Analyzing The Failures Of Syriza

Supporters rally with Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras in May, 2014. (Photo: Mirko Isaia)

By Pete Dolack for Counterpunch. So many put their puts hopes into Syriza; so many were bitterly disappointed. Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left proved wholly unable to resist the enormous pressures put on it and it is Greek working people who are paying the price, not excepting those who voted for Syriza. How should we analyze the depressing spectacle of what had been a genuinely Left party, indeed a coalition of leftist forces from a variety of socialist perspectives, self-destructing so rapidly? The simplistic response would be to wash our hands and condemn Syriza as “opportunists,” but we’ll learn exactly nothing with such an attitude. If we are serious about analyzing Syriza’s spectacular failure — including those who expected this outcome in advance — digging through the rubble is unavoidable. There were many currents coursing through Syriza, in addition to other Left tendencies outside. Nor were there shortages of people who feared what the fate of Syriza might become, including leaders inside it, before it took power, reminds Helena Sheehan in her new book The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left. Written in exhilaration and sorrow, Professor Sheehan, a veteran of solidarity work with the Greek Left, rides those tides as she recounts the anticipation and optimism before, and the depression and shock afterward, inside Greece and among Syriza’s allies across Europe.

Companies Can Either Make Things Or Make CEOs Rich

(Photo: Funny Solution Studio / Shutterstock)

By Sam Pizzigati for Other Words – Making breakthroughs for consumers is hard, companies have found. But making fortunes for CEOs is easy. Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric since 2001, is retiring. The 61-year-old will be making a well-compensated exit. Fortune magazine estimates that Immelt will walk off with nearly $211 million, on top of his regular annual pay. Immelt’s annual pay hasn’t been too shabby either. He pulled down $21.3 million last year, after $37.25 million in 2014. But Immelt’s millions don’t come close to matching the haul that his predecessor Jack Welch collected. Welch’s annual compensation topped $144 million in 2000. He stepped down the next year with a retirement package valued at $417 million. What did Immelt and Welch actually do to merit their super-sized rewards? What did they add to a GE hall of fame that already included breakthroughs like the first high-altitude jet engine (1949) and the first laser lights (1962)? In simple truth, not much at all. “We bring good things to life,” the GE ad slogan used to proudly pronounce. Not lately.

Regulators Should Block Amazon’s Acquisition Of Whole Foods

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By Nick Stumo-Langer for ILSR – In response to Amazon’s announced acquisition of Whole Foods, Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and co-author of Amazon’s Stranglehold, made the following statement: “Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods raises significant anti-competitive issues that should be deeply concerning to federal antitrust regulators and the public. This deal would allow Amazon to leverage Whole Foods’ 444 U.S. stores in ways that would dramatically amplify Amazon’s online market power, by integrating these locations into its vast logistics and delivery network. And it would give Amazon, which already sells more clothing, books, toys, and consumer electronics than any other retailer, a substantial share of an even bigger consumer goods category, groceries. Regulators should block this acquisition.” ILSR’s recent report Amazon’s Stranglehold traced Amazon’s rapidly expanding reach and its impacts.

Now Just Five Men Own Almost As Much Wealth As Half Of World's Population

It's not a meritocracy. It's an oligarchy. (Photo: Pixabay/CC0)

By Paul Buchheit for Common Dreams – Most of the super-super-rich are Americans. We the American people created the Internet, developed and funded Artificial Intelligence, and built a massive transportation infrastructure, yet we let just a few individuals take almost all the credit, along with hundreds of billions of dollars. Defenders of the out-of-control wealth gap insist that all is OK, because, after all, America is a ‘meritocracy’ in which the super-wealthy have ‘earned’ all they have. They heed the words of Warren Buffett: “The genius of the American economy, our emphasis on a meritocracy and a market system and a rule of law has enabled generation after generation to live better than their parents did.” But it’s not a meritocracy. Children are no longer living better than their parents did. In the eight years since the recession the Wilshire Total Market valuation has more than TRIPLED, rising from a little over $8 trillion to nearly $25 trillion. The great majority of it has gone to the very richest Americans. In 2016 alone, the richest 1% effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves…

Turning Capital Against Capitalism

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By Chris Merriam for In These Times – The Boston region has one of the nation’s most thriving economies, with job growth above the national average, thanks in large part to the academic and healthcare sectors. But the benefits are not shared equally. The median income for white households is more than twice that of Latino households, and nearly twice that of black households. To address these inequities, a patchwork of Boston organizers are working to create a “solidarity economy” (SE)— an economy that, as the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (USSEN) phrases it, “puts people and planet first” and is grounded in principles of solidarity, democracy, sustainability and equity in race, class and gender. It’s meant to be a pluralist approach, a flexible pragmatism designed to meet the needs of specific communities. Boston is home to a diverse assortment of SE ventures, from employee-owned green businesses like Cooperative Energy, Recycling and Organics, which collects and composts food waste and sells the soil to farmers, to the Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network, a patchwork of community-owned tracts that offer affordable housing, urban agriculture and other services oriented toward the public good.

Build And Fight: The Program And Strategy Of Cooperation Jackson

From atlantablackstar.com

By Staff of Atlanta Black Star – The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is anchored in the vision and macro-strategy of the Jackson-Kush Plan. The Jackson-Kush Plan, as you will read later in this book, was formulated by the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) between 2004 and 2010, to advance the development of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and hasten the socialist transformation of the territories currently claimed by the United States settler-colonial state. And as noted in several articles throughout the book, Cooperation Jackson is a vehicle specifically created to advance a key component of the Jackson-Kush Plan, namely the development of the solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi to advance the struggle for economic democracy as a prelude towards the democratic transition to eco-socialism. Although Cooperation Jackson is rooted in an ideological framework, vision and macro-strategy, it is not a static organization. Like any dynamic organization we do our best to center our practice on addressing the concrete conditions of our space, time and conditions and to align our theory with our practice.

Whole Foods Represents The Failures Of 'Conscious Capitalism'

People exit a Whole Foods Market in New York. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

By Nicole Aschoff for The Guardian – It’s hard to think of a better poster child for “conscious capitalism” than Whole Foods Market, the high-end grocery store that made a name for itself selling organic produce in feel-good, mood-lit stores. These days, the chain is floundering and a potential buyout is on the horizon. What does that say about the conscious capitalism it championed? Same-store sales have declined for six straight quarters, and Barclay analyst Karen Short estimates that 14 million Whole Foods customers walked away during the same period. Last month activist hedge fund Jana Partners swooped in, buying up 8.3% of the company’s shares and demanding an overhaul. Whole Foods responded by reshuffling its board, bringing in a handful of big box retail stars and promoting Gabrielle Sulzberger, who hails from private equity, to chairwoman. A failing firm isn’t exactly news. In the dog-eat-dog world of global capitalism lots of companies have their moment in the sun only to crash and burn a few years later. But Whole Foods was supposed to be different.

Our Economy Is Based On A Massive LIE That's Killing People

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By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. If you’ve noticed lately that corporations have been pillaging our world’s ever-dwindling natural resources as if they’re a Vegas style buffet while placing a premium on food, shelter, and medicine, then congratulations! You’ve seen that our country’s free-market capitalist system is reinforcing false scarcity–creating scarcity where there is none in order to make us pay more than we should for basic necessities. Advertising is a perfect example of how our economy reinforces your insecurities in order to make you buy and consume things you don’t really need, all while making corporations even richer. But by way of technology, there is hope that some human beings still want to create systems where everyone can benefit instead of a select few. Lee Camp has this and more on the latest Redacted Tonight.

Huge Increase In Anti-Trump Protest: 5 Signs Resistance Is Growing Stronger

From alternet.org

By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet – As co-director of the Crowd Counting Consortium, Erica Chenoweth has been collecting political crowd data since the Women’s March in January. She also produces a monthly breakdown for the Washington Post on political activism trends based on the numbers. Based on Chenoweth’s data for April, here are five signs indicating engagement in the resistance to Trump is on the rise. 1. The reported crowd size increased more than 60 percent. According to Chenoweth’s report, “April had a 62 percent increase over the number of reported crowds in March [as well as] a major increase in participation—between eight and 13 times greater than the estimated number who participated in March.” The largest event was the March for Science, in which approximately half a million Americans participated.

Trump Is The Symptom, Not The Disease

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – Forget the firing of James Comey. Forget the paralysis in Congress. Forget the idiocy of a press that covers our descent into tyranny as if it were a sports contest between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats or a reality show starring our maniacal president and the idiots that surround him. Forget the noise. The crisis we face is not embodied in the public images of the politicians that run our dysfunctional government. The crisis we face is the result of a four-decade-long, slow-motion corporate coup that has rendered the citizen impotent, left us without any authentic democratic institutions and allowed corporate and military power to become omnipotent. This crisis has spawned a corrupt electoral system of legalized bribery and empowered those public figures that master the arts of entertainment and artifice. And if we do not overthrow the neoliberal, corporate forces that have destroyed our democracy we will continue to vomit up more monstrosities as dangerous as Donald Trump. Trump is the symptom, not the disease. Our descent into despotism began with the pardoning of Richard Nixon, all of whose impeachable crimes are now legal, and the extrajudicial assault

Who Rules America? A Breakdown Of Wealth In The U.S. House And Senate

Popular Resistance, Revolution, Rebellion, Capitalism

By Jerry Robinson for Follow The Money – And while many politicians enter public office with large bank accounts, few realize how many of our nation’s leaders leverage their political positions to dramatically increase their wealth. Now, as a student of Austrian economics and as a firm believer in the free markets, I am not opposed at all to leveraging one’s talents and abilities to increase wealth. However, when public office is specifically used for private gain, we have a problem. After all, politicians are sent to Washington with a mandate to promote the will of the people. However, America’s politicians often end up serving the wishes of their corporate masters, as well as other special interest groups. Here’s a few hard facts on the matter…

Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017

Commons not Capitalism

By Peter Linebaugh for Counterpunch. The constitution of the U.S.A. began when an assembly of rich white bankers, lawyers, and slave owners gathered behind closed doors in Philadelphia in 1787. They organized a government which in the first instance monopolized money-making and war-making and in the second instance did so with a series of legal mechanisms to minimize democracy – the Electoral College, the 3/5s clause, the Senate, the Supreme Court – so familiar to us. They were led by “the father of the constitution,” a man owning more than a hundred slaves, James Madison. He makes clear the fear that underlay this constitution; it was omnia sunt communia. The states ratified this constitution over the next two years in no small part because of the tireless efforts of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison collected in The Federalist Papers. The tenth of these papers tells it all. There Madison expresses his fear of “theoretic politicians,” that is, those who advocated an “agrarian law” or equalization of land, those who favored “perfect equality,” those who were “equalized in their possessions.” In brief, the U.S.A. was to become a massive state against the commons. This was an appeal to the men of property, the men of private property, the men who commanded property as capital.

Now Age Minute: Mean Mr. Mustard

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By Staff of The Now Age Press – The corrupt cock of capitalism erected itself in the hands of Senator Chuck Schumer with his recent announcement of new jobs in upstate New York, via a private debt-collection firm handling delinquent accounts for the I.R.S., a move pushed by the senator. According to Wyoming County Free Press, Sen. Chuck Schumer rallied with employees and company executives of Pioneer Credit and local officials Thursday to officially celebrate the company’s win of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contract. The winners of the contract were initially announced in September. “The good news is, because of this contract and the health of this company, not only are your jobs secure, but I think we can announce today that there will be 100 new jobs in Wyoming County,” Schumer said. Pioneer Credit Recovery Inc., a subsidiary of Navient Corporation, provides collection services on defaulted debt. Headquartered in New York, the company employs more than 1,000 people and boasts it is the “largest private sector employer in Wyoming County,” according to its website. The company has locations in Arcade and Perry, and in Monroe and Chemung counties.

How To Form A Global Counter-Economy

Commons not Capitalism

By Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis for Open Democracy. We outline a list of six interrelated strategies for post-corporate entrepreneurial coalitions. The aim is to go beyond the classical corporate paradigm, and its extractive profit-maximizing practices, toward the establishment of open cooperatives that cultivate a commons-oriented economy. First, it’s important to recognize that closed business models are based on artificial scarcity. Though knowledge can be shared easily and at very low marginal cost when it is in digital form, closed firms use artificial scarcity to extract rents from the creation or use of digitized knowledge. Through legal repression or technological sabotage, naturally shareable goods are made artificially scarce so that extra profits may be generated. This is particularly galling in the context of life-saving medicines or planet-regenerating technological knowledge. Open cooperatives, in comparison, would recognize natural abundance and refuse to generate revenue by making abundant resources artificially scarce.

WalMart & Lowes Linked To Slave Labor In The Amazon

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By André Campos for Mongabay – Products derived from timber extracted by workers living in conditions analogous to slave labor in Brazil are connected to a complex business network linked to the U.S. market – possibly reaching the shelves of large retailers and being used in renovation of landmarks – according to a new investigation conducted by Brazilian news outlet Repórter Brasil. After purchasing from suppliers held liable for that crime by the Brazilian government, local traders exported timber to companies like USFloors, which supplies the retail chain Lowe’s, as well as Timber Holdings, which supplied timber for construction projects at Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge in New York.