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From the Battle of Seattle to the Financial Crisis


#1

From the Battle of Seattle to the Financial Crisis

Walden Bello

I had many lessons from the Battle of Seattle, and one of them was that policewomen can deal it out as good as any policeman. I got beaten up, badly, by one of Seattle’s best. Yesterday, I decided go down memory lane and visit the scene of the crime. I remember seeing Medea Benjamin of Code Pink being treated fairly roughly and I rushed forward to try to get the police to stop. At that point, a policewoman rushed me and started beating me with her baton, while dragging me and dumping me on the street, with the coup de grace being a well planted kick to my derriere.


#2

What is our stirring vision? What are our common dreams?

What do we offer to the billions of people who can taste the fact of their utter disempowerment at the hands of the looting class, who live the imposed struggle, and suffer the heartbreaking loss, and are desperate for popular movements that speak to that loss and simultaneously lay out clear challenges to the current powers?

i regularly zero in on our need to get in right relationship to the ecology, and to remake the economy so that it also operates in right relationship to the ecology. Most people do not seem to find "ecology" a good foundation for a "stirring vision," while the looting economy bedazzles with technology, but i can't escape the fact of ecological dis-integration now underway, and the loss of everything that will follow in its path. So i start there.

i like the permaculture principles as an outline:
- Care for the Earth
- Care for the People
- Fair Share for All

i like "cooperative commonwealth" as a goal, with the worker-owned cooperative replacing the investor corporation as the basic economic unit; with community accountability replacing limited liability as the legal framework; and with social and ecological accounting superseding financial accounting as the primary measures of business viability.

My work and writing and speaking have sometimes been inspiring to some people, but in terms of building movements or institutions that actually embody these principles, i've gained no traction. i'm considering how to move forward.


#4

"However, these figures remained “factoids” rather than facts in the eyes of academics, the press, and policymakers, who dutifully repeated the neoliberal mantra that economic liberalization promotes growth and prosperity. The orthodox view, repeated ad nauseam in the classroom, the media, and policy circles was that the critics of globalization were modern-day incarnations of Luddites or, as Thomas Friedman disdainfully branded us, believers in a flat earth."

Several parallel examples include:

  1. The way Monsanto insists that it's geo-engineering of plant DNA is also being done to increase farmer's prosperity, feed the world, and reduce the problem of insect pests. NONE of this is true.

  2. The War on Terror arguably aimed at making the world safer and more secure (as would appear to be the protocol driving National SECURITY) is actually spreading terror far and wide. Meanwhile, the nation (and its allies) that makes the greatest claim to acting as the globe's Officer of the Peace makes the most felonious and despicable weapon sales. (That's a virtual guarantee of more violence.)

  3. The lie that the economy is doing better, propped up by a stock market that's kept high due to companies purchasing their own stock with optimistic seeming employment numbers that leave out the fact that a majority of new jobs are low-paying ones and/or part time/Independent contractor work.

Then there are the Big Oil companies financing campaigns of deception (of long duration) around global warming; the profiteers of the privatization of public schools trafficking in lies about the so-called superior Charter School model and/or the utility of Standardized tests (done far too often with far too little accountability from actual educators).

And TPP & TIPP.

An entire alternative reality that is NOT truth based has become the consensual reality due to the pervasiveness of a mainstream media that acts on behalf of the 1% ownership class in endless relays of its Lies Told Often.


#5

"But the rollback of the neoliberal paradigm is only half the story. Even with its ideational crisis, the forces of global capital have waged a fierce rearguard battle. As an example, take the case of finance capital’s successful effort to resist any change in the face of the naked necessity and social consensus for comprehensive reform."

I haven't completed the article yet, but I think the above paragraph begs for the mention of TPP and TIPP. These "trade" treaties will do for neo-liberal economics what peaceful protest and organized opposition voting cannot. These secret deals anesthetize Democracy and grant ALL power to corporations. In other words, they are end runs taken to avoid public input and all networks of legal accounting.

"They did this by using what Cornelia Woll termed finance capital’s “structural power.” One dimension of this power was the $344 million the industry spent lobbying Congress in the first nine months of 2009, when legislators were taking up financial reform. Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, alone received $2.8 million in contributions from Wall Street in 2007–2008."

Translation: "The banks own the place."

"The political institutions of one of the world’s most advanced liberal democracies were no match for the entrenched structural power of the financial establishment. As Cornelia Woll writes, “For the administration and Congress, the main lesson from the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 was that they had only very limited means to pressure the financial industry into behavior that appeared urgently necessary for the survival of the entire sector and the economy as a whole.”.

How can it prove otherwise if the same persons running for office depend upon the largess of the 1% to fund their campaigns?

So long as the public's airwaves are handed over, rent-free to a handful of broadcast companies and these in turn charge millions of dollars for candidates' campaign-necessitating "face-time," the entire system is rendered a very expensive and complex quid pro quo (a/k/a pay to play).

That forces those who run for office to remain beholden to their donors, or paying masters.

Individual candidates can be faulted till the cows come home. The real problem is systemic... and it BREEDS every form of fraud and corruption possible under the sun.

When a company like Monsanto insists that IT has a better way it does so by discounting the lived experience of Dr. Vandana Shiva and millions of the world's peasant farmers.

Likewise, it's not so much that the elites HAVE a better way that requires some intellectually more compelling alternative vision; it's that the Old Powers who have always had a disproportionate claim to riches and a disproportionate voice at all decision-making tables does not WANT to implement what is already known. And it comes down to basic sharing and economies that work for the benefit of all, rather than exorbitant profits for a few:

"My sense is that the persistence of Capital’s structural power is related to the fact that while the combination of objective developments, intellectual critique, and collective action eroded the legitimacy of neoliberalism, we have had a signal failure to articulate the bold alternative that can match the depth of the crisis of capitalism that we are in."

In short, the alternative is known and has always been known. The problem is that of Political Will and who has most of it (and who is discounted from agency).

The way the Establishment powers keep Jill Stein out of the spotlight and likewise knee-capped Bernie Sanders at EVERY turn display how the system of Old Power operates. It's not in search of a solution, it's intent is to keep THAT--the solution--under wraps, under the radar, or wholly discounted.


#6

I've spent 45 years studying Esoteric literature and the work of many spiritual teachers. One of the most significant ones remains Edgar Cayce. This remarkable individual channeled over 40,000 readings all of which have been retained at the A.R.E = The Association for Research and Enlightenment based in Virginia Beach, Va.

Cayce often talked about how the law of karma returned in the form of the current components of the life the individual was living. He specified that family life was "the hotbed of karma." After all, the 4 year old is in no position to leave home and thus must deal with his parents' considerable flaws.

Cayce also talked about Atlantis and made it a point to explain that there was a major rift that was one of the key reasons for that civilization's demise. Essentially, there were two types of individuals living at that time. One set were those who thought in terms of the greater good and lived by the Law of One.

In other words, they had an innate sense of, and lived by basic empathy.

The other group was totally identified with naked self-interest. Cayce referred to them as the children of Belial.

In addition to this ideological rift which has now returned and plagues our planet once again was the problem of genetic engineering. According to Cayce, it had been used to blend animal and human species in order to create beings that could labor long but lacked the cognitive tools to question their masters.

Those who identify with a brute like Duterte in Indonesia or a Trump in the U.S. or a Le Pen in France are the recapitulation of the Belial mentality. The Koch Brothers are its poster children. After all, here are billionaires who rather than use their embarrassment of riches to better the lives of those in need fund think tanks whose purpose is to denigrate the poor so that more can be taken from them!

The point is, it's a whimsical dream to talk about a narrative of inclusion; and certainly, those with operating hearts and souls would resonate with such an ideal. But it's naive to think that those who can gather in packs (like so many U.S. police departments) to collectively gang-bang Black kids, or those that dream up ways to exponentially inflate life-saving drug prices, or those who make wars for the sheer pleasure of using bombastic weapons on live targets... will EVER see eye to eye with those who come from the Law of One.

Belial's children are among us and they are advantaged in these uber-capitalistic, shock-doctrine, Mars rules times chiefly due to their missing consciences. That liability to the soul is an asset in a world run by thieves, liars, killers, misogynists, racists, and pedophiles.

"I think it is urgent that we overcome our fears of articulating grand narratives and lay out a vision that spells out the overcoming of the present world blighted by Capital through common struggle, with the end being the construction of societies that harness men and women’s deepest instinct— cooperation."

(In response to this idealistic paragraph, see above!)


#7

Nothing like misogyny to inspire that new universal call to unity.


#8

I agree the change needs to be ecologically based. Our connection with earth has been lost in the pathological hunger for money and power.
Native Americans speak about this all the time, we could learn a lot from them about the way forward. To have a future at all we need to race to a green economy which will provide jobs and infrastructure building. Buying, living and working locally would begin the community strength and start the exit from the capitalist system.
Co-operatives have long been a favorite of mine, in housing and in work places.
I like your ideas keep going.


#12

The non-transparent derivatives market is now estimated to total $707
trillion, significantly higher than the $548 billion in 2008. According
to one analyst...

Do I understand these sums correctly? Has the so called "non-transparent derivatives market" value grown 1400 times the value of that of 2008? Is this the entire world market of NT derivatives, or just the US part thereof?

Whatever. Plastics trump derivatives, as our dearly departed sage and profane philosopher George Carlin might have also determined.

"Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allows us [humans] to be spawned from it in the first place: it wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it, needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question, 'Why are we here?'”

                   “Plastic, assholes, not derivatives”

And he intimated that we're not going to be here much longer.


#13

The author finishes with:

“I am not usually a bible quoting speaker, but there is definitely something profound in that passage in Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” It would be tragic if people were left to the phlegmatic alternatives posed by the historically bypassed Social Democrats in Europe, the tiresome Clintons in the United States, and uninspiring elite-run reform movements in the Global South. Such political alternatives are no match for the counterrevolutionary movements that are on the march.”

Not having 'vision' is as antithetical to human nature, individually and collectively, as can be imagined. People will create their own vision, in some form or another, whatever their existing condition. The origins of biblical quotes on 'vision' may well have its own purpose. When looking at political systems and their alternatives both in the relatively short history of the US and the rest of the 'western' world there's one commonality. To varying degrees it's a history of those exploiting others and those being exploited. That is a demonstration to the absence of functioning democracy. Functioning democracy. I wouldn't even try to describe what an 'ultimate' democracy would be, any more than counting angels on the head of a pin, but a real functioning democracy, not a creation of propaganda, would represent a reality so compatible with our species as to be virtually immutable. And consequently feared by those members of our species who find exploiting others to their liking. Thus a major 'vision' would be to attain functioning democracy. Something that may need to happen but once.

A political movement from the 'bottom up', by the very nature of its genesis, is the germination of a functioning democracy (There may be other ways but those other ways feel like a roll of the dice). The younger generations, technically freed from relying on the vehicles of media public relations, are creating the seeds for that germination. They see the Trumpist, nationalist, Brexit movements as the opportunists that they are. Xenophobic and vacuous in their understanding for the true causes of the financial problems. Those movements have the elements of being reactionary as opposed to counterrevolutionary and are not much tied to the status quo. Counterrevolutionary movements are created because of resistance. A resistance that can be expressed at election time, despite the campaign money. And any counterrevolutionary movements would have to answer the blunt question: 'Which side are you on?'


#14

It should read, trillions, not billions. Here's a link to a paper that outlines the growth of derivatives markets.


#15

For all its structural weaknesses and failures to properly organize, what you talk about, Webwalk, is essentially the the origin and core focus of the Green Party.

As we can see especially this year there have been decades of efforts to discredit the Greens' attempts at movement-building and focus, and to reinforce the proven false argument that staying within the Democratic Party is the only way to achieve progressive change. The treatment of Bernie and his supporters as mere annoyances to be dealt with and excluded by any means possible, SHOULD have awaken folks to the need NOW to address economic imbalances and climate in a fashion shaped by by Sanders supporters and the Greens. The latter still remain. The Hillary-must-stop-Trump narrative has been created as THIS year's version of STOP ALL financial/economic justice and environmental thinking to empower our people to take back some semblance of democracy. the rest is nauseating fluff. There ARE answers out there. Green offer many. The fight to discredit them has resulted in severely reducing new input and support that is needed to help them become the widely embraced effective and visible alternative force this nation needs.

Millions should switch their registration TODAY to show support for issues and solutions in part outlined by Bernie, that our nation desperately needs ... no matter how they ultimately vote in November.

What we DON'T need is more crawling on our knees to further sanctify Hillary and her banker-buddies who will run roughshod over us all with little or no opposition.


#16

While author Bello briefly mentions the Sanders movement for economic and political justice, he pays far too little attention to the phenomenon itself and to what the Democrat's right-wing core DID to defeat such a movement, the first one seen in th USA in decades. He talks of Seattle, but there is not a mention of the oft-dismissed Green movement that expresses much of what he talks about.