The Rise of the New Fascists and Their Threat to Democracy

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I wonder if this was how my father felt in England, watching the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and ’30s. By the time of my father’s 20th birthday, Mussolini had already secured his one-party-state in Italy; Hitler was elected and appointed chancellor. He would do the same in Germany within six months. While these two tightened their authoritarian hold on their nations, Stalin in the USSR would begin his Great Purge, and Franco would join the coup that led him to fascist … click below for more ↓

The Imperialist Economics of Blueberries

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There was a cooler right at the front of the fruit and vegetable section of the local Walmart store packed with clear plastic containers of blueberries. Plump, dark, fresh-looking berries. And value-priced at $2.87 a container. I love blueberries on my morning cereal; these looked inviting, and so inexpensive! Who can resist such a bargain? I put a container in my shopping cart. Only when I got home did I read the label: product of Peru. Peru lies more than 6,000 km away from me … click below for more ↓

Socialism, Communism, and Liberalism

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Watching American political dramas like their presidential elections is both entertaining and frightening. Yet it is also strangely educational. it has taught me a basic tenet: Americans as a people know little to nothing about politics. Not just about international politics, but their own. It is a commonly held belief outside American borders that Americans are remarkably unaware of the history, politics, leaders, or even existence of other nations, but are often equally ignorant of their own. There are far too many YouTube videos interviewing … click below for more ↓

Will communism as a dominant political ideology ever make a comeback

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I took the title from a discussion on Quora about whether Communism is dead or will re-emerge, and if so under what conditions. I don’t believe that the author of the post (Susanna Viljanen, from Aalto University in Finland) who opens that discussion wanted to see Communism arise again, but rather is asking if it can, and under what circumstances. She clearly states at the beginning of her argument, By now, Communism is dead and buried. Its failure was so spectacular, its achievements so appalling … click below for more ↓

The Talibangelist Conspiracy to Rule America and the West

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Talibangelists (aka (aka the pseudo-Christian, far right) would love to force everyone believe in and obey their highly-adulterated pseudo-religion, and to punish those who don’t.  Or won’t. Punishment is big on their agenda: unbelievers, those who stray, followers of a real faith, scientists, intellectuals, people of colour, gays, people with an “R” in their name — they love to punish anyone not among their small circle of authoritarian theocrats  (aka theocons, because their pseudo-religious ideology is conservative-far right) and enablers (cue the theme music from … click below for more ↓

Whatever happened to conservatives?

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It’s hard to believe these days, but in many nations, conservative political parties were once actually the defenders of the nation’s interests, of the greater good, of the public, and of the state. They weren’t always the corporate shills, protectors of billionaires, privatizing libertarians, lobbyist puppets, Talibangelist lapdogs*, and racists they all seem to be today. No, once upon a time they actually cared about their country and its people, not just themselves and the firms that own them. Look at the Republicans in the … click below for more ↓

Stalin’s ghostly influence today

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I recently finished reading the second volume of Stephen Kotkin’s magisterial biography of Josef Stalin: About 1,700 pages so far, with another 400 or so in small-type notes. Brilliant stuff, but a lot to absorb and consider. A bit of a slog if you’re not at least somewhat familiar with the history – there are many events, places and people to keep track of. Volume one ran from Stalin’s birth to 1928, the year of the first Soviet show trials and when Stalin had fully … click below for more ↓

How capitalism has failed us

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We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin… our homes are covered with mortgages, labor impoverished; and the land concentrating in the hands of the capitalists… The fruits of toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for the few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed two great classes … click below for more ↓

Imperialism and razors

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I’m looking at my recently-acquired, matte black, Weishi adjustable, TTO (Twist To Open, aka butterfly-head) razor. Quite attractive, smart even, and a solid heft in the hand. Chinese-made, Amazon-sold. I am still bemused by my ability to buy products – especially household items, things I use daily – from half a world away with a simple click. Especially when I can’t find any of those items locally (and, yes, I’ve looked…). Convenient, yes, but also a symbol of the new imperialism: the transnational corporate empires. … click below for more ↓

Leonard Cohen deserves the Nobel Prize, too

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News that songwriter Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature shook the literati worldwide. Here was a pop icon sitting in the august company of Alice Munro, Mario Vargas Llosa, Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter, V.S. Naipaul, Gabriel García Márquez, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Yasunari Kawabata, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Bernard Shaw, W. B. Yeats, Rudyard Kipling and many others. Novelists, essayists and poets. No songwriters, and especially no commercially successful, popular songwriters until the 75-year-old Dylan. And, we hope, that surely opens the door for similarly … click below for more ↓

Where is Che now that we need him?

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Maybe it’s simple nostalgia, but it seems to me the world was a lot better off when the Soviet Union was around. Really. Bear with me while I explain. When the USSR was the main enemy of our loudly-proclaimed free and democratic society, we struggled to measure ourselves against its yardstick. If the USSR claimed to have the best chess players, we had to beat them with Bobby Fischer. If they claimed to have the best students in math or science, well we had to … click below for more ↓

Demagogues and dictators

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I’m not sure why they fascinate me, but I’ve been reading about demagogues and dictators for many decades now and still can’t seem to get enough of them. Of course, it’s in part because I like to read about politics in all its forms and fashions, but there’s something more than just celebrity watching with these. There’s the psychology of propaganda and mass movements, the inoculation of widespread ideologies, the use of technology and mass culture. The period between the two World Wars in particular intrigues me … click below for more ↓

The Republican Conspiracy

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CNBC GOP Debate: The Sh*tshow Version Last night’s debate was a total sh*tshow. Posted by The Huffington Post on Thursday, October 29, 2015 I realized only after watching this edited video that the activity of the so-called Republican candidates’ debate was not simply the circus it seemed from the outset; it was actually a conspiracy. A cunning, well-laid conspiracy. And it is so Machiavellian that I actually smiled in appreciation of its deviousness. My first reaction on watching the debate (online) was that no one in their right minds … click below for more ↓

Apps are making us criminals

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[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og3PjvcR1Pc] Almost every week you read in the news about another taxi driver protest against Uber and its drivers. Taxi drivers go on strike, some rage against Uber and attack the drivers or damage their cars. Similar protests – albeit not yet as violent or large – have been made against Airbnb for its effects on local property values and changing social conditions like the loss of rental properties. These are just two of the apps whose effect on our society and culture are challenging … click below for more ↓

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