Newsletter: Shake Off Hypnosis, See Root Causes Of Crises
An ambitious young journalist who wanted to speak truth to power, Matt Kennard, wrote for the Financial Times. He quickly learned the corporate media was not the place to tell truths that the power structure did not want to hear. Now he has written a new book, “The Racket: A Rogue Reporter Takes on the Masters of the Universe,” which does speak truth to power.
Kennard describes the racket as the “global elite’s prolonged war on the people of our world with the sole aim of pumping up their bottom line.” That ‘war’ has come home and is being waged against people, primarily the most vulnerable, in the United States using both outright violence and institutionalized violence that creates poverty, hunger, illness and other injustices. Kennard writes about the media’s role in supporting the racket and he closes with: “To help our species and planet survive it is necessary to shake off the hypnosis and see the racket for what it is.”
The racket is very successful in the US. A recent study by the Sunlight Foundation shows that for every dollar that big business lobbyists spend, they get a return of $760 in public dollars. Another study by the Labor Department shows that income fell for most people in the US. Those with the lowest income lost the most and those in the top 20% had income gains. Ellen Brown traces the history of US oligarchy to the Revolutionary period.
Social Control via Surveillance
Kennard writes that the racket’s propaganda seeks to convince people that programs are the opposite of what they actually are. This is well demonstrated by mass surveillance programs which claim to be for our protection. People in the US are told that they have nothing to worry about “if they have nothing to hide” but they do have to worry about terrorists in their community, therefore we need mass surveillance. A whole generation is being raised without knowledge of the importance of the right to privacy.
The reality is that mass surveillance is a form of social control used to quell dissent. When we know that we are being watched, we automatically censor what we say whether we think we have something to hide or not. This applies to all people. Surveillance inhibits our freedom of expression.
Mass surveillance is not effective in protecting the public, as Edward Snowden said in this recent interview with Jon Oliver. [As an aside, check out this great Snowden memorial in Brooklyn.] The US DEA tracked billions of calls in the decade before 9/11, but that didn’t prevent the tragedy. Now the DEA is being sued for its overreach.
The new Fight215 campaign is trying to end the NSA’s use of mass surveillance. Their message: “the politics of fear doesn’t trump the Constitution. The unconstitutional bulk collection of phone records must end now.”
Some privacy activists have found a creative way to infiltrate trade shows to turn the tables and spy on the surveillance industry.
This week, we learned that police are not only using stingray technology to track people through their cell phones, but that they are doing it without a warrant. The Baltimore police have used stringray technology more than four thousand times and hid its use because of a nondisclosure agreement signed with the FBI.
It is not uncommon for police to hide the truth, as the murder of Walter Scott revealed for all to see. In this case, once a videotape surfaced exposing the police lies and a murder, the officer was charged. The local mayor and governor say that an extrajudicial killing such as this does not reflect the community’s values while protesters report their concerns about racist policing which has existed for years in South Carolina. The video in this case may mean an exceptional outcome for the nation: a white police officer held accountable for killing a black man.
Many families are seeking justice. Mothers of victims of police violence in New York are pressing the governor to appoint a special prosecutor for police killings. And victims’ mothers from across the country are coming to Washington, DC for the Mother’s Day Million Moms March. We hope you’ll join us in supporting the march if you can.
Great injustices also occur inside our prisons. Inmates in Southern Ohio are on hunger strike, now approaching 30 days long, because of their treatment. And mothers inside of a for-profit immigrant detention center are also on hunger strike over their treatment.
Prisoners who speak out about the injustice are treated the worst as we see in the case of Barrett Brown who was denied access to email after communicating with the media. We especially see it in the case of Mumia Abu Jamal who may be facing death by medical neglect. Protests took place from coast to coast this week demanding appropriate medical treatment for Mumia.
This new study shows that racist criminalization of black males begins in preschool and has lifelong consequences.
People are fighting back against criminal injustice. We’ve seen it in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. College students are organizing to end solitary confinement of juveniles and a new BDS movement is being organized to target corporations that profit from prisons.
A Revolution of Values
The root causes of the crises in our nation and world run deep. If we are to succeed in solving these crises, we must understand their root causes and create new ways of doing things that get at the roots.
It was Dr. King who called for a revolution of values in our struggle for a new world. In “Beyond Vietnam,” King said “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores …”
There are many signs that the revolution of values is rising. Students in Amsterdam protested the financialization of education by taking over a university space and modeling a more democratic and inclusive way of making decisions. Similarly in Spain, woman are defying the traditional hierarchical model of politics by forming a more horizontal and networked style of leadership. Women are seizing space in the anti-austerity protests in Quebec and insisting that the struggle be not only feminist but also trans-inclusive.
A key battle in the revolution of values is coming to a head this week as the Congress is planning to introduce and push forward fast track for corporate rigged trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The values these agreements put forward are profit for the wealthiest corporations in the world coming at the expense of people in planet. To pass fast track and make these agreements law, the Obama administration is resorting to misleading statements, e.g. claiming there is environmental support when there is none; claiming TPP will create more jobs when it will lose jobs; claiming it will decrease the trade deficit, when it will increase. The reality is that it is not consistent with moral values to have a trade tribunal system rigged for the corporations, without court review.
This week people will be fighting for our moral values – protecting the planet and people before profits; urging real democracy not corporate rule – in DC as we start a People’s Block of fast track. And, there is a growing list of actions planned all over the country for April 18. If you want to get involved in this critical battle at the key moment, join us.
Just as Matt Kennard shook off the hypnosis and saw reality, we must not be afraid to see the truth around us. Once we do, the root causes of the crisis become evident. And, in the end we must fight for a revolution of values; values that end the violence of militarism, racism and capitalism; lead to cooperation between people working together for social, economic and environmental justice. And, when we seek that we will quickly recognize we are not alone, millions are already on that path with us.
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