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Archive for September, 2011

Google became a part of another controversy last week as they deleted the Activist Post blog, a popular alternative news blog with a libertarian angle, from their Blogger service without any prior warning. After much public outrage, the blog was soon restored. A Blogger administrator explained that “the removal was caused by an automated process.” Like we’re supposed to believe that Google has bots going around just deleting blogs at random. Sure.

This is not the first time Google has been involved in removing potentially controversial content from its services. YouTube, in particular, is notorious for deleting and manipulating counters on videos espousing anti-establishment or otherwise politically incorrect views (just make a search for “youtube censorship”). Of course, when questioned about it, they can always point to a violation of the terms of service, copyright infringement, an “automated process” or any other convenient excuse to cover the fact that there’s an actual human agent behind these decisions.

Now I’m not suggesting that Google has some secret political agenda enforced by the board on all their employees. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m thinking more along the lines of Leopold Kohr‘s “power theory of aggression”¹ which stipulates that once a social organism reaches a critical amount of power, abuse of that power will result spontaneously, regardless of the original intentions of the individuals involved. This critical amount of power is reached whenever it’s possessors start to believe that they’re immune to all retaliation. In other words, Google has gotten way too big. They have reached their tentacles into nearly everything we do on the Internet, and this has given them so much power over our lives that they cannot help but abuse it.

All free market advocates will now, of course, point out that as a private enterprise Google has every right to decide what content they allow on their services and what they don’t. And they are right. But the problem is that we’ve become so dependent on these services that few of us can even perceive any alternatives. So, in practice, there’s little difference between Google censoring its services and the government doing it. That’s why we desperately need viable services that are based on Free software and owned and administered by their users. And what’s more, we need a whole ecosystem of these services with lots of duplication of features so that we’ll never end up being dependent on any one service provider again.

In the meanwhile, just don’t forget to keep local backups.

¹ From his book The Breakdown of Nations (1957)

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On October 15th people from all over the world will take to the streets and squares. From America to Asia, from Africa to Europe, people are rising up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non violent protest.

The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end.

United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future.

We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us.

On October 15th, we will meet on the streets to initiate the global change we want. We will peacefully demonstrate, talk and organize until we make it happen.

It’s time for us to unite. It’s time for them to listen.

People of the world, rise up on October 15th!

http://15october.net/

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There’s a huge scam being executed in Europe right now under the guise of “austerity.” The political and financial elites have teamed up to steal the wealth of the citizens in the southern European countries. It’s important to note that these austerity measures have not been designed to help the indebted countries to stabilise their economies and shake off their debts in the first place. Quite the contrary, the point is to keep the countries in the debt leash indefinitely to force them to keep paying “protection money” to the creditors. Eric Toussaint points well out the blatant criminality of this scheme:

“Fraud is an important notion in international law. It refers to an intentional deception made to damage another individual. If a State were led to contract a loan through the fraudulent behaviour of another State or an international organization that is party to the negotiation, it may invoke fraud as grounds for declaring the contract void, since it was agreed to through deceit. Now the Troika [EU, ECB & IMF] uses the plight of Greece, Ireland and Portugal to enforce measures that go against citizens’ social and economic rights, challenge collective conventions, contravene the country’s sovereignty and in some cases also its constitution. Thanks to some Italian newspapers, we know that in early August 2011 the ECB benefited from speculative attacks against Italy forcing its government to implement the same kind of antisocial measures as Greece, Ireland and Portugal. If the Italian government did not comply, the ECB said it might not help Italy at all.

What the members of the Troika are doing can be compared to the odious behaviour of someone who, while claiming to help a person in a difficult predicament, would actually make it worse and benefit from it. We can also consider that it is a criminal act planned collectively by the IMF, the ECB, the EC, and the governments that are supporting their action. Associating in order to plan and carry out a criminal act increases the responsibility of the aggressors.

There is more: the economic policies enforced by the Troika will not allow the affected countries to improve their situation. For three decades this kind of damaging policy has been implemented on behalf of large private companies, the IMF and the governments of industrialized countries, in indebted countries of the South and in a number of countries of the former Soviet bloc. The countries that complied most diligently have had to face terrible times. Those that refused the diktats of international bodies and their neoliberal doxa have fared much better. This has to be recalled for we have to make it known that the results of the policies demanded by the Troika and institutional investors are a foregone conclusion. Neither today nor tomorrow will they ever have the right to claim they did not know what their policies would result in. We can already see what is happening in Greece.”

The propaganda machine of the elite keeps telling us that it’s the “lazy” Greeks that are themselves guilty of their current crisis. This is symptomatic of the divide et impera strategy of the elite. The goal of this strategy is to create resentment between the peoples of southern Europe and northern Europe to prevent them from realising that they’re all being equally duped by the elite. Now you don’t need to be a Marxist to see that this is class warfare at its purest. It’s sad to see how the populist parties in different countries are taking advantage of this resentment to boost their own ratings, often against the long-term benefits of their supporters.

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Nina Paley has put together this excellent and practical guide for those who want to release their work, be it text, audio or video, Freely on the Internet. She argues that:

“Copy restrictions place a barrier between you, the artist, and most forms of support. By removing the barriers of copyright, you make it possible to receive money and other kinds of support from your audience, both directly and through distributors, thereby increasing your chances of success.”

And remember, by freeing your work, you also free yourself from the clutches of the copyright industry!

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Debtocracy is a film about the ongoing debt crisis, it’s real causes and possible solutions that are being suppressed by the political elite and mainstream press. Released freely on the Internet, the film became something of a phenomenon when it was released in Greece last spring. Features interviews with people like Alain Badiou and David Harvey. This international version includes subtitles in various languages, including English (hover over the video to set subtitles).

You can also download the film as a torrent here.

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For all our brothers and sisters who are currently out on the streets:

“For my people walking blindly spreading joy, losing time being lazy, sleeping when hungry, shouting when burdened, drinking when hopeless, tied, and shackled and tangled among ourselves by the unseen creatures who tower over us omnisciently and laugh;

For my people blundering and groping and floundering in the dark of churches and schools and clubs and societies, associations and councils and committees and conventions, distressed and disturbed and deceived and devoured by money-hungry glory-craving leeches, preyed on by facile force of state and fad and novelty, by false prophet and holy believer;

For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way from confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding, trying to fashion a world that will hold all the people, all the faces, all the adams and eves and their countless generations;

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second generation full of courage issue forth; let a people loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs be written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now rise and take control.” – Margaret Walker, For My People (1942)

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The German EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger came forth a few days ago with some highly revealing propositions to solve the ever-deepening European debt crisis. Oettinger suggested that the flags of the crisis countries, or “deficit sinners” as he called them, should be flown at half mast in front of EU buildings. He also suggested that the “obviously ineffective administrators” of these countries responsible for tax collection and selling of state-owned assets should be replaced with experts coming from other EU countries. These experts would be then able to “operate without concern for resistance and end the inefficiency.”

It should by now be obvious to everyone that the European political elite has long since stepped out of the realm of common sense and modern secular democracy, and turned the debt crisis into, quite literally, a theological problem. It’s no longer that the crisis countries have simply failed to create a sustainable national economy, but that they have actually engaged in blasphemy against some divine principle, for which they should do penance publicly.

As Susan George well pointed out, what we are witnessing here is a new kind of colonialism. As with the colonialism of the 19th century, also in this case the colonising powers are justifying their oppression in moral and theological terms. It is the divine duty of the colonisers to force their religion and culture upon the colonised people. After all, those people are nothing but ignorant children that need to be guided onto the correct path by a firm parental hand or they shall perish. Therefore, it’s only with a genuine concern for the benefit of those people that they should be deprived of sovereignty and dignity.

The fact that this kind of thinking is surfacing again in Europe is a clear signal that the post-war European project is failing. We are already seeing the consequences of this failure in the rise of the nationalist parties around Europe. The political elite has no recourse for this situation since it no longer has any actual contact with the people. All we are getting from them is empty phrases and pretensions to moral superiority. The only hope we have to avoid reverting back to racial-nationalist bigotry and totalitarianism is for the people of Europe to unite at the grassroots level, outside all existing power structures. It’s up to us to save the European civilization, the elite is not going to help us in this.

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