Are You Ready to ‘Disrupt’? Climate Movement Readies Global Mobilization

“The next act will be written in the streets on September 21st, when the People’s Climate March takes over New York (and cities across the globe).”

Reproduced from Common Dreams with attribution by Thomas Baldwin.  See complete link here:

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/09/08/are-you-ready-disrupt-climate-movement-readies-global-mobilization

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Are You Ready to ‘Disrupt’? Climate Movement Readies Global Mobilization

In less than two weeks, the ‘Climate People’s March & Mobilization’ is set to make its mark on history. A new film explains helps explain where movement came from and where it’s going.

A still image from the film, Disruption, which seeks to galvanize the global justice movement at just the right moment. (Credit: watchdisruption.com)

On Sunday night, a new documentary film highlighting the intertwined story of  the climate crisis and the growing social movement which has grown in response to it was released online for national screenings that took place in people’s home and public meeting spaces.

At just under an hour long, the film—titled ‘Disruption’—was produced with a stated goal to “galvanize a new wave of climate action and climate leadership” across the globe and comes just weeks before the ‘People’s Climate March‘ being organized for New York City that will take place on Sunday, September 21.

As Jamie Henn, a co-founder of 350.org—which is leading the organizing effort for the march and also produced the film—said to his organization’s members in an email:

Here’s the most exciting part of this story: it’s not finished yet. The next act will be written in the streets on September 21st, when the People’s Climate March takes over New York (and cities across the globe).

This is the history we’ll tell the next generation — about the end of fossil fuels, about how the world was in crisis, about how we started to turn it around together.

 

See film at link:

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/09/08/are-you-ready-disrupt-climate-movement-readies-global-mobilization

 

Taking America Back (to its good old days) by Matt Reedy

 Blog 1Guest Opinion by Matt Reedy*

September 7, 2014

“…on its own, without a social compact, raw capitalism is destined to serve the few at the expense of the many.” –David Simon, creator of the The Wire.

Part 1

America is no longer a democracy. You could argue it’s an oligarchy, a plutocracy, a polyarchy, a corporatcracy, an aristocracy, kleptocracy, or that it is well on its way to fascism, but you can’t argue that it’s a democracy. We all yearn for those glorious days when democracy and America thrived. We romanticize the days after World War II when America was at the height of its glory. Dad put in an honest day’s work and came home to his loving wife. Mom kept the house and carried the emotional weight of the family. The children played ball in the sandlots and respected their elders. There were paper boys, milk men, apple pies, hopscotch and Main Streets. To put it simply, we all want a return to the good old days. So how can we accomplish that?

First we have to find out when and how it all went wrong. Conservatives seem to place the blame at the feet of atheists, the lazy food stamp recipients, meddlesome intellectuals, undocumented workers, Muslims and the progressive policies of liberals. After all, wasn’t America much more conservative in the fifties when everything was perfect and we were at the height of our economic strength as a nation? And if it hadn’t been for those dirty hippies and their counter-culture “revolution” none of this would have happened, right? Everything was great until they came along, wasn’t it? It makes sense to me on the surface. But let’s dig just a tiny bit deeper.

While the sixties saw radical progress in social reform, they saw regressive fiscal reforms that have continued and accelerated right up to today. As popular movements forced the power-elite to make concessions to women, minorities and workers in social terms, the powerful began to launch a class war intended to rob the poor and middle class. This looting of America has been going on since the seventies and reached fever pitch in 2007. From 1820 to 1978 wages rose as worker productivity rose, which meant if you worked harder you were paid more. Then in the late 70’s and early 80’s worker productivity began to soar with the help of new technologies such as the computer. But, for the first time in 150 years the wage of the average worker stagnated and then eventually declined[i].

How were power-elite able to lower wages? Didn’t the unions that fought tenaciously for their rights help ensure a living wage for the majority of Americans? They certainly did. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1955 33.2% of workers were part of a union. In 2013 only 11.3% of Americans are members of organized labor[ii]. The violent struggles of the labor movement in the late 19th early 20th centuries lead to collective bargaining which led to a strong and vibrant working class which led to the best economy the nation has ever seen. High wages for union workers helped provide living wages for “unskilled” workers. Everyone was making money and that money went back into the economy and everyone made more money. And on and on it went, until 1978.

Once wages ceased to correlate with productivity and the ever rising cost of living, the middle class began to suffer while the ruling class began to see “dazzling” returns. Because the owners were making astronomical sums of capital and the worker’s wages were stagnating, the worker could no longer sustain his standard of living. So what did they do? The first thing they did was to work more hours. Today the average America worker puts in more hours per year than the Japanese. The second thing they did was send mom into the work force. She got a part-time or full-time job. But this didn’t help the family or the economy. In fact, it hurt both. To maintain a second income the woman had to buy a car to get to work. She had to buy new clothes. She was too tired to cook after a hard day’s work so she bought prepared food. And worst of all she was no longer able to hold together the emotional fabric of the family. In the 1970’s the divorce rate skyrocketed. This also had the unintended consequence of flooding the workforce with applicants that it accelerated wage reduction for the average worker.

So when that failed, how did the family attempt to bridge the ever increasing gap between the rising cost of living and the decline in wages? They borrowed. Who did they borrow from? They borrowed from the very people that stopped raising their wages. Do you understand? Since corporations were making record profits by not paying their employees more, the money went to the richest people in the country (while wages for average Americans have been declining C.E.0. compensation has risen 937% since 1977)[iii]. The rich, not being anyone’s fool, decided to make the most of this new capital. Instead of giving their workers a wage increase as the workers worked harder and better for them, they didn’t. Instead, they gave them loans, which the workers then had to pay back them with interest. (This concept is beautifully and articulately detailed in economist Richard Wolff’s book Capitalism Hits the Fan).

In the 1950’s, the largest employer of Americans was G.M. Adjusted for inflation the average wage of a G.M. employee in 1955 was over 20 dollars an hour[iv]. Today, Wal-Mart is American’s largest employer and their sales associates make an average of $8.81 an hour[v]. In 1968 the minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. Adjusted for inflation and keeping with the rising worker productivity, the minimum should be $21.16[vi]. However, today it stands at $7.25 and due to the decline of the dollar the actual purchasing power of that wage is even less. In the 1950’s the average C.E.O. made 30 times that of his average employee. Today he makes over 500 times more[vii]. I’m not saying the people who work harder and smarter shouldn’t make more, but how is it possible to work 500 times harder than someone else?

In the 1950’s, under Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower the top marginal tax rate was 91%. Today under Democrat Barack Obama it is 39.6%. But the rich don’t even pay that thanks to carried interest, municipal bonds (which aren’t taxed at all) and capital gains (something even Reagan was against and didn’t allow). But some don’t even pay that thanks to offshore accounts. As if that is not bad enough in 2013 General Electric made 19.6 billion in profit and paid an effective tax rate of negative 18.9%[viii]. Yes, that’s right; they made 19.6 billion and actually received tax payer money on top of it. And if you’re not mad enough remember they’re only one of twenty-six corporations to receive that treatment last year.

But the power-elite didn’t stop there. They went on to gut the heart of American industry by Wilkes-Barreshipping factories overseas in favor of cheaper labor. I grew up in Lebanon, PA a once renowned steel town. My wife grew up in Wilkes-Barre, PA a once prosperous coal mining town. Those industries were heavily subsidized by the government and instead of reinvesting in the plants or towns; the owners exploited the resources and communities, then packed up their profits and moved, leaving what author, activist and former war correspondent Chris Hedges calls “Sacrifice Zones”. My town and my wife’s town, once the heart of American industry are now pockets of poverty and despair, ghettos without cities. Thanks in large part to N.A.F.T.A., courtesy of Bill Clinton and a majority of congressional republicans, corporations no longer have to pay tariffs on imported goods which forces American workers to compete with global slave labor, which again, raises the supply of the work force and lowers its demand. And who benefits from all this? The rich do because they are able to pay workers lower wages and reduce benefits.

Yet, I hear a kind of forgiveness for corporations who have overseas factories and tax havens. After all, they’re just trying to make money, right? And while it sort of stinks, what do you expect? They’re going to do everything they can maximize profits. Well, if that’s the case, why do you hate the unemployed and welfare recipients so much? Aren’t they gaming the system the same as corporations? Why is it okay for a billionaire to scam the system but not a disabled widow with three children?

Part 2

Giving money to the rich doesn’t stimulate the economy because they hoard their wealth. Meanwhile, giving money to someone below the poverty does because they’re not saving it; they’re putting in right back in the economy. The amount of money the poor receive from tax payers is a pea next the mountain given to the rich. If its theft you despise, why don’t you condemn the rich? They do it on a much grander scale. According to the 2012 government tax receipt if you made 50,000 dollars $36.82 went to food stamps, $22.88 went to unemployment, $6.96 went to welfare while $247.75 went to defense and over $4,000 went to corporate subsidies[ix]. That’s 2 cents a day for welfare and 11 dollars a day for corporate welfare. Who are the welfare queens again?

You probably weren’t familiar with those figures because the media, which is owned by major corporations, deflects blame onto weak scapegoats. Notice how no one in the media ever talks about the corporate theft and the obscene amount of welfare for the rich, but the stories about poor black families, illegal immigrants and Muslims getting any type of government assistance, no matter how little, are always front and center. It’s sort of like there’s a well-funded, highly-organized heist happening where all the rich people are taking TV’s out the back door and loading them into a truck, as the guard they paid off looks the other way, while we argue over what to do about the poor kid from the ghetto who stole a stick of gum. It’s a neat little trick.

In January of 2014 congress voted to cut food stamps by 8 billion dollars and gave 83 billion more in tax payer subsidies to the banking industry[x]. Food stamps are not handouts. They’re a last resort for the poor, many of whom are children, elderly and veterans. Unemployment benefits are not handouts. They’re a last resort to people who are struggling because billionaires sent jobs overseas and Wall St. speculators robbed the country. Giving the rich and corporations billions of dollars in tax payer subsidies and allowing them to manufacture goods in other nations and hide their profits in the Cayman Islands is goddamned handout!

Over the last 35 years, virtually every policy has favored the rich at the expense of the poor and working class. Since the recent crash, 93% of all newly generated income has gone to the top 1%[xi]. In 2007, before the crash, the top 1% controlled 34.6% of the wealth while the bottom 80% controlled 15.1%. Today the top 1% control 43% of the wealth while the bottom 80% now only controls 7%[xii]. Go back to the top of this paragraph and re-read it because these numbers are a little baffling at first. The point is the rich didn’t earn this money. It was given to them, first by Bush with his tax cuts and bailout, then by Obama and his stimulus package which gave 253 billion to private enterprise who, instead of investing it to jump start the economy, kept it by giving themselves record bonuses[xiii].

Giving money away to private business instead of investing it in the public interest is the ultimate failure of the Obama administration. During the Great Depression the unemployment rate was double what it is today. Yet, that generation built the Hoover Damn, The Golden Gate Bridge, brought electricity to rural America and invested in all kinds of public infrastructure. Today we have a high unemployment rate and a crumbling infrastructure that desperately needs to be rebuilt. Does anyone else see the obvious solution? How the government is unable to solve these two problems in one swift motion should be baffling, but it’s not. This solution would benefit the poor and working class. Not the power-elite. Therefore, it is not pursued. Instead, in 2010 we spent millions subsidizing the privately owned Target Field in Minneapolis which opened the same year one of the city’s major bridges collapsed killing thirteen people and injuring one hundred forty-five. Why? Because a tiny percent of the population has such power and wealth that the rest of us no longer matter. What they say goes.

pie 2The power-elite are a vampire class. They produce nothing. Instead they feed off the work of others and suck the nation dry. Jason Read, a professor at The University of Southern Maine stated, “People who dismiss the unemployed and depended as parasites fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.” Economist Dean Baker specifically outlines the power-elite’s parasitism in his book The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. But the power-elite would have you believe everyone except them is milking the system. Here’s a perfect example. In the 1990’s Newt Gingrich, the leader of the republican revolution condemned all who depend on government assistance. Yet, Cobb Country Georgia, the district he represented, received the third highest amount of federal subsidies next Washington D.C. (obviously) and Brevard County Fl. which is home to N.A.S.A[xiv].

The rich like to see themselves as job creators. But I think venture capitalist and multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer (who, in the film Inequality for All openly admitted the U.S. tax code only required him to pay 11.9% in taxes in 2012) best debunked the idea when he said, “Corporate profits are at a fifty year high while unemployment is also at a fifty year high. If it was true that rich were job creators, we’d be drowning in jobs today.” Yet conservatives insist that we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage but we should give the rich tax breaks. This is what I don’t understand. Their thought process seems to be that the wealthiest among us, who have never been richer, need more money to stay motivated while the most venerable among us who have never been poorer, need less money to be fully motivated.

The last time money was this highly concentrated was right before The Stock Market Crash and preceding  the Great Depression. With this dense wealth-consolidation comes power. And with that power comes privilege. Those who have and continue to acquire the perks of extreme wealth, while the rest of us suffer, use it to further their cause. They use their money to lobby congress to write legislation that ensures they will receive more money and they use that new money to lobby congress again and on and on it goes. This cycle will continue until government serves only the interests of the rich (which it nearly already does) and the voices of the citizens become completely mute.

As our once great country quickly adopts the attributes of a third world nation, political and family dynasties are beginning to develop as their wealth becomes entrenched. If the trend continues we will no doubt see our anemic democracy reconfigured into a type of corporate neo-feudalism where a few wealthy families will retreat to their gated communities and enjoy resources and services that will be denied to America’s new peasants. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen’s United decision (coupled with the McCutcheon ruling) which essentially ruled that money is speech, have pulled the proverbial plug of our democratic life support. Citizen’s United helped ensure that one person does not equal one vote. Instead, money equals votes. The will of the people can now fully submit to the will of opulent minority, the power-elite, the deep state, the 1% or whatever name you wish to call them. America is no longer a democracy. They are now officially our supreme overlords.

Do you want to take our country back, restore our democracy and transform America’s dismal present back to the glory days? I do. In order to achieve that lets reinstate the policies from the 1950’s that made this nation great. Tax the rich, raise the minimum wage, strengthen unions, reinstate trade tariffs, put an end to tax havens, repeal Citizen’s United, close the wealth gap, enforce regulations, pass campaign finance reforms, expand social programs, end corporate welfare and put a cap on C.E.O. pay (or at least tie to worker income). After all, those were all things we did in America’s good old days.

[i] http://rdwolff.com/sites/default/files/attachment/4/03Wolff.pdf

[ii] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf

[iii] http://www.democracynow.org/2014/6/16/headlines

[iv] http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/why-wages-rise-2-productivity

[v] http://www.buzzle.com/articles/walmart-employee-average-salary.html

[vi] http://inequality.org/minimum-wage/

[vii] http://www.democracynow.org/2014/6/16/headlines

[viii] http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/04/top-tax-dodging-companies-politicians

[ix] http://www.whitehouse.gov/2012-taxreceipt

[x] http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-02-20/why-should-taxpayers-give-big-banks-83-billion-a-year-

[xi] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-02/top-1-got-93-of-income-growth-as-rich-poor-gap-widened.html

[xii] http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

[xiii] http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/08/news/economy/obama_stimulus_plan/

[xiv] http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199505–.htm

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*Author’s Bio:  Matt Reedy grew up in central Pennsylvania where he attended college at Penn State University. In 2005 he moved to New York City and began working in the film & television industry where he joined the D.G.A. (Directors Guild of America). Matt is a member of the Unitarian Church whose community and congregation are actively dedicated to matters of social justice. He currently lives in North Jersey with his wife, their daughter and their two dogs.

 

The Not-So-Liberal Media by Matt Reedy

CorporateThe Not-So-Liberal Media

Guest Opinion by Matt Reedy*

August 24, 2014

 

There is no liberal or conservative media. There is only corporate media and independent media. Independent media can be liberal, conservative, conspiracy oriented and can report factually accurate, uncomfortable truths (e.g. see Democracy Now!, Truthdig and The Real News). It is actively consumed on the internet and can shine a light into the darkest corridors of power. Independent media can say what it likes, explore unpopular ideas, and challenge conventional wisdom because it is not accountable to other interests. However, corporate media is mainstream, passively consumed, always serves power and privilege and, in one way or another, censors those who present a narrative that threatens it.

            In 2003, while almost every news program beat the drums of war, there was one cable news show that was openly opposed to invading Iraq. It was MSNBC’s The Phil Donahue Show and it was cancelled on February 25th, 2003. At the time of its cancelation the The Phil Donahue Show was the highest rated program on MSNBC. What possible reason could the liberal media have for cancelling its highest rated show that also condemned the war? There were corporate interests that didn’t want that point of view reaching the public— as if General Electric, the corporation that owned NBC, stood to make absurd profits by invading Iraq.

            G.E. is not alone. They are one of six companies responsible for virtually all of the news and information we receive. G.E. (owns Comcast, NBC, Universal Pictures etc.), News-Corp (owns Fox, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post etc.) , Disney (owns ABC, ESPN, Miramax), Viacom (owns MTV, Comedy Central, BET, CMT etc.), Time Warner (owns CNN, HBO, Time etc.) and CBS (owns 60 Minutes, Showtime, The Smithsonian Channel) effectively control about 90% of all media in the United States. While these six companies are different, they all have the same goal: to attract advertisers from other business. To do that, they make sure their information and programing portray a world conducive to their goal and goals of their advertisers. So which way would that programming and information slant?

            To find our answer first we have to ask ourselves, who are the media? We’ve already established they are corporations. So what are corporations? They are the zenith of large business and businesses are usually conservative, right? So why would enormous mega-businesses ever promote a “liberal” agenda thus subverting their own interests? And why would a media that had a liberal bias identify it? Wouldn’t they assert the opposite and call themselves the “Conservative Media”? By asserting the opposite they eliminate mountains of evidence against themselves. It would completely change the conversation. Suddenly people would be asking “Is the media too conservative” and “How conservative are they”? Operating under the guise of “being too conservative” would allow a liberal news media to implement their agenda with much less scrutiny. Why would they call themselves what they are and give away their game?

            As a response to Fox News, MSNBC implemented a faux-liberal stance with dismal results. This gives the illusion of debate, but in reality, it binds it. MSNBC, which is a mega-phone for the Democratic Party, sets the standard of how far you are allowed to go in your critique of power. The Hobby Lobby case is a perfect example. Fox framed it as a triumph for religious freedom and the rights of business owners while MSNBC framed it as religious encroachment on a secular nation and a war against women. Both outlets fulfilled their respective institutional roles by binding debate along those acceptable topics. But neither outlet addressed the real issue which is the ever expanding rights and power of corporations. Why? Because the media are corporations that sell audiences to other corporations. Think about that the next time you see an advertisement and remember the object being sold is not the product on TV; it’s you.

            With the exception of Bill Moyers, host of Moyers & Company on PBS, true liberals have been essentially purged from the mainstream media. They cannot be found on corporate TV. Faux liberals, like Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Ed Schulz worship Obama and the Democratic Party and play their role as partisan hacks. They dedicate hours to Republican scandals but don’t challenge corporate power. This is acceptable as are liberal comedians like Stewart and Colbert who poke fun at the hiccups in the system but do not condemn it as a whole or allow radicals on their shows.

            Today’s leading left-wing dissidents like Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Amy Goodman, Cornel West, Naomi Klein, Richard Wolff, Sheldon S. Wolin, Michelle Alexander, Heidi Baghosian and Dave Zirin, are completely anonymous in corporate news culture. Yet, right-wing radicals like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingram and Rush Limbaugh are household names and have their own shows. True liberals are seldom, if ever, invited as guests on cable news shows and the idea that a corporate news network would allow them to host their own program is downright absurd. Could you imagine The Chomsky Factor? Their critique of the system does not conform to an acceptable corporate narrative.

            This is the genius of the American propaganda system. Unlike something like the North Korean propaganda system, the information and opinions disseminated in the U.S. are not mandated by state power. Journalists do not get their copies spiked, as they say. Our system of indoctrination is much more subtle and sophisticated. The news industry appears to be intensely competitive. To obtain a position where one’s point of view can reach a mainstream audience a person must rise through the ranks. Those who internalize the values of their institution or, have a world view within the acceptable spectrum, are allowed to move up while those who don’t are weeded out. No one has to be told what they can and can’t say. Those who reach positions of power within these institutions understand what is acceptable and what is not.

            It’s a technical term called, “getting it”. Those who “get it” become stenographers of power. I suspect nearly all are conscious of their role. Do you think a reporter or anchor for NBC would ever run a story about how G.E., their parent company, made 19.6 billion dollars in profit in 2013 and “paid” an effective tax rate of negative 18.9% (according to Mother Jones)? The process is carefully designed to make sure the wrong ideas don’t get out. That is why liberal celebrities who voice their opinions are immediately condemned by the media. Because of their celebrity status, they have acquired a public platform without being vetted by the corporate filtering system and that is a threat.

            Luckily for corporate America, most celebrities subscribe to the same liberal bankruptcy as MSNBC and the Democratic Party. What they say is not threatening. For example, that is why in 2003 Michael Moore was booed off the stage during the Academy Awards after condemning President Bush and his lies that led to an illegal war of aggression in Iraq. Remember, back then the Democrats supported the war. A room full of so-called Hollywood liberals, who spent all night congratulating themselves for the courageous choices they made playing dress-up and make-believe, denounced Moore’s truly brave critique of the president’s actions. Moore’s scathing criticism had crossed the line of acceptable debate. The faux liberals did their job. Hollywood booed Moore and the news media, including even the likes of Keith Olbermann and Al Franken, denounced him.

            The truth is if the media had a liberal bias Michael Moore might have his own show on MSNBC or even CNN which is branded as “center.” Instead, when was the last time you saw Moore on TV? He demands that his appearances be aired in their entirety and unedited, except when regarding the obligatory commercial breaks. The corporate media knows Moore doesn’t “get it” and could say anything. Without the ability to edit his statements out of context or eliminate them altogether, he is too much of a risk and, therefore, essentially blacklisted from the mainstream.

            In fact, long form, in depth interviews have been all but abolished or severely edited. Even though there are twenty-four hours to fill, you have five minute segments where six “experts” yell slogans at each other. Three and four minute time periods do not allow alternative ideas to be expressed without sounding crazy. A long form interview format would permit voices outside the system to challenge conventional wisdom and that is something power does not allow. Instead of providing context and analysis, corporations have reduced news to sound bites comprised of emotionally potent oversimplifications.

            As Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays (who literally wrote the book onuniformity(1) propaganda) understood, people are not moved by fact or reason, but rather by the skillful manipulation of emotion. They will confuse information with how they are made to feel. The corporate media are well aware of this so they invent outrage and exploit it at every turn. They play on our fears, divide us and turn us against each other through race, religion, gender and sexuality while they carry out the power-elite’s agenda of ultra capitalism. The incident involving Paula Dean comes to mind. The corporate news organizations took their predictable stances. The left was outraged and hid behind their self-righteous, political correctness while the right came out in favor of free speech (as they always do unless it’s the Dixie Chicks or Alec Baldwin). If there was a true liberal outlet anywhere in the mainstream media I imagine the coverage might have gone something like this:

            “The rich own the corporations that control the 90% of the media and use meaningless events like this that have no impact on anyone’s lives to distract and divide us, thus silencing the majority and turning us against each other while the elite consolidate more power and control by enacting policies that serve the privileged few at the expense of the many. Instead of paying attention to, reporting on, or having an opinion about something as trivial as what a celebrity chef said, all Americans should immediately turn off their TV’s and take to the street against the opulent minority who have been systematically eliminating our freedoms and robbing our children of the American Dream while we’ve been watching shows about cooking.

________________________________________________________________________

*Author’s Bio:  Matt Reedy grew up in central Pennsylvania where he attended college at Penn State University. In 2005 he moved to New York City and began working in the film & television industry where he joined the D.G.A. (Directors Guild of America). Matt is a member of the Unitarian Church whose community and congregation are actively dedicated to matters of social justice. He currently lives in North Jersey with his wife, their daughter and their two dogs.

Inviting Fascism by Matt Reedy

 

Is It Facism Yet coverInviting Fascism

Guest Opinion by Matt Reedy*

August 10, 2014        

           

It is not a law of nature that fascism must emerge from government. It can come in many forms. Sheldon S. Wolin warns that it will hide in the anonymity of the corporate state, something he calls Inverted Totalitarianism. George Carlin thought that when fascism came to America it would be wearing Nike shoes and smiley-shirts. Chris Hedges (whose book, Death of the Liberal Class inspired most of the ideas in this article) believes it will come to America clutching the Christian Cross and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I believe they’re all correct and I believe everything they predicted is happening now and it terrifies me.

In Czarist Russia, before Lenin; in the former Yugoslavia, before Karadzic, Milosevic or Tudman; and in Weimar Germany, before Hitler, there was a systemic breakdown that resulted in the majority of citizens being pushed to the fringes of society. They were forsaken by the powerful who were in a mad scramble to secure their own self-interests. In all three countries, the liberal class had abandoned its values and as a result, people turned to right-wing, charismatic demagogues who, instead of confronting reality and addressing the cause of collapse, scapegoated the weak and disenfranchised while promising moral renewal. These figures, who were initially dismissed as fools, found an audience as they articulated a popular rage. The liberal class, no longer able to function as a safety valve for popular dissent, forced a betrayed citizenry to find another outlet in right-wing populism. And in case you couldn’t tell, the same thing is happening here and now in America. But why?

Fast oneFirst it’s important to recognize Obama is not a liberal. He, like Bush, is a corporate brand sold to the public. But unlike his predecessor, Obama was marketed to be loved by progressives and despised by conservatives. His dark skin, urban upbringing and Ivy League education might have replaced Bush’s folksy twang, country bumpkin, gut-instinct approach, but Obama carries out corporate bidding all the same. If you forgo the rhetoric and actually look at his policies you’ll find that, on paper, Obama is about as liberal as Ronald Reagan. Such a thought may cause the heads of fervent Obama supporters and denouncers to explode, but to those who can see through the false left-right paradigm, it is all too clear.

So with no liberal outlet working within the system, discontent has taken two forms: Occupy Wall St. and The Tea Party. Both popular movements address the fact that the majority of Americans have no voice within the current power structure. But while both have correctly identified the problem, their selected methods for treatment couldn’t be any different. Occupy correctly identifies the source of America’s downfall as corporate greed that values profit above all other costs while The Tea Party, like other movements that have invited fascist regimes, incorrectly holds accountable the weak and venerable.

But in today’s America we blame the victims, not the perpetrators. When corporations move the factories overseas to increase their already “dazzling” profits, those who join the unemployment line are seen as the problem. When unions trade high wages for better benefits, they are pejoratively referred to as Cadillac health and retirement plans and then dismantled. When an employee is injured on the job and denied workman’s comp, in embracing his only other option, to collect disability from the government, he is seen as a burden on society. Anyone who attempts to portray these unfortunate citizens in a positive light is instantly branded as anti-American, unpatriotic, a taker, a Communist or any other meaningless label that happens to be lying around.

Most fascist regimes gain a following by blaming weak scapegoats. In late WeimarChris Hedges book cover on American Fascism Germany, the most famous case, it was the Jews, the Bolsheviks, the gypsies, the homosexuals and the disabled that were blamed for the woes the homeland. Here it is the unions, minorities, public servants, illegal aliens, the working poor, the unemployed and refugee children that we hold responsible for our current, dismal state while we are told the rich and powerful, who orchestrated the crisis, have noble qualities we should emulate. Wealth is to America what the Aryan race was to late Weimar Germany. Those who have more of it are seen as “purer” Americans while those who have less are seen as parasites feeding off a once great nation and who must be purged in order restore said nation to its former glory. Sound familiar?

Ironically, those who embrace the idea of greed as a virtue and blame the less fortunate have somehow tied the ideology to the Christian faith. Jesus, from what I can remember, preached the welcoming of strangers, helping the poor, service to others, the forsaking of riches, the decrying of possessions and warned that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Instead of abiding by the teachings of Christ, these heretics use his name to subjugate those with whom they disagree or simply do not like. It may seem odd at first, but to those who lost everything, reconciling contradictory beliefs is not difficult. Fritz Stern, a scholar on fascism, tells us those who have been betrayed “find deliverance in the ecstatic escape of unreason”.

In the midst of the economic meltdown, the poor, who are by now used to paying for crimes of the rich, could not foot the bill on their own this time. As a result, the rich were forced to call upon white-working class Americans to pick up the rest of the check. The financial crisis’ effect on middle-America, coupled with the two-terms of a half-black president that followed, has caused white Americans to now see themselves as a persecuted race. But they don’t blame the rich who abused them, stole from them, promised them fortune and fame if they worked hard and then discarded them. Instead they blame the weak and powerless who the system had abandoned years ago. According to the 2012 government tax receipt, an American worker making $50,000 a year pays $6.96 to the entire welfare system but over $4,000 in corporate subsidies. Yet, white, working-class Americans are convinced the poor are the parasites who abuse the system, not the super-rich. Why?           

Because the liberal class has failed. Since Bill Clinton convinced his party to take corporate money and do corporate bidding the democrats, like the republicans before them, have forsaken the working class. And the liberals in the media are too beholden to their corporate overlords to address the real problems. Instead, they speak in half-measures and devote days of coverage to trivial, partisan abuses like bridge scandals while true power remains unchecked. Institutional liberals have offered no answers and when there are no answers, but something is obviously wrong, people like Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachman start to make sense no matter who or they blame or why. White middle-class Americans have been betrayed. They want and deserve answers. According to Fritz Stern, “In Germany, before fascism was invented, there was a yearning for fascism.” This is the yearning.

That is the irony of a fascist America. The very people who are fighting the hardest to prevent it are ensuring its arrival. Thanks to Mussolini and Hitler, fascism is associated with the overthrow of a decaying structure and replacement by a new tyrannical authority. Because of this precedent, the right-wing has focused on government and specifically Obama as the main threats to democracy. However, the real threat to democracy is not the government or its current figurehead, but rather their mutual master: the corporation. Corporations are massive systems of private power that have corrupted our government. They are unelected, undemocratic and unaccountable to the public. They are totalitarian institutions whose legal obligation is to maximize profit at all costs.

And this is where the danger lies. The Tea Party and the republicans want to dismantle government, the only buffer (and I agree it’s a terrible buffer) between the U.S. citizenry and corporations, thus allowing these undemocratic, tyrannical authorities to rule us directly. They don’t realize the reason the government no longer functions in the first place is because corporations have bought off politicians to shape public policy in their interest. Now The Tea Party and right-wing republicans want to eliminate restrictions on corporations; lift regulations and relax laws in order to grant more rights and power to these totalitarian structures.

The failure of the left to address these very real grievances has white, middle-class Americans so baffled and angry that they are calling for their own enslavement. If fascism does take hold in America it will be in the name of Jesus Christ and the free market. With the poor already squeezed dry, the assault on the middle-class will continue until it too is destroyed. Corporations and the people who occupy high positions in them will be showered with riches while the rest of us will see our wages plummet, our collective bargaining nullified, our safety net torn, our retirement stolen and our benefits vanquished. Small businesses will be crushed, competition will be wiped out and the monopoly on goods and services will cause prices to skyrocket. Starting from the bottom up, this new, unregulated capitalism will exploit each subsequent income level and then discard them all until only richest of rich are left standing. America will then be reconfigured into a state of corporate neo-feudalism where the richest 1% will be the lords and the other 99% the serfs. We attempted this once before; to live in a society that was ruled by a rich and religious minority. We refer to those years as the Dark Ages for a reason.

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*Matt Reedy grew up in central Pennsylvania where he attended college at Penn State University. In 2005 he moved to New York City and began working in the film & television industry where he joined the D.G.A. (Directors Guild of America). Matt is a member of the Unitarian Church whose community and congregation are actively dedicated to matters of social justice. He currently lives in North Jersey with his wife, their daughter and their two dogs.

 

Declare Your Independence From The Fascist Political Duopoly NOW!

 Einstein image on insanityCorporate Fascism Dominates Our Political System

by Thomas Baldwin

Biloxi, MS  July 4, 2014

Whether one uses the term Corporatocracy, Corporatism= Corporate Fascism or the Corporate State, these terms all mean a complete merger of the corporations with the state. One can also argue that a Plutocracy or Oligarchy in a capitalistic system also strongly signify a strong relationship between corporations and the wealthiest elite. Sheldon Wolin introduced a term “Inverted Totalitarianism“.  What all of these suggest is that the wealthiest elite have gained complete control of our government (the state) and rule; it is antithetical to a democracy where the people rule. These systems are completely incompatible and cannot coexist. Continue reading

“GET UP, STAND UP”, A Very Good Handbook For Activists

Get Up Stand Up image

“Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite”

Miniblog by Thomas Baldwin

Biloxi, MS, June 29, 2014

In this brief blog, I want to call everyone’s attention to a book I recently discovered which can serve as a very good guide to activism. Although the subtitle mentions most prominently “Populists” it can serve equally well for those who advocate for “Progressives.” And goodness knows, we need some more effective activism in this totally corrupt and dysfunctional political environment. The time for Americans to revolt is becoming very late as Corporate Fascism with the wealthiest elite have gained total control of our political duopoly. Continue reading

Appeal to the Nobel Committee to Revoke Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

Peace image 2

by Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

May 3, 2014

I have submitted this petition to the Causes site and and requested a petition to be issued.  Stay tuned and be ready to sign it and share broadly.  I would like to see thousands of signatures! 

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12 REASONS WHY THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE SHOULD BE REVOKED FROM BARACK OBAMA

Since the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama in the Fall of 2009, he has committed several acts which document he never deserved this award in the first place.  Here is a list which is a minimum of our grievances:

  1.  Expansion of the war in Afghanistan with over 30,000 additional troops.
  2. Expansion of the use of Drones for killing “designated enemy combatants.”
  3. Development of “kill lists” with his personal approval of killing civilians including Americans overseas and leaving open the possibility of doing it within the U.S.
  4. Signing of NDAA into law with its provisions of indefinitely detaining persons including Americans.
  5. Failure to disclose numbers of those killed in foreign countries by Drone attacks, including women and children.
  6. Blatant violations of the sovereignty of other nations including Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and others.
  7. Bombing of Libya without Congressional approval.
  8. Proposal to bomb Syria.
  9. Supporting the  NSA spying on citizenry throughout the world including American citizens and lying about it to Congress in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
  10. Intervention in the internal affairs of the Ukraine creating a direct confrontation with Russia.
  11. Intervention in Venezuela creating mass instabilities in that country.
  12. Continuation of imprisonment in Guantanamo after promising to close it and evidence of more torture even in foreign countries.

We  implore that the Nobel Committee  revoke Mr. Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize and demand that he be required to return the entirety of the ample sum of money rewarded.  He has clearly demonstrated  he is not a man of Peace.  We maintain that if the Nobel Committee does not do so it’s reputation and credibility will be permanently damaged.  Millions of people within the U.S. and throughout the world will take notice.