Sep 292015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan99GetSmart

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The Turkish educational system suffers yet another blow; after last year’s signaling of a lifestyle indoctrination by President Erdoğan, this year’s new rules and regulations update seems to target the students’ future experiences and uses of free speech and questioning capacity. President Erdoğan had said “We have a problem with certain things, still. Thus we will tackle those problematic feelings by presenting [children with] a lifestyle, starting from as early as kindergarten onward.”

He had been talking about how the educational system was working in favor of “traitors” thus this was an open call for educational experts to work on new precautions to stop treason. The new rules and regulations that all children at school between the ages of 7 and 18 are subjected to now are as follows:

  • “National Values” is a recognized criteria that requires all pupils to comply with national and spiritual values; as well as present behaviors that follow general morality and customs. Failure in compliance results in expulsion from school.
  • Separatist, destructive, immoral, pro-violence content in the form of audio, textual, visual, video material will bring ultimate expulsion from school and the pupil will not be accepted back to schools anymore.
  • Students will only be allowed to miss 30 school days throughout the year; those who wish to become hafiz will not be required to comply with the 30 day limit.
  • Students who indulge in IT tools without the knowledge and control of the teacher will get disciplinary punishment.
  • Students who pester classmates through social media will get ultimate expulsion from school.
  • Students who share visual material that is shot at school, will be sent to disciplinary board.

In December 2014 President Erdoğan had accused the educational system of training individuals who are departing from their mother tongue and are ashamed of their society and culture; defined this as a national problem of training and discipline. After the national elections on June 7, 2015, the opposition parties all demanded to take ministry of education to reverse the harm done during the single party rule of AKP in the past 13 years, regarding the curricula and rules & regulations that are applied to children. The current system of national education in Turkey dictates a way of life and ideology.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Sep 262015
 

Posted by Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart

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Dear listeners and friends,

This week on Dialogos Radio, we will feature coverage of this past Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections in Greece, including an exclusive interview with journalist and political analyst Dimitri Lascaris of The Real News Network, as part of the Dialogos Interview Series. Lascaris will analyze the results of the elections, the new SYRIZA-led coalition government, the record high abstention level, and the failure of the Popular Unity party to enter parliament. Additionally, Lascaris will discuss his own candidacy in the upcoming Canadian parliamentary elections, as a member of the Green Party.

In addition to our exclusive interview, we will feature our own commentary and analysis of the Greek election results, plus some great Greek music! All this, exclusively on Dialogos Radio!

For more details and our full broadcast schedule, visit http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=5544. On our website, you can also find our podcasts, our on-demand programming, our articles and written work, our past playlists, and you can listen to our online radio station, Dialogos Radio 24/7.

Greek Election Interviews Featured on The Real News Network

Following the outcome of the September 20 snap parliamentary elections in Greece, Michael Nevradakis, producer and host of Dialogos Radio, spoke with The Real News Network about the results and what they might mean politically and economically for Greece going forward, including an analysis of the high abstention rate, the failure of the Popular Unity party to gain representation in the Greek parliament, and the first-place finish of SYRIZA, despite the political events of the past summer.

Videos and transcripts of the interview are available at the following links:

Part 1: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14757

Part 2: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14759

Sincerely,

Dialogos Radio & Media

Sep 232015
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Michael Nevradakis, scholar and host of Dialogos Radio in Athens, says the low voter turnout of 55% reflects widespread disenchantment with the Greek political system and SYRIZA:

Part 1

Part 2

Michael Nevradakis is a Ph.D. student at The University of Texas and a Fulbright Scholar based in Athens who has conducted extensive research on Greek media and politics. He is the producer and host of Dialogos Radio, a weekly radio program featuring interviews with leading Greek and international figures on matters pertaining to Greece, and is a frequent contributor to several Greek and international media outlets.

Sep 212015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Step by step, Washington is inexorably setting up a major provocation against China. Until now, the Obama regime tightened a military encirclement of China, expanding its armed forces agreements with Japan, the Philippines and Australia. In addition, it has promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a regional trade agreement which openly excludes China. Obama has ordered a major naval build-up in the South China Sea and embarked on extensive cyber-espionage of Chinese industries and the government via major US high-tech companies, as revealed by Edward Snowden in his release of confidential NSA document.

As President Xi Jinping prepares for his first US visit as China’s leader on September 25, with the aim of extending economic ties between Chinese and US business (especially with the high tech corporations in Seattle and Silicon Valley), the Obama regime has threatened to impose a series of punitive sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals for ‘cyber-espionage’, essentially undermining the purpose of his trip.

Characterizing the Chinese as ‘cyber-thieves’ and imposing sanctions on Chinese businesses on the eve of Xi’s visit will be justifiably seen as a deliberate humiliation and a provocation, designed to treat China as a mere vassal state of Washington.

This will force the Chinese government to retaliate on behalf of Chinese businesses – and President Xi is fully capable of imposing retaliatory sanctions against multi-billion dollar high tech US corporations, which had been flourishing – up to now – in China.

Obama’s decision to provoke China on multiple fronts reflects the overwhelming influence of the militarist power configurations in Washington: the Pentagon, the NSA and the Zionist-militarist ideologues.

In contrast to Washington’s aggressive policy, the major US high tech corporations are almost unanimous in their opposition to Obama’s ‘military pivot’ and are appalled by the threat of cyber sanctions, rightly calling them a “needless provocation”.

For its part, Wall Street has taken an intermediary position – hoping Washington will coerce China into ‘opening’ its protected financial markets to the big US banks. It doesn’t necessarily support aggressive sanctions, which could provoke a response from China closing off lucrative opportunities in the world’s biggest financial market.

Background to a Momentous Confrontation

China’s growth and overseas economic expansion has increasingly challenged US market supremacy in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

China’s relationship with the US, EU and Japanese multi-national corporations has changed due to its recent technological advances in its manufacturing and service sectors moving its production up the value chain. Increasingly, the Chinese have been demanding technology transfers from their multinational partners and an increasing use of locally manufactured parts in their assembly plants.

China’s economic expansion and industrial maturation has evoked divergent responses from the elites in Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

US Elites Diverge

The Pentagon and the White House developed the ‘military pivot’ to deal with China’s ascendency as an economic world power. This is essentially a policy of strategic confrontations, including military encirclement through regional base agreements, deliberate economic exclusion through regional trade agreements and political provocation through threatened sanctions. US military bases have expanded and a huge naval armada patrols China’s maritime frontier. There are US fighter planes flying over Beijing’s reclaimed island installations while the US State Department goads China’s neighbors to stake their own territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The White House and its highly militarized State Department have launched a full-scale propaganda campaign through the US mass media, criminalizing China with unsubstantiated charges of espionage. The range, intensity and frequency of these accusations indicate that this campaign is not some clever diplomatic ploy intended to squeeze out concessions in an otherwise peaceful relation. Rather Washington’s criminalization of China is meant to provoke a full rupture in diplomatic, political and economic relations and prepare for harsh military confrontations.

Washington’s campaign to criminalize China includes the hysterical claims that China has engaged in the long-term, large scale theft of US intellectual property rights. By falsely attributing China’s technological advances to ‘theft’ Washington denigrates China’s endogenous scientific and technological achievements as well as criminalizing the Beijing and Chinese companies.

In the last few years, the US arrested several Chinese scientists and issued warrants for others, publicly accusing them of spying on US companies. The charges against several of the scientists were later quietly dropped by the FBI for lack of evidence but not before the scientists had seen their careers destroyed. The negative propaganda impact on the US public was successful – Chinese scholars and scientists were depicted as spies. Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of National Security Agency’s documents clearly show that it was the US which was engaged in large-scale spying on Beijing, using major US IT corporations operating in China as a principal vehicle for data theft.

The US has accused China of violating international norms regarding the governance of the internet – claiming that Chinese authorities exercise censorship and control over US IT companies as well as its own citizens. In other words, Washington denies Chinese sovereignty by claiming extra-territorial jurisdiction over the internet! Along the same lines, Washington asserts that China has blocked US market access by insisting that public agencies rely on Chinese suppliers and that US firms store their data in China. China’s new policies developed after they discovered that US multi-national corporations were working hand-in-glove with the NSA and other US intelligence agencies. Is it any wonder that China sought to protect its industrial and trade secrets, as well as national security, by limiting access for US IT corporations?

The “Financial Press”: Wars over Markets

Washington’s provocative campaign to criminalize China and Chinese industries has been amplified in the financial pages of the respectable US and British press. The degree to which the leading Anglo-American financial newspapers, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, have become rabid advocates of Obama’s militarist confrontational policy instead of serving the business community’s market interests, evaluating the impact of sanctions on US high tech multi-nationals and presenting the much more moderate position of the major high-tech multi-nationals is striking.

The financial press’s shrill campaign is designed to paint China as a corporate criminal and ignores major US corporate opposition to any rash military actions. This propaganda campaign is warning the US IT elite of an imminent barrage of economic sanctions against China’s burgeoning cyber industries. These Sanctions could be announced prior to or even during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US– if the militarists have their way.

White House Sanctions: The Divergences in US Policy

Despite White House rhetoric and anti-China hysteria, most US IT corporations have reaped huge profits from their sales and business arrangements with the Chinese state and Chinese businesses. According to one executive, “Apple is the standout success story, with sales of the iPhone rising 75 percent in China over the past year (2014)’. (FT 9/12 – 9/13/15).

Senior IT executives have expressed their willingness to accommodate China’s demands a change in the way they do business, including technology transfers, because they see “huge opportunities (for profit) in the near term”. The last thing Silicon Valley wants is for Washington to provoke hostile retaliation from China if Obama imposes sanctions:  That would entail the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars!

In the highly militarized-‘Zionized’ Obama administration, immersed in the politics of provocation and war, the multi-nationals do not have the final say.

China’s Maturing Capitalism: Indigenous Innovations

China’s maturing capitalism has been accompanied by significant changes. And in 2006, the Chinese leadership announced a new policy promoting ‘indigenous innovation’. The purpose of the policy was two-fold: to become less dependent on foreign technology and to combat the growing threat of Washington’s espionage via US high tech corporations operating in China.

In line with these strategic goals, in 2009 China ruled that only companies with locally developed technology would be allowed to bid for public procurement contracts.

In 2010, Google’s operations in China were shutdown when it was revealed that the company had acted as a ‘transmission belt’ transferring sensitive Chinese data to the NSA.  Washington immediately denounced China for what it termed “censorship” of Google.

As the endogenous innovation policy gained momentum, the US MNC monopoly of China’s high tech market was undermined. The MNC’s called for Washington to intervene and force China to “open” its markets to US dominance.

In strategic terms, the tie-in between the US IT MNCs and Washington boomeranged: While spying for NSA may have gained short-term favors for the high tech sector, it undermined strategic relations with China and its lucrative market. The IT moguls re-thought the strategy and sought greater autonomy from the NSA to regain China’s trust and re-enter its market.

High Tech Diplomacy

The high tech multinational corporations are eager to welcome China’s President Xi on his visit, viewing it as an opportunity to mend and expand relations. The Silicon Valley-Seattle corporate elite oppose sanctions against while the White House claim to be acting on their behalf.

The US high tech elite are aware that American IT companies must accommodate China’s demands to transfer and share technology. They have adopted a realistic perspective that if they do not share markets, technology and sales – they can lose out entirely.

Apple, IBM, CISCO, Qualcomm have declared that they would rather cooperate with China’s indigenous innovations policy than face big losses or total exclusion from the Chinese market.

Even Google, which served as the NSA’s willing accomplice and was expelled for espionage against China, is now seeking approval for a limited re-entry.

Wall Street Diplomacy: Pressure not Provocation

The big Wall Street bankers, on the other hand, want the White House to pressure China to de- regulate its financial markets. They want China to allow American hedge funds and speculators to sell short and artificially drive down the value of Chinese stocks, increasing volatility and discouraging investors.

It is questionable whether Wall Street’s idea of US “pressure” extends to applying punitive economic sanctions. After all, limited financial access under present circumstances is still far more lucrative than total exclusion which could result from Chinese retaliation in response to White House sanctions.

Conclusion

The divergent interests and approaches among US imperial elites, between high powered IT corporate CEO’s and Pentagon and White House militarists is evident in two parallel meetings taking place during President Xi’s visit.

During his visit to the US, Xi will stop over in Seattle to confer with top IT executives, coinciding with the US-China Internet Industry Forum. The timing and location (Seattle) of the Forum is not coincidental. Its timing was planned by the Chinese and reflects their influence and capacity to play-off powerful US economic elites against Washington’s war mongers and Pentagon militarists.

The White House has been pushing for a fight with China ever since Obama announced his so-called ‘pivot to Asia’. The saber rattling has escalated over the past two years, aided and abetted by an all-out propaganda campaign denigrating China’s scientific and economic performance and exaggerating fears of its defense modernization programs. When one reads the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times, one would think the Chinese economy is on the verge of collapse. They describe the drop in China’s projected annual growth from 7.3% to 7% as ‘catastrophic’! If the EU and US grew at half that rate, the financial scribes would claim an ‘economic miracle’!

Denigration of the Chinese economy; screeds and characterizations of the Chinese as industrial thieves engaged in spying and criminal behavior and the wild paranoid warnings about the growing ‘Chinese military threat’ are part of a systematic build-up to counter lucrative economic relations between China and IT corporations and other leading US economic sectors.

Washington’s projected sanctions on China will be many times more costly to US MNC than its current sanctions on Russia. White House sanctions on Moscow mainly damaged European-based industries and businesses. However sanctions against China will have a massive impact on the US economy.

The White House’s version of the “yellow peril” has no redeeming features for any sector of the US economy. It is the purest expression of militarism run amok. It over-rides any rational economic interest in pursuit of unadulterated geo-political military supremacy. Even on its own terms military supremacy is unattainable as Washington will soon discover, as China deepens its military ties with Russia!

If and when Washington raises the specter of sanctions against China, (with the accompanying gratuitous insults and unsubstantiated accusations of state sponsored “cyber theft”) the Chinese government will respond.

President Xi will take reprisals as he has done before, faced with lesser threats. And he will have the support of the vast majority of Chinese from all regions and classes.

US IT corporations are aware of this potential debacle and have openly and forcefully conveyed their views to Washington. For them, the so-called ‘cyber theft’ is a minor issue compared to the lucrative long term strategic opportunities in working with China.

So far the militarists in the Obama White House have commanded US-China policy. Up to now they have disregarded corporate American interests; whether it is US oil interests in Iraq and Libya, or IT corporations in China.

If Zionist officials in the Executive influence the militarists on Middle East policy, the hard core militarists influence the Zionists in the Far East.

If the US military-driven Middle East policy has been a failure, a similar policy toward China will be catastrophic.

US sanctions and humiliation against China and the consequent falling out of relations will play out in slow motion. Beginning with the precipitous decline of joint ventures and exports, it will lead to lifeless cranes in empty Pacific coast ports and rusting container ships; profit losses and vacant country clubs in Silicon Valley and lost sales for US auto companies. The list is endless but the consequences are clear.

Sep 182015
 

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart

Greek woman casts ballot in the 2014 electoral race in Thessaloniki, Greece, May 25, 2014. (Photo: Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock.com)

Greek woman casts ballot in the 2014 electoral race in Thessaloniki, Greece, May 25, 2014. (Photo: Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock.com)

Following a fiery summer in Greece, during which the Syriza-led coalition government turned its back on the majority of the electorate, which delivered a resounding “no” to austerity in Greece’s referendum, the country is preparing for snap parliamentary elections on September 20, in which it is far from clear whether Syriza will be able to win and form a new coalition government.

Scholar and analyst James Petras, one of the few voices who expressed doubts initially about Syriza’s desire and ability to deliver on its promises, offers his thoughts on the upcoming election.

Petras was an adviser to the Pasok government of Andreas Papandreou in Greece in the early 1980s, another “left-wing” regime elected on promises of radical change that were swiftly broken. He has also served as an adviser to leaders such as Hugo Chávez and Salvador Allende and has written extensively about politics in Greece. In this interview, Petras discusses Syriza’s collapse, how Syriza turned its back on the result of the July 5 referendum, and his thoughts on Popular Unity, the party that broke off from Syriza and that now promises to lead the anti-austerity front in Greece.

Michael Nevradakis: Many in Greece, and outside of Greece, were surprised (some would say shocked) at Syriza’s about-face in the space of just a few months – at how it essentially turned its back on those who overwhelmingly voted “no” toward more austerity in the July 5 referendum and at the very harsh memorandum agreement it signed with the troika. You, however, were not surprised at Syriza’s capitulation. What is your reaction to what happened?

James Petras: Well, it’s very clear that Syriza’s capitulation and subordination to the European Union struck a very powerful blow against the demands of the great majority of the people who voted for them, and disillusioned an enormous sector of the population. I think it wasn’t surprising because Syriza had within it many former leaders and people from Pasok, which had a notorious trajectory of not fulfilling programs and submitting to the European Union.

I think the fundamental problem was in the fact that Syriza never spoke out about an alternative to the European Union. Syriza’s members accepted the European Union as the framework; they accepted paying the debt as a framework, and they never formulated an independent policy. They overestimated their capacity to negotiate a progressive solution within the European Union, and absolutely nothing suggested that.

Their agreement to pay the debt was another fallacy: There was no way in the world that Greece would find the resources to maintain its debt. I think these three things – the composition of Syriza, the framework in which they agreed to orient, and the fact that they continued to channel resources to their creditors – undermined any possibility of a repudiation of the program of austerity and regression.

This debt was also found to be, in large part, odious and illegitimate.

Yes. That was decisively determined by a commission formed by the head of the Greek parliament, who was a leading member of Syriza, but this was completely rejected. [Former Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras acted as if the commission and the decisions on the debt meant nothing, and I think it was emblematic of his whole attitude towards any dissent. He acted like a Napoleon; he had a Napoleonic complex, in which anything which didn’t correspond to his notion of complying with the debt, complying with the EU, was out the window. It’s a very dictatorial and arbitrary organization, and the membership, the central committee and even some of his cabinet ministers didn’t mount a serious challenge to his dictatorial rule.

What do you believe was the actual message of the Greek electorate in their overwhelming vote of “no” in the referendum, and how do you believe this sentiment might be expressed in the upcoming parliamentary elections?

Well, I think the vote was clearly a rejection of more punishment, more regressive measures. It was a rejection of the dictatorship of the EU. It was an attempt to recover lost income, an attempt to recover sovereignty. It was a way of affirming Greek independence, Greek popular sovereignty, and a desire for Greek priorities to be given a greater importance over the creditors and debt payments and the privatizations and the firings. I think it was a very decisive “no” to everything that preceded it and everything that Syriza and Tsipras subsequently agreed to. So here you have this episode of the “no” in the referendum, sandwiched in-between the Syriza leadership’s compliance and subordination to the EU and continuation of regressive policies.

There are many now in Greece and outside of Greece who have their hopes set on the new political party, Popular Unity, which formed from the members of Syriza’s “Left Platform,” which broke off of Syriza a few weeks ago, with optimism that the likes of former Greek Parliament speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, who will run in an alignment with Popular Unity, or Popular Unity party leader Panagiotis Lafazanis will stand up for those who voted “no.” Do you believe that this will actually be the case, or do you believe that Popular Unity, like Syriza, is insincere in its rhetoric?

Well, let’s look at the larger picture. Going in to these elections, Syriza is clearly going to decline. The political spectrum is going to become even more fragmented. The voters, going into the election, are highly disillusioned. Whatever they vote for and whoever they vote for, it’s basically a vote of fear rather than hope. It’s a vote that says, “Where can we find our new clients?” Not the instruments of structural change – “Who is the lesser evil?” I think that the hopes and aspirations and the radicalism that went into the January election is absent. I think Popular Unity will do poorly. It stayed in Syriza too long; it didn’t grow a mass organization outside of Syriza; it has very little insertion in any mass movement. Its struggle in the end with Syriza was essentially a parliamentary struggle. They didn’t put people in the streets, and I think people are disenchanted in general with anything associated with Syriza, and I think the level of trust for a second try is very low, especially as they saw many of the Popular Unity people sitting in the cabinet while all the damage was being done, all the capitulations were done.

I think that Popular Unity will be lucky to get representation in parliament. I think voters will hold their noses and maybe a quarter of the electorate will vote for Syriza. Popular Unity will probably get around 5 percent of the vote, and I think that the right-wing parties – New Democracy, Pasok, Potami – probably are going to put together a ramshackle kind of coalition. I don’t think they have objections to bringing Syriza in on a coalition, since they all agree on the latest memorandum. I think politically there is very little reason for them not to form a broad, right-wing regime.

What do you believe such a coalition will mean for Greece?

I think they would implement the very harmful and regressive policies that Syriza has signed off on. I think they will privatize most of the major lucrative resources in the Greek economy. I think there will be massive layoffs in the process of privatization. I think pensions will be cut, wages will be cut, salaries and public sector employment will be cut. I think this will send Greece into a continuing depression, and I don’t think any new investment in new enterprises will take place. The money that will be gained through privatization will simply be recycled to the outside bankers.

I think Greece faces a prolonged depression, prolonged regression and stagnation as a result of this, and hopefully, as people come to realize that Syriza and the right wing have nothing to offer them, I think there will be a return to street demonstrations and perhaps a radicalization of those demonstrations. There will be an increase in popular exodus, capital exodus; I think Greece will become a one-crop economy, essentially a tourist economy, largely controlled by foreign capital. I think the decline of public ownership is simply the increase of foreign ownership.

Popular Unity is said to be running in these elections on the Thessaloniki policy platform, which had originally been proposed by Syriza prior to the January elections, and which Syriza quickly abandoned. Do you believe that the Thessaloniki policy platform, with its ambivalence toward issues such as a “Grexit” and a write-down of Greece’s debt, is even enough for Greece at this time?

I don’t think that the Thessaloniki policy program represents a serious break. First of all because it is very ambiguous on Greece’s exit from the European Union and the eurozone, and that undermines any possibility of developing an alternative policy. Secondly, it doesn’t say anything about a moratorium on the foreign debt, which is necessary to channel new resources into revitalizing and developing an alternative economic strategy. So, whatever reforms the Thessaloniki program proposes are undercut by the framework and the resources which will be available. Whatever the attraction of the Thessaloniki program might have in terms of social reforms, are not viable within the framework, which it refuses to break with.

Furthermore, I think that Popular Unity did not fight on these issues when they were dealt with them. I think that they didn’t make a plausible case that they are willing to break with the renunciation Tsipras made very early on the Thessaloniki program. They mumbled and criticized, but all of it in Parliament. There was no convocation of mass movement, so one wonders whether Popular Unity leaders have that capacity, to put people in the streets, to build up that pressure, to create social consciousness, to sustain an alternative at this point. So, I think Popular Unity is largely a parliamentary tempest in the teapot.

Let’s talk for a moment about the European Union and its behavior in recent months. How would you characterize its stance toward Greece, with the new memorandum and harsh austerity it forced upon the country, and how would you gauge its stance toward the worsening refugee crisis from Syria and the Middle East, which has also greatly impacted Greece?

Well, the European Union was, is and will continue to be an oligarchical organization controlled by Germany, England, France, perhaps the Netherlands, in association with its subordinates in Eastern Europe. I don’t think it has any representation of anything progressive in Europe. I think it’s a very rigid, hierarchical, top-down organization that basically is organized around the idea that any members must accept the fiscal dictates, the economic and income policies dictated by, especially, Germany. And so, I think that the EU functioned as a debt collector for Greece. It took positions of intransigence, no recognition that they had a sovereign government that was democratically elected. They didn’t care. The main thing was to force Greece to meet its external obligations to the debt collectors, even after five years of failed policies – failed from the point of view of Greece getting out from under the depression. So, the question that they raised was, first debt payments and then we’ll talk about growth, and if you don’t meet your debt obligations, there was destabilization and every effort made to precipitate a capital flight and disinvestment in Greece.

I think you can say the European Union is an oligarchical organization that is essentially designed to favor German, English and French bankers, over and above the national interests of the majority of the citizens in Europe, especially those that are under the tutelage of the European Union. I think the European Union bears a great deal of responsibility for the refugees, because the refugees are coming from countries where the EU joined with the United States in wars, in destructive wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa. They destroyed economies and fostered mercenaries and terrorist groups, sectarian conflicts, and now they’re reaping the consequences: People that have been uprooted by the wars are now going to Europe because Europe destroyed their households, and they’re saying now, “You created our situation, and now you must deal with it.” I think Europe uprooted the people, and now Europeans want to avoid and evade the consequences, which is essentially resettling these uprooted people, who are products of Euro-US wars.

What do you believe would be the best policy solutions for Greece at this time? Do you believe that a “Grexit” or a departure from the European Union is in Greece’s best interest?

I think the only policy is to break with the European Union oligarchy and to assume an independent state, an independent policy. It’s necessary to get out of NATO and to deepen and develop alternative trade ties and to reverse the privatizations, to set a moratorium on the debt, impose capital controls and expropriate the banks. In other words, to mobilize and concentrate as many national resources and to develop trade with Europe, but on the basis of equality and outside of the European Union. To have their own fiscal policy, their own currency, in order to use their monetary policies if they need to devalue, in order to foster trade, if they need to develop a new development strategy, they need to control their national economy.

There are opportunities to trade and develop ties with Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and even countries with the European Union, on a different basis. I think that the continuation of the European Union is a total and unmitigated disaster, and it’s demonstrated that it is a very arbitrary and dictatorial group that doesn’t take account of the interests and circumstances of its subordinate members.

Michael Nevradakis is a Ph.D. student in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin and a US Fulbright Scholar presently based in Athens, Greece. Michael is also the host of Dialogos Radio, a weekly radio program featuring interviews and coverage of current events in Greece.

Sep 152015
 

By Eric Toussaint, CADTM, 99GetSmart

Eric Toussaint, CADTM

Eric Toussaint, CADTM

Another way is possible …

Chapter titles:

  • The Citizen Audit Commission of 2011
  • The position of SYRIZA’s leadership regarding the citizen audit committee of 2011
  • SYRIZA’s program in the legislative elections of May-June 2012
  • Late 2012: SYRIZA’s leadership moderates its positions
  • October 2013: Alexis Tsipras calls for a European conference on public debt
  • SYRIZA becomes the leading party in Greece with the May 2014 European elections
  • The January 2015 victory5.
  • The fatal agreement of 20 February 2015 with the institutional creditors
  • A different policy was desirable and possible
  • The Truth Committee on the Greek Public Debt is launched
  • The Greek government refrains from making use of the audit
  • From the referendum on 5 July to the agreement of 13 July 2015
  • The lessons of the capitulation of 13 July 2015
  • A parallel currency as part of “Plan B”

Subtitles in the video by snakearbusto

 

Sep 122015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

cronin_spotlight_-_crop

China’s wealthiest classes have secured their recent fortunes through various means, both legal and illegal: These include (1) the privatization of public enterprises; (2) the savage exploitation of cheap labor after destroying workers rights , protections and social welfare legislation; (3) large-scale, long-term corruption of government officials; (4) the often violent state-sponsored land-grabs from towns, villages and farmers and the land transfer to private investors; (5) real estate speculation; (6) changes in state regulatory policies leading to oligopolistic control of markets; (7) large-scale tax evasion, money laundering and offshore transfers of profits and (8) state policies dictating low wage and salaries and repressing workers collective action.

The Communist leadership’s pursuit of an ‘export-oriented’ growth model, based on reducing labor costs to secure competitive advantages in world markets, coincided with the emergence of aggressive Chinese capitalists intent on increasing their profits and concentrating private wealth.

This model of capitalist accumulation required ‘capital-friendly’ labor policies to attract large-scale, long-term investment from US, Japanese and European multinational in association with China’s wealthiest capitalists.

China’s capitalist development was based on a triple alliance of national, foreign and state capitalists, all of whom depended on the widespread, massive corruption of state-party officials.

The Dynamics of Mature Capitalism

As the economy grew, national capital diversified from manufacturing to the FIRE economy, (finance, insurance and real estate). As the economy “liberalized”, overseas and local financial institutions proliferated. Speculative profits attracted major investors as well as millions of middle class ‘fortune seekers’.

China’s growth led to its rise as the primary market for raw materials and the primary producer of imported consumer goods in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Its rapid growth provoked the US to build-up its bases around China and launch a policy of military confrontation and encirclement as well as regional trade exclusion (the so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’)..

The long, deep recession in the European markets and the financial crisis in the US limited China’s high growth export model.

Meanwhile, second and third generations of skilled Chinese workers became more militant, demanding and winning double digit wage increases. At the same time rural communities staged mass demonstrations and took direct action against corrupt local officials linked to land-grabbing speculators and other attempts to drive them from their homes and farms on behalf of powerful real estate interests.

Wealthy Chinese investors, who diversified into the FIRE economy, created a speculative real estate bubble.

High-ranking party officials, who had enriched themselves through the corrupt takeovers of lucrative state monopolies, caused economic stagnation and deep political disenchantment among the mass of Chinese people.

Worldwide demand for China’s exports declined with the global economic crisis.

Crises and Rectification

Faced with a major loss of political legitimacy, the stagnation of its global export markets, a real estate bubble and stock market volatility, the Chinese government launched a wide-reaching rectification campaignwhich featured:

  1. A massive anti-corruption campaign was launched to restore morality to the government and to win back public respect. Over 250,000 corrupt officials were identified, investigated and tried. Many were imprisoned or dismissed and some were executed.
  2. Reform of wage and income policies was designed to reduce inequalities and encourage domestic consumption. As a result wages rose 10% annually.
  3. The investigation and prosecution of speculators, including investors connected to foreign hedge funds and big oligarchs who had gained gaining billions by “defrauding” retail investors, was initiated by the judiciary.
  4. The Chinese currency, the renminbi, was devalued to promote exports.
  5. The government increased military spending in order to confront the US naval encirclement, including upgrading its of most sophisticated weapons systems, which were on display recently during China’s massive ‘Victory over Japan’ parade.
  6. Two new international investment-financial organizations were set up to counter the US dominated IMF and World Bank and to encourage the participation of regional trade partners as a response to Washington’s Asia Pacific trade arrangements which specifically excluded China.
  7. Greater emphasis is now placed on providing domestic government services, enforcing tax collection, broadening social welfare legislation and social accountability.
  8. Measures are being implemented to prevent the flight of Chinese capital by oligarch families as they flee criminal prosecution for their illicit business activities.

The Response from China’s Wealthy Classes

China’s wealthy classes are resisting these government reforms designed to lessen some of the class imbalances and injustices and to deal with the multiple crises in the society and economy. They have been transferring hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country – essentially disinvesting and de-capitalizing the economy. They have expressed deep concern that the increase in workers’ wages will cut into their profits and that they will lose their lucrative contracts as well as access to compliant, corrupt government officials. They are anxious to hide their source of wealth for fear they will end up in the criminal docket with corrupt partners in the government.

China’s wealthy classes have gone on a buying spree of overseas real estate, fixed income securities, commercial properties, trust products, etc. in an attempt to safely stash their wealth.

Large-scale speculation, the massive flight of capital and canceling of irregular state loans have all contributed to the current volatility in the Chinese economy. China’s wealthy classes create their own self-fulfilling prophecy: their capital flight and speculation creates the very volatile conditions that then serve as the pretext for even more capital flight.

Crisis, Rectification and the Struggle for Power

The source of the current Chinese crisis is found in the behavior and political alliances of the leading classes who benefited from the rapid growth Chinese capitalism.

Progressive capitalist reformers believe that to end the crises requires radical reforms. They advocate: (1) returning the financial market to its original role as an instrument of productive activity; (2) reversing the liberalization of the financial market, including ending speculation by Western hedge funds, re-introducing capital controls, going after tax evaders and punishing massive illegal transfers of profits to offshore havens; and (3) increasing domestic mass consumption and imposing restrictions on  conspicuous elite consumption, via progressive income tax and welfare measures.

The process of rectification has encountered passive resistance from the comprador capitalists as they spirit their wealth out of China. Wealthy Chinese have adopted a post-colonial comprador mentality born out of their tight economic ties with Western capitalists.  They absorbed the neo-liberal ideology; they prize Western education and culture and turn to the US imperial state to protect their wealth – in a dramatic shift of loyalties.

Their own children attend the most expensive private US universities where they are indoctrinated with US elite-centered  political and economic dogma.

They stash their money in high end real estate as an investment and to house their families and children who attend elite US schools..

Conclusion

It is difficult for Chinese political and economic ‘reformers’ to solve the problem of the comprador capitalist, because the ‘reformers’ have engaged in similar behavior and practices over the years.

It is critical for the ‘reformers’ to expose the illicit wealth and go after the compradors with aggressive prosecution. This will be difficult because many reformers have family members among the comprador class, have benefited from the speculative ‘boom’ and have sent their own children abroad. Some may even have their own secret bank accounts overseas – the profits from deals made with big investors.

There is no deep fundamental or class division between compradors and reformers in China. However, the crisis and capital flight is intensifying class polarization and external events are forcing a deeper rethink of how China should confront US militarist policies.

The US military threat is causing problems for Chinese compradors and their economist-propagandists. It is difficult to ‘sell’ the idea of opening wide to Wall Street when the country is staring down the barrels of US guns.

In a strategic sense, this frenzy of Chinese capital flight legitimizes the rectification campaign and weakens compradors’ influence in the economy. Even some of China’s most ardent economic liberals are in flight!

Nevertheless, the reformers’ hesitant steps, their deep ‘faith in the market’ and the massive presence of foreign multi-nationals inside China indicates that real, deep, structural changes are not on the agenda. China’s reformers have started their new version of “The Long March” through many layers of corrupt, flawed and failing institutions . . . Bigger and more consequential changes await the awakening of the working class.

Sep 102015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan99GetSmart

hurriyet

Turkey has been experiencing what seems to be a repeat of events from the many pogroms and national-lynching campaigns that the country has witnessed several times in the past century. Angry mobs took to streets under the leadership of AKP youth organizations, right after President Erdoğan said, “If a particular party [as I had wanted before the elections] had received 400 deputies in the parliament [out of 550], things would have been completely different,” – referring to the soldiers who were killed in clashes between Turkish Armed Forces and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the east of Turkey. The mobs, led by the leader of AKP Youth Movement and also a member of the parliament, attacked the Hurriyet Daily’s headquarters. The social media troll army and pro-government journalists described the events as the “democratic right to protest the corrupt media” and encouraged people to take to streets.

The violent attacks on the Hurriyet Daily received no response by the police, which has been terrorizing peaceful protesters that had criticized the government. Later, on the night of September 6th, the mobs started circulating around another critical media organization’s headquarters, the Zaman Daily. Using the excuse of protesting the killing of soldiers by PKK, they have started marching to the pro-Kurdish ‘People’s Democratic Party’ (HDP), which is a parliamentary party that has received 13+% of the national vote.

Attacks on the Kurdish Citizens

balikesir-hdp-saldiri

Ahead of upcoming elections, AKP has been meaning to gather more of the nationalist votes to sustain the will of Erdoğan, thus trying to steal votes from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) by organizing nationalist events, and intimidating Kurds, socialists, leftists and other components of HDP in violent pogrom attempts, trying to push HDP down through the national election threshold of 10%. Even though the mobs have originally targeted the HDP as a party, not much later the Republican People’s Party (CHP) offices have come to be subject of some attacks too – even though some CHP voters have also supported the attacks!

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Across the country, AKP youth organizations have attacked HDP and CHP offices, homes and shops of Kurdish citizens, in hundreds of towns. Thousands of people across the country have set fire to the HDP offices and the HDP headquarters in Ankara, while shouting “Allahuakbar” to justify the roots of their islamofascist attacks. On the streets, one young man has been stabbed to death by 6 others for speaking Kurdish on the phone, and thousands of people have been injured with swords, stones, clubs, sticks, etc. for being Kurdish or holding any of the other identities that the nationalist mobs deem as “treacherous”. The day after these attacks, HDP officials stated that the mobs knew exactly what to do, in what seems to be simultaneous and coordinated attacks. The information-centers of HDP offices, where the application documents for the upcoming election had been kept, has become the main target of arson, a day before the application deadline. When the leader of HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş, called the Governor of Ankara to ask for state protection of the headquarters, he received a “very disturbing and impolite response denying HDP the police protection or firefighting services”.

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So far several Kurdish citizens have been reportedly killed in the pogroms, and districts of temporary workers who live in tents were set on fire, destroying their only housing. In the meantime, across the country, nationalist mobs are hanging onto flags and honking from their cars all night long, making rounds in predominantly Kurdish neighborhoods, thus implementing a psychological pressuring mechanism. It has been reported that the police do nothing against the attackers and in most cases, join and help the mobs.

hdp-yandi

In light of violent events, many citizens have started putting up Turkish flags on their windows and balconies, to show that “Turks are living in this household”, as the absence of a flag has come to be taken as a sign of non-Turkish, non-muslim residence. Also, in some neighborhoods massive flags have been put up at the entrance of streets as a show of force.

Nationalist Youth Denies Involvement

The hand gesture of “wolf” is common among Ülkü Ocakları members/supporters

The hand gesture of “wolf” is common among Ülkü Ocakları members/supporters

Amid violent attacks, when HDP offices are being set on fire one by one, the nationalist youth organization, “Ülkü Ocakları”, have made an announcement declaring that they have not supported nor taken part in what has been going on, and that it is the government-paid people pretending to be their members who try to take people to streets for violent attacks. Most of the participants of mobs have been photographed with the hand signal of the Ülkü Ocakları, which is the sign of a wolf head with fingers.

The Ülkü Ocakları released an official statement saying that they have only organized events to commemorate the soldiers killed at city squares and their groups did not participate any events that involved violence. The group has taken precaution against “undesirable” events from taking place and called for only peaceful, democratic manifestation at city-squares. Nationalist organization also condemned the attacks which they declare have been organized by the governing AKP and their paid-activists who pretend to use the nationalist symbols to lure in their supporters.

Erdoğan’s “deep throat”, who disseminates secretive information from the palace, had earlier tweeted that the nationalist Ülkü Ocakları would be blamed in mob-attacks that would be carried out by AKP’s youth organization “Ottoman Union”. The deepthroat Fuat Avni also states that the Ottoman Union’s members are mostly agents of the secret service, led by Canpolat who had been arrested while preparing for assassination of the Pope in 2006.

The Only Bookstore Set on Fire

During the pogroms, in the province of Kırşehir, the one bookstore of the city has been set on fire for containing material that is harmful to the national will; however the fact that the owner of the bookstore supported HDP might have also had an effect in this anti-intellectual stance. The owner of the bookstore, whose property has been damaged, has paid for a banner to be put in front of his burnt-shop saying “We are one and we will remain one in peace”.

East of Turkey, the Land of Civil War Imposed by State

Cizre

Cizre

In the east of Turkey, where clashes have been going on since the Suruç bombing of activists that has left 36 activists dead and riot police laughing at the victims in July 20th, a state of emergency has been declared in hundreds of locations which imposes a curfew. There are many citizens who have been killed by soldiers, police or special forces, and very little news makes it out of the city centers due to an imposed digital-lockdown which does not permit any phone or internet connection from the cities.

Several HDP deputies have gone to the cities in the east, in order to observe the situation and bring out news of the suppression. The level of suppression had increased to a new high after dozens of cities started declaring self-governance upon state terror. As of September 9th, the city is under siege with heavy weaponry and reports of tanks and helicopters are coming in; while leader of HDP Selahattin Demirtaş, the HDP ministers and 40 MPs are marching to the city of Cizre on foot to stop a massacre from taking place. One of the latest announcements, shared from the city by HDP deputy Ferhat Encu, is from the police announcement stating, “This will be the last night for you”.

In the light of calls for massacre and coordinated mobs, Demirtaş has made a long speech saying that the state officers who are employed as tools of the fallen government of AKP should immediately stop in their contributions to a dirty war, that there will be no one to protect them a few years from now, when they will all sit in jail for the crimes they have committed. Demirtaş also responded to the danger that citizens are in, saying that every living being has a right to self-defense and citizens should defend themselves with proportionate means when subjected to such pogroms. Upon Demirtaş’s call, some youth organizations have been reported to gather at HDP headquarters in Ankara against the daily attacks by thousands of police-escorted islamist nationalist mobs.

Preventing the Flow of Information, Control of Media Tools at Maximum

While for the last three months many Kurdish cities in the east have been subjected to an imposed news-censorship and cutting of phone/internet lines, on the night of September 8th, social media has been shut down – yet again – alongside censorship of hundreds of accounts. Moreover, the international journalist, Frederike Geerdink, who has written the book, “Kurdish Matters”, and reports from the Kurdish cities of Turkey, was arrested and announced to be deported. The pro-government media has started a smear-campaign to distort the image of the journalist, sharing her news with the headline suggesting that she was “a PKK supporting foreign activist”.

The soldiers who have been killed in the PKK’s landmine attack had been reported by their comrade, soldier Private Şahin Şimşek, had used social media to disseminate crucial information as to how the soldiers and their commanders were forced to leave the headquarters almost knowing that they would be subjected to an attack. Later on, Private Şimşek was reported to have committed suicide by the military officials, and later he was reported to have been killed in armed conflict, not giving details as to exactly how the conflict started or took place. Private Şimşek was one of the many Kurdish soldiers who got killed while serving in the military in the recent clashes.

Intent to Jail Kurdish Movement

The locations where there have been attacks against HDP and Kurdish citizens

The locations where there have been attacks against HDP and Kurdish citizens

Back in 1994, when Prime Minister Tansu Çiller faced a major economic crisis, she had also chosen the option to attack the Kurdish movement. The end result of the campaign was dozens of citizens killed, hundreds of repressive attacks by special forces and military, Kurdish politicians who stood up for peace were jailed. It took a decade for the clashes to calm down and it was only thanks to Erdoğan’s efforts that peace negotiations had begun. Right now, showing the Kurdish politicians of HDP as target and organizing mobs to attack them seem to take a path which reminds of 90s. Early September 10th, the prosecutors have called for the leader of HDP Selahattin Demirtaş’s political immunity to be lifted, which would pave the way to his imprisonment for “inciting violence”.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Sep 072015
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

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DIALOGOS RADIO’S NEW BROADCAST SEASON COMING YOUR WAY!

We are excited to announce that the new broadcast season of Dialogos Radio programming will begin in just a few days! We will launch our new season with a special pre-election broadcast, featuring exclusive interviews, commentary, as well as good music. In addition, we are preparing new articles and interviews which will soon be published on prominent Greek and international news sites.

Stay tuned for our new broadcasts, our new articles and analyses, and many new surprises, as we prepare to celebrate the five year anniversary of Dialogos Radio & Media!

Sep 072015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Rightwing politics now dominate the globe. Broadly speaking, the Right can be divided into a US-centered rightwing bloc and a variety of anti-US rightwing regimes and social forces.

The US-centered rightwing includes absolutist monarchies, like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States and Jordan; neoliberal electoral regimes and opposition parties in  the European Union and Latin America and the military dictatorships of North and Sub-Sahara Africa and Thailand. Finally, there are US-armed and trained terrorists operating in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen – which make up a kind of extra-parliamentary US-centered political force.

Israel is a special case of a rightwing regime, allied with the US, which acts more independently to pursue its own colonial priorities and hegemonic ambitions.

The anti-US rightwing includes capitalist China and Russia; the nationalist, Islamist and secular republics of Iran, Syria and Lebanon; and the armed and civilian Islamist mass movements of the Middle East, East and West Africa and South and Southeast Asia.

Leftwing governments and movements, faced with the competing and conflicting rightwing power centers, find themselves having to operate precariously in the interstices of global politics, attempting to play-off one or the other. These include the center-left regimes and movements in Latin America; anti-capitalist opposition parties and trade unions in the EU; nationalist-democratic movements and trade unions in North and South Africa; nationalist and populist movements in South Asia; and a broad array of academic leftists and intellectuals throughout the globe who have little or no direct impact on the direction of world politics. A number of supposedly ‘Left’ regimes have capitulated to the US-EU bloc, namely Syriza in Greece and the Workers Party of Brazil.

In sum, the major conflicts in the world are found between competing capitalist centers; between rising (China and Russia) and established capitalist blocs (US and EU); between financial centers (US-England) and primary export states (Africa, Asia and Latin America); between dominant Judaic/Christian and emerging Islamist states; and between imperialist states and occupied colonized nations. We will explore the nature of each form of right-wing conflict.

The Nature of the Conflicts between the Rightwing Regimes

Despite their common capitalist basis, the conflicts between Rightwing regimes are intense, violent and enduring.

The US-centered Right has annexed former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe and the Baltic and Balkan states. They have encircled Russia with their military bases, seized control of Ukraine through a violent putsch (color-coded revolution) and invaded Russian allies in the Middle East (Iraq and Syria).

The US has mobilized its EU followers to impose crippling economic sanctions on the Russian state and private enterprises in order to weaken its oligarchical ruling class under President Vladimir Putin, force ‘regime change’ and return Russia to the status of the pillaged vassal state under Boris Yeltsin (1990-2000).

Russia’s capitalist state, dependent on the oil and gas industries and western investments and markets, has responded by building up its military defenses. Faced with a US-imposed economic blockade and the growing militarization of US clients on Russia’s periphery, Moscow is finally developing local industries to substitute for EU and US imports and establishing alternative trading partnerships with capitalist China, India, Islamist Iran and the center-left regimes in Latin America.

The US-centered Right has sought to weaken China by encircling it through expanded military base agreements with Japan, Australia and the Philippines; and by promoting Asian-Pacific trade agreements excluding China. Washington relies on its historic military ties to counter its loss of Asian markets to rising Chinese economic exporters.

China, as the emerging Asian world power, has countered by deepening its trade, investment and financial ties with regional economies. Beijing is cultivating and formalizing trade and investment relations with the EU and Latin American economies. China has increased its defense spending and is constructing a series of offshore military installations to counter US military superiority in the Asia Pacific region.

In both the European and Asian regions of conflict, the struggle is between rival capitalist countries: On one side, there is the declining US-EU-Japanese regimes relying on ever more overt military expansion; while, on the other, China and Russia have turned to trade and economic expansion while fortifying their military defenses.

Both compete to influence the ‘Left’, and the independent Islamist countries by intervening wherever possible in internal conflicts.

The Tactics of the Competing Rightwing Blocs

The US-centered bloc relies on various forms of political-military intervention in the politics of their Chinese, Russian, leftist and Islamic adversaries.

These interventions include: (1) Fomenting ethnic conflicts, e.g. Uighurs and Tibetans in China; Islamists and Chechen terrorists in Russia; Western-oriented liberals in the Islamist countries; and neo-liberals in Latin American countries under leftist regimes.

(2)        Outright military invasions in the Middle East and South Asia against Islamic and nationalist regimes, including the recent invasions and attacks against Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

(3)        Financing and organizing ‘regime change’ via coups and street mobs in Leftist, nationalist and Islamist countries have increased in recent years. US-backed coups have taken place in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras and Ukraine; street uprisings have been financed and orchestrated by the US and its allies in Iran, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Libya, Brazil, Ecuador and numerous other countries.

(4)        Economic sanctions and exclusive trade pacts are directed against Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Gaza, Syria and elsewhere.

The intent of US-centered bloc interventions is to weaken capitalist competitors, undermine Leftist and Islamist economies and convert them into political and economic vassal states.

The anti-US capitalist bloc, headed by Russia and especially China, has relied predominantly on economic aid, trade and investment to counter Western capitalist political intervention. They have arranged large-scale infrastructure loans and financed major trade agreements with less developed countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and signed oil and gas agreements with the independent Islamic Republic of Iran and with energy producers in Latin America, especially Venezuela.

On the other hand, they have pushed military sales and loans for their weapon systems with Pakistan (South Asia), Egypt (North Africa), and Iran and Syria (Middle East).

The so-called, BRICS and China have organized new financial institutions as a response to the US – dominated IMF and WB.

Capitalist competition may provide some economic options to independent leftist governments, but it does not advance the class struggle. The reason is obvious: Each bloc pursues the capitalist strategy of enhancing market shares, increasing profits and exploiting labor and primary products.

The Dilemmas of the Left in a World of Capital Competition

The Left is not a major player in the current configuration of world power. It has a presence in governments and especially among mass-based opposition movements. The current rivalry among capitalist blocs presents opposition movements with options not possible in a unipolar world dominated by US imperialism.

If the Left chose to ally with a ‘lesser evil’ – Russian or Chinese capitalism would be the likely choice. While Leftists, who sign pacts with capitalists, may end up losing their own identities, when faced with a hostile US-centered bloc the survival of a Leftist regime dictates the need to take risks by establishing such ties.

The best option is to avoid any political alliance while seeking favorable trade and investment agreements to diversify the economy, trade and investment sources and provide ‘negotiating’ leverage .

Leftists under military threat cannot think of self-sufficiency but must concentrate on independence and options.

In today’s almost exclusively capitalist world, the Left has to decide whether it makes sense to speak of progressive or regressive capitalist states or enterprises. They have to decide which is the least regressive or repressive and dangerous economic bloc to deal with. They need to reduce the negative and extract the positive aspects from their negotiations among the competing capitalist blocs.

Criteria for Left Politics

In general terms, the left should choose to work with less militarist and more trade-oriented capitalist states because these are less prone to intervene violently on behalf of their multi-national corporations or embark on ‘regime change’ campaigns against leftist governments, which have been elected to nationalize strategic assets and property.

For this reason Chinese-Russian capitalists are less malignant than those within the US-EU bloc.

Capitalists, willing to invest in minority shares of joint public-private enterprises, are better than those who demand majority shares and managerial control over strategic national assets.

Capitalists, willing to finance local research and development and transfer technology, are preferable to those who monopolize their technology in their ‘imperial headquarters’.

Capitalists, willing to add value and invest in the local ‘chain of production’ make better partners than to those who simply invest in raw material extraction, exporting ‘raw materials’ and importing finished goods. China has been notorious in pursuing this model of naked ‘colonial extraction’, which does not advance the economies of the resource-rich countries. However recently, Latin American, African and Asian governments have started to demand that China invest more heavily in local manufacturing and processing sectors.

Capitalists who invest in infrastructure linking domestic producers to each other through a ‘grid pattern’ bring more long-term economic benefit than those who operate through a ‘spoke infrastructure’, where transport networks are built exclusively to foreign-owned operations in order to bring raw materials directly to export ports.

It is better to work with capitalists who invest in ‘integrated manufacturing complexes’ with high percentage of local suppliers than speculators and capitalists who set up low skill assembly plants using imported parts.

All capitalists seek to maximize market shares and profits by securing tax breaks, finding sources of cheap, docile labor with minimal environmental and workplace protection and easy remittances of profits. The question for the Left is which capitalists are flexible and open to making concessions on these local issues?

Over the past decade, the US capitalist bloc has increased domestic inequalities, cut social expenditures and undermined labor unions and workplace protections.

For their part, over the past two decades, China and Russia have gone through a period of intense concentration of wealth, spiraling inequality, wholesale dismantling of social welfare programs and privatization of resources, banks and factories – all in the course of their headlong transition to capitalism. However, during the last 10 years, Russian workers have benefited from a substantial economic recovery and Chinese workers have secured double-digit wage increases – in contrast to workers in the West with shrinking incomes.

The Left shouldn’t expect to find any expression of labor solidarity from either capitalist bloc but is more likely to negotiate concessions from the East, without the threat of military intervention or ‘regime change’ it confronts from the West.

Clearly there are dangers in dealing with capitalists of any complexion or bloc: US-centered capitalists threaten financial destabilization; Russian oligarchs engaged in pillage and gangster-capitalism in their ascent to state power. Neither should be allowed easy entry and quick exit in any economic relations.

Conclusion

For Left governments, operating in a capitalist world, there are no permanent allies; there are only permanent interests. The distinctions should be very clear.

Foreign market-oriented capitalism, which increases the productive forces, creating value and raising the proportion of wage workers, can help provide the material basis for the state to socialize the economy – if it operates under strict control.

In contrast, militarized capitalism, like that of the US, poses a constant security threat and is a drain on the resources of any leftist government.

In an insecure world, and under the conditions of an unfavorable balance of power, it is best to tactically ally oneself with emerging capitalists, who may have their own reasons for opposing established imperialism. However, the Left must never give up control of their strategic economic sectors.

The Chinese-Russian bloc has its own set of oligarchs and billionaires, exploiters and speculators, but these are not accompanied by imperial state-directed street mobs and saboteurs, militarists and Special Forces.

Left governments should not idealize their relations with tactical allies.  Russia and China have betrayed agreements with Left governments when they capitulated under threats and enticements from the US-EU bloc.

Agreements’, whether with tactical allies or strategic adversaries, should serve to expand and strengthen the social presence, power and influence of the working class in the economy and state. That should be the strategic priority for Left governments as they navigate in these treacherous waters.