“Fora Temer – Eleições Diretas Já!” Brazil’s Political Rupture And Left’s Opportunity

A puppet of Brazilian President Michel Temeris hanged up by a group of protesters in Sao Paulo, Brazil on April 15, 2017. NurPhoto/PA Images. All rights reserved.

By Alfredo Saad-Filho for Open Democracy – The Brazilian Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) won the country’s presidential elections four times in a row; first with Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-06, 2007-10), then with his hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff (2011-14, 2015-16). During its 13 years in office, the PT changed Brazil in many ways; four are principally worth mentioning, as they would come to play key roles in the elite conspiracy to impeach Dilma Rousseff and destroy her party. First, the PT democratised the state. It implemented the social and civic rights included in the 1988 ‘Citizen’s Constitution’, and advanced Brazil’s emerging welfare state across several fields of social provision. Second, the PT changed the social composition of the state through the appointment of thousands of leaders of mass organisations to positions of power. For the first time in Brazilian history, millions of poor citizens could recognise themselves in the bureaucracy and relate to close friends and comrades who had become ‘important’ in Brasília. For the first time in Brazilian history, millions of poor citizens could recognise themselves in the bureaucracy.

Where Are We Going Politically?

Jake Waage; Edited: LW / TO

By Stan Sorscher for The Huffington Post – “Greed is good” values dominated America in the gilded age and the laissez faire period leading to the Great Depression and political instability. The New Deal period, from the 30’s through the mid-70’s, reflected “we all do better” values. Congress passed Social Security and Medicare; funded public investments in rural electrification, the interstate highway system, and basic research; set strong labor and environmental standards; and supported higher education. Wages rose proportionatelywith productivity. The New Deal era ended in the mid-70s’, when we shifted back to “greed is good” values. In the 90’s, Congressional hardliners delegitimized Democracy, shut down the government, took pride in disruption and dysfunction, and polarized our political system. Confidence in Congress dropped from 40% at the end of the New Deal era to 9% now. Donald Trump is the end-point of that transformation in values. Harvard economist Dani Rodrik points out that other countries have done well, maintaining a strong sense of shared national interest – China, Japan, and South Korea for example. Europe has a stronger tradition of social dialogue and more social cohesion than we do.

Reign Of Idiots

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The idiots take over in the final days of crumbling civilizations. Idiot generals wage endless, unwinnable wars that bankrupt the nation. Idiot economists call for reducing taxes for the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor, and project economic growth on the basis of myth. Idiot industrialists poison the water, the soil and the air, slash jobs and depress wages. Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles and impose crippling debt peonage on the citizens. Idiot journalists and public intellectuals pretend despotism is democracy. Idiot intelligence operatives orchestrate the overthrow of foreign governments to create lawless enclaves that give rise to enraged fanatics. Idiot professors, “experts” and “specialists” busy themselves with unintelligible jargon and arcane theory that buttresses the policies of the rulers. Idiot entertainers and producers create lurid spectacles of sex, gore and fantasy. There is a familiar checklist for extinction. We are ticking off every item on it. The idiots know only one word—“more.” They are unencumbered by common sense. They hoard wealth and resources until workers cannot make a living and the infrastructure collapses.

South Africa Writhes In New Political-Economic Birth Pains

Flickr/ teofilo

By Patrick Bond for Counter Punch – Indeed there is no doubt that at least one profound problem with the recent whitelash against Zuma is its class character. Even though the poor – who number more than 60% of the population nearly all black – have been most adversely affected by his policies, while the top 1% have maintained the worst inequality in the world, it is in Zuma’s looting of parastatal agency coffers that established white businesses feel threatened. The electricity supplier Eskom is most often cited, potentially for a $100 billion Russian nuclear deal which Gordhan had opposed. There are also unending mining-related Eskom boondoggles that favour a new breed of coal capitalists, especially the controversial Gupta brothers. The three Indian immigrants are regularly accused of brazen ‘state capture,’ e.g. in a long critique by EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu. In the first wave of resistance, on April 7, the main public face of the ‘Save South Africa’ movement coordinating the protests was Sipho Pityana. But the firm he chairs – AngloGold Ashanti – is amongst apartheid’s most notorious. Its origins date a century, to Harry Oppenheimer’s control of Johannesburg gold in the same tradition as De Beers’ founder Cecil John Rhodes…

The Feuding Kleptocrats

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – They ineptly have set themselves on fire over Obamacare, but this misstep will do little to halt the drive to, as Stephen Bannon promises, carry out the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Donald Trump’s appointees are busy diminishing or dismantling the agencies they were named to lead and the programs they are supposed to administer. That is why they were selected. Rex Tillerson at the State Department, Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department, Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Tom Price at Health and Human Services, Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education…

Politicians Making Plans In Case Public Turns Against Them Violently

From activistpost.com

By James Holbrooks for Activist Post – Some of the suggestions, the news outlet reports, include “having a physical exit strategy at town halls, or a backdoor at congressional offices to slip out of, in case demonstrations turn violent; having local police monitor town halls; replacing any glass office-door entrances with heavy doors and deadbolts; and setting up intercoms to ensure those entering congressional offices are there for appointments, not to cause chaos.” While protests are popping up all over, the Republicans’ private session was no doubt prompted by events that happened over the weekend. While speaking before a raucous crowd in Roseville, California, Representative Tom McClintock had to be escorted from the stage and away from the event by local police officers.

Learning To Love A Multipolar World

Flickr/ teofilo

By Jeffrey D. Sachs for Project Syndicate – NEW YORK – American foreign policy is at a crossroads. The United States has been an expanding power since its start in 1789. It battled its way across North America in the nineteenth century and gained global dominance in the second half of the twentieth. But now, facing China’s rise, India’s dynamism, Africa’s soaring populations and economic stirrings, Russia’s refusal to bend to its will, its own inability to control events in the Middle East, and Latin America’s determination to be free of its de facto hegemony, US power has reached its limits. One path for the US is global cooperation.

Normal Is Coming Unhinged, There Lies The Opportunity, If We Overcome Hate

Creative Commons – picture by Abhi Ryan

By Charles Eisenstein – Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress. A Clinton Presidency would have offered four more years of that pretense. A woman President following a black President would have meant to many that things are getting better.

DR Congo President Unlikely To Give Up Power

Lucha protest in Goma over lack of running water

By Maud Jullien for BBC – Political opponents and activists say that everything is in place for President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power, thus violating the constitution and potentially precipitating the continent-sized central African country into chaos. “What we need is to have a specific action plan for the elections,” says Serge Syvia, a doctor and activist. “Because theirs (the government’s) is already being implemented.” In a small wooden house that was built, like much of the eastern city of Goma, on dried lava rocks, members of a youth group called Lucha (struggle for change) are holding a meeting.

What To Do Now

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By Sam Smith for Progressive Review News – Face the facts: The First American Republic is over. The Constitution is being trashed by both major parties. We are incapable of responding to the environmental crisis. Liberals can’t tell the difference between being elite and being extinct. We’re in the most expensive wars of no purpose in our history. Both major parties have moved steadily to the right over the past thirty years. Both have never been so corrupt. Ethnic prejudice is at an overt level unseen since the days of the civil rights struggles. The economy is still in the pits for many of our citizens. Thanks to Citizens United, money has replaced votes as the dominant political campaign objective.

Power, Politics, & Social Change

Flickr/ Feral78

By G. William Domhoff for UCSC – Welcome to WhoRulesAmerica.net, a site about how power is distributed and wielded in the United States. It both builds upon and greatly supplements the book Who Rules America?, now in its 7th edition. The book’s new subtitle, “The Triumph of the Corporate Rich,” reflects the success of the wealthy few in defeating all of their rivals (e.g., organized labor, liberals, environmentalists) over the course of the past 35 years. The story of how the corporate rich won all the big battles is complicated, but most of the answers are in the new Who Rules America?and/or this Web site; there’s also a YouTube video of Bill giving an invited lecture on the topic.

Solidarity Politics To Resist The Coming Regime

resist_together

By Deborah S. Rogers for Common Dreams – Many have issued clarion calls for resistance against the neofascist headed for the White House, his odious henchmen in tow. Few, however, have outlined all the steps needed to block Trump’s repugnant agenda and build a united movement that can upend the power dynamic in this country. Here’s my list: two popular suggestions, and four that take us well outside our comfort zone. First, we need to have each other’s backs.

Chris Hedges And Robert Scheer On Activism

Chris Hedges (Credit: Nation Books)

By Emma Niles for Truth Dig – Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer sat down with journalist Chris Hedges on Monday for an intimate, salon-style conversation in Los Angeles. They discussed everything from religion and social control to war and police brutality. First, Hedges explained how his father influenced his participation in reform efforts by encouraging him to begin an LGBT activist group at his conservative college campus.

Far-Right Runs With ‘Outside Agitator’ Lie Spread By CNN

Others parts of the U.S. are joining forces with North Carolina, expressing their outrage over the killing of Keith Scott.

By Adam Johnson for FAIR – This case offers a perfect example of why uncritically allowing police union officials to make unsourced assertions on national TV, and then repeating them as facts, is not a good idea First, it’s important to note that Burnett even muffs her sourcing; by citing a “Charlotte police sergeant,” she ignores the fact that he’s a union representative, and that union representatives are not operating in their capacity as police officers or spokespeople for the department.

Jeremy Corbyn Wins Convincing Victory Over Owen Smith

Socialist Appeal

By Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason for The Guardian – Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to “wipe the slate clean” after winning a convincing victory in Labour’s bitter leadership battle, securing 62% of the vote. Speaking after the result was declared in Liverpool, Corbyn thanked his rival, Owen Smith, and urged the “Labour family” to unite after the summer-long contest. “We have much more in common than that which divides us. Let’s wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we’ve got to do as a party together,” he said.