Tag Archives | Socialism
Ben Norton writes at CounterPunch:
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Now that Malala Yousafzai has won her hard-earned and well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize, she and her amazing, tragic story is back in the spotlight. Per usual, nevertheless, the corporate media has taken this positive development and exploited it, in the service of US imperialism.
The US corporate media loves talking about the remarkable bravery and strength of Malala and the brutality of the Taliban forces that almost killed her. Such coverage fuels its racist, orientalist, neocolonialist narrative about “backward,” violent, misogynist Muslims and their need for “white saviors,” thereby legitimizing Western imperialist interests in South and West Asia. Malala’s victory can be appropriated and whitewashed by the US political establishment to “prove” that its (internationally illegal) invasion, occupation, and destruction of Afghanistan has “helped” its people (as for the hundreds of thousands killed and injured in the process, well, those inconvenient exceptions aren’t part of this narrative).
Via n+1, Benjamin Kunkle argues that social media mega-sites need to be turned into public utilities so as to save us all:
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On November 6, Twitter went public, in the private sense. Twitter shares appear ludicrously overpriced. As John Cassidy of the New Yorker calculated, “Investors were paying forty-nine dollars per dollar of revenues, and five hundred and forty-one dollars per dollar of cash flow.” But large for-profit social-media services are contradictory entities at any price, because they attempt to profit from activity that, precisely because it is social, is basically non-economic and non-productive.
The IPOs of Facebook and Twitter should therefore be reversed, through the socialization of both companies and other social-media services that attain a similar scale. The time has come, in other words, to socialize social media.
Social media should be socialized because services tend to be or become monopolies. Large social media companies—Facebook, Twitter—tend to lack competitors, for the simple reason that their platforms are not compatible.
Peter Corning writes at Psychology Today (two years ago):
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Who can object to the libertarian principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, and the right to hold property – at least in the abstract? The problem is that the real world is never “abstract.” All philosophies must ultimately confront reality, and the more radical versions of libertarianism (there are many, from extreme anarchism to limited government “minarchism”) rely on terminally deficient models of human nature and society. Let’s (very briefly) take a look at the problem.
The libertarian model of individual psychology is grounded in the utilitarian, neo-classical economics model of “Homo economicus” (economic man). Our motivations can be reduced to the single-minded pursuit of our (mostly material) self-interests. Accordingly, mainstream economists seem to consider it their mission in life to help us do so more “efficiently.” The Nobel economist Amartya Sen many years ago scathingly characterized this simplistic model as “rational fools who are decked out in their one, all-purpose preference function.”
The selfish actor model of human nature was tacitly endorsed with the rise of “Neo-Darwinism” in evolutionary biology during the 1970s, as epitomized in biologist Richard Dawkins’ famous book The Selfish Gene. As Dawkins summed it up, “We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes….I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness….we are born selfish.”
A line from libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick’s path-breaking book, Anarchy, State and Utopia, says it all: “Individuals have rights, and there are things no person or group [or state] may do to them without violating their rights.” (When asked to specify what those rights are, libertarians often cite philosopher John Locke’s mantra “life, liberty, and property.”) Not to worry, though.
Abby Martin talks to legendary actor and activist, Ed Asner, discussing 9/11 questions, US intervention in Syria, the declining role of Hollywood’s anti-war left and his charity work with his organization Autism Speaks.
Jon Hochschartner writes at Counterpunch:
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Socialists, like everyone else, absorb our culture’s contradictory messages regarding the value of animals. We learn that certain species, such as dogs and cats, should be cherished as members of our families. While other other species, such as pigs and chickens, should be viewed as resources to be exploited. By looking at the relationships between three influential socialists of varying perspectives — Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and Alexander Berkman — and their companion animals, I’d like to illuminate the irrational positions they held and so many of us continue to hold toward other species.
In 1938 the surrealist writer Andre Breton traveled to Mexico to visit the exiled Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky. As Breton walked with the old Bolshevik, he was disappointed to find that when Trotsky spoke of his dog, “his speech became less precise, his thought less exacting.”
In fact, Breton continues, Trotsky “went so far as to express love for the animal, lending it natural goodness.” Since here Breton uses the impersonal pronoun, which one would apply to non-conscious objects, it should come as no surprise the surrealist argues, “there was something arbitrary about endowing beasts with feelings.”
But Trotsky, apparently, would have none of it.
Wondering where socialist revolutionaries stand on the question of alien life? Via Marxists.org, a translation from a pamphlet distributed in 1968 Paris penned by J. Posadas (whose ideology was dubbed Posadism):
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Capitalism has no interest in UFOs and, as such, makes no research into them. It has no interest in occupying itself with these matters because they cannot reap profits, nor are they useful to capitalism. But people see in UFOs the possibility of advancement and progress. This thus accelerates the fall of the bourgeoisie, shown in all its uselessness.
All the people who say that they have seen extra-terrestrials, UFOs, coincide in the fact that these beings have not frightened them, and that they have made themselves understood, without using an audible language, showing them that they mean no harm. They do not provoke a feeling of alarm, but of serenity. They create sensations of mellowness, suppleness, harmony, reassurance.
This past fall, the Independent‘s Owen Jones wrote that Hugo Chavez’s towering feat was “proving it is possible to lead a popular, progressive government that breaks with neo-liberal dogma”:
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Even opponents of Chavez told me that he is the first Venezuelan president to care about the poor. Since his landslide victory in 1998, extreme poverty has dropped from nearly a quarter to 8.6 per cent last year; unemployment has halved; and GDP per capita has more than doubled. Rather than ruining the economy – as his critics allege – oil exports have surged from $14.4bn to $60bn in 2011, providing revenue to spend on Chavez’s ambitious social programs, the so-called “missions”.
But when it comes to his relationship with his opposition, Chavez has arguably been pretty lenient. Many of them – including [recent presidential opponent] Capriles – were involved in a US-backed, Pinochet-style military coup in 2002, which failed only after Chavez’s supporters took to the streets.