why the culture in general, and intellectuals in particular, are quick to embrace technological fundamentalism, a form of magical thinking that promises a way out of the problems that the extractive/industrial economy has created. Technological fundamentalists believe that the increasing use of evermore sophisticated high-energy advanced technology is always a good thing and that any problems caused by the unintended consequences of such technology eventually can be remedied by more technology. Perhaps the ultimate example of this is “geo-engineering,” the belief that we can intervene at the planetary level in the climate system to deal effectively with global warming. Given massive human failure at much lower levels of intervention, this approach—which “offers the tantalizing promise of a climate change fix that would allow us to continue our resource-exhausting way of life, indefinitely”—is, quite literally, insane.

Those who question such “solutions” are often said to be anti-technology, which is a meaningless insult. All human beings use technology of some kind, whether stone tools or computers. An anti-fundamentalist position does not assert that all technology is bad, but that the introduction of new technology should be evaluated carefully on the basis of its effects — predictable and unpredictable — on human communities and the non-human world, with an understanding of the limits of our knowledge. We have moved too far and too fast, outstripping our capacity to manage the world we have created. The answer is not some naïve return to a romanticized past, but a recognition of what we have created and a systematic evaluation to determine how to recover from our most dangerous missteps.

But the technological fundamentalists see no reason to consider such things. They have faith in human cleverness. The title of a recent book by an environmentalist—The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans—sums it up: Technological fundamentalists believe humans can play God and control an infinitely complex universe with enough competence to save not only ourselves but the planet. There’s nothing new about that arrogance. In 1968, Stewart Brand began the Whole Earth Catalog with that famous line, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Four decades later, with the evidence of human failure piling up, Brand remained the loyal technological fundamentalist, arguing that his suggestion had become an imperative: “We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it.”

Our experience with the unintended consequences of modern technology is fairly extensive. For example, there’s the case of automobiles and the burning of petroleum in internal-combustion engines, which give us the ability to travel considerable distances with a fair amount of individual autonomy. This technology also has given us traffic jams and road rage, strip malls and smog, while contributing to rapid climate change that threatens sustainable life on the planet. We haven’t quite figured out how to cope with these problems, and in retrospect it might have been wise to go slower in the development of a system geared toward private, individual transportation based on the car and spend more time considering potential consequences.

Or how about CFCs and the ozone hole? Chlorofluorocarbons have a variety of industrial, commercial and household applications, including in air-conditioning. They were thought to be a miracle chemical when introduced in the 1930s—non-toxic, non-flammable and non-reactive with other chemical compounds. But in the 1980s, researchers began to understand that while CFCs are stable in the troposphere, when they move to the stratosphere and are broken down by strong ultraviolet light they release chlorine atoms that deplete the ozone layer. This unintended effect deflated the exuberance a bit. Depletion of the ozone layer means that more UV radiation reaches the Earth’s surface, and overexposure to UV radiation is a cause of skin cancer, cataracts and immune suppression.

But wait, the technological fundamentalists might argue, our experience with CFCs refutes your argument—humans got a handle on that one and banned CFCs, and now the ozone hole is closing. These gases, which were once commonly used in air-conditioning, were regulated in 1987 through the Montreal Protocol, which has reduced damage to the ozone layer. The oldest and most damaging CFC coolants have been largely eliminated from use, and the newer hydrochlorofluorocarbons that are now widely used have little or no effect on the ozone layer. That’s all true, but unfortunately we now know that the HCFC gases contribute to global warming. Scientists estimate that up to a quarter of all global warming will be attributable to those gases by 2050, so that “the therapy to cure one global environmental disaster is now seeding another.”

So the reasonable question is: If the dangerous HCFCs that replaced the dangerous CFCs are replaced by a new chemical that appears harmless, how long will it take before the dangerous effects of that replacement become visible? There’s no way to predict, but it seems reasonable to ask the question. Society didn’t react to the news about CFCs or HCFCs by thinking about ways to step back from a developed world that has become dependent on air-conditioning, but instead continues to search for replacements to keep the air conditioning running.

Intellectuals are in the business of assessing problems and offering solutions. Technological fundamentalism allows intellectuals to offer solutions that don’t threaten existing institutions and don’t make demands on society in general, which allows intellectuals to retain their status and level of comfort, at least in the short term. The obvious problem is that if we look only for “solutions” that don’t disturb existing systems, and those existing systems are unsustainable, then our solutions are at best irrelevant and at worst will exacerbate the fundamental problems and make it harder for people to imagine new systems.

This is not an argument to abandon all attempts to improve technology, stop exploring ways technology can contribute to a healthier planet, or halt research on renewable energy. A sensible approach to our cascading ecological crises is to pursue multiple strategies that mitigate the worst of what exists today while planning for a radically different tomorrow. Technological fundamentalism is dangerous because it encourages us to focus on the former and ignore the latter.

The problem, succinctly stated: When intellectuals limit themselves to inquiry that stays safely within existing systems, they are being unrealistic. That claim turns the tables on establishment intellectuals, who routinely criticize more radical colleagues for not being realistic. But imagine that you are riding comfortably on a train. You look out the window and see that not too far ahead the tracks end abruptly and that the train will derail if it continues moving ahead. You suggest that the train should stop immediately and that the passengers go forward on foot. This will require a major shift in everyone’s way of traveling, of course, but it appears to you to be the only realistic option; to continue barreling forward is to guarantee catastrophic consequences. But when you propose this course of action, others who have grown comfortable riding on the train say, “Everybody likes riding the train, and so telling us to get off is not realistic.”

In the contemporary United States, we are trapped in a similar delusion. We are told that it is “realistic” to capitulate to the absurd idea that the systems in which we live are the only systems possible because some people like them and wish them to continue. But what if our current level of First-World consumption is exhausting the ecological basis for life? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take that lifestyle as non-negotiable. What if real democracy is not possible in a nation-state with 300 million people? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take this way of organizing a polity as immutable. What if the hierarchies on which our lives are based are producing extreme material deprivation for subordinated people and a kind of dull misery among the privileged? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that accept hierarchy as inevitable.

The ultimate test of our intellectual abilities is whether we can face the possibility that there may be no way out of these traps and yet continue to work for a more just and sustainable world (more on that later). That is not easy, but to be a responsible intellectual is to be willing to get apocalyptic, and the first step in that process is to give up on the myth of neutrality. Intellectuals shouldn’t claim to be neutral, and the public shouldn’t take such claims seriously.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/books/widespread-failure-intellectuals-stand-authoritarian-power-america

Links:
[1] http://alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/robert-jensen-1
[3] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/148195847X/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
[4] http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BAWQO84
[5] http://www.alternet.org/tags/apocalypse
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/jensen
[7] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

The Zimmerman Verdict Is a Wakeup Call to Address the Deep and Structural Injustices in America

By Makani ThembaAlterNet, July 15, 2013   Makani Themba is executive director of The Praxis Project.

Excerpt

…It is wrong. It is an atrocity. There’s no way this verdict would have gone down if Trayvon was white. The legal argument that led to this verdict, which is centuries old, could not exist without de facto acceptance of racism as legitimate motive and Blackness itself as life threatening…The Zimmerman trial was essentially an opportunity to lay more legal groundwork to advance vigilantism. Let’s face it.   This is a standard ‘go to’ move in the white supremacy handbook because the vigilante state is particularly important when the “majority” becomes a “minority” as a way to hold power without the pretense of democracy…What is most important, however, is the structural analysis and strategy that undergirds their work. Much of our work – in stark contrast – is focused at the level of individual casework.  And it’s just not enough. We often labor under the mistaken assumption that law is created by case history and argued in courts.  As a result, the bulk of resources targeted for racial justice work are invested in groups engaged in legal defense strategies.  Yet, law is so much more than cases.  Law is a fluid amalgamation of principle – ideals like freedom, liberty, equality; public perception and meaning – how we come to understand what principles mean in our current context; code – the nitty gritty words and technicalities that make up how these principles are implemented to and for whom; andcoercion and intimidation – we follow laws that don’t work for us because we’d rather not deal with the consequences. The Right understands the importance of all these elements in the forging of law and social norms...Yes, we should support efforts to bring Zimmerman up on civil rights charges……… We must also be more adept at leveraging human rights tools at our disposal to take our efforts beyond the limited framework of the Constitution  and reimagine remedies at a macro-systemic level including, yes, even reparations. Ending this tragic history of murder and mayhem; ensuring that there are no more Trayvons or Oscars or Vincents or Addie Maes requires an upending of the deeply entrenched structures that led to their deaths in the first place.  Let’s hope that this latest wakeup call will inspire more of us to take on the deeper work of structural transformation to make tragedies like these a thing of the past.

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“They call it due process and some people are overdue… Somebody said ‘brother-man gonna break a window, gonna steal a hubcap, gonna smoke a joint, brother man gonna go to jail.’  The man who tried to steal America is not in jail… And America was ‘shocked.’  America leads the world in shocks.  Unfortunately, America does not lead the world in deciphering the cause of shock…” - We Beg Your Pardon (Pardon Our Analysis) by Gil Scott-Heron

No matter how many times I live through moments like these, it never gets any easier.  Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant [3], John T. Williams [4], Henry Glover [5], Juan Herera [6], Amadou Diallo [7], Iman Morales [8],Eleanor Bumpers [9], Vincent Chin [10], Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Denise McNair [11], Emmett Till [12]… There are so many more names to recall.  There are so many names I don’t know.  And they number into the millions, over centuries as we are reminded over and over again that for people of color in this country, our lives are cheap.

I think my friend Dennis said it best when he observed that Trayvon was convicted of his own murder.

My heart goes out to Trayvon’s family and all of us who are feeling the trauma and pain in this moment. It is wrong. It is an atrocity. There’s no way this verdict would have gone down if Trayvon was white. The legal argument that led to this verdict, which is centuries old, could not exist without de facto acceptance of racism as legitimate motive and Blackness itself as life threatening.

With each of these cases, we find ourselves in a kind of shock.  As in how could the country that brought you slavery, the Alamo, small pox blankets and waterboarding do such a thing?  Again? Many of us believe there is a “real” America, which is noble and great and if only we could take her “back” and let her be as she was intended, everything would be alright. 

I’m betting that that’s going to work about as well as any other abusive relationship.  It’s time for a change.

The Zimmerman trial was essentially an opportunity to lay more legal groundwork to advance vigilantism. Let’s face it.   This is a standard ‘go to’ move in the white supremacy handbook because the vigilante state is particularly important when the “majority” becomes a “minority” as a way to hold power without the pretense of democracy. Unlike Malcolm X in his famous 1964 speech The Ballot or the Bullet [13], white supremacy works to hold down the ballot and the bullet. It is not an “either or” proposition.

What is most important, however, is the structural analysis and strategy that undergirds their work. Much of our work – in stark contrast – is focused at the level of individual casework.  And it’s just not enough.

We often labor under the mistaken assumption that law is created by case history and argued in courts.  As a result, the bulk of resources targeted for racial justice work are invested in groups engaged in legal defense strategies.  Yet, law is so much more than cases.  Law is a fluid amalgamation of principle – ideals like freedom, liberty, equality; public perception and meaning – how we come to understand what principles mean in our current context; code – the nitty gritty words and technicalities that make up how these principles are implemented to and for whom; andcoercion and intimidation – we follow laws that don’t work for us because we’d rather not deal with the consequences. 

The Right understands the importance of all these elements in the forging of law and social norms.  They push for cases that push us on all these fronts.  They work to control not only the public narrative but the institutions that shape meaning and teach us what to think about the world and each other.  And they defend vigilante and state violence that works to limit our freedom, our mobility and even our dreams of what’s possible for our children.   Trying to counter these efforts with law centered strategy is like expecting to beat a card shark at poker – using their marked deck.

Yes, we should support efforts to bring Zimmerman up on civil rights charges [14] and boycott the companies that fund groups like ALEC that are responsible for the law [15] that made his acquittal possible.  We also need a DOJ investigation and suit to address the blatantly racist patterns in the application of stand your ground type laws and extrajudicial killings [16] in general.  We must also be more adept at leveraging human rights tools at our disposal [17] to take our efforts beyond the limited framework of the Constitution [18] and reimagine remedies at a macro-systemic level including, yes, even reparations [19].

Ending this tragic history of murder and mayhem; ensuring that there are no more Trayvons or Oscars or Vincents or Addie Maes requires an upending of the deeply entrenched structures that led to their deaths in the first place.  Let’s hope that this latest wakeup call will inspire more of us to take on the deeper work of structural transformation to make tragedies like these a thing of the past.

See more stories tagged with:

zimmerman [20],

trayvon [21]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/reimagining-remedies-21st-century-wake-zimmerman-verdict

Links:
[1] http://alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/makani-themba
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/05/mehserle-sentencing-judge_n_779643.html
[4] http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/02/seattle_cop_resigns_after_native_american_carvers_killing_ruled_unjustified.html
[5] http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/06/nopd_officers_indicted_in_henr.html
[6] http://www.ocregister.com/news/herrera-62938-furtado-city.html
[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/26/nyregion/diallo-verdict-overview-4-officers-diallo-shooting-are-acquitted-all-charges.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
[8] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/25/nyregion/25tased.html?_r=0
[9] http://www.nytimes.com/1985/04/13/nyregion/state-judge-dismisses-indictment-of-officer-in-the-bumpurs-killing.html
[10] http://blog.sfgate.com/eguillermo/2012/06/27/vincent-chins-murderer-still-sorry-but-30-years-of-freedom-hasnt-changed-his-view-of-the-crime/
[11] http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93402&page=1#.UeQgjay4UiU
[12] http://www.emmetttillmurder.com/
[13] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRNciryImqg
[14] https://donate.naacp.org/page/s/doj-civil-rights-petition?source=zimmermannotguiltyLB&utm_medium=lightbox&utm_source=NAACP&utm_campaign=zimmermannotguiltyLB
[15] http://www.republicreport.org/2012/trayvon-martin-alec-corporate-funder/
[16] http://mxgm.org/operation-ghetto-storm-2012-annual-report-on-the-extrajudicial-killing-of-313-black-people/
[17] http://thepraxisproject.org/using-international-convention-elimination-all-forms-racial-discrimination-icerd-advance-human
[18] http://thepraxisproject.org/scotus-decisions-poignant-reminder-time-finish-reconstruction
[19] http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/blj/vol20/feagin.pdf
[20] http://www.alternet.org/tags/zimmerman
[21] http://www.alternet.org/tags/trayvon
[22] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

5 Ways That Raw, Unregulated Capitalism Is Acting Like a Cancer on American Society

By Paul Buchheit, AlterNet, May 5, 2013  |

Unregulated capitalism is out of control. Like a cancer [3], it has become “something evil or malignant that spreads destructively,” with tumors growing in several once-healthy parts of the American body.

1. Attacking the Hungry

The uncontrolled growth of investment wealth is diverting resources away from vital programs, effectively smothering them. The average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) [4] recipient received about $1,500 for food for the entire year. At least ten Americans each made that much in under ten seconds from their investment gains in 2012 [5], about the time it took each one to fluff his pillow and roll over in bed.

Under capitalism, fortunes accrue to a few while 47 million [6] Americans, or one out of seven, need food assistance [7]. Almost half of the hungry are children [8]. For every food bank we had in 1980 [9], we now have 200.

Yet just 20 people made more from their investment income in one year [5] than the entire 2011 food assistance budget [10]. That’s $73 billion, taxed at the capital gains rate. Meanwhile, President Obama couldn’t get the $1 billion per year he needed to improve childhood nutrition [9]in schools.

Most recently, the House proposed a farm bill [11] that would cut another $2 billion a year from the food stamps account.

2. Suffocating the Students

The corporate style of capitalism allows young college graduates, the bright hope of the future, to work in minimum wage positions while carrying an average of $26,000 [12] in student loans, which accumulated because tuition rose ten times faster [13] than the cost of living, and which now come with interest rates [14] many times higher than the banks pay.

The great majority of pre-recession jobs have been replaced, if they’ve come back at all, aslow-wage [15] jobs in food service and retail. The number of college grads working for minimum wage has doubled [16] in five years. They may be the ‘fortunate’ ones. In 2011, about 360,000 [17]Americans holding advanced degrees were on food stamps or some other form of public assistance. Many of them are homeless [18].

Jobless and frustrated young Americans trusted the system, and it failed them. Yet free enterprise entrepreneurs hustle [19] them for even more college, in order to extract federal loan money, which goes right to the schools to pay administrative salaries.

Defenders of capitalism say hard work will ensure success. At a recent jobs hearing [20] in Washington, only one Congressman bothered to show up.

3. Weakening the Children

The disease has been spreading since the 1960s, when life expectancy [21] began to decrease along with increasing health care costs. Capitalism has betrayed our children. A UNICEF study [22] places the U.S. 22nd out of 24 OECD countries in “children’s health and well-being.”

Child poverty, perhaps the main cause of their health problems, is up 50% [23] since 1973, with the rate for minorities three times that for white children.

Our global poverty ranking is shameful. Despite having the second-highest average income for children among the 30 OECD countries, the U.S. ranked 27th out of 30 for child poverty [24](percentage of children living in households that are below 50% of the median income).

4. Depleting the Taxpayers

The body of our society has been drained of its vital juices by tax avoidance. Loopholes and exemptions cost the public about a trillion dollars [25] a year, and underreported [26] income costs another $450 billion. The total is much more than the cost of our stable but always threatened Social Security program.

Since the recession, Fortune 500 corporations have cut [27] their tax payments in half, even though their profits have doubled in less than ten years.

Finally, it is estimated [28] that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed, with up to40% [29] owned by Americans. U.S. PIRG [30] estimates that the average taxpayer in 2012 paid an extra $1,026 in taxes to make up for tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals. The average small business paid $3,067.

5 .Paralyzing the Voters

Corporations and Congress are a carcinogenic mix. Voters are rendered useless, like withering organs, as all the attention is given to the greedy mass of nutrient-taking super-rich individuals and companies.

A vast majority of Americans want background checks [31] on guns, an emphasis [32] on clean energy [33], job stimulus [34] programs, taxes on the rich [35], and an uncut Social Security [36] program. Yet Congress only hears the ka-ching of campaign contributions. Of the 435 House elections [37] in 2004, 95% of them were won by the candidates who outspent their opponents.

Healing

There’s much more to the sickness, like the workplace explosions and fires triggered by cost-cutting measures, banks preying [38] on working people, the environmental [39] destruction caused by oil companies [40] and herbicide [41] manufacturers, attempts [42] to profit [43] from global warming, the middle class collapse caused by corporations transferring jobs overseas and then calling themselves multi-nationals to avoid allegiance to the country that supported their growth. Et cetera, et cetera.

This all allows a small number of people to make most of the money. These are the people who demand ‘freedom’ at the first hint of regulation.

The post-WW2 American body began to deteriorate around the time of Milton Friedman, author of one of the all-time economic inaccuracies: “The free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people.” For forty years the sickness caused by his teaching has spread, at first without pronounced symptoms, but now in an out-of-control process that threatens to incapacitate the better part of America. A revolutionary medicine may be the only hope for recovery. A revolution, that is, of co-ops and small farms and local currencies and solar panels on the rooftops.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/economy/5-ways-raw-unregulated-capitalism-acting-cancer-american-society

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/paul-buchheit
[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cancer
[4] http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1269
[5] http://www.usagainstgreed.org/Fortune400_2011-12.xls
[6] http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3239
[7] http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/884525/err141.pdf
[8] http://www.fns.usda.gov/Ora/menu/Published/SNAP/FILES/Participation/2011Characteristics.pdf
[9] http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/09
[10] http://www.obpa.usda.gov/budsum/FY13budsum.pdf
[11] http://www.capitalpress.com/content/jh-farm-bill-details-042913
[12] http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/09/26/a-record-one-in-five-households-now-owe-student-loan-debt/
[13] http://www.deltacostproject.org/pdfs/Delta_Not_Your_Moms_Crisis.pdf
[14] http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-04-15/how-obama-wants-to-change-student-loan-interest-rates
[15] http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Job_Creation/LowWageRecovery2012.pdf?nocdn=1
[16] http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/03/30/number-of-the-week-college-grads-in-minimum-wage-jobs/
[17] http://chronicle.com/article/From-Graduate-School-to/131795/
[18] http://www.alternet.org/college-students-are-going-homeless-and-hungry-and-corporate-america-trying-exploit-them?paging=off
[19] http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_19/b4177064219731.htm
[20] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/24/lawmaker-unemployment-hearing_n_3148362.html
[21] http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/oecdhealthdata2012-frequentlyrequesteddata.htm
[22] http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc9_eng.pdf
[23] http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/soac-2012-handbook.pdf
[24] http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/19/4/43570328.pdf
[25] http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/UploadedPDF/412404-Tax-Expenditure-Trends.pdf
[26] http://finance.yahoo.com/news/irs-estimate-17-percent-taxes-204637410.html
[27] http://www.payupnow.org/CorpTaxByYear.xls
[28] http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/upload/pdf/Price_of_Offshore_Revisited_120722.pdf
[29] http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/upload/pdf/Inequality_120722_You_dont_know_the_half_of_it.pdf
[30] http://www.uspirg.org/news/usp/offshore-tax-havens-cost-average-taxpayer-1026-year-small-businesses-3067
[31] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/04/03/90-percent-of-americans-want-expanded-background-checks-on-guns-why-isnt-this-a-political-slam-dunk/
[32] http://www.alternet.org/environment/how-country-one-worlds-largest-economies-ditching-fossil-fuels?paging=off
[33] http://www.gallup.com/poll/161519/americans-emphasis-solar-wind-natural-gas.aspx
[34] http://www.gallup.com/poll/158834/economy-entitlements-iran-americans-top-priorities.aspx
[35] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/taxing-the-rich-poll_n_2203400.html
[36] http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/battleground-poll-hike-taxes-on-the-rich-84824.html
[37] http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2004/11/2004-election-outcome-money-wi.html
[38] http://www.alternet.org/economy/rich-have-gained-56-trillion-recovery-while-rest-us-have-lost-669-billion?paging=off
[39] http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=full
[40] http://itsoureconomy.us/2013/02/oil-sands-mining-uses-up-almost-as-much-energy-as-it-produces/
[41] http://www.biosafety-info.net/article.php?aid=267
[42] http://www.alternet.org/environment/cynical-companies-are-already-scheming-how-getting-rich-global-warming?paging=off
[43] http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-07/investors-seek-ways-to-profit-from-global-warming
[44] http://www.alternet.org/tags/capitalism
[45] http://www.alternet.org/tags/us-0
[46] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B