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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

October 8, 2015

This Issue: Elections, Democracy and anti-Democracy

Our topic of the week is Elections. If you're in Canada, we encourage you to vote, and to encourage others to vote in the October 19 election, to get rid of the dreadful Harper Conservatives. Items from the last couple of issues of Other Voices are still relevant, including the single page anti-Harper handout that you can print and hand out here with several PDF formats to choose from, and links to organizations that are working to get out the anti-Harper vote, such as Votetogether and Council of Canadians.

Our election resources include articles and books which argue that western style parliamentary democracies are anything but democratic, both in how they operate, and because most of the most important decisions are not subject to democratic decision-making. The articles in this issue on the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and on the use of finance and debt to take over countries and to attack working people, explore this theme in detail.

On a more positive note, we have a discussion of James Hansen's fossil fuel exit program, which suggests an approach for getting our economies off fossil fuels in the near future. Rounding out this issue are several People's History and From the Archives items, as well as the book of the week, "Democracy Against Capitalism", the film of the week, "The Price We Pay", and a song of the week, "Stealin' All My Dreams."

As always, we invite you to share this newsletter with your friends. You can forward this email, or send them the link to the Other Voices home page on the Connexions website at www.connexions.org/Media/CxNewsletter.htm.

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Topic of the Week: Elections

With the Canadian federal election looming, you might want to check out resources on elections, voting, and forms of democracy in the Connexions Subject Index. You’ll find articles and books on the nature of parliamentary democracy, on the question of whether voting can bring about change, on election rigging and voter suppression, and many other issues. Find them here.

This Week on Connexions.org

What Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multinational agreement that, among other things, threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. This article, by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, focuses specifically on the ‘intellectual property’ implications, which include the requirement that all signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. This will expand copyright restrictions, impede fair use, create new threats for journalists and whistleblowers, and expose users and Internet providers to heavy criminal sanctions for any alleged infringement of intellectual property rights. Read more

Keywords: Intellectual Property - International Trade Agreements

Parasites in the Body Economic: The Disasters of Neoliberalism

Michael Hudson discusses his new book, “Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy.” He says that finance and debt are the new mode of warfare, the means by which the elite take over countries and the savings of working people. He poses the question: “So here’s the problem: How do we get the left to realize this? How do we get it to talk about economics instead of ethnic identity and sexual identity and culture alone? How do we get the left to do what they were talking about a century ago - economic reform and how to take the side of labor, consumers and debtors?” Read more

Keywords: Debt - Economic Warfare

A Fossil Fuel Exit Program

A discussion of James Hansen’s proposed climate-change exit strategy. The main points of Hansen’s strategy are:

- Fossil-fuel companies would be charged an easily implemented carbon fee imposed at the well head, mine shaft, or point of entry.

- 100% of the revenue collected would be distributed monthly to the population on a per capita basis as dividends, with up to two half shares for children per family.

- Dividends would be sent directly via electronic transfers to bank accounts or debit cards.

- The carbon fee would be a single, uniform amount in the form of dollars per ton of carbon dioxide emitted from the fuel.

- The carbon fee would then gradually and predictably be ramped up so as to achieve the necessary carbon reductions.

- At the same time current subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry would be eliminated.

Read more

Keywords: Climate Change Policy - Fossil Fuels

The new colonialism: Greece and Ukraine

A new form of colonialism by direct management plus financial wealth transfer is now emerging in Greece and Ukraine.

According to Jack Rasmus, a new form of colonialism is emerging in Europe. Not colonialism imposed by military conquest and occupation, as in the 19th century. Not even the more efficient form of economic colonialism pioneered by the U.S. in the post-1945 period, where the costs of direct administration and military occupation were replaced with compliant local elites allowed to share in the wealth extracted in exchange for being allowed to rule on behalf of the colonizers. In the 21st century, it is ‘colonialism by means of financial asset transfer.’ It is colony wealth extraction by colonizing country managers, assigned to directly administer the processes in the colony by which financial assets are to be transferred. This new form of colonialism by direct management plus financial wealth transfer is now emerging in Greece and Ukraine. Read more

Keywords: Economic Warfare - Finance Capital

Beyond the Cliches about Radicalisation

Kenan Malik writes that the trouble with most characterizations of jihadism is that they are rooted in false perceptions of the problem. And the problem with most of the initiatives designed to counter it is that their real impact is not so much in combating jihadism as in undermining liberty. Malik offers suggestions for re-thinking the issue. Read more

Keywords: Jihad - Religious Fundamentalism

Saudi Royal Family: Protecting VIPs, While Letting Ordinary Pilgrims Die

In the wake of a stampede in Mecca which killed close to 1,000 Haj pilgrims, it is being reported that the columns of pilgrims ran into each other because Saudi police had closed off key roads in the vicinity so as to accommodate VIPs who are whisked through without having to mingle with the masses. Read more

Keywords: Haj - Saudi Arabia


The Alinsky Method: a Critique

The Alinsky approach, as developed by organizer Saul Alinksy and applied by others such as Cesar Chavez, involved focusing on local issues and not asking basic questions about the economy or about broader social structures. Anyone who tried to steer a local organization into broader concerns would be shut down or pushed out. Staughton Lynd thinks that we can learn about organizing techniques from Alinsky, but that a strategy for change has to reject the narrowness of the Alinsky method. Read More

Keywords: Community Organizing - Organizing

People’s History

Freedom Summer, 1964

The Mississippi Summer Project of 1964, better known as “Freedom Summer,” brought in volunteers to help with attempts to register Black voters who had long been prevented by chicanery and terror from doing so. At the same time, in view of the miserable conditions in the state’s segregated public schools, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) planned to create “freedom schools” in which volunteers (mostly the whites from the North) would, that summer, teach Black young people in subjects ranging from basic education to Black history and leadership skills. Read more

Keywords: Civil Rights Movement (U.S.) - De-segregation

The Measure of a Revolutionary: Remembering Eugene V. Debs

Eugene Debs was an articulate, far-reaching critic of American society, staunchly anti-capitalist and opposed to both Democratic and Republican parties, which he saw as controlled by Wall Street. In his five campaigns as the Socialist Party candidate for President of the United States, Debs excoriated the economic exploitation of workers, including the then rampant abuses of child labour, with rare oratorical skill. He advocated for unions in all major industries and promoted a vision of socialism as grassroots economic democracy. In a deeply racist, patriarchal society, he was also staunchly anti-racist and pro-women’s rights. When war hysteria swept the country, Debs openly defied the warmongers to oppose U.S. entry into World War I. He did so not as a pacifist, but because he saw the world war as an inter-imperialist dispute among the ruling classes of competing capitalist nations. Read more

Keywords: Left History - Socialism

From the Archives

Keys, comb and a plant: Palestinians tell of their past through cherished belongings

The first national museum for the geographically dispersed and exiled Palestinian people is taking shape, not only physically but conceptually. The goal is “to connect the Palestinians and present different narratives to the world of who we are, where we come from and what we aspire.” Since the Israeli occupation authorities prevent many Palestinians from travelling to their homeland, the Palestinian Museum seeks to become the hub connecting a dispersed network of institutions in Jordan, Beirut, Gaza, Haifa and elsewhere. Read more

Keywords: Museums - Palestine

The past belongs to everyone: British Library calls on public to help piece together history

As the British Library thrusts itself into the digital age, more than a million images from its archives are available online. And it wants the public’s help to expand what is known about them. Read more

Keywords: Digital Archiving - Online Archives

Raya Dunayevskaya Archives

The archives of the Marxist-Humanist philosopher Raya Dunayevskaya are now available online at www.rayadunayevskaya.org. During a lifetime in the Marxist movement, Dunayevskaya developed a set of ideas, including the theory of state-capitalism; the philosophy of Marxist-Humanism as rooted in the U.S. in labour, the Black dimension and women’s liberation; and the global concept of the inseparability of philosophy and revolution in the dialectics of liberation. Read more

Keywords: Marxist Humanism - State Capitalism

Website of the Week: The Tyee

A independent daily online magazine covering British Columbia and beyond. Excellent coverage of the record of the Conservative government and of the current federal election campaign. Visit The Tyee here.

Keywords: Alternative Media - Independent media

Book of the Week: Democracy Against Capitalism

By Ellen Meiksins Wood

Wood provides a brilliant explication and defense of the key theoretical concepts relevant to socialism, understood to be the most radical social and economic democracy. For a review of Democracy Against Capitalism, see http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/2198

Keywords: Bourgeois Ideology - Property Rights vs. Democracy

Film of the Week: The Price We Pay: How Big Corporate Tax Havens and Offshore Finance Destroy our Democracies

A documentary about the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, which has seen multinationals depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harbouring profits in offshore havens.

Keywords: Corporate Tax Avoidance - Tax Havens

Song of the week: Stealin’ All My Dreams

Blue Rodeo sings about the Stephen Harper and the Conservative government.Listen to it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3C1SWVquXA

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Connexions Calendar

October 9 to October 12, 2015: Canadian federal election advance polls

October 9, 2015: 21st Century Ecosocialism

October 9, 2015: Solidarity with Palestine book launches

October 16, 2015: World Food Day

October 19, 2015: Canadian federal election

The Connexions Calendar is an online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password.

Read more →

Seeds of Fire

Oct 9, 1823

Birth of May Ann Shadd: Birth of Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893), a key figure in the Underground Railroad which smuggles escaped slaves to freedom. During the American Civil War, she serves as a recruiting officer to enlist black volunteers for the Union Army. At the age of 60, she earns a law degree, becoming the second black woman in the U.S. to graduate as a lawyer.

Oct 11, 1865

Morant Bay Rebellion: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica. Although slavery has been abolished in Jamaica, most blacks are desperately poor, landless, and denied the vote. When a black man is arrested and imprisoned for ‘trespassing’ on a long-abandoned plantation, protesters march to the courthouse in Morant Bay. Militia fire on them, killing seven. The protesters retaliate by killing 18 militia and officials and taking control of the town. The Governor of Jamaica, Edward Eyre, then dispatches troops to engage in brutal reprisals. Hundreds of blacks are killed in the following days, many of them people who had had nothing to do with the events, shot down in cold blood as troops maraude through the countryside.

Oct 11, 1869

Red River Survey: Louis Riel and other Métis disrupt a survey ordered in the Red River Colony. The survey is widely (and correctly) seen as a precursor to depriving the Métis of their land.

Oct 12, 1492

Columbus Arrives: Natives of a Caribbean island discover a group of confused Europeans wandering on the shore. The leader of the group, Christopher Columbus, is searching for a water route to India. The members of his group may not know where they are, but they are armed and ruthless. They immediately claim “ownership” of the island they have just landed on. In the following years, they and those who follow them will kill or enslave most of the people living on these islands, and on the mainland.


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Copyright Connexions 2015. Contents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. This means you are welcome to share and republish the contents of this newsletter as long as you credit Connexions, and as long as you don’t charge for the content.

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Thanks to Ulli Diemer and Darien Yawching Rickwood for their work on this newsletter.


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