Article 43

 

Friday, March 31, 2023

The Begginning Of The End For Israel

image: greater israel
 
And there went out ANOTHER HORSE that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword
- Revelation 6:4

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The Beginning Of The End For Israel

By Steven Sahiounie
Mideast Discourse
March 23, 2023

Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich gave a hate speech in Paris that may have begun the destruction of Israel. “There are no Palestinians because there isn’t a Palestinian people,” he said on March 19. He also displayed a map of “Greater Israel” which included Syria and Jordan.

SMOTRICH was born in 1980 in the Golan Heights in Syria but holds Israeli citizenship.  His grandfather Yaakov Smotrich immigrated from Ukraine to Palestine before WW2, and Yaakovs wife Bruria came to Palestine from Europe. Smotrich is a European Jew. The country he lives in today is called Israel since 1948, but it was never called Israel before, except during the 100 years of a Jewish kingdom that began with King David more than 2,000 years ago.

GOLDA MEIR was the first Israeli leader to make a similar statement. In an interview in 1969 with Frank Giles, Meir said,

“There was no such thing as Palestinians.”

The HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN condemned Smotrich’s statement as racist, and Amman summoned the Israeli ambassador for a rebuke.

Israeli voters live in a democracy and must accept the responsibility of placing their government in the hands of extremists who advocate policies that can destroy Israel.

Jordan is populated by a majority of people who are Palestinians, and that includes Queen Rania, the wife of King Abdullah.  Before, and since the 1948 establishment of Jordan, many Palestinians had been forcefully deported to the desert in Jordan by the Israeli forces, and others left for Jordan because of having lost their homes, businesses, and farms and arrived in Jordan as refugees.

The ISRAEL-JORDAN PEACE TREATY was signed in 1994, which followed the earlier Israel-Egypt peace accord signed at Camp David, in the US. Both of these historic and long-lasting treaties were brokered by American presidents. However, the treaty with Jordan is now seeing a fraying around the edges, as the Israeli official has directly stated most of the people of Jordan dont exist, and the map Smotrich displays calls for the annexation of Jordan.

Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime minister from 2001-2006, said he did not fear the destruction of Israel at the hands of the Arabs, but he feared a time when the US would turn against Israel, and that would mark its downfall.  For decades, the US foreign policy in the Middle East has been written in Tel Aviv, and many have complained that Israel dictates policy to the US.

Now, with the first ultra-extremist government in Israel, the US public and governmental opinion may turn against the genocidal and Apartheid regime in Israel. That was the fear Sharon: that Israel will destroy itself through its actions, by cutting off the SUPPORT OP THE AMERICANS, which reaches farther than the $4 billion in yearly aid, and props up the Israeli regime’s existence.

FARAN HAQ, a deputy spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said Smotrichs remarks were “completely unhelpful”, stressing the Palestinian people “obviously” exist.  “We continue to support their rights and to push for a two-state solution,” Haq said.

FAMILY SEARCH is a free website that has international records of birth, marriages, deaths, and residence.

In the US census dated 1900, there is Joseph Yabour who was born in March 1874 in Palestine. He stated he immigrated to the US in 1886, and both his parents were also born in Palestine.  He was serving in the US Army in 1900.  From his name I can confirm he was a Palestinian Christian.

In the US census dated 1920, there is HOMAMED MUSTAFA WHO WAS BORN IN 1984 IN PALESTINE. He stated he immigrated to the US in 1913 and was then living in Michigan. Both his parents were born in Palestine and from his name, he is a Muslim. In the 1930 census, he is shown living in Nebraska along with FIVE OTHER MEN all born in Palestine.

In a New York Times ARTICLE dated July 18, 1922. Section S, and page 20, an article appears concerning a man who owns hotels in Palestine, coming to Columbia University to visit his son, and his immigration “visitor visa” states “admit hotel man from Palestine.” From the name of the hotel owner, he is Jewish.

Combing historical records, we can see that the United States of America recognized there was a place called Palestine, and the people were Palestinians, who were Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Smotrich is trying to rewritehistory to fit his genocidal mindset. He does not support the UN resolution to create a two-state solution for both Jews and Palestinians. He also does not support a one-state solution that would see all people regardless of ethnicity or religion living together in freedom and with human rights, similar to America.

Smotrich wants it all. He wants all of Palestine, Israel and Jordan, and parts of Syria just for the exclusive home of the Jews.  He favors increased settlements so that the Palestinians will eventually be homeless and landless.  His vision of Israel is based on a religious ideology cloaked in politics: Zionism.

ISIS followed Radical Islam, which is the other side of the Zionism coin.  Both started with religion and perverted it into a political ideology of hate, death, and destruction.

In March 2022, Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, stated that ISRAEL IS AN APARTHEID STATE. Israel, he said, conforms to the definition as a “political regime which so intentionally and prioritizes fundamental political, legal and social rights to one group over another, within the same geographic unit based on ones racial-national-ethnic identity”.

The American public and the Israeli public both need to decide if officials like Smotrich deserve support.  With Israel labeled as an apartheid state, and promoting the annexation of Jordan, the American public and elected officials must decide when to stop funding Israel, and let them face the consequences of their actions and policies.

SOURCE

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Israel’s Crisis Is About Who Gets to Play Tyrant: The Generals or Religious Thugs
In pushing through his ‘judicial overhaul’, Netanyahu wasn’t destroying ‘Israeli democracy,’ He was richly exploiting the lack of it.

By Johnathan Cook
Global Research
March 31, 2023

Israel edged closer to civil war over the weekend than at any point in its history. By Monday night, IN A BID TO AVERT CHAOS, Prime Minister BENJAMIN NETANYAHU agreed to put a TEMPORARY HALT to his plans to neuter the Israeli courts.

By then, city centres had been brought to a standstill by angry mass protests. The attorney general had declared Netanyahu to be ACTING ILLEGALLY. Crowds had BESEIGED THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING in Jerusalem. Public institutions were shuttered, including ISRAEL’S international airport and its EMBASSIES ABROAD, in a general strike. That was on top of a near-mutiny in recent weeks from elite military groups, such as COMBAT PILOTS and reservists.

The crisis culminated with Netanyahu SACKING his defence minister on Sunday evening after Yoav Gallant warned that the legislation was tearing apart the military and threatening Israels combat readiness. Gallant’s dismissal only INTENSIFIED THE FURY.

The turmoil had been building for weeks as Netanyahus so-called JUDICIAL OVVERHAUL moved closer to the statute books.

At the end of last week, he managed to PASS A FIRST MEASURE, which shields him from being declared unfit for office - a critical matter given that the prime minister is in the midst of a corruption trial.

But the rest of his package has been put on pause. That includes provisions giving his government absolute control over the appointment of senior judges and the power to override Supreme Court rulings.

It is hard to see a simple way out of the impasse. Even as Netanyahu bowed before the weight of the backlash on Monday, the pressure began mounting on his own side.

Far-right groups launched a wave of angry counter-demonstrations, threatening violence against Netanyahu’s opponents. ITAMAR BEN-GVIR, the police minister and leader of the fascist Jewish Power party, initially vowed to bring down the government if Netanyahu did not press ahead with the legislation.

But in the end, his acquiescence to a delay was bought at a typically steep price: a National Guard will be established under Ben-Gvirs authority. In practice, the settler leader will get to run his own fascist, anti-Palestinian militias, paid for by the Israeli taxpayer.

Lack of democracy

Fancifully, coverage of the protests continues to frame them simplistically as a battle to save “Israeli democracy” and “the rule of law”.

“The brutality of what’s happening is overwhelming,” one protester TOLD THE BBC. But if the protests were chiefly about democracy in Israel, the large minority of PALETINIANS living there, a fifth of the population, would have been the first on the streets.

They have a highly degraded form of citizenship, giving them inferior rights to Jews. They OVERWHELMINGLY STAYED HOME because the protests weren’t advancing any conception of democracy that embraces equality for them.

Over the years, international human rights groups have slowly come to acknowledge this fundamental lack of democracy, too. They now describe Israel as what it always was: AN APARTHEID STATE.

In fact, it is only because Israel lacks in-built democratic controls and human rights safeguards that Netanyahu was in any kind of position to bulldoze plans through for the judiciary’s emasculation.

Israels political system permits - by design - tyrannical rule by government, without decisive checks or balances. Israel has no bill of rights, or second chamber, or provision for equality, and the government can invariably call on a parliamentary majority.

The lack of oversight and democratic accountability is a feature, not a bug. The intent was to free Israeli officials to persecute Palestinians and steal their land without needing to justify decisions beyond a claim of “national security”.

Netanyahu has not been trying to destroy “Israeli democracy”. He has been richly exploiting the lack of it.

The only flimsy counterweight to government tyranny has been the Supreme Court - and even it has been relatively supine, fearful of weakening its legitimacy through interference and attracting a full-frontal political assault. Now that moment may be just around the corner

Culture war

A superficial reading of events is that the growing protests are a response to Netanyahu’s weaponising of the law for his own personal benefit: to stop his corruption trial and keep himself in power.

But though that may be his primary motivation, it is not the main reason his far-right coalition partners are so keen to help him get the legislation passed. They want the judicial overhaul as badly as he does.

This is really the culmination of a long-festering culture war that is in danger of tipping into a civil war on two related but separate fronts. One concerns who has ultimate authority to manage the occupation and control the terms of the Palestinians’ dispossession. The second relates to who or what a Jewish society should answer to: infallible divine laws, or all-too-human laws.

There is a reason the streets are awash with Israeli flags, wielded equally fervently whether by Netanayhu’s opponents or his supporters. Each side is fighting over who represents Israel.

It is about which set of Jews get to play tyrant: law by the generals, or law by religious street thugs.

For decades, Israel’s military-security establishment, backed by a deferential secular judiciary, has set the brutal agenda in the occupied territories. This old guard is only too well-versed in how to sell its crimes as “national security” to the international community.

Now, however, a young pretender is vying for the crown. A burgeoning theocratic, settler community believes it finally has enough muscle to displace the institutionalised power of the military-security elite. But it needs the Supreme Court out of the way to achieve its goal.

First, it views the security-judicial establishment as too weak, too decadent and too dependent on western favour to finish the job of ethnic cleansing the Palestinians - both in the occupied territories and inside Israel - begun by an earlier generation.

Second, the Supreme Court is certain to block the rights efforts to BAN a handful of “Arab parties” that run for the Knesset. It is only their participation in general elections that prevents a combination of the far-right and religious right from holding permanent power.

Unfinished business

Israels political tectonic plates have been grinding noisily together for decades. This is why the latest turmoil has echoes of events in the mid-1990s. That was when a minority government, led by a veteran military commander of the 1948 war, Yitzhak Rabin, was trying to drive through legislation supporting THE OSLO ACCORDS.

The sales pitch was that the accords were a “peace process”. There was an implication - though no more - that the Palestinians might one day, if they behaved, get a tiny, demilitarised, divided state whose borders, airspace and electromagnetic spectrum were controlled by Israel. Not even that materialised in the end.

The current upheaval in Israel can be understood as unfinished business from that era.

The Oslo crisis was not about peace, any more than this week’s protests are about democracy. On each occasion, these moral posturings served to obscure the real power play.

The violent culture war unleashed by the Oslo accords ultimately led to RabinҒs murder. Notably, Netanyahu was the principal player then, as he is now - though 30 years ago he was on the other side of the barricades, as opposition leader.

He and the right were the ones claiming to be victims of an authoritarian Rabin. Placards at the right’s demonstrations even showed the prime minister IN A NAZI SS UNIFORM.

The political tailwind blew strongly enough in the religious rights favour even then that Rabin’s murder weakened not the opponents of Oslo but its supporters. Netanyahu soon came to power and EVISCERATED THE ACCORDS of their already limited ambitions.

But if the secular security establishment got a bloodied nose during the Oslo skirmish, the upstart religious right could not quite deliver a knockout blow either. A decade later, in 2005, they would be forced by Ariel Sharon, a general they viewed as an ally, to WITHDRAW FROM GAZA.

They have been mounting a fightback ever since.

Biding time

During the Palestinian uprising through much of the 2000s, following Oslos failure, the military-security establishment once again asserted its primacy. So long as Palestinians were a “security threat”, and so long as the Israeli military was saving the day, the rule of the generals could not be seriously challenged. The religious right had to bide its time.

But today’s circumstances are different. In power for most of the past 14 years, Netanyahu had an incentive to avoid inflaming the culture war too much: its suppression served his personal interests.

His governments were an uncomfortable mix: representatives from the secular establishment - such as ex-generals Ehud Barak and Moshe Yaalon - sat alongside the zealots of the settler right. Netanyahu was the glue that held the mess together.

But too long in power, and now too tainted by corruption, Netanyahu has come unstuck.

With no one in the security establishment willing to serve with him in government - now not even Gallant, it seems - Netanyahu can count only on the theocratic settler right as reliable allies, figures such as Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

Netanyahu has already given both unprecedented leeway to challenge the security establishment’s traditional management of the occupation.

As police minister, Ben-Gvir runs the Border Police, a paramilitary unit deployed in the occupied territories. This week he can start building his “National Guard” militias against the large Palestinian minority living inside Israel - as well as the “pro-democracy” demonstrators. No doubt he will make sure to recruit the most violent settler thugs to both

Meanwhile, Smotrich has hands-on control of the so-called Civil Administration, the military government that enforces apartheid privileges for Jewish settlers over native Palestinians. He also funds the settlements through his role as finance minister.

Both want settlement expansion pursued more aggressively and unapologetically. And they regard the military establishment as too craven, too deferential towards diplomatic concerns to be capable of acting with enough zeal.

Neither Ben-Gvir nor Smotrich will be satisfied till they have cleared the only significant obstacle to a new era of unrestrained tyranny from the religious settlers: the Supreme Court.

Theocratic rule

Were Palestinians - even Palestinian citizens of Israel - likely to be the only victims of the “judicial overhaul”, there would barely be a protest movement. Demonstrators currently enraged at Netanyahu’s “brutality” and his assault on democracy would have mostly stayed home.

The difficulty was that to advance his personal interests - staying in power - Netanyahu also had to advance the religious right’s wider agenda against the Supreme Court. That relates not just to the occupied territories, or even to the banning of Arab parties in Israel, but to Israels most fraught internal Jewish social questions too.

The Supreme Court may not be much of a bulwark against the abuse of Palestinians, but it has been an effective limit on a religious tyranny taking over Israeli life as varieties of religious dogmatism grow ever more mainstream.

Netanyahu’s mistake in seeking to weaken the court was to drive too many powerful Jewish actors at once into open defiance: the military, the hi-tech community, the business sector, academia and the middle classes.

But the power of Jewish religious extremism is not going away and neither is the battle over the Supreme Court. The religious right will now regroup waiting for a more favourable moment to strike.

Netanyahu’s fate is another matter. He must find a way to revive the judicial overhaul promptly if his young government is not to collapse.

If he cannot succeed, his only other recourse is to seek an accommodation with the generals once again, appealing to their sense of national responsibility and the need for unity to avert civil war.

Either way, democracy will not be the victor.

About the author:

Jonathan Cook is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found HERE.

SOURCE

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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

I Give Up

image:  help
 
“Losing your job at 50 or 60 is not good for your health,” says William Gallo, a research scientist at Yale University’s School of Medicine in New Haven. “There is compelling evidence that no matter who you compare the older job loser to, he or she does worse physically and mentally.”
- Some Words About Stress
 
The pain from the pandemic will last years. For current and aspiring retirees, it may last even longer. Commonsense reforms to our nation’s retirement system will not completely heal the wounds, but we can take steps now to ease the pain.
- Boomers And The Pandemic

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It’s been about 20 years since loosing my career at AT&T.

I never financially, emotionally or spiritually recovered, and abandoned hope of a happy retirement, but I am collecting social security that covers part of my monthly expenses, and still have some money stuffed under the mattress, explaining why me and this website are still around.

It’s not like I’ve been jobless the past two decades - but none of them PAID ENOUGH to get ahead like my old AT&T tech job. 

Today good jobs are replaced by the gig economy.

Across America, TEMPORARY WORK has become a MAINSTREAM of the economy, leading to the proliferation of what researchers have begun to call “temp towns.”

EMPLOYMENT IS THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF SOCIAL STATUS, said the public-health researcher M. Harvey Brenner in 2002, the year he authored a major study that showed that unemployment is associated with a greater risk of death. “When that is taken away, people become susceptible to depression, cardiovascular disease, AIDS, and many other illnesses that increase mortality.” But a NEW STUDY complicates the idea that literally any job is better than no job, at least when it comes to health outcomes. Instead, some jobs might only exacerbate chronic stress - and in the long run, disease.

Last year I threw in the towel, and STOPPED LOOKING for work. It’s NOT because I’m afraid of catching COVID.  It’s because I’m tired of striking out.  Two years of looking.

Things are no different today then during the great recession when THIS GUY wrote ALI VELSHI at CNN:

In an interview, he says that he tells himself: “Bud, you’ve had a good life. You’ve had a good 55 years. Why not end it now? Why spend the last 15 to 20 years of my life in total poverty when I’ve already had it so good up to a certain point? Why ruin a good life by ending it so badly?”

Or THIS GUY:

I’M TIRED OF THE STRUGGLE, the MEANINGLESS attempts to find gainful employment - to sell myself to others who AREN’T INTERESTED. I feel FOOLISH FOR EVEN TRYING now. When does one finally realize that NOBODY WANTS YOU? Just like all my other complaints, my job applications were falling on deaf ears. What a terrible waste of precious time. I wish I had the last two years of my life again - I would have done things so much differently.

I wonder if either of them survived the great recession, or just disappeared?

Ever wonder what it must feel like working in a modern day sweat shop?  Those were my CALL CENTER jobs after 2012.  Low pay, dead-end jobs.  But that’s all I could find in our SERVICE ECONOMY.

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It’s been a long road dealing with the depression, but I’ve learned a lot about the job market, people, government, and myself along the way.

One would think that posting your SUICIDE INTENTIONS on the internet would get some compassion from your friends, but sometimes what you get is THE OPPOSITE.

It’s understandable as one moves from middle-class to poor some aquaintences will drift away - like your lunch pals, or bowling league buddies after you quit the team - but I didn’t expect real close friends.  Some actually yelled at me, or asked me not to TALK ABOUT IT. Those are the idiots that after I do pull the plug on myself - will probably say something like “I had no idea he was that messed up in his head. If only he would have said something.”

For awhile I tried to FAKE BEING NORMAL like this lady:

She is in your friendship circle, hidden in plain sight. She is 55, broke and tired of trying to keep up appearances. Faking normal is wearing her out. To look at her, you wouldn’t know that her electricity was cut off last week for non-payment or that she meets the eligibility requirements for food stamps. Her clothes are still impeccable, bought in the good times when she was still making money.  IF YOU PAID ATTENTION, you would see the sadness in her eyes, hear that grace note of panic in her otherwise commanding voice… These days, she buys the $1.99 10-ounce “trial size” jug of Tide to make ends meet. You didn’t know laundry detergent came in that size… You invite her to the same expensive restaurants the two of you have always enjoyed, but she orders mineral water with a twist of lemon, instead of the $12 glass of Chardonnay. She is frugal in her menu choices, meticulous, counting every penny in her head. She demurs dividing the table bill evenly to cover desserts, designer coffees and the second and third glasses of wine she didn’t drink.

Even marriages break up from financial stress, so I guess one shouldn’t be that surprised only loosing friends.

AMONG MEN WHO LOST THEIR JOBS, there was a 32 percent higher risk of divorce compared to those who were employed full-time, said the studys author, Alexandra Killewald, a professor of sociology at Harvard University.

SUICIDES ASSOCIATED WITH UNEMPLOYMENT totalled a nine-fold higher number of deaths than excess suicides attributed to the most recent economic crisis..

In 2013 I WROTE

FRIENDS rarely call, email, or show up to see how I’m doing. They know I need their support so bad.  So why am I not moved to contact any of them?  Because the feelings of inferiority turn to shame, and being absorbed in self-pity turns one selfish, envious and jealous at others’ good fortune.

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One thing I can tell you is the power of love can be transforming.  Even for a single, broke, unemployed, suicidal, lonely, depressed senior like me.

One woman writes:

I SURROUND MYSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO HELPED ME KEEP IT TOGETHER, so to speak, when I started to lose hope,” she said. “I have one friend, in particular, who I leaned on quite heavily. Without her, and the counseling, I’m not sure how I would have survived. My family was a great help also. My dad, especially.”
 
BRITTANY ERNSPERGER’S DEPRESSION and anxiety were so overwhelming she couldn’t even wash the dishes. The messy kitchen made her feel like a failure, which made finishing the dishes even more challenging.

“I walked by them morning and night and all day long,” Ernsperger wrote in a Facebook post. “And just looked at them. Telling myself that I could do them. Telling myself that I would. And feeling defeated everyday that I didn’t.”

“This is what depression looks like. No. Not the clean dishes. But that there were that many dishes in the first place,” Ernsperger wrote in the post that has been shared more than 350,000 times and it has more than 17,000 comments since June 2018. “Three-days ago I sat on the kitchen floor and stared at them while I cried. I knew they needed to be done. I wanted to do them so bad. But depression pulled me under.”

As thousands of supportive reactions filtered in, Ernsperger experienced a new feeling: gratitude.

One of my two friends came over a couple of times and helped me clean the kitchen. Even brought his own mop and bucket.  He’s THE GUY I met at Sprint when we were both WORKING AS TEMPS.  Like getting hit with a bolt of lightning and having a NADIR EXPERIENCE, my depression lifted for a couple of weeks from that show of compassion.  I felt so grateful.

TRUE EMPATHY inspires what sociologists call instrumental aid. There are any number of tasks to be done, and they’re as personal as your thumbprint

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As INEQUALITY keeps getting worse, GOVERNMENT and mainstream news may not be reporting WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON.

Whatever they say about good jobs being plentiful is a load of crap, and the low unemployment numbers that headline the news are an insult to anyone that CAN’T FIND WORK.

EVEN IN SOME of the hottest labor markets in the country - let alone lagging rural regions and former industrial powerhouses - workers, including skilled ones like Ms. Ward, say they cannot find jobs that provide a middle-class income and don’t come with an expiration date.

It’s bad enough being discriminated for being OLD, but now I can add anti-vaccer to my resume.

I’m not planning on getting any of the COVID shots.

COMPLAINTS of [vaccine] complications were ignored and despite promises by Pfizer that all medical expenses caused by the vaccines would be paid by Pfizer, these individuals stated that none were paid. Some medical expenses exceed 100,000 dollars.

Some employers - even though they feign they CAN’T FIND WORKERS - won’t hire antivaccers. 

I think we can give President Biden some credit for that.

JOE BIDEN, unhappy with how many Americans were still unvaccinated, called the continued spread of the coronavirus a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The narrative was simple: Get vaccinated and you won’t get sick. Don’t get vaccinated, and not only can you get sick, but you’ll be a threat to everybody else… But it was enormously divisive to the country. It was also factually incorrect.

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About 1/3 THE U.S. POPULATION IS UNVACCINATED FOR COVID.

I can only wonder what the number of people refused jobs for making the choice not to get the experimental covid drugs really is, and what BLS report they - and the the folks getting fired for not having shots - are on. The figure is nowhere to be found. 

Closest I can find is THIS.

I’d be willing to bet both groups are counted in the overall NOT IN THE LABOR FORCE DOL and BLS reports - keeping headline unemployment numbers low.

Let’s not forget the aging boomers and how they fit in - working age is 16-65.

image: population by age group

image: working age adults

I’m sure that has something to do with the overall LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE but not convinced that explains why some of us are still looking (or gave up looking) for work.

OVERALL WORKER RATES are lower than they have been since the 1980s - and millions of workers who dropped out of the labor force during the COVID-19 lockdowns have yet to return. A peacetime labor shortage has erupted, yet vast numbers of men and women are still sitting on the sidelines of the economy.
 
ACROSS THE COUNTRY, employers are firing workers for refusing to comply with vaccine mandates. Some people are opting to quit their jobs rather than take the shot.

WHILE PILOTS WHO REFUSED to get “vaccinated” for the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) were fired by JetBlue executives, Perrys was brought on to take their place despite having broken into the home of a judge and attacking and beating his daughter as she was leaving the shower.

Government mandated proof of vaccination for work may not be far away.

In New York last week:

BOTH HOUSES of the New York State Legislature have passed bills that could pave the way for future legislation that will make it mandatory for adults to report all vaccinations and vaccination refusals to a state database… There is strong concern among health freedom advocates that the state government could use this registry to track COVID-19 vaccination compliance, with organizations like the Informed Consent Action Network warning that such a scenario is already occurring in neighboring New York.

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The biggest trick in calculating unemployment numbers is moving people ”FROM “UNEMPLOYED” TO “NOT IN THE LABOR FORCE”” on BLS reports.

THE STANDARD UNEMPLOYMENT RATE equals the number of unemployed workers, divided by the available civilian labor force, at any given point in time.

JOBLESS PEOPLE are classified into one of two categories by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - either unemployed or not in the labor force. To be classified as unemployed in the month they are surveyed, people must be actively looking for work. If they are not actively looking, they are classified as not in the labor force.

Gallup’s chairman JIM CLIFTON wrote a few years ago:

THE OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENTE RATE, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading… If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job - if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks—the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed… That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news… There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager:  If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20—maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn—you’re not officially counted as unemployed… Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find—in other words, you are severely underemployed—the government doesn’t count you [as unemployed]

There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

The other big trick is messing with the “household” and “establishment” BLS surveys. Read all about it HERE:

a gaping 1+ million job differential had opened up between the closely-watched and market-impacting, if easily gamed and manipulated, Establishment Survey and the far more accurate if volatile, Household Survey - the two core components of the monthly non-farm payrolls report

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Although medicare eligible, I can’t afford it, and even if I could, the coverage is PRETTY BAD for its $164.90/month premium.

Although the inpatient (part a) part of of medicare is free, a hospital stay is $1,600 copay.  Over 60 days they add a few hundred a day to your bill.

Outpatient - doctors and things outside a hospital (part b) - the $164.90 part/month - covers 80% of whatever it is they decide to cover - but doesn’t include your head (eyes, ears, teeth) or drugs (part d).

For an extra few hundred dollars a month, you can buy SUPPLEMENTARY INSURANCE from corporate America to cover some or all of the out-of-pocket expenses. Figure $400 - $500/month total for reasonable coverage.

The absolute worst part of medicare is - if you can’t afford don’t apply for its $165/month premium when first turning 65, a 10% penalty is added for every year you wait, and it’s compounded, so wait two years means 20% penalty forever.

How cruel is that?

The government and corporate America have another thing (part c) called MEDICARE ADVANTAGE.  It’s an alternative to medicare totally run and managed by the insurance companies.  Some plans may give back part of the ($165/month medicare) deductable, but 99% of the ones I found costs extra. 

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The great recession hurt a lot of people, and a lot of stories here spotlight their suffering.

2008

IT WAS A REAL EYE OPENER to see the caliber of people we were in line withvery EDUCATED with vast skill sets,” Easton said in an e-mail. Afterwards, we went to the restaurant located in the same hotel and it was filled with unemployed professionals sharing their story, from engineers to graphic designers to marketing professionals"… Across the nation, people like Easton are feeling the pinch. Good jobs have EVAPORATED. Former full-time employees are now working part-time contract positions just to get by.

2014

I’M NOT SURE WHAT’S WORSE. never having a career and family or losing them both. I know that when i got the honor of handing 20 years of hard work to the chinese it plunged me in to despair and a horrible spin. 3 years later and a college degree and ive lost my home and my family over it. and all i got was, you could have, you should have. so its all my fault that someone elses greed caused all this. by the way the corporate CEO that did this makes 7 million bucks a year. she caused 2 divorces. a dozen early forced retirements, countless career losses and multiple wrecked families. Im lucky i still have my RV which is home now. i used to have a nice 4 bedroom house with all the middle class trimmings. now i consider myself lucky to have a job where i barely make the space rent and no hope of recovering my former career or my family. i had it all and lost it so i dont know whats worse having or never having it at all and pining for it. either way it hurts knowing that no one wants you after you fall apart you’re just a hot potato. all i know is that im lost with no hope with a clean 30 year work history thats now moot. in retrospect i wish i had stayed in the saddle and kept riding my motorcycle till i was no more.

2016

UNLESS A MIRACLE HAPPENS” Joe will likely live in his 2001 Chevrolet Venture minivan by the summer. He removed the seats in the back to make space for a sleeping bag, his laptop and some clothes.

2022

APPLICANTS SAY they’re being ghosted by recruiters, having their resumes eliminated by applicant tracking systems (ATS), and struggling to find remote work opportunities. At the same time, unemployment benefits have been cut off.

By the end of September, Holz had sent out 60 applications, received 16 email responses, four follow-up phone calls, and [one] solitary interview.

This year (besides the usual crap of a hot economy from lying politicians) layoffs are ALL OVER THE PLACE.

IT APPEARS that the tsunami of layoffs that started late last year is starting to accelerate.  January was a horrible month for job losses, and major layoff announcements are coming fast and furious here in February.  But of course the Biden administration would have us believe that everything is just fine. Last week, the government told us that “the U.S. economy added 517,000 jobs” in January.  But as I discussed in previous videos that wasn’t what actually happened.  The raw, unadjusted number showed that the U.S. economy actually lost 2.5 million jobs last month.  That is a terrible number, but after the bureaucrats in Washington were done with their “adjustments” it magically became a gain of 517,000 jobs.
 
A WAVE OF LAYOFFS that hit dozens of US companies toward the end of 2022 shows no sign of slowing down into 2023… The layoffs have primarily affected the tech sector, which is now hemorrhaging employees at a faster rate than at any point during the pandemic

Just yesterday:

DISNEY is eliminating its metaverse unit as part of its plan to lay off 7,000 workers that will save the company billions of dollars.

The ruling and capitalist class must must be LAUGHING at people like me.

I was happy in my middle-class servitude.  Which is exactly what the money-hungry EXPLOITERS of human labor want.  And that includes government.

At the GATE TO AUSCHWITCZ is a sign that says “work makes one free.”

Not me.  Not anymore.  The OLIGARCHS are TOO GREEDY, and took TOO MUCH - including my PENSION MONEY.

Remember what Churchill SAID, “Never let a good crisis go to waste” - today meaning the COVID SCARE, UKRAINE WAR, END OF AMERICAN HEDGEMONY, and WORLD WAR THREE.

Whatever they’re planning next for the NEW WORD ORDER, God help our kids.

I wish they sold suicide pills over the counter - something guaranteed to work quick and painless.

Take the pill, go to bed, and don’t wake up.

Posted by Elvis on 03/29/23 •
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Ukraine Truths In A World of Propaganda

image: senator brakey
 
Americans have no idea why they have been at war in the Middle East, Asia and Africa for a decade. They don’t realize that their liberties have been supplanted by a Gestapo Police State. Few understand that hard economic times are here to stay.
- Americans Awash In Spin, 2011
 
Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.
- Wolfowitz Doctrine
 
Their military ambitions, in other words, knew no bounds; nor, it seemed, did the money and resources which began to flow into the Pentagon, the weapons industries, the country’s increasingly militarized intelligence services, mercenary companies like Blackwater and KBR that grew fat on a privatizing administrations war plans and the multi-billion-dollar no-bid contracts it was eager to proffer, the new Department of Homeland Security, and a ramped-up, ever more powerful NATIONAL SECURITY STATE.
- Entering the Soviet Style Era in America, 2010

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About the overthrow of the Democracy of Ukraine, Nazis, Joe Biden, and Fake News
Floor Speech Against Ukraine War Resolution

Senator Eric Brakey
March 9, 2023

Madam President, I rise to oppose this resolution in the strongest terms possible, as a piece of war propaganda that I will not have my name or my vote attached to.

This resolution on the War in Ukraine is riddled with half-truths, historical omissions, and dangerous conclusions that urge our nation down the path to global nuclear war the likes of which no one alive or dead on this Earth has ever seen and one that humanity will never see twice.

Rather than urging PEACE TALKS to bring an end to this border dispute halfway across the world, this resolution presents a simplistic narrative - with no grounding in the realities of foreign policy - or the history of Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War - in order to justify a continued blank check (now over $100 billion, much unaccounted for) from the pockets of U.S. taxpayers to the Ukrainian government, in an undeclared proxy war with no exit strategy and in which continued escalation endangers the entire world.

Passing this resolution, adding the voice of the Maine Senate to this fool’s errand, would be grossly irresponsible.

When I was a young man, I readily admit that I was fooled by war propaganda. To quote the President who fooled me, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… you ain’t going to fool me twice.” After learning the lessons of disastrous Middle East wars, I resolved to follow the advice of another President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II. In his farewell address, he TOLD AMERICA to “Beware the military industrial complex.” It is also worth remembering the words of Major General Smedley Butler - a decorated Marine of World War I - that “war is a racket.”

So whenever the bipartisan war machine - the uniparty in Washington - urges our country into foreign wars, it is the responsibility of all citizens (especially the lawmakers in bodies like these) to maintain cool heads and ask basic questions. So let’s start with a basic question about one of the claims in this resolution - seemingly parroting a repeated line in the corporate press, funded with advertising dollars from weapons manufacturers - that the Russian invasion in Ukraine was “unprovoked.”

Madam President, there are many justifiable adjectives to describe this war. Bloody. Vicious. Murderous. Tyrannical. Evil. Illegal. I would accept any of these, but I will not sign my name to a lie - and the claim this invasion was “unprovoked” can only be uttered sincerely if history began the day Russian troops crossed the border.

In truth, there has been a long line of provocations, many made by Washington officials (supposedly accountable to the American people), bringing us to this crisis point.

To be clear, provocation does not justify an action. A man may violently stab another who shoved him. That stabbing would be wrong, but it would also be false to say it was “unprovoked.” This word is used to absolve Washington war hawks of the numerous acts of incompetence and malevolence in the DECADES OF BUILD UP to this conflict since the fall of the Berlin Wall. If we do not acknowledge the actions of our own foreign policy elites in our own federal government that have contributed to this war, then we have no hope in prescribing a proper course of action to bring about a peaceful resolution.

Throughout the Cold War, the number one American foreign policy goal with regards to the Soviet Union was to keep nuclear weapons at bay. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet government dissolved, the nuclear arsenals remained. So too did the American interest in avoiding conflict that could bring about the end of the world as we know it. That’s why there were agreements, in those early days of the new era, that Russia would not contest the reunification of Germany and its admittance into NATO. In exchange, American officials committed - in writing - that NATO would not extend “one inch east” beyond the German border.

That agreement was promptly violated in the 1990s under President Clinton - against the explicit warnings of American foreign policy experts who cautioned Russia would fear these violations as nakedly hostile attempts to surround them militarily. Every American president since, Republican and Democrat alike, has continued this manifest destiny policy of eastward NATO EXPANSION toward the Russian border, disregarding the consistent warnings from both U.S. foreign policy realists and repeated red lines from the Russians that this is viewed as an existential threat to their national security.

Some say, “NATO is a defensive alliance, so what does Russia have to worry about?” I would ask them to tell that to Muammar Qaddafi, the former leader of Libya. His government invaded no other nation, and yet he was sodomized to death in the streets after a NATO-led regime change war in his country. Is that what a “defensive” military alliance does? (And for what purpose? Certainly no humanitarian outcome? The people of Libya now find themselves subject to open air slave markets - today, in the 21st century).

There is no excuse for invading a sovereign country.

This is the principle readily proclaimed in this present foreign crisis, and one with which I heartily agree. But it is odd to hear this principle now often repeated in Washington by the very warhawks Ive watched җ since I was twelve years old - lying to the American people with invented pretexts to justify the invasion and occupation of sovereign Middle East countries for decades on end, paid for with the blood of our soldiers and the treasure of our taxpayers.

And I wonder, Madam President, how we would feel as Americans if our roles were reversed.

For a moment, I ask this chamber to imagine a mirror reality - one in which the Russians won the Cold War and the Warsaw Pact was inducting Canada into its membership, putting their military on our border, just north of Aroostook County. Would we shrug our shoulders and rest assured that the Warsaw Pact is only a “defensive” military alliance?

Would we tell ourselves there was nothing to worry about after watching the Soviet Union as the worldגs last empire and super power left standing spend the last two decades on regime change wars across the Middle East with death tolls nearing one million?

As their military alliance snaked its way through Central America toward our southern border (with the KGB running intelligence operations to manipulate election outcomes and overthrow uncooperative leaders), would we not demand our leaders do something to protect our country from the threat encircling us?

And if our economy and military were a shadow of their former glory, and all we had left was a nuclear arsenal to tell Russia not to mess with us, how far would America be pushed before twitchy fingers were on the button?

In truth, we donגt have to imagine too hard how our country would respond to a Russian military threat at our border. We know how America did respond during the “Cuban Missile Crisis.”

President Kennedy considered Russian missiles off our coast a provocation, and he took action to secure our country - just as any national leader responsible to their people would when an antagonistic military force is approaching their border. Only fools would put a country with a nuclear arsenal in that position - cornered, fearful, and desperate - and then reject all offers to negotiate. Thankfully, Kennedy used diplomacy to diffuse the danger - a skill our leaders today in Washington seem unwilling or unable to exercise.

Both presidents Kennedy and Reagan - adamant cold warriors both who no one would call lovers of Russia - always maintained open communication with the leaders of Russia to avoid escalation into nuclear conflict. Instead, our present day leaders refuse diplomacy and push the war forward to the last Ukrainian standing - not for any benefit to the people of Ukraine, but to bleed the Russians dry just as in Afghanistan through the 1980s. This posture isn’t for the Ukrainian people, this isn’t for the American people - this is for the empire that now stands in the place of our once proud republic on a mountain of corpses to maintain global hegemony.

That’s why, in 2014, then Vice President, Joe Biden, oversaw the overthrow of the democratically-elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. His crime was not signing a trade deal with the European Union. In actuality, he wanted to sign two trade deals - with both Russia and the West - but when the E.U. agreement suddenly prohibited any economic agreement with Russia, Yanukovych says that he felt like a bride who showed up for a wedding, only to discover a never before discussed prenuptial agreement and he just wasnt in the mood anymore. For that, he was regime changed - and if you doubt Washington, D.C. had anything to do with it, I have a bridge to sell you in Libya.

Thanks to leaked phone calls, we know for a fact that the current Under Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, personally handpicked the leaders of the new government to replace Yanukovych. You can hear the phone call in her own voice as she tells an E.U. official who is in and who is out in this new Ukrainian regime to make the whole thing stick. Is this what ғdemocracy looks like?

After the coup, the new government - urged on by local neonazi groups, like the Azov Battalion - banned the speaking of Russian and launched an ethnic cleansing campaign in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Russia responded by annexing the Crimean Peninsula to maintain control of the Sevastopol Naval Base - RussiaԒs only warm water port with access to the Black Sea (which is also a Russian Alamo,Ӕ after many died defending it against German invasion in World War II). At the same time, he rejected petitions from ethnically Russian people in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine - now at the center of the war - to secede and join Russia.

Over the next eight years, as a civil war raged in these separatist regions, our own government funneled weapons into the conflict. In 2016, I represented Maine on the national platform committee of my political party, along with our colleague, Senator Guerin of Penobscot County. At the time, I was shocked to read calls for sending these weapons into this civil war. Thats why I opposed that language and fought to strike it from the document, warning that these policies could escalate into a nuclear conflict. Seven years later, here we are, living under the shadow of it all.

These are only some of the most significant provocations - NATO expansion, deposing a democratically-elected government, and funneling weapons into a civil war on Russia’s border. I haven’t even mentioned the torn-up nuclear treaties and the years of domestic anti-Russian propaganda pushed onto the American people through an unholy alliance between U.S. intelligence agencies and the corporate press.

Do we all remember the report that Vladamir Putin was putting bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan? That story was as false as the reports of Iraqi solders rippling Quaiti babies from incubators in the lead up to Desert Storm. It was completely debunked. This “disinformation” was planted in the media by anonymous intelligence “officials” in the lead up to a major U.S. election, but if you ever read a retraction, you were lucky to find it on page 36 after months of front page coverage.

That’s how the war propaganda machine works. Lie. Rinse. Repeat. Never apologize.

And let me pre-empt the accusations that I know are coming, whether in this chamber or outside of it, by stating clearly that Vladamir Putin, like so many governmental leaders across the world, is a tyrant. As a lover of human liberty, he could be strung up like Saddam Hussein and I wouldn’t shed a tear. There’s plenty of blood on his hands and I am sure that on the day he meets his maker, he will tremble in fear as his many sins are laid bare.

So it is not for the sake of any despot that I oppose this resolution, but for love of our country and the wisdom of early leaders, like George Washington and John Quincy Adams, who warned our country against entangling alliances, being drawn into European power struggles, and going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.

And for the love of all people caught up in this war - for the conscripted and enslaved men of Ukraine and Russia pitted against each other to the death for the benefit of oligarchs; for the many dead and displaced civilians; for those starving across the world from the consequences of war in the Ukrainian breadbasket; for those in Europe, America, and Maine freezing this winter due to natural gas shortages; and for everyone alive today and generations yet unborn who face the very real threat of nuclear annihilation - we must demand immediate diplomacy to end to this war.

Yet we see no diplomacy from Washington. In the rattling of their sabers for war with Russia, the uniparty claims it is love of democracy and hatred of tyrants that drives them. So where are those affections as they’ve partner with Saudi princes to genocide the people of Yemen. What makes the Yemeni people less worthy of our concern? Is their skin the wrong color? Are their lives of less value because they live in the wrong part of the world? Or is Washington simply so addicted to Saudi oil and the petrodollar that props up our paper currency that the deaths of a quarter million people is worth the cost?

Madam President, it seems George Orwell predicted the state we find ourselves in. If you listen to the talking heads on the television screens, it would seem we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

But if you go searching down the memory hole for scraps of what was and possibilities of what could have been, you will find stories about the days when George W. Bush and Vladamir Putin toured Texas high schools together, after the Russian President’s call of support following the 9/11 twin tower attacks. You will find stories about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hitting a “reset button” on U.S. - Russian relations for a new era of peace.

So when did all this change? It certainly is not just that Vladamir Putin is a tyrant, as our leaders are fond of many tyrants around the world.

The public pivot seems to have taken place when Russia stood opposed to the invasions of Iraq, Libya, and Syria all grossly unconstitutional wars by our own American standards and waged for no clear American purpose beyond the profits of that institution Eisenhower warned us of. When Russia blocked the dreams of regime change in Syria, this appears to have been the last straw ח and weve seen nothing but provocation and heard only drum beats for war ever since.

Madame President, the stakes on this matter are higher than any other war in my admittedly short life of thirty-four years. Unlike Iraq, these nuclear weapons are not the imagined fantasies of war profiteers. The arsenals are real. Continued escalation is toying with nuclear fire, which could set the world ablaze. Today, we are fortunate to be alive and to be able to look back at Iraq and admit mistakes were made. Twenty years from now, will we be so able under the clouds of nuclear winter?

Even should the nukes stay put җ and God help us, I hope so - nothing else good can be had from this war. The Ukrainian people die while peace talks should be taking place. Americas strategic position in the world is weakened as China and Russia have formed an alliance against us. Our fair weather friends in Saudi Arabia entertain breaking the petrodollar, threatening the U.S. dollarҒs status as the global reserve currency and unleashing hyperinflation on our country. Rising economic powers, including India, refuse to fall in line with U.S. sanctions as it turns out that, after decades of invading foreign countries in the Middle East, few nations outside Europe recognize Americas moral authority anymore on the question of invading foreign countries.

Madam President, if this resolution was truly in the interest of peace, I will tell you what it would say. It would not call for continued conditionless spending and racking up trillions of dollars more in debt on the American people in order to draw out a war that endangers the whole world. This resolution would demand that Secretary of State Antony Blinken go to Geneva and sit down for peace talks with both Russian and Ukrainian leaders to resolve this border dispute, broker a peace, end the war, end the famine, end the energy crisis, and take the very real threat of nuclear annihilation off the table.

That is what this body should be calling for: peace, not war!

I invite every member of this body to join me in voting for peace by rejecting this resolution.

SOURCE

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Russia and Ukraine were close to peace deal ex-Trump aide
Moscow was ready to halt its offensive if Ukraine agreed to neutrality, Fiona Hill has said, citing sources.

RT
September 2, 2022

A top US foreign policy expert has acknowledged that Russia and Ukraine could have reached a peace agreement in April.

The admission came this week from Fiona Hill, a veteran US diplomat who served as the US National Security Council’s senior director for Europe and Russia in the Donald Trump administration. An SRTICLE that she co-wrote with Georgetown University Professor Angela Stent for Foreign Affairs magazine said Russian-Ukrainian peace talks in April were apparently conducted by the Russian side in good faith.

The article said:

“According to multiple former senior US officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbass region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries,”

A peace-for-neutrality agreement was proposed by Ukraine in a draft documentthat it delivered to Russia during the March 29 talks in Istanbul, Turkey. The Russian military announced its withdrawal from some parts of Ukraine as a gesture of good will, right after the offer was made.

Days later, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky declared that Kiev had discovered evidence of war crimes in territories abandoned by Russian troops, particularly in the town of Bucha. He claimed that the Ukrainian public would not allow him to negotiate with a nation that, according to him, was committing a genocide of his people.

Russia said the evidence of war crimes had been fabricated and considered that Kiev had used the allegations as a pretext to ditch peace talks and continue fighting in the hope that Western military aid would allow it to win on the battlefield. According to Russian diplomats, Moscow wrote up a formal peace agreement based on Ukrainian proposals and sent it to Kiev, but never heard anything back.

In May, some Ukrainian media linked the collapse of the negotiations with pressure imposed on Kiev by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The UK leader publicly opposed a negotiated solution to the crisis in Ukraine and urged Kiev to fight on to obtain a stronger position in future talks.

Johnson visited Kiev on April 9, reportedly almost without warning and with a message for Zelensky that he could not get the deal he wanted from Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. According to the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper, he branded Putin a war criminal who could not be trusted and said that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they [the West] are not.” Security guarantees for a neutral Ukraine from major world powers were the cornerstone of the proposed peace deal.

Senior Russian officials repeatedly stated that Moscow was willing to settle the conflict and warned that the decision to terminate talks only made the final conditions worse for Ukraine. The leadership in Kiev insisted that talks could only happen after Russia fully withdrew its troops, including from Crimea, which Moscow considers its territory.

SOURCE

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Putin reveals details of draft treaty on Ukrainian neutrality
The Russian president has shown the documents from the failed peace negotiations with Kiev

RT
June 17, 2023

Moscow and Kiev agreed on security guarantees and the general terms of Ukrainian neutrality during peace negotiations in March 2022, but Kiev then abruptly discarded the documents its delegation had already signed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.

During a meeting with a group of African leaders in St. Petersburg, Putin showed for the first time the draft documents that were being discussed by the Russian and Ukrainian emissaries in Turkiye more than a year ago.

According to Putin, a documenttitled the Treaty on the Permanent Neutrality and Security Guarantees for Ukraine had been signed by the Ukrainian delegation.

The draft stipulates that Ukraine must enshrine “permanent neutrality” in its Constitution. Russia, the US, Britain, China, and France are listed as guarantors.

An addendum to the draft, also shown by Putin, outlines both Russian and Ukrainian proposals regarding the size of Ukraine’s standing army during peacetime, as well as its equipment. Moscow proposed to cap the number of military personnel at 85,000 and the number of National Guard members at 15,000. Kiev, meanwhile, proposed that its Armed Forces have up to 250,000 troops.

Moscow suggested that Ukraine should be allowed to have 342 tanks, 1,029 armored vehicles, 96 multiple rocket launchers, 50 combat aircraft, and 52 auxiliaryӔ aircraft. Kiev, meanwhile, was in favor of having 800 tanks, 2,400 armored vehicles, 600 multiple rocket launchers, 74 combat aircraft, and 86 auxiliaryӔ aircraft.

The sides also exchanged proposals on capping Ukraine’s mortars, anti-tank weapons, and anti-air missile systems, among other equipment.

The negotiations effectively broke down in the spring of 2022, shortly after Ukrainian officials accused Russian troops of killing civilians in several small cities around Kiev. The allegations were made immediately after Russian soldiers had withdrawn from the areas outside the Ukrainian capital in what the Kremlin described at the time as “a goodwill gesture.” Moscow has since repeatedly denied committing atrocities in Ukraine.

Speaking on Saturday, Putin said that Ukraine was responsible for sabotaging the negotiations. “After we pulled our troops away from Kiev - as we had promised to do - the Kiev authorities ... tossed [their commitments] into the dustbin of history,” he said. “They abandoned everything.”

“Where are the guarantees that they will not walk away from agreements in the future?” Putin said. “However, even under such circumstances, we have never refused to conduct negotiations.”

The African delegation, which included the presidents of South Africa, Senegal, and Zambia, and the prime minister of Egypt, arrived in Moscow following a meeting with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev on Friday. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa presented a nine-point roadmap to end the hostilities, calling on both sides to de-escalate.

Zelensky, meanwhile, reiterated Kiev’s position that negotiations can commence only after Moscow surrenders Crimea, which voted to join Russia in 2014, and four other regions that did the same following referendums in September 2022. Putin argued on Saturday that the acquisition of territories by Russia was ԓflawless in terms of international law and the UN Charter. He added that Moscow had the right to intervene in order to protect the people of Donbass, who opposed the 2014 coup in Kiev.

Ukraine dropped all discussions about a possible neutrality last year and has since formally applied to join NATO.

SOURCE

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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Democracy Hollowed Out Part 47 - Rewriting The Rosa Parks Story

image: rosa parks
 
Along with the typical complaints about “pornographic” books, this latest wave of conservatives banning books is remarkable for their anger towards books by and about people of color, or by and about LGBTQ, especially trans people. Texas State Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican, released a list of about 850 books that he wanted to ban from school libraries. He claimed the books make students feel “discomfort” because of their content about race and sexuality.  An analysis of Krause’s list by The Dallas Morning News found that of the first 100 titles listed, 97 were written by women, people of color or LGBTQ authors. A common complaint is that these books will make children think about changing themselves, or teaches them “critical race theory.”
- Democracy Hollowed Out - Part 43 - Banning The Bible
 
What’s even worse are the social ramifications, such as CRITICAL RACE THEORY, which emphasizes the differences between race groups, creating actual race hatred. One consequence of the financial and economic upsets will be riots like those of 2020. The mass migration of people from alien cultures who don’t share Western values into the US and Europe is destabilizing. The US has, in fact, become a multicultural domestic empire.
- International Man Interview, April 2021
 
It is frequently claimed by proponents of such laws that banning discussion of structural racism and intersectionality is freeing schools of indoctrination. And yet indoctrination rarely takes place by allowing the free flow of ideas. Indoctrination instead rather takes places by banning ideas. Celebrating the banning of authors and concepts as “freedom from indoctrination” is as Orwellian as politics gets.
- Banning ideas and authors is not a ‘culture war’ - it’s fascism
 
INDOCTRINATION happens through MANY CHANNELS - ENTERTAINMENT, SPEECHES, and CENSORSHIP - but its main instrument is the school system.
- Fascists In Our Midst II
 
The fascist follower is weak and insecure; he is unprepared for life in an overwhelming world, and so he seeks security in the greater will of the leader...the fascist inflates his ego to gargantuan proportions. No matter that his hands are small and he is unfit for office, his supporters are entranced, and sustaining the trance requires that the past be obliterated so the future might be laid bare.
- NewAge and Fascism
 
We’ve seen a number of moral panics over the decades, and this one is no different. Come learn how the same old tropes are being recycled to animate this latest strain of American fascism.
- Video - American Fascism and the Groomer Panic

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Florida Alters History of Rosa Parks

South Florida Times
March 23, 2024

MIAMI, Fla. - A Florida textbook publishing company has altered the racial context regarding civil rights icon Rosa Parks who was arrested in Montgomery, Ala. in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a White man.

According to the Miami Herald and New York Times, STUDIES WEEKLY, which is used in 45,000 elementary schools, amended the story about Parks to comply with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis STOP W.O.K.E. LAW, which prohibits instruction that could make students feel responsibility, guilt or anguish for what other members of their race did in the past.

At the same time, the NAACP joined forces with the National Teachers Association, the American Federal of Teachers and Parents Together to fight DeSantis act which they claim was designed to alter African-American culture and Black history.

Revising Parks story in American history is the latest example of the governor’s cultural wars that Black leaders have criticized as an attack on Blacks and African-American history.

The nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization and teacher unions hosted a town hall meeting in Orlando over the weekend to launch a movement to restore Black history courses that are now limited in Florida classrooms, and to stop the ban on textbooks on courses for critical race theory.

The NAACP also is opposing a proposed bill inspired by the governor in the 2023 Legislative Session that would ban state funding for the state’s public universities and colleges that teach courses on diversity, inclusion and equity.

The movement includes hosting a series of meetings throughout the state, seeking dialogues with state lawmakers, and a possible peaceful protest on the steps of the state Capitol.

If all fails, the groups may seek legal action, which would add to a string of lawsuits filed against the Stop W.O.K.E. initiative and DeSantis Don’t Say Gay bill.

A federal judge reportedly temporarily blocked the Stop W.O.K.E. law that would ban the teaching of critical race theory in Florida schools.

Parks’ arrest sparked national outrage and a bus boycott that was pivotal in the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT led by DR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Studies Weekly changed the original version of the book which stated that movement icon Parks was told to move to a different seat because of the color of her skin.

The amended version of the textbook says “she was told to move to a different seat.”

Parks died in 2005 in Detroit, Mich. at the age of 92.

During the town hall meeting, NAACP National Board of Directors Chair Leon W. Russell said DeSantis; culture wars to rewritehistory is rooted in the myth of White supremacy that’s aimed at disregarding Black history.

“Let me say this, if cracking down on “wokeness” means erasing Black history, we are the wokest organization there is,” Russell said. “Black history is American history, and we recognize that teaching that history is the only way for Black Americans to thrive the way they are meant to. We will not allow our students’ education to be held hostage for political theater. Every student, regardless of the color of their skin, or the zip code they reside or learn in, deserves access to a holistic, quality curriculum.”

Studies Weekly also made changes to their fourth-grade lesson about segregation laws.

In the initial version, the text explained how Black Americans were affected by Jim Crow laws that arose after the Civil War. Like its updates to the Parks lesson, the second version eliminated almost every direct mention of race.

Instead, the lessons were changed to say it was illegal for “men of certain groups” to be unemployed and that “certain groups of people” were not allowed to serve on a jury.

Democrats criticized DeSantis for repackaging Floridas education system to align with his political agenda in a more aggressive conservative approach, all indications of his reported bid for the White House in 2024.

DeSantisҒ Republican-controlled Legislature rejected more than 40 textbooks with topics including critical race theory that explain systemic racism in the United States.

Although Floridas Department of Education mandates the teaching of Black history, critical race theory is banned in Florida public schools, though most experts on the subject say it is not taught in elementary or even high schools.

Rebecca Pringle, president of the National Teachers Association, one of the largest teacher unions in America representing three million educators, said she is joining the fight because teachersҒ and students right to teach and learn about Black history are being violated.

“I am here because we are fighting with our parents, educators and students,” Pringle, a middle school science teacher with 31 years of classroom experience, said at the town hall meeting. “Teachers have a right to teach and students have a right to learn and we will not stand by and allow the state to ban these textbooks. Students have the right to learn about the true history and contributions made to this country by Blacks.”

Pringle added: “The governor of this state is focusing on banning books but we are focused on making sure to have books in front of our students that show them about diversity which is the strength of this country and we will not stop. We and the NAACP are taking a stand to fight for our children.”

American Federal of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said Florida’s Stop W.O.K.E. initiative is beyond restricting lessons on race in the classrooms.

“This is not simply a labor issue. This is not just an academic freedom issue,” said Weingarten. ”This is about whether or not as Americans we are actually going to move forward to be an inclusive, diverse, multiethnic, multiracial democracy, and you’re on the front lines of that”

Weingarten said the organization kicked off a series of conversations at town hall meetings and on social media to address the intersection of race, higher education and the labor movement, as Black professionals share their experiences in higher education.

“As lawmakers in places like Florida continue to target public education at every level, trying to restrict teaching about Black history and banning books by and about Black, Latino and other marginalized people, the AFT has created a new forum to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion,” Weingarten said.

On the college level, a bill to ban state funding for Florida’s public colleges and universities teaching courses in diversity, inclusion and equity could have damaging consequences including a decline in student enrollments, according to those clashing with the governor over the proposed law.

“In Florida, we are not going to back down to the woke mob, and we will expose the scams they are trying to push onto students across the country,” said DeSantis. “Florida students will receive an education, not a political INDOCTRINATION."

The NAACP Miami-Dade branch denounced the bill because it could ban college major or minor degrees that are associated with race studies, ethnic studies, gender theory and social justice.

Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State of University System of Florida, said it is time that “we refocus our” efforts towards the distinct mission of higher education.

“The pursuit of truth, the communication of that truth, which is teaching, and the selfless act of others, which is service, is the way we want to proceed,” Rodrigues said. “We value academic excellence, and therefore merit-based outcomes, instead of liberal ideologies, will be prioritized for all of our students across the system.”

SOURCE

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image: rewriting history of rosa parks and others

Race left out of Rosa Parks story in revised weekly lesson text for Florida schools highlights confusion with Florida law

By Justin Gamble
CNN
March 22, 2023

Studies Weekly, a publisher that provides educational periodicals for Floridas K-6 grades, revised one of their lesson plans for the 2022-2023 school year to take out race as the reason Rosa Parks was told to change her bus seat and why she was subsequently arrested.

The initial text, which REPORTEDLY said Parks “was told to move to a different seat because of the color of her skin,” was edited because “individuals in our curriculum team severely overreacted in their interpretation of HB 7 and made unapproved revisions,” Studies Weekly tells CNN in a statement.

Florida’s House Bill 7 restricts what can be taught to students about certain topics, including race. It went into effect as law last July and requires schools to submit instructional material to the state’s Department of Education for textbook review.

Studies Weekly says the revisions were missed due to errors in the quality assurance process, and they have taken corrective action and implemented safeguards to ensure nothing like this happens again.

“We find the omission or altering of historical facts to be abhorrent and do not defend it,” the publisher says in its statement. “Those unapproved changes have already been removed from our curriculum.”

Studies Weekly says the “unapproved changes were never finalized nor delivered to schools for classroom use.”

However, Stephana Ferrell, a parent and activist with the FLORIDA FREEDOM TO READ PROJECT, tells CNN she was able to easily access the Rosa Parks lesson plan with the omissions online along with several other Black history lessons as late as the end of January while serving as a guest reviewer for Floridas Department of Education.

According to Ferrell, any parent could sign up to be a guest reviewer and see any lesson plan that had been submitted to the state for inclusion in the 2022-2023 curriculum.

The omission highlights some of the difficulties book publishers now face while trying to comply with HB 7.

Studies Weekly said in a statement to CNN that Florida’s Department of Education had not provided guidance on how the law applies to the publisher’s existing texts. “Studies Weekly, like every publisher, has had to decipher how to comply with their legislation,” the statement read.

“It is our duty to follow the directives provided by each state Department of Education,” and that its texts are aligned with state standards, it continued.

Florida places blame on publisher for error

The Florida Department of Education places the blame for the omission squarely on Studies Weekly.

“No one from the Florida Department of Education has requested or would request the mention of race to be removed from social studies textbooks, as that would clearly be contrary to the requirements of Florida law.”

The Department of Education says it informed Studies Weekly that their text was not considered for use during the 2022-2023 school year but they could reapply for inclusion in future years.

The Florida Department of Education tells CNN the state has “robust requirements for the teaching of African American History.” The new law, it says, “specifically requires discussion of topics such as slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination.”

Playing politics with kids education

Ferrell said Florida is using taxpayer funds to make “public education so dysfunctional,” and adds that because of the penalties associated with violating state law, “publishers are now scared.”

Ferrell, who has two elementary-age children, says she became involved in opposing the state’s book bans and teaching restrictions on race after attending a school board hearing and witnessing firsthand the “censorship” of historical facts.

“We noticed that it was an attack on Black and brown, Hispanic, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ voices in particular; those were the folks that they were going after,” Ferrell said, adding that “we wanted to make sure that we were putting more and more of these voices into our schools.”

It’s time for the state to stop playing politics with kids’ education,” Ferrell said. She and her husband decided to put her kids in public school “to expose them to different cultures and viewpoints and to learn from the experiences of others,” she said.

“We wanted our kids to have the viewpoints that they have challenged, we want them to ask questions,” Ferrell said.

Florida’s fight over teaching race

The omission of race in the story of Rosa Parks is just one of the latest controversies regarding teaching race in the state and comes after the DeSantis administration rejected certain math textbooks last year because it said it found evidence of CRT and other banned concepts in the materials, CNN PREVIOUSLY REPORTED.

Florida has been at the center of the debate on how to teach issues involving race in public schools. In June 2021, the state became one of several to BAN THE TEACHING OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY (CRT), CNN previously reported. Scholars who have studied critical race theory say it explores the ways in which a history of inequality and racism in the United States has continued to impact American society. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has EXPRESSED his disagreement, saying CRT “teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other.” He continued by saying that “it is state-sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida schools.”

FLORIDA REJECTED A NEW ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) COURSE on African American Studies earlier this year, CNN previously reported. DeSantis SAID THE COURSE, included the study of “queer theory” and political movements that for advocated “abolishing prisons.” DeSantis called it a “political agenda.” The states education department said the course framework lacked “educational value” and violated state law.

In response, the College Board, the testing organization responsible for developing the course curriculum for schools nationwide, DEFENDED ITS FRAMEWORK and accused Floridas Department of Education of “slander” and of using the course as a tool for political gain.

The debate on how to teach race has expanded beyond K-12 education. The newly appointed Board of Trustees at NEW COLLEGE OF FLORIDA VOTED TO ABOLISH DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION (DEI) PROGRAMS at the school in late February. The move follows DeSantis’ proposal to defund DEI programs at state colleges and universities.

In February, DeSantis said the state does “require teaching of Black History.” However, a state board created to help school districts to do that, say many schools only cover the topic during Black History Month in February. Critics of the state also say courses teaching African American history in the state were historically underfunded.

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No Wonder They Didn’t Teach Us About Marx

image: marxism
 
“Owners of capital will stimulate working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks which will have to be nationalized and State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.”
- AZquotes of Karl Marx
 
In the domain of Political Economy, free scientific inquiry meets not merely the same enemies as in all other domains. The peculiar nature of the materials it deals with, summons as foes into the field of battle the most violent, mean and malignant passions of the human breast, the Furies of private interest. The English Established Church, e.g., will more readily pardon an attack on 38 of its 39 articles than on 1/39 of its income
- Capital - Volume 1, Karl Marx, 1867
 
You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.
- The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx
 
Einstein is “convinced” that the only way to eliminate the “grave evils” of capitalism is “through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.” For Einstein, the “worst evil” of predatory capitalism is the “crippling of individuals” through an educational system that emphasizes an “exaggerated competitive attitude” and trains students “to worship acquisitive success.” But the problems extend far beyond the individual and into the very nature of the political order.
- Albert Einstein Writes the 1949 Essay “Why Socialism?” and Attempts to Find a Solution to the “Grave Evils of Capitalism”
 
The so-called democracy of the powerful U.S. elite continues to live up to its legacy of hypocrisy and deceit..  To the people of this nation of all colors and ethnicities who are losing your jobs, your homes, and your families - to those with no health insurance - to those who cannot afford to send your children to college - and to those languishing in prisons this writer says:  Place not your faith in the rhetoric of politicians or the false promises of such cynical opportunists. Place your faith in yourselves and each other, in your / our ability to discern the difference between rhetoric vs. reality, and in our determination to find and create ways of organizing and coming together to bring about real systemic change dedicated to everyday people and not the corporate blood suckers of the peoples of this nation and world.
- History, Hypocrisy and Empire, Black Commentator, 2009

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Back in Catholic grade school - all us little kids and our developing brains had to go to church every morning before class, and attend mass.  I didn’t realize THE BRAINWASHING OF OUR MINDS MAY HAVE STARTED WAY BACK THEN.  Besides the trauma of staring and praying to a larger-than-life statue of a near-naked, bearded, white man bleeding to death in agony, we watched the authority figure priest drink wine from an EXPENSIVE gold cup, internalize whatever he was teaching - and if we didn’t obey - beg for forgiveness in an ACT OF CONTRITION one-on-one, me and the priest, in the CONFESSIONAL.  On the way out of church, we passed a tiny, rickety, little wooden box to drop pennies in for the poor.  Nobody would question why we’re not helping the poor out more, or ask questions like why the priest wouldn’t sell his expensive gold cup, and use the money to help the hungry and homeless.  The wine would taste just as good in a dixie cup.  Isn’t helping the poor what Jesus was all about? The hypocrisy never registered in my conflicted little brain.

As an older adult, I came to believe RELIGION and CAPITALISM are two evils, and in our OLIGARCHIC, PLUTOCRATIC, INVERTED-TOTALITARIAN society that PROTECTS THE RICH - the manifestations of the darkness that rules us - are IN PLAIN SIGHT.

Now I think I’m STARTING TO UNDERSTAND why they didn’t teach us any Marx stuff in school.

But, what CAN BE a future worse than capitalism - something Marx may not have THOUGHT ABOUT - is THE GREAT RESET - that sounds a lot like socialism or communism with it’s “You will own nothing and be happy” tagline. Not for nothing, but I don’t own any land.  If I don’t pay property taxes, or my mortgage - there goes the house.  The issue is WHO CONTROLS the upcoming technological new world.

Under the order envisioned by the Great Reset, the advancement of technology is not meant to serve the improvement of the conditions of the people but to submit the individual to the tyranny of a technocratic state. “The experts know better” is the justification.

I wonder what Marx would think of the WEF and the DAVOS crowds?

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Marxism

By Study Smarter

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Marxism and communism?

Marxism is a key conflict theory in sociology, named after its founder, Karl Marx. It has been one of the most influential sociological theories in the field, as it discusses several aspects of social life, including economics, politics, education and culture.

We will consider the key theorists and concepts of Marxism.

The meaning of Marxism

Marxism in sociology is a key conflict theory originating from the work of Karl Marx. It believes that capitalist society is based on inequalities between the ‘bourgeoisie’ (ruling capitalist class) and ‘proletariat’ (working class). It is a conflict theory, as it sees society as being in constant conflict between these social classes.

Marxism in sociology

We will discuss the core idea of Marxism and the way it is connected to economics.

The role of the economy in Marxism

Marx theorised that the most important aspect of a society is its economy. All other institutions and structures are based on the economy. Whoever is in charge of the economy is in charge of society and its population. Marx’s original philosophy is also referred to as traditional (or classic) Marxism.

In Marx’s view, the bourgeoisie controls the economy and exploits the proletariat through ownership of the ‘means of production’ and ‘relations of production’. Through exploitation, the bourgeoisie can continue to make profits and further the capitalist agenda. The capitalist agenda is based on the private ownership of property, through which individuals can accumulate capital.

Marx highlights the periods of times that Western societies moved through. He called these epochs.

The five epochs

We will look at the five epochs, defined by Marxist philosophy.

Primitive communism

Society was free of social class division, as hunter-gatherers only gathered enough food to survive. There was no surplus production, and therefore there was no exploitation.

Ancient society

This was the first stage of exploitation, as the dynamic between aristocrats and slaves characterised society.

Feudalism

Medieval society was divided into landowners and land occupiers. The landowners exploited the occupiers.

Capitalist society

Our current society. We can trade with anyone, and we are free to make our own money. However, according to Marx, this stage is unjust because the rich exploit the poor.

Advanced communism

Marx’s utopian prediction for the next stage of society. Shared resources, wealth, and equality are traits of Marx’s ideal societal structure.

Marxism vs. Communism

Marxism was a philosophical and sociological perspective, which believed that society was progressing towards the age of communism, where all individuals will be equal. In the 20th century, more than several countries claimed to have established communism. The most famous of them was the Soviet Union.

Soviet Communism, while ideologically based on Marxist ideas, in reality was not what Marx envisioned for society.

When we talk about Marxism, we usually mean the philosophy and sociological theory, while when we talk about communism, we refer to the political regime existing in the Soviet Union and in China in the 20th century.

Marxist philosophy: The key concepts of Marxism

Marx argued that the bourgeoisie maintains and increases their wealth by controlling the means of production and exploiting the proletariat. He came up with the following key concepts to further explain his theory.

The two classes of capitalist society

The bourgeoisie and the proletariat make up the two classes of capitalist society.

The bourgeoisie owns the means of production, which produces goods that they can sell at a profit. For this reason, the bourgeoisie controls the wealth of the country. Meanwhile, the proletariat sells its time and labour to the bourgeoisie for money. Bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat

Marx argued that the bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat by paying them less than they deserve to keep profits high. Capitalist society is unjust because of this exploitation and conflict of interest between the two social classes.

The economic base and superstructure

The bourgeoisie controls the means of production, meaning that they own the land, materials, factories, and equipment for production. They also control the relations of production, which means they organise the workers involved in the production of goods and services.

This combination of power gives the bourgeoisie control over the whole economy. According to Marx, control over the whole economy means control over society, as the ‘superstructure; is based on the economy.

The superstructure is the name given to all other institutions and structures in society, such as government, religion, education, and family. Such institutions reproduce bourgeoisie ideas and values, which helps to maintain the status quo and uphold the capitalist agenda.

Ideological control

Due to the bourgeoisie’s control over the superstructure, the capitalist agenda is present in every institution. The bourgeoisie’s ideas are presented as dominant and the natural way of thinking so that the proletariat is socialised into thinking such a society is normal and just.

False class consciousness and alienation

The results of ideological control ensure that the proletariat does not realise its exploitation because it believes its exploitative working conditions are normal. This delusion is called ‘false class consciousness’.

The capitalist structure also creates ‘alienation’, which is a disengagement from work, community, and a sense of belonging. Marxism argues that this is a necessary and intentional result of capitalist society, as it prevents workers from feeling like they are in control.

Revolution

Marx believed that once the proletariat realised its position in society, a revolution would occur and capitalism would be abolished. The proletariat would overthrow the bourgeoisie and create an equal society where there would be no motivation to profit or exploit others.

Evaluation of traditional Marxism in sociology

Marx’s original theory is also called traditional Marxism. Since then, there have been other forms of Marxism. We will evaluate traditional Marxism as a whole. We will then consider it from the perspectives of newer forms of Marxism.

Strengths of Marxism

· Traditional Marxism was considered a major influence in its time, as it advocated for social and economic change.

· Marxist concepts can help us understand past revolutions in capitalist societies.

· Many claims Marxism is still relevant today. Institutions still use ideological control to promote a capitalist agenda and to justify inequalities. For example, the institution of education socialises children to be obedient and submit to the hierarchy.

Weaknesses of Marxism

· Marxism heavily ignores the influence of other factors on social inequalities, such as ethnicity, religion, and gender.

· Communism has not fared well historically, as shown by the fall of communism in the former socialist state of the USSR.

· It has been argued that Marxism is too idealistic. There is unlikely to be total social class equality in a communist society.

· Marxism is overly simplistic. Society is not just split into two social classes.

· Functionalists claim Marxism has an overly negative view of society. It is good for society when institutions and individuals carry out their ‘functions’, as this promotes social solidarity.

· Feminists claim Marxism overlooks the further social division of gender in society. Marxist FEMINISM, in particular, argues that gender is the most important division in a capitalist society, not social class. Class is not solely defined by socioeconomic status, according to Marxist feminists.

Cultural Marxism

We will look at the two most important, new forms of Marxism, namely humanistic Marxism and scientific Marxism which deal with cultural issues and questions of society.

Gramsci and humanistic Marxism

Antonio Gramsci added to traditional Marxism by introducing the concept of hegemony.

Hegemony refers to the domination of one group or class over another through the ideological leadership of society.

He claimed the capitalist state uses two ways of enforcing control. These are outlined below.

Coercion

This works through the army, police force, and the judicial system, which enforce the rule of the state.

Cultural hegemony

Cultural hegemony works through the ideas and values of the bourgeoisie, which persuades individuals that their lifestyles makes sense.

To counter this, Gramsci claimed that proletarian intellectuals needed to form their own cultural hegemonic control, called ‘counter-hegemony’. This would challenge bourgeois IDEALOGY and allow the proletariat to bring about social change.

Gramsci claimed that although the bourgeoisie has hegemonic control, they are a minority within society, and the proletariat has ‘dual-consciousness’. This refers to the proletariat’s awareness of their exploitation. For these reasons, the bourgeoisie never has complete control and hegemonic control and therefore, the overthrow of the bourgeoisie is possible. However, the overthrow will only be successful if the proletariat has a counter-hegemony.

Gramsci’s ideas challenged the passive nature of the proletariat as described by Marx in traditional Marxism. He claimed that individuals can see through their exploitation, unlike Marx, who claimed that the proletariat experiences false class consciousness.

Gramsci also criticised the idea that change in economic structure is the only way to overthrow capitalism. Through his ideas about counter-hegemony, he claimed that it is necessary to adopt certain ideas and values, as these will play a central role in bringing about change.

Althusser and scientific Marxism

LOUIS ALTHUSSER suggested that instead of there being two structures or levels of control in society (as claimed by traditional Marxism with the economy and superstructure), there are three levels of control. The bourgeoisie controls all three levels that have different functions for upholding capitalist society. These are outlined below.

Economic level

Activities involving the production of goods and services.

Political level

All organisations, such as the government.

Ideological level

The factors that influence the way individuals see themselves and the world, for example, THE MEDIA.

Althusser’s philosophy stated that all three levels of control in society are important for upholding capitalism. Whilst the economic level is dominant, the political level punishes the rebels and the ideological level ensures individuals conform to capitalist values. Althusser claims traditional Marxism does not acknowledge this, as it states the economy is the most important part of society.

Capitalist states split these functions into two ‘apparatuses’ according to Althusser. These apparatuses help to perform the necessary functions.

Repressive state apparatus

At the political level, this includes armed bodies such as the army or the police force that can physically restrain insurgents.

Ideological state apparatus

This includes ‘softer’ methods of ideological control, such as education, THE MEDIA, and religion.

Althusser’s ideas of the emergence of a communist society do not depend on consciousness or realisation, as suggested by traditional Marxism. Instead, Althusser argued that after a crisis in the capitalist structure, capitalism would collapse and pave the way for a communist society.

He did not believe that individuals had the power to overthrow the capitalist system, as the structure we live in determines our thoughts and actions. Due to this, Althusser also criticised humanistic Marxism for suggesting that individuals are more active than they are.

Marxism - Key takeaways

· Marxism in sociology is a key conflict theory that believes capitalist society is based on inequalities between the bourgeoisie (ruling capitalist class) and the proletariat (working class).

· The economy is the base of society, whilst all other institutions form the superstructure. Whoever controls the economy controls society. In this case, it is the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat by paying it less than it needs.

· Marxism claims the proletariat is unaware of this exploitation. However, once it realises this, it will overthrow the bourgeoisie and form a communist society.

· Gramsci criticised Marx, claiming that the proletariat is aware of its exploitation, but needs to form its own ideas to overthrow the bourgeoisie. Simple awareness of exploitation is not enough.

· Althusser criticised both Marx and Gramsci and claimed that individuals do not have the power to overthrow the state, as their living conditions determine their actions. Instead, he argued that the capitalist structure would collapse and make way for a communist society.

SOURCE

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The Spread of Marxism & Its Influence on Russian Communism

By Dell Markey
The Classroom
June 25, 2018

THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO,” published in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, was among the most influential writings in world history. Marx theorized that all of human history was defined by a class struggle between the ruling class and the working class. He further argued that the working class would eventually overthrow the ruling class and usher in a UTOPIAN society in which all property was owned by society as a whole. Marx’s philosophy was highly influential in the development of communism in Russia and throughout the world.

Pre-Revolutionary Russia

Marx taught that industrialization and capitalism were necessary steps for society to go through before the working class could arise and institute communism. Before the Communist Revolution, the Russian Empire was a monarchy, ruled by a tsar. Russia was largely an agricultural country and was in the very early stages of industrialization during Marx’s lifetime. Because of this, the Russian government didn’t consider Marx’s writings to pose a serious threat. Marx’s writings were allowed to be distributed in Russia even though they were banned in many other countries. “The Manifesto” and “Das Kapital” became influential to many of the early Russian socialists and communists.

Influence on Revolutionaries

Marx’s writings had a profound impact on Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, who would in turn promote communist ideas in Russia through publication of a Marxist periodical called “Iskra”—“The Spark.” Lenin became the most influential figure in early Russian communism. After the Russian Revolution successfully deposed the tsar’s regime, Lenin’s Bolshevik branch of communism rose to power and quickly assimilated or deposed other socialist groups. Lenin modeled his goals after Marx’s, but on a smaller scale. Marx believed that the communist revolution would take place on an international scale. Lenin realized that he lacked the resources to make that happen and contented himself with seeing communism succeed in Russia. Lenin firmly believed Marx’s idea that society must go through a period of dictatorship of the proletariat—or working class—before true communism could be achieved.

Trotsky and Stalin

After Lenin died in 1924, there was a brief power struggle between two of his chief lieutenants, Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin. Trotsky believed that the world needed to be in a state of constant revolution for communism to survive. Stalin believed that communism could succeed in a single nation and that it could coexist with other forms of government until other countries’ working class staged their own revolutions. In the end, Stalin came to power and his view of Leninist-Marxism prevailed in Soviet Russia. This included a small but powerful ruling party which would enforce the Communist Party’s policy, brutally when deemed necessary.

Post-Stalin Russian Communism

Under Stalin, any supposed challenge to the Communist Party’s leadership was dealt with severely. Political opponents were often assassinated. Religious leaders were persecuted. The Communist Party had dictated most aspects of the Soviet people’s lives. The leaders who followed him, from his successor Nikita Khruschev to Mikhail Gorbachev, under whose leadership the Soviet Union departed from Communist Party rule in 1991, each made changes relaxing some of the harsher controls on the Russian people. At first, this came as an acknowledgment that Stalin had not exemplified the best ideals of Marxism, which taught that the dictatorship of the proletariat would give way to a society in which government was unnecessary. In the end, Gorbachev and other Russian leaders in the 1980s and early 1990s acknowledged that the Communist Party in general had failed to live up to its ideals as the representatives of the working class and Communist Party rule was ended.

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capitalism-socialism.gif image: capitalism and socialism border=0

Why Socialism

By Albert Einstein
Monthly Review
May, 1949

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has - as is well known - been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the PREDATORY phase” of HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals andif these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous - are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished - just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time - which, looking back, seems so idyllic - is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The ECONOMIC ANARCHY of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the REAL SOURCE OF EVIL. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor - not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of productionthat is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods - may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of productionalthough this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is דfree, what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free” labor contract for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure capitalism.”

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army” of unemployed almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a PLANNED ECONOMY is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/26/23 •
Section Revelations • Section Spiritual Diversions
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