America Should Look in the Mirror

Esteban Santiago, the Ft. Lauderdale airport shooter, is an Iraq war veteran. Prior to executing five innocent people and wounding seven, he told the FBI that voices were telling him to watch ISIS videos. Although clearly exhibiting the possible symptoms of a thought disorder, the authorities were not able to connect him with mental health treatment.

Santiago was able to obtain a gun legally, bring it to the airport, and check it in his bag. Because some states allow guns everywhere including schools, shopping malls, and even airports, no one read the red flags that would have stopped the horror that changed too many lives forever.

Although violence is committed by a tiny percentage of those with mental illness, Santiago had military training in the use of guns. He’d confessed to having thoughts of violence when he went to those who might have been able to stop him. But he was not stopped. The powerful gun lobby has ensured that the right to bear arms be interpreted in ways far beyond any safe limit in our modern and complex society.

Santiago’s participation in the war in Iraq may have exacerbated or contributed to his mental illness. He might have been struggling with the moral injury of being in an unjustified war or dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – or both. We don’t really know. But many who have used the shooting to bolster their arguments about terrorism fail to see that some of our soldiers have been damaged by our continued wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere. We deny the moral injury of a young man raised on American values and the good life thrown into a killing machine requiring the search for “terrorists” while killing many innocent Iraqis. Although some are able to live with the facts of what we euphemistically call “collateral damage,” killing civilians torment others.

Some believe that Saddam Hussein was a thug, and the United States saved the people of Iraq from his rule. But afterwards, we killed and wounded over a million Iraqis and left a power vacuum filled by ethnic strife, and later, ISIS. Others bought the lie about the reason for the invasion and claimed that Iraq was involved in 9/11, even though Iraq had no connection to 9/11. The latest data indicates that approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day. There are nearly two million veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but most are from Iraq. The most recent data show that veterans represent 18 percent of all the suicides for 2014, though veterans represent about 9 percent of the population.

Thirteen years after invading Iraq, the consensus is that the invasion was an error. Whether the error was intentional or not, Iraq suffered more than a quarter of a million dead, a million wounded, and the destruction of infrastructure, education, economy and medical services. If this were murder, the culprit (and in this case the president of the United States) would be convicted either of murder if it was premeditated or manslaughter if it were not. Many around the world have called it a war crime.

Unfortunately, no president admits to the culpability of our government in committing the crime of invading a country under false pretenses. Certainly President George W. Bush is responsible for the invasion, but he neither admitted to the fact that the invasion of Iraq was in error nor apologized for the invasion to the people of Iraq. The same holds true for President Obama during his eight-year term. On the contrary, President Obama justified the war early in his term and in his farewell speech. (Of course, the call was for us to fix what we had broken, an entirely different matter.)

America is trying to wash the sin of the invasion in 2003 by fighting along with the Iraqi military to defeat ISIS and regain Iraq’s sovereignty. Fighting ISIS is a noble cause, since ISIS is one of the most vicious enemies of Iraq and America. If the United States acknowledgement that American’s involvement in defeating ISIS and regaining Iraq’s sovereignty is in part an absolution for our sins, I will accept this recognition in lieu of an apology.

Finally, when the media and our politicians accepted the lies about the Iraq invasion, it paved the way for Donald Trump to lie on a regular basis and win the presidency.

This compromising of moral values during the Iraq War had a direct impact on Iraq lives and American lives. Iraqis continue to suffer the consequences in a country still recovering from that war and dealing with the ravages of ISIS. U.S. veterans continue to suffer the consequences of their experiences in the war zones. And there has been collateral damage at home as well, as the case of Esteban Santiago sadly demonstrates.

Before wielding power in the world, America should look in the mirror to see what we have done to other nations as well as our own.

— source fpif.org By Adil Shamoo

The Goldman Sachs Effect

Irony isn’t a concept with which President Donald J. Trump is familiar. In his Inaugural Address, having nominated the wealthiest cabinet in American history, he proclaimed, “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth.” Under Trump, an even smaller group will flourish — in particular, a cadre of former Goldman Sachs executives. To put the matter bluntly, two of them (along with the Federal Reserve) are likely to control our economy and financial system in the years to come.

Infusing Washington with Goldman alums isn’t exactly an original idea. Three of the last four presidents, including The Donald, have handed the wheel of the U.S. economy to ex-Goldmanites. But in true Trumpian style, after attacking Hillary Clinton for her Goldman ties, he wasn’t satisfied to do just that. He had to do it bigger and better. Unlike Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, just a sole Goldman figure lording it over economic policy wasn’t enough for him. Only two would do.

The Great Vampire Squid Revisited

Whether you voted for or against Donald Trump, whether you’re gearing up for the revolution or waiting for his next tweet to drop, rest assured that, in the years to come, the ideology that matters most won’t be that of the “forgotten” Americans of his Inaugural Address. It will be that of Goldman Sachs and it will dominate the domestic economy and, by extension, the global one.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, when President Teddy Roosevelt governed the country on a platform of trust busting aimed at reducing corporate power, even he could not bring himself to bust up the banks. That was a mistake born of his collaboration with the financier J.P. Morgan to mitigate the effects of the Bank Panic of 1907. Roosevelt feared that if he didn’t enlist the influence of the country’s major banker, the crisis would be even longer and more disastrous. It’s an error he might not have made had he foreseen the effect that one particular investment bank would have on America’s economy and political system.

There have been hundreds of articles written about the “world’s most powerful investment bank,” or as journalist Matt Taibbi famously called it back in 2010, the “great vampire squid.” That squid is now about to wrap its tentacles around our world in a way previously not imagined by Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

No less than six Trump administration appointments already hail from that single banking outfit. Of those, two will impact your life strikingly: former Goldman partner and soon-to-be Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and incoming top economic adviser and National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, former president and “number two” at Goldman. (The Council he will head has been responsible for “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.”)

Now, let’s take a step into history to get the full Monty on why this matters more than you might imagine. In New York, circa 1932, then-Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his bid for the presidency. At the time, our nation was in the throes of the Great Depression. Goldman Sachs had, in fact, been one of the banks at the core of the infamous crash of 1929 that crippled the financial system and nearly destroyed the economy. It was then run by a dynamic figure, Sidney Weinberg, dubbed “the Politician” by Roosevelt because of his smooth tongue and “Mr. Wall Street” by the New York Times because of his range of connections there. Weinberg quickly grasped that, to have a chance of redeeming his firm’s reputation from the ashes of public opinion, he would need to aim high indeed. So he made himself indispensable to Roosevelt’s campaign for the presidency, soon embedding himself on the Democratic National Campaign Executive Committee.

After victory, he was not forgotten. FDR named him to the Business Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce, even as he continued to run Goldman Sachs. He would, in fact, go on to serve as an advisor to five more presidents, while Goldman would be transformed from a boutique banking operation into a global leviathan with a direct phone line to whichever president held office and a permanent seat at the table in political and financial Washington.

Now, let’s jump forward to the 1990s when Robert Rubin, co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, took a page from Weinberg’s playbook. He recognized the potential in a young, charismatic governor from Arkansas with a favorable attitude toward banks. Since Bill Clinton was far less well known than FDR had been, Rubin didn’t actually cozy up to him from the get-go. It was another Goldman Sachs executive, Ken Brody, who introduced them, but Rubin would eventually help Clinton gain Wall Street cred and the kind of funding that would make his successful 1992 run for the presidency possible. Those were favors that the new president wouldn’t forget. As a reward, and because he felt comfortable with Rubin’s economic philosophy, Clinton created a special post just for him: first chair of the new National Economic Council.

It was then only a matter of time until he was elevated to Treasury Secretary. In that position, he would accomplish something Ronald Reagan — the first president to appoint a Treasury Secretary directly from Wall Street (former CEO of Merrill Lynch Donald Regan) — and George H.W. Bush failed to do. He would get the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 repealed by hustling President Clinton into backing such a move. FDR had signed the act in order to separate investment banks from commercial banks, ensuring that risky and speculative banking practices would not be funded with the deposits of hard-working Americans. The act did what it was intended to do. It inoculated the nation against the previously reckless behavior of its biggest banks.

Rubin, who had left government service six months earlier, wasn’t even in Washington when, on November 12, 1999, Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed Glass-Steagall. He had, however, become a board member of Citigroup, one of the key beneficiaries of that repeal, about two weeks earlier.

As Treasury Secretary, Rubin also helped craft the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He subsequently convinced both President Clinton and Congress to raid U.S. taxpayer coffers to “help” Mexico when its banking system and peso crashed thanks to NAFTA. In reality, of course, he was lending a hand to American banks with exposure in Mexico. The subsequent $25 billion bailout would protect Goldman Sachs, as well as other big Wall Street banks, from losing boatloads of money. Think of it as a test run for the great bailout of 2008.

A World Made by and for Goldman Sachs

Moving on to more recent history, consider a moment when yet another Goldmanite was at the helm of the economy. From 1970 to 1973, Henry (“Hank”) Paulson had worked in various positions in the Nixon administration. In 1974, he joined Goldman Sachs, becoming its chairman and CEO in 1999. I was at Goldman at the time. (I left in 2002.) I remember the constant internal chatter about whether an investment bank like Goldman could continue to compete against the super banks that the Glass-Steagall repeal had created. The buzz was that if Goldman and similar investment banks were allowed to borrow more against their assets (“leverage themselves” in banking-speak), they wouldn’t need to use individual deposits as collateral for their riskier deals.

In 2004, Paulson helped convince the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to change its regulations so that investment banks could operate as if they had the kind of collateral or backing for their trades that goliaths like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase had. As a result, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns, to name three that would become notorious in the economic meltdown only four years later (and all ones for which I once worked) promptly leveraged themselves to the hilt. As they were doing so, George W. Bush made Paulson his third and final Treasury Secretary. In that capacity, Paulson managed to completely ignore the crisis brewing as a direct result of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the one I predicted was coming in Other People’s Money, the book I wrote when I left Goldman.

In 2006, Paulson was questioned on his obvious conflicts of interest and responded, “Conflicts are a fact of life in many, if not most, institutions, ranging from the political arena and government to media and industry. The key is how we manage them.” At the time, I wrote, “The question isn’t how it’s a conflict of interest for Paulson to preside over our country’s economy but how it’s not?” For men like Paulson, after all, such conflicts don’t just involve their business holdings. They also involve the ideology associated with those holdings, which for him at that time came down to a deep belief in pursuing the full-scale deregulation of banking.

Paulson was, of course, Treasury Secretary for the period in which the 2008 financial crisis was brewing and then erupted. When it happened, he was the one who got to decide which banks survived and which died. Under his ministrations, Lehman Brothers died; Bear Stearns was given to JPMorgan Chase (along with plenty of government financial support); and you won’t be surprised to learn that Goldman Sachs thrived. While designing that outcome under the pressure of the moment, Paulson pled with Nancy Pelosi to press the Democrats in the House of Representatives to support a staggering $700 billion bailout. All those taxpayer dollars went with the 2008 Emergency Financial Stability Act that would save the banking system (under the auspices of saving the economy) and leave it resplendently triumphant, bonuses included), even as foreclosures rose by 21% the following year.

Once again, it was a world made by and for Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Back in the (White) House

Running for office as an outsider is one thing. Instantly inviting Wall Street into that office once you arrive is another. Now, it seems that Donald Trump is bringing us the newest chapter in the long-running White House-Goldman Sachs saga. And count on Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn to offer a few fresh wrinkles on that old alliance.

Cohn was one of the partners who ran the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity (FICC) division of Goldman. It was the one that benefited the most from leverage, trading, and the complexity of Wall Street’s financial concoctions like collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) stuffed with derivatives attached to subprime mortgages. You could say, it was leverage that helped propel Cohn up the Goldman food chain.

Steven Mnuchin has proven particularly adept at understanding such concoctions. He left Goldman in 2002. In 2004, with two other ex-Goldman partners, he formed the hedge fund Dune Capital Management. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Dune went shopping, as Wall Street likes to do, for cheap buys it could convert into big profits. Mnuchin and his pals found the perfect prey in a Pasadena-based bank, IndyMac, that had failed in July 2008 before the financial crisis kicked into high gear, and had been seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). They would pick up its assets on the cheap.

At his confirmation hearings, Mnuchin downplayed his role in throwing homeowners (including members of the military) out of their heavily mortgaged homes as a result of that purchase. He cast himself instead as a genuine hero, the guy who convened a cadre of financial sharks to help, not harm, the bank’s customers who, without their benevolence, would have fared so much worse. He looked deeply earnest as he spoke of his role as the savior of the common — or perhaps in the age of Trump “forgotten” — man and woman. Maybe he even believed it.

But the philosophy of swooping in, attacking an IndyMac-like target of opportunity and converting it into a fortune for himself (and problems for everyone else), has been a hallmark of his career. To transfer this version of over-amped 1% opportunism to the halls of political power is certainly a new definition of, in Trumpian terms, giving the government back to “the people.” Perhaps what our new president meant was “the people at Goldman Sachs.” Think of it, in any case, as the supercharging of a vulture mentality in a designer suit, the very attitude that once fueled the rise to power of Goldman Sachs.

Mnuchin repeatedly blamed the FDIC and other government agencies for not helping him help homeowners. “In the press it has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said, “On the contrary, I was committed to loan modifications intended to stop foreclosures. I ran a ‘Loan Modification Machine.’ Whenever we could do loan modifications we did them, but many times, the FDIC, FNMA, FHLMC, and bank trustees imposed strict rules governing the processing of these loans.” Nothing, that is, was or ever is his fault — reflecting his inability to take the slightest responsibility for his undeniable role in kicking people out of their homes when they could have remained. It’s undoubtedly the perfect trait for a Treasury secretary in a government of the 1% of the 1%.

Mnuchin also blamed the Federal Reserve for suggesting that the Volcker Rule — part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 designed to limit risky trading activities — was harming bank liquidity and could be a problem. The way he did that was typically slick. He claimed to support the Volcker Rule, even as he underscored the Fed’s concern with it. In this way, he managed both to make himself look squeaky clean and very publicly open the door to a possible Trumpian “revision” of that rule that would be aimed at weakening its intent and once again deregulating bank trading activities.

Similarly, at those confirmation hearings he said (as Trump had previously) that we needed to help community banks compete against the bigger ones through less onerous regulations. Even though this may indeed be true, it is also guaranteed to be another bait-and-switch move likely to lead to the deregulation of the big banks, too, ultimately rendering them even bigger and more dangerous not just to those community banks but to all of us.

Indeed, any proposition to reduce the size of big banks was sidestepped. Although Mnuchin did say that four monster banks shouldn’t run the country, he didn’t say that they should be broken up. He won’t. Nor will Cohn. In response to a question from Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, he added, “No, I don’t support going back to Glass-Steagall as is. What we’ve talked about with the president-elect is that perhaps we need a twenty-first-century Glass-Steagall. But, no I don’t support taking a very old law and saying we should adhere to it as is.”

So, although the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall was part of the 2016 Republican election platform, it’s likely to prove just another of Trump’s many tactics to gain votes — in this case, from Bernie Sanders supporters and libertarians who see too-big-to-fail institutions and a big-bank bailout policy as wrong and dangerous. Rest assured, though, Mnuchin and his Goldman Sachs pals will allow the largest Wall Street players to remain as virulent and parasitic as they are now, if not more so.

Goldman itself just announced that it was the world’s top merger and acquisitions adviser for the sixth consecutive year. In other words, the real deal-maker isn’t the former ruler of The Celebrity Apprentice, but Goldman Sachs. The government might change, but Goldman stays the same. And the traffic pile up of Goldman personalities in Trump’s corner made their fortunes doing deals — and not the kind that benefited the public either.

A former Goldman colleague recently asked me whether it was just possible that Mnuchin was a good person. I can’t answer that. It’s something only he knows for sure. But no matter how earnest or sympathetic to the little guy he tried to be before that Senate confirmation committee, I do know one thing: he’s also a shark. And sharks do what they’re best at and what’s best for them. They smell blood in the water and go in for the kill. Think of it as the Goldman Sachs effect. In the waters of the Trump-Goldman era, don’t doubt for a second that the blood will be our own.

— source tomdispatch.com By Nomi Prins

The Public’s Viewpoint: Regulations are Protections

The American Majority got 2.8 million more votes in the 2016 election than the Loser President. That puts the majority in a position to change American political discourse and how Americans understand and think about politics. As a start, what is needed is a change of viewpoint.

Here is a typical example. Minority President Trump has said that he intends to get rid of 75% of government regulations. What is a “regulation”?

The term “regulation” is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, “regulations” are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public’s viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public.

Imagine our minority President saying out loud that he intends to get rid of 75% of public protections. Imagine the press reporting that. Imagine the NY Times, or even the USA Today headline: Trump to Eliminate 75% of Public Protections. Imagine the media listing, day after day, the protections to be eliminated and the harms to be faced by the public.

Congressional Republicans called for immediate elimination of regulations from the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Security and Exchange Commission. What would be eliminated? Protections against cancerous poisons in foods, drugs untested for their safety, unsafe drinking water, air pollutants that get into your lungs and can’t get out, fraudulent stack sales, unscrupulous mortgages. That is what our president and Congress are proposing, hiding it behind the word “regulations.” Words have meanings with real effects.

Imagine reporters finding out and reporting all over America exactly what protections would be removed. Imagine Republican officials, and media in their districts (including social media) swamped with calls, letters, emails, and tweets from voters protesting the removal of such protections, day after day. That is only one example of shifting the frame — the word and the meaning of the word — to a public viewpoint.

When you hear Regulations are Protections for the Public, think of the details and the consequences. Go beyond the words. Act positively.

A technique for learning how to think and what to say is taking the Public’s Viewpoint on every issue. Practice. What would increase the public’s wellbeing?

Key Takeaways:

Take the Public’s viewpoint instead of the corporate viewpoint.
Shift the frame: always say “protections” instead of “regulations.” “Protections” is a more simple and accurate description.
Remember that “regulations” represent the corporate viewpoint. It is not a neutral term, and it does not represent the public viewpoint.

— source georgelakoff.com

NYC Taxi Drivers Stage Airport Strike to Protest Trump

Bhairavi Desai talking:

We were outraged by the so-called executive order. I mean, it’s just—it’s absolutely inhumane and cruel. And we are a workforce that’s largely Muslim and Sikh. And we know that, you know, when the flames of Islamophobia are fanned, and now by the presidency, it has a ripple effect on everyday people in this country. We’ve known through the years that taxi drivers, who are 20 times more likely to be killed on the job than any other worker, have often been the workers that have been the victims of hate crimes.

it was an act of solidarity. It was an act of consciousness. What is happening in this country is not normal. We refuse to accept this as normalcy. You know, we are a better humanity than this.

in New York City, we have over 19,000 members, and it includes Uber drivers. But Uber, as a company, sought to take advantage of our strike. And, you know, of course, it’s backfired. People have been really outraged. But it’s not surprising, because the CEO of Uber is an adviser to the president, and, you know, Uber has an absolutely atrocious policy in its treatment of the workers.

Yesterday in Philadelphia, our—the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania went on a similar solidarity strike and stood with the protesters—in San Francisco, in Austin, Texas, in Houston. You know, one of the things that’s happened is, because of companies like Uber, we are a workforce that’s been so deeply fragmented and impoverished, right? And when workers are kept poor, it has an impact on civil society. It’s harder for people to rise up and take collective action. But we are at a moment of such deep urgency in this society. And, you know, I’m really proud of our members and of the drivers across this country. This was a real act of courage, you know, particularly to have a workforce that’s predominantly black and brown stand up in this time.

– Lyft, the competitor to Uber, did respect this work stoppage and said they were going to give a million dollars to the ACLU over the next few years

Omar Jadwat talking:

there’s been an outpouring of support, I think, for a variety of organizations, but also, you know, that’s a small part of what matters. What matters is people doing what they can to make a difference. And that’s what we’re seeing. That’s what we saw this weekend in every way, you know? Contributions are important, but, you know, getting out and standing up are really—

And mobilizing those people is what those people and the people they know and the people they know and the people these people know is what’s going to make a difference.
____

Bhairavi Desai
executive director and co-founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance

Omar Jadwat
director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

— source democracynow.org

Culture of the Commons

Interview with Mayo Fuster Morell

Mayo Fuster Morell, responsible for BarCola, a group working on collaborative economy policies within the Barcelona city council, shares her thoughts on how commons-based forms of collaboration can build a more just society.

What is the commons?

Commons is an ethos and an umbrella term which encompasses many practices and transformative changes. The commons emphasises common interests and needs. It includes collaborative production, open and shared resources, collective ownership, as well as empowering and participative forms of political and economic organizing.

It is, though, a very plural concept with very diverse ‘traditions’ and perspectives. Some commons for example, are connected to material resources (pastoral, fields, fishing etc) and others to immaterial ones (knowledge etc).

In the area of knowledge commons, the emphasis is on the conditions of access – open access and the possibility to access resources and intervene in their production without requiring the permission of others. It emphasises knowledge as a public good, a patrimony, and a human right.

Why do you believe we need to return to the idea and practices of the commons?

Commons were present prior to capitalism. But somehow this question implies that the commons is something of the past, not of the present. Is the family, the market, or public space something of the past? Would we pose such a question about these ways of organising ourselves? Commons is an integral part of our present society; not something to recover from the past.

Good point. Perhaps then the question is why is the issue rising up the political agenda?

I think this is partly connected to the democratization of knowledge and engagement that came with the arrival of the Internet. Cyber-scholars such as Yochai Benkler (author of Wealth of Networks), argue that the commons moved from the margins to the center of many economic systems, because of the reduction of costs for collective action due to the widespread adoption of ICT. Others such as Carol Rose (author of The Comedy of the Commons) have shown how internet commons resources become more valuable the more people access them- which undermined former critiques of the commons who argued that they were unsustainable and encouraged free-riders. With the internet, the opposite is true!

Another trajectory that has come to the fore is that of the collective governance of natural resources, in which community governance of a common-owned resources is central. This is the frame of Nobel-prize winner Elinor Ostrom’s school.

Another trajectory we can see is that of defending public services and the resistance to neoliberal enclosure of public institutions, which TNI does a lot of work on.

Yet despite these diverse trajectories, they clearly all point to integral parts of our current system and provide solutions.

Why did digital culture draw so heavily – and continue to have strong – commons-based approaches?

There are many reasons. I would highlight two. The first is the fact that digital culture emerged, in many ways, from counterculture. This story is very well told in a book by Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Hippies and psychedelic subcultures were amongst the first to see the utility of the Internet, developing virtual communities. The values of community were very present in these early forms of the internet. In fact, the Internet itself was and could still be conceived as a commons – even it has been increasingly enclosed by corporations allied with authoritarian regimes.

The second reason is the decentralised character of the Internet. This enabled the democratisation of access to the means of cultural production. Today, large parts of the population have access to immense resources of knowledge, along with programs to create and remix that knowledge. The internet also facilitated new forms of distribution of that knowledge, which favoured collaborative and open production. It made an economy based on collaborative and open production and distribution and sharing more efficient than closed, proprietary and product-based modes of the previous industrial era.

What stands out for you as the most interesting concrete projects in the digital commons?

Wikipedia certainly is one. Since its creation in 2001, it has become one of the largest reference websites in the world, with an incredible 70,000 active contributors working on more than 41 million articles in 294 languages. The Free and Open source project, that has enabled people to freely use, copy, study, and change software in any way, and underlies many well-known software systems is another one.

The rise of platform cooperatives such Fairmondo and SMart are also promising developments. Fairmondo is an online marketplace for ethical goods and services, that originated in Germany and has expanded to the UK. It is a cooperative alternative to Amazon and Ebay. SMart is a cooperative that pools services and skills to make them affordable for creative freelancers.

Crowdfunding platforms like Goteo, which are building alternatives to the current financial system are also potentially very significant. Goteo has created a community of over 65,000 people, providing civic crowdfunding and collaboration on citizen initiatives and social, cultural, technological and educational projects.

It seems digital commons movements are integrally linked with culture – both in the way they work and the cultural outputs they are producing. What are the lessons for social movements in general?

I think it’s useful to highlight two great conceptions of culture: culture (with a small ‘c’) and Culture (with a big ‘C’). Culture refers to artistic expression, culture refers to our anthropological nature. Every human activity involves culture, and so with this meaning certainly, commons are connected to culture.

It is perhaps not a surprise that the commons emerged as a predominant organizational form to organize the governance and sustainability of artistic production. These forms of Culture are often based on self-governed modalities, favoring open access, innovation and remix, and putting community needs and creativity first and profitability second.

As I mentioned, one of the first digital areas to favor a more commons organizational form of production was in the area of software production, with the emergence of free and open source projects like Linus or Apache which became the dominant mode of production (larger than proprietary systems) in certain areas of software industry. From there, it was an easy step to move commons-based organization of music, and film, and also encyclopedias and other content subjects, that could benefit from collaborative production. The term free culture refers to this

Now, we see commons production expanded to almost any area of production, including currencies, city landscapes (like urban gardens and orchards), architecture (FabLab), and the open design of cars (Like Wikispeed car) to toys. The early forms of the digital commons have helped inform these newer forms.

Regarding lessons for social movements, I think they can help us expand the conception and practice of participation moving from forms of organizing that require high levels of involvement by a few, super activists towards models based on economies of participation. The key is to integrate participation based on diversity – not only strong contributors, but also allowing for weak and sporadic involvement, and people who can only follow the process and allowing those different types of involvement. Somehow we need to democratize participation in social movements in order to reach and adapt to a larger social base.

What are the key elements that make up a culture of the commons?

Commons are very very diverse, that is something that defines them, as they adapt to local and specific circumstances, and are embedded within the specific community and commoning to which they belong.

I would say these are the great key principles, but not all of them are necessarily present in all the families of commons or specific commons:

Community organizing (openness to engagement)
Self-governance of the community by the creators of the commonly-held value
Open access to the resources created
Ethics of looking beyond profitability to serve social and environmental needs and inclusion

Inclusion is perhaps one of the weakest elements, particularly in the Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement. Studies suggest that only 1.5% of contributors in FLOSS communities are women, while in proprietary closed software production, the proportion is closer 30%. How can FLOSS be a model with such poor gender participation rates? Similarly, communities that manage natural resources, like fishing commons institutions in Albufera, Valencia, restricted women’s participation until very recently. Additionally, commons theorising tends to be very dominated by male authors, who engage very little with feminist theory.

Commons approaches need to do more to embrace more these issues, develop methodologies and highlight and learn from the cases which perform well in terms of gender inclusion. Barcelona en comu, in its attempts to reclaim political institutions for the common good, is one example where feminist wisdom is properly engaged in the commons and seeking to bring about gender equality.

Tell us about what you have been involved in through Barcelona en Comu.

I was on the initial list of people that promoted the launch of Barcelona en comu. This was a citizen platform launched in 2014 in the wake of the popular uprisings that took the squares of many Spanish cities after the financial crisis. The platform for Barcelona en comu was drawn up in a highly participative way, and has sought to put participative democracy and commons-methodologies at the heart of governance.

I am member of Barcelona en Comú and am responsible for BarCola, a group working on collaborative economy policies within the Barcelona city council. Our group has helped organise the project and conference of procomuns.net which is raising popular awareness of commons-based collaborative economic initiatives, providing technical guidelines to communities for building FLOSS technologies and making specific policy recommendations for the Barcelona City Council and for the European Union and other administrations.

Our first international event in March 2016, brought together more than 400 participants to develop 120 policy recommendations for governments.

How is the so-called ‘Shared Economy’ different to the digital commons?

The sharing economy is not different to the digital commons; it just puts more the emphasis on the economical dimension of the commons. However, there has been a wikiwashing of the term, with the media inaccurately using the term sharing economy to refer to the on-demand economy, dominated by firms like Uber and Airbnb.

These are economies based on collaborative production, but they do not include commons governance, access or an agenda of serving the public interest. A true sharing economy is one that is connected to the community and society and looks to serve the common interest, building more egalitarian relations.

How do we prevent corporations – or other structures of power such military – taking over the digital commons?

At these moment there are in my view three key strategies and goals:

1) Create public commons partnerships. Push for political institutions to be led by commons principles and to support commons-based economic production (such as reinventing public services led by citizens’ participation, what I call commonification). Barcelona en comu is providing a great model for this.

2) Reclaim the economy, and particularly develop an alternative financial system.

3) Confront patriarchy with the commons, in other words embrace freedom and justice for all, not just for a particular privileged subject (men, white, etc) and help foster greater diversity in society.

I think increasing the commons as a matrix within our systems has the greatest potential to develop an alternative to the current capitalist system.

— source tni.org

Just Like Nixon, Donald Trump Appears to Think He is Above the Law

On Monday night, after Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates over her refusal to defend Trump’s Muslim ban, many commentators compared the incident to the infamous Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, when then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy resigned after President Richard Nixon ordered Richardson to fire the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.

Jill Wine-Banks talking:

I’d say it was a big mistake, that if Sally had been the attorney general to Richard Nixon, or the White House counsel, there wouldn’t have been a Watergate, that he made a mistake both in terms of the substance and the appearance. And the turning point in the Watergate investigation, in many ways, was the Saturday Night Massacre, when we were inundated with what were then telegrams, but would today probably be emails, and public opinion turned against Richard Nixon. I’d like to point out that he served a very short time after that, although he had been elected with a landslide, because public opinion turned against him and the evidence was there of his culpability.

– with Nixon, he was already in his second term as president. We’re dealing with a president who’s in his second week as president. And the speed with which this kind of a crisis has occurred.

I think that’s one of the most remarkable points, is about the women. If you look at—all the judges that have ruled on this have been women. The acting attorney general, of course, is a woman. And in the Nixon era, less than 5 percent of all lawyers were women. So, you would have never had that as anything involved, and that one of the lessons of Watergate is that you can’t surround yourself with yes men. And in this case, of course, it turns out you shouldn’t surround yourself with yes women, either, and he hasn’t. So, that’s the good news, is that the women have had the courage to stand up to the president. If John Dean had stood up much sooner than he did, this whole Watergate episode could have been avoided. But people are afraid to tell truth to power. And I’m so proud to be part of the women’s group that is standing up to him.

– 1973. This is how NBC’s John Chancellor broke the news of what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre.

“JOHN CHANCELLOR: Good evening. The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. The president has fired the special Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Because of the president’s action, the attorney general has resigned. Elliot Richardson has quit, saying he cannot carry out Mr. Nixon’s instructions. Richardson’s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, has been fired. Ruckelshaus refused, in a moment of constitutional drama, to obey a presidential order to fire the special Watergate prosecutor. And half an hour after the special Watergate prosecutor had been fired, agents of the FBI, acting at the direction of the White House, sealed off the offices of the special prosecutor, the offices of the attorney general and the offices of the deputy attorney general. All of this adds up to a totally unprecedented situation, a grave and profound crisis in which the president has set himself against his own attorney general and the Department of Justice.”

Elizabeth Holtzman talking:

I was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress until a couple of years ago, so that’s—I don’t about the youngest member of that committee. I never checked that point.

it was an extraordinary abuse of power, what Richard Nixon did, the firing of Archibald Cox, having him fired. It was an impeachable offense; it would form part of the articles of impeachment. Why? Because President Nixon was using the powers of his office not for the benefit of the United States of America, but to cover up a crime—namely, the break-in at the Watergate Hotel by operatives of the White House and by operatives of his re-elect committee. So that was a cover-up and part of keeping the cover-up going. And it was abuse of power, because Richard Nixon didn’t care about the law. He wanted the special prosecutor out of the way.

And while there’s not an exact similarity here, because so far we don’t know that there’s a cover-up, but what we have is the same mentality of abusing power, of taking power into your own hands and saying, “I’m first”—not “America First,” “I’m first.” If the attorney general says that this may not pass legal muster, that this may not be lawful, don’t you think the president ought to be asking, “Wow! How do we get this to be lawful? What’s wrong here? I want to obey the law.” No, the president put himself above the law. He didn’t want to find out why this wasn’t lawful, what the qualms were, what the problems were. And that’s the mentality that will bring this president down. You cannot, in the end, put yourself above the law time after time after time.

– Sally Yates in 2015 at her confirmation hearing, being questioned by Jeff Sessions, and specifically on the very issue over which she now has been fired.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper? A lot of people have defended the Lynch nomination, for example, by saying, “Well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?” But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?

SALLY YATES: Senator, I believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the president.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: Like any CEO with a law firm, sometimes the lawyers have to tell the CEO, “Mr. CEO, you can’t do that. Don’t do that. We’ll get a suit. It’s going to be in violation of the law. You’ll regret it. Please,” no matter how headstrong they might be. Do you feel like that’s the duty on the Attorney General’s Office?

SALLY YATES: I do believe that that’s the duty of the Attorney General’s Office, to fairly and impartially evaluate the law and to provide the president and the administration with impartial legal advice.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: And just as in a fraud case or any other drug case you might have prosecuted—excellently, it appears—over the years, immigration law is important to be consistently and effectively enforced, should it not?

of course, the irony is overwhelming. But I just want to go back to the point that was made by the White House when they attacked her. I thought she showed enormous courage in standing up for what she believed was right and in talking about the law. That’s the Department of Justice. What does the law say? We’re a law-abiding country. The president of the United States, in attacking her, the White House statement said she was weak on illegal immigration. That’s not her job to be strong or weak on immigration. Her job is to be strong on the law. He didn’t care about the law. The president doesn’t care about the law. That’s the problem here, and that’s what we’re seeing. The amazing thing is, he didn’t even vet this executive order with lawyers beforehand—maybe the Judiciary Committee staff, it’s not clear, but he didn’t vet it with the Justice Department. He didn’t vet it, apparently, with the homeland security lawyers.

They didn’t care what the law was, how this was going to be done. This is the president über alles. And I use that terminology very deliberately.

– More than a hundred employees of the State Department have signed on to drafts of a dissent memo that condemns Trump’s executive order. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer threatened State Department officials, saying they should quit their jobs if they have a problem with Trump’s “program.”

Jill Wine-Banks talking:

That’s an interesting issue that came up during the Saturday Night Massacre. And there was debate whether the office had been fired, all of us, or whether only Archie Cox had been fired. And we debated in the office whether we should resign in protest. And Archie advised us that that would be absolutely wrong, that we knew the case, that we should never resign. If we were fired, that was a different story, but that we needed to stay and do our job. And I agree exactly with what Liz has said and with what the acting attorney general testified to, which is that the lawyers who are involved in this have to act in accordance with their ethics and enforce the law and act in accordance with the Constitution. And we need people who will stand up and say, “You cannot do this.” There are some things that can be altered in a way that makes it legal, but there are some things that simply cannot be done, and someone has to be strong enough and courageous enough to tell the president when he cannot do what he’s proposing.

– in 1973, the headline in the papers: “Nixon Discharges Cox for Defiance; Abolishes Watergate Task Force; Richardson and Ruckelshaus Out.” Interestingly enough, right under that, a little sub-headline: “Kissinger Meets Brezhnev on Mideast Cease-Fire Plan.” So the Middle East and Russia were in this picture then, as well.

there’s still a debate. And I’ve talked to Ruckelshaus, and he both was fired and resigned. And the same is supposedly true of Richardson. Both Richardson and Ruckelshaus felt that Cox had done absolutely nothing that was not within his charter, that all of his actions were proper and that it would be illegal and against what they had testified to in getting confirmed to their offices. They had promised that they would not fire him except for cause. They did not believe there was any cause, and that they could not, therefore, carry out the president’s order. They were willing to resign rather than do that. The president fired them. So, they were both fired and resigned. They acted in accordance with their conscience.

I’d also like to point out to Sessions and to all other appointees that Bork, who carried out the order, ended up having his career shortened. He was never confirmed to the Supreme Court, largely because of his actions during Watergate and in firing Cox. So there are consequences for carrying out what are illegal orders.

Elizabeth Holtzman talking:

the hearings took place after the Saturday Night Massacre. and the firings, resignations of the top Justice Department officials. The hearings galvanized the country. The hearings were bipartisan. The House Judiciary Committee voted on a bipartisan basis for three articles of impeachment. The country, which had overwhelmingly supported Nixon’s re-election by a landslide margin—not the margin that this president got, but one of the biggest landslides in the history of this country—saw that the rule of law had to govern. And the American people decided, more important than a president, more important than a party, more important than a policy was the rule of law and the Constitution.

I want to say one other thing that’s really important to remember. The Saturday Night Massacre, firing the attorney general, firing the deputy attorney general, triggered the impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon, which is what brought him down in the end. So, this is something that should make the American people sit up and take notice. We have a president who is not willing to listen as to what the law requires and what the Constitution requires. That’s the real message here. And the danger is for our rule of law and the constitutional rule for our democracy.

I want to say one other thing. I helped, along with Ted Kennedy, to write the Refugee Act of 1980. And we wrote that law in the wake of the huge crisis that happened when the boat people fled Vietnam. First of all, the United States of America took over 750,000—750,000 people. We were a smaller country at that time. Americans weren’t quaking in their boots. We weren’t scared something terrible was going to happen to us. We took them and welcomed them with open arms. It was one of the most important and successful resettlement efforts of refugees in the history of the world. And that law was designed to abolish discrimination in admission of refugees on any basis. He must be turning in his grave now. The two of us wrote that law in 1980. And it’s being disgraced now.
____

Elizabeth Holtzman
former U.S. congresswoman from New York who served on the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Richard Nixon.

Jill Wine-Banks
former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and the first woman to serve as U.S. Army general counsel.

— source democracynow.org

“Neo-Marxism” And “The New Middle East”

One of the most curious quirks of recent history is that self-proclaimed followers of the Cold War-era ideology of Marxism are on the upswing two and a half decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and interestingly enough, they’re making on-the-ground progress in the Mideast of all places. This may come as a surprise to casual observers who have been convinced by the Mainstream Media that the region is only awash with religious radicalism, which while certainly true, doesn’t fully encapsulate the whole picture of all the extremism that’s active there nowadays. One of the more unexpected outcomes of the 2011 theater-wide Color Revolutions popularly known as the “Arab Spring” has been that armed “Neo-Marxist” Kurdish militias eventually ended up going on the offensive against the Syrian, Turkish, and Iranian governments, each for their own purportedly separate ‘reasons’ but in reality as part of a US-backed coordinated plan for geopolitically reengineering the Mideast.

Syria And Turkey

Before going any further, the first thing that should be addressed is the “Neo-Marxism” label included in the article’s title. The author drew primarily upon the stated positions and manifesto of the Syrian PYD, which is leading the regional charge for undeclared Kurdish separatism, in making the decision to emphasize the ideology that’s driving the region’s anti-government Kurdish militias. The PYD is a political and ethnic extremist organization which attempts to channel Marxist thought in order to impose “democratic confederalism” in Syria, which essentially seeks to dissolve the state through its devolution into a complex quilt of identity-based cantons. The PYD is closely linked to the Turkish PKK, and both organizations claim to be inspired by the late American Marxist Murray Bookchin, who wrote extensively about what he called “decentralization”.

In practice, however, this is pretty much indistinguishable from the political end game that fundamentalist Marxists (“Secular Wahhabis”) aspire for, which is the elimination of the state and its replacement with community councils and other non-traditional governing structures. Whether or not this position truly represents conventional Marxism and more general Leftist thought is up to those communities themselves and their various polemicists to decide, but the labelling of the PYD and PKK as “Neo-Marxist” is due to their political positions in advocating what the public generally conflates (whether rightly or wrongly) with this ideology. Moreover, since they’re active in the 21st century and after the Soviet dissolution at the end of the Cold War, the prefix “Neo-“ is applied to differentiate these organizations and their ideological strands from the ‘classical’ Marxism that was associated (whether rightly or wrongly) with that period.

The point here isn’t to convince anyone that the PYD and PKK are ‘Marxist’, but rather to highlight that this is how they self-identity and to emphasize the ideological motivations behind their militant activity.

Iraq And Iran

Expanding past Syria and Turkey, one can see the influence of “Neo-Marxist” Kurdish militant groups in Iraq and Iran, too. The allied “Patriotic Union of Kurdistan” (PUK) and Gorran opposition parties in northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government, both of which are leftist, are on friendly terms with the PKK. Barzani’s ruling “Kurdish Democratic Party” (KPD) is opposed to the PKK and Marxism, which is why it enjoys such considerable Turkish support even though it regularly threatens to pursue ‘independence’. Interestingly, Iran is aligned with PUK and Gorran in spite of their links to the PKK, which might be partially attributable to Tehran looking favorably upon these groups’ hesitancy to see an ‘independent’ “Iraqi Kurdistan” in the near future and could thus also signal that Iran is engaged in a soft proxy war with Turkey for influence (and pipelines) in the Kurdish Regional Government.

All of the Iraqi Kurdish groups and their affiliated militias are in support of “federalism” or separatism to varying degrees and can generally be described as friendly to the US (the KPD obviously much more in both cases than PUK and Gorran), but aren’t necessarily “Neo-Marxist” in the context that the article is defining it as. Therefore, they’ll largely be excluded from the rest of the analysis going forward, but were importantly mentioned in the first place order to show their loose connections to the troublesome Kurdish organizations in Syria and Turkey.

Amidst this complicated intra-Iraqi Kurd drama, however, the pro-‘Israeli’ and ‘socialist’ “Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran” (KDPI) terrorist group has recently found shelter in northern Iraq and begun to periodically launch cross-border attacks against the Iranian border forces. This organization is part of the “Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran” (CNFI), an umbrella group of various ethno-religious minorities fighting against Tehran in favor of the same broad sort of ‘political solution’ as the PYD and PKK, “federalism”. This end goal thus connects the KDPI to its Syrian and Turkish counterparts, and can even be said to give it something in common with all of their Iraqi brethren as well, despite some of the latter being reluctant to associate with them, whether openly or in general, due to Iran’s understandable sensitivities.

“Federalist” Failings And The MEK

In and of itself, there’s nothing inherently negative about federalism, nor does this political system have any origins in Marxist thought, but the “democratic confederalism” of the PYD and PKK and the “Identity Federalism” of the CNFI incorporate radical ideas inspired by this ideology and popularly described as “Cultural Marxism” (whether rightly or wrongly), which ultimately would be disastrous for the national unity of the diverse states threatened by these initiatives if they were ever implemented.

Separate from the Syrian-Turkish-Iranian nexus of Kurdish “Neo-Marxist” militant groups but fighting for similar ideological goals in Iran is the “People’s Mujahedeen of Iran” (MEK), a hard-core Marxist terrorist organization which was delisted a few years ago by the US State Department and is now recognized by Washington as a ‘legitimate opposition party’ (despite having killed Americans in the past).

This group and the aforementioned Syrian, Turkish, and Iranian ones don’t just share a common denominator in “Neo-Marxism”, but are also marked by the strong degree of support that they enjoy from the US, although it must be said that they don’t all coordinate with one another because the Kurds supposedly have a strong hate for the MEK after the latter allegedly fought against them under Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

The US And The PKK

Even though the US formally includes the PKK on its list of terrorist organizations, Turkey has accused it on many occasions of indirectly supporting this group through the provisioning of material and weapons assistance to the PYD, implying that Washington is using the Syrian Kurds as intermediaries for rendering support to their Turkish counterparts. This isn’t unrealistic to assert since the US is nowadays opposed to President Erdogan, and relations between Ankara and Washington have been very chilly ever since last summer’s failed pro-American coup attempt. While it might shock some people to even consider and will likely be met with intense skepticism in the usual alternative media corners, the US does in fact have a serious problem with nominal NATO-member Turkey due to Ankara’s involvement in the Russian-Iranian-Turkish Tripartite of Great Powers aimed at bringing a gradual end to the War on Syria, which explains why it would betray its “ally” by unleashing the unconventional weapon of Kurdish separatism against it via PYD-laundered weapons to the PKK.
The Wahhabi-“Neo-Marxist” Geopolitical Convergence

The Hybrid War drama surrounding the Kurds occupies considerably less media attention than Daesh, but it’s no less dangerous to the stability of the Mideast. In fact, while Daesh has been on a years-long killing spree trying to construct an “Islamic State” in the Mideast, the militant Kurdish organizations mentioned in this article have taken to doing something similar and to a much lesser degree in advance of their shared objective of creating a transnational “Kurdistan” political entity. This goal has lately manifested itself through the intended formation of a stateless (con)federation of Kurdish communities between Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, as per the “post-state” and “Neo-Marxist” ideology of relevant groups in the first three aforementioned states.

As for the Iraqi Kurds, although they’re not “Neo-Marxists”, they are in support of either “federalization” or outright separatism, and would naturally develop their own independent relations with their other Kurdish political counterparts if they succeed in their map-changing schemes. Even though linguistic and historical differences would likely prevent the creation of a unified Kurdish ‘superstate’, the tangible effect of the aforementioned could quickly lead both to the dissolution of the multiethnic states that this demographic is a part of and the de-facto rise of a “second geopolitical ‘Israel’” in part of this space, or in other words, a unipolar-supported polity carved out of the stolen territory of other countries. This eventuality would naturally destroy the incipient Tripartite of Great Powers and also symbolize the successful completion of ‘Israel’s’ 1982 Yinon Plan of manufactured state fragmentation all along its Muslim periphery, basically ensuring that Tel Aviv becomes the undisputed power in the Mideast.

The planned geopolitical redivision of the Mideast is nothing new for American strategists either, which is why Washington is so strongly in support of these organizations. Former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice first spoke about the dawn of a “New Middle East” in July 2006 during ‘Israel’s’ embarrassingly failed War on Hezbollah and Lebanon, and just a month prior, retired lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters published his “Blood Borders” blueprint about “how a better Middle East would look”. The New York Times followed up with a scandalous map in September 2013 showing “How 5 Countries Could Become 14”, and Stratfor founder George Friedman just released his own map highlighting how 17 separate power centers have emerged across what are nominally 5 sovereign countries. While the process of transnational state dissolution was catalyzed by the theater-wide “Arab Spring” Color Revolution events and subsequent spread of Daesh, these two American-provoked events in turn created the conditions for the militant revival of “Neo-Marxist” regime change groups such as the MEK and geopolitical revisionist ones such as the PYD.

This means that Washington now has two powerful tools at its disposal for crafting the 21st-century Yinon Plan of the “New Middle East”; Wahhabis and “Neo-Marxists”, both of which are bitterly opposed to one another but nevertheless serve as complementary instruments of American foreign policy (whether as “useful idiots” or outright proxies). It’s been long documented by alternative media outlets how the US has wielded the weapon of Wahhabism for over the past three decades, but comparatively less has been said about how it misleads the world through its use of the Fake Left. In theory, Leftists are supposed to be in support of multipolar objectives and against the Western unipolar power structure, but that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to many well-known “Leftist” movements in North America, Europe, and now the Mideast.

The Atlantic-Arabian Virus

The Democratic Party and much of the scattering of other supposedly leftist-oriented organizations in the US have been co-opted by the very same establishment which they claim to oppose. The same can be said for just about any socialist organization in the EU. As for the Mideast, the most popular Kurdish parties have been compromised, and the CNFI and MEK are undoubtedly Western Hybrid War proxies. All of these aforementioned groups, and especially the ones linked to George Soros and his worldwide “protest” (riot/Color Revolution) movements, represent the Fake Left, which shout leftist economic slogans but have lost the leftist moral principle of geopolitical resistance to Western neo-imperialism. In a sad twist of fate and due to their own reprehensible choices, these very same groups have become the post-modern vanguard for the exact same world order which their Cold War spiritual predecessors fought so valiantly to avoid.

It’s not to say that every self-proclaimed Leftist organization in these three parts of the world is “fake” (after all, the Baath Party and Syrian Socialist National Party still embody the respectable principles associated with Cold War Leftism), but just that there are plenty of reasonable grounds to immediately be suspicious of supposedly left-wing groups operating in these regions nowadays. The entire US is being destabilized by the Clintonian Counter-Revolution and its Fake Left supporters, just like the EU is being thrown into chaos by the ‘Secular Wahhabis’ who have ‘opened the gates from within’ by aiding and abetting the US’ plan to unleash ‘Weapons of Mass Migration’ against the continent. Similarly, the Mideast is now facing the threat of regime change and geopolitical revisionism not from the failing forces of Daesh and other Wahhabi terrorist groups, but by the hand of reinvigorated “Neo-Marxist” ones such as the PYD, PKK, KDPI, CNFI, and MEK. All of these groups purport to represent the “Left” but are in reality part of the worldwide Fake Left in the service of American interests, whether wittingly or inadvertently.

The “Leftist Civil War”

The only way to fight back against this is for the Real Left and its sincere, genuine activists in North America, the EU, and Mideast to come out in vocal and unceasing opposition against these Fake Leftist tools of Western neo-imperialism in order to win back the respect of their ideology and free it from American hijacking. The US has taken over the mainstream “leftist” narrative and is turning it into a mouthpiece of neo-imperialist propaganda, relying on collaborators such Varoufakis, Sanders, and an army of ‘alternative media’ bloggers to ‘legitimize’ their ‘coup’. When faced with even the slightest opposition from their Real Leftist ‘comrades’ (to say nothing of average non-Leftist folks), they resort to maliciously trolling them as “racists”, “fascists”, and/or “white supremacists” in a desperate knee-jerk reaction designed to discredit them in the eyes of what they assume to be the ‘politically correct’ public. The whole point in doing this is to protect their narrative monopoly so that dissenting voices don’t have a chance at swaying public opinion against the policies of the Fake Leftist Establishment.

Pertaining to the examined topic of utilizing “Neo-Marxist” proxy armies to geopolitically reorganize the “New Middle East”, this typically takes the form of condemning Iran’s sovereign choice to become an Islamic Republic (the narrative promoted by MEK, KDPI, and CNFI) and guilting the global public into accepting an “independent” or “federalized” Kurdish state or states as a ‘reward’ for fighting Daesh. In both interconnected cases across the combined Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian Hybrid War battlespace, misleading and oftentimes outright false or situationally irrelevant arguments about “social rights”, “economic equality”, and “democracy” are trotted out in order to trick unaware and/or immature well-intentioned Leftists into supporting these Fake Leftist geopolitical projects. Over time, under enough pressure, and through gradually subtle degrees of ideological divergence from fundamental principles, Real Leftists can successfully be indoctrinated into Fake Leftists if they don’t have the political will to resist the Establishment, which regrettably appears to be the trend in North America and the EU.

It’s also in these two regions where Fake Leftist support for Kurdish separatism and a “Green Revolution 2.0” are most pronounced, which are dangerously combining to form a very serious threat to the multipolar states of Syria and Iran. Even if Real Leftists find themselves in support of Kurdish separatism in Turkey and/or Iraq, and/or regime change in either of them – justifying their position on the belief that these states are of questionable loyalty to the emerging Multipolar World Order – they need to realize that such geopolitical viruses, by their very nature and obvious consequences, won’t be ‘contained’ to these two countries alone but would inevitably spread to Syria and Iran as well. Therefore, even if they find themselves sympathizing with some of the positions presently being promoted by their Fake Leftist peers, they must remain steadfast in opposing them out of geopolitical consistency in standing against the Western-led international system.

This could ultimately lead to a “Leftist Civil War” (ideologically speaking, not necessarily in physical terms) in order to liberate this ideology from its present status as one of the US’ premier bullhorns of neo-imperialism, provided, of course, that it’s not already too late to do so.

— source orientalreview.org By Andrew Korybko