Military Contractors Steal from Us

According to a NYT op-ed by Peter Navarro, an assistant to the president and the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, published March 19th, 2019, argues that hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on the American military is justified for two reasons:

  • It assuages adversaries from threatening American interests , and
  • 2) Defense spending helps keep some manufacturing jobs alive.

As to the first point, America spent $610 billion dollars on defense in 2017, the largest amount of any nation. How much did the second-most on the list spend? $228 billion in China. What does that reason? It shows that America has no adversary abroad who could contend with our hegemony. It is beyond any argument that we need to spend this much when we already have a military so advanced. Some have even argued that since America has such an advanced nuclear arsenal it serves enough as a deterrent against others’ aggression, alone. Who needs tanks in a nuclear conflict?

As to point number two, the bloated defense budget is keeping some jobs here in the United States alive. But what we must focus on is the profits being made by companies making military equipment and providing defense services. It is well known that no-bid contracts are awarded more than often to companies by the government by the Dept. of Defense. But also, the heads of these companies are often former government officials who make the decisions about how that $610 billion dollars is spent. For example, V.P. Cheney first worked in the Department of Defense under Pres. Reagan then, once the regime had changed, Cheney went to sit on the board at Halliburton. When Cheney was picked by George W. Bush to be his V.P., and they conducted the invasion of Iraq, Halliburton received many no-bid contracts from the government for various services. Positions of government officials in the defense dept. have a revolving door between their time as so-called “servants of the people” and a private company’s board of directors.

The horrible crime is that even a small amount of $610 billion would be better spent elsewhere. We could rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, solve the housing crisis, fight the opioid epidemic, or even relocate and retrain the former manufacturing employees once their plants closedown. Just a thought…

Real Reason for The West’s Interest in Venezuela’s Suffering

Venezuela is in deep economic trouble and has a resulting humanitarian crisis on their hands. According to mainstream media reports (even though some contrary anecdotal evidence has been offered up by some far left sources that I am skeptical of; 3 million people not leave their homes for another country for no reason) relay stories of starvation, water shortages, and blackouts. And a ten million-percent inflation on the way by 2020, things look dire for the Latin American country.

What does the West want out of this situation with their sanctions? They want regime change to an oligarchy that get loans from the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and ascending entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowing Western influences upon the affairs of Venezuelan black crude.

But first things first, the American government is trying through sanctions to force out Pres. Nicolas Maduro, a Chavista socialist with the interests of the poor at the fore and replacing him with self-declared interim president Juan Guaido. America wants Guaido to come in and overthrow the peoples’ leader Maduro with an oligarchy that would kowtow to anything Washington orders. American leaders are the puppet masters behind the International sanctions against Venezuela causing most of the peoples pain. This is the reason for the resulting humanitarian crisis in the Bolivarian Republic.

In the interest of credibility here though let me state that these sanctions alone have not created the current economic situation in Venezuela entirely. Previous leader Hugo Chavez spent the money of the Venezuelan people on the poor quite loosely. New schools, new health clinics, new services everywhere were created. But that was all before the price of oil fell precipitously. Oil is the main export of the country and there were no funds saved by Chavez for a “rainy day.” This caused a large deal of the collapse. But the sanctions have further exacerbated all the problems when they were implemented before Chavez’s death and Maduro’s ascension. They have just now been tightened like a vice on the people in the South American nation to an extreme extent.

Venezuela needs a multi-billion-dollar investment to get back on its feet. The U.S. aid trucks sitting in Colombia are nothing but show pieces for Guaido because it would take thousands upon thousands of trucks to make a dent in the Venezuelan crisis. The only real, if I can use that word, solution to the crisis would be loans from the WB, the IMF, and entrance into the WTO. But let me tell you how this will work against the poor of Venezuela.

These financial organizations will demand in return for their loans the smashing of unions and the implementation of neo-liberal and globalist policies. They will only develop oil as the source of revenue Venezuela and will not allow the nation to create a self-sustaining economy. Globalizing small, poor countries with WB/IMF loans produces single exports to sale on the world market, e.g., if Venezuela’s people want to produce rice for the people themselves, the WB/IMF will not allow them saying they could import in from other poor WTO countries, like in Indochina WTO members who are a singular product economy also. And what happens in most cases is that member countries take loans from the WB/IMF, they cannot pay them back. So what happens? They take out further loans and these crooked institutions make further demands upon the member/leant against countries, like further privatizing sectors of industries, and undermining further progressive initiatives. And this repeats. Therefore Maduro insists there is no crisis in his country. He knows that the admitting of this situation would put too much pressure on the people to fool them into letting in these neo-liberal institutions into the country. That is what is at heart of the Venezuelan crisis.

Oh, and on another note, millions upon millions of Venezuela dollars are frozen here in American financial institutions as part of the sanctions. The Trump administration has stated that they will be released if Guaido’s coup succeeds. Now who cares about the suffering masses now?

5 New Images in STL Gallery!

Just added five new images to the Sparking The Left image gallery!

Hoping you find them inspiring and will lend to any propaganda-spreading action you may participate in.

Save Far Left Ideologies from the Trash Heap of History!

Ancient Athens is revered as the birthplace of both democracy and all of Western civilization. During its democratic period of the 5th and 4th century B.C. both its power and cultural achievements were at their height. Even the word “democracy” (demokratia, literally “people power”) is rooted in the Classical Greek language. But in 338, Phillip II of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s father) conquered Athens and much of the rest of Greek world. It was under Macedonian rule off and on until 228, and democracy was never to take hold again in the Greek classical period.

Also, Ancient Rome was first ruled by a king but then also moved to a democratic, republic-form of government. But in the latter stages, power struggles amongst the elite led to the tyrannical rule of Julius Caesar. And you know what that led to from the pages of The 12 Caesars.

So, what is the point of this shockingly short and incomplete summary of the democratic periods of both ancient Athens and Rome? The reason is that the American Founding Framers took their inspiration from the Classical period in creating and founding the United States of America. They did not say, “Democracy failed in Athens and Rome, therefore we should throw into the dustbin of history.” No, they saw the good and bad parts of each period and drew from the best of their ancient liberal values.

The most often used criticism of radical leftist political philosophies is, “Communism failed in the USSR. It will never work.” But does that mean we should throw way the whole model? I do not believe so. The Founding Framers learned from the failures of the ancient democratic regimes of both Athens and Rome. Therefore, should we never try to install a radical leftist government again if we learn the lessons of the failed Communist experiments of the past?

I hope you answer, “NO!”

Leftist Revolution: How to Run The Initial Days

In my previous post, I expressed the opinion that a major mistake made by Communist nations, both past and present, is that they moved too fast to make radical economic changes after their respective revolutions. Stalin’s “Five Year Plans”, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”, and the very radical economic and societal moves made by Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge left tens of millions dead. What I propose instead is that once a revolution is won here in the U.S., and a vanguard/transition party is established, we then move slowly into a socialist system.

Now, we can make major societal changes regarding human rights issues like LGBTQ issues, women’s equality and abortion rights, and of course, minority rights. And we should also start socializing major industries, like utility companies, the medical system, and other day-to-day human rights issues. But the last thing we want to do is something as radical as eliminating the money-based system or forcing people into collectives.

The reason for this is because the people are not yet informed about the nature of the Socialist/Communist system as of today. We need to create a new hegemonic culture based on equality and the new government-to-citizen relationship first. Italian scholar and Communist Antonio Gramsci iwrote about how capitalism is the hegemonic culture. So everything we know is based on that brutal system and, therefore, it is hard to think outside of it, especially in America where the entire history of our young nation is nothing but capitalism. We don’t have the history of a feudal system. Other nations do. So they have something to fall back on, culturally. So that’s why we need a vanguard/transitional party so immensely.

In conclusion, we must make a gradual change in our economic system. This will help the masses ease into a new leftist system. I arrived at this notion because, according to scholars, it took France’s democratic system to work itself out all the way from the storming of the Bastille in 1789, until 1898. So we must be patient and live with a gradual economic change. Plus, Ionce comfortable with the socialist system, the masses can then move into a Communist system for they will be educated in terms of the next steps towards emancipation.

So we cannot have a radical economic change in the U.S. after a far left revolution. The people need to be eased into a new system. Then we will be ready for a Communist system in the a post-socialist stage… even if it takes 100 years.

Communism: Learning from the Past and Present

As I have put forth in my previous posts, a socialist government is the best political system to be realized today in the interests of the 99%. But if we are going to move towards having the power taken back from the rich and given to its rightful owners, the workers, we must avoid making the mistakes made by Communist countries today and in the past.

One of the most dangerous actions taken by the radical leftist governments of the past is that they tried to realize unrealistic goals too soon. E.g., China had its “Great Leap Forward,” the Soviets under Stalin always put forth these “5 Year Plans” that hurt the Russian people at the hands of Stalin’s vain attempts at greatness, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia killed over a million of their countrymen partially due to economic reforms. And these often just occurred to catch up with capitalist countries in the areas of industry, science, military, and infrastructurevtoo fast. Foolish.

The are two reasons why this is true, namely:

  1. Revolutionaries have no idea how to run a country. This often leads to unspeakable hardships and suffering for the reasons mentioned above in the pursuit of grand ideals.
  2. The three countries outlined above, i.e., Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia, were ruled under brutal dictators, or very small groups of leaders, who ran authoritarian governments. They involved purges, gulags, and mass murders of so-called “enemies of the people.” And these things are still taking place in North Korea under the rule of the Kim family and their latest criminal, thug leader, Kim Jong Un.

But in terms of the socialist experiment in Cuba, we could learn a lot of positive things from them. The U.S. capitalist media would have you believe that the Castros are no different than Stalin or Un, but what they don’t report are the great strides towards equality taking place in the small island country. E.g., they have redistributed land to the peasants through land reform. Once the Cuban peasants were slaves to rich plantation owners, but as a result of the revolution, the land owned by the corporations and plantation owners has now been divided amongst the people who work the land. And that is just one example of the successful reforms. They have also gotten away from just being a sugar-dominated economy and even become a powerhouse in the research and development of new medicines that are often purchased, yes, by the U.S. government.

Yet this has succeeded by not having some grand goal of building a developing country into a society where they are immediately just as technologically advanced as  the U.S. These are examples of how ideas and policies could be learned from a socialist society to be translated instilled in a more equal America.

So in conclusion, the brutality of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is due to harsh authoritarian governments, not an attempted realization of a fully socialist society. These dictatorships had vain rulers trying to advance mostly Third-World countries into global players too fast. Yet we can look to somewhere like Cuba for positive ideas to enact here in the U.S. in pursuit of a more egalitarian society.

The New POV of Sparking The Left!

Over the past few months, I have been publishing a podcast on working class issues. Yet I returned to Sparking The Left because the number of listens were very low. But in some episodes I began with editorials trying to convey the radical-leftist approach. So I’ll be posting a few of the essays here, in easy to understand language, to outline STL’s far-left point of view:

As I have stated above, this blog now comes from a radical leftist point of view. And I know what people think of when hearing of far-left governments:

  •             Stalin
  •             Gulags
  •             Purges
  •             Mass starvation

But those are results of authoritarianism rather than a radical-leftist government (another post for another time).

A true form of socialism, much less communism, has yet to be practiced in history. And what a true form of a radical leftist system is about is putting power in the hands of the workers. Workers should own the companies they work for because they are the ones who are engaged in the labor.

Right now major stock holders on Wall Street own and control the factories and corporations. But they do nothing but sit and collect the profits while we get the crumbs. They don’t unload trucks, sort freight, work a cash register, fill orders, or what-have-you, for often more tha

n 40 hours a week. The fruits of our labor have been usurped from the rightful owners; and that is us, the working class.

Now, I hear you saying, “How can a corrupt system like ours ever turn over all of the power to the workers?”

The answer is we smash the current capitalist oligarchy; or our so-called democratic system.

It must go.

Now which form of a far-left government we construct is up for debate. And in all honesty, I’m not sure which one it should actually be. But what I do believe right now is socialism is the best form of government we have available to us at this time.

So, in general, we must leave behind the Gulags, purges, and mass starvation, and enact a socialist government. Though it sounds extreme to complete this feat, but our current so-called democratic system must be smashed.

Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

In Solidarity,

Demonstration against G8 Summit in Le Havre We just wanted to re-post that we have provided the inaugural paper for our “New Work” section here at Sparking The Left: a brief primer on social movement theory from a sociological perspective.

Social movement theory is an important topic, and all those engaged in activism stand to learn a great deal from it. There is a vibrant academic community rigorously analyzing social movements and much is still to be learned. Yet, this is only a primer that will get you thinking about social movements and the dynamics present within and inside of the milieu around them.

It is an academic paper with cited sources from peer-reviewed journals, but do not be intimidated. I made it as accessible as possible.

You will be able to find the piece in its entirety beneath the “New Work” tab at the top of the STL homepage, but you can find the introduction below:

Below you will find a brief introduction to social movement (SM) theory and its main tenets from a sociological perspective. I include the three dynamics that serve as the foundation in the studies of SMs today: resource mobilization theory, political process theory, and framing processes. Hopefully this paper will inspire you to do some of your own research if you plan on engaging in contentious politics. I believe that all actors practicing collective action would be much aided with such a line of research.

All of the referenced material here can either be found in a downloadable .pdf format at Google Scholar or cited for reading at your local university’s library.