The real Madiba…
Public Power in the Age of Empire
"In 1987, the United States was a staunch ally of apartheid South Africa. The African National Congress and Nelson Mandela were listed as "terrorists"…
Time and again we have seen the heroes of our times, giants in opposition, suddenly diminished. President Lula of Brazil was the hero of the World Social Forum in January 2002. Now he’s busy implementing IMF guidelines, reducing pension benefits and purging radicals from the Workers’ Party. Lula has a worthy predecessor in the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who instituted a massive programme of privatisation and structural adjustment that has left thousands of people homeless, jobless, and without water and electricity. When Harry Oppenheimer died in August 2000, Mandela called him “one of the great South Africans of our time.” Oppenheimer was the head of Anglo-American, one of South Africa’s largest mining companies, which made its money exploiting cheap black labour made available by the repressive apartheid regime.
Why does this happen? It is neither true nor useful to dismiss Mandela or Lula as weak or treacherous people. It’s important to understand the nature of the beast they were up against. The moment they crossed the floor from the opposition into government they became hostage to a spectrum of threats - most malevolent among them the threat of capital flight, which can destroy any government overnight. To imagine that a leader’s personal charisma and history of struggle will dent the corporate cartel is to have no understanding of how capitalism works, or for that matter, how power works….
Radical change cannot and will not be negotiated by governments; it can only be enforced by people. By the public. A public who can link hands across national borders.
So when we speak of public power in the Age of Empire, I hope it’s not presumptuous to assume that the only thing that is worth discussing seriously is the power of a dissenting public. A public that disagrees with the very concept of Empire. A public that has set itself against incumbent power - international, national, regional, or provincial governments and institutions that support and service Empire.”
Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then
Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail. In 2004, after Mandela criticized the Iraq War, an article in National Review said his “vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given his longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.” As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list, thus requiring the 89-year-old Mandela to receive a special waiver from the secretary of State to visit the U.S.
From their perspective, Mandela’s critics were right to distrust him. They called him a “terrorist” because he had waged armed resistance to apartheid. They called him a “communist” because the Soviet Union was the ANC’s chief external benefactor and the South African Communist Party was among its closest domestic allies. More fundamentally, what Mandela’s American detractors understood is that he considered himself an opponent, not an ally, of American power.
And that’s exactly what Mandela’s American admirers must remember now…”
"Marxism’s call to revolutionary action was music to the ears of a freedom fighter. The idea that history progresses through struggle and that change occurs in revolutionary jumps was similarly appealing. In my reading of Marxist works, I found a great deal of information that bore on the types of problems that face a practical politician. Marxists gave serious attention to national liberation movements, and the Soviet Union in particular supported the national struggles of many colonial peoples. This was another reason why I amended my view of communists and accepted the ANC position of welcoming Marxists into its ranks."
(A Long Walk to Freedom)
"(We) fight for a world where there will be no unemployment, no poverty and starvation, disease and ignorance. In such a world there will be no capitalists, no imperialists, no fascists. There will be neither colonies nor wars."
- Nelson Mandela, in his handwritten Manuscript ‘How To Be A Good Communist’.
The real Madiba…
There is No Alternative (to the world we are inheriting)
Some are wondering why young people around the world are up in arms. It has little to do with…
Pork Barrel looks set to stay.
The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), far from being…
Pork and its Alternatives
Comedian Mae Paner (a.k.a. Juana Change) poses as Janet Napoles outside the Senate building during…
10 Signs of a Society in Decline
10 Signs of a Society in Decline (just a handful of examples)
1.) Women are objects.
Einstein’s Dialectics: Were his ideas responsible for nuclear war?
Did Albert Einstein’s ideas alter the course of human history?
The BBC documentary, Einstein’s…
Sacred Profits and the Economics of Denial
“We need flexible labor laws” – Peter Wallace
(Wallace recommends a radical overhaul of labour…
"In this RSA Animate, celebrated academic David Harvey looks beyond capitalism towards a new social order. Can we find a more responsible, just, and humane economic system?
Watch the full lecture here:http://www.thersa.org/events/video/ar.”
PATRONAGE POLITICS 101
‘Patronage politics not an offshoot of PH culture, grew during US colonial period’
“The patterns of patronage politics in the Philippines can be traced most of all to the American colonial regime which goes back to the early 20th century. National-level politicians dispense pork and patronage in order to get access to vote banks controlled by local politicians, and the local politicians in turn enjoy the use of resources that can help them get reelected to office,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on May 12, when he arrived here to observe elections.
“I don’t think there is any sort of cultural propensity in the Philippines if we go back to the way that the Americans set up representational structures raided by patronage-hungry politicians,” Hutchcroft further explained.
He said patronage politics had components including vote buying, pork barrel, jobs for supporters after elections and network in which patronage flows.
Abuse, misuse of PDAF linger under ‘Daang Matuwid’
"How do you square a circle?
That’s a puzzle that has perplexed geometers for centuries.
Yet Malacañang and Congress say they have found a way to square the circle of abuse and misuse of pork: a bundle of tentative, broad strokes of a “new mechanism” to expunge the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), by name at least, in the 2014 General Appropriations Act.
A month after President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III announced his intention to abolish PDAF, however, this much-hyped “new mechanism” for disbursing pork barrel funds in lieu of the deletion of the PDAF by name is evidently still a work in progress.”
"Up to 75% of all lawmakers in the 14th Congress of the Philippines hailed from the old political clans, according to one estimate by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center (AIMPC).
Seven out of every fifteen legislators have surnames that are a permanent feature on every ballot paper in every major election in the country: Cojuangco-Aquino, Magsaysay, Lopez, Osmeña, Roxas, Macapagal-Arroyo, Marcos, among the 169 most powerful political clans listed by political scientist Dante Simbulan from the years 1946 to 1963. These have given birth (literally and figuratively) to 584 public officials, including seven Presidents, two Vice Presidents, 42 Senators, and 147 Representatives. By 2007, the Citizens Anti-Dynasty Movement reported a drop in the number of those clans to 119, reflecting not a break in tradition, but an ever greater concentration of power by fewer families.
These 119 account for far less than 1% of all families in a country of more than a hundred million constituents.
Political dynasties dominate the country’s major political parties. 76 percent of the former ruling party Lakas-Kampi are members of dynasties. 57 percent of the dominant Liberal Party belong to dynasties. Dynasty-born and bred legislators, regardless of age group, occupy 74 percent of seats of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and 81 percent of the Nacionalista Party.
Such figures have changed little over the years. Between 1987 and 2001, the proportion of politicians with relatives in other government posts ranged from 62% to 66% of Congress. Dynasty -linked politicians still make up the majority of the present 15th Congress , and though their numbers have dropped from an all-time high of 83% of all legislators in the 13th , that has only meant more power consolidated in fewer hands, notes the Center for People Empowerment in Governance…”
Top execs of barred firms funded Senate bets, parties
"IN THEORY, elections are supposed to be the great leveler or equalizer of democracy. The vote of any ordinary man scraping a living off the streets is supposed to have the same clout as that of a tycoon living it up in his penthouse.
But in our rather imperfect world, even way before voters get their hands on ballots, things take place that tend to ensure that the wealthy and powerful will have influence on those poised to set policy and law.
For instance, a review of the documents available from the Statements of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) submitted by the candidates and their parties to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show that, aside from contributions by political clans keen on keeping their foothold in politics, some of the biggest donors in the May 2013 senatorial elections are personalities from the mining and extractive industries sector, as well as public works contractors who have major pending government contracts.
These are followed by big businessmen with interests in public utilities, transportation, ports and shipping, energy, and even the legalized gambling industry.
All these sectors are covered by the list of prohibited donors as defined by the Omnibus Election Code.”
Einstein’s Dialectics: Were his ideas responsible for nuclear war?
"My opinion of the human race is high enough that I believe this bogey [patriotism and war] would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the peoples not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interest acting through the schools and the press”. (The World As I See It, 1931)
"Einstein’s stand against US militarism, his views on the global economy, his defence of left-wing activists and involvement in socialist circles would prompt US Senator Joseph McCarthy, a vehement anti-Communist, to denounce him as an enemy of the state. While he considered the Stalinist bureaucracy a stark betrayal of the socialist cause, he was nonetheless targeted for investigation by the FBI, and was long held in suspicion of supporting the Soviets.
While his increasingly vocal critiques led to a falling out with the American establishment, Einstein continued to enjoy immense popular support from the public.
Toward the end of his life, he would devote considerable energy in support of the newly established United Nations, in accordance with his vision of an international system that would put a final end to the roots of human conflict and destitution.
As with a great many other thinkers, Einstein’s radical views were ultimately diluted in favour of a depoliticized image of him – a harmless old genius with fuzzy white hair – that fit the status quo. Many other scientists have gone down that same path, seeking to detach themselves, in the name of a false “objectivity”, from the socio-political implications of their own discoveries.
The consequences of such an attitude are profound, as proven by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the irrationality of a “scientific” economy hooked on competition and endless growth, and the manipulation of science itself by a self-destructive profit system that has put the future of the planet itself at stake.
It is only right that we restore the political legacy of a man who not only shaped our views of reality, but was shaped by it. Einstein saw all around him the anarchy and violence of a society that had lost its way, but did not give up on the human prospect.
The man who championed the theory of relativity was no relativist. He saw the progress of human history, however bleak, as containing within it the seeds of radical change.”
"We need flexible labor laws" - Peter Wallace
(recommends a radical overhaul of labour laws and deregulation of the minimum wage — while praising Malala Yousafzai at the same time:http://opinion.inquirer.net/63485/we-need-flexible-labor-laws)
A few comments:
1.) Lowering living standards or workers’ wages in the name of job creation is akin to burning down one’s house to claim insurance for it. It’s akin to forcing people dying of thirst to share a tiny glass of water when there’s a river of fresh, clean water right behind them: a river redirected to feed some greedy businessman’s garden sprinklers and mansion fountains.
2.) A lack of job-creating investments is not due to too stringent labour laws or minimum wage requirements too high for business owners to cope with. At any rate, labour laws are rarely, if ever, properly implemented on the ground.
Local entrepreneurs have been unwilling or unable to compete in an environment where nearly all markets have been monopolized by a few transnational corporations or local Big Business. Government “regulations” have always been in favour of the latter’s interests, at the expense of workers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Increasingly everything we buy in the supermarket these days is made by Unilever, grown by Dole, or delivered by San Miguel.
This is not surprising. It is in the nature of a capitalist economy.
3.) Deregulating the economy, slashing wages, promoting labour contractualisation, and privatising public industries to “attract” foreign investments: all have come at the expense of developing a local market and raising living standards across the board (which is also a solution to corruption and patronage politics).
We’ve been trying these same formulas since the 1970s, and have been following IMF/World Bank/ADB economic recommendations down to the letter. Unemployment, underemployment, hunger and poverty rates are as bad as they have ever been.
4.) Amid a global economic crisis, depending on foreign investments for job creation is a pipe dream. Transnational corporations are just as likely to pack up and leave for other countries with even lower wages or looser social or environmental regulations when the conditions are right or prove more profitable — in a gory race to the bottom.
The World Bank/IMF’s idea of a “suitable investment climate” is a sweatshop in Bangladesh with virtually no safety standards, where young women and children are paid mere cents for a 12-hour work day.
5.) Foreign investments have in reality come in the form of “hot flows” of capital to the stock market, which have left the economy in a chronic state of instability.
All this shows up in GDP growth figures (i.e. jobless growth) which fail to reflect reality on the ground. Millions are still unemployed and nearly half of the population still live on less than two dollars a day. With a dire lack of industrial development and an economy dependent on the service or extractive (logging, large-scale mining) sector, OFW remittances continue to prop up the country’s economy.
Such a strategy is the exact opposite of what South Korea, Taiwan, Japan - and today, a handful of Latin American countries - have pursued to develop their own economies.
6.) Public sector bureaucrats regularly pay themselves millions of pesos in bonuses every year. (see: SSS, Philhealth, Department of Agriculture, Malampaya funds).
Congressmen and senators regularly pay themselves millions of pesos in Christmas bonuses (up to Php 30 million each last December, courtesy of Enrile).
CEOs, bankers and company shareholders regularly pay themselves billions of pesos a year even when their companies are in a slump, requiring taxpayers to bail them out. The government (i.e. taxpayers) has taken on the burden of paying millions of dollars in private sector debts since the days of Cory - much of it is odious, accumulated by Marcos cronies like Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan - to please foreign creditors.
Public companies and services like healthcare and education have since been privatised to “open up new markets” for the private sector. They are still being privatised and are practically being given away to businessmen closely linked to Malacanang or Congress - sold for a song in the name of “market efficiency”.
Local and foreign corporations alike continue to lobby politicians - by funding their campaigns, for instance - to ensure themselves lucrative business contracts, capture markets, and eliminate competition.
And let’s not forget Napoles’ NGOs.
The bottom-line: there is more than enough money to go around.
7.) Malala Yousafzai is a socialist, a feminist and a labour rights campaigner, and unlikely ever to take Mr. Wallace’s recommendations seriously.
Look away from Pnoy-the-Knight-In-Shining-Armour for a moment and take a good, long hard look at his vice president, his executive secretary, a Congress and Senate dominated by landlords, war lords, druglords,…
"While we’re still arguing about whether there’s life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy? What sort of life will it be? By democracy I don’t mean democracy as an ideal or an aspiration. I mean the working model: Western liberal democracy, and its variants, such as they are.
So, is there life after democracy?
…The question here, really, is: what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximising profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?”
Wala na ang bundok. Bunganga na lang sa balat ng lupa. Hinihigop kaming lahat.
Ito ang hirit ng mga residente ng Barangay Didipio, sa Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, isang komunidad na nasa pambungad ng panggahasa sa kanilang mga lupain, tirahan at kabuhayan.…
"In the end, capitalist dogma can save itself only if the theories inspired by it can show that current trends are merely transitory, that the eventual new structures of society will ensure stronger growth for every country that embraces liberal principles (whatever its level of development), and that the trickle-down effect will be of benefit to all layers of the population.
But this has never been shown. We are simply asked to believe it, because the curative powers of the market are an article of faith.
I would like to suggest quite a different explanation for these current trends… the core of this analysis is the relationship of social forces, which - to simplify matters - consists of two sets of relations: those through which conflicts between labour and capital are expressed in each country, and those through which conflicts between national systems participating in the global system are expressed.
The evolution of these two sets of social relations governs the evolution of the structure of markets…
Liberal discourse has no other function than to legitimize the demands of capital - first and foremost, a recovery of profit rates. The myth of the self-regulating market makes it possible to claim that such a recovery will eventually produce growth, whereas in fact it goes hand in hand with slowdown and rising inequality.
Conventional economists have never come up with anything other than rationalizataions of current policies, themselves defined by the social relationship of forces characterizing successive moments in the history of actually existing capitalism. The massive rallying of these economists to liberalism is thus an expression of their wish to rationalize - and legitimize - the policies of capital at a time when there is a social imbalance in its favour.
Liberalism reflects a permanent dream of capital: to gain unilateral control over society in all its dimensions and to subject it to the single logic of profit maximization.
The dream is a false Utopia, since what that single logic produces is not expansion but its opposite: the deflationary spiral. Expansion requires social relations less unfavourable to labour. The peculiarity of capitalism is that it works ‘well’ when its enemies are powerful and capital is forced to adapt to demands that are not part of its exclusive logic.
Liberal doctrine sets out to prove that this is not how things are, that social progress is a by-product of accumulation strong enough to subject society to the profit motive. But in order to demonstrate this, it has to give up analysis of actually existing capitalism (which could not ignore the state of social relations) and replace it with a theory of imaginary capitalism, or ‘self-regulating markets’ - a theory, that is, of non-reality.”
- Samir Amin, Obsolescent Capitalism