Dissident Voice

Dissident Voice
4 Feb 2023 | 5:36 pm

1. Bolivia and China Agreement for CBC Consortium to Mine Lithium

This week's News on China in 2 minutes.

• Bolivia and China agreement for CBC consortium to mine lithium
• 892 million trips for the Chinese new year
• Extension of rights for migrant workers
• The challenges of football in China

The post Bolivia and China Agreement for CBC Consortium to Mine Lithium first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
4 Feb 2023 | 5:00 pm

2. The Progenitor of Inequalities: Corporate Personhood vs. Human Beings

The word "inequality" is everywhere in the media. It usually refers either to race, gender, rich vs. poor, or other differences between human beings. Absent from the public debate is the biggest perpetrator of "inequality" against human beings – the corporate entity itself.

Ever since 1886 when a U.S. Supreme Court reporter, in a headnote for the Court's opinion, wrote that corporations possessed equal rights under the Constitution, judges and corporatist legislators have equipped corporations with an arsenal of inequitable rights. (The Constitution makes no mention whatsoever of "corporation" or "company").

How is that possible with the 14th Amendment mandating equal protection under the law? Because this central provision for our alleged rule of law didn't take into account the contrivances of corporate lawyers, corporate judges and corporate-indentured lawmakers.

Corporations that are created by state charters are deemed "artificial persons." States like Delaware and Nevada have made a revenue business out of chartering corporations under permissive laws that concentrate power at the top of autocratic commercial hierarchies, leaving their shareholder-owners with very few options other than to sell. Since the early 1800s, states have chartered corporations giving their shareholders limited liability. The maximum they can lose is the amount of dollars invested in their company's stocks or bonds. The modern history of corporate law is now aimed at maximizing the limited liability of the corporation itself.

The following twelve examples of inequality are shocking:

  1. The corporate entity protects owners and shareholders from business debts and other liabilities. Yet, individual business owners are not personally shielded from business related debts or liabilities.
  2. Bankruptcy laws favor corporations mightily over individuals. Bankrupt corporations can cancel their labor union contracts, are free from lawsuit liabilities against them, and can even get judges to grant retention bonuses for the culpable executives so they can provide parties with their alleged historical memory. Then under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company, having shed its liabilities, can reorganize and be back in business. If it is a giant bankrupt company like General Motors was in 2009, its recreation can get many billions of taxpayer dollars because it is considered "too big to fail." Compare all these privileges with an individual going bankrupt no matter how wealthy he or she may have been. No contest.
  3. Under criminal laws, corporations have huge advantages. Unlike most individuals who commit serious crimes, corporations have lawyers who shield them with "no-prosecution" or "deferred prosecution" agreements instead of criminal penalties. Unlike individual criminals, corporations cannot be jailed, and are almost never executed (that is having their charter pulled and put out of business, unless they are small business crooks). Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the big banks may even be too big to be prosecuted. While the big corporations, having cost the lives of many people and sickened more, continue on their merry profiteering ways. In this category are the large drug, chemical, auto, oil, coal and hospital chains.
  4. Wrongfully injured people suing corporations under tort law find corporations can endlessly delay, with their insured or deductible legal expenses. Victims who are desperate for money to pay medical and other bills, cannot deduct their legal expenses and may not have insurance. Corporations can force low settlements because of their inequality of status and power.
  5. Unequal taxation is a Niagara of inequality. The top federal tax rate for individuals is 37% and only 21% for corporations, before a plethora of loopholes. Why should an individual businessperson or any individual have to pay 37% and face an economic disadvantage vis-a-vis a competitor that only pays 21%? The baseless response is that there is a rational classification for this unfairness – nonsense.
  6. Unlike individuals, corporations can create their own parents – (holding companies) for evasive purposes. They can also create hundreds of children (subsidiaries) to evade all kinds of law enforcement. The tax and non-regulatory haven of the Grand Cayman Islands has thousands of corporations "domiciled" there. One large building – Ugland House – "houses" 12,000 corporations. Real humans would be insufferably cramped if they attempted to quarter themselves with such inorganic efficiencies.Until the decision last month by the Third Circuit of Appeals, saying no to profitable Johnson & Johnson's corporate lawyers, corporations could create a subsidiary and put in it all the pending lawsuits by injured consumers, declare the subsidiary bankrupt and then leave the harmed plaintiffs with little recourse. This is called the "Texas two-step" a creation of corporate lawyers.
  7. Corporations' one-sided contracts requiring you to sign or click on, turn you into contract peons. Freedom of contract is gone. Your status is reduced to obeying the harsh impositions by banks, auto dealers, insurance companies, credit card companies, utilities, etc. Try to escape and go to a competitor. No dice. They all have the same restrictions, with minor variations. These long, inscrutable fine-print handcuffs require you to waive your right to go to court for a trial by a jury of your peers.
  8. The antitrust laws, being little enforced over the years, have resulted in monopolies or shared monopolies, replete with manipulative powers that make a mockery out of an alleged free marketplace. How's that for inequality – destroying the right to and benefits from a competitive market?
  9. Corporations are given monopoly licenses by the FCC to control 24/7 what we own – the public airwaves. The radio and TV corporations get this bonanza free of charge along with the power to decide who gets on and who doesn't. No individual could either have such a status or in any way challenge these license renewals made virtually automatic by the corporatized U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
  10. Emanating from these inequalities, embedded in corporate-lobbied unequal laws, are the realities of raw economic, political and cultural power that intimidate and coerce mere human mortals. Corporations are able to survive and thrive after horrendous overcharges, crimes and casualties – the opioid and other drug companies, the vast toxic pollution of air, water and food, the crimes of Wall Street and the exploitation of workers' health and economic well-being. Corporations continue, as they are not human, without feeling the sanctions of social shame, guilt or ostracism. Mere humans have no such inherent escapes.
  11. Other derivative political power allows corporations to strategically plan and control the lives of humans with algorithms and monopoly patents. They get away with direct marketing that exploits children and circumvents their parents' authority, breaking long-held cultural barriers to mass gambling online, and continuing to discriminate against women and minorities, as workers and consumers.
  12. The biggest prize of all for the uses of corporate-dominant inequality over real people is the control of the Congress, state legislatures, country boards, city councils, and elections along with the selection of judges. Their assemblage of ever larger entrenched legal and illegal inequalities produces a multiplier effect, achieving deeper inequalities as corporate control over capital, labor, technology and choice of jurisdictions here and abroad intensifies their privileges and immunities.

All these drives for maximum power and control are maturing the corporate state – as Wall Street and Washington merge. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in a formal message to Congress in 1938, called the control of government by private power "fascism." In 1933 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote an opinion warning about big corporations becoming a "Frankenstein monster" in our midst.

So, all you fighters against inequality between people leap into the Big Leagues and confront the biggest progenitors of inequalities of all – giant corporations. Grab hold of the roots if you wish to prevent the bitter fruits. End cruel exploitation provided by these double standards.

The post The Progenitor of Inequalities: Corporate Personhood vs. Human Beings first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
4 Feb 2023 | 5:00 pm

3. All Governments Lie

The post All Governments Lie first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
4 Feb 2023 | 4:43 pm

4. Shifting Baseline Disorders: Only the One Percent is Bad

But for now, let me repeat: the world's richest 85 individuals do not have the same amount of accumulated wealth as the world's poorest 50 percent. They have vastly more. The multitude on the lower rungs—even taken as a totality—have next to nothing.
Michael Parenti

Funny stuff seeing the MoveOn outfit go after ONLY the one percent who are tax dodgers, tax sheltering criminals:

Sign the petition: Don't let House Republicans undermine the IRS for the benefit of the rich and powerful.

Republicans are trying to cut $80 billion in recent investments designed to strengthen the IRS and its ability to crack down on millionaire, billionaire, and corporate tax cheats through the Inflation Reduction Act.1 In other words: As per usual, Republicans want to issue handouts to their wealthy donors and leave working families in the lurch.

In 2019 alone, the richest 1% of households evaded $163 billion of the total of unpaid or underpaid taxes that year. When we allow the ultrawealthy to evade paying their fair share, we place that responsibility on regular working people. Donald Trump's recently released tax returns are a clear example of this corruption and greed. His returns expose overseas bank accounts and manipulative real estate evaluations that effectively allowed him to dodge taxes. This is exactly why Democrats included funding for the IRS, to ensure there were people within the agency that would hold the wealthiest people in this country accountable. We cannot allow the GOP to tank our efforts to lessen the tax burden on the working class.

Fun stuff, you know, since we are getting close to USA shooting nuclear weapons, utilizing the dirty tricks of CIA and false flags and dirty bombs. You know this country's history, yet the Democrats, the MoveOne outfit, is going for the One Percent.

You know, since these companies are as honest as a nun (not). Imagine, the amount of US taxpayer money paying for fraud, crimes, endless and meaningless and worthless reports, hearings, white papers, investigations, stalling tactics, cover-ups, PR spin, all of it, including the dirty, polluting, community-breaking externalities of these corporations. And how many of these corporations have GOVERNMENT contracts in the hundreds of millions and billions?

How many dual-income earners in the Five percent — $208,000 x 2 – $416,000 yearly income — have trouble sending their kids to Yale and Harvard, uh?

The book, Dream Hoarders tells a picture of those Five and Ten Percenters and the Twenty Percenters x two incomes ($97,000) = $195,000. But here, the irony, at the most elite-sucking, exceptionalist outfit locally, Aspen Institute:


Now, now. I have a 77-year-old fellow with all sorts of medical operations under his belt driving a bus, me as his monitor. There are older people driving school buses where I live, one aged 81. You know, high winds, in a tsunami zone, earthquake zone, king tides, ice, fallen trees, fallen power lines, rain rain rain. You know, that precious cargo — children — and we get $19 an hour, with three cameras on board, a tablet that marks our stops and time, and, well, you can imagine the lack of trust this huge corporation has in us, the lowly guys and gals. Precious cargo my ass!

Truckers in the world, got .06 (cents) a mile in the 1960s. And when you are owner-operator, you pay pay pay for expenses, upkeep, maintenance and more. In the old days, the idea was to get to New York from Portland, Oregon, as quick as possible with that load of seafood. One fellow told me he took ZipLock baggies with him to urinate on that 72-hours, one-way from Oregon to NYC. And, the pills. The uppers. Keeping awake.

This is, alas, Capitalism with a capital "c" for corruption, collusion, chaos, criminality, contraband, crassness.

But alas, MoveOne is going after the One Percent, because of course, all those Five Percenters working for the One Percenters in high level jobs, all those 10 Percenters who are hoarders and vote to not have an extra percentage of tax put upon them, all the Eichmann's and Faustians, all of them, love the idea of becoming rich and famous too, or just rich. They think being part of the 80 Percent is a crime against their egos and sensibility.

There is only so much of the good money to go around to the One Percent and up to the 19 Percent, right? Just talked to a 51 year old who gave me a ride back home since my ride was indisposed in Newport. I had to get to the bus driving gig. I stopped someone coming from the hospital, and he gave me a lift. He grew up in Toledo, Oregon, and had a year's worth of wages saved up for Oregon State University, but he opted to work. As a lineman for the local central utility district. His brother went to college, and even called him a loser. Just a few years ago, the brother apologized to this man, who has worked 32 years for this company, and he said he's making $150,000 a year as he is in management. The brother never got that income with his college degree.

Yes, there have to be options for young people. Yes, everyone needs to go to a cool college, for history, for the arts, for writing, for sociology. Yes, there should be contruction courses in college. Yes, there should be a way to get those who might have a proclivity for hands-on high IQ stuff to get that hands-on education, but all junior and senior high school students should be exposed to Oceanography, Orwell and Organic farming. In addition to, Reading and Writing, but also, learning what soil is and is not. What a forest is. What the jet stream is, and what weather is and is not. Hands down, the only way humanity is going to solve the crimes of capitalism and the savagery of capitalism and the barbaric acts of the One Percent and maybe another 5 percent, is to arm ourselves with thinking, caring, community-driven people.

Out here in Rural Oregon, we have those rugged (sic) individuals looking for acres and a place to put some chickens and cool motorcycles and jungle gyms on, and a place AWAY from humanity. Imagine that.

Some of those homes I pass by in the rural landscape are 6,000 square foot lodges that would look like they fit in Aspen or Jackson Hole.

Here it is, then, the shifting baseline disorder. Up is down, and somehow, Nazi History is Okay History. Ukraine is a country with a violent and racist history, and now, worse than ever. But these kids and these linemen, well, they do not want to know about THAT.

As we drain the tax coffers for Zelensky, for all those military industrial complex big boys and little ones.

This is fact — Russia-Soviet Union beat the Nazi's then:

The Battle That Changed the Course of WWII: 80th Anniversary of the Soviet Victory at Stalingrad

On February 2, 1943, Nazi forces trapped in the ruined city of Stalingrad (modern-day Volgograd) by the Soviet Red Army surrendered, marking the end of one of the bloodiest and most intense battles in history – the Battle of Stalingrad.

During the course of this battle, Soviet forces managed to trap a substantial force of Nazi soldiers inside the very city the latter wanted to capture. The Soviet's also managed to repel all attempts by the rest of the Nazi war machine to relieve their trapped comrades, and to finally break the enemy's will to resist.

This triumph allowed the USSR to seize the strategic initiative and effectively turn the tide of the entire World War II, paving the way for the eventual defeat of the Nazi Germany a little over two years later. (source)

You'd never know that istory talking to linemen or bus driver or high school teacher or city council or …. And youth in college or in high school who will never get to read this article and discuss: "How a Network of Nazi Propagandists Helped Lay the Groundwork for the War in Ukraine"

A mass grave of Red Army soldiers, executed on orders from Franz Halder, at Stalag 307 near Dęblin, Poland.

Don't let MoveOn fool you — Liz Warren maybe a super capitalist, but that means she is for great wealth misdistribution, great land exploitation, the Monroe Doctrine on steroids, and of course, money, missiles and mush for Ukraine.

Michael Parenti — Peeling back those Shifting Baselines!

The world's 85 richest individuals possess as much wealth as the 3.5 billion souls who compose the poorer half of the world's population, or so it was announced in a report by Oxfam International. The assertion sounds implausible to me.  I think the 85 richest individuals, who together are worth many hundreds of billions of dollars, must have far more wealth than the poorest half of our global population.

How could these two cohorts, the 85 richest and 3.5 billion poorest, have the same amount of wealth? The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all. Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families. Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can. Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States. (source)

Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income. About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day. And the poorest 50 percent  maintain only 7.2 percent of the world's private consumption. How exactly could they have accumulated an amount of surplus wealth comparable to the 85 filthy richest?

Hundreds of millions live in debt even in "affluent" countries like the United States. They face health care debts, credit card debts, college tuition debts, and so on. Many, probably most who own homes—and don't live in shacks or under bridges or in old vans—are still straddled with mortgages. This means their net family wealth is negative, minus-zero. They have no  propertied wealth; they live in debt.

Millions among the poorest 50 percent in the world may have cars but most of them also have car payments. They are driving in debt.  In countries like Indonesia, for the millions without private vehicles, there are the overloaded, battered buses, poorly maintained vehicles that specialize in breakdowns and ravine plunges. Among the lowest rungs of the 50 percent are the many who pick thru garbage dumps and send their kids off to work in grim, soul-destroying sweatshops. (source)

The post Shifting Baseline Disorders: Only the One Percent is Bad first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
4 Feb 2023 | 3:31 pm

5. In Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), the Answer is Self-Determination Not Subjugation

Image credit: Hrayr Badalyan

Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), a self-governing enclave in the South Caucasus, remains under total blockade by Azerbaijan. Over 120,000 Armenians—including 30,000 children—are on the brink of an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe as food runs scarce, medicine cabinets fall bare, and children now suffer malnutrition.

A single mountain road connects Artsakh to Armenia; it is the sole lifeline for the indigenous Armenians who live there. Pursuant to the November 9, 2020 Trilateral Statement, Azerbaijan is under strict legal obligation to keep its hands off the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor through which that road passes. But Azerbaijan has not heeded demands from the UN, US, or Europe to end its blockade.

Azerbaijani agents have blocked the mountain road for more than 44 days—at one point, even causing 270 children to be left stranded on the road for days in Arctic conditions and, more recently, storming a bus and terrorizing 19 Armenian children trying to reunite with their families. In fact, Azerbaijan has orchestrated ruthless measures to render living conditions unbearable for the Armenians. It has cut Artsakh's heating gas connections, severed its electricity lines, blocked humanitarian aid, and sabotaged its internet link to the outside world. Some have already died, and more will, as starvation and scarcity now grip the population.

Numerous international watch groups have already red-flagged Azerbaijan's conduct. Genocide Watch has raised the genocide threat level facing Artsakh Armenians beyond the "dehumanization" and "preparation" stages into the "persecution" and "denial" stages. The International Association of Genocide Scholars has proclaimed that "[s]ignificant genocide risk factors exist in the Nagorno-Karabakh situation concerning the Armenian population." The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention has warned that Azerbaijan's "actions are part of a larger genocidal pattern, demonstrating Azerbaijan's Armenophobia and genocidal intent [aimed at] the eradication of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Armenians."

While Azerbaijan openly ratchets up this man-made humanitarian disaster, some policymakers and think tanks in Europe and Washington still suggest that the most feasible outcome for Nagorno-Karabakh would be some sort of "protected status" within Azerbaijan. This suggestion is carelessly imprudent and patently misguided. It reflects an appalling disassociation from the realities on the ground and an utter blindness to the extent of institutionalized, rampant Armenophobia and ethnic cleansing Azerbaijan has already engineered. Any recommendation of a "protected status within Azerbaijan" is a patent nonstarter."

First, the suggestion is politically antithetical for the West. Every Artsakh government since the 1991 referendum on independence has been democratically elected in fair and free elections–elections actually monitored by international observers. It would be quite the about-face for the West to condone the forceful subjugation of a democracy, even an unrecognized one, to the whims of an authoritarian, hereditary dictatorship that has openly called for—and is currently engaged in—a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Further, the idea of a "protected status within Azerbaijan" is morally and legally bankrupt. Given the extent of ethnic cleansing and the now widely recognized risk of genocide, it's blatantly oxymoronic. Just imagine the outcry if the solution suggested during a blockade of Jews by a government espousing institutionalized, state-sponsored antisemitism was, quite literally, the forceful subjugation of Jews to that Nazi state. It would be abhorrent, even criminal. The same is true here.

International law has clear mandates on these sorts of things. Self-determination today comes in two accepted variants: internal self-determination (legalese for a protected status within a state) and external self-determination (legalese for an independent status outside a state). The rule as to whether internal or external self-determination applies has become well established in the three decades since Artsakh's referendum on independence. It would be rather prudent, one would think, to understand the rule properly before postulating "solutions" impacting the lives of actual human beings.

Internal self-determination is best exemplified by the case of Quebec. When Quebec exercised its right to self-determination and sought to secede from Canada in the mid-1990s, the Canadian Army was not assembled at the gates of Montreal clamoring to exterminate the Quebecois or force them into the Atlantic. This, it turns out, was critically important. The Canadian Supreme Court specifically held that the need to protect Quebec's cultural, linguistic, or religious character (the basis of Quebec's claim for secession) could be realized through internal self-determination—a protected status within Canada. The reasoning was clear: internal self-determination in the Canadian context would not open the door to the ethnic cleansing of the Quebecois.

The context here, of course, is profoundly different. Azerbaijan has engaged—and is actively engaged right now—in the ethnic cleansing of the Artsakh Armenians. The blockade itself is evidence of that sadistic campaign. The Azerbaijani president, parliamentarians, and many cultural figures openly espouse hatred, dehumanization, removal, and extermination of the Artsakh Armenians. Armenophobia has been intentionally, and strategically, institutionalized throughout Azerbaijani society.

The backstory is unavoidable too. Azerbaijan has already ethnically cleansed Armenians from every city that has fallen under its authority and control. There are no more Armenians in Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad, Nakhichevan—and, since 2020, there are none in Shushi and Hadrut either. The pogroms, massacres, and/or war crimes committed by Azerbaijan against Armenians in those areas are a well-documented and dark chapter of Azerbaijan's treatment of Armenians–a chapter that simply will not end.

Azerbaijan's ethnic cleansing campaign, moreover, is achingly comprehensive: it even labors to cleanse the land itself of any evidence of Armenians—destroying Armenian churches, unearthing Armenian cemeteries, scraping away ancient Armenian biblical inscriptions, and claiming that Armenian churches are actually "Albanian." In fact, just weeks ago, the Azerbaijani Ambassador told the UN Security Council that even the word "Nagorno-Karabakh" does not exist anymore.

Imagine, for a moment, a Canadian Ambassador telling the U.N. Security Council that the word "Quebec" does not exist anymore. The Quebec model—protected status within another state—may work in the Great White North, but it simply does not fit the bill here.

Right now, Azerbaijan holds Artsakh Armenians—including women, children, the disabled, and the elderly—hostage in a total blockade that is starving and freezing actual human beings in the dead of winter, in complete isolation and in utter darkness. What comes next has played out like clockwork from the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust, from the Rohingyas to Darfur, and from Cambodia to, well, Kosovo.

And this is where international law gets interesting. In the face of ethnic cleansing and the risk of genocide, it is external self-determination that is legally required. This is the material, indeed the deciding, marker in determining which form of self-determination–internal or external–applies in a given context.

External self-determination in the face of ethnic cleansing or genocide is the Kosovo variant. In a decision which underpinned recognition of Kosovo's independent statehood outside of Serbia, the International Court of Justice specifically identified this very marker as the trigger of external self-determination: "the international law of self-determination [has] developed in such a way as to create a right of independence for … peoples subject to alien subjugation, domination, and exploitation." By its declaration in 2010, the ICJ recognized that in the face of possible ethnic cleansing, genocide and/or subjugation it is external self-determination that is the operative component of the law of self-determination today.

Fast forward to Azerbaijan's strategically-engineered blockade of that distant mountain road. There is no question that the Artsakh Armenians stand before the cliff of death or displacement. Under international law, this is precisely where external self-determination is triggered. International law provides external self-determination as a final stop-gap measure to prevent ethnic cleansing and genocide—to prevent mass death and displacement.

External self-determination is the legally prescribed path here. Anything else is empty think tank semantics, uninformed naivety or, for the spineless and the vile, an actual greenlighting of Azerbaijan's plan to ethnically cleanse the indigenous Armenian population from its native homeland.

The international community should recognize Artsakh's right to external self-determination. It should provide an international mandate to the peacekeeping mission in Artsakh—or internationalize it outright. And it should jump-start the diplomatic pathway toward a final status for Nagorno-Karabakh that recognizes it internationally as existing outside of Azerbaijan. Given the Armenophobia and genocidal intent that Azerbaijan itself has so carefully curated–and the ethnic cleansing it has itself already conducted on the ground–no other approach is legally permissible, morally tolerable, or politically sustainable.

The world is not powerless when it comes to Nagorno-Karabakh, just gutless. As the blockade suffocates and starves the Artsakh Armenians in the darkness and cold of remote mountain passes, there is a moment here for actual statesmanship in Europe, Washington, and the UN. Looking away is foolish cowardice when international law provides a pathway for diplomatic bravery—and political cover.

When dreaming up policy in Western think tanks and capitals, it's important to get the international law right. Getting it wrong only opens the door to policies that will exacerbate the conflict inhumanely and, quite literally, lead human beings to slaughter. This is Kosovo, not Quebec. Understanding this crucial point may be just enough—and just in time—to stem another ungodly and gruesome chapter in our recent human history.

  • This article was first published in ZARTONK Media.
  • The post In Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), the Answer is Self-Determination Not Subjugation first appeared on Dissident Voice.
    Dissident Voice
    4 Feb 2023 | 2:41 am

    6. Never Again? The Same Criminals Who Funded Hitler are Imposing Tyranny on Us Today

    Like many of you, I watched parts of Vera Sharav's new documentary series, Never Again is Now Global, this week. With its sharp focus on the Holocaust and Nazi tactics in general, I felt the need to reach back into some of my older research and remind readers who was supporting and enabling the rise of Hitler.

    Spoiler alert: It is the same class of folks responsible for tyranny today.

    What we're taught about the years leading up to the Second World War involves alleged appeasement of the Third Reich, e.g. if only the Allies were stronger in their resolve, the Axis powers could have been stopped.

    Perhaps the first step in challenging this so-called analysis would be to demonstrate that it wasn't appeasement that took place prior to WWII. It was, in the best cases, indifference. More often, it was a collaboration based on economic greed and more than a little shared ideology.

    The pursuit of profit long ago transcended national borders and national loyalty. In the decades before WWII, doing business with Hitler's Germany or Mussolini's Italy (or, as a proxy, Franco's Spain) proved no more unsavory to the captains of industry than selling military hardware to Saudi Arabia does today. What's a little repression when there are boatloads of money to be made?

    In other words, when William E. Dodd, US ambassador to Germany during the 1930s, declared "a clique of US industrialists is working closely with the fascist regime[s] in Germany and Italy," he wasn't kidding.

    "Many leaders of Wall Street and of the US foreign policy establishment had maintained close ties with their German counterparts since the 1920s, some having intermarried or shared investments," says investigative reporter Christopher Simpson. "This went so far in the 1930s as the sale in New York of bonds whose proceeds helped finance the Aryanization of companies and real estate looted from German Jews. US investment in Germany accelerated rapidly after Hitler came to power."

    Such investment increased "by some 48.5 percent between 1929 and 1940, while declining sharply everywhere else in continental Europe."

    Among the US corporations that invested in Germany during the 1920s were Ford, General Motors, General Electric, Standard Oil, Texaco, International Harvester, ITT, and IBM — all of whom were more than happy to see the German labor movement and working-class parties smashed.

    For many of these companies, operations in Germany continued during the war (even if it meant the use of concentration-camp slave labor) with overt US government support.

    "Pilots were given instructions not to hit factories in Germany that were owned by US firms," writes Michael Parenti. "Thus Cologne was almost leveled by Allied bombing but its Ford plant, providing military equipment for the Nazi army, was untouched; indeed, German civilians began using the plant as an air raid shelter."

    International Telegraph and Telephone (ITT) was founded by Sosthenes Behn, an unabashed supporter of the Führer even as the Luftwaffe was bombing civilians in London. ITT was responsible for creating the Nazi communications system, along with supplying vital parts for German bombs.

    According to journalist Jonathan Vankin, "Behn allowed his company to cover for Nazi spies in South America, and one of ITT's subsidiaries bought a hefty swath of stock in the airline company that built Nazi bombers."

    Behn himself met with Hitler in 1933 (the first American businessman to do so) and became a double agent of sorts. While reporting on the activities of German companies to the US government, Behn was also contributing money to Heinrich Himmler's Schutzstaffel (SS) and recruiting Nazis onto ITT's board.

    In 1940, Behn entertained a close friend and high-ranking Nazi, Gerhard Westrick, in the United States to discuss a potential U.S.-German business alliance — precisely as Hitler's blitzkrieg was overrunning most of Europe and Nazi atrocities were becoming known worldwide.

    In early 1946, having relied on the Dulles brothers to survive his open flirtation with Nazi Germany, instead of facing prosecution for treason, Behn ended up collecting $27 million from the US government for "war damages inflicted on its German plants by Allied bombing." He was in the perfect position to lobby President Truman concerning the newly formed Central Intelligence Group (CIG).

    Meeting with the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William D. Leahy, in the White House, Behn, as recorded in Leahy's diary, generously offered for consideration "the possibility of utilizing the service of [ITT's] personnel in American intelligence activities."

    In December 1933, Standard Oil of New York invested one million dollars in Germany for the making of gasoline from soft coal. Undeterred by the well-publicized events of the next decade, Standard Oil also honored its chemical contracts with I.G. Farben — a German chemical cartel that manufactured Zyklon-B, the poison gas used in the Nazi gas chambers — right up until 1942.

    Other companies that traded with the Reich and, in some cases, directly aided the war machine, before and during this time, included the Chase Manhattan Bank, Davis Oil Company, DuPont, Bendix, Sperry Gyroscope, and the aforementioned General Motors GM top man William Knudsen called Nazi Germany "the miracle of the 20th century."

    On the governmental front, US Secretary of State Breckinridge Long curiously gave the Ford Motor Company permission to manufacture Nazi tanks while simultaneously restricting aid to German-Jewish refugees because the Neutrality Act of 1935 barred trade with belligerent countries.

    Miraculously, this embargo did not include petroleum products and Mussolini's Italy tripled its gasoline and oil imports in order to support its war effort while Texaco exploited this convenient loophole to cozy up to Spain's resident fascist, Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

    And then there was Sullivan and Cromwell, the most powerful Wall Street law firm of the 1930s.

    The Dulles brothers.

    John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles — the two brothers who guided the firm; the same two brothers who boycotted their own sister's 1932 wedding because the groom was Jewish — served as the contacts for the company responsible for the gas in the Nazi gas chambers, I.G. Farben.

    During the pre-war period, the elder John Foster led off cables to his German clients with the salutation "Heil Hitler," and he blithely dismissed the Nazi threat in 1935 in a piece he wrote for the Atlantic Monthly. In 1939, he told the Economic Club of New York, "We have to welcome and nurture the desire of the New Germany to find for her energies a new outlet."

    "Hitler's attacks on the Jews and his growing propensity for territorial expansion seem to have left Dulles unmoved," writes historian Robert Edward Herzstein. "Twice a year, [Dulles] visited the Berlin office of the firm, located in the luxurious Esplanade Hotel."

    Ultimately, it was little brother Allen who actually got to meet the German dictator, and eventually smoothed over the blatant Nazi ties of ITT's Sosthenes Behn.

    "(Allen) Dulles was an originator of the idea that multinational corporations are instruments of U.S. foreign policy and therefore exempt from domestic laws," Vankin writes. This idea later took root in U.S.-dominated institutions and agreements like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization.

    Leonard Mosley, the biographer of the Dulles brothers, defended Allen by evoking the never-fail, all-purpose alibi of anti-communism. The younger Dulles, Mosley claimed, "made his loathing of the Nazis plain, years before World War II…(it was) the Russians (who tried) to link his name with bankers who financed Hitler."

    However, in 1946, both brothers would play a major role in the founding of the United States intelligence community and the subsequent recruiting of Nazi war criminals.

    One Third Reich supporter who never required a disclaimer was Henry Ford, the autocratic magnate who despised unions, tyrannized workers, and fired any employee caught driving a competitor's model. Ford, an outspoken anti-Semite, believed that Jews corrupted gentiles with "syphilis, Hollywood, gambling, and jazz." In 1918, he bought and ran a newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, which became an anti-Jewish forum.

    "The New York Times reported in 1922 that there was a widespread rumor circulating in Berlin claiming that Henry Ford was financing Adolf Hitler's nationalist and anti-Semitic movement in Munich," write James and Suzanne Pool in their book Who Financed Hitler. "Novelist Upton Sinclair wrote in The Flivver King, a book about Ford, that the Nazis got forty thousand dollars from Ford to reprint anti-Jewish pamphlets in German translations, and that an additional $300,000 was later sent to Hitler through a grandson of the ex-Kaiser who acted as intermediary."

    An appreciative Adolf Hitler kept a large picture of the automobile pioneer beside his desk, explaining: "We look to Heinrich Ford as the leader of the growing Fascist movement in America." Hitler hoped to support such a movement by offering to "import some shock troops to the U.S. to help [Ford] run for president."

    In 1938, on Henry Ford's 75th birthday, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle from the Führer himself. He was the first American (GM's James Mooney would be second) and only the fourth person in the world to receive the highest decoration that could be given to any non-German citizen.

    An earlier honoree was none other than a kindred spirit, Benito Mussolini.

    Il Duce.

    Speaking of Mussolini, that particular blacksmith's son also merited the attention of US businessmen and lawmakers alike. Il Duce ("the leader"), exploiting the fears of an anti-communist ruling class in Italy, installed himself as head of the single-party fascist state in 1925 after declaring three years earlier that, "either they will give us the government or we shall take it by descending on Rome" and "We stand for a new principle in the world. We stand for the sheer, categorical, definitive antithesis to the world of democracy."

    Putting this doctrine into action, Mussolini took aim at Italy's powerful unions. The solution was to smash unions, political organizations, and civil liberties.  This included the destruction of labor halls, the shutting down of opposition newspapers, and unions and strikes were outlawed in both Italy and Germany. Union property and farm collectives were confiscated and handed over to rich private owners. Even child labor was reintroduced in Mussolini's Italy.

    Despite or perhaps because of the Blackshirts, the terror tactics, the smashing of democratic institutions, and the blatant fascist posturing, Mussolini received some rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

    "It is easy to mistake, in times of political turmoil, the words of a disciplinarian for those of a dictator. Mussolini is a severe disciplinarian, but no dictator," wrote New York Times senior foreign correspondent, Walter Littlefield, in 1922.

    Further serving the corporate roots of the US media, Littlefield went on to advise that "if the Italian people are wise, they will accept the Fascismo, and by accepting [they will] gain the power to regulate and control it."  Six days earlier, an unsigned Times editorial observed that "in Italy as everywhere else, the great complaint against democracy is its inefficiency . . . Dr. Mussolini's experiment will perhaps tell us something more about the possibilities of oligarchic administration."

    In January 1927, Winston Churchill wrote to Il Duce, gushing "if I had been an Italian, I am sure I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism." Even after the advent of war, Churchill still found room in his heart for the Italian dictator, explaining to Parliament in 1940: "I do not deny that he is a very great man but he became a criminal when he attacked England."

    Other unabashed apologists for Dr. Mussolini included:

    • Richard W. Child, former ambassador to Rome, stated in 1938: "it is absurd to say that Italy groans under discipline. Italy chortles with it! It is the victor! Time has shown that Mussolini is both wise and humane."
    • The House of Morgan loaned $100 million to the Italian government in the late 1920s and then reinvested it in Italy upon its repayment.
    • Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, who, also in the late 1920s, renegotiated the Italian debt to the U.S. on terms more favorable by far than those obtained by Britain, France, or Belgium.
    • Governor Philip F. La Follette of Wisconsin (considered presidential timber in the 1930s) kept an autographed photo of Il Duce on his wall.
    • A 1934 Cole Porter song originally contained the lyrics, "You're the tops, you're Mussolini." It was eventually changed to "the Mona Lisa."
    • As late as 1940, 80 percent of the Italian-language dailies in the U.S. were pro-Mussolini.

    Finally, there was FDR himself who, well into the 1930s, was "deeply impressed" with Benito Mussolini and referred to the Italian ruler as that "admirable Italian gentleman."

    Despite Roosevelt's positive assessment of the strongman of Italian fascism, there is evidence that some home-grown fascists may have cautiously explored the option of an American coup. I wrote about that here:

    Post-Woke When the upper echelons of the Parasite Class™ flex their power Preface: Paul, a subscriber/regular commenter, recently mentioned Gen. Smedley Butler the other day and it inspired me to share an edited excerpt from my first book… Read more a month ago · 40 likes · 27 comments · Mickey Z.

    As a certain "admirable Italian gentleman" once declared, "Fascism is corporatism."

    Despite committing atrocities, countless murderers, strong men, and dictators have received overt and covert support from the West in general and the US in particular… all in the name of profit and power.

    Take-home message: When (accurately) comparing some current tactics to those used by the Nazis, never forget who supported those Nazis — and still do.

    The post Never Again? The Same Criminals Who Funded Hitler are Imposing Tyranny on Us Today first appeared on Dissident Voice.
    Dissident Voice
    4 Feb 2023 | 2:20 am

    7. Forever Chemicals, Everywhere

    Image credit: Great Lakes Now

    Forever Chemicals are found everywhere from the depths of the Mariana Trench to the mountaintop of Mt. Everest. Following 80 years of manufacturing various PFAS chemicals, the world is swimming in chemical permanence. And yes, it is a toxic price society pays for modern-day conveniences — made easy!

    But maybe it would be better if "products made easy by PFASs" were made the old-fashioned way, pre-1940 sans dangerous chemicals. After all, several civilizations of the world got along just fine over thousands of years without PFAS chemicals. For example, the BBC documentary: The Story of India by Michael Wood: Archeological discoveries have revealed advanced technological artifacts found at Rakhigarhi, an Indus Valley site 8,000-years-old. Indus cities had elaborate planning for drainage systems, housebuilding, and street construction with plentiful evidence of transcendent cultural affairs.

    According to the United States EPA:

    PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others… PFAS can be present in our water, soil, air, and food as well as in materials found in our homes or workplaces.

    Yet, undeniably, PFASs have created a worldwide toxic stew that's extremely messy and unquestionably deadly in some instances.

    A new study by Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists uncovered very disturbing levels of PFASs in America's freshwater fish found throughout the country from coast-to-coast with levels of chemicals "that may be harmful" according to EWG's polite way of saying: "Stop and beware of what you put into your mouth." (Source: The Environmental Working Group, "Forever Chemicals in Every River in the US," DGR News Service, January 27, 2023)

    What are the risks?

    Like nuclear radiation isotopes, PFAS chemicals last forever and ever, and ever. Over time these human genome terrorists accumulate in human tissue, showing up years later potentially as testicular, kidney, or pancreatic cancer, weakened immune systems, decreased fertility, endocrine disruption, elevated cholesterol, increased risk of asthma, thyroid disease, and puzzling weight gain.

    It's claimed that PFAS chemicals have contaminated drinking water for nearly one-half of America's population. Interestingly enough, American cases of chronic illnesses at nearly 50% of the general population seems to support that statement, more on this later.

    The US EPA website lists the hazards of PFASs at risks of various levels based upon peer-reviewed scientific studies with a stated caveat, depending upon "exposure to certain levels of PFAS." Certain levels are two catchwords that leave a person uncertain as to… what and how much is dangerous?

    Meanwhile, chronic illness in the U.S., which is likely a result of excessive PFAS exposure, is rampant. According to The Commonwealth Fund (founded in 1918): "U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes," January 30, 2020: "The U.S. has the highest chronic disease burden… and an obesity rate that is two times higher than the OECD average." But it spends more on health care than any other country. Ouch!

    Thankfully and importantly, EWG offers a free Guide to "Avoiding PFAS Chemicals."

    The EWG study discovered alarming off-the-charts levels of PFAS chemicals throughout America: "EWG found that median amount of PFAS in freshwater fish were an astounding 280 times greater than forever chemicals detected in some commercially caught and sold fish," Ibid.

    According to David Andrews Ph.D. EWG senior scientist: "People who consume freshwater fish, especially those who catch and eat fish regularly, are at risk of alarming levels of PFAS in their bodies," Ibid.

    And according to Scott Faber, EWG Senior VP for Government Affairs: "These test results are breathtaking… Eating one bass is equivalent to drinking PFOS-tainted water for a month," Ibid.

    EWG discovered: "The extent of contaminated fish to be staggering." Test results show PFAS contamination across the country from Oregon to Maine. EWG claims there may be more than forty thousand (40,000) industrial polluters of PFAS in the United States alone: "For decades, polluters have dumped as much PFAS as they wanted into our rivers, streams, lakes and bays with impunity We must turn off the tap of PFAS pollution from industrial discharges, which affect more and more Americans every day." (EWG)

    In contrast to a frustrating ongoing procrastination in America, Europeans are taking a much stronger stance on PFAS Chemicals. Forty-six (46) European civil society organizations have demanded an urgent banning by the EU of all PFAS consumer products by 2025 and "across all uses by 2030." (Source: "Civil Society Groups Urge the EU to Keep Their Promises to Ban 'Forever Chemicals' PFAS," Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), October 2022)

    A statement by the Health and Environment Alliance/Europe: "PFAS pollution is out of control and exposure to several forever chemicals have been linked to an array of adverse health impacts, from liver damage to reduced response to routine vaccination by children and certain cancers. PFASs have contaminated the entire planet and are found in the bodies of most people around the globe."

    "We're talking about a group of entirely human-made chemicals that didn't exist on the planet a century ago and have now contaminated every single corner. No one gave their consent to be exposed to these harmful chemicals, we haven't had the choice to opt out and now we have to live with this toxic legacy for decades to come. The very least we can do is to stop adding to this toxic burden by banning PFAS use and production now," Dr. Julie Schneider, PFAS campaigner at CHEM Trust. (HEAL)

    So far efforts to diminish/control/ban PFASs in the United States have been haphazard and limited in scope. Manufacturing of PFAS has mostly moved offshore, so it now comes back in products from abroad. According to EWG: "There may be more than forty thousand (40,000) industrial polluters of PFAS in the United States." (Source: The Environmental Working Group, "Forever Chemicals in Every River in the US," DGR News Service, January 27, 2023)

    Some states have legislated limited restrictions, e.g., PFASs were detected by the Department of Health in Honolulu's drinking water in 2021. Posthaste, Hawaii House Bill 1644 (2022) was enacted to prohibit manufacture and sale of certain items that contain PFAS such as wraps, liners, plates, food boats, and pizza boxes. Additionally, the bill bans PFAS in products that already have established alternatives. A few other states are also limiting PFAS chemicals.

    Patrick Byrne, an environmental pollution researcher at the U.K.'s Liverpool John Moores University (a public research university est. 1823), who was not involved in the EWG research: "PFAS are probably the greatest chemical threat the human race is facing in the 21st Century." (Source: "Eating One Fish from U.S. Lakes or Rivers Likened to Drinking Months' Worth of Contaminated Water," CBS News, January 17, 2023)

    Not surprisingly, in the face of an epidemic of PFAS chemicals soaked into the fabric of America, the country ranks high in the world for cases of chronic diseases, including, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, respiratory diseases, arthritis, obesity, and oral diseases. Forty-five percent (45%) of America's population, or roughly 133 million Americans, have at least one chronic disease. (Source: National Center for Biotechnology – Information/National Library of Medicine)

    Forty-five percent is a weighty number.

    What can be done?

    Is the EPA up to the task?

    Answer: No, not even close.

    The EPA is overwhelmed, understaffed, underfunded and outlawyered at every crossing. Despite 100+ pages of statutory text in the Toxic Substances Control Act, chemical manufacturers have no legal obligation to test or to assess the toxicity of manufactured chemicals. America's main line of defense against toxic chemicals is an understaffed, horribly underfunded EPA. They must dig through tens of thousands of scientific data to determine what's good and what's bad. But without enough bodies on hand to keep turning the pages. Moreover, many chemical compositions are shielded behind "trade secrets."

    "The EPA has only banned a handful of chemicals in over 40 years." (Source: "Industrial Chemical Polluters are Almost Unregulated in the US," Massive Science, May 13, 2020).

    According to the article, "Congressional Lack of Funding Continues to Jeopardize EPA Operations," EHS Administration, Wastewater, May 18, 2022: "The EPA has been substantially 'hollowed out' for inadequate resources that have long been dangerously declining to a point where EPA is spending, in real dollars, less than half what the agency spent in 1980."

    Therefore, in the face of tens of thousands of potentially toxic chemicals slushing about in rivers, lakes, marshes, farmland, city drainage systems, in fact throughout the country, the EPA's wherewithal is embarrassingly scandalously weak and a sure signal of a failing society. According to sources, the recent appropriations bill rejected a piddly $10 million budget increase to address polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Evidently, Congress is not at all serious about one of the country's most serious threats to citizens of every congressional district. They don't care! Can't even commit to a lousy $10M increase.

    All of that on top of 4 years of Trump administration hatchet jobs on the EPA: "Trump's environmental record is such a toxic disaster it should be declared a Superfund site." (Source: Carol Browner, head of EPA during Clinton Administration). Trump's fiscal 2021 prop0sed budget called for a 26% hit to EPA. This after a few years of a hatchet job on environmental departments of the federal government, chasing senior scientists out, many went to France where Macron greeted them with open arms. Just imagine Trump back in the White House! Whew!

    Somewhat timidly, the EPA has been studying the PFAS issue and has taken some preventative measures, but sources wonder if it is even remotely close to adequate. With 40,000 industrial PFAS polluters in America, even though there's no manufacturing of PFASs in the U.S. any longer, the question arises: Who's watching the store? PFASs that are prohibited from manufacturing in America are okay elsewhere and end up in products exported to America which, via various manufacturing processes, end up in the environment.

    What does it take?

    Does it take a mean-spirited maddened consortium of angry pissed-off civic groups like the European HEAL campaign, which has demanded an urgent banning by the EU of all PFAS consumer products by 2025 and across all uses by 2030, in order to move the needle to control/ban/restrict PFAS chemicals?

    Otherwise, putting it bluntly, we are blindly, indiscriminately poisoning ourselves.

    The post Forever Chemicals, Everywhere first appeared on Dissident Voice.
    Dissident Voice
    3 Feb 2023 | 4:20 pm

    8. Thinking for Oneself

    The post Thinking for Oneself first appeared on Dissident Voice.
    Dissident Voice
    3 Feb 2023 | 3:24 pm

    9. Democracy in Theory and in Practice

    A Russian Voice – Lev Voronkov: Democracy in theory and in practice. In search of an effective model of people's power

    In the modern lexicon of supporters of the liberal ideology, the word "democracy" means a certain positive phenomenon, to the triumph of which humanity must certainly strive in all spheres of public life. They declared despotism, authoritarianism, dictatorship, totalitarianism and other similar negative things as the antipodes of this phenomenon.

    Many politicians in Western countries are now inclined to assert that the central place in world politics and international relations is occupied not by a system of relations between sovereign states, based on universally recognized norms of international law, but by the struggle of democratic political regimes against authoritarian ones, which should be conducted in accordance with "the rules" established by them. The list and content of such rules are not available; for some reason they are kept secret. But one thing is clear, namely that they have little in common with generally recognized norms of international law.

    The content of "democracy" has key importance since it is considered to be an indisputable universal humanitarian value to which a wide range of vital, positive social functions are attributed. However, with the definition of democracy, not everything turns out to be unambiguous. "Once upon a time," says John Dunn, professor of political theory at King's College, Cambridge, "democracy was a specific form of political structure. Today, the clarity and certainty of this designation are lost" [3:12,19, 21]. Let's try to understand this more thoroughly.

    In search of a definition of democracy

    In 1910, the Encyclopedia Britannica claimed that democracy in political science is «that form of government in which the people rules itself, either directly, as in the small city-states of Greece, or through representatives." "The essence of modern representative government," its authors concluded, "is that the people do not govern itself, but periodically elect those who shall govern on its behalf" [28:1-2].

    The classics of Marxism-Leninism designated universal suffrage as a form of domination of the propertied class. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, published in 1950, characterized democracy as one of the forms of the state: "The class in whose hands the state power is," the publication said, "determines the nature of the corresponding democracy." Slaveholding, feudal and bourgeois democracies stood out. The dictatorship of the proletariat was called a democracy of a "new, highest type" for the whole people in connection with the liquidation of the exploiting classes in the country and the establishment of socialist property [2: 658-659].

    The Great Russian Encyclopedia characterizes democracy as a political system "in which the people is recognized as a source of power, citizens have equal political rights and freedoms that allow them to participate in the management of public affairs directly or through their representatives and political decisions are made in accordance with the will of the majority" [7].

    The term "democracy" is used to characterize the functional principles of organizations and institutions (intra-party, industrial democracy). Democratic political regimes differ in the form of government (presidential, parliamentary, mixed), the type of administrative-territorial structure (unitary states, federations, confederations), the degree of centralization of power and other characteristics. Distinctions are made between types of democracy (direct, plebiscite, representative). Supporters of "elite democracy" believe that "the institutions of liberal democracy do not prevent the preservation of the elitist nature of political power," in which the main role is played by competing elites and the participation in politics of the bulk of citizens is limited to periodically held elections [8: 62].

    – very free elections…

    Experts defending the theories of "pluralistic democracy" focus on the competition of various political forces (parties, political organizations, pressure groups, and social movements). Proponents of the theories of "democracy of participation" advocate the expansion of direct participation of citizens in the management of a state. The theorists of "deliberative" democracy believe that the degree of democracy of the system is directly proportional to the number of public discussions on actual issues that ensure the democratic nature of decision-making [7].

    In the theories, democracy is also characterized as the power of the people, as the power of the majority with due consideration for the opinion of the minority, as a political regime in which the people or their majority serves as a source and carrier of state power, as a synonym for good governance, as an opportunity for everyone to freely participate in the direct management of their state, society and personal destiny.

    In 2021, US President Joseph Biden stated that democracy is the best way to ensure the development of society, that "democracy is action" and "inaction is not an option" and that it needs to be protected and strengthened [1]. What exactly needs to be protected from what and what is to be strengthened, the American president did not specify. The call to strengthen and update something that does not have a clearly defined framework and more or less clear content seems rather strange. If we keep in mind the understanding of democracy as an expression of the will of the majority, such public statements appear to be meaningless rhetoric.

    With a wide variety of complementary characteristics of democracy, their core remains that, under a democratic order, the content of politics and decisions taken in the state is determined by the demands and sentiments of the majority of the citizenry and are expressed at democratic elections procedures.

    Questions about the current democracy

    Many critics of democracy believe that the majority of citizens have neither sufficient knowledge nor skills of state activities, nor high morals, and therefore only a minority of the most worthy and competent citizens can successfully manage the state. Elite theorists have come to the conclusion that democracy is undesirable and impossible since "in any society, political power is inevitably concentrated in the hands of an elite that is better organized, has moral and intellectual superiority over other citizens and is able to effectively use its resources to preserve power." [7]

    The great Russian writer F. M. Dostoevsky considered universal, equal voting "the most ridiculous invention of the XIX century." Alexander Solzhenitsyn argued that the principle of universal and equal voting with extreme inequality of individuals, their abilities, their contribution to public life, different ages, life experiences and degrees of rootedness in this area and in this country is the triumph of meaningless quantity over meaningful quality [18].

    Richard Dawkins, an outstanding modern biologist, said after the Brexit referendum that the vast majority of Britons should not have voted in the referendum because they did not have the necessary knowledge in the field of economics and politics. "You might as well organize a national plebiscite to decide whether Einstein's calculations are correct, or allow passengers to vote on which lane the pilot should land the plane," he said [20: 70-71].

    Friedrich August von Hayek, a representative of the Austrian school of neoliberalism, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, believed that a democratic state, understood as the power of the majority, guarantees social justice, thereby disrupting the natural course of market development and undermining individualism. Therefore, he opposed unrestricted democracy, considering it "no better than any tyranny" [19:157].

    British professor John Dunn emphasizes that democracy is, first of all, a formula that allows one to imagine subordination to power and to the will of others without sacrificing one's personal dignity or jeopardizing individual and family interests (3: 27).

    Holding elections in a representative democracy allows the true source of state power – the people – to carry out a symbolic transfer of the right to express its will to a relatively narrow circle of elected representatives, who turn into real carriers of both legislative and executive power in the state for the entire period of their legislature. The fuller the scope of the powers conferred on elected deputies by law, the fewer opportunities there are for the majority of voters to actually participate in the management of the state, society and personal destiny and ensure that political decisions are made in accordance with their will.

    In the House of Commons of the British Parliament, for example, there is a doctrine of independence of a deputy from voters, since s/he allegedly represents the whole nation, and not individual groups of voters. S/he does not have any responsibilities towards voters, does not have to report to them and cannot be recalled.

    In the overwhelming majority of states deputies do not have any requirements for the mandatory execution of the will of voters. In this way liberal democracy provides an opportunity to separate the symbolic source of state power from its real bearer, performing the function of a first-level political filter.

    The "samples" of British democracy demonstrated to the world during the leapfrog of the country's chief executive since 2016: from David Cameron to Theresa May, then Boris Johnson, Elizabeth Truss to Rishi Sunak, committed mainly by influential figures of the ruling Conservative party without participation of voters, serve as a vivid illustration of the differences between the declared democratic values and real political practice of the British liberal democracy.

    And no one in their right mind could come to the conclusion that the United States is ruled by its people, but a significant majority of those who somehow govern this country have been able to do so with the kind consent of this people (3: 83).

    Public policy issues for the coming years are not put to the vote during the elections. To claim that voters express their will in relation to the future policy of the state is as ridiculous as to build the current state policy based on the statements of the famous predictors of the future of Cassandra, Nostradamus, Messing or Vanga.

    Candidates in elections, in an effort to attract votes, are often forced to make unfulfilled or harmful commitments, as a result of which democracy degenerates into "populism". Attempts to be guided in state policy by momentary moods of the majority of the population, who for the most part do not have a deep understanding of the strategic priorities of domestic and foreign policy, international relations, priority areas for the development of science and technology, the tasks of the state demographic, resource, educational, environmental, migration, infrastructure policy and other specific areas, are suicidal. As a rule, the ideas at the centre of election campaigns and the subsequent real policy of the executive have usually little in common.

    As a result, as Samuel Huntington wrote in his book "The Third Wave", governments created as a result of elections may be ineffective, corrupt, short-sighted and irresponsible; they may be guided by special interests and be unable to pursue policies that the public good requires. Such qualities may make such governments undesirable, but they do not make them undemocratic [12:62]. It is not possible to consider the activities of such governments as the realization of the will of the majority of citizens.

    In the overwhelming number of countries, the authorities are not very concerned about the fact that the results of voting are determined by the majority of citizens: only in 22 countries of the world does legislation stipulate the mandatory participation of citizens in voting, and only 11 states apply it in practice. Usually, the legislation stipulates the minimum percentage of voters who took part in the voting to recognize the elections as held. With the highest voter turnout, a maximum of 70-80% of citizens take part in the elections. Even if in these cases the majority of citizens who took part in the vote cast votes for the candidates, it is extremely rare that their number is more than half of the total number of all voters.

    What Gandhi had to say…

    Thus, the main function of democratic elections is not so much the precise determination of the verdict of the majority of voters, as the very conduct of elections and the public legitimization of the resulting system of state power. At the same time, the number of votes cast for their winners is of secondary importance and can vary widely.

    In a normal situation, the election of deputies can take place by the votes of 25, 30, 40 or % of the total number of voters. In 2012, 43.51% of registered voters took part in the referendum in Croatia on joining the European Union. Although the majority of votes (66.27%) were given in support of this step, however, this step, which is crucial for the fate of the country, was actually approved by only about a third of the country's citizens.

    The transformation of the actual minority of votes cast in the elections into a virtual majority is especially evident in the creation of coalition governments, during which political entities that received an insignificant number of votes in the elections can acquire a disproportionately strong influence on government policy, clearly distorting the will of the majority of voters.

    Any citizen in a democratic state theoretically has the right to vote and be elected. The most important feature of the existing systems of democratic elections is the participation in them only of registered political entities authorized to nominate parliamentary candidates and provide them with political, financial and propaganda support. These structures serve as second-level political filters that ensure that future deputies follow the policies of the political associations that nominated them and perform the functions of an insurance sertificate that protects power structures from non-systemic candidates entering them. As a rule, members or supporters of political parties are admitted to participate in elections from among persons professionally engaged in political activities and members of the ruling elite of this state get into the number of deputies. Independent or self-nominated candidates deprived of their support have no practical opportunities to be elected.

    Means of influencing the public mood of citizens during election campaigns are of great importance, in particular, policy in the field of mass communications and information. Legislative consolidation of freedom of speech and the press seem to be guaranteed for all citizens, but the ability to really influence public sentiment requires ownership of the media and control over the content of published materials, which turns media owners into an essential element of ensuring the power of the ruling elite of society.

    During the presidential campaign in the United States, the political opponents of the acting president deprived him of the right to use the social network Twitter. Within the framework of this network, there was a secret group that monitored certain topics in the interests of the Democratic Party. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted that his network restricted access to materials that reported on the corruption of Joe Biden and his son [17: 55].

    In real social life, there is a carefully camouflaged paradox: the protection of power and ensuring the interests of the ruling elite of society, representing a clear minority of citizens, is justified as the implementation of the will of majority of citizens through democratic elections, that is, as the triumph of democracy, and political and state systems seeking to protect and satisfy the socio-economic and other interests of the genuine majority of citizens are declared authoritarian, despotic, having no right to exist and are subject to replacement by "democratic" ones.

    In this regard, the well-known Russian scientist S. Karaganov asks a logical question whether democracy is really the crown of political development if it acts only as one of the instruments of governance of societies by the ruling oligarchies. "But if this is just a tool," he said, "maybe we should stop pretending that we are striving for democracy? And to say directly that we want a society of personal freedom, prosperity for the majority, security and greatness for the country?" [4]. The head of the Constitutional Court of Russia, Valery Zorkin, found it necessary to emphasize that "the model of liberal representative democracy … is clearly no longer coping with modern challenges" [5:5]. In this regard, he called for the search for a more effective model of people's rule, and not for orientation to Western models.

    Modern trends in the development of liberal democracy

    Although the real reason for the ability of highly developed Western states to provide a relatively high level of well-being of the population was their access to cheap natural and human resources of former colonies and dependent territories, this was presented in public propaganda as a result of the existence of liberal democratic regimes in them.

    As stated by F. Fukuyama, from the beginning of the 1970s to the first decade of the XXI century, allegedly due to the increase in the number of democracies in the world from 35 to more than 110, world production of goods and services has increased fourfold, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has decreased from 42% of the world population in 1993 to 18 percent in 2008 year [24].

    According to the prominent American statesman S. Talbott, in 1974 less than 30% of the world's countries could be classified as democratic, and in 1996 their share reached 61% and 54% of the world's population lived in them [27: 48,50]. Mark Blyth, a columnist for Foreign Affairs magazine, believes that it was democracy that made it possible to tame markets, establish restrictive financial rules and expand social security systems [22].

    Such causal relationships, however, do not stand up to contact with reality.

    Countries classified as liberal democracies, for example, India, can not always boast of a high standard of living and the absence of poverty. And such richest countries of the world as Qatar, UAE, Singapore, Brunei, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are not counted among the liberal democracies.

    By the end of 1979, after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples, the number of UN members increased by 102 states and reached 153 countries instead of 51 at the time of the UN's creation in 1945 [11: 91-92]. Most of the newly independent states simply inherited the political systems of the former metropolises. There are no merits of liberal democracy in that.

    Thanks to the efforts made by developing countries to implement the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, their economies began to grow faster than the economies of developed countries [13:116-117,129]. Over the years of the implementation of the UN-approved Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Program (SDGs), the average income of 50 percent of the poorest people in the world has almost doubled, the number of those who live on less than $ 1.90 a day – the threshold of "extreme poverty" – has decreased to about 700 million. The global maternal and infant mortality rate has halved. Almost all children have access to primary education. HIV mortality/AIDS has been declining since the beginning of the millennium [21]. There is no connection between these processes and the procedures for holding democratic elections.

    In 1980, per capita income at purchasing power parity in France, Germany and the USA was 20-30 times higher than in China and India, by 2014 the gap had narrowed for India to 6-10 times, for China to 3-4 times. At that time, the US economy exceeded China's by more than 10 times, China's GNP was only 8% of the American one. In 2014, the Chinese economy exceeded the US economy by purchasing power parity, the French economy by four times, India's GNP reached 40% of the American, Brazil – almost 20%. China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico exceeded the indicators of the fourth European economy – Italy, and Egypt, Pakistan and Thailand – the indicators of the Netherlands.

    In 1990, the countries classified by Freedom House as "authoritarian" accounted for 12% of world income, currently they are responsible for 33% [26]. Of the 15 countries with the highest per capita income, almost two-thirds of the states, according to the classification of the liberal democrats, are «undemocratic».

    Hundreds of millions of people living in conditions of so-called "authoritarianism" offer their citizens a standard of living that increasingly rivals the level of the richest countries in the West. American political scientist D. Simes, referring to the «enlightened authoritarianism» of Singaporean Lee Kuan Yew, who helped millions of people get out of poverty and ensure racial and social harmony in the country, considers it not obvious that democracy surpasses "respectable" authoritarian states [15].

    In the global well-being index, compiled by Credit Suisse Bank, China's indicator surpassed the average European level. It took the first place in terms of the growth rate of well-being: from 2000 to 2021, it increased eight times [16:48].

    King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands stated that society no longer has the resources to maintain a "welfare state", it should be replaced by a "state of participation" in which each person is responsible for his own financial security [9: 45]. According to the American E. Warren, democracy is on the defensive at home and abroad, in connection with which it requires an economic policy that benefits all Americans, not just a small elite [29].

    American experts have come to the logical conclusion that it is impossible to make reasonable predictions about the future of liberal democracy without thinking about the consequences of reducing the relative economic influence of the democratic alliance. The path to prosperity, they believe, no longer lies exclusively through liberal democracy and the affirmation of its values. The number of liberal democracies in the world, according to the observations of American experts, has begun to retreat in almost all regions of the world [24].

    Many major international indicators of "democracy" demonstrate the serious decline of the United States: the Economist intelligence unit downgraded the United States to a "flawed democracy" in 2017, the European International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance classified the United States as a "retreating democracy", Freedom House currently assessed the democratic quality of the United States on a par with Romania and Croatia, an independent group of international observers, The Electoral Integrity Project, based on the analysis of elections held in different countries from 2012 to 2014, attributed the United States to the group of countries with moderately fair elections, which were inferior in this indicator to Mongolia, Rwanda and South Africa. As a result, R. Kleinfeld of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stated that "from 20% to 40% of Americans would like to have a strong leader who is not obliged to follow democratic rules" [25].

    Vice-President of the Carnegie Endowment T. Carothers, assessing American democracy, pointed to the inability of the main political parties of the United States to work productively together, the control of elites over legislative processes, the lack of confidence in the legislature, the growing number of populists in the country playing on intolerant views of the population, the lack of transparency in the financing of election campaigns, problems with registration voting participants, low voter turnout, numerous offenses committed by law enforcement agencies during the elections. Many Americans are already ready to admit, concluded T. Carothers, that the image of the United States as a model of an effective democratic system is very outdated, the imperfection of the US political system casts doubt on efforts to promote democratic principles in other states [23].

    Liberal democracies, "authoritarianism," and people's power

    The idea of supporting democracy abroad originated in the USA in 1980-1990. In his speech at Georgetown University, US President Bill Clinton argued that countries that choose their leaders can become reliable partners in trade and diplomacy and threaten the world less than countries with other forms of government. He has made democracy support a priority of the administration's diplomacy in Latin America, Asia, Africa, Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. The State Department, the Agency for International Development and the US National Endowment for Democracy participated in financing democracy support programs in other countries.

    In 2000, at the suggestion of the United States, the international organization "Community of Democracies" was established in Warsaw to strengthen democratic norms and institutions around the world through the joint efforts of governments, civil society and the private sector. In 2012, at the initiative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, T. Jagland, the World Forum for Democracy was founded, which has been meeting annually in Strasbourg since then. In September 2022, the head of the European Commission announced the EU's intention to present a Pact for the Protection of Democracy in order to protect member countries from foreign influence and disinformation. She did not specify how to solve these problems with the help of periodically held elections.

    In December 2021, US President Joe Biden organized the World Summit of Democracies, to which representatives of more than 100 countries were invited [10]. At the summit, the White House announced the launch of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, which included support for independent media, physical and judicial protection of journalists, the fight against corruption, the promotion of technologies necessary for the development of democracy, the protection of free and fair elections, support for women and LGBT communities. The measures proposed by him did not affect any of the problems of American democracy listed by T. Carothers. The reasons why these issues are linked to determining the will of the majority of voters in the elections have not been clarified.

    The US President announced his intention to allocate $424 million to protect press freedom, fight corruption and support free elections around the world. The US State Department has been asked to create a Global Anti-Corruption Consortium. It is planned to allocate $33.5 million and $5 million, respectively, to support women and LGBT communities. Another $55 million is planned to be spent on helping countries carry out democratic reforms. Thus, the United States, according to Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation K.I.Kosachev, is actually creating a "fund for interference in internal affairs" of states disloyal to the West [6].

    Naturally, special attention in the proposed measures is paid to ensure the ability of the mass media to exert a decisive influence on the mass mood of voters in a spirit pleasing to the ruling elite. The issues of monopolization of the media and the formation of an ideological "mainstream" using methods of hidden political censorship, in particular, external review of political science scientific articles, remained outside the scope of the problems that concern supporters of liberal democracy.

    And what about Russia?

    The search for an effective model of democracy for Russia, obviously must focus on the completeness of the powers transferred by voters to their representatives and the right to nominate candidates for subsequent elections. The formation of a system of genuine democracy in the country could be facilitated by granting the right of legislative initiatives on certain issues not only to deputies of representative authorities, but also to such influential non-profit organizations as public chambers of various levels, Popular Front organizations, trade unions, creative and amateur associations, research institutions. This could be facilitated by periodic reporting of deputies to voters on the implementation of their instructions and pre-election commitments, the right of voters to recall their representatives ahead of time.

    Effective people's power should ensure broad involvement of citizens both in the process of daily management of public affairs at various levels, and in the realization of their socio-economic, political, humanitarian, cultural and other rights and freedoms. This could be facilitated by holding referendums on topical issues of the life of the state and regions, expanding the powers of regional legislative bodies in regulating the life of the population, and providing financial support to civil society organizations in regulating volunteer and amateur activities.

    – is point 7 where Western democracy is today?

    As part of efforts to create an effective system of people's power, it is necessary to expand beyond political parties the circle of non-governmental organizations and movements authorized to nominate candidates for deputies at various levels, provide them with political support and assist in the election campaign.

    The most important prerequisite for the active and interested participation of citizens of the country in the governance of Russia as a social state is the orientation of state policy to ensure the diverse interests, rights and freedoms of the vast majority of its population, as well as the maintenance of state structures and institutions that monitor compliance with the laws and rules of cohabitation of all citizens of the country. It is necessary to develop right in this direction theoretical research and practical recommendations of Russian scientists concerning the system of people's power and the creation of conditions for reliable legitimization of the state authorities formed in this way.

    As part of efforts to create an effective system of people's power, it is necessary to expand beyond political parties the circle of non-governmental organizations and movements authorized to nominate candidates for deputies at various levels, provide them with political support and assist in the election campaign.

    The most important prerequisite for the active and interested participation of citizens of the country in the governance of Russia as a social state is the orientation of state policy to ensure the diverse interests, rights and freedoms of the vast majority of its population, as well as the maintenance of state structures and institutions that monitor compliance with the laws and rules of cohabitation of all citizens of the country.

    It is necessary to develop and promote theoretical research and practical recommendations of Russian scientists concerning the system of people's power and the creation of conditions for the reliable legitimization of the state authorities formed in this way.1

  • First published at TFF.
    1. 1. Without Russia: The strange meaning of Biden's "Summit for Democracy" is explained (in Russian). (Accessed on 25.12 2022)

      2. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia. The Second Edition. Volume 13, 1950 (in Russian).

      3. Dunn John. Don't be fascinated by democracy. Moscow, Gaidar Institute Publishing House. 2016 (in Russian).

      4. Sergey Karaganov, From constructive destruction to assembly, in Russia in Global Politics (in Russian). (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      5. The Constitution: The need for point changes. Expert. No. 42 (in Russian)

      6. Kosachev spoke about the US program "For Democratic Renewal" (in Russian). (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      7. Ledyaev V. G., Democracy. The Great Russian Encyclopedia (in Russian). (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      8. Mechanic Alexander. The spiral of democracy. Expert No. 16, April 16-22, 2018 (in Russian).

      9. Obukhova Evgeniya, Pakhunov Konstantin. The Welfare state says goodbye to you. Expert. No. 44. 2018 (in Russian).

      10. Ovchinsky Vladimir, Zhdanov Yuri. A summit for democracy or a summit for a new cold war? (in Russian). (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      11. Orlov A.A., Machitidze G.G. The UN in the modern world. A view from Moscow. On the 75th anniversary of the UN. Moscow, MGIMO-University Publishing House, 2020 (in Russian).

      12. Mikhail Rogozhnikov. The fourth wave of democracy. Expert. No. 5 (in Russian).

      13. Rymalov V. V. Structural changes in the world capitalist economy. Moscow. Publishing house "Thought", 1978 (in Russian).

      14. The Summit for Democracy or the summit for a new Cold War? (in Russian). (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      15. Dmitry Simes: Dangerous American illusions about world democracy, The National Interest, USA), (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      16. Igor Sechin. The second abduction of Europe. 2022. Expert. No. 45 (in Russian).

      17. Alexander Smirnov. Elon Musk's social revolution. 2022. Expert No. 50. 2022 (in Russian).

      18. Solzhenitsyn Alexander. How can we equip Russia? Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 20, 2018 (in Russian).

      19. Hayek Friedrich August von., Competition, labor and the legal order of free people. Fragment of Essays. St. Petersburg: Pneumo, 2009 (in Russian).

      20. Harari Yuval Noah. 21 lessons for the XXI century. Moscow, Sinbad Publishing House, 2020 (in Russian).

      21. Banerjee Abhijit V. and Duflo Esther. How Poverty Ends. The Many Path to Progress – and Why They Might Not Continue. (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      22. Blyth Mark, Capitalism in Crisis. What Went Wrong and What Comes Next? (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      23. Carothers Thomas, American democracy also needs support (in Russian). (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      24. Fukuyama Francis. The New Tribalism and the Crisis of Democracy. (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      25. Rachel Kleinfeld. Five Strategies to Support U.S. Democracy. (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      26. Mounk Yascha and Foa Roberto Stefan, The End of the Democratic Century. Autocracy's Global Ascendance. May/June 2018 Issue The Best of 2018 Politics & Society. URL: (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

      27. Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State. Democracy and the National Interest. Foreign Affairs, November/December 1996

      28. The Encyclopedia Britannica. A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. Eleventh Edition. Volume VIII. Cambridge University Press, 1910

      29. Warren Elizabeth. A Foreign Policy for All. Strengthening Democracy at Home and Abroad. (Accessed on 30.12. 2022)

    The post Democracy in Theory and in Practice first appeared on Dissident Voice.
    Dissident Voice
    3 Feb 2023 | 1:47 am

    10. Ukraine: The Latest Neocon Con

    Think about this …

    The neocons lied to us about Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo.

    They lied to us about Afghanistan.

    They lied to us about Iraq.

    They lied to us about Libya.

    They lied to us about Syria.

    They're currently lying to us about Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Colombia, and China.

    So …

    Why would we for a microsecond think that they're telling us the truth about Russia and Ukraine?

    I looked around at major Western media news recently. There's not really that much on Ukraine now. At least, nothing compared to the deluge we were seeing back at the onset of the "crisis". You know, back in February almost a year ago when Putin apparently snorted PCP and went on a completely unprovoked destructive rampage.

    Why so little about the greatest threat to world peace since the Third Reich?

    There are two reasons: 1) This latest iteration of the RUSSIA BAD campaign, which really got ramped up in 2014, has now brainwashed a sufficient number of citizens so they keep on waving their blue-and-yellow flags, certain their RUSSIA BAD/UKRAINE GOOD battlecry embraces all they believe to be noble and true, guaranteeing 2) that now there will be no public outrage over the oceans of money which will continue to flow into the coffers of the defense industry — because, you know, it's ABSOLUTELY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD THAT WE DEFEAT RUSSIA on the battlefield in Ukraine. More weapons, more bombs! More wasted tax dollars! More skyrocketing profits for the merchants of death. More fattened stock portfolios for the ultra-wealthy.

    Yes, while everyday people are personally struggling with accelerating inflation, stagnant wages, job insecurity and shrinking opportunity, business closures, out-of-control housing costs, food shortages, energy shortages, baby formula shortages, on and on, and because of the exploding deficit — now pushing our national debt beyond the legal debt ceiling — there's no relief in sight from Uncle Sam for us regular folks. Yet by some stroke of magic or divine intervention, there are limitless piles of money to send to Ukraine; plenty of funding to ship increasingly lethal weaponry to the psychopathic, neo-Nazi regime in Kiev, in order to keep the war going; plenty in the vault to vastly increase US/NATO military readiness in Europe; mountains of resources available to rebuild Ukraine, relocate its refugees, prop up its comedian/puppet/war-to-the-death-of-the-last-Ukrainian marketeer, Volodymyr Zelensky, and keep the sickenly corrupt, anti-democratic regime of one of the most corrupt, anti-democratic nations on Planet Earth in power. We watch dumbfounded as members of Congress fall over one another making sure that billions of taxpayer — and borrowed — dollars get dumped into the bottomless pit of this latest conflict and ostensibly "humanitarian" effort.

    I won't get into the ongoing and demonstrably vacuous debate over Russia's "real" motives, because what Russia's priorities and concerns been clear for decades. Here is what President Putin said to the Russian Duma (the equivalent of our Congress) this past July 7, another critical speech which will get no mention in the Western mainstream media:

    Our proposals to create a system of equal security in Europe were rejected, initiatives on joint work on the problem of missile defense were rejected, warnings about the unacceptability of NATO expansion, particularly as concerns the former republics of the Soviet Union, were ignored.

    This should sound very familiar. Putin and other spokespersons for Russian national interests have been saying these same things for years. Putin's historical speech at the Munich Conference in 2007 laid it out with jarring clarity. If the West wanted to understand, appreciate and respect Putin as the leader of the world's largest country, acknowledge that as a sovereign nation, Russia, like every other nation has legitimate rights and interests to safeguard, that speech alone offered all of the needed insights and perspective, and moreover issued ample warning of what would be coming if things didn't change. That was almost 16 YEARS AGO! As we all know — if a person's not totally brainwashed and extends just a cursory glance at the current situation — not only did the trajectory of U.S. policy not alter course, America and its vassals in Europe doubled down in vilifying Putin and Russia, even manufacturing blatantly false news and slanderous innuendos, initiating crude and transparently illegal provocations, and instituting economic sanctions and seizure of economic assets with reckless abandon. England and the now deposed Boris Johnson, have been especially savage in this hybrid war effort and propaganda juggernaut.

    Now we have a culmination of this treachery unfolding in Ukraine.

    Keep first and foremost in mind that Russia was bound to react. The West knew Russia would react. There was no way it couldn't react. If Russia were militarizing Mexico, training Mexican soldiers to fight the U.S., flooding northern Mexico with lethal weaponry, threatening to include Mexico in a hostile military alliance, flying nuclear-capable bomber sorties over Mexico, and had mounted an unprecedented propaganda campaign that stretched out over ten years to demonize the U.S. and its leaders (and throughout this entire onslaught of intimidation and hostility, those same U.S. leaders were warning over and over that Russia was crossing red lines and if the provocations in Mexico didn't stop, there would be big problems), without time to blink, the U.S. would have reacted. The U.S. would have reacted big time! In fact, considering its record over the decades post-WWII, U.S. attempts to resolve the crisis using diplomacy would be minimal and superficial. It would have been bombs away with 300,000 troops swarming across the border. Tactical nukes would have been positioned, armed, and aimed in case our troops encountered any unexpected resistance.

    Even more to the point of understanding the cauldron in Ukraine — and here's what is commonly completely missed or ignored — the West wanted Russia to react. It was the plan from the beginning and that beginning got its start almost twenty years ago.

    This was back in the early 2000s. Once the U.S. realized that Vladimir Putin was not a malleable drunk like Yeltsin, who would do the bidding of the neoliberal predators unleashed on Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, once the U.S. and its partners in predation in the EU realized that Putin was going to rebuild Russia as a world-class power, protect Russia's economy and vast resources from further plunder by the West, and without resorting to extreme communist-style socialism, restore the government's vital role in raising the standard of living for the Russian people, Russia was viewed in a hostile light, and increasingly portrayed as an adversary in the Western press. Russia as a military power — and yes, it still had a huge nuclear arsenal comparable to that of the U.S. — represented a real and menacing threat. Reminders of the Cold War, the extremely tense standoff with the Soviet Union which lasted four decades, became more frequent. Coexistence and cooperation were increasingly declared out of the question by the usual suspects, the bellicose and belligerent Project for a New American Century crowd and their puppets in the media. These world conquest, anti-Russian fanatics, which coalesced into the vitriolic neoconservative cabal now running U.S. foreign policy, mobilized and unleashed their longstanding hatred for Russia. Topping the list were influential insiders like Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    Destroying Russia has been priority #1 for these psychopaths. Take it apart, fragment it, eliminate any possibility of its functioning as a nation, then go in, loot its vast resources, raid its economy with predatory neoliberalism, chalk it up as another conquest. Next move on to China.

    All part of the plan, to push Russia to the point where it had to engage its military resources.

    More to the point of this article, it's all part of a huge con. The biggest fraud and ripoff in human history.

    I wish I could use words other than 'fraud' and 'con' and 'ripoff'. I sound like I'm talking about the Mafia. Street gangs. Thugs and scammers.

    But it is what it is. I am talking about thugs and scammers. That's exactly how the treacherous scum deciding our foreign policy operate. They threaten and bully. They use fear and intimidation.They lie with every breath they take. They manipulate and yes … they con and defraud us. We are subjected to deception and theft polished to a high sheen. And we innocently and naively keep falling for the propaganda. We let the warmongers continue with their wars, looting our national wealth along the way. The Mafia could learn a lot from the current crop of criminals in power.

    The psychopaths behind this heist — of the truth and our future — are the neocons, who now swarm like a weaponized pathogen all over Washington DC. Their "gain of function" and increased lethality is the direct result of a ruthless power grab stretching over three decades, leveraging every means and mechanism available to promote their foul, destructive policies to the forefront. The neocons are now fully in control of our foreign policy. This equates to nothing less than endless war, the destruction of our political system, and ultimately the collapse of the U.S. as a world power and potentially its demise as a functioning nation.

    We have no choice as citizens. These insane scumbags must be removed from power. PERIOD!

    That begins with replacing our current legislature — both House and Senate — every last one of them. Why? Because for a host of reasons, everyone we have elected supports, enables, and is fully complicit with our corrupt, neocon-infested foreign policy establishment, with U.S. military aggression, our disdain for diplomacy, our arrogant chest-beating exceptionalism. The only means available to we the people of getting rid of the neocon cabal is electing a Congress that reflects OUR VALUES — we the people — not the priorities of the war industries, investment banks, the ruling elite. If we can gain control of Congress — total control, at least 300 in the House and 67 in the Senate — we can start to flush out our governing institutions and begin to reverse our disastrous, catastrophic direction as a nation, both at home and across the planet.

    We achieve this takeover by creating real choice at the polls. No more having to choose between a war-promoting/military expanding Democrat and a war-promoting/military expanding Republican. WE MUST be able with our votes to choose between war and peace. This means running candidates in every election at every level who are 100% committed to ending the wars, significantly reducing the DOD budgets (by 50% or more), and creating a military engineered and equipped to defend our borders and national interests, not conquer the world for Wall Street and our predatory corporate interests.

    Here's my plan for creating just such real choice at the polls …


    If you have something better — a serious plan that's not just more whining or dreamy-eyed fantasy but could actually work — let me know.

    The post Ukraine: The Latest Neocon Con first appeared on Dissident Voice.
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