In The Midst Of Civic Crisis There Is An Opportunity For Bold Progressive Change


By Naomi Klein
The Guardian (9/28/17)

We live in frightening times. From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground: it feels like there are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic about our collective future.

To take one example, the Caribbean and southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season, pounded by storm after storm. Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is entirely without power and could be for months, its water and communication systems severely compromised. But just as during Hurricane Katrina, the cavalry is missing in action. Donald Trump is too busy trying to get black athletes fired for daring to shine a spotlight on racist violence. A real federal aid package for Puerto Rico has not yet been announced. And the vultures are circling: the business press reports that the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility.

This is a phenomenon I’ve called the Shock Doctrine: the exploitation of wrenching crises to smuggle through policies that devour the public sphere and further enrich a small elite. We’ve seen this dismal cycle repeat again and again: after the 2008 financial crash, and now in the UK with the Tories planning to exploit Brexit to push through disastrous pro-corporate trade deals without debate.

Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and Podemos in Spain have shown that a bold and decent strategy can be a successful one. That truth should embolden the left.

Ours is an age when it is impossible to pry one crisis apart from all the others. They have all merged, reinforcing and deepening each other like one shambling, multi-headed beast. The current US president can be thought of in much the same way. ,It’s tough to adequately sum him up. You know that horrible thing currently clogging up the London sewers, the fatberg? Trump is the political equivalent of that. A merger of all that is noxious in the culture, economy and body politic, all kind of glommed together in a self-adhesive mass. And we’re finding it very hard to dislodge.

But moments of crisis do not have to go the Shock Doctrine route: they do not need to become opportunities for the obscenely wealthy to grab still more. They can be moments when we find our best selves.

We all witnessed this in the aftermath of the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower. When the people responsible were missing in action, the community came together, held one another in their care, organised donations and advocated for the living – and for the dead. And they are doing it still, more than 100 days after the fire – with, scandalously, only a handful of survivors rehoused.

It’s not only at the grassroots level: there is a long and proud history of crises sparking progressive transformation on a societal scale. Think of the victories won by working people for social housing in the wake of the first world war, or for the NHS after the horrors of the second world war. …

Read the Rest and 25-Minute Video

  • For Progressives, Winning Is a Moral Imperative. The Stakes Are Too High for Anything Less – This is the full text of the speech delivered at Labour conference’s international slot by author and campaigner Naomi Klein: Link to Story


Most Americans Reject Conservative Policy Positions. So Why Do Republicans Control The Government?

By Bill Moyers
Moyers & Company (9/29/17)
Of all the myths the Republicans have perpetrated, and there are a lot of them, perhaps none is more powerful or insidious than the foundational one that this is an overwhelmingly conservative country and that progressives are outliers in it, along with its pernicious corollary that conservatives are “real” Americans while liberals (and the minorities who support liberal policies) are somehow counterfeits.

They get away with it because the system truly is rigged against minorities, the poor, the young and the progressive — and for the white, the well-off, the old and the reactionary.

It is a brilliant bit of propaganda. The only problem is that it isn’t factually true, at least for those who still believe in facts. While there are more self-described conservatives than liberals, in large part, I think, because of the conservatives’ success at conflating their brand with Americanism itself, the gap has been narrowing. And in any case, party identification is just about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. What is more important: Most Americans reject conservative policy positions. Again and again, on issue after issue, the majority of Americans seem to tilt to the left: on immigration, including Trump’s border wall; on Obamacare repeal; on leaving the Paris climate accord; and on gay marriage.

So why then do conservatives control all three branches of government? More to the point, why do they control Congress and the presidency when Democrats got more votes? You might conclude that America is being held hostage by a minority group of conservative zealots. And you would be right.

There is an old saw that politics is about numbers, and in a true democracy that would be the case. But ours is not a true democracy. Even after addressing the fact that nearly 90 million eligible voters do not vote, our system weights some votes more than others, and these weighted votes almost always work to the Republicans’ advantage, giving some 35 percent to 40 percent of the electorate a disproportionate share of power.

Here’s how it works …

Read the Rest

  • Alec Baldwin Nails Trump In SNL Return: ‘The more chaos I cause, the less people can focus’ – Alec Baldwin returned to “Saturday Night Live” as President Donald Trump for the season premiere on Saturday. Dressed in golfing attire, Baldwin as Trump said he’d returned to the Oval Office from Bedminster because he heard things were urgent, “So I skipped the back nine.” … Link to Story and 5+-Minute Vide0