October 31, 2009
The word ‘capitalism’ invokes an ideology which places a higher value on things (capital) than human beings (labour). A tiny number of individuals own the vast bulk of capital assets. The majority own little or nothing except their labour, and the price of that is out of their control. It is a type of slavery.
The earliest form of capitalism was called "mercantilism", and originated the Middle East. Mercantilism is roughly defined as the distribution of goods in order to realize a profit. Arabic cultures living on the great trading routes had a long history of mercantilism. The medieval Europeans essentially learned mercantilism from their Islamic neighbours and the great European voyages of discovery were entirely driven by mercantile ambitions. As time went on, mercantilism gradually evolved into economic practices which have come to be known as capitalism.
We tend to define capitalism as an economic and social system in which the means of production – tools, factories, land and infrastructure –are privately controlled. The use of human labour combined with this means of production produces goods and services which are then sold. The resultant profits are distributed to the owners or invested back into technologies and industries.
Early advocates of the use of markets did not expect the pure market mechanism to be a freestanding performer of excellence, nor did they take the profit motive to be all that was needed. The failure of free markets lies in the things that the market leaves undone. The present economic crisis has been generated by an irrational overestimation of the wisdom of market forces.
However you define it, there are truly serious defects in the existing economic arrangements and a desperate need to reform them. Capitalism is often confused with "free markets" or "democracy," but whatever we choose to call it, the thing we have is little short of an unstable, conflict-prone and class-divided society. The poor are getting poorer, the rich richer.
Marx originally aligned himself with the burgeoning capitalists, but parted from them because he thought they had become too weak.
Martin Luther King wrote: True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
Louis Kelso used the term "universal capitalism" to describe a free market system where capital would be shared by the overwhelming majority of the population.
We need a revolution to fundamentally change the nature of capitalism. Our system is weighed down by entrenched privilege. If we want more of the same all we have to do is nothing. If we want change we have to wake up and get to work.
The successful exceptions give clues as to how we can move forward towards greater economic justice - the co-operative societies and the Employee Share Ownership Schemes (ESOPS) where broad-based asset ownership by the workforce provide profits for all.
Capitalism – or whatever term you would like to use - has put a lot of food in a lot of mouths, but the benefits have not been dealt out equally. This can only be remedied by a sea change in policies. Workforce ownership in the means of production provides a neat stepping stone to a more just economic future. Unearned benefits from land-use can be shared amongst all the community.
But the benefits go beyond economics. Co-operatives, partnerships and ESOPS will also bring greater corporate responsibility because the decision making process would no longer rest in the hands of the elite few who consider themselves above the law. The working woman and man would collectively make more humane decisions. They would identify with the other ordinary working people whom any decision might affect. Would employee-owned oil producers knowingly dump toxic waste on their fellows in another country? Would partnership- owned factories choose dirty power over clean power?
If you don’t stand up, you might as well lay down.
Black communities across the USA have been savaged by the economic crisis. Black unemployment is twice that of whites - that means 40%. Millions of families are going backwards to homelessness and insecurity. Downward mobility is now a mass phenomenon.
"Banksters" are reporting super profits and giving out obscene bonuses. Their lobbyists are blocking new regulations and presiding over the largest transfer of wealth in history from the working poor to the super rich. Today, there are bank branches in almost every area - except the poorest ones where pay-day lenders reign with usury on their mind and in their interest rates.
When it comes to credit, the poor pay more - and the banks know it and profit from it. Fraud is their middle name and they need to be challenged in the courts and in the streets.
October 25, 2009
"We don't fear the unknown. We fear how the unknown might cause us to re-evaluate the known."
Our political institutions cannot progress if we do not produce a greater number of thinking citizens. Everyone can and must decide for themselves whether the education they received, or are getting is fit for purpose. If you are not satisfied, it is up to you to do something about it. COEXIST is opening the doors to thought a little bit wider. We have developed constructive dialogue with many of our members and together we are broadening our horizons and discussing the steps which need to be taken to create a more just world.
At COEXIST we believe that the mainstays to a truly Peaceful society will be economic justice, social justice and environmental justice. Without these aspects in place, living in a world of limited violence will not be sustainable. A society seeking peace, whilst striving to have a positive influence on events abroad, must primarily attend to domestic issues. The individual at the heart of the equation has the responsibility of checking the excesses of their own institutions and encouraging positive attitudes.
We are in this world together – all of us. We have the responsibility of building the future we would like to see. It starts in our own heads.
With so many new people joining COEXIST, we thought it was time for a quick refresher of our goals:
The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free every individual from the tyranny of greed and allow everyone the opportunity to take part in the world economy without fear of exploitation. It means the abolition of unfair economic institutions, controlling monopolies and unfair trade. It means creating economic strategies which allow individuals freedom to pursue activities beyond the pressing needs of income generation and to engage in the unlimited work of life-building, childrearing and self advancement. It means protecting the rights of the individual to organize and to receive a living wage for their work.
Bound inextricably to economic justice is social justice. This is about developing fair systems of co-operation which span the generations and enable a bedrock of equality and fairness in all that we do. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. It means operating within the values of compassion and respect. Society can only be just if individuals and institutions are just.
Environmental justice is a matter of life and death. Affluent nations plunder the resources of countries with little bargaining power. Often the result is brutal poverty, poisoned land and polluted waterways. Environmental justice requires that every individual has the same degree of protection from health hazards, and equal access to the decision -making processes affecting them. It means allowing only sustainable developments, respecting the resources we have and treating the natural world with the same compassion we would afford to each other
Veterans for Peace
Mike Ludwig spoke publicly yesterday advocating for exhausted US active duty forces and for the returning vets of Iraq/Afghanistan. There are 18 suicides a day among the veterans; 1,000 additional vets a month attempt suicide; 1 in 3 women soldiers are raped - by their fellow male g.i.'s - and 33% of returning vets need treatment for PTSD and TBI. Think hard President Obama. These are people, not robots. http://www.veteransforpeace.org/
October 16, 2009
The violent nature and controversial social effects of war raise troubling moral questions for a thoughtful person. Is war always wrong? Might there be situations when it can be a justified? Is war an outcome of unchangeable human nature or of changeable social practice?
War is a phenomenon which occurs between political communities and it seems that all warfare is precisely, and ultimately, about governance. Carl von Clausewitz the (so-called) philosopher of war famously suggested that war is “the continuation of policy by other means”. Governance by bludgeon might be a better way of putting it.
We all had high hopes going into the new millennium in 2000. In many communities the midnight bells were followed by John Lennon’s call to peace -“Imagine”. Within a year Afghanistan was invaded. Within 2 years the US and UK went with the utmost belligerency into a war on Iraq. The Lancet estimated that 601,000 people were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. The rule of non-combatant immunity has been replaced by the heartless term ‘collateral damage’.
Can there be such a thing as a just war when aggression is defined as the use of armed force in violation of someone else's basic rights? Aggression attacks the very spine of human civilization. Is it not absurd to punish someone for an offense they have yet to commit? International law forbids pre-emptive strikes unless they are clearly authorized in advance by the UN Security Council.
The just causes most frequently mentioned include self-defence from external attack and the protection of innocents from brutal regimes. Terrorism is the use of random violence against civilians with the specific intent of spreading fear throughout a population and advancing a political objective. Terrorism is not overcome by killing the same innocents which the notion of a just war is professed to protect.
The nature of humans is formed by their experiences and education. This is changeable. Unless practical and effective alternatives to violence are offered, policy-makers without imagination will always tend to favour the default method (violence), borne from historical teaching rather than future planning.
Military approaches to conflict have limited use and often make the underlying problem worse. They are also very expensive. For every dollar spent globally on conflict prevention and conflict resolution by non-military means, nearly 2,000 times as much is spent on defence and the military. The average direct cost of one violent conflict is $64 billion. With just a fraction of that sum, violence could be nipped in the bud, thousands of lives saved and many millions in post-conflict reconstruction costs avoided.
Since the early 1990s more wars have ended by negotiated settlement than by military victory, and yet the chances of violent conflicts restarting are still almost 50%. Ignition or re-ignition of violent conflict is much more likely where local peace builders are insufficiently mobilised or resourced to engage in the peace process. Non violent resolution to conflict is entirely possible. The only thing lacking is funding.
One organisation which encourages dialogue on the practical means to prevent, transform and resolve violent conflict is the APPGCI. Read more here - http://www.conflictissues.org.uk
Be the Change
At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He runs classes for hundred’s of children too poor to attend school from his own backyard. Like many young people today he sees a pressing need, realises that no government, no other individual, is going to fulfil it, and so gets on with the job himself. Money is no longer an issue. Babar Ali does it for nothing; the climate campers do it for nothing, the peace activists, the change campaigners – they all do it for nothing because at last they see what needs to be done. They get on and do it because enough time has been wasted and money is no longer the issue. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8299780.stm
CODEPINK in Afghanistan
Afghan women told the visiting CODEPINK delegation that more troops would mean more civilian deaths and more Taliban. Afghan women want peace talks and economic development, not endless war. In Afghanistan most men join the Taliban out of economic desperation. In the UK and the US similar forces are at work with record numbers joining the armed forces. Are these boys really fighting material, or are they just cannon fodder propping up outdated ideology on both sides? Providing jobs will do more for world security than spending billions on warfare.
It's time to change our military focus to a focus on improving the health, education and welfare of the Afghan people. The protection of Afghan women is often used to justify the military presence, but an astounding array of Afghan women said that sending more U.S. troops is not the answer. President Obama should listen to these women and focus on economic needs in Afghanistan, not war. http://www.codepink4peace.org
Imagine there's no pipeline - planned for Afghanistan.
Imagine women are included - in the Brotherhood of man.
Imagine Turks & Tajiks - & Pashtuns belonged to one clan.
You may wonder what the fighting's for,
Who's monster is "the Taliban"?
Born of a committee of the CIA & ISI
Chaired by Islamism not Islam.
Kindly donated by Patrick Parks
October 15, 2009
The future is here. The pace of the technological development that we imagine lies in the future is with us right now and changes our lives from year to year, sometimes from month to month. We live the future every day. The problems of the future impinge on the present as only history once did and has a profound impact on the way people think of their own time and their own lives.
The gap between our technical ingenuity and our political and moral capacities to deal with the issues of today is large. One key problem is that we are working with a model of democracy founded before industrialisation when the population of the world was less than 1 billion in total.
We must update our institutions so that there is formal, publicised, long-term advice, which will educate politicians and the public. Education is vital, not just about the menace of an overheated, overpopulated world, but about greed and the selfishness that is integral to current ideas of success.
October 13, 2009
The hasty sale of unwanted Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia was ‘sold’ to the public on the basis of supporting UK jobs. We were told it could mean as many as 50,000 jobs, but it is unlikely to be more than a tiny fraction of that as an assembly line is expected to be set up in Saudi Arabia for the production of two-thirds of the aircraft.
Similarly, 66 Hawk jets were sold to India, but 42 of these are being manufactured under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
The pressing needs of society are not to make more weapons. They are to create sustainable industries. With a subsidy of £9000 per job, sustainable technologies could hit the ground running. More jobs would be created in the sustainable industries than would be lost from the arms industry. The response to the 'credit crunch' has shown that politically it is entirely possible for the Government to intervene in individual sectors of the economy, and with colossal sums of taxpayer money. A shift in resources from arms to areas that would reduce carbon emissions might be politically huge, but would be financially small. A company like Ecotricity could massively rollout the installation of windmills. The UK has enough wind power to supply 5 times the energy it uses – so what is the holdup?
Climate change is widely acknowledged to be the most severe threat to national and international security, essentially it is system failure. But because a military mindset dominates Government thinking, the financial resources allocated to addressing climate change are tiny relative to those wasted on arms production.
October 02, 2009
In the Next Economy, money will be issued and circulated as a service for the people as a whole rather than used as a mechanism for the exploitation of the many by the few. The Next Economy will be built upon the highest values of both the Left and the Right. It will be a fair economy and a free economy, using but not abusing the earth and her many resources.
The human body is composed of earth elements. We are walking, talking bags of dust and water; recyclers of plant and animal material as we ingest and excrete, inhale and exhale. There is no ultimate separation between ourselves and the land and everything upon it. Our existence is totally dependent on the land and natural resources of the earth. This earth is given, and every one of us has an equal right to the earth as our birthright.
As far back as the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 the right to land for the common people was denied in favour of the English barons’ right to ‘improve’ the land in order to extract greater rent from the landless. Countless peasants were evicted from their holdings or saw their common lands fenced off. The enclosures appropriated land once commonly held, and redefined it as ‘private property’, thereby giving it the status of a tradable commodity. The vast majority of people were denied access to the land they had once tended.
Throughout the following hundred years, as the land was enclosed the women and men and the earth based religion of the peoples of northern Europe were brutally repressed. Women who practiced healing and agriculture, and who were leaders of their communities were tortured, hanged, or burned at the stake. The Holy Inquisition was a women’s holocaust; about 85 percent of those killed were women. Some say their murders numbered in the millions. The European indigenous women were strong and vibrant and had equal status to their men. They could stand their ground because they had access to the common lands. The imperial forces called them witches, and these independent, resourceful women were hunted to death.
Christianity lost its mission of economic justice when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. From that time forward Christianity went hand-in-hand with the forces of conquest. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Before the Europeans came to Africa, we had the land and they had the Bible. We bowed our heads to pray, and when we opened our eyes, we had the Bible and they had the land.”
Only about one quarter of the countries of the world have adequate records of who owns what land. It is always the poor who suffer deprivation and loss when the land they have farmed for generations is taken from them because they have no papers. This continues to be justification for the corporations to take land from native peoples. Because there was no written title to the land, in the twisted logic of imperialism, that made it vacant.
Growing numbers of us are appalled and chilled to our bones at what the World Bank (in which the U.S. Treasury has a 51 percent controlling interest), the International Monetary Fund, and other instruments of international finance and control are doing to our world. The anti-globalization protesters of today represent the voices of the poor, the disenfranchised and the forgotten. Placing ourselves on the firm and just foundation of human right to the earth is one of the most important endeavours of our age.
Land is used not only for the production of wealth but also as an instrument of oppression of human by human. The challenge before us is to bring about change in policy all around the world so that people will pay for what they take, not what they make. The Earth’s natural resources have been pillaged for the profits of a few. Change will not be easy because we are up against the international banking establishment’s plan for themselves – after all, when land becomes more affordable; banks will be unable to capture as much interest from mortgages.
Satellite technology can help us determine if land, water and air resources are being polluted or destroyed. Those indicators can serve as red flags indicating the need to levy pollution taxes or fines. All of these concerns can be monitored by the masses via computer technology. Safeguarding the planet and the people will become the best game on earth.
More and more of us are convinced that the only way to a just, prosperous and ecologically sustainable future is to share the value of Earth’s resources more fairly. Alanna Hartzok is one of the few professional economic writers who understands the crises of our age and provides practical solutions in the form of direct action through mobilized citizens, enlightened earth rights state institutions, politicians who are true representatives of the people, the enlightened vote of the citizenry, and environmental tax reform.
Take a peep inside Alanna’s compassionate and brilliant mind and read her detailed solutions at http://www.earthrights.net/about/hartzok.html from which this mailing is unashamedly taken.
Stuck between India and the Taliban
“If someone takes my land there is nothing I can do. If I cannot pay the police or the judges I will have no justice in my life.”
The man is from Pakistan. His home is 50 kilometres from the Afghanistan border. “Now the Taliban are very near, they are beheading people, bombing schools and throwing acid in the faces of our women. No one is safe. Who will bring us justice?”
It is a reign of terror. The Pakistan army is not about to suddenly develop a collective spine and stand-up for the Pakistani people. Pakistan is, after all, a highly mismanaged, corrupt, developing state that has fostered religious extremism for decades while continuing to build a formidable nuclear arsenal. The Taliban, although considered unislamic, were once the perfect solution for Pakistan because they were a proxy-force that slowly killed off any influence from India, Russia and Iran.
The main factor in the Taliban's resurgence is the support it enjoys from Pakistan's intelligence services. However, the prospect of the Taliban getting its hands on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is the stuff of nightmares. If the Taliban get too close to the nuclear prize, Pakistan will be sacrificed. Pakistan’s war choices are likely to remain contrary to the will of the Pakistani people and migration from the horror is only going to increase in these conditions. It is a complicated and messy region and the US and its hapless allies have made themselves part of the problem.