Saturday, December 31, 2016

Baltimore Activist Alert December 31, 2016 – January 3, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert December 31, 2016 – January 3, 2017

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.
The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski [at]

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  
4] Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore
5] National Moral Revival Poor Peoples Campaign – Dec. 31
6] Healthy Lunch – Jan. 1
7] New Year’s Brunch – Jan. 1
8] Pentagon Vigil – Jan. 2
9] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Jan. 2 – Jan. 6
10] Get Money Out Maryland conference call – Jan. 2
11] Make an anti-fracking tee shirt – Jan. 2
12] Peace vigil in Philadelphia – Jan. 3
13] Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" – Jan. 3
14] Interracial/Interfaith Dialogue on Racism -- Jan. 3
1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at

4] – Janice and Max are looking to buy a house in Baltimore.  Let Max know if you have any leads—410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

5] – Join the National Moral Revival Poor Peoples Campaign and continue the struggle for progress on social justice issues. Join Repairers of the Breach, for the Social Justice Watch Night Service on Sat., Dec. 31 from 10 PM to midnight at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1518 M St. NW, WDC 20005.  The closest Metro Stations are Farragut North (Red Line) and McPherson Square (Orange, Blue, and Silver Lines). RSVP

6] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon.  On Sun., Jan. 1, the Sunday Platform Address is "Healthy 2017 Demo and Lunch" by Marjorie Roswell,  Celebrate New Year’s Day with ethical society friends and family!  And start the New Year with your health resolutions intact! We begin with a healthy cooking demonstration by Margie Roswell (and you). Sign up to bring at least one plant-based ingredient at Feel free to bring a short blurb about your ingredient. (If you don’t sign up, you may still attend, but advance signup and ingredient contribution decisions will help. Don’t overthink it. Just choose something.) We’ll eat what we make – including, a Lentil, Sweet Potato, Coconut Milk, Tomato Stew, brown rice, salad, and whatever you bring. Attendees will also have an opportunity to use the non-invasive Veggie Meter to monitor your carotenoid status. Then visit the Rawlings Conservatory.  Carpools will leave at approximately 1 PM.

Roswell is a nutrition educator, and founder of – a program to encourage social activists and campaigners to improve our nutrition environments, to eat more healthfully, and to stay well. It’s a win-win strategy. 
Call 410-581-2322 or email

7] – On Sun., Jan. 1 at 11 AM to 4 PM at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, enjoy a New year’s Brunch. For the second year in a row, the Red Emma's collective invites you to join us for New Year's Hangover Brunch. This year's special offerings? Vegan biscuits & gravy, with a side of veggie sausage + fluffy, delicious pancakes! Your choice of either, or get 'em all together for the ultimate hangover cure! Coffee & juice will be flowing. 2017's gonna be a rough one folks - let's start it off by sharing a meal with our extended community. Call 443-602-7585.  Go to

8] – There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is Jan., 2, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr. 

9] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday fr6m 10 AM to noon on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at   The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to All shows are also available as podcasts at

10] – Get Money Out of Maryland has a weekly teleconference, every Monday evening at 8:30 PM.  Call 605-475-6711, and use the Code 1136243#.  Go to

11] – There is a planning a t-shirt making event at the Food & Water Watch office on Tues., Jan. 3 from 6 to 8 PM at the Food & Water Watch office, 31st & St. Paul Sts. Make some wearable anti fracking gear, which will be needed in the months ahead!  Bring a red t-shirt or sweatshirt! It may be good to make a t-shirt big enough to fit over your winter coat! Call 410-394-7652 or 978-835-6230.

12] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine.  The next vigil is Jan. 3.  Call 215-426-0364.

13] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. join this ongoing vigil on Jan. 3  from 5:30 to 6:30  PM. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

14] – Participate in an Interracial/Interfaith Dialogue on Racism: Seeing the Divine in Each Other at the Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, on Tues., Jan. 3 from 6:15 to 9 PM.  In small groups, led by trained facilitators, this dialogue will raise your awareness of racism and prejudice in our lives. Learn about developing strategies and actions to change attitudes and remove obstacles that prevent racial equality and mutual respect between all faith traditions.  Go to

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Russia's Blueprint for Political Chaos: Alleged Election Hacks May Just Be Part of Vladimir Putin's Grand Game

Published on Alternet (

Russia's Blueprint for Political Chaos: Alleged Election Hacks May Just Be Part of Vladimir Putin's Grand Game

By Matthew Sheffield [1] / Salon [2]
December 29, 2016

Many people are familiar with the alleged efforts of the Russian government to hack computer systems [3] belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. What is now becoming clear is that these apparent efforts are actually part of a much larger strategy to subvert advocates of liberal democracy around the world.

While the efforts to subvert Clinton’s campaign took place in secret, Russia’s other attempts to undermine American unity aren’t secret at all. They’re just not widely known. Among them are the nascent campaigns for both California and Texas to secede from the United States.

“Texas nationalists” largely reflect a far-right or neo-Confederate worldview. California secessionists are almost uniformly leftists disgusted by conservative hegemony in the heartland. They don’t have much in common when it comes to their views of governance, but they do have a powerful shared ally — the Russian Federation.

Salon’s investigation suggests that for nearly a decade, Vladimir Putin’s government has promoted and funded the efforts of such separatists as part of a larger campaign to promote dissenters from the broader Western world order.
The net effect of these efforts, when you include the successful Brexit campaign for British withdrawal from the European Union — which Russia also supported — has been to elevate the idea of American states going their own way from a laughable fringe movement into something discussed as an actual possibility by politicians and elite journalists alike.

Of course, breaking away from the U.S. has been dear to neo-Confederates ever since the “Lost Cause” of the Civil War. More recently, the secessionist cause got a strange boost after John Kerry was narrowly defeated by George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

Bush’s victory stunned many of Kerry’s supporters and, for the first time, many progressives began to openly consider the prospect of breaking up the union. Some of the more embittered began posting images of themselves holding up handwritten notes apologizing to the rest of the world [4]. Kerry backers also widely circulated a meme image depicting the states that voted for Bush as “Jesusland [5]” and those who voted against him as the “United States of Canada.” Visits to the website of Canada’s immigration service increased by nearly 600 percent [6] on the Wednesday following Election Day, more than double the previous record, according to the agency.

Future MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell was an advocate of secession, telling the Washington Times a week after Bush’s re-election [7] that “New York and California, Connecticut — the states that are blue — are all the states that are paying for the bulk of everything this government does.” He and many others saw no reason for these higher-income states to continue subsidizing policies they didn’t support.

For all the public venting and aspirational web surfing, however, nothing really came of that left-wing angst. Barack Obama’s 2008 wipeout of John McCain certainly was a factor. McCain’s defeat — which most observers saw coming a mile away — came as a shock to many conservatives, however. Some of them began wondering if there was something to the secession idea after all. America had become a nation of “takers” instead of “makers,” to use Paul Ryan’s phrase [8].

Around the time  of the 2008 election, the prospect of breaking up the United States became a hot topic in Russia’s tightly controlled state media as well. Government-owned outlets began hyping the work of political scientist Igor Panarin and his 1998 prediction that America would break up into six separate countries by the middle of 2010. According to a Wall Street Journal report [9], Russian state news organizations, including its English-language TV network RT, interviewed Panarin as often as twice a day during 2008.

RT and its fellow government-run press outlets have also been remarkably interested in “Calexit,” an invented term referring to California’s hypothetical secession from the United States. A Google search within RT’s site yields nearly 5,700 results for the word; one restricted to Sputnik News, another Russian state property, comes up with more than 6,200.

But the Russian bear has done more for secessionist movements than dole out copious amounts of flattering news coverage. It has also provided money to help their causes through an international nonprofit called the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia. According to the group’s president, Alexander Ionov, direct governmental funds amount to 30 percent of its general budget.  The organization also works “on many issues” with Rodina, the political party formerly headed by Russia’s deputy prime minister, Ionov said via email.

These Russian subsidies are typically used to pay for travel costs and conferences designed to bring disparate secessionist movements together. One of these was AGM’s recent “Dialogue of Nations” event that took place in September at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, mere blocks away from the Kremlin, power center of the Russian government. At the conference, separatists from American states and territories mingled with representatives from breakaway movements based in Spain, Morocco, Ireland and Somalia. Notably, there were no attendees [10] advocating secession from Russia. It is a crime to do so in the Federation, one that can yield up to a five-year prison sentence.

In an interview, Texas Nationalist Movement president Daniel Miller rejected the idea that his organization was beholden in any way to the Russian government. While he admitted that the group received some assistance from the AGM to attend the Dialogue of Nations conference, Miller said the funds constituted a tiny portion of his organization’s revenues.

“This idea that there are strings tied to us that are from places outside, not just of Texas but outside of the United States is, frankly, very insulting to us,” he told Salon via telephone. “This idea that, somehow, Vladimir Putin is flying over our office in a helicopter dumping cash out is just garbage.”

Louis Marinelli, president of the most prominent Calexit group, Yes California, takes a more open attitude toward seeking assistance from the Russian government, even as he insists that he disagrees with some of its policies. The group has done more than just attend the Dialogue of Nations conference. It has also partnered with AGM to create an “Embassy of the Independent Republic of California” inside Russia. A conference unveiling the initiative featured posters of foreign leaders[11] representing a spectrum of anti-American opposition, including late Cuban leader Fidel Castro; former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro; Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and, of course, Vladimir Putin.

Yes California intends to open facilities in five other countries as well. In an interview, Marinelli said that his group will be opening one in Germany next.
Marinelli has lived off and on in Russia since 2006 and resides there now [12], thanks in part to assistance from AGM. In a Skype interview, he defended Yes California’s relationship with Russia and likened it to the collaboration that American revolutionaries received from France via the Marquis de Lafayette. He also said separation from the United States was the best way for progressive Californians to preserve and expand the policies that they prefer.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump called the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage “shocking” and said he would overturn it [13]. Since being elected, however, Trump has seemingly reversed course by calling the matter “settled [14].”

According to Marinelli, the majority of Californians who support marriage rights for lesbians and gays should support secession as the best way to protect their values. Intriguingly, the Yes California chief once worked worked for the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT group, to organize a nationwide bus tour [15] to rally opponents of same-sex marriage. Marinelli said he changed his views in 2011 [16] after coming into contact with LGBT advocates and soon began divulging internal NOM documents. Before joining forces with NOM, Marinelli had volunteered for the 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards.
Marinelli said he saw no contradiction between indirectly receiving support from the Russian government, which has become internationally infamous for its persecution of LGBT citizens, and advocating for gay rights in California.
“We have to understand that there are going to be differences of opinions between nations, and we are going to have to maintain a dialogue with those with whom we disagree on issues,” Marinelli said.

“Part of California culture are the values of tolerance, diversity and equality. So what better way to promote those values abroad in a place that perhaps needs those values more than Russia?” he said. “We can do a lot more work in supporting the values of equality if we set up an embassy in a country where they perhaps lack equality, rather than setting up an embassy where they have it.”
Marinelli also said that Russia’s veto power in the United Nations Security Council would be essential in getting international recognition for an independent California. “We want to focus in those five countries in the council who have the veto,” he said, referring to China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

Russia’s support for separatists in California, Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico is a fairly recent development during Putin’s lengthy rule over the Federation. But they fit within a larger context of Russian efforts to bolster an anti-liberal consensus (most American conservatives, in this context, are perceived in Russia as another species of “liberal”).

Quite often, the good feelings are reciprocal. Many figures on the Christian right in America have praised the Putin government for its anti-LGBT policies, particularly its law prohibiting non-negative literature about homosexuality from being given to minors. Pastor Franklin Graham, son of the legendary evangelist Billy Graham, has repeatedly praised Putin and has even met him in person [17]. Fundamentalist radio host Bryan Fischer has called the Russian leader a “lion of Christianity [18].”
Religious-right organizations in America and elsewhere have been the beneficiaries of official and unofficial Russian monies. The World Congress on Families, an influential but little-known social conservative group that places a strong emphasis on opposing homosexuality, scheduled its 2014 annual conference in Moscow, thanks to the efforts of well-connected Russian financiers and clergy [19]. The organization removed its name from the proceedings, however, after Russia invaded Ukraine and WCF came under criticism. The event went on mostly as scheduled, with most of the invitees attending in their personal capacities [20] rather than as representatives of any group.

The admiration of Putin on the part of Christian nationalists appears to be centered around the mutually shared belief in “demographic winter [21]” — the idea that Western countries are being overrun by nonwhite Christians. According to this hypothesis, white people of Christian descent are using birth control methods to lower their birthrates, while also allowing large numbers of immigrants into their countries.

The racial aspect of this theory also explains why Putin is widely admired by the alt-right, [22] a political movement mostly centered in the United States that has sought to put a new, tech-savvy face on traditional racist viewpoints.
Alt-right activist Matthew Heimbach spoke for many of his compatriots [23] when he told the Business Insider [24] recently, “I really believe that Russia is the leader of the free world right now.”

Richard Spencer, the man who co-created the term [25] and is widely seen as the leader of the movement by mainstream journalists, is married to the English translator of Aleksandr Dugin [26], the man who is perhaps Putin’s favorite political philosopher. White nationalist icon David Duke once rented an apartment in Russia which he then sublet to another alt-right figure, Preston Wiginton, an associate of Dugin’s. Wiginton is also the man who brought Spencer to address the campus of Texas A&M University [27] recently.

As much as the far right appears to believe in Putin, however, there are strong indications he does not really believe in them [28]. In July, the Russian president signed a law prohibiting proselytizing outside of formal religious facilities [29]. Russia’s interest in Crimea have placed the Putin regime in direct opposition to the Ukrainian Svoboda party which has been called racist and anti-Semitic and is widely perceived as allied with the European far right.

The Russian government has also been involved in promoting left-wing dissent. Veteran British leftist George Galloway, a former member of Parliament who was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003, currently hosts a program on the state-owned RT channel [30]. Current left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has encouraged party members to watch the network [31], and Corbyn’s top lieutenant has reportedly traveled to Russia on the Kremlin’s dime [32].

Elsewhere in Europe, the radical Greek party Syriza has been strongly supportive of various Russian initiatives. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, called for an end to sanctions against the Federation for its invasion of Ukraine the day after he was elected as Greece’s prime minister [33]. The Spanish left-wing party Podemos [34] has repeatedly condemned the international community’s alleged double standard in its dealings with Russia compared to the United States.

These conflicting signals strongly suggest that ideology is not what lies behind Russia’s apparent interest in promoting dissenters of all stripes. Putin clearly prefers Donald Trump over Barack Obama, and is no doubt delighted that Hillary Clinton will not become president. But it’s worth remembering that in 2008 Obama promised to improve relations with the Russian leader. Clinton, who served as Obama’s first secretary of state, went so far as offering a stage-prop “reset button [35]” to Russia’s foreign minister. (Comically, the button’s Russian label meant “overcharged [36]” instead of “reset.”)

Obama and Clinton’s efforts were reminiscent of former president George W. Bush’s 2001 remarks about hoping to get “a sense of [Putin’s] soul.” Bush and Obama could hardly be more different in terms of leadership and personal style, but both wound up feeling cold toward a man they initially hoped they could do business with.

It’s dangerous to make predictions in the wake of the 2016 presidential campaign. But chances are that today’s Putin-Trump bromance is just as likely to end in acrimony as the last two presidents’ attempts to work with the Russian premier. It will be interesting to see who gets hacked after that happens.

Matthew Sheffield is a journalist currently working on a book about the future of the Republican Party. You may follow him on Twitter: @mattsheffield [37]. This article is reprinted by permission from Praxis [38].



[39] on Russia's Blueprint for Political Chaos: Alleged Election Hacks May Just Be Part of Vladimir Putin's Grand Game

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Friday, December 30, 2016

Gun-Loving Conservative Columnist Accidentally Killed After Letting Teen Boy Hold His Firearm

Published on Alternet (

Gun-Loving Conservative Columnist Accidentally Killed After Letting Teen Boy Hold His Firearm

By Brad Reed [1] / Raw Story [2]
December 29, 2016

M.D. Harmon, a conservative columnist who frequently wrote in favor of gun ownership rights for the Portland Press Herald, died this week after being accidentally shot by a teenage boy.

    As the Press Herald itself reports [3], the 71-year-old Harmon was showing off one of his guns to a 16-year-old boy in his home in Sanford, Maine, on Wednesday. Harmon apparently let the teenager handle the weapon, which went off while the boy was holding it.

   Both the teenager and his father were visiting Harmon for undisclosed reasons, and Harmon’s wife has called the shooting an “accidental tragedy.”

    Harmon was a dedicated defender of gun ownership rights and would regularly rail against attempts to regulate firearms or even make the use of firearms safer.
In a 2013 column [4], for instance, Harmon attacked proposed legislation in Maine that would have required gun owners to take a firearm safety course — in fact, he referred to this section of the legislation as “the worst part of the bill.”

   “So much for ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” he wrote. “It’s one thing to have the government create limited groups of people not entitled to own firearms for good reasons — felons, the insane, children, etc. — and quite another to have the government think it can require that a free people get official permits to exercise their rights!”

  He also criticized President Obama for issuing gun control “fatwas” [5] that tried to mandate background checks at gun shows, as well as a ballot initiative [6] that would have required gun sales to be processed through a federally licensed dealer.

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No! [7].



Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

It's Official: Solar Energy Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels

Solar panels. (photo: AP)
Solar panels. (photo: AP)

It's Official: Solar Energy Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch

28 December 16

Renewable energy has reached an important milestone. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has determined that in many parts of the world, solar energy is now the same price or even cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time.

In a handbook released this month, the WEF observed how the price of renewable technologies, particularly solar, has declined to unprecedented lows.

This brings US total installed solar capacity to 35.8 gigawatts, enough to power 6.5 million homes:  via @EcoWatch
Photo published for U.S. Solar Surges in Record-Breaking Quarter

While the average global LCOE [levelized cost of electricity] for coal and natural gas is around $100 per megawatt-hour, the price for solar has plummeted from $600 a decade ago to $300 only five years later, and now close to or below $100 for utility-scale photovoltaic. For wind, the LCOE is around $50.

According to the WEF, more than 30 countries have already reached grid parity—even without subsidies. ("Grid parity" is the point when an alternative energy source, say solar, can generate power at a LCOE that's equal or even less than the price of traditional grid power.)

"It is relevant to note that the mentioned evolution, market share gain and continued potential for renewable energy do not hinge on a subsidy advantage," the report added. "In fact, according to [International Energy Agency], fossil-fuel consumption has received $493 billion in subsidies in 2014, more than four times the value of subsidies to renewable energy."
(photo: EcoWatch)
The WEF highlighted how the unsubsidized LCOE for utility-scale solar photovoltaic—which was not competitive even five years ago—has declined at a 20 percent compounded annual rate, "making it not only viable but also more attractive than coal in a wide range of countries."

  Countries that have already reached grid parity include Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Australia with many more countries also on the same track. The WEF projects that two thirds of the world will reach grid parity in the next couple of years, and by 2020, solar photovoltaic energy is projected to have a lower LCOE than coal or natural gas-fired generation throughout the world.

   "Renewable energy has reached a tipping point," Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, told Quartz. "It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns."

   The report follows a recent analysis from the IEA which revealed that total clean power capacity increased by 153 gigawatts, overtaking coal for the first time. To illustrate, about 500,000 solar panels installed were installed around the world every day.

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Noam Chomsky: Trump and Our Resistance

Noam Chomsky. (photo: Andrew Rusk/Flickr)
Noam Chomsky. (photo: Andrew Rusk/Flickr)

Noam Chomsky: Trump and Our Resistance

By Jacobin
28 December 16

Noam Chomsky on progressive reform, Fidel Castro, and building resistance under Donald Trump.

  As he approaches ninety years old, Noam Chomsky’s bibliography just keeps expanding. Fortunately for the international left, he also continues giving interviews.
Earlier this month, less than a week before his eighty-eighth birthday, Chomsky sat down for a conversation at his office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Interviewed by Vaios Triantafyllou, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, Chomsky discussed everything from socialism, human nature, and the Adam Smith to the US president-elect. (The transcript has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

   As Donald Trump fills out his Cabinet, Chomsky allows that the future could be one of bigotry and scapegoating. But the choice is still up to us: “Whether that could succeed,” Chomsky says of divide-and-conquer tactics, “depends on the kind of resistance that will be mounted by people just like you.”

How should socialists think about the relationship between reforms that humanize the existing system of production (as proposed by Sanders) and the long-term goal of abolishing capitalism altogether?

  Well, first of all we should recognize that, like most terms of political discourse, socialism has more or less lost its meaning. Socialism used to mean something. If you go back far enough, it meant basically control of production by producers, elimination of wage labor, democratization of all spheres of life; production, commerce, education, media, workers’ control in factories, community control of communities, and so on. That was socialism once.

   But it hasn’t meant that for a hundred years. In fact, what were called the socialist countries were the most anti-socialist systems in the world. Workers had more rights in the United States and England than they had in Russia, and it was somehow still called socialism.

   As far as Bernie Sanders is concerned, he is a decent, honest person, and I supported him. What he means by socialism is New Deal liberalism. In fact, his actual policies would not have been a great surprise to General Eisenhower. The fact that this is called a political revolution is a sign of how far to the right the political spectrum has shifted, mainly in the last thirty years, since the neoliberal programs began to be instituted. What he was calling for was a restoration of something like New Deal liberalism, which is a very good thing.

  So, going to your question, I think we should ask: should people who care about human beings, and their lives and concerns, seek to humanize the existing system of production by the means you describe? And the answer is, sure they should do that, that’s better for people.

   Should they set out the long-term goal of abolishing capitalist economic organization altogether? Sure, I think so. It’s had its achievements, but it is based on quite brutal assumptions, anti-human assumptions. The very idea that there should be a certain class of people who give orders by virtue of their ownership of wealth and another huge class who take orders and follow them because of their lack of access to wealth and power, that’s unacceptable.

   So, sure it should be abolished. But those are not alternatives. Those are things you do together.

One of the main arguments used against socialism is that human nature is by definition selfish and competitive, and hence is only conducive to capitalism. How would you respond?

   Bear in mind that capitalism is a tiny period of human society. We never really had capitalism, we always had one or another variant of state capitalism. The reason is capitalism would self-destruct in no time. So the business classes have always demanded strong state intervention to protect the society from the destructive effect of market forces. It’s often business that it’s in the lead, because they don’t want everything destroyed.
So we’ve had one or another form of state capitalism during an extremely brief period of human history, and it tells us essentially nothing about human nature. If you look at human societies and human interactions, you can find anything. You find selfishness, you find altruism, you find sympathy.

  Let’s take Adam Smith, the patron saint of capitalism — what did he think? He thought the main human instinct was sympathy. In fact, take a look at the word “invisible hand.” Take a look at the actual way in which he used the phrase. Actually, it’s not hard to find out, because he only used it twice in any relevant sense, once in each of his two major books.

   In his one major book, The Wealth of Nations, the phrase appears once, and it appears in what amounts to a critique of neoliberal globalization. What he says is that, if in England, the manufacturers and merchants invested abroad and imported from abroad, they might benefit, but it would be harmful to England. But their commitment to their home country is sufficient, so they are unlikely to do this and therefore, by an invisible hand, England will be saved from the impact of what we call neoliberal globalization. That’s one use.

   The other use is in his other major book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (which people don’t read much, but for him it was the major book). Here he is an egalitarian, he believed in equality of outcome, not opportunity. He is an Enlightenment figure, pre-capitalist.
He says, suppose in England, one landowner got most of the land and other people would have nothing to live on. He says it wouldn’t matter much, because the rich landowner, by virtue of his sympathy for other people would distribute resources among them, so that by an invisible hand, we would end up with a pretty egalitarian society. That’s his conception of human nature.

   That’s not the way “invisible hand” is used by the people who you took courses with or whose books you read. That shows a difference in doctrine, not in fact, about human nature. What we actually know about human nature is that it has all of these possibilities.

Do you think it’s necessary to sketch out concrete proposals for a future socialist order, creating a solid alternative that appeals to the majority of people?

  I think people are interested in authentic long-term socialist goals (which are not what is usually called socialism). They should be thinking through carefully how the projected society should work, not in extensive detail, because a lot of things just have to be learned by experiment, and we don’t know enough to plan societies in detail by any means. But general guidelines could be worked out, and many of the specific problems can be discussed.

  And that should just be part of people’s popular consciousness. That’s how a transition to socialism could take place. When it becomes part of the awareness, consciousness, and aspirations of the large majority of the population.

   So, take for example one of the major achievements in this direction, maybe the major one: the anarchist revolution in Spain in 1936. There had been decades of preparation for that: in education, in activism and efforts — sometimes beaten back — but when the moment came with the fascist attack, the people had in their minds the way they wanted the society to be organized.

  We have seen it in other ways, too. Take, say, Europe’s reconstruction after the Second World War. The Second World War had really devastating effects for much of Europe. But it really didn’t take them very long to reconstruct state capitalist democracies because it was in people’s heads.

   There were other parts of the world that were pretty much devastated, and they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the conceptions in their mind. A lot of it is human consciousness.

Syriza came to power claiming a commitment to socialism. But they ended up cooperating with the European Union, and didn’t step down even after they were forced to implement austerity. How do you think we can avoid a similar outcome in the future?

   I think the real tragedy of Greece, aside from the savagery of the European bureaucracy, Brussels bureaucracy, and Northern banks, which was really savage, is the Greek crisis didn’t have to erupt. It could have been taken care of pretty easily at the very beginning.
But it happened, and Syriza came into office with a declared commitment to combat it. In fact they actually called a referendum, which horrified Europe: the idea that people should be allowed to decide something about their own fate is just anathema to European elites — how can democracy even be permitted (even in the country where it was created).

   As a result of this criminal act of asking people what they want, Greece was punished even further. The demands of the Troika got much harsher because of the referendum. They were fearing a kind of domino effect — if we pay attention to people’s desires, others might get the same idea, and the plague of democracy might actually spread, so we have to kill it right away at the roots.

   Then Syriza did succumb, and ever since then they have done things that I think are quite unacceptable.

   You ask how people should respond? By creating something better. It’s not easy, especially when they are isolated. Greece, alone, is in a very vulnerable position. If the Greeks had had support from progressive left and popular forces elsewhere in Europe, they might have been able to resist the demands of the Troika.

What is your opinion of the system Castro created in Cuba after the revolution?

   Well, what Castro’s actual goals were, we don’t actually know. He was sharply constrained from the first moment, by a harsh and cruel attack from the reigning superpower.

   We have to remember that literally within months after his taking office, the planes from Florida were beginning to bomb Cuba. Within a year, the Eisenhower administration, secretly, but formally, determined [the US would] overthrow the government. Then came the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Kennedy administration was furious about the failure of the invasion, and immediately launched a major terrorist war, economic war that got harsher through the years.

   Under these conditions it is kind of amazing that Cuba survived. It is a small island right offshore of a huge superpower which is trying to destroy it, and obviously depended on the United States for survival all of its recent history. But somehow they survived. It was true that it was a dictatorship: a lot of brutality, a lot of political prisoners, a lot of people killed.

   Remember, the US attack on Cuba was ideologically presented as necessary to defend ourselves from Russia. As soon as Russia disappeared, the attack got harsher. There was almost no comment on that, but it tells you that the preceding claims were just an outright lie, as of course they were.

   If you look at US internal documents, they explain very clearly what the threat of Cuba was. So back in the early ’60s, the State Department described the threat of Cuba as Castro’s successful defiance of US policy, going back to the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine established the claim — they couldn’t implement it at the time, but the claim — to dominate the Western Hemisphere, and Castro was successfully defying that.
That’s not tolerable. It is like somebody saying, let’s have democracy in Greece, and we just can’t tolerate that, so we have to destroy the threat at its roots. Nobody can successfully defy the master of the hemisphere, in fact of the world, hence the savagery.

    But the reaction was mixed. There were achievements, like health, literacy, and so on. The internationalism was incredible. There is a reason why Nelson Mandela went to Cuba to praise Castro and thank the Cuban people almost as soon as he got out of jail. That’s a Third World reaction, and they understand it.

   Cuba played an enormous role in the liberation of Africa and the overthrow of apartheid — sending doctors and teachers to the poorest places in the world, to Haiti, Pakistan after the earthquake, almost everywhere. The internationalism is just astonishing. I don’t think there has been anything like it in history.

   The health achievements were astonishing. Health statistics in Cuba were about like the United States, and take a look at the differences in wealth and power.
On the other hand, there was a harsh dictatorship. So there was both.

   Transition to socialism? We cannot even talk about this. The conditions made it impossible, and we don’t know if there was an intention.

In recent years, several movements have sprung up in the US criticizing the current form of social and economic organization. Nevertheless, most of them have united against a common enemy, instead of uniting around a common vision. How should we think about the state of social movements and their ability to unite?

   Let’s take the Occupy movement. Occupy was not a movement, it was a tactic. You can’t sit forever in a park near Wall Street. You can’t do it for more than a few months.
It was a tactic I had not predicted. If people had asked me, I would have said, don’t do it.
But it was a great success, an enormous success, with a big impact on people’s thinking, on people’s action. The whole concept of concentration of wealth (1 percent and 99 percent), it was there of course, at the background of people’s understanding, but it became prominent — even became prominent in the mass media (in the Wall Street Journal, for example) — and it led to many forms of activism, it energized people and so on. But it wasn’t a movement.

   The Left, in a general sense, is very much atomized. We live in highly atomized societies. People are pretty much alone: it’s you and your iPad.

  The major organizing centers, like the labor movement, have been severely weakened, in the United States very severely, by policy. It didn’t happen like a hurricane. Policies have been designed to undermine working-class organization, and the reason is not only that unions fight for workers’ rights, but they also have a democratizing effect. These are institutions in which people without power can get together, support one another, learn about the world, try out their ideas, initiate programs — and that’s dangerous. That’s like a referendum in Greece. It’s dangerous to allow that.

   We should recall that during the Second World War and the Depression, there was an upsurge in popular, radical democracy, all over the world. It took different forms, but it was there, everywhere.

   In Greece it was the Greek revolution. And it had to be crushed. In countries like Greece, it was crushed by violence. In countries like Italy, where the US/ British forces entered in 1943, it was crushed by attacking and destroying the anti-German partisans and restoring the traditional order. In countries like the United States, it was crushed not by violence — capitalist power doesn’t have that capacity here — but starting in the late ’40s, huge efforts were undertaken to try to undermine and destroy the labor movement. And it went on.

   It picked up sharply under Reagan, it picked up again under Clinton, and by now the labor movement is extremely weak (in other countries, it’s taken different forms). But that was one of the institutions which did let people come together to act cooperatively and with mutual support, and others have been pretty much decimated as well.

What can we expect from Donald Trump? Does his rise provide ground for redefining and uniting a socialist movement around a common vision in the United States?

   The answer to that is basically up to you and your friends. It really depends on how people, especially young people, react. There are plenty of opportunities, and they could be taken. It is not inevitable by any means.

   Just take what is likely to happen. Trump is highly unpredictable. He doesn’t know what he plans. But what might happen, for example, one possible scenario is this: a lot of people who voted for Trump, working-class people, voted for Obama in 2008. They were seduced by the slogans “hope” and “change.” They didn’t get hope, they didn’t get change, they were disillusioned.

   This time they voted for another candidate who is calling for hope and change and has promised to deliver all kinds of amazing things. Well, he is not going to deliver them. So, what happens in a couple of years, when he hasn’t delivered them and that same constituency is disillusioned?

   What’s very likely is that the power system will do what it typically does under such conditions: try to scapegoat the more vulnerable to say, “Yeah, you haven’t gotten what we promised, and the reason is those worthless people, the Mexicans, the blacks, the Syrian immigrants, the welfare cheats. They are the ones who are destroying everything. Let’s go after them. The gays, they are the ones to blame.”

  That could happen. It’s happened over and over in history with pretty ugly consequences. And whether that could succeed depends on the kind of resistance that will be mounted by people just like you. The answer to this question should be directed to you, not to me.

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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs