Archive for the ‘Pyramidal System to Cyclical System’ Category

Washington Is Humanity’s Worst Enemy

April 15, 2014
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Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts

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How does Washington get away with the claim that the country it rules is a democracy and has freedom? This absurd claim ranks as one of the most unsubstantiated claims in history.

There is no democracy whatsoever. Voting is a mask for rule by a few powerful interest groups. In two 21st century rulings (Citizens United and McCutcheon), the US Supreme Court has ruled that the purchase of the US government by private interest groups is merely the exercise of free speech. These rulings allow powerful corporate and financial interests to use their money-power to elect a government that serves their interests at the expense of the general welfare.

The control private interests exercise over the government is so complete that private interests have immunity to prosecution for crimes. At his retirement party on March 27, Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutor James Kidney stated that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail” were blocked by superiors who “were focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service.” The SEC’s top brass, Kidney said, did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.” In his report on Kidney’s retirement speech, Eric Zuesse points out that the Obama regime released false statistics in order to claim prosecutions that did not take place in order to convince a gullible public that Wall Street crooks were being punished.

Democracy and freedom require an independent and aggressive media, an independent and aggressive judiciary, and an independent and aggressive Congress. The United States has none of the above.

The US media consistently lies for the government. Reuters continues to report, falsely, that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. The Washington Post ran an obviously false story planted in the paper by the Obama regime that the massive protests in former Russian territories of Ukraine are “rent-a-mobs” instigated by the Russian government.

Not even Washington’s stooges in Kiev believe that. Officials of the Washington-imposed government in Kiev acknowledged the need for some autonomy for the Russian-speaking regions and for a law permitting referendums, but this realistic response to widespread concerns among Ukrainians has apparently been squelched by Washington and its presstitute media. US Secretary of State John Kerry continues to turn a deaf ear to the Russian Foreign Minister and continues to demand that “Russia must remove its people from the South-East.”


What is happening is very dangerous. Washington misjudged its ability to grab the Ukraine. Opposition to the US grab is almost total in the Russian-speaking areas. Local police and security forces have gone over to the protesters. The corrupt Obama regime and the presstitute media lie through their teeth that the protests are insincere and mere orchestrations by “Putin who wants to restore the Soviet empire.” The Russian government keeps trying to end the conflict and unrest that Washington’s reckless coup in Kiev has caused short of having to reabsorb the former Russian territories as it was forced to do in Crimea. But Washington continues ignoring the Russian government and blaming the unrest on Russia’s, not Washington’s, interference. Also see here.

The Russian government knows that Washington does not believe what Washington is saying and that Washington is systematically provoking a continuation and worsening of the problem. The Russian government wonders what agenda Washington is pursuing. Is Washington in its arrogant stupidity and superpower hubris unable to acknowledge that itstakeover of the Ukraine has come amiss and to back off? Does Washington not realize that the Russian government is no more able to accept the application of violence against Russian populations in Ukraine than it could accept violence against Russians in South Ossetia? If Washington doesn’t come to its senses, the Russian government will have to send in troops as it had to do in Georgia.

As this is clear even to a fool, is it Washington’s goal to start a war? Is that why Washington is massing NATO forces on Russia’s borders and sending missile ships into the Black Sea? Washington is putting the entire world at risk. If Russia concludes that Washington intends to drive the Ukraine crisis to war rather than to resolve the crisis, will Russia sit and wait, or will Russia strike first?

One would think that the Chancellor of Germany, the British Prime Minister, and the President of France would see the danger in the situation. Perhaps they do. However, there is a large difference between the aid that Russia gives countries and the aid given by Washington. Russia provides financial support to governments; Washington gives bagfuls of money to individuals in the government with the knowledge that individuals are more likely to act in their own interest than in the interest of their country. Therefore, European politicians are silent as Washington pushes a crisis toward war. If we don’t get to war, the only reason will be that Putin comes up with a solution that Washington cannot refuse, as Putin did in Syria and Iran.

It is a paradox that Putin is portrayed as the heavy while Washington pretends to be the champion of “freedom and democracy.” In the 21st century Washington has established as its hallmarks every manifestation of tyranny: illegal and unconstitutional execution of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional indefinite detention of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional torture, illegal and unconstitutional rendition, illegal and unconstitutional surveillance, and illegal and unconstitutional wars. The executive branch has established that it is unaccountable to law or to the Constitution. An unaccountable government is a tyranny.

Tired of being spied upon and lied to, the Senate Intelligence Committee has produced a thorough investigation of the CIA’s torture programs. The investigation took four years to complete. The Committee found, unequivocally, that the CIA lied about the extent of the torture and kidnappings, that detainees did not undergo some mild form of “enhanced interrogation” but were subjected to brutal and inhumane torture, that the CIA, contrary to its claims, did not get even one piece of useful information from its grave crimes against humanity. The American presstitutes assisted the CIA in inaccurately portraying the effectiveness and mildness of the CIA’s Gestapo practices. During the entirety of the investigation, the CIA illegally spied on the Senate staff conducting the investigation.

Is the public ever to see this report beyond the parts that have been leaked? Not if the CIA and Obama can prevent it. President “change” Obama has decided that it is up to the CIA to decide how much of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation will be made public. In other words, unless someone leaks the entire report, the American public will never know. Yet, “we have freedom and democracy.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee itself has the power to vote to declassify the entire report and to release it. The committee should do so immediately before the members of the committee are browbeaten, threatened, and propagandized into believing that they are endangering “national security” and providing those mistreated with grounds for a lawsuit.

The US government is the most corrupt government on earth. There is no independent judiciary or media, and Congress has acquiesced to executive branch encroachments on its powers. Consider the judiciary. Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights represented the father of the American citizen, who Obama said would be murdered by the US government on suspicion that he was associated with terrorism. When Ratner asked the federal courts to block an illegal and unconstitutional execution of an American citizen without due process, the federal judge who heard the case ruled that the father of a son about to be murdered did not have standing to bring a case in behalf of his son.

After several lives were snuffed out by President “I’m good at killing people” Obama, Ratner represented relatives of Obama’s murdered victims in a damage suit. Under US law it was clear as day that damages were due. But the federal judge ruled that “the government must be trusted.”

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Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book,  How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.

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Global Day of Action on Military Spending April 14/15 – Move the Money From the Pentagon to the People!

April 15, 2014

UPDATE: Global Day of Action on Military Spending April 14/15

Time to Move the Money From the Pentagon to the People!

This Tax Day, tell Congress how you want your money spent!

Did you know that 57% of our federal discretionary budget is spent on military programs?  After 13 + years of war, it is time to rein in Pentagon spending and start funding the very real needs we have in our communities.  It is outrageous that this year we have half as many troops in Afghanistan as last year, but the military funding in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account actually went up.  We need to end this slush fund that allows for the Pentagon budget to escape budget caps and keep spending irresponsibly.  Tell Congress to end budget gimmicks to preserve wartime spending and bring those tax dollars home.

Did you know that more than 17,000 nuclear weapons, most held by the U.S. and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to humanity? The U.S. is actually spending more on nuclear bombs and warheads than at the height of the Cold War! As currently planned, maintaining and modernizing the US nuclear arsenal will exceed $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Tell Congress that our government should be working in good faith to eliminate all nuclear arms, not stealing more of our tax dollars to modernize these weapons of mass destruction.

April 14, 2014 has been declared as the fourth Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS), when community, faith, labor, environmental and peace groups will gather in their communities on every continent to call attention to the domestic impact of money poured into military arms and war preparation by governments across the globe while urgent human needs go unmet. Here in the US, Tax Day actions will be held on April 15 and some groups will combine GDAMS actions with those.

It’s not too late to get involved!  More than 60 actions are planned around the country.

·      Find an action in your community, or post one.

·      Join the GDAMS Thunderclap!

·      Tweet! Follow@DemilitarizeDay. On April 14/15 share this message: #GDAMS2014! Time to shift priorities and #movethemoney!  Cut military spending, fund human needs!

Please let us know if you are planning or participating in a GDAMS/Tax Day action by dropping us a note: And please make a donation to support UFPJ’s long term work for peace and justice.

Thanks for your support!

Jackie Cabasso and Terry Rockefeller on behalf of the UFPJ Coordinating Committee

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Eight Headlines the Mainstream Media Doesn’t Have the Courage to Print

April 8, 2014

The following are all relevant, fact-based issues, the “hard news” stories that the media has a responsibility to report. But the business-oriented press generally avoids them.

1. U.S. Wealth Up $34 Trillion Since Recession. 93% of You Got Almost None of It.

That’s an average of $100,000 for every American. But the people who already own most of the stocks took almost all of it. For them, the average gain was well over a million dollars — tax-free as long as they don’t cash it in. Details available here.

2. Eight Rich Americans Made More Than 3.6 Million Minimum Wage Workers

A recent report stated that no full-time minimum wage worker in the U.S. can afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent. There are 3.6 million such workers, and their total (combined) 2013 earnings is less than the 2013 stock market gains of just eight Americans, all of whom take more than their share from society: the four Waltons, the two Kochs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.

3. News Sources Speak for the 5%

It would be refreshing to read an honest editorial: “We dearly value the 5 to 7 percent of our readers who make a lot of money and believe that their growing riches are helping everyone else.”

Instead, the business media seems unable to differentiate between the top 5 percent and the rest of society. The Wall Street Journal exclaimed, “Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before,” and then went on to sputter: “What Recession?…The economy has bounced back from recession, unemployment has declined..”

The Chicago Tribune may be even further out of touch with its less privileged readers, asking them: “What’s so terrible about the infusion of so much money into the presidential campaign?”

4. TV News Dumbed Down for American Viewers

A 2009 survey by the European Journal of Communication compared the U.S. to Denmark, Finland, and the UK in the awareness and reporting of domestic vs. international news, and of ‘hard’ news (politics, public administration, the economy, science, technology) vs. ‘soft’ news (celebrities, human interest, sport and entertainment). The results:

  • Americans [are] especially uninformed about international public affairs.
  • American respondents also underperformed in relation to domestic-related hard news stories.
  • American television reports much less international news than Finnish, Danish and British television;
  • American television network newscasts also report much less hard news than Finnish and Danish television.

Surprisingly, the report states that “our sample of American newspapers was more oriented towards hard news than their counterparts in the European countries.” Too bad Americans are reading less newspapers.

5. News Execs among White Male Boomers Who Owe Trillions to Society

The hype about the “self-made man” is fantasy. In the early 1970s, we privileged white males were spirited out of college to waiting jobs in management and finance, technology was inventing new ways for us to make money, tax rates were about to tumble, and visions of bonuses and capital gains danced in our heads.

While we were in school the Defense Department had been preparing the Internet for Microsoft and Apple, the National Science Foundation was funding the Digital Library Initiative research that would be adopted as the Google model, and the National Institute of Health was doing the early laboratory testing for companies like Merck and Pfizer. Government research labs and public universities trained thousands of chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production line workers, market analysts, testers, troubleshooters, etc., etc.

All we created on our own was a disdainful attitude, like that of Steve Jobs: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

6. Funding Plummets for Schools and Pensions as Corporations Stop Paying Taxes

Three separate studies have shown that corporations pay less than half of their required state taxes, which are the main source of K-12 educational funding and a significant part of pension funding. Most recently, the report“The Disappearing Corporate Tax Base” found that the percentage of corporate profits paid as state income taxes has dropped from 7 percent in 1980 to about 3 percent today.

7. Companies Based in the U.S. Paying Most of their Taxes Overseas

Citigroup had 42% of its 2011-13 revenue in North America (almost all U.S.) and made $32 billion in profits, but received a U.S. current income tax benefit all three years.

Pfizer had 40% of its 2011-13 revenues and nearly half of its physical assets in the U.S., but declared almost $10 billion in U.S. losses to go along with nearly $50 billion in foreign profits.

In 2013 Exxon had about 43% of management, 36% of sales, 40% of long-lived assets, and 70-90% of its productive oil and gas wells in the U.S., yet only paid about 2 percent of its total income in U.S. income taxes, and most of that was something called a “theoretical” tax.

8. Restaurant Servers Go Without Raise for 30 Years

An evaluation by Michelle Chen showed that the minimum wage for tipped workers has been approximately $2 an hour since the 1980s. She also notes that about 40 percent of these workers are people of color, and about two-thirds are women.

Here’s one more possible and welcome headline: Progressives Unite Behind Wealth and Wall Street Taxes.

Climate Change and Inequality Brewing Global Social Upheaval

April 4, 2014

World Bank chief admits institution’s past mistakes, but has it changed its destructive ways?

- Jon Queally, staff writer

President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, is warning that the combined crises of planetary climate change and rising global inequality in a highly interconnected world will lead to the rise of widespread upheaval as the world’s poor rise up and clashes over access to clean water and affordable food result in increased violence and political conflict.

As Jim Yong Kim warned of the risks of climate change, the UN said food prices had risen to their highest in almost a year. (Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)In an interview ahead of a bank summit next week, Kim predicts that battles over food and water will break out in the next five to ten years as a direct result of a warming planet that world leaders have done too little to address, despite warnings from the environmental community and scientists.

“The water issue is critically related to climate change,” Kim told the Guardian. “People say that carbon is the currency of climate change. Water is the teeth. Fights over water and food are going to be the most significant direct impacts of climate change in the next five to 10 years. There’s just no question about it.”

Despite the acknowledgement of the problem, however, and even as he made mea culpa for past errors by the powerful financial institution he now runs (including a global push to privatize drinking water resources and utilities), Kim laid the blame on inaction on the very people who have done the most to alert humanity to the crisis, saying that both climate change activists and informed scientists have not done enough to offer a plan to address global warming in a way he deems “serious.”

He said: “They [the climate change community] kept saying, ‘What do you mean a plan?’ I said a plan that’s equal to the challenge. A plan that will convince anyone who asks us that we’re really serious about climate change, and that we have a plan that can actually keep us at less than 2C warming. We still don’t have one.”

Kim also acknowledged the threat of unaddressed inequality, saying that access to the internet (mostly through smartphones) in the developing world has created conditions where everyone on the planet knows how other people live, which means that the “next huge social movement” could erupt anywhere at anytime.

“It’s going to erupt to a great extent because of these inequalities,” he continued and said heads of state from around the world have called for “a much, much deeper understanding of the political dangers of very high levels of inequality.”

The question remains: Do these acknowledgements of the dual crisis of a warming, less equal planet from the leader of the World Bank really translate into a transformation of the institution that is well known as one of the key proponents of the policies and projects that have led us to this point.?

According to a new report the World Resources Institute, the answer remains: No.

The new analysis from WRI says that despite Kim’s recent rhetoric and focus on “sustainability” for the bank, the reality “shows that while the World Bank has successfully addressed a number of important economic and social risks in its projects, it is falling short in recognizing climate risks.”

Out of 60 recent World Bank projects assessed, according to researchers, “only 25 percent included features that took climate change risks into account. This shortfall could leave communities vulnerable to extreme weather, sea level rise, and other climate impacts—impacts that threaten to undermine the World Bank’s efforts to eliminate poverty.”


First-Ever Political Study of Top 1% Has Found Extreme Conservatism, Intense Political Involvement

April 2, 2014
General News 4/2/2014 at 13:27:05

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A year ago, to little public notice, the academic journal Perspectives on Politics published a landmark study, “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans,” by Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels, and Jason Seawright; which reports that, among the American aristocracy, there exists pervasive extreme conservatism, and also a virtual non-stop involvement in politics by them — in other words, it finds the same two things that writers have hypothesized to exist among aristocracies throughout all of human history. But, for the first time ever, these researchers have now attached precise numbers to these two hypotheses, and have established that this is the way aristocrats actually are. Consequently, the much-noted takeover of “Main Street” by “Wall Street” can be explained by the fact that the aristocracy are far more conservative, and also far more politically active, than the general population are.

73% of the respondents in this study were wealthier than $5 million. 36% were wealthier than $10 million. 22% were wealthier than $20 million. And 8% were wealthier than $40 million.

The wealthier the respondent, the more extreme was his or her extreme conservatism.

40% of the respondents had “Made Contact With” (which was a conspicuously undefined phrase in the study) the person’s U.S. Senator.

37% had made contact with with his Representative.


12% had, with a White House Official.

21% had, with an Official at a Regulatory Agency.

Of these “contacts,” 44% were asserted to have been for private business reasons, such as to “try to get the Treasury to honor their commitment to extend TARP fund to a particular bank.”

99% of respondents had voted in 2008.

84% said that they were paying attention to politics “”most of the time.’ Asked how many days of the week they talk politics, the median response was five days. (More than one volunteered “all the time.’)” So, now, we know whose brains are connected to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.”

“Fully two-thirds contributed money to politics, giving an average of $4,633 to political campaigns or organizations over the previous twelve months.” And, “A remarkable 21 percent … solicited or “bundled’ other peoples’ political contributions.”

What, then, were their political issues, which so obsessed them?

70% were opposed to more federal regulation of “Small business.”

87% were opposed to “responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and those with low incomes.” Studies of the general public showed that the comparable percentage among the public was 54%.

83% were opposed to the idea that “our government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.” 48% of the general public were.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
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Supreme Court Traitors Sell Out America Again With McCutcheon Decision

April 2, 2014
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Supreme Court Building with a Facade. I took this photo last summer. It seemed like a look the current court deserves.
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Today the five Supreme Court psychopathic scum who vote together for corporations and against people, for big money and against democracy vomited out a decision that could be the one that irreversibly puts the nail in the coffin of American democracy and the middle class.

Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy are florid traitors who have opened up the floodgates for total debasement of the political system. While Citizens United made it easier to funnel money from outside the US, today’s McCutcheon decision will enable any wealthy person to funnel money from foreign people, companies, agencies and governments, including Al Qaeda, including BP, including North Korea and Iran and Israel, into any election.
It’s simple. Say I’m a billionaire. I open an account in, for example, Germany. The government of Iran wires $5 million to my account, or, they use a few intermediaries to hide the source of the transfer.  I make donations totalling $5 million, from a different US account, to four senatorial campaigns, ten house of representatives campaigns, six gubernatorial campaigns and half a dozen judicial campaign.
There is no way to stop such a process. It will happen. It has happened. The only way to stop it is to put limits on  how much an individual can give and to not allow corporations to influence elections at all.
Alan Grayson has submitted legislation to prevent foreign money being used in elections. But it’s hard for me to see how it is possible to detect and prevent the kind of scenario I’ve described.
The US has always had a corrupt system and the wealthy have always been able to buy influence legally and illegally. Now, the traitors in the supreme court have opened the floodgates and the flood will come from outside the US as well as from within.
There is no way to characterize the five justices as anything other than traitorous, psychopathic scum.
They should be in jail, not re-making the laws of the land.
And if you are still under the delusion that electoral politics is the way to make change happen, the depth of your detachment from reality has just been made much deeper. It will take strong non-electoral actions by masses of Americans to undo what these traitorous psychopaths have done. Today we have seen true evil. Sadly, most of the people who usually talk about evil, Evangelical Christians, have no clue that their votes have enabled this heresy.


Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the

Listen to over 200 of Rob’s Podcast interviews here.

Rob is, with the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.
With his experience as architect and founder of a technorati top 100 blog, he is also a new media / social media consultant and trainer for corporations, non-profits, entrepreneurs and authors.

Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom-up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

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To learn more about Rob and, check out A Voice For Truth – ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob’s work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..

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To watch me on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, former Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn’t you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube video.

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Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party’s Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

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Militarism, Nationalism, and Crisis in Krimea

April 2, 2014
War Times/Tiempos de Guerra Month in Review
March 2014
The jockeying for position between Russian and U.S. governments in Ukraine has dominated headlines since the fall of Ukrainian President ViktorYanukovych in late February. In the writing to follow Nathan Paulsenhighlights recent events and places them in a broader context of US militarism.
Militarism is the backbone of empire 
US militarism has long been the brute physical force underlying a global economic order that systematically privileges US capitalvis-à-vis state rivals, not to mention the vast bulk of humanity. The 19thand early 20th centuries were the period of U.S. gunboat diplomacy, which secured its control over the Americas, and wide swaths of the Pacific, while European powers conducted their “Partition of Africa.”
A lot has changed since those earlier colonial days. With the historic gains of the independence movements in the post-War War II period, such direct military power grabs are more difficult to orchestrate and come with higher costs – as both France and the United States discovered in Vietnam. In fact, since Vietnam the United States has generally found it less costly to maintain its empire through a combination of “free” trade and aid agreements, proxy wars, and support for friendly elites in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These measures have the added advantage of being less visible on the world stage than naval destroyers. This new reality was confirmed yet again when recent efforts to undo the “Vietnam syndrome” in Afghanistan and Iraq simply reinforced the popular desire to avoid armed conflict.
And this dynamic informs current events. The sentiment that sovereignty ought to be respected allowed US officials to mobilize opinion against the Kremlin when Russia recently annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine. As Secretary of State John Kerry – himself a key Congressional ally of the Bush administration war on Iraq – so ironically asserted, “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.” (U.S. moralizing about national sovereignty is an odd spectacle, in view of this country’s extensive drone assassination program, which operates in a score of countries, often without their governments’ consent, or even knowledge.)
Indeed, things are not the same as they were in the 19th century, when naked land and power grabs were the norm. But the link between militarism and empire is as robust as ever – as is the contest between modern states to carve up the world for national and corporate exploitation of peoples and earth.
Crimean annexation and nationalist tensions
After the rise of a right wing nationalist regime in Kiev oriented decidedly toward the West, Russia sent an occupying army into Crimea, which is home to a strategically important Russian naval unit (i.e. the Black Sea fleet) and represents a key site for international maritime trade. With Russian forces visible en masse throughout the island, a March 16 referendum was passed in which Crimean officials reported 82% turnout with over 96% voting in favor of seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. The Russian Federation quickly assented to this “request” for annexation. (Although ethnic Russians are the majority in Crimea, about 24% of the population is ethnically Ukrainian and another 12% ethnically Tatar; Tatars in particular are thought to have widely boycotted the referendum. The Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group native to the Crimean peninsula who suffered persecution under Russian and then Soviet rule, culminating in a 1944 mass deportation ordered by Stalin.)
With the annexation complete, eastern Ukraine – where there is a majority Russian speaking population - has come under increasing pressure. Nationalism on both sides of the divide has been whipped into a frenzyerupting into violence on a number of occasions. Nationalist prejudice threatens to escalate the conflict in the weeks ahead as Kiev and its Western backers compete with the Kremlin for power in a country experiencing deep economic turmoil. It is worth mentioning that eastern Ukraine has significantly more industrial and manufacturing strength than the western portion of the country.
A bitter rivalry
As imperial powers are wont to do, the US government has put itself in the middle of the fray. Why else spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually supporting a military apparatus with hundreds of outposts around the globe, if not to project power and influence events?
In hope of securing a favorable geopolitical outcome —by consolidating the power of a Western-friendly regime in Kiev and preempting further Russian incursions into Ukrainian territory — the US government has provided the newly-minted Kiev leadership with diplomatic and material support. On March 12 Obama met and photo-opped with recently appointed interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine. The Obama administration successfully organized to boot Russia from the G-8 economic summit, which began March 24. On March 27 the UN General Assembly declared the referendum that led to the annexation of Crimea to be invalid.
Together these measures – and the propaganda attending them from US officials – likely have emboldened the fledgling Kiev government and supported the nationalist narrative that has inflamed tensions and deepened the crisis for ordinary Ukrainians.
The economic weapon: “aid” for Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and TAFTA for corporations
Parallel to Obama administration attempts to isolate Russia politically has been a concerted financial effort to support the solvency of Kiev while causing the Putin regime economic pain. On March 27, the US government approved a $1 billion aid package to Kiev. Japan has promised $1.5 billion and the European Union has pledged $1.6 billion. The International Monetary Fund stepped in with $14 – $18 billion in additional monies. With the IMF loan more funds are likely to be freed up bringing the total to some $27 billion over two years. (Kiev’s debt is expected to rise from $80 billion to over $100 billion this summer.) The IMF loan is contingent on the Ukrainian government taking austerity measures that will let its currency float downward and cut state subsidies for energy. In addition, IMF terms dictate sharp cuts to state employment and pensions as well as privatization of government assets. As a sign of good faith to its new Western backers Kiev announced that energy prices will rise 50% on May 1 and subsidies will be done away with completely by 2016. Whereas ordinary workers will pay a heavy price for Western “aid,” the loans themselves prioritize the concerns of Western banks by servicing their debt payments.
In this manner, US and European capital, allied with Ukrainian oligarchs, are attempting to lay the economic crisis on the back of Ukrainian workers by eroding their standard of living to pay the debts of a corrupt regime. The inspiring Maiden protests that toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych – and whose encampments have yet to disband – were driven by anger generated by the sharp downturn that has ravaged the incomes and security of poor and working Ukrainians while billionaires dominate the political landscape. Having rid themselves of one corrupt government,  Ukrainians now face a regime intent on savagely cutting social supports and leaning even more heavily on the oligarchs for governance.
For ordinary Ukrainians, IMF austerity is no less a weapon than sanctions or bombs. As if to demonstrate that the Russian government’s disdain for the welfare of Ukrainians matches the contempt of US and European governments, Russian state companies cut off subsidies for energy and demanded huge debt payments from Ukraine just as the IMF austerity is scheduled to take effect.
The economic punishment of Russia that has been crafted by Western states – with the US in the lead – has been advertised as affecting only those responsible for the annexation of Crimea. But these economic sanctions have proven to be about as accurate as “precision guided” missile systems. Although the sanctions implemented by the US government and European Union name specific Russian and Crimean officials, their consequence is much more far-reaching. If tensions continue, capital flight from Russia is expected to reach $100 billion this year and to push the Russian economy from its present slow growth into recession. Already more capital has left Russia in the first quarter than in all of last year. In other words, open threats of sector-wide sanction are having devastating impacts on everyday Russians who have no voice or power in the Russian state.
Obama seemed to recognize this as an intended effect of the economic war his regime has declared on Russia: “[Russia will not be] dislodged from Crimea or deterred from further escalation by military force. But with time, so long as we remain united, the Russian people will recognize that they cannot achieve security, prosperity, and the status they seek through brute force,” he said. (My emphasis.) Never mind that “the Russian people” control their government even less than we control Washington.
With the potential for an economic tit-for-tat that includes Russian manipulation of European natural gas supplies – which is an outlier concern in the current scenario – the Obama administration isunder pressure to fast track the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and is using the opportunity itself to promote passage of the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) on the grounds it will speed this process. TAFTA has been roundly opposed on the left as a device to further empower corporations, weaken living standards and devastate local ecologies, as NAFTA has already done, but on a much larger scale.
In this way the crisis between US and Russian state rivals, each pursuing its own strategic interest without regard for ordinary Ukrainians, is setting the stage for policies that promise a bonanza in corporate profits – and ruin for the rest of us. Critics rightfully contend that building expensive LNG terminals will lock the US into production of carbon-intensive energy for generations to come, even as dire warnings of climate-change-induced social crisis grow. The terminals rely heavily on fracked natural gas whose life cycle carbon emissions from ground to consumption through LNG exports likely is worse than coal.
Reinforcing this message of putting environmental concerns on the backburner when addressing security issues that stem from a militarized world. Obama used a closed door meeting with top European leaders to urge Europe to rapidly accelerate investment in shale gas and nuclear power despite popular opposition.
 Lurking danger of military buildups
With Putin already in possession of broad war authority to act in Ukraine, Russia has massed up to 35 – 40,000 soldiers on the border – including the establishment of supply lines and a mix of military units suggestive of possible occupying force. Earlier in the month Ukraine called up reserve forces and threatened resistance to additional Russian incursions on Ukrainian territory; however, those forces are no match for a sophisticated Russian military and unlikely to be deployed. Although there is bipartisan agreement that military intervention is not an option in Ukraine, in recent days the United States has conducted large scale war games with NATO allies in countries bordering Russia and pledged to build up NATO forces in the region.
The military buildup is backdrop for the Paris talks in the concluding days of this month between Kerry and his Russian counterpart. In a scene that has been repeated hundreds of times over the years, there was perhaps no better illustration of the arrogance of powerful capitalist states than the spectacle of Russia and the United States negotiating the fate of a third sovereign nation.
Where to go from here?
The rapid pace of events and distorted media coverage have left confusion in their wake. At the root of the crisis is the economic disorder that has roiled Ukraine in recent years and now is spiraling into depression (the Ukrainian economy is expected to contract 5 – 15% in 2014-2015). The power to address the crisis rests in the hands of ordinary Ukrainians whose mass action made history with the departure of Mr. Yanukovych. In the immediate aftermath of those successful protests, nationalists and organized right wing forces – whose militias Kiev is now attempting to disband – took advantage of the power vacuum left by the lack of a strong labor movement that might have been able to overcome ethnic divides and lead a progressive fight around common economic issues.
With the Maidan demonstration continuing and a series of hugely unpopular measures put in place by a fragile interim regime soon to take effect, there continues to be space for the revolt to widen and take on a more progressive character. Clearly there is little hope of overcoming the billionaire oligarchs or their state backers – whether US or Russian – without the broad unity of ordinary Ukrainians.
The democratic space for that solidarity to develop closes more each day Russian and US governments exacerbate nationalist tensions to serve their own strategic interests in Ukraine. Unlike the gunboat diplomacy of the past (which remains always a future possibility), when colonial powers directly competed using military force for control of strategic territories, Russia and the US almost certainly will not meet on a battlefield over the Ukrainian crisis.
Nonetheless their competition for supremacy in the region is an extension of the aggressive pursuit of “national” interests that fuels more overt forms of militarism. Just as US economic growth of the past few years has almost exclusively benefited the top 1% of income earners, competition between capitalist states in the international arena harms everybody but the tiny clique of rulers who come out on top. In the course of divvying up the globe to one or another elite, nationalism acts to unite the oppressed with their oppressors in common cause against oppressed people who happen to reside across borders. In the US, corporate power calls us to get behind expanded NATO military forces in Eastern Europe, LNG terminals and a destructive free trade agreement to meet the “Russian” threat. Similarly, ordinary Ukrainians and Russians are encouraged to fight with one another rather than join in common cause to overthrow the rule of the Western bankers and local oligarchs who plunder their wealth.
There are ways to oppose this kind of militarist nationalism. This April 15th, 2014 has been declared a Global Day of Action against Militarism. Take a look at War Times’ Take Action section to see how you can get involved.
War Times/Tiempo de Guerras
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Oakland, California 94609

The End of the Capitalist Era, and What Comes Next

April 2, 2014

Jeremy Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor and activist. (photo: WikiCommons)
Jeremy Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor and activist. (photo: WikiCommons)

By Jeremy Rifkin, Reader Supported News

01 April 14


he capitalist era is passing… not quickly, but inevitably. A new economic paradigm — the Collaborative Commons — is rising in its wake that will transform our way of life. We are already witnessing the emergence of a hybrid economy, part capitalist market and part Collaborative Commons. The two economic systems often work in tandem and sometimes compete. They are finding synergies along each other’s perimeters, where they can add value to one another, while benefiting themselves. At other times, they are deeply adversarial, each attempting to absorb or replace the other.

Although the indicators of the great transformation to a new economic system are still soft and largely anecdotal, the Collaborative Commons is ascendant and, by 2050, it will likely settle in as the primary arbiter of economic life in most of the world. An increasingly streamlined and savvy capitalist system will continue to soldier on at the edges of the new economy, finding sufficient vulnerabilities to exploit, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to flourish as a powerful niche player in the new economic era, but it will no longer reign.

What’s undermining the capitalist system is the dramatic success of the very operating assumptions that govern it. At the heart of capitalism there lies a contradiction in the driving mechanism that has propelled it ever upward to commanding heights, but now is speeding it to its death: the inherent dynamism of competitive markets that drives productivity up and marginal costs down, enabling businesses to reduce the price of their goods and services in order to win over consumers and market share. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing additional units of a good or service, if fixed costs are not counted.) While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring marginal costs to near zero, making goods and services priceless, nearly free, and abundant, and no longer subject to market forces.

The near zero marginal cost phenomenon has already wreaked havoc on the entertainment, communications, and publishing industries, as more and more information is being made available nearly free to billions of people. Today, more than forty percent of the human race is producing its own music, videos, news, and knowledge on relatively cheap cellphones and computers and sharing it at near zero marginal cost in a collaborative networked world. And now the zero marginal cost revolution is beginning to affect other commercial sectors, including renewable energy, 3D printing in manufacturing, and online higher education. There are already millions of “prosumers” — consumers who have become their own producers — generating their own green electricity at near zero marginal cost around the world. It’s estimated that around 100,000 hobbyists are using open source software and recycled plastic feedstock to manufacture their own 3D printed goods at nearly zero marginal cost. Meanwhile, six million students are currently enrolled in free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that operate at near zero marginal cost and are taught by some of the most distinguished professors in the world, and receiving college credits.

The reluctance to come to grips with near zero marginal cost is understandable.

Many, though not all, of the old guard in the commercial arena can’t imagine how economic life would proceed in a world where most goods and services are nearly free, profit is defunct, property is meaningless, and the market is superfluous. What then?

A powerful new technology platform is emerging with the potential of reducing marginal costs across large sectors of the capitalist economy, with far reaching implications for society in the first half of the 21st Century. The Communications Internet is converging with the fledgling Energy Internet and Logistics Internet in a seamless twenty-first-century intelligent infrastructure — the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT will connect every thing with everyone in an integrated global network. People, machines, natural resources, production lines, logistics networks, the electricity grid, consumption habits, recycling flows, and virtually every other aspect of economic and social life will be linked via sensors and software to the IoT platform, continually feeding Big Data to every node — businesses, homes, vehicles — moment to moment, in real time. Anyone will be able to access the IoT and use Big Data and analytics to develop predictive algorithms that can dramatically increase productivity and reduce the marginal cost of producing and delivering a full range of physical goods and services to near zero just like we now do with information goods. Lost in all of the excitement over the prospect of the Internet of Things is that connecting everyone and everything in a global network driven by extreme productivity moves us ever faster toward an era of nearly free goods and services and, with it, the shrinking of capitalism in the next half century. The question is what kind of economic system would we need to organize economic activity that is nearly free and shareable?

We are so used to thinking of the capitalist market and government as the only two means of organizing economic life that we overlook the other organizing model in our midst that we depend on daily to deliver a range of goods and services that neither market nor government provides. The Commons predates both the capitalist market and representative government and is the oldest form of institutionalized, self-managed activity in the world.

The contemporary Commons is where billions of people engage in the deeply social aspects of life. It is made up of literally millions of self-managed, mostly democratically run organizations, including educational institutions, healthcare organizations, charities, religious bodies, arts and cultural groups, amateur sports clubs, producer and consumer cooperatives, credit unions, advocacy groups, and a near endless list of other formal and informal institutions that generate the social capital of society.

Currently, the social Commons is growing faster than the market economy in many countries around the world. Still, because what the social Commons creates is largely of social value, not pecuniary value, it is often dismissed by economists. Nonetheless, the social economy is an impressive force. According to a survey of 40 nations, the nonprofit Commons accounts for $2.2 trillion in operating expenditures. In eight countries surveyed–including the United States, Canada, Japan, and France–the nonprofit sector makes up, on average, 5 percent of the GDP. In the US, Canada, and the UK, the nonprofit sector already exceeds 10% of the workforce. While the capitalist market is based on self-interest and driven by material gain, the social Commons is motivated by collaborative interests and driven by a deep desire to connect with others and share. If the former defends property rights, caveat emptor, and the search for autonomy, the latter promotes open-source innovation, transparency, and the search for community.

What makes the Commons more relevant today than at any other time in its long history is that we are now erecting a high-tech global technology platform whose defining characteristics potentially optimize the very values and operational principles that animate this age-old institution. The IoT is the technological “soul mate” of an emerging Collaborative Commons. The new infrastructure is configured to be distributed in nature in order to facilitate collaboration and the search for synergies, making it an ideal technological framework for advancing the social economy. The operating logic of the IoT is to optimize lateral peer production, universal access, and inclusion, the same sensibilities that are critical to the nurturing and creation of social capital in the civil society. The very purpose of the new technology platform is to encourage a sharing culture, which is what the Commons is all about. It is these design features of the IoT that bring the social Commons out of the shadows, giving it a high-tech platform to become the dominant economic paradigm of the twenty-first century.

The Collaborative Commons is already profoundly impacting economic life. Markets are beginning to give way to networks, ownership is becoming less important than access, and the traditional dream of rags to riches is being supplanted by a new dream of a sustainable quality of life.

Hundreds of millions of people are transferring bits and pieces of their economic life from capitalist markets to the global Collaborative Commons. Prosumers are not only producing and sharing their own information, entertainment, green energy and 3D-printed goods at near zero marginal cost and enrolling in massive open online college courses for nearly free, on the Collaborative Commons. They are also sharing cars, homes, clothes, tools, toys, and countless other items with one another via social media sites, rentals, redistribution clubs, and cooperatives, at low or near zero marginal cost. An increasing number of people are collaborating in “patient-driven” health-care networks to improve diagnoses and find new treatments and cures for diseases, again at near zero marginal cost. And young social entrepreneurs are establishing socially responsible businesses, crowdfunding new enterprises, and even creating alternative social currencies in the new economy. The result is that “exchange value” in the marketplace is increasingly being replaced by “shareable value” on the Collaborative Commons.

In the unfolding struggle between the exchange economy and the sharing economy, most economists argue that if everything were nearly free, there would be no incentive to innovate and bring new goods and services to the fore because inventors and entrepreneurs would have no way to recoup their up-front costs. Yet millions of prosumers are freely collaborating in social Commons, creating new IT and software, new forms of entertainment, new learning tools, new media outlets, new green energies, new 3D-printed manufactured products, new peer-to-peer health-research initiatives, and new nonprofit social entrepreneurial business ventures, using open-source legal agreements freed up from intellectual property restraints. 2014-03-31-FinalZMCSCoverArt.jpgThe upshot is a surge in creativity that is at least equal to the great innovative thrusts experienced by the capitalist market economy in the twentieth century.

While the capitalist market is not likely to disappear, it will no longer exclusively define the economic agenda for civilization. There will still be goods and services whose marginal costs are high enough to warrant their exchange in markets and sufficient profit to ensure a return on investment. But in a world in which more things are potentially nearly free and shareable, social capital is going to play a far more significant role than financial capital, and economic life is increasingly going to take place on a Collaborative Commons.


NASA Models Predict Total Societal Collapse: “Irreversible”

March 30, 2014


The end of the world as we know it is coming.

You’ve likely heard this before, especially from the growing number of voices in the alternative news and preparedness communities. Often dismissed as conspiracy theory or outright lunacy, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests these fringe thinkers may well be on to something.

Despite assurances from most political leaders, experts and researchers who argue that we live in a stable and sustainable world, a new study utilizing mathematicalmodels developed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center may confirm our worst fears.

According to the Socio Economic Synthesis Center, which led the study’s research team and was made up of well respected natural and social scientists from various U.S.-based universities, society as it exists today is decades, perhaps just years, from a complete collapse of our way of life.

Given economic strati cation, collapse is very difficult to avoid and requires major policy changes, including major reductions in inequality and population growth rates. Even in the absence of economic strati cation, collapse can still occur if depletion per capita is too high. However, collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion. (SESC via Steve Quayle)

The study cites scores of historical examples of civilization collapse dating back thousands of years. Given the facts it is clear that humanity’s long sought after Utopian society is a goal that is simply unachievable. Every five hundred years or so, the whole system simply falls apart.

There are widespread concerns that current trends in population and resource-use are unsustainable, but the possibilities of an overshoot and collapse remain unclear and controversial.

How real is the possibility of a societal collapse?

Can complex, advanced civilizations really collapse? 

It is common to portray human history as a relentless and inevitable trend toward greater levels of social complexity, political organization, and economic specialization, with the development of more complex and capable technologies supporting ever-growing population, all sustained by the mobilization of ever-increasing quantities of material, energy, and information. Yet this is not inevitable.

In fact, cases where this seemingly near-universal, long-term trend has been severely disrupted by a precipitous collapse often lasting centuries have been quite common.

This brings up the question of whether modern civilization is similarly susceptible. It may seem reasonable to believe that modern civilization, armed with its greater technological capacity, scientific knowledge, and energy resources, will be able to survive and endure whatever crises historical societies succumbed to.

But the brief overview of collapses demonstrates not only the ubiquity of the phenomenon, but also the extent to which advanced, complex, and powerful societies are susceptible to collapse.

In short, the mathematical models utilized to determine the results of the study indicate that there are two key causes for what the authors call an “irreversible” collapse.

First, with the earth’s population now over 7 billion people our civilization is burning through resources faster than they can be replenished, and the burden of paid “non-workers” (i.e. those who are given resources for performing no actual function in society) leads to a complete break down in the system.

We can see how an irreversible Type-N (full) collapse of Population, Nature, and Wealth can occur due to over-depletion ofnatural resources as a result of high depletion per capita.

Workers and Non-Workers with the same level of consumption, i.e., with no economic strati cation. The Non-Workers in these scenarios could represent a range of societal roles from students, retirees, and disabled people, to intellectuals,managers, and other non-productive sectors. In this case, the Workers have to deplete enough of Nature to support both the Non-Workers and themselves.

Second, and this may come as no surprise, “elite” members of society are accumulating whatever available resources there are in an effort to maintain control over the “commoners.”

The Elite population starts growing significantly… hence depleting the Wealth and causing the system to collapse.

Under this scenario, the system collapses due to worker scarcity even though natural resources are still abundant, but because the depletion rate is optimal, it takes more than 400 years after the Wealth reaches a maximum for the society to collapse.

In this example, Commoners die out first and Elites disappear later. This scenario shows that in a society that is otherwise sustainable, the highly unequal consumption of elites will still cause a collapse. This scenario is an example of a Type-L collapse in which both Population and Wealth collapse but Nature recovers.

The Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature. Despite appearing initially to be the same as the sustainable optimal solution obtained in the absence of Elites, economic strati cation changes the fi nal result: Elites’ consumption keeps growing until the society collapses.The Mayan collapse in which population never recovered even though nature did recover is an example of a Type-L collapse

There are several other scenarios outlined in the study, but the above two are seemingly the ones that may be responsible for the coming collapse of our own civilization.

In Americanearly 50% of the population produces nothing, yet receives payment in the form of money, goods and services. This takes resources out of the hands of those who actually produce these resources.

Furthermore, it should be obvious that elite members of society simply take what they want through force, whether by taxation or criminal activity (as defined by natural law), putting even more strain on the system.

Over time, the debt builds and pulls forward wealth from generations ahead, resources are depleted, and costs begin to reach levels that are simply unsustainable for everyone, including the elites who attempt to amass as much as they can.

In the end, we all suffer the same fate.

According to this and other studies, like one recently published by the UK Government Office of Science and entitled A Perfect Storm of Global Events, we are very quickly approaching the breaking point. Over the next fifteen years, it is predicted that the strain could become so burdensome on society that the system will crack and eventually break down.

The result will be famine, war, and what some refer to as a “die off.” This will affectall segments of society.

Naturally, there will be those who survive, and it will likely be the people who are able to develop their own sustainable environments on a personal, familial or communal level. These people may have taken steps to not only prepare for long-term crises, but to develop sustainable practices that will allow them to produce their own food and energy.

The mathematics being cited here have been seen time and again in other studies, and they don’t bode well for human civilization as we know it today.

With seven billion people on the planet, a massively unproductive non-workforce, and the greed of the elite, it is only a matter of time before something breaks and there is a real possibility that our civilization will not be able to survive it.

The scary version? According to these studies, the consequences will be felt within most of our lifetimes.

Mac Slavo is the Editor of

total collapse

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March 13, 2014
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An Overview of Decentralism

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Reprinted from

a presentation at the International Decentralist Conference, organized by the E. F. Schumacher Society June 28-30, 1996, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Copyright 1996 E. F. Schumacher Society (now New Economics Institute) and Kirkpatrick Sale

I know that there are some of you out there who are wondering how two such disparate figures as John and I can be occupying the same stage and talking about the same subject – as colleagues. But I am afraid that such people are victims of what I would call the flat-earth delusion of politics. That’s when you see all political thought on a straight line, with Left over here and Right over there:


But as you all know, we’ve given up the idea of a flat earth–most of us have, anyway–and the appropriate way to look at politics today is with a round-earth perspective. In that, you see, the Left makes up one hemisphere and the Right the other.

And the important thing about it is that, at the poles, the Left and the Right are not so far apart–because at one pole you have the authoritarians of both camps, the Stalinist Left and the Hitlerian Right, for example, and there’s not much to choose between them; then down in the middle, along the equator, you have the squishy middle-ground liberal-moderate types of both Left and Right, far apart; and at the other pole you have the antiauthoritarians, the decentralists of all stripes, anti-big government, antistatist, communitarian, the anarchocommunalists and communitarians and communards and anarchists on the Left, and the libertarians and Jeffersonians and individualists on the Right, and they’re really not so far apart.

That is why John and I are here together tonight. Because I am a decentralist of the Left and he is a decentralist of the Right, and on most things, in most ways, we agree. I remember when we first got together as trustees of the Schumacher Society he sent me one of those Johnny Hart cartoon strips, you know, those little cavemen always hanging around rocks–”B.C.,” it’s called–and this one showed one caveman saying, “Can you stand it that everyone’s so happy?” “No,” says the other, leaning on a rock. “Well, then,” says the first, “let’s start a government.” Exactly. We had plenty of common ground there.


Let me start by suggesting some of the things that decentralists generally agree on, whatever part of the round earth they come from.

First, big is bad–the corollary of Schumacher’s small is beautiful. The centralized state, particularly the mass-society state of the 20th century, is inherently a failure: it is authoritarian and anti-liberty, imposing checks and laws on all individual actions; it is hierarchical and arbitrary, with power at the top and subservience for the great majority below; it is bureaucratic in order to function at all, but it functions poorly nonetheless because bureaucracies are always inefficient and clumsy and self-perpetuating; it is undemocratic, because it is too big to allow direct face-to-face decision making and substitutes various forms of representation, all of which take power from the individual.

I am reminded here of a story that Leopold Kohr, the great decentralist economist, used to tell, about going to Lichtenstein and wanting to visit the Prime Minister of the country. He went to the castle, rang the bell, and the man who answered the door and ushered him in, whom he assumed to be a servant, turned out to be the Prime Minister himself. And when they were seated in his office, chatting, the phone rang and the minister answered, saying, “Government.” You see? with a tiny country like that government is always there, always responsive, always able to answer the phone and take care of your problem.

But to continue with what we agree upon, we decentralists, about why big government is bad… it is dangerous, inevitably dangerous, because it favors war, welcomes war–war is the health of the state, as Randolph Bourn put it–and is not afraid to use its citizens as cannon fodder; and it is technological, continually amassing more and more complicated technology of the kind that increases its power and control over citizens, increases its ability to centralize all authority. In my book Human Scale, which is certainly appropriate to this gathering, and some copies of which I am told are available somewhere around here, I have a chapter called “The Law of Government Size.” It is lengthy, but it’s easy enough to reduce its lesson to a few words: “Economic and social misery increases in direct proportion to the size and power of the central government of a nation or state.” Among the many historical proofs of this is one of my favorites, having to do with the German people. When they were divided into dozens of little principalities and duchies and kingdoms and sovereign cities, from about the 12th century to the 19th, they engaged in fewer wars than any other peoples of Europe: they were so small attacks by them were few and feeble enough, and so small attacks on them by larger powers were seen as useless. But when the German people were united and formed into a state of 25 million people and 70,000 square miles, it almost immediately embarked on wars against the other European powers, conquered territories in Africa and the Pacific, and ultimately instigated two devastating world wars within the space of thirty years.

Enough, then, about big government–that is the place where all decentralists begin, the common ground for all the rest of our shared understanding.

The next, following, point of agreement is that power should be diffused, and to the lowest level possible– which means to a bioregional level, and beyond that to a community level, a neighborhood level, a family level, an individual level. Nothing should be decided at any level beyond that where the people effected get to have their say and participate in carrying it out. Following from that, as a next point of agreement, is that the community is the most important human institution in the life of the species–the small, place-based community, where each member is known to every other. It is primarily there that power should reside–social, economic, political, whatever.

And finally, also following, liberty is not the daughter of order but the mother. In a true decentralist society, freedom comes first, upon which are then built the needs and obligations of individuals one to another, and thus the order and harmony of the community and the society at large. Liberty is the mother of order.

Now having said all that, I am obliged to confront the question of where we decentralists stand today–together, communalist Left and libertarian Right. But we both must recognize that this is, without question, the Age of Authoritarianism. And even if the most egregious forms of that have, for the moment, been subdued except in the smaller states of Asia and Africa, it is still true that the 20th century is the era of the large and powerful nation-state, a condition only made worse by the fact that it is also the era of the global corporation, superpowerful entities that have all the characteristics of the state, except any vestige of responsibility, and operate with their own free – wheeling authoritarian ways. Yes, what we face today, in both political and economic spheres, is Authoritarianism Triumphant.

And yet–and yet–these are facts: decentralism is the basic human condition; decentralism is the historic norm for human societies; decentralism is deeply in the American tradition; and, despite everything, decentralism is alive and well today. I want to expand briefly on each of those points.

1. Decentralism is the basic human condition. The community is the oldest human institution, found absolutely everywhere throughout the world in all kinds of societies. As Rene Dubos has pointed out, more than 100 billion human beings have lived on earth since the late Paleolithic period, and “the immense majority of them have spent their entire life as members of very small groups…rarely of more than a few hundred persons.” Indeed, he believes that the need for community has lasted so long that it is encoded in our genes, a part of our makeup, so that “modern man still has a biological need to be part of a group”–a small group, the community, the village, the tribe.

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Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of a dozen books, including After Eden: The evolution of Human Domination,   more…)

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