Decoding the new information war

The U.S. security and military apparatus is a system rooted in the restless struggle to quench American capitalism’s thirst for resources and markets. It subordinates other nations by means of “trick or treat” ? in the form of trade, fear and force ? to secure profits for its leading companies. The ultimate objective of this machinery of security and warfare is not the containment or oppression of other nations or peoples, but the oppression of the majority inside the United States. The unity of the United States of America is a carefully crafted myth designed to conceal the exploitation of the workers who produce the profits of giant capitalist corporations. America’s richest 400 people own more wealth than half of all Americans combined, which amounts to 150 million. The country belongs to those 400 and their hangers-on. They are the United States.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. intelligence agencies carved out new operational spheres for themselves based on technical solutions which came to be known as Information Warfare. With the ubiquitous extension of computers and the Internet, the name changed to Command, Control, Communications, Computing and Intelligence, or C4i. More recently, cyber war and network-centric warfare have become the in-vogue terms in the U.S. intelligence community.

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Thoughts on the world economic crisis

What began in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the gigantic American financial institution, expressed itself in a matter of days in a meltdown not only of the financial system of USA, but of the whole advanced world.

This characteristic of the contemporary economic interconnection, interrelation of the World Economies, indicates most of all that there is no national economic event or policy, that does not affect all the world economy one way or another. This characteristic dictates that there can be no national economic measures that won?t affect the rest of the economies. From that follows that no solution can be national, that the need for international remedy is on the agenda of the day.

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Talking Turkey

The repression of a small protest against the commercial transformation of Istanbul’s Gezi Park in Taksim Square unleashed unrest which has shaken Turkish society to its core and posed a revolutionary challenge to the political leadership of the country.

The Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdo?an, and his Justice and Development (AK) Party have a large electoral mandate. He once appealed to the people with the following words: “I am not a king. I am your prime minister elected by my nation’s votes. I am your servant, not your master.” His utterances have now returned to haunt him from the streets. This self-proclaimed humble servant of the people now smears protestors as extremists and terrorists. They are sprayed with tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, like insects facing the exterminator. At least three people have died so far, hundreds have been injured and more than a thousand have been arrested. How can this happen in a democratic state, a candidate to join the European Union and a staunch ally of the United States?

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Toward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice ? part II

This is the second part of the article on the theory and practice of socialism written by authors affiliated to the Democratic Socialists of America. You can read part I here >>>

Strategy: The Role of the Party and the State

While Marx never adequately described how socialism would be achieved by crossing the terrain of a democratic capitalist society, V. I. Lenin claimed there was no choice but insurrection. Socialists could not use the capitalist state to abolish capitalism; they would have to overthrow the state and then ?smash? its machinery. What institutions of government would take its place Lenin never made fully clear, except for vague references to the self-governance of workers? councils (soviets) in The State and Revolution. Obviously the Bolshevik party rapidly supplanted the councils as the main governing institution in Lenin?s Soviet Union.

In What Is To Be Done, Lenin claimed that trade union activity would produce only a reformist desire for ?more? economic goods rather than revolutionary consciousness. Lenin may not have inaccurately predicted the nature of predominant working class consciousness during ?normal? periods of capitalist development. Workers under capitalism have more to lose than just their chains. But Lenin?s belief in the privilege of the ?vanguard? party?that it can do whatever it wants once it takes power because it represents the workers? ?true? interests?contradicts Marx?s belief in working-class self- emancipation. Though an effective strategy for clandestine organization in repressive societies, Leninism?s track record in democratic capitalist societies is dismal, perhaps because self-described Leninist parties are usually thoroughly authoritarian.

Read moreToward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice ? part II

Toward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice — part I

Democratic socialists believe that the individuality of each human being can only be developed in a society embodying the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity. These beliefs do not entail a crude conception of equality that conceives of human beings as equal in all respects. Rather, if human beings are to develop their distinct capacities they must be accorded equal respect and opportunities denied them by the inequalities of capitalist society, in which the life opportunities of a child born in the inner city are starkly less than that of a child born in an affluent suburb. A democratic community committed to the equal moral worth of each citizen will socially provide the cultural and economic necessities ? food, housing, quality education, healthcare, childcare ? for the development of human individuality.

Achieving this diversity and opportunity necessitates a fundamental restructuring of our socioeconomic order. While the freedoms that exist under democratic capitalism are gains of popular struggle to be cherished, democratic socialists argue that the values of liberal democracy can only be fulfilled when the economy as well as the government is democratically controlled.

We cannot accept capitalism?s conception of economic relations as ?free and private,? because contracts are not made among economic equals and because they give rise to social structures which undemocratically confer power upon some over others. Such relationships are undemocratic in that the citizens involved have not freely deliberated upon the structure of those institutions and how social roles should be distributed within them (e.g., the relationship between capital and labor in the workplace or men and women in child rearing). We do not imagine that all institutional relations would wither away under socialism, but we do believe that the basic contours of society must be democratically constructed by the free deliberation of its members.

Read moreToward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice — part I

P2P and Marxism III — The limits of P2P

In the previous parts of this article, peer-to-peer production was presented as a radical new way of organising production and different from other forms of collaboration. Instead of following the instructions of a top-down hierarchy working in a competitive environment, which is the norm in most businesses, people who felt passionately about a particular project got together on a voluntary basis to create something that was available for anybody who wishes to use it, as long as they did not turn it into private property. That is, it remains in the commons.

They are involved in what has become known as distributed production – the aggregation of many small and geographically dispersed inputs coordinated through the internet. Solar production on individual houses, linked up through a ?smart grid? maximizing the efficiency, is an example of actual physical production organised in distributed production. It is also becoming a factor to be counted with. In Germany, on 25 May 2012, a Saturday, solar power reached a new record. It feed as much as 20 nuclear power stations into the German power grid, enough to satisfy 50% of the midday electricity demand.

The paradox is that the precondition for distributed production is centralisation, whether it be in the form of factories producing laptops or giant server halls or an integrated electricity grid where a decision has been taken to adopt a standard that allows the different parts of the grid to communicate with each other.

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Turkish spring or Turkish geyser?

The ongoing street protests in Turkey have led many people to compare events there to the Arab Spring that took place over two years ago. But is the comparison valid? Pat Byrne, who is based in Turkey, doesn?t believe so.

The growing protests in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey and the brutal reaction of the police to them are a clear indication of the limitations of democracy in Turkey. The protests were sparked off by plans to renovate Taksim which is the heart of the entertainment area of Istanbul. There is considerable dispute over what was in these plans ? the protesters claiming that they would replace the park with a shopping mall and destroy a relatively old cultural centre, while the Istanbul Council declared that the park would remain and that they only wanted to upgrade the area which was in disrepair and introduce better facilities. What is not in dispute is the lack of consultation with local people who had no say in the renovation plans. But such lack of consultation is hardly unique to Turkey. It is is typical of all major cities where local politicians and developers impose their projects on those working and living in them with little thought for the need to preserve and expand green spaces. It is also usually connected to rampant corruption in the awarding of contracts to carry out such redevelopments.

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The nature of the epoch, the rate of profit and the world economy

During the Socialist Network’s annual conference, which has been held in Cyprus this year, Jonathan Clyne, one of the international coordinators of the organization, spoke on the global economic crisis.

In his speech he outlined a few important analytic problems often neglected when it comes to discussing the 2008-11 recession. He takes up the question of the classical Marxist analysis wich involves the rate of profit and its tendency to fall and go up as a basic factor and links it up with the nature of the epoch as well as explains the role of the regional peculiarities which — like in the case of the Eurozone — determine partially the outcome of the crisis.

Press the play button to listen to the speach.

The revolutionary implications in understanding capitalist crisis ? part 2

This is a continuation of an article by Melanie MacDonald in which she explains the marxist analytic approach to the economic crisis. Using the global recession as a basis she makes an affirmative outline of the basics of the Marxist economic ideas.
See part one of this analysis >>>

Variable and constant capital

Like a machine, tool or raw material, capitalists see human labour to be just another commodity that must be purchased for use in the process of production. They don?t differentiate between the two in their accounting books. Both are just costs. But in reality, there is an important difference that lies in their quality as ?commodities?.

The robot falls into the category of constant capital because the capitalist payed a set price when he bought it and whether the money used to pay for it was borrowed or paid for up front, the robot entered into the sphere of the capitalist?s privately owned wealth once it was considered ?bought? and it was recorded as ?bought? in the accounting books of the capitalist who sold it. Over time, as the robot is applied to the production process it expends its value (the price paid for it) as it depreciates from wear and tear or from obsolescence. In the case of raw materials, also part of constant capital, they expend their value (price) quickly as they are completely consumed and incorporated into the new product being made. The value of the raw material or the robot as it depreciates is transferred into the product which is part of the costs that the capitalist uses to determine its price.

Read moreThe revolutionary implications in understanding capitalist crisis ? part 2

What Would an ?Eco-Socialist? Politics Look Like?

Thoughts on The Ecological Rift: Capitalism?s War on the Earth by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York

As many Americans prepare to observe Earth Day this year, democratic socialists who are paying attention might want to contemplate two possibly disagreeable questions.

The first is: what if anything can we contribute to the understanding of climate change and other urgent environmental problems that countless green activists haven?t already discovered themselves ? and long before us? The second is: what unique contribution can socialists make ? if any ? toward fixing what?s wrong?

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