Category: Social Justice

We May Be Witnessing the First Large Global Conflict Where People Are Aligned by Consciousness and Not Nation State or Religion

By Naomi Wolf
They’re fighting a “corporatocracy” that has bought governments, created armed enforcers, engaged in systemic economic fraud, and plundered treasuries and ecosystems.
America’s politicians, it seems, have had their fill of democracy. Across the country, police, acting under orders from local officials, are breaking up protest encampments set up by supporters of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement – sometimes with shocking and utterly gratuitous violence.

In the worst incident so far, hundreds of police, dressed in riot gear, surrounded Occupy Oakland’s encampment and fired rubber bullets (which can be fatal), flash grenades and tear-gas canisters – with some officers taking aim directly at demonstrators. The Occupy Oakland Twitter feed read like a report from Cairo’s Tahrir Square: “they are surrounding us”; “hundreds and hundreds of police”; “there are armoured vehicles and Hummers”. There were 170 arrests.

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The ‘Why’s’ and ‘What for’s’ of People taking to the Streets

by Zygmunt Bauman

“The Arab Spring triggers popular rebellions against autocrats across the Arab world. The Israeli Summer brings 250,000 Israelis into the streets, protesting the lack of affordable housing and the way their country is now dominated by an oligopoly of crony capitalists. From Athens to Barcelona, European town squares are being taken over by young people railing against unemployment and the injustice of yawning income gaps…” – so wrote Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times on 12 August 2011.

People took to the streets. And public squares. First on Prague Vaclavske Namesti, well back in 1989, and right after in one after the other capital of Soviet bloc countries. Then, famously, on the main Kiev city square. In all those places and some others as well, new habits started to be tested: no longer a march, a demo, from a gathering point to the destination. Rather, a permanent occupation of sorts, or a siege lasting as long as the demands are not met.

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The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America

by Robert Reich

A fundamental war has been waged in this nation since its founding, between progressive forces pushing us forward and regressive forces pulling us backward. 

We are going to battle once again.

Progressives believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance. Progressives assume we’re all in it together: We all benefit from public investments in schools and health care and infrastructure. And we all do better with strong safety nets, reasonable constraints on Wall Street and big business, and a truly progressive tax system. Progressives worry when the rich and privileged become powerful enough to undermine democracy.

Regressives take the opposite positions.

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The Price of 9/11

By Joseph Stiglitz

The September 11, 2001, terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to Al Qaeda – as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive – orders of magnitude beyond the $60 billion claimed at the beginning – as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.

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The debasement of public debate

by Dr Ken Macnab

John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty (1859) that it was ‘imperative that human beings should be free to form opinions, and to express their opinions without reserve’. Moreover, they should be free to act upon these opinions, subject only to the limitation that they do no harm to others. Implicit in Mill’s emphasis on freedom of opinion was the necessity for civil public debate in pursuit of the truth, a calm and systematic contest which acted as a check on power and authority.

In the 1820s the English press came to be conceived as ‘the fourth estate’, and credited with an important role as a ‘check’ on the various arms of government. A similarly crucial role is given to freedom of speech and the press in the First Amendment to the American Constitution (1791) and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

The modern media often claims the same role as facilitator of constructive public participation in democratic politics and society. However, the media largely fails to provide either the full information or informed commentary necessary for it to be part of genuine public debate and a check on adversarial polemic. Instead, it is mostly servile and partisan. When media moguls like Rupert Murdoch set out to make more money by blatantly serving narrow political interests through media such as the alleged ‘world’s greatest newspaper 1843-2011′ (News of the World) and the ‘fair and balanced’ (Fox News), role of the ‘fourth estate’ becomes cynically manipulated and exploited façades. Moreover, and equally insidious in its effect on the quality of public debate, the tone and language of both much media communication and public response has become aggressive, personal and abusive.

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