Category "Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc."

Julian Assange and The Yes Men on the Corporate ‘Trade’ Treaties and on the Dangers of Mass Surveillance

August 17th, 2015 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc.

This video featuring Julian Assange of WikiLeaks with of The Yes Men is rich with insights and information, most particularly in regard to the triumvirate of global corporate treaties now being thrust upon the good majority of nation state societies on this planet. These are taking the shape of the TTP, the TTIP and TISA, which when combined, represent the enclosure of two-thirds of the global GDP.

Combined, these three ‘treaties’ represent the largest proposed change in the basis of world governance since the UN or the EU, and quite possibly ever. It is equivalent to the creation of the United Nations, but this time only for the rights and powers of corporate entities, not of people as citizens. They effectively change the locus of governing power from the citizen-represented nation state, to that of the investor-shareholder represented corporation.

These new ‘trade’ laws would encompass almost every aspect of human life; from health to commerce to manufacturing to the internet to the arts and beyond. They are highly symptomatic (and causal) of the continuing corporate colonization of every aspect of the public space.

You can read more on them Here.

They also broach the subject of mass surveillance, and all of its highly dangerous and corrosive implications. When asked what is the single greatest threat posed by it, Assange responds quickly and succinctly - CONFORMITY.

Citing East Germany, one of history’s most disturbing test laboratories of the effects of it, Assange points out how it led to an extremely conformist atmosphere throughout society. “People learned to lie about their interests and intentions from a young age - even to themselves. If you deal with some East Germans today, they still have that quality” of hesitancy and suspicion to them. Mass surveillance produces a society that is extremely constrained, and one in which there is little tolerance for individual difference. These effects, when taken to their likely end point, will result “in extreme injustice and suffering for people not towing the line, whatever that line is.”

And it is important to note that in the DDR approximately 10% of the citizenry provided information to the Stasi. This is small fraction of the limitless amounts of personal information and communication that state and corporate power can acquire from people today, thanks to the hyper-connected networks of digital activity through which so much of life is filtered through.

Another example that is insightfully referenced is that of China. And not the modern, one-party corporate surveillance state that it is, but to what it was before being opened to the West. There was that time when it was the most advanced country in the world for at least 500 years. But as Assange points out here, it “ended up forming a stasis, because it didn’t have proper contact with the outside world. It ended up essentially having one culture - Confucianism,” one that provided for rigid conformity, stopping its long-history of progress.

And when we talk of progress, we need to make a distinction that we talk not of progress in new technologies or advanced weaponry - but in our ability to increase learning, and about how to stop suffering through the implementation of new political systems that more fairly represent people.

“So when we connect the entire world to itself, which is what we have done with the internet; and where we connect the largest power centers with the smallest power centers; and then when we have the largest power centers surveil all the communications that is occurring across our new global society, there is an inevitable result - and that inevitable result is extreme conformity.”

All of this connectivity, this new world of the internet, its advent Gutenbergian in its effects and ramifications, is proving to be an ever-more disconcertingly mixed blessing. With its being utilized as the greatest vehicle for mass surveillance ever devised, it admittedly also provides the means for responding through the development of new counter measures, and “new ways to challenge and combat this kind of power.”

But its existence also tells everyone that they are constantly being watched - and this results in an inevitable diminishment of communication and expression. This is the very converse of what we want and need right now for effectively developing and implementing the kinds of solutions needed to deal with the tremendous, even existential problems of our time.

With these new technological and political capacities for mass surveillance, “we have created a new god, one that even atheists believe in - the National Security Agency”; because it sees everything and knows everything.

“And when people carry around inside them that view, that there exists and omnipotent, omnipresent organization, able to see everything and record everything you’ve ever done in your life, then people start to turn their minds to how not to piss it off. And they adjust their behavior, including even the behavior they have when they talk to their friends. And that means certain conversations get shut down and don’t occur. Certain thoughts don’t even occur.”

Amen to that.

They do wind it up on a bit of a more uplifting note, talking about what is really important about The Yes Men, and the power for real change, comes in humor. “For humor is about creating fear for a moment, and then taking that fear away. Relieving it. Every joke is based on that premise.”

It’s also darkly hilarious to hear at the front end of this video Assange’s description of how WikiLeaks, if it was truly evil, could be used as front to get all sorts of inside information, not to provide more transparency to power, but to exploit that information for insider investment tips to enrich itself.

Learn more about The Yes Men’s film The Yes Men Are Revolting

Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist? An Interview with Sheldon Wolin

August 7th, 2015 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc., Video

This is an extensive and wide ranging interview between journalist Chris Hedges and the insightfully astute political philosopher Sheldon Wolin. Though long, it is well worth the time for anyone and everyone interested in better understanding historical basis for our current political order, and the forces we are up against in regards to what it takes to change and advance it.

Wolin, a noted biographer of Tocqueville, has particularly good insights on the nature of democracy. Here he goes into some detail on how it requires continuous opposition and vigilance by the citizenry to keep it alive and functioning, and that the greatest threat to it is centralized power. Such centralization leads to uniformity, which is a key to exercising such power in a way that can change (and control) an entire society. Individual differences, tolerated, even encouraged within a liberal society, must be suppressed within these forms of control.

And today, because of the scientific and technological developments of the modern mass technological era - such concentration of power “has assumed a quality of menace that it simply didn’t have before.” It used to be just the ability of consolidated power to wield itself through raw oppression and coercion, but today it has “the ability to shape and direct society in much more of a lockstep manner than was ever conceived by Tocqueville.” Or I might add, Orwell or Ellul, whose works on mass persuasion are essential texts, and align themselves thoroughly with the ideas of Wolin.

Watch The Full Interview

American Corporations Profiting From Nazi Germany During World War II

January 28th, 2015 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc., Video

With all of the stories and events taking place this week commemorating the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, it got me thinking once again about about these reports I remember reading and watching many years ago, and which I had always intended to post something about.

It concerns this rather interesting segment from the film “The Corporation” on the history of American corporate collusion with enemy nations during the Second World War in order to keep the profits going. This includes how IBM’s proprietary punch card system was used to help manage the Holocaust in Europe. Unfortunately, this information rarely, if ever, gets discussed in history classes. Or, more importantly, in business schools.

International investigative author Edwin Black (who is featured in the video), has done extensive work on this subject, and published more updated information on IBM’s role in the Holocaust earlier this year on The Huffington Post.

And if one thinks this story is an anomaly, a deviation from the norm of how global corporate capital functions all-too-often in the world, this report from The Washington Post serves as a sorry and disturbing reminder of what constitutes “business as usual,” one of the important elements of American history airbrushed out of the mainstream narrative. Yesterday it was places like Nazi Germany, later to manifest itself in places like Chile and Guatemala, today China…the quest for profit at any cost (usually to be incurred by someone else, of course) never ceases.

‘Legalize Democracy’ - Time To Move To Amend

April 12th, 2014 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc., Video

Formed in September 2009, Move To Amend is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

We are calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.

Legalize Democracy is a documentary film by Dennis Trainor, Jr. about the movement to amend — why it is needed, and how you can get involved.

Help spread the word by hosting a house party to support Move To Amend and show the film. Details about hosting a party are Here

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: NAFTA on Steroids

October 10th, 2013 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc.

Have you heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership? It’s been called “NAFTA on steroids” and is one of the most sweeping pacts to be forwarded in international affairs. It is a treaty that will effect practically every facet of your life.

The TPP is one of the most important political issues facing us today, and its also one of the most secretive and unknown. And the fact that people haven’t heard about it is a very conscious strategy on the part of global corporate and financial power. Another conspiracy theory? It’s a conspiracy, alright, but unfortunately its no theory.

This would rewrite wide swaths of our laws. And again, it’s mainly not about trade. So, if we have this agreement in effect, for instance, it would be a big push for fracking. Now you would say, “Why fracking?” Because it doesn’t allow us to have bans on liquid natural gas exports. Or, if this were in effect, we couldn’t ensure the safety of the food we feed our families. We have to import, for instance, fish and shrimp that we know, from the limited inspection that’s done, is extremely dangerous from certain kinds of growing ponds that are contaminated, etc., in some of the TPP countries. Or, for instance, some of the financial reforms where the banksters were finally regulated would be rolled back. All of this, and it would be privately enforceable by certain foreign corporations.

Read more on it from Lori Wallach of Public Citizen here, and please help spread the word. There are a series of other good websites dealing with this issue, as well, such as Expose The TPP and Global Trade Watch. This interview with Wallach on Democracy Now really needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

Challenging The Corporate ‘Deathstar’

August 19th, 2013 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc.

A disturbing, but unfortunately accurate analysis by Dr. Brian Moench. He uses a descriptive analogy we’ve been using at USTV Media for many years now, that of the corporate “deathstar,” and deserves bonus points as well for equating Mitt Romney as a “corporate Vishnu” (which makes sense when you come to grips with the documented record of the man’s work).

People really need to understand the scope of what is happening right now, especially in regards to this global abomination called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Moench isn’t some fringe radical writing for a local blog. He was recently nominated to be a potential recipient of a “Champion of Change” award from the White House. In this excellent essay, he outlines the challenges facing our capacity to make meaningful change, and the serious consequences we will likely face if we don’t rise to that challenge. Most importantly, he lays lie to the notion that “working within the system” is going to provide any meaningful change, considering it is the system itself which is the cause of most of these problems in the first place.

An in-house editorial in the New York Times on July 5, began, “For all its rabid partisanship, Congress has shown time and again that it is willing to come together to deregulate corporate America.”


While the public and the media sleep, the real corporate “Death Star,” the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), is being forged in secret. The term “partnership” hardly sounds ominous. But for the last two years TPP negotiations that could have unprecedented consequences to citizens throughout the world have been going on among a dozen Pacific Rim nations. No information has been made available to the press or the public - and only extremely limited access has been allowed to a few members of Congress. But last year a document was leaked to the watchdog group,  Public Citizen , revealing the current US position and the reason for the secrecy. The contents are surreal and shocking, and prima facie evidence for how corporations have become the master puppeteers of government.

The leaked document reveals that the trade agreement would subordinate domestic law and policy to a binding international  governance system . Specifically, TPP would (1) severely limit regulation of foreign corporations operating within US boundaries, giving them greater rights than domestic firms, (2) extend incentives for US firms to move investments and jobs to lower-wage countries, (3) establish an alternative legal system, creating “investor states” that give foreign corporations and investors new rights to circumvent US courts and laws, allowing them to sue the US government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for lost revenue due to US laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges or their investment “expectations.” 
Despite NAFTA’s failures, corporations are arm-twisting the federal government to pursue trade agreements as inevitable and necessary for economic progress. But 26 of the 28 chapters of this agreement have nothing to do with trade. TPP was drafted with the oversight of 600 representatives of multinational corporations, who essentially are awarding themselves whatever they want: new ground rules for environmental and public health protection, worker safety, and further off-shoring of what was once a domestic workforce.


Some might say that “Death by Corporation” is just another way to tell the age-old story of greed or lust for power. But in today’s world, with the global reach of corporations, and their technological capability for destruction, those unrestrained pathologic urges smoldering within just a few key individuals are hurtling us all toward consequences unimaginable, and a future irredeemable.

Read The Complete Article

How Today’s World Works - The Past Describing The Future

May 5th, 2013 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc., Video

The totality of the workings of our world today - succinctly wrapped up and synopsized in four minutes, courtesy of the year 1976.

There was a time one could receive Academy Awards for openly declaring this kind of awareness to large masses of people. Today if you try to speak this on the street it just gets you pepper sprayed, baton’ed or kettled by cops in places like New York, Oakland, or London.

Human Rights: Not Just for Humans (& Corporations) Anymore?

February 21st, 2013 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc., Video

Human Rights: Not Just for Humans (& Corporations) Anymore?

Corporations have the same rights as people. But do our communities and natural ecosystems have any rights? Thomas Linzey and Katherine Davies argue that in order to defend our bodies and our environment, they must be given rights under the law. Conversely, we must challenge the assertion of the primacy of rights by non-living entities, such as corporations.

The National Radio Project spotlights this issue in one of their recent reports produced in this edition of Making Contact.

It features an excellent presentation by Thomas Linzey from CELDF, whom friends of UnCommon Sense TV Media will know through our many previous references and affiliations with them and their work. Linzey and the work of his associates has served as a notable inspiration to the focus and direction of our own work at USTV Media.

Special Thanks to Pirate Television for the video.

Turning Occupation Into Lasting Change

October 18th, 2011 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc.

These are some important points from a fellow I know, Thomas Linzey of CELDF. These people do very good work, and have long since focused their efforts on *the* hole in the Death Star of corporate “rights,” and how these entities weild power by usurping people’s rights. I would definitely recommend that organizers (particularly those working with the Occupy Wall Street movement) attend their Democracy Schools for a good primer on how to more effectively focus the work at hand. It’s pretty essential stuff if the movement is to have real, lasting effect.

Most revolts are snuffed out well before their efforts impact the political scene – not because their ideas and issues aren’t relevant, but because the major institutional players within the system-that-is rapidly attempt to snag the power and energy for their own. In the eyes of the Democratic Party or the national environmental groups, this revolt is merely seen as an opportunity to assimilate newly emerging troops back into those groups’ own flaccid and ineffective organizing. After all, if those institutional groups have actually been effective all of these years, why the need for a revolt at all?

It’s when these revolts become mainstreamed by their “friends” within existing institutions that they lose their steam, and become just one more footnote in an endless stream of footnotes of revolts that have burned out early.


Instead of diluting themselves to meet the needs of already-institutionalized groups who aren’t going anywhere; the Occupy folks must move in the opposite direction – deepening and strengthening their effort by demanding structural change in how the current system operates. That means moving away from the institutional advocacy promoted by mainstream progressive organizations (which has proven to be utterly ineffective against the type of consolidated wealth that makes decisions about every aspect of our lives today) and towards a new form of advocacy and activism. Rather than negotiating the terms of our de-occupation, we must rewrite the very rules under which our system operates.

Mainstream progressive groups have failed by constraining their activities within legal and regulatory systems purposefully structured to subordinate communities to corporate power. Real movements don’t operate that way. Abolitionists never sought to regulate the slave trade – they sought freedom and rights for slaves. Suffragists didn’t seek concessions but demanded the right for all women to vote. The Occupy movement must begin to use lawmaking activities in cities and towns to build a new legal structure of rights that empowers community majorities over corporate minorities, rather than the other way around.

It’s taken a centuries’ worth of manufactured and concocted legal doctrines, so that corporations and their decision makers wield not only our legislatures against us, but also the courts – to protect their property, wealth, and decision-making from popular control. Our country’s wealth inequality did not arise overnight but slowly as the corporate minority eviscerated almost every memory of any democratic system.

Read The Complete Article

Do Corporations Have Personal Privacy Rights?

June 4th, 2011 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc.

This posting from Secrecy News, part of the FAS Project on Government Secrecy website of the Federation of American Scientists. Let’s hear it for those ‘activist judges’, the ones who have been operating on behalf of the rights of corporations and concentrated wealth ever since the Dartmouth case of 1815

The Supreme Court will decide next year whether corporations are entitled to “personal privacy” and whether they may prevent the release of records under the Freedom of Information Act on that basis. FOIA advocates say that assigning personal privacy rights to corporations could deal a crippling blow to the Act.

The case before the Court — known as FCC v. AT&T — arose from a FOIA request to the Federal Communications Commission for records of an investigation of a government contract held by AT&T. The FCC found that the requested records were subject to release under FOIA. But AT&T challenged that decision and won an appeals court ruling that the documents were law enforcement records that were exempt from disclosure because their release would constitute “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” — namely, the “personal privacy” of AT&T.

The appeals court noted that the word “person” is defined in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to include corporations, and it went on to infer from this that the FOIA exemption for “personal privacy” in law enforcement records must logically extend to corporations as well.

But “that analysis does not withstand scrutiny,” the government argued in its petition to the Supreme Court for review of the case. Personal privacy can only apply to individual human beings, it said, and not to other entities. “The court of appeals’ novel construction would erroneously create a new and amorphous ‘privacy’ right not only for corporations but also for local, state, and foreign governments [which also fall under the APA definition of ‘person’].”

This is only the logical extension of the principle that a corporation is a “person,” in which case such rights should be granted to them.

The bottom line is, until we finally and fully end this absurdity of providing civic and even human rights to these institutional legal fictions, i.e. corporations being defined as “persons”, we will only continue further and further down this dead end road towards complete plutocracy and corporatocracy. Corporations, which are now the dominant institutions of our time, amassing controlling power over nearly all of our structures of governance, will now have totally flipped the whole premise of the original notion of American governance on its head - that whereas transparency of governance is created in contrast to providing privacy for the individual, will now be where institutional power becomes opaque, yet the personal life and business of the citizen becomes transparent and public, particularly to state organs of power.

That’s tyranny, folks, and as for any notion of our retaining any kind of a democratically accountable republic, we can quote Bugs Bunny in a Warner Brothers cartoon…”That’s All, Folks.”

Read the complete post Here

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