Obama’s Rollback Strategy: Honduras, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan (and the Boomerang Effect) by Prof James Petras

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by Prof James Petras
Global Research, July 9, 2009

The recent events in Honduras and Iran, which pit democratically elected regimes against pro-US military and civilian actors intent on overthrowing them can best be understood as part of a larger White House strategy designed to rollback the gains achieved by opposition government and movements during the Bush years.

In a manner reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s New Cold War policies, Obama has vastly increased the military budget, increased the number of combat troops, targeted new regions for military intervention and backed military coups in regions traditionally controlled by the US . However Obama’s rollback strategy occurs in a very different international and domestic context. Unlike Reagan, Obama faces a prolonged and profound recession/depression, massive fiscal and trade deficits, a declining role in the world economy and loss of political dominance in Latin America, the Middle East, East Asia and elsewhere. While Reagan faced off against a decaying Soviet Communist regime, Obama confronts surging world-wide opposition from a variety of independent secular, clerical, nationalist, liberal democratic and socialist electoral regimes and social movements anchored in local struggles.

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Iranian Elections: The ‘Stolen Elections’ Hoax by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, June 18, 2009

“Change for the poor means food and jobs, not a relaxed dress code or mixed recreation… Politics in Iran is a lot more about class war than religion.”
Financial Times Editorial, June 15 2009

Introduction

There is hardly any election, in which the White House has a significant stake, where the electoral defeat of the pro-US candidate is not denounced as illegitimate by the entire political and mass media elite. In the most recent period, the White House and its camp followers cried foul following the free (and monitored) elections in Venezuela and Gaza, while joyously fabricating an ‘electoral success’ in Lebanon despite the fact that the Hezbollah-led coalition received over 53% of the vote.

The recently concluded, June 12, 2009 elections in Iran are a classic case: The incumbent nationalist-populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (MA) received 63.3% of the vote (or 24.5 million votes), while the leading Western-backed liberal opposition candidate Hossein Mousavi (HM) received 34.2% or (13.2 million votes).

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Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures: Diplomacy, Militarism and Imagery by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, May 21, 2009
petras.lahaine.org

Introduction

President Obama’s greatest foreign policy successes are found in the reports of the mass media. His greatest failures go unreported, but are of great consequence. A survey of the major foreign policy priorities of the White House reveals a continuous series of major setbacks, which call into question the principal objectives and methods pursued by the Obama regime.

These are in order of importance:

1) Washington’s attempt to push for a joint economic stimulus program among the 20 biggest economies at the G-20 meeting in April 2009;

2) Calls for a major military commitment from NATO to increase the number of combat troops in conflict zones in Afghanistan and Pakistan to complement the additional 21,000 US troop buildup (Financial Times April 12, 2009 p.7);

3) Plans to forge closer political and diplomatic relations among the countries of the Americas based on the pursuit of a common agenda, including the continued exclusion of Cuba and isolation of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador (La Jornada (Mex. D.F.) April 20, 2009);

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Obama’s Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice by Prof James Petras

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by Prof James Petras
Global Research, May 17, 2009

“The Deltas are psychos…You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force…”, a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980’s. Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.

The point of the ‘Special Operations’ teams (SOT) is that they do not distinguish between civilian and military oppositions, between activists and their sympathizers and the armed resistance. The SOT specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US client regimes. The SOT’s ‘counter-terrorism’ is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-political groups between US proxies and the armed resistance. McChrystal’s SOT targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through commando raids and air strikes. During the last 5 years of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld period the SOT were deeply implicated in the torture of political prisoners and suspects. McChrystal was a special favorite of Rumsfeld and Cheney because he was in charge of the ‘direct action’ forces of the ‘Special Missions Units. ‘Direct Action’ operative are the death-squads and torturers and their only engagement with the local population is to terrorize, and not to propagandize. They engage in ‘propaganda of the dead’, assassinating local leaders to ‘teach’ the locals to obey and submit to the occupation. Obama’s appointment of McChrystal as head reflects a grave new military escalation of his Afghanistan war in the face of the advance of the resistance throughout the country.

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Worldwide Depression: Regional Impacts of the Global Crisis, Part II by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, April 5, 2009

World Depression: Regional Wars and the Decline of the US Empire

For Part I  of this article,  see World Depression: Regional Wars and the Decline of the US Empire, Part I by Prof. James Petras,  2009-03-30

The worldwide depression has both common and different causes, affected by the interconnections between economies and specific socio-economic structures. At the most general-global level the rising rate of profits and the over-accumulation of capital leading to the financial-real estate-speculative frenzy and crash affected most countries either directly or indirectly. At the same time, while all regional economies suffered the consequences of the onset of the depression, regions were situated in the world economy differently and subsequently the effects varied substantially.

Latin America

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World Depression: Regional Wars and the Decline of the US Empire, Part I by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, March 30, 2009

Introduction

All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigm and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch: Experts everywhere witness the collapse of the US and world financial system, the absence of credit for trade and the lack of financing for investment. A world depression, in which upward of a quarter of the world’s labor force will be unemployed, is looming. The biggest decline in trade in recent world history – down 40% year to year – defines the future. The immanent bankruptcies of the biggest manufacturing companies in the capitalist world haunt Western political leaders. The ‘market’ as a mechanism for allocating resources and the government of the US as the ‘leader’ of the global economy have been discredited. (Financial Times, March 9, 2009) All the assumptions about ‘self-stabilizing markets’ are demonstrably false and outmoded. The rejection of public intervention in the market and the advocacy of supply-side economics have been discredited even in the eyes of their practitioners. Even official circles recognize that ‘inequality of income’ contributed to the onset of the economic crash and should be corrected. Planning, public ownership, nationalization are on the agenda while socialist alternatives have become almost respectable.

With the onset of the depression, all the shibboleths of the past decade are discarded: As export-oriented growth strategies fail, import substitution policies emerge. As the world economy ‘de-globalizes’ and capital is ‘repatriated’ to save near bankrupt head offices – national ownership is proposed. As trillions of dollars/Euros/yen in assets are destroyed and devalued, massive layoffs extend unemployment everywhere. Fear, anxiety and uncertainty stalk the offices of state, financial directorships, the office suites the factories, and the streets…

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Latin America: Perspectives for Socialism in a Time of a World Capitalist Recession/Depression by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, January 20, 2009

Introduction

A serious discussion of the perspectives for socialism in Latin America today requires several levels of analysis, moving from world economic conditions, to US-Latin American relations, to their specific impact on Latin America. The analysis must focus on how the economic recession/depression impacts on the changing political-economic systems and the class structures. Finally, within this framework, it becomes necessary to examine the development of the class struggle and anti-imperialist movement in specific countries and under different regimes.

While there are broad similarities to previous ‘recessions’ and economic cycles, there are many good reasons to think that what matters most in the present world conjuncture is the specific world historical conditions, which mark the present economic recession as very distinctive or ‘unique’.

Specificities of the current recession/depression (RD)

We refer to the present crisis as ‘recession-depression’ because the negative growth of capitalism is a current ongoing process that is still in its opening phase: The current recession is still spreading and likely will deepen into a depression as early as mid-2009 onward for a prolonged period. Secondly, the recession/depression is spreading unevenly in terms of depth and timing, with some countries and regions in more ‘advanced’ states of crisis (US-EU-Japan) than others (India and China).

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The Politics of An Israeli Extermination Campaign: Backers, Apologists and Arms Suppliers by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, January 2, 2009

Introduction

Because of the unconditional support of the entire political class in the US, from the White House to Congress, including both Parties, incoming and outgoing elected officials and all the principle print and electronic mass media, the Israeli Government feels no compunction in publicly proclaiming a detailed and graphic account of its policy of mass extermination of the population of Gaza.

Israel’s sustained and comprehensive bombing campaign of every aspect of governance, civic institutions and society is directed toward destroying civilized life in Gaza. Israel’s totalitarian vision is driven by the practice of a permanent purge of Arab Palestine informed by Zionism, an ethno-racist ideology, promulgated by the Jewish state and justified, enforced and pursued by its organized backers in the United States.

The facts of Israeli extermination have become known: In the first six days of round the clock terror bombing of major and minor populations centers, the Jewish State has murdered and seriously maimed over 2,500 people, mostly dismembered and burned in the open ovens of missile fire. Scores of children and women have been slaughtered as well as defenseless civilians and officials.

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The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation by James Petras

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by James Petras
Global Research, December 1, 2008

Colonial style empire-building is making a huge comeback

Big Green Tomatoes

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

“The deal South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics is negotiating with the Madagascar Government looks rapacious…The Madagascan case looks neo-colonial…The Madagascan people stand to lose half of their arable land.” Financial Times Editorial, November 20, 2008

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Victory for Venezuela’s Socialists in Crucial Elections by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, November 25, 2008

November 2008 Landslide

The pro-Chavez United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 72% of the governorships in the November 23, 2008 elections and 58% of the popular vote, dumbfounding the predictions of most of the pro-capitalist pollsters and the vast majority of the mass media who favored the opposition.

PSUV candidates defeated incumbent opposition governors in three states (Guaro, Sucre, Aragua) and lost two states (Miranda and Tachira). The opposition retained the governorship in a tourist center (Nueva Esparta) and won in Tachira, a state bordering Colombia, Carabobo and the oil state of Zulia, as well as scoring an upset victory in the populous state of Miranda and taking the mayoralty district of the capital, Caracas. The socialist victory was especially significant because the voter turnout of 65% exceeded all previous non-presidential elections. The prediction by the propaganda pollsters that a high turnout would favor the opposition also reflected wishful thinking.

The significance of the socialist victory is clear if we put it in a comparative historical context:

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The Larger Meaning of the Venezuelan Elections by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, November 19, 2008

The Elections of November 23, 2008

Introduction

The Venezuelan gubernatorial and municipal elections, taking place on November 23 of this year, are the most polarized and significant in the country’s history. A great deal has changed for the better since my first teaching invitation at the Central University over 40 years ago: The Chavez government has build hundreds of medical and educational facilities serving the vast majority of the poor, vastly reduced underemployment, subsidized food for the slum residents of the ‘ranchos’ and raised living standards for ordinary Venezuelans. Equally significant, this year a new pro-Chavez political party, the Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV), with a formal membership of over a million members is facing its first test – in action in 23 states and over 300 municipalities. The elections and their results will tell us a great deal about the popular response to two conflicting versions of the recent past: Whether the government’s positive efforts toward building socialism compensates for local political and economic deficiencies or whether the pro-US/capitalist-led opposition with its control of the mass media and its new ‘grass roots’ strategies have penetrated and influenced at least some sectors of the Chavista mass base. The elections are in effect a judgment of the performance of the great majority of state and local governments ruled by Chavista incumbents as well as a political statement about the support and ‘drawing power’ of President Chavez. The outcome of these elections will have a profound impact on the future political direction of the Chavez government’s transition to socialism as well as on the possibilities of a future referendum allowing for Chavez’ re-election.

Equally important, the electoral outcome will have an important impact on the policies of the incoming Obama regime: A decisive victory or defeat of the Chavistas will entail important tactical and strategic adjustments in the new Administrations policies.

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A Paradigm Shift in America’s Intellectual Community by Pablo Ouziel

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by Pablo Ouziel
Global Research, November 6, 2008

Contrary to popular belief, the big change in America’s society stemming from the recent presidential elections, was not the election of the first African-American president. The most important event has taken place in the intellectual community, in which a paradigm shift has taken place and few have noticed.

The new era of voting for the lesser of the two evils has penetrated the core of America’s critical intellectual community, and some of the biggest voices for change have endorsed Obama. In effect, what has taken place is the union between those opposed to imperial ideology and those endorsing it. Although this serious event has gone largely unnoticed, American intellectuals will need to reflect on its consequences seriously if they are to contribute to the building of a stable future for humanity as a whole, and in particular to mending the tarnished corrupt fabric of American society.

One American intellectual, James Petras, has been able to identify the direct social consequences of such a paradigm shift and prior to the elections has publicly expressed his views in an article titled; The Elections and the Responsibility of the Intellectual to Speak Truth to Power: Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama and Support Nader/McKinney

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Mass Media & Mass Politics – Conservative, Liberal & Marxist Perspectives

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, November 5, 2008

Introduction

The role of the mass media (MM) in influencing mass and class behavior has been a central concern among critical writers, especially since the turn of the Twentieth century. Debates and studies on the MM have focused on its political bias, ownership and links to big business, relationships and ties to the state, relative openness and diversity, promotion of wars and corporate interests among other major issues affecting the relations of power, wealth and empire. Of particular interest to writers opposing and supporting the role of the MM is the impact of the MM in influencing mass outlook, opinions and behaviors. Essays, monographs and empirical studies have been published as to the extent of MM influence, the time frame in which it retains control, the ‘depth’ of loyalty to MM inculcated opinions, and the ‘place’ in which MM messages have the greatest influence in inducing mass opinion in conformity with ruling class interests.

An understanding of the role and power of the MM in contemporary capitalist society requires us to organize the debate according to three major schools – conservative, liberal and Marxist – before proceeding to a critical analysis and finally presenting notes towards setting alternatives to elite-controlled communications networks.

Competing Paradigms: Conservative, Liberal and Marxist

There are three paradigms on the role, power and relation of the mass media to mass opinion and action: the conservative, liberal and Marxist.

The Conservative, or ‘pluralist’ paradigm, propagated largely by US and European social scientists emphasizes the multiple voices, competing networks and outlets and diversity of opinions. The conservative – ‘pluralists’, contend that even if the ownership of the mass media is concentrated and its message biased in favor of the status quo, the mass media are simply one ‘resource’, countered by other ‘resources’ such as ‘large numbers’ of low income voters. Though conceding the unequal access to the mass media between labor and capital, pro-war regimes and anti-war opposition, they argue the opposition does have some outlets, numerous writers and publicists: Control over the mass media is ‘unequal but dispersed’. Moreover, they argue, that with the growth of the internet, there are multiple sources of information, and the mass media monopoly has been severely diluted, in effect ‘democratizing’ the ‘communication system’. The more astute pluralist ideologues cite empirical studies, which show that most individuals’ views are shaped by their family, friends and neighbors – face-to-face relations, much more so than the ‘impersonal media’. In summary, the conservative argue there is no all powerful mass media power elite, and to the extent that it exists, it is counterbalanced by alternative media, local opinion and its own tolerance of diverse and competing opinions.

The Liberal Paradigm of the Mass Media

The liberal paradigm describes the MM as the key instrument of ruling class domination in a liberal democracy. Beginning with a historical account of the concentration of ownership in the hands of a small number of corporations interlocked with business and the state, the MM is seen as an essential component in the ‘system of control’ which perpetuates the ruling class and empire-building by its control and indoctrination of mass opinion. The majority are converted into a malleable mass, induced to conformity to the interests and policies of the ruling class, thus preventing change and perpetuating the rule by the corporate elite. For the liberals the top-down control by the mass media explains the ‘paradox’ of a highly unequal, military-driven empire in the context of a free and democratic political system. The principle role of the academics is to convince other academics to unmask the media, to expose its fabrications, deceptions and hypocrisy, by emphasizing the ‘contradictions’ between ‘our’ democratic values and the lies of the powerful. The more radical version of the ‘liberal’ view of the mass media attributes the high degree of consensus between elite and masses in the United States to the omnipresence and omniscience of the mass media.

Marxist Critique

The Marxist approach to the mass media begins necessarily with a critique of the conservative and liberal perspectives. Against the conservative critique, it points out that ‘power’ is not a disembodied resource but a relationship in which the owners of wealth and power can multiply and accumulate political and economic assets. The presumption that ‘everyone’ or all groups can have some influence overlooks the fact that ownership of the means of communication is linked to other powerful economic groups, which wield power over banks, investment, trust funds, and these, in turn, influence political leaders and parties controlling legislation, candidate selection and government spending and agendas: this undermines the foundations and validity of the pluralist paradigm. On all the major events of our time, the mass media loyally echoed the political line of the capitalist state, justifying the invasion of Iraq, the demonizing of Iran and echoing the state line on Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s blockade of Palestine and invasion of Lebanon and the bailout of Wall Street. In all the major events, a unified mass media played a leading role in propagating the message of the ruling class, among the masses, with varying degrees of success.

The liberal paradigm of ‘mass media determinism’ appears to have more credibility as its diagnosis of the structure of power and ownership of the MM corresponds to reality, as does its role in propagandizing the lies of the state on war and the economy. However, when we turn to the liberals’ image of MM control over mass opinion and attitudes, the assertions of all-powerful, all-controlling mass media successfully manipulating the public, these assumptions are questionable.

Historically, monopoly-oligopoly control of the mass media has been unsuccessful in shaping mass attitudes and action in a number of important political contexts. This is true even in the United States. For example, despite unanimous MM support for the privatization of the Federal Social Security Program, the huge public bailout of Wall Street, the continuation of the military occupation of Iraq and military escalation in Afghanistan and the current private for profit health system, the great majority of the US public is strongly opposed to the MM line. Despite the fact that the leaders and the majorities of both ruling political parties do not reflect mass opinion, a majority of Americans have consistently backed a national, universal public health care, the withdrawal of US troops and they have vehemently opposed the Congressional support for Wall Street and the big finance industry. An analysis reveals that the MM are influential in shaping mass opinion in line with ruling class and state policies on foreign policies, particularly the war policy, at the start of a war, aggression or militarist posture before the economic and human costs are brought home to US citizens in their everyday lives. The MM is relatively ineffective when it supports domestic measures, which adversely affect the everyday socio-economic life of the mass of the American people. The MM operate most successfully when they dominate the flow and access of information, as in foreign policy, where they can fabricate, distort and emotionally charge what is heard and seen by the public. In contrast, MM ruling class propaganda is severely weakened by the evidence of empirical experience, which Americans live in relation to their health, pensions, wages and employment. Marxists would argue that particular economic conditions create a class awareness, which counterbalances the power of the MM.

The weakness of the liberal view of the dominance of the mass media is found in its failure to take account of the impact of class contexts, the constraints of economic crises , the costs of war, the impact of downward mobility and the importance of basic social security in measuring or describing the operations of the mass media. Most liberal theory of the mass media is based on a selective view of contexts, issues, time and places to back their theory. For example, mass media and mass conformity ‘fits’ with the period of an expanding economy, upward social mobility, relative peace or less costly military interventions, particularly with regard to foreign policy issues. The MM’s long term backing for capitalism or the ‘free market’ dominates mass opinion up to the collapse of capitalism: With the crises and breakdown of the financial system and especially the loss by millions of people of their pensions, even some propagandists in the MM realize that position is indefensible. The liberal view of MM omnipotence and dominance of mass opinion is deeply flawed and fails to account for political-economic changes resulting from mass opinion which strongly deviates from MM propaganda.

The Marxist Perspective on the Mass Media

The Marxist perspective relativizes the influence of the MM making its power over the mass contingent on the degree to which the working and allied classes depend exclusively on the MM for information and for defining their political interests and social action. Marxists argue that the MM exercises maximum influence where there is little or no class organization or class struggle (like in the US). In contrast, where there is or was class organization, as in Venezuela or Bolivia, Chile in the 1970’s, and Central America in the 1980’s, the mass media have a far weaker impact on mass public opinion. Marxists argue that where there is a history and culture of working class, peasant, Indian or other class-based movements and class solidarity the ruling class/state propaganda promoted by the MM has only a weak effect. The masses have a preexistent framework, communication network and local opinion leaders, which filter out messages/propaganda that violate social/class/ethnic/national solidarity.

For example, in Chile during the Presidency of Salvador Allende (1970-73), the vast majority of the print and broadcast media were violently opposed to the Democratic Socialist President-yet President Allende won the election, the left increased its vote in subsequent municipal and congressional elections based on overwhelming support from the workers, poor peasants, Indians and unemployed shanty town residents.

More recently in Venezuela, the vast majority of MM has opposed President Chavez (1998-2008) in every congressional and municipal election, yet he has won massive electoral victories. In both cases, socio-economic programs (vast increases in health and education, programs, land distribution, upward mobility, progressive income programs, nationalization of basic resources), strong class based organized support and mass mobilizations creating class consciousness undermined the effectiveness of the mass media.

Throughout Latin America during the first decade of the new millennium, powerful popular movements grew in membership and organization despite the intense demonizing by all the major MM. In Brazil, the Landless Rural Workers expanded its membership and support for land occupations despite the criminalization of its activity by the MM. The same was true of the miners, workers, peasant and Indian movements in Bolivia – leading to the overthrow of MM-backed neo-liberal presidents. Similar mass uprisings overthrowing MM-backed Presidents took place in Argentina (2001) and Ecuador (2000 and 2005).

These cases illustrate the contingent and circumstantial conditions, which influence MM dominance of mass opinion. There are several common conditions in all these cases:

1. History, cultural, community and family linkages may create a ‘block’or ‘filter’ on MM propaganda, especially on socio-economic issues affecting workplace, neighborhood and living standards.

2. Class struggle creates horizontal class bonds, especially in response to state and ruling class repression, declining living standards, concentration of wealth and mass evictions and displacement. Class struggle creates positive responses to messages reinforcing the struggle and a negative rejection to messages from publicly identified media taking the side of the ruling class.

3. Class organizations provide an alternative framework for understanding events, and for defining mass interests in class terms which resonate with their everyday experience and provide information and interpretation that counters the MM. The higher the degree of class organization, the greater class solidarity and struggle the weaker the MM impact on mass opinion. The converse is also true. Whereas in the US, trade unions are run by officials drawing $300,000 dollars or more a year, who emphasize collaboration with the bosses (and publicly reject class struggle politics) and fail to organize 93% of the private workforce, the MM have an easier time influencing mass opinion.

4. The stronger the alternative class networks of opinion formation, the weaker the influence of the MM. Where social movements develop local cadre, opinion leaders and community rooted activists, the less likely the masses will take their ‘cues’ on events from the formal, distant MM. In many cases the masses selectively tune into the MM for entertainment (sports, soap operas, comedies) while rejecting their news reports and editorials. Multi-generational families living in close proximity, located in homogenous occupational neighborhoods, with strong histories of class-based construction of communities generate class solidarity and social messages which come in conflict with the ruling class messages which promote ‘private initiative’ and ‘successful micro-capitalism’ or the criminalization of collective class action. Both liberal and conservative views of the MM fail to account for the class context of media receptivity and power; the pluralists understate its capacity to dominate in times of weak class organization; the liberals overstate the power of the MM by ignoring the countervailing power of class-based organization, class struggle, culture, history and family traditions and solidarity that link individuals to their class and undermine receptivity to the ruling class message of the MM.

© Copyright James Petras, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10823

see

The Century Of The Self By Adam Curtis (2002; must-see)

Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama and Support Nader/McKinney

Dandelion Salad

By James Petras
October 29, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse

The presidential elections in the US, once again, provide an acid test of the integrity and consequential conduct of US intellectuals. If it is the duty and responsibility of the public intellectual to speak truth to power, the recent statements of most of our well-known and prestigious public pundits have failed miserably.

Instead of highlighting, exposing and denouncing the reactionary foreign and domestic policies of Democratic Party candidate Senator Barack Obama, they have chosen to support him, ‘critically, offering as excuses that even ‘limited differences’ can result in positive outcomes,and that ‘Obama is the lesser evil’ and ‘creates an opportunity for a possibility of change.’

What makes these arguments untenable is the fact that Obama’s public pronouncements, his top policy advisers, and the likely policymakers in his government have openly defined a most bellicose foreign policy and a profoundly reactionary domestic economic policy totally in line with Paulson-Bush-Wall Street. On the major issues of war, peace, the economic crisis and the savaging of the US wage and salaried class, Obama promises to extend and deepen the policies which the majority of Americans reject and repudiate.

Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama

1.Obama publicly and repeatedly promises to escalate the US military intervention in Afghanistan, increasing the number of US troops, expanding their operations and engaging in systematic cross-border attacks. In other words, Obama is a greater warmonger than Bush.

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No Bailout for Wall Street Billionaires by Prof. James Petras

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by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, September 28, 2008

Ten Reasons to Oppose the Wall Street Bailout

Treasury Secretary Paulson and President Bush backed by the Democratic Congressional leadership have asked Congress for $700 billion dollars to bailout Wall Street financial institutions.

Over the past several years these banks reaped billions of dollars borrowing and speculating on mortgages, securities and other financial paper with virtually no capital covering their bets. With the fall in the housing market, Wall Street’s financial debts skyrocketed, the value of their holdings evaporated and they are saddled with trillions of dollars of debt.

Paulson, Bush and the Congressional leadership want the US taxpayer to buy Wall Street’s worthless private debts, saddling current and future generations of US taxpayers with worthless paper.

Paulson/Bush and the Congressional leaders falsely claim that failure to bailout the Wall Street swindlers will lead to the collapse of the financial system. In fact, almost 200 of our leading economists from the most prestigious universities reject Paulson’s bailout. The truth of the matter is that withholding funds to Wall Street will lead to the collapse of the swindler-speculator-run financial system, which created the current economic debacle.

The Federal Government can and should use the hundreds of billions of public money to establish a national, publicly controlled banking and investment system subject to oversight by elected representatives. The collapse of the current bankrupt financial system is both a threat and an opportunity: The collapse of this corrupt system has led to the loss of jobs and frozen credit and lending; the establishment of a new publicly owned banking system offers an opportunity to finance the priorities of the vast majority of the American people: the re-industrialization of our economy, a universal national health program, securing and extending social security into the next century, rebuilding our decaying infrastructure and many other programs essential to the American way of life.

The problem is not the false alternative of bailing out Wall Street or financial chaos and collapse: The real choice is between subsidizing swindlers or establishing a responsible, responsive and equitable publicly run financial system.

Ten Reasons to Oppose the Wall Street Bailout

1. In a market economy capitalists justify their profits by the risk of losses that they take. Gamblers cannot keep their profits and pass their losses to the taxpayers. They have to take responsibility for their bad decisions.

2. Much of the toxic (garbage) debts were based on fraudulent practices – opaque financial instruments unrelated to real assets (but which generated huge commissions). Bailing out swindlers only encourages more swindling.

3. The US Treasury will purchase worthless paper, the private banks will retain any assets of value. We buy the lemons, they drive the Cadillacs.

4. The chance of the Treasury recovering any value from their purchases of bad debt is near zero. The taxpayers will be stuck with paper with no buyers.

5. The long-term effect of a bailout will be to double the

public debt and undercut funding for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and public health programs while increasing the tax burden of future generations.

6. The dollar will devalue as the government debt will decrease its attractiveness overseas, increasing the cost of imports and resulting in an inflationary spiral which will further undermine working people’s living standards.

7. The channeling of funds to Wall Street will divert funds from getting us out of this deepening recession.

8. The bailout will deepen the financial crisis because, according to the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, it will expose the fact that many institutions may be carrying many more ‘toxic assets’ and reveal that those institutions are not solvent. In other words, the Treasury and Congress are freeing up bad debts to insolvent institutions.

9. The bailout is aimed at facilitating lending; but if the problem is not credit but (as the Congressional Budget Office has shown) the insolvency of the financial institutions, the solution is to create solvent financial institutions.

10. The bailout totally ignores the financial needs of 10 million homeowners facing foreclosures; the bankruptcy of small enterprises facing a credit crunch and the loss of workers’ jobs and health plans for their families because of the recession.

Alternatives to the Wall Street Bailout

The speed with which this gigantic amount of public funds had been made available by the Treasury and Congress puts the lie to their argument that popular programs cannot be funded or need to be cut back. In fact, investing $700 billion in the health and education of American workers will increase productivity, open markets and expand consumer power leading to a virtuous circle increasing public revenues and eliminating the budget and trade deficits.


Public funds invested in manufacturing, construction, education and health care leads to products with real use value and has a multiplier effect on the rest of the economy instead of ending up in the pockets of billionaires who speculate and invest in mergers and overseas buyouts.


The Treasury and Congress have inadvertently revealed that federal financing is readily available to rebuild the US economy, guarantee decent living wages and provide health care for everyone if we choose elective officials who are committed to the needs of the US workers and not the Wall Street billionaires.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 63 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies.  He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, Temps Moderne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet.   His publishers have included Random House, John Wiley, Westview, Routledge, Macmillan, Verso, Zed Books and Pluto Books. He is winner of the Life Time Career Award, Marxist Section, of the American Sociology Association, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. His latest books are: Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power, and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire

© Copyright James Petras, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10362

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