A Capital Idea Part 116: Is Democratic Capitalism Possible?

A new way to frame the issue of capitalism versus socialism, and democracy versus authoritarianism just occured to me last night. I think all 4 might be possible: Democratic Socialism, Democratic Capitalism, Authoritarian Socialism, and Authoritarian Capitalism, as well as combinations of these. Since I am writing about "Capital Ideas," this seems a very relevant topic.

Democratic Socialism happens when people democratically elect a government which provides safety nets, social regulation and controls at least some of the means of production and distribution of goods, while being responsible to the will of the people and having the public good in mind. There are many nations which are primarily Democratic Socialist in nature, mostly the more successful nations currently, and many others which have well ensconced elements of Democratic Socialism whether they are labelled as such or denied, including the United States.

Authoritarian Socialism occurs when an unelected, autocratic government bureaucracy rigidly controls the means of production and distribution, and dictates rules and regulations to its peons, based upon the judgment of a small ruling class, without being sensitive to the desires of the non-ruling citizens. This is what is found in North Korea and perhaps Cuba and a few other nations currently, and what used to occur in Russia and the People's Republic of China before economic reforms changed the situation. (Economic reforms are said to be taking place even in Cuba now, however.)

Authoritarian Capitalism is what now occurs in the People's Republic of China. This is what happens when an autocratic, unelected government takes advantage of financial capitalistic opportunities to create huge, government run industries (which are in essence privately run by a small group of political and financial elites who run the government), or privately run industries at the behest and under the watchful eye of the government elites.

Democratic Capitalism is what the United States is supposed to have, and which many if not most Ameircan citizens delusionally believe exists in the United States. What we are led to believe happens in the United States, is that the public elects representatives who oversee an economic system of privately owned, capitalistic ventures, with minimal regulation and maximal opportunity for the enrichment of business owners. This is essentially what Republicans and other conservatives in the United States endorse. However, by its private nature, this form of capitalism inevitably leads to an erosion of democracy. This is what we are currently witnessing here in the United States, and this public versus private, 99% versus 1% struggle is the ideological battleground upon which the politically aware in the United States are fighting. The United States' government has long recognized the need for some elements of socialism, actually, which are well-established parts of our society, such as welfare, medicare, the right to form unions, and social security, but conservatives are trying to take even these away, in order to form what in their minds would be a truly Democratic Capitalist society, although if successful, this process would essentially strip the United States of whatever remaining democracy it possesses, leaving the nation in the hands of a few wealthy elites. In essence, the United States will have become an Authoritarian Capitalist, corporatist state, democratic in name only. This danger threatens not only the United States, but with financial globalism, the world at large.

I wish to suggest here that there is another form of capitalism, however, a public as opposed to private, form of capitalism. In this case, truly Democratic Capitalism is possible. The key issue is that of joint (or public) versus private ownership. Unions are an example of something in which there is joint, democratic participation and ownership of an organization, although it may be involved in capitalist ventures. Cooperatives are another example, and employee-owned businesses (such as the supermarket Winco of which I am fond) are another. These are not socialist in the sense of being government owned or run; they are clearly capitalist, even in a traditionally financial sense. When such practices dominate, at least the non-government sector of the economy, this would qualify as a Democratically Capitalist society.

I would add that there is yet another form of Democratic Captialism which is possible, although it overlaps with socialism. This is the most important form of capitalism, in which there is democratically run, public ownership of our capital, which is an essential element of what I have been advocating in these essays. In other words, the people -- not private banks -- should own our money supply. There should be a government run bank which regulates our money supply and other banking operations. In addition, there should be public ownership of those resources which we all share, such as natural resources. To an extent, there is public ownership of natural resources, but only those found on public lands, and some of these areas are at times bargained off to private interests. Public ownership of resources needs to be extended, not eroded.

The key point is that democracy is best -- especially educated democracy -- rather than authoritarian rule, and that private ownership or having government power held in the hands of a few -- the concentration of power -- is antithetical to democracy. I believe that in the future, the direction in which humanity needs to go, and ultimately will go, is a democratic one as historical trends suggest. Economically, it will involve elements of both Democratic Socialism and Democratic Capitalism, as well as the mixing of the two, so that socialism and public or jointly-run capitalism will become so intertwined that they will create their own sort of hybrid economic system, which will be stronger, more resilient, sustainable and adaptable than either system could be alone.

Comments

Zenzoe 2 years 26 weeks ago
#1

I always think of democracy as a form of government, and capitalism as an economic system. And I think many Americans fail to make that distinction and imagine that capitalism is about freedom and democracy, when it is no such thing. Capitalism can function in an authoritarian state even more easily than in a democratic state, which is the reason conservatives do everything they can to undermine democracy; it's just better for corporate America, when We the People lose the power to regulate the products, by-products, manufacturing consequences and business practices of corporations. Regulations make for a better world for all. They don't want a better world for all. We can rot in hell for all they care.

Conservatives actually hate democracy. Thus, democratic capitalism will seem like an oxymoron, or like an attack on the "job creators." (code for "stealing our profits.") To them, democratic capitalism would be tantamount to tyranny, and they'd never stand for it.

After watching Democracy Now! this morning, I'm convinced the United States is a police state and we've already lost our free, democratic society. It's kaput. And they're watching, and reading, and don't you dare get out of line!

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 26 weeks ago
#2

Thanks Zenzoe, I can tell that you understand me very well. The economic systems, capitalism or socialism can exist with or without democracy, or coexist in some sort of combination, but... capitalism in its current form works better with autocracy because it is essentially autocratic and monopoly forming in nature, while socialism works better with democracy because essentially it requires the input and cooperation of citizens in order to work properly. The way to have democratic capitalism is to have a very different form of capitalism involving collective action and democracy, not rich business owners and their families making decisions for the rest of us.

The reason that most Americans seem to conflate capitalism with democracy is the effectiveness of the business owner class' propaganda to which we are all exposed. We need to re-educate ourselves regarding economics and politics, which means creating a new model for progress. Corporate fat cats want to have the most out of life; they want the world to be their oyster and have all the pearls. That greed-based belief system necessitates them not really caring about the rest of us.

As for already being a police state, that could be true which would be tragic and I pray it's not. I know we have been led too far in that direction at the very least. If our democracy is kaput, I do believe it can change back to a more genuine democracy, but that's what we need a revolution for. I do believe that what the public says in this year's election will be important, assuming the absence of massive election fraud by democracy hating conservatives, which is a pretty big assumption.

Coincidentally, about the "job creators," I have a friend on Facebook who is progressive but not very well educated and not very well connected to other progressives. He recently put a post there about how 85% of the U.S. debt was run up by conservatives, which was quickly derided by several of his conservative "friends," who talked about Obama's "handouts" to those lazy "non-producers" being the problem causing our debt. I replied (to the best of my memory) "Non-Producer: See Romney, Mitt. He has probably never done an honest days work in his life, yet he has an annual income of around $20 million per year (taxed at the special low investor rate) from his investments and breaking up corporations while firing their employees. It is the super-rich who are the real parasites living on government handouts and the sweat of others." I have yet to see any responses to that yet, but I expect the usual conservative hostile name-calling prattle.

Oh yeah, I also mentioned that our budget is in a long-term downward spiral that began when Reagan severely lowered the top tax rate, and that Obama merely inherited the mess left by Republicans, although they are trying to blame Obama for it.

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#3
Quote Zenzoe:

After watching Democracy Now! this morning, I'm convinced the United States is a police state and we've already lost our free, democratic society. It's kaput. And they're watching, and reading, and don't you dare get out of line!

I'm stunned. I actually agree with ZZ.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#4

It's ironic that the show is called "Democracy Now," in that case.

Zenzoe, could you give more specifics of what was said on the Democracy Now show?

I was in a hurry yesterday. My parents are getting 24/7 care now and my wife Eunice and I visited them to discuss various issues including giving me power of attorney. It's pretty depressing, but my parents are at least together again and they were in a good mood. At least they are both alive still, but I don't know if they will be for much longer.

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#5

Natural Lefty, all Democracy Now's past shows are available. just go to its Internet page and click on the date you want to view.

Nothing ironic about it. Depends on how you read it. For example: "Enough of this police state, let's have Democracy, Now!

Off the subject, but in reference to your previous post, did you know this?

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/american-cars/story?id=13801165#.T5B7OrM7qs4

2011's Least American Cars Per Percentage of Parts:

1. Honda - CR-Z, Fit and Insight: 0% Made in US

and that there is a 100 per cent U.S. electric car made and marketed in California?

http://hybridcars.com/news/american-built-coda-production-underway-42547.html

American-built Coda Production Underway

PUBLISHED MARCH 12, 2012BY PHILIPPE CROWECoda Automotive’s first production 2012 Coda Sedan drove off the assembly line today, Monday March 12.According to the company, the electric car, built in Benicia, Calif., will soon finally be available for delivery to Coda dealers in California.

Zenzoe 2 years 25 weeks ago
#6

Sorry to hear about your parents' poor health, NL. They have each other and family, though, so there's comfort in that. It's good of you to be so attentive to their needs. And at least you're not surreptitiously waltzing in with a priest to convert them to Catholicism or whatever, like my niece did with my mother. Oye! (btw, did you guys put a note on Louise's well-wishes "card?" Trust me, she's in a scary place right now.)

Alberto, I don't understand why you'd be surprised to agree with me. You and I share much of the same disgust —Israel, for example; it's just that I don't always come to the same conclusions as to the Whys and Wherefores. And, as for my feeling of America's having been taken over by the authoritarians, I've had that opinion for quite awhile. The DN! program that day just sent it home in a rather stark and final way.

NL, the April 20 DN! show had three guests, an NSA whistleblower and two journalists, each of whom has been harassed by Homeland Security and other federal agents in various ways. Their "crimes?" They have dared to either act to protect the Constitution or to live by it. Apparently, such behavior threatens the ruling elite. Naughty, naughty!

I think the show's title has become even more meaningful as time goes on, as a kind of demand.

Honestly, NL, it baffles me why a dude such as yourself, who smartly owns a hybrid car, cannot bring himself to get Dish Network so that he can watch Democracy Now! and Thom Hartmann. What's up with that, anyway? ;-) 'Tis a puzzlement! Dish Network rules!

Yesterday I watched the entire 2-disk BBC dramatic series, The Hour, which you all might like, if you haven't already seen it and you can get it on DVD. (I use Netflix, as you may know.) Anyway, it helped me to see exactly how "they," the power elite, or authoritarians, rule and control the media, and how such censorship was probably done back in the day (It is set in 1956). I mean, talk about undermining democracy! Sinister stuff it is! As I said on another thread, it also counteracts the stigmatized notion of conspiracy; at couple of points in the script, for example, we hear this: “A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.

The thing is, I'm open to the truth, but it needs to be articulated in a way that makes sense. I think Natural Lefty is the same way...

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#7

I just wrote a reply which was wiped out because my computer spontaneously had gone offline. Ironically, I did mention that we called the Dish Network last Thursday and almost ordered it's high speed internet service, but our computer programmer neighbor told us that he thought it would usurp our existing phone line for uploads.

I was telling all about my parents, but please forgive me for not repeating that. Suffice it to say that my brothers and I are all cooperating and trying to help, but my father is very weak and my mother is weak and forgetful, although she was always "ditzy" and my father was never very strong. Part of the problem is that both of them have lost a lot of weight, making them weaker, and part of it is that my parents were apart for about 2 months after my father was put in the rehab center following his February 13 overdose, which resulted in both of them deteriorating. Now that they are back together, they seem to be doing better, but how much better they can do, I don't know. Virtually nothing was done to help my dad at the rehab center as far as I can tell, which is a shame. I also have a considerable role in overseeing my parents finances and in possible smackdowns of certain doctors. I like the health care workers my parents have. There are possible posts about our health care system coming up, once I have more information and the situation isn't so changeable, but I need to be sensitive about it.

I didn't know anything was wrong with Louise. Thanks for pointing that out, Zenzoe. I will have to check that. My eldest brother is suggesting a package deal from Comcast with basic cable, etc. I could watch those old Democracy Now shows as well as the new ones if we do that, plus I am sure, some other shows that we would like that we cannot see now.

By the way, either of you know that television reception has deteriorated in recent years for those without cable? Also, computers are no longer being made for dial-up, and adapting them for dial-up makes them even slower. I have discovered these things the hard way as part of my low-end, cheapskate lifestyle. Isn't it clever how corporate America makes it necessary to buy more and more expensive new stuff in the name of "progress," or suffer worse and worse service? Those who lack the money, are thrown onto the scrap heap of life.

I share both of your disgust about Israel's actions, by the way.

A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.” I have discovered that such things do indeed appear to happen among power brokers, probably most of all, by citizens of the United States, tragically.

Yes, I am open to the truth when it is presented in a way that makes sense.

It seems to me that the order of Alberto's and Zenzoe's posts flipped, but I cannot see why (no apparent revisions, or perhaps I didn't notice them).

Alberto, dang, that is disturbing that the Insight is zero % made in the U.S.A. They don't advertise that, obviously, at the dealer. It looks like our next car will be a Coda, or something similar. At least, that is the plan at this time, when the Insight is older. If the electric cars are still not very good for long-distance travel, however, we may need one hybrid, and one alternative fuel car at that time. Benicia is in the S.F. bay area, so it's definitely a California thing.

Zenzoe 2 years 25 weeks ago
#8

Well, you can go with Comcast, if that works best for you (I didn't know DN! could be seen there; does it also have Link TV and Free Speech TV?), but if you want to support the less "authoritarian" company, I'd go for Dish Network. If you compare the two at theyrule.net, you'll see what I mean. None of Dish's board of directors is "connected" to other corporate boards, for one thing, whereas two on Comcast's board have connections to the big banksters. http://littlesis.org/org/80/Comcast_Corporation/interlocks

I am also horrified to see that the new computers can't do dial-up. That's sickening. Oye. We're such slaves. Guess I'll be keeping my Powermac G4 'til the cows come home. It's still great, anyway.

Btw, Alberto had edited his comment, the one that was originally earlier than mine, so I edited mine, to keep them in order, not that it mattered all that much.

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#9

Yes, I'm guilty of the out of order. I keep thinking of things I might have said or might have said better and it scrambles everything. There are lots of changes this member site needs but I suppose they would cost more than TH can afford.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#10

No big deal -- I just thought that the change from the order I remembered without any obvious changes in the posts (to me) was strange.

My brother Craig referrered to both AT&T and Comcast as "rapacious corporations." Political and physical leftiness runs in my family. But Craig did point out that for now at least, the competition between the 2 big corporations is keeping prices from being too high.

After reading your comment, Zenzoe, I am still inclined to call Dish Network back and check whether or not any complications such as taking over our land line (so that we can't use the phone anymore unless we get a second line) will actually occur or whether they can be avoided, in which case we will probably go ahead and get Dish Network. Actually, I was already inclined to do that. By the way, my computer programmer neighbor is a political conservative who used to work for Rockwell (the defense contractor) and who sometimes listens to Rush Limbaugh loudly enough that I can hear it clearly when I go outside, so I don't suppose he is worried about "rapacious corporations" as I am.

Newer computers can do dial-up, but only after buying an adaptor, which has the effect of further slowing down their function. I was totally disgusted when I found that out the hard way with my new computer, and thus, am still using my old computer which still works and is faster than the new one with dial-up. I hope to get high speed internet one of these days, then switch to the new computer. I have already pretty much transferred all of my materials to the new computer.

Alberto, from what I understand, Thom has changed his site every couple of years fairly regularly. I used to post on the previous one, which was quite different from this one, with more functions but more prone to computer glitches, when he suddenly, without warning as far as I knew, switched to this one. Somehow, I found this one right away, as though by ESP, but I had seen nothing about the switch until it happened. Given how long this site has been operating, I expect another Thom Hartmann site to replace this one before long, but perhaps this one will go on longer than past versions.

Bush_Wacker's picture
Bush_Wacker 2 years 25 weeks ago
#11

Bump

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#12

I'm always surprised when people in the U.S. tell me that they don't have high speed broad band service.

Old computers without built-in Wi-Fi capability do need an adaptor. I can't imagine that any of the new ones don't have Wi-Fi installed. Broad-band Internet shouldn't usurp your phone line. You most likely will have to attach a small filter to your telephone jack but that's simple and doesn't degrade telephone signals at all. I can talk on the phone and surf Internet all at the same time. Our Internet provider gives us two filters along with the router. Additional filters from Radio Shack or Office Depot are cheap enough.

Now, I'm going to bore you with our own Internet broad band experience, partly to show you why I'm surprised that you don't have it but also to give my adopted country a little pat on the back.

We have had broad band service for almost 15 years. There are two major providers in our small town that aggressively compete for customers. Both provide excellent service. We have broad band (with a state of the art computer attached) in our clinic/laboratory and a separate service in the house for the six computers on our home wireless network. Four of the home computers are older models that require adaptors but I've not noticed any loss of speed. Maybe it depends on the adaptor. The router, too, may have something to do with it - some obviously are better than others. Two of the computers on our home network are the most recent all-in-one models and of course they work fine without adaptors of any sort. I can also access the clinic's service from any of my home computers; I just need to type in the proper codes.

In our town almost all the larger restaurants offer Wi-Fi free of charge. Mexico's international airports also provide broad band at absolutely no cost. The hotel in Mexico City where I stayed recently while awaiting an International flight also provided broad band for my laptop, again free of charge. When I had to change planes in Houston I thought that the Houston airport would also provide free service. Not so in the land of Oz. Our small town also supplies broad band service in all its central parks - again free of charge. Just bring your laptop along, sit down on a park bench or lie on the grass and log in - no charge, no hassle. Mexico wants people to be informed and - so far as I know - no one, public or private, monitors or spies on users.

OK, that's what goes on in one small town in backward Mexico where I live..

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#13

I am not surprised, Alberto. Taiwan has much better high speed internet access than the U.S., too. I was just there last August. Neighboring Riverside has a good internet access program, so things are very sketchy and inconsistent here in the U.S. -- just another example of the insuperiority of the haphazard, profit-driven way of doing things in the U.S.

A statistic I heard about a year ago is that 1/3 of U.S. homes don't even have high speed internet access available. That percentage might have gone down somewhat, but not very much.

I do see some hotels which offer free broadband internet access if you bring your computer. I am always too busy while on trips to even bring my computers. (I hide them when not here.) I hope you are correct that broadband won't usurp our telephone line. I am not sure my neighbor knew what he was talking about. I plan to call Dish Network back when I have time, and ask them about that.

Bush-Whacker, I think I need a translation of the word "bump."

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#14

Yes, Natural Lefty I think you're correct about the U.S. lagging behind, and not just in broadband access. It hasn't always been that way. For years the U.S. was the world's undisputed leader in innovation and in its application. Perhaps it's just one more indication of the country's decline, maybe the decline of western civilization generally. Some historians see decline as a natural process, all great civilizations start with a burst of energy that slowly subsides, its creativity soon peaks and the descent begins. With age civilizations become complacent, then cautious and at last conservative --- and fearful. They first fear outsiders and then, sadly, their own people. The current administration now plans to fly drones over its own territory to spy on its own citizens - potential terrorists, Obama says. I didn't foresee that it would be quite so swift with the U.S. -- its decline has been breathtaking. We may learn - I believe so - that it’s irreversible. The mental myopia and widespread physical (and mental) indolence may constitute insurmountable barriers.

I don't know how many TH folks visit this web site:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/focal-points/the-age-of-inequality

There's none better, in my opinion. It isn't a matter of whether or not you agree with the views expressed there but the stimulation they provide. These essays, and the comments to them, make you think. Sometimes make you think that you don't know as much as you think you do. It has that affect on me, at any rate.

Take some time out, go there.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#15

That site looks right up my alley pretty much, Alberto. I tried to click on one of the articles but it didn't work. Do you have to register before you can read anything there? Also, there haven't been any new articles in over a month, but I like the site and plan to bookmark it.

I agree with the historians about the like cycle of powerful nations, and with you that our drones and sketchy internet access are among the many signs of decline. We seem to be in a combination of the conservative and fearful stage. The outrageous reactions of conservatives to some perfectly sensible things I have written in recent weeks, on other websites are an example of the fear-mongering that is going on. I half-jokingly wrote a blog post over a year ago, in which I studied Hofstede's five Cultural Dimensions in order to find the most ideal nation to move to when the U.S. of A. goes too far down the tubes, and found that my wife's home country, Taiwan, was one of the best if not the best. My trip there this summer did nothing to dispel that conclusion, although no nation is perfect. Becoming an expatriot is looking like more of a real possibility over time, although we are not seriously considering doing that at this moment.

Actually, I would prefer to work on, not keeping the status quo in which "America rules," but rather, helping the United States and the rest of the world overcome this global financial hegemony which seems to be enveloping us, using mostly the U.S. as a base. If this makes sense, I think it is possible that with globalization, we will see, not so much a collapse of the "American empire" as has happened to other nations in previous centuries, but rather, something like an evening out of nations, and if we don't want to all be -- oh, what's that word Thom used in a book title of his -- screwed, we also need to even out and make far fairer the distribution of wealth. Of course, there are many Americans, primarily white male conservatives, who will continue to insist that the U.S. not just be "equal" with other nations, even if we are all progressing equally and things are hunky dory in the world, but rather, that the U.S. must be "better" than everybody else. Those people need to get over that. I never had that feeling, and I knew from the time that I was a teenager, that I never would. I was usually one of the first people to welcome immigrants to my hometown and learn about their culture in a respectful, egalitarian way.

I think the U.S. still does pretty well in terms of developing innovations, but a lousy job in making them available to the largest possible segment of the public.

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#16

Natural Lefty, you can read all the articles without registering. Maybe Obama has blocked access from the U.S. These days anything is possible. As with most web sites of this sort you must register in order to post a comment. You should also, once registered, be able to comment on another reader’s comment. I think registering is the way to go. That way, too, you’ll probably get notices from them of new or particularly interesting articles. As for currency, you need to explore all the sub-headings. The “Economists’ Club” for instance has articles as recent as April 24th. You can scarcely get more recent than that. But older essays are topically current. For instance this from Naomi Wolf (click on contributors' names to access their previous posts) that reinforces my opinion that the U.S. is now acting out of fear:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/-terrorists--at-home

Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf is a world-renowned public intellectual who played a leading role in so-called “third-wave” feminism and as an advocate of “power feminism,” which holds that women must assert themselves…

Mar. 30, 2012

“Terrorists” at Home

NEW YORK – Last week, I submitted an affidavit to support an important lawsuit brought by reporter Chris Hedges and others, including Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, against US President Barack Obama and his defense secretary, Leon Panetta.

The lawsuit seeks to stop implementation of the horrific new National Defense Authorization Act, also known as the “Homeland Battlefield Bill,” which Obama signed into law in December. As a result, the United States government’s “war on terror” has come home: any American may now be detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, anywhere, at any time, forever.

As Hedges wrote recently in a chilling explication of why he is bringing the lawsuit, the NDAA’s “crucial phrases are ‘substantially supported’ and ‘associated forces.’” These two phrases, he argues, allow the government to expand the definition of terrorism to include groups that were not involved in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and that may not even have existed when those attacks took place. According to Hedges, “the law can be used to detain individuals who are not members of terrorist organizations but have provided, in the words of the bill, substantial support even to ‘associated forces.’”

Yes indeed. "Homeland Battlefield Bill." You can click on the URL above to read the entire article. If it doesn't work and you can't access the essay you may want to start packing your bags. Taiwan, New Zealand and a couple of others would be fine choices. I hope that you do read all of Naomi's essay, I hope many others do. I didn't copy and paste the entire article because I didn't want to violate the site's rules. I may have unintenionally by pasting as much as I did. I hope not, but I wanted to encourage you and others to read the entire thing.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#17

I know about the "Homeland Battlefield Bill. It's distressing that the United States is still heading down this path. I doubt it can continue very much longer.

I guess the website was just being slow due to my snail-like computer. All it showed were a series of older articles. I will check it later, but for now, I am trying to put some overdue photos on the web from my spring break in the "wild west" of Arizona.

By the way, I wanted to point out that in my opinion, it is when those who insist on "American exceptionalism" prevail, that the United States races toward collapse. I think it is possible to avoid a total collapse, but only if those who believe in treating all humans fairly, prevail.

There is one other topic I need to bring up before I go. There was another thread which I think you started, about Bush_Wacker's "bumping" and what to do about spammers and trolls. I wrote a reply on it yesterday, and wanted to check it and add something, but I cannot find it anywhere. I even checked your blog and it wasn't there. Was it deleted, and why? I don't think it was anything I said. I was telling people how to flag the spam and trolling material as offensive, among other things.

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#18

Yes, NL, I did delete it. I thought that it had done its work, the monitors seemed (at least at that time) to be doing their job and I didn't want it blocking other more important blogs. Also I felt a little guilty about using Bush_Wackers ID in the title. Maybe I should have left it but it seemed best at the time.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#19

I thought it was a useful thread and it could still be successful in spreading information to members about how to deal with miscreants who post here for the wrong reasons. But oh well...It wasn't very connected to politics.

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#20

NL, I posted something similar a bit earlier. I could modify and post it again but it seems that the monitors are, at least for the moment, doing a pretty good job of eliminating the spam. I hope they continue. If not I'll post it again then leave it on the board if it seems useful. Clicking on the "Flag as Offensive" button at the bottom of these post that may work as well.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#21

Flagging as offensive is actually what I have been doing and suggested. It definitely works as a way of getting rid of this junk.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 25 weeks ago
#22

Not to divert attention from the topic of this excellent post, but Alberto since you know a lot about Israel etc. have you heard that Egypt is demanding a higher price for gas from Israel? The bedouins keep blowing up the pipelines in Egypt and Israel just bulldozed a bunch more of their homes in the West Bank. So it doesn't seem necessarilly that the "Arab Spring" in Egypt was to Israel's advantage though arguably it was to the advantage of those who profit off war and don't want Israel to get too comfortable.

I think Israel may be being pressured into attacking Iran via the U.S. government. After all, why do we give them all those weapons and aid? If Israel attacks Iran a likely scenario will be that Hezbollah will shell Israel from Lebanon. How to factor in that Lebanon has voiced concern that the Free Syrian Army has been violating its borders? Or that the US is threatening to veto an extention of the UN cease fire agreement- when it expires at about the same time as the ultimatum to Iran?

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#23

The Egyptian uprising was definitely not to Israel's advantage. That's why McCain and other of Israel's Congressional supporters (and AIPAC aid receivers) hustled off to Egypt just as soon as it seemed safe. They wanted to persuade Egypt's military to continue to honor Egypt's peace agreement with Israel. McCain and Lieberman are Israel's de facto ambassadors both to Egypt and Libya.

Yes, Egypt even goes so far as to stop all sales of gas to Israel. It has also opened its borders to Palestinians wishing to enter Gaza.. Good for them.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/05/201152872159493180.html

http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=2826

I see it the other way around and many creditable ME analysts agree, even some Israelis. Israel wants to pressure the U.S. into an armed conflict with Iran. If pressure fails Israel is prepared to attack Iran knowing that the U.S. will be right behind. The U.S. does Israel's bidding, always has. You might review some of these, there are many others:

  1. Forbidden to Attack Iran, Israel Annoyed | Trifter trifter.com › Asia & PacificIsrael - Traducir esta página21 Feb 2012 – According to Dempsey, too, the U.S. has been trying to persuade Israel not to attack Iran, but not heard. In addition, Netanyahu also expressed ...
  2. Netanyahu trying to persuade cabinet to support attack on Iran ... www.haaretz.com/.../netanyahu-trying-to-persua... - Traducir esta página2 Nov 2011 – Netanyahu trying to persuade cabinet to support attack on Iran. Foreign.... The world has for the first time defied the USA over Israel/Palestine.
  3. Israel: We Will Attack Iran Without Warning US - US officials trying ... www.newser.com/.../israel-we-will-attack-iran-wi... - Traducir esta páginaBloquear todos los resultados de www.newser.com28 Feb 2012 – Israel: We Will Attack Iran Without Warning US. US officials tryinghard to convince them not to strike. By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff. Posted Feb ...
  4. Re-invoking Auschwitz specter, Netanyahu prods U.S. on Iran english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/.../198991.ht... - Traducir esta página6 Mar 2012 – In recent months, Israel has exerted great effort in trying to persuadeWashington to support a preemptive attack on Iran to contain what it ...
  5. Obama makes case against striking Iran now, page 1

The Syrian question is extremely complex. Few in the U.S., if any, perhaps none in the UN, really understand what's going on. Robert Fisk is the best source, I think, that most of can access. Here's more on that:

I suspect that few, if any, on this TH Community are familiar with the background of the Syrian conflict or know what is currently happening there. Those who want deeper insight into the horrific affair can read the analyses and opinions of the leading authority on Middle Eastern affairs - the splendid journalist, Robert Fisk, who has lived in that region for much of his life. Here’re a couple of his web pages on the subject:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-fearful-realities-keeping-the-assad-regime-in-power-7534769.html

Robert Fisk: The fearful realities keeping the Assad regime in power

Nevermind the claims of armchair interventionists and the hypocrisy of Western leaders, this is what is really happening in Syria.

And another:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-is-homs-an-echo-of-what-happened-in-srebrenica-7542448.html

Robert Fisk: Is Homs an echo of what happened in Srebrenica?

In fact, there are a lot of differences, too, enough to take our foot off the indignation pedal for moment. In Srebrenica, Christians were killing Muslims – because they were Muslims. In Homs, Muslims are killing Muslims, albeit that one side is biased towards Shia Alawites, the other towards Sunnis. The UN had granted Srebrenica "safe haven" status. Indeed, the Dutch UN battalion (albeit one of the world's more pathetic military units) was there at the time, watching the Serbs taking the men away. Neither the UN nor Nato had blessed Homs with such dodgy protection.

Indeed, quite the contrary. Our brave leaders have spent much time telling us how they absolutely, totally and completely refuse to interfere militarily in Syria. And odd, isn't it, how we're almost as keen to publicise our impotence over Syria as we are to threaten Iran over its real or mythical nuclear weapons programme, when Iran isn't massacring anyone at all. The West's R2P – "responsibility to protect" – isn't given out freely, especially if the victims are a little too near the fault-lines of the Middle East to be worthy of our guardianship.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#24

Last year, my devout Christian wife and her devout Christian daughter went to Israel. (I am more of an agnostic but we are very happy together.) My wife complained of the poverty and inequality in Israel, after returning. I am pretty certain it was the muslims who were impoverished there and treated as second class citizens -- just a little personal perspective on Israel. I also had many Jewish friends while growing up, and one of my best friends in college was a Jew who moved to Israel after college and changed his name to a Hebrew one, so it's not a matter of having ill-will toward Jews on my part, but I am very unhappy with the path that Israel has been dragging the U.S. and other nations down.

I conclude that having a culture or nation based on a religious orientation (Muslim, Jewish or whatever) is a horrible idea, and people should just accept each other no matter what their religion or lack thereof is. (My wife and I manage it on a far more intimate level.) I think we would all be better off if we could wave a magic wand to make people forget their religious beliefs and other sources of prejudice.

As far as the prospect of an attack on Iran goes, I think it would be about the most disastrous course of action I could imagine, and the reaction from the U.S. public (maybe the Israeli public as well) if the U.S. becomes militarily involved probably would make OWS look like a picnic.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 25 weeks ago
#25
Quote Natural Lefty:

Last year, my devout Christian wife and her devout Christian daughter went to Israel. (I am more of an agnostic but we are very happy together.) My wife complained of the poverty and inequality in Israel, after returning. I am pretty certain it was the muslims who were impoverished there and treated as second class citizens -- just a little personal perspective on Israel. I also had many Jewish friends while growing up, and one of my best friends in college was a Jew who moved to Israel after college and changed his name to a Hebrew one, so it's not a matter of having ill-will toward Jews on my part, but I am very unhappy with the path that Israel has been dragging the U.S. and other nations down.

I conclude that having a culture or nation based on a religious orientation (Muslim, Jewish or whatever) is a horrible idea, and people should just accept each other no matter what their religion or lack thereof is. (My wife and I manage it on a far more intimate level.) I think we would all be better off if we could wave a magic wand to make people forget their religious beliefs and other sources of prejudice.

As far as the prospect of an attack on Iran goes, I think it would be about the most disastrous course of action I could imagine, and the reaction from the U.S. public (maybe the Israeli public as well) if the U.S. becomes militarily involved probably would make OWS look like a picnic.

Yes, NL I agree with your premise about having states being based on religion or ethinicity being a bad idea generally. However, we have to be realistic about the historical processes involved in acheiving peace, for example with Iran. Iran makes the claim that it protects people's basic rights, that there are Jews living there peacefully, etc. The Jews made the promise of the same type of gaurantees when the British mandate expired after the end of WWII and established their state in part of the Palestinian territory. Unfortunately, of course, the momentum of events has continued to dash the hopes for any peace process. Certainly, Netenyahu has been a disaster for the Palestinians. I've said before, blame who you want but the writing is on the wall. I've even heard Israelis on the right give lip service to the idea of a "two-state solution" but the Palestinians don't have much infrastructure of any type to establish a state. Better for the US to make continued aid dependent upon a strict compliance by Israel to standards of human rights (including poverty abatement) and real autonomy of some sort for the Palestinians. However, Israel is essentially a singel state with the occupied territories being a de-facto part of it. IMHO.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 25 weeks ago
#26

Thanks, Alberto, and check out this:

"Nofal al Dawalibi, a Saudi-based businessman whose father Maarouf was prime minister before President Bashar al-Assad's family took power in the 1960s, said his Free Syrian Transitional National Government could unite the opposition in a way the SNC had failed to do." (emphasis mine, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syria-oppositionbre83p0rf-20120426,0,6059287.story)

in relation to this, from the first Fisk article you provided:

"Under post-First World War French rule, the settlement became a centre of insurrection and, after independence, the very kernel of Baathist resistance to the first Syrian governments. By early 1964, there were battles in Homs between Sunnis and Alawi Shia. A year later, the young Baathist army commander of Homs, Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa Tlas, was arresting his pro-regime comrades. Is the city's history becoming a little clearer now?"

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#27

nimblecivet, I'm in no way an authority on M.E. affairs but I do try to keep up with events as best as I can. As for Syria many think that Assad will never stop the slaughter of his own people without military intervention. It certainly looks that way.The Israel/Iran controversy may be, as some argue (I agree for what that's worth) a distraction causing other countries to take their eyes off the Palestine problem. In trying to keep up with the M.E. goings on here're the major sources that I use:

http://www.tehrantimes.com/

http://www.aljazeera.com/

http://www.turkishweekly.net/

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/

http://www.haaretz.com/

http://www.democracynow.org/

http://dawn.com/

http://www.independent.co.uk/

No doubt there are many others.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#28

Why is it that sometimes when I just try to backspace in order to correct a typo, sometimes the entire page goes back to the previous one, and whatever I wrote on this site disappears? That just happened to me again. Has that happened to any of you, too?

Anyway, I agree with you, Nimblecivet, about the role of history and the reality of politics in involving religion in the governance of many nations, and their conflicts. My previous response was from a place of idealism, which I feel it is important to use sometimes to follow things to their logical conclusion. This gives a person a moral foundation, IMHO. I don't blame any one person or faction for the political problems in the ME. Middle Easterners share some of the responsibility too, although the "arab spring" is a big step toward their vindication.

Alberto, I like to watch Al Jazeera sometimes when I have the chance. I am not familiar with the other sources, but my cheapskate household is rather media-challenged, as you have probably noted. I do get news from progressive radio shows, this site, Facebook, my earthlink news, and conventional television shows, so even though I have been missing out on the cable stuff for the most part, I do manage to keep relatively well informed, I think.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 25 weeks ago
#29

The only thing I can think of is that you might be holding down the "alt" or "ctrl" key or maybe even the "shift" key at the same time as the backspace. Try it sometime deliberately and see if that's what happens. Also, see if you are able to find out if you have something called "sticky keys" turned on. All I remember about it is that there have been times when I have punched keys rapidly and a window pops up asking me if I want to turn "sticky keys" on, which are apparently some kind of keyboard shortcut.

Your comments about idealism are well taken, and there's no telling how rapidly things could change for the better if the younger generation is able to set aside the beefs of the older generation. But then again, when your talking about the conditions that the Palestinians have to live under, which are of course grossly unfair and probably illegal under international law, then its hard to see how a young person could grow up without coming to hate their oppressor. The indoctrination in hatred which some Jews raise their kids with is truly very, very, ugly.

Alberto Ceras 2 years 25 weeks ago
#30

nimblecivet, I should have included these two web sites as well on my "where to get information" list:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/ (NL, this URL is better than the one I gave you earlier)

http://www.chowk.com/

I used to contribute to Chowk when it had just got started but no longer. It has changed from a small upstart site, I think for the better. There're still "amateur" contributions but more and more the articles are polished, professional and well researched. Recommended.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 25 weeks ago
#31

The situation with the Palestinians and Jews is somewhat comparable culturally to the relation between Native Americans and the European immigrants, at least in days past. In fact, Euro-Americans are still being indoctrinated to hate Native Americans in some places from what I hear. My mother went to North Dakota, around the 1970s, and afterward, mentioned that the a lot of the white people she met there still hated the "Indians." Of course, many things that the American government systematically did to Native Americans were grossly unfair and probably illegal under international law also. My wife and I have been visiting more Native American reservations in Arizona recently. It's good to see that a lot of tribes have recovered from past injustices and are using their land and opportunities wisely. On the down side, many other tribes still are in states of social dysfunction with very high alcoholism rates, unemployment rates, etc. This is a good place to point out that the treatment of Native Americans, and Palestinians, are prime examples of the process of undemocratic capitalism.

I have never seen that sticky key comment, so I don't think that's it. I think I am accidentally hitting the "alt," "shift," on "ctrl" key simultaneously with unintended consequences.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 2 years 24 weeks ago
#32

Here's some information about co-ops:

Quote http://stirtoaction.com/?p=1483:

In the 1975 case of United Housing Foundation v. Forman, the U.S. Supreme Court established that memberships in a co-op, when purchased primarily for the benefits of membership and not primarily for a financial return, are not securities under federal law. Moreover, patronage distributions from co-ops that provide personal, living, or family items are exempt from federal taxation. ...

...

But if a cooperative keeps its members and business within a state, then at least all it needs to worry about is state law. Jenny Kassan, my colleague in Cutting Edge Capital, explains: “The minute you cross state lines, if you solicit investors in more than one state, federal law comes into play . . . In Colorado, Washington, Massachusetts, and several other states, cooperative memberships are exempt from the state securities law registration requirements. They can go out, solicit the public to buy memberships in their co-op, and not have to worry about the usual requirement to file a registration with the state regulators.” Cooperative memberships then can open a spigot to other local-investment opportunities.

I wonder if by that last sentence the author means that a co-op could provide capital. This implies a possible macro-economic relation between not-for-profit co-ops and for-profit enterprises which themselves could fall under a different form of democratic control or ownership. The article states a rather large number as representing the quantity of wealth represented in the economy by co-ops.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 2 years 24 weeks ago
#33

That looks like good news for the future of democratic capitalism, if I am understanding that article correctly. It is my feeling that co-ops are the best way of opening the door to the growth of democratic capitalism processes. Although co-ops might not be government owned, they do represent an intermediary level of organization between traditional, individually owned businesses which are run like empires, and government of, by and for the people. At least it is a form of democratic business cooperation on a more local scale, which can represent considerable economic and thus political clout. Unions of course are also a key to democratic capitalism, but they have their own problems and are being vilified by big business' political cronies. I think it would be much more difficult for the political right to vilify co-ops.

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