Category Archives: Radical Islam

ISIS Attacks Christian Village in Lebanon

Eight ISIS suicide bombers attacked Qaa, a mostly Christian village on the Syrian border in Lebanon. Five were killed and 30 more were wounded. ISIS is attacking Lebanon because Hezbollah is sending forces to fight ISIS in Syria, but they probably also want to attack this village to kill Christians.

Photos are interesting. Show older Lebanese Christian women from the village carrying AK-47’s on patrol. They look pretty uncomfortable with those weapons. I assume most of the men are away. The women were told by Lebanese soldiers to go home. The soldiers said they would take care of patrolling the village. Lebanon is notorious for not having a very good army. Hezbollah’s forces are better than the Lebanese army, and they’re a non-state actor!

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Khameini Is Dead

Unconfirmed reports. He has has been very ill with cancer for a long time.

No Islamists are all that great, but they are what they are, and the Muslim religion is what it is. It’s never  going to be this groovy Western  human rights and democracy religion that we want it to be. It’s just not that kind of a religion and Muslim civilization is just not that kind of a civilization. Trying to force this human rights and democracy and globalized neoliberalism on the Muslims is, to overuse a metaphor, like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. There’s another metaphor I like better. Stalin said that trying to force Communism on the Poles was like trying to put a saddle on a cow.

Let’s get real. Sure, most of the West hates Muslims. But which ones do we hate? We hate the Muslims who are being real Muslims and who are being true to their religion. The perfect Muslim country for the West is a secular country, but that right there goes against Islam, and most Muslims do not want to live in secular countries.

Islamism is just Islam.

Islamists are just Muslims.

If we hate Islamism and Islamists, then we simply hate Islam and Muslims. There’s no other way to slice this cake.

That said, Khameini was orders of magnitude better than Khomeini, the original ayatollah. The Iranians have made great strides towards moving in the direction of a more humanist Islamism. They have  the advantage of Shiism. Like Catholicism, Shiism sees Islam as a moving target to be continuously reinterpreted in accordance with the times. Sort of like the living Constitutionalists. The Vatican is much the same way. These high priests see themselves as the interpreters and re-interpreters of religion, and the Shia clergy and in fact very similar to the high priests of the Vatican.

Hardly anyone in the West can see Khameini as a good man. But for an Islamist, he was very good of kind. And that’s about all we can expect from this religion of low expectations.

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Regime Change in Libya: Follow the Money

Here.

I have always thought that all of these wars were all about the money.

I remember in the run-up to that stupid Gulf War in 1991, I was arguing with my mechanic.

“It’s all about the money!” I said. “And the oil!”

My mechanic winked at me. “They all are.”

I checked him. “All wars are all about money?”

He shrugged his shoulders cynically. “Of course they are.”

That’s pretty sickening, isn’t it? You guys wonder why we socialists hate capitalism. Maybe now you are starting to get it.

So the French went to war to:

  1. Stop Ghaddafi’s Gold Dinar project, which was a threat France’s franc, which is used as reserve currency of choice (fiat currency) in Africa.
  2. Obtain (steal) Libya’s oil.
  3. Assert French domination over the region (French imperialism)
  4. Gain support for Sarkozy domestically (Bill Clinton wag to dog move).
  5. Assert French military power (by menacing Africa via French imperialism).
  6. Prevent Ghaddafi from gaining influence in what the French see as Francophone Africa.

Though the French-proposed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 claimed the no-fly zone implemented over Libya was to protect civilians, an April 2011 email [archived here] sent to Hillary with the subject line “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold” tells of less noble ambitions.

The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.”

Most astounding is the lengthy section delineating the huge threat that Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves, estimated at “143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” posed to the French franc (CFA) circulating as a prime African currency. In place of the noble sounding “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine fed to the public, there is this “confidential” explanation of what was really driving the war [emphasis mine]:

This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.)

Though this internal email aims to summarize the motivating factors driving France’s (and by implication NATO’s) intervention in Libya, it is interesting to note that saving civilian lives is conspicuously absent from the briefing.

Instead, the great fear reported is that Libya might lead North Africa into a high degree of economic independence with a new pan-African currency.

French intelligence “discovered” a Libyan initiative to freely compete with European currency through a local alternative, and this had to be subverted through military aggression.

British, French and Egyptian special forces were on the ground almost immediately after the protests started (just like in Syria) training the Libyan rebels, already packed with fighters from Al Qaeda, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – basically Libyan Al Qaeda – and other Salafist jihadis. US emails show that we knew full well that the Libyan rebels we were supporting and arming with a seemingly endless supply of small arms flowing across the Egyptian border had strong Al Qaeda links, but we kept supporting them and supplying them anyway.

The same intelligence email from Sydney Blumenthal also confirms what has become a well-known theme of Western supported insurgencies in the Middle East: the contradiction of special forces training militias that are simultaneously suspected of links to Al Qaeda.

Blumenthal relates that “an extremely sensitive source” confirmed that British, French, and Egyptian special operations units were training Libyan militants along the Egyptian-Libyan border, as well as in Benghazi suburbs.

While analysts have long speculated as to the “when and where” of Western ground troop presence in the Libyan War, this email serves as definitive proof that special forces were on the ground only within a month of the earliest protests which broke out in the middle to end of February 2011 in Benghazi.

By March 27 of what was commonly assumed a simple “popular uprising” external special operatives were already “overseeing the transfer of weapons and supplies to the rebels” including “a seemingly endless supply of AK47 assault rifles and ammunition.”

Yet only a few paragraphs after this admission, caution is voiced about the very militias these Western special forces were training because of concern that, “radical/terrorist groups such as the Libyan Fighting Groups and Al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are infiltrating the NLC and its military command.”

Of course, the war propaganda lies started up almost immediately, and the American people fell for all of them, just like they always do. Suckers!

The first lie was that Ghaddafi was supplying his troops with huge supplies of Viagra so they could go on a mass rape campaign against enemy civilians (that he was using rape as a weapon of war). This lie, started by the Libyan rebels, was quickly debunked, but the mass media and the US government continued promoting it for a long time. The origin of the mas rape lie appears to have been with DNC sleazeball Sidney Blumenthal, Hillary’s intelligence aide at the time.

An equally weird charge was that Ghaddafi was places dead bodies in civilian areas in as a staged PR hoax to accuse the Coalition of killing Libyan civilians. Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense, quickly said that the Pentagon had verified the hoaxed bodies story was true. No evidence has ever surfaced that the staged body hoax story was true. The ridiculous mass rape lie was soon parroted by Hillary’s henchwoman Samantha “humanitarian bomber” Power. Incredibly, Susan Rice, another Hillary acolyte, stood up in front of the UN Security Council and charged Libya with war crimes based on the mass rape lie.

Early in the Libyan conflict Secretary of State Clinton formally accused Gaddafi and his army of using mass rape as a tool of war. Though numerous international organizations, like Amnesty International, quickly debunked these claims, the charges were uncritically echoed by Western politicians and major media.

It seemed no matter how bizarre the conspiracy theory, as long as it painted Gaddafi and his supporters as monsters, and so long as it served the cause of prolonged military action in Libya, it was deemed credible by network news.

Two foremost examples are referenced in the latest batch of emails: the sensational claim that Gaddafi issued Viagra to his troops for mass rape, and the claim that bodies were “staged” by the Libyan government at NATO bombing sites to give the appearance of the Western coalition bombing civilians.

In a late March 2011 email, Blumenthal confesses to Hillary that,

I communicated more than a week ago on this story—Qaddafi placing bodies to create PR stunts about supposed civilian casualties as a result of Allied bombing—though underlining it was a rumor. But now, as you know, Robert gates gives credence to it. (See story below.)

Sources now say, again rumor (that is, this information comes from the rebel side and is unconfirmed independently by Western intelligence), that Qaddafi has adopted a rape policy and has even distributed Viagra to troops. The incident at the Tripoli press conference involving a woman claiming to be raped is likely to be part of a much larger outrage. Will seek further confirmation.

Not only did Defense Secretary Robert Gates promote his bizarre “staged bodies” theory on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” but the even stranger Viagra rape fiction made international headlines as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice made a formal charge against Libya in front of the UN Security Council.

What this new email confirms is that not only was the State Department aware of the spurious nature of what Blumenthal calls “rumors” originating solely with the rebels, but did nothing to stop false information from rising to top officials who then gave them “credence.”

It appears, furthermore, that the Viagra mass rape hoax likely originated with Sidney Blumenthal himself.

Note

[1] The most comprehensive and well-documented study of the plight of black Libyans is contained in Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa (publ. 2012, Baraka Books) by Maximilian Forte, Professor Anthropology and Sociology at Concordia University in Montréal, Québec.

This article was originally published at the Levant Report.

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Hillary Clinton, Neoconservative Dream Candidate

Here.

Good God, she’s a nightmare. This election is going to be about who we despise least. I hate Trump, but I definitely despise Killary/Hitlery Clinton, neocon warmonger maniac.

Trump is truly catastrophic and must be stopped by all means. But Hillary is a nightmare. Hillary’s a turd, and Trump is 24 hour diarrhea. I really hate both of them, but I hate Hillary less. But that ain’t saying much, because there are few humans I hate more than Donald Trump.

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ISIS: Made in America

Here.

I have probably read hundreds of pages on this matter recently, and I still do not know what to make of it. I think this whole “War on ISIS:” is fake.

ISIS is armed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The US shovels weapons to those three countries and then they give them to ISIS. ISIS is also supported by the UAE. The weapons are stockpiled in Turkey and then driven across the border to ISIS. Also I believe a lot of weapons are shipped to ISIS via Jordan.

The US knows full well that its own allies are supplying ISIS with weapons and that its ally Turkey is the main stockpile for the weapons. It knows that Turkey ships the weapons and supplies across the border to ISIS. Erdogan’s brother was the man running the ISIS oil smuggling out of Eastern Syria. The oil was smuggled out of East Syria to Turkey where it was then shipped to Israel. The Turkish government was neck deep in this. Erdogan’s sister was running a hospital that took care of wounded ISIS fighters.

If the US is fighting a war against ISIS, then why isn’t it stopping Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey from supplying ISIS? Why aren’t we bombing the ISIS training camps and supply depots in Turkey. Last November, a German photojournalist shot video of a column of 100 trucks heading over the Turkish border carrying men, supplies, weapons, etc. going directly into ISIS territory.

Conclusion? We are not even fighting a war on ISIS at all! If we are, why are we not targeting their supply chain? The whole war against them is fake.

We must be keeping ISIS around for some reason. Probably we are keeping them around as a noose around the neck of Assad. ISIS is a great way to bleed Assad on the battlefield and threaten his regime. At the same time, if you hit Syria, you also hit Iran and Hezbollah. Iran and Hezbollah are also getting bloodied on the battlefield in Syria. So ISIS is a great way to bloody, weaken and threaten Assad and to bloody and weaken Hezbollah while possibly threatening them in the future (Al Nusra is already fighting battles with the Lebanese military and Hezbollah in Northern Lebanon.) ISIS is also useful to bleed and weaken Iran and its allies like the Yemeni Houthis.

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“Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inequality: Marx after Piketty,” By Thomas E. Lambert

Great article that concludes that almost all of the massive wealth that has accumulated among the wealthy in the US in recent years has been due to an huge increase in the economic surplus which has been due to two factors: flat wage growth (high worker exploitation) and investment in unproductive sectors of the US economy. I believe he is correct. Piketty’s book is supposed to be great, but I have not yet read it.

Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inequality: Marx after Piketty

By Thomas E. Lambert

Assistant Professor of Public Administration
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Lambertt1@nku.edu
502-403-9795 (cell)

Abstract

This paper proposes that one major explanation of growing inequality in the United States (US) is through the use of the concept of economic surplus. The economic surplus is a neo-Marxian term which combines the traditional Marxian tenet of surplus value with other ways that surplus value can be invested in a mature, advanced capitalist economy.

A rising economic surplus that is not absorbed through growing consumer spending, luxury spending or government spending results in stagnant wages and growing inequality via higher levels of underemployment and greater monopoly and monopsony power among a decreasing number of huge, powerful corporations. Therefore, the politics surrounding the growth of inequality in the US has to be understood first by understanding over accumulation of the economic surplus by those at the top of the US capitalist class.

This research note gives estimates of the rising economic surplus over the last several decades in the US as well as how these correlate with the level of inequality. The growth of the economic surplus gives rise and form to the politics of inequality and austerity. As time goes by, the politics of inequality and austerity in the US will be manifested by greater corporate influence in the political system, greater political polarization, less government effectiveness, and more debates about welfare spending, corporate taxation, taxes on upper income households, and taxes on wealth.

Introduction

According to a recent, nationwide opinion poll, approximately 63% of United States (US) survey respondents indicated that US wealth and income differences should be more equally distributed (Newport 2015). In many political discussions and discourse in the US, the topic of economic inequality is growing in importance, especially as one major candidate for US President has made it a cornerstone of his campaign (Talbot 2015).

Additionally, the notoriety of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century (2014, English edition) has added grist to the debate since one of Piketty’s main points is that a large degree of economic inequality is the norm in a capitalistic system, not the exception. Piketty contends that some degree of inequality has been driven by the large increases in managerial and CEO pay over the years (p. 24), although a lot of research has failed to show a link between a management team’s pay and corporate performance (Collins 2001, Chemi and Giorgio 2014).

Add to this his assertion that rates of return on wealth and assets, or r, are greater than economic growth, or g, then in any society, most of national income tends to accumulate with the investor class, and part of this income becomes more assets and wealth. His central equation, r > g, explains why great concentrations of wealth yield even more wealth concentration as time goes by, especially if r is far above g.

Finally, with large concentrations of wealth, inherited wealth becomes more and more important in skewing the wealth toward those in the top income ranges, especially if inheritance and income taxes are kept low by national governments.

One solution to extremely skewed wealth distribution would be an international tax on wealth and/or inheritances, but Piketty believes these unlikely to come into effect. Therefore, despite astute analysis of why inequality persists and even becomes worse, Piketty’s recommendations to address it are tenuous given political power imbalances in most societies and the inability of nation-states to coordinate actions to solve problems.

Nonetheless, Piketty is at least concerned about the long term impacts of extreme inequality in most nations whereas some mainstream economists do not see it as a big problem if a problem at all. Instead, according to these economists, income and wealth inequalities within a society can be explained mostly by differences in labor productivity and educational attainment differences among those in the labor force (Feldstein 1999).

On the other hand, critics of extreme inequality claim that too much income and wealth inequality can result in greater political and social alienation or even turmoil on the part of the citizenry, possibly due to the development of a static class structure or rule by oligarchy (Solt 2008, Newman, Johnston and Lown 2015).

One school of neo-Marxist thought, the “monopoly capital” point of view (Baran and Sweezy 1966, Foster 2014 among others), posits that modern inequality exists because of traditional Marxist explanations of worker exploitation and because of the power of land owners in the past and in modern times (a rentier class) and mostly because of the political and market powers of large, modern day corporations (i.e., many oligopolistic and monopolistic consumer markets and monopsonistic labor markets).

Market concentration allows for restricted output (excess capacity), which in turn yields high markups on product prices. Restricted output lessens the demand for labor, which along with monoposonistic labor markets (in which workers are limited with regard to employer choices) limit the earnings of workers and raises the unemployment rate beyond what it would be otherwise.

In the monopoly capital school of thought, Piketty’s observation of r > g can be easily explained by the degree of corporate and upper class dominance in a society in that market concentration and power in product and labor markets yields higher returns and profits than in competitive markets relative to what workers can earn in wages (Foster and Yates 2014, Andrews 2014). With wages stagnant or not increasing fast enough to keep up with inflation, this makes the degree of labor exploitation even stronger (Piketty 2014, Lambert and Kwon 2015a).

Finally, since innovation and the resulting products from innovation usually reach a peak in sales and market share, g is usually low, and so the economy usually tends toward stagnation. That is, according to the monopoly capital point of view, the product life cycle of rapid growth, slow growth, and then peak sales occurs with all products, and if no further innovations are forthcoming to keep an economy growing, then slow or negative growth occurs.

This is compounded by the fact that as many industries cease to grow as rapidly as they have in their early stages, jobs are eventually shed as labor saving techniques are introduced, and this can exacerbate any unemployment and inequality problems. Finally, slow growing or declining sales in existing product markets and a lack of new products or markets in which to invest lead to fewer investment outlets for the upper capitalist class. This causes the “economic surplus” of a society to rise, which can be manifested in over accumulation of surplus or under consumption of goods and services.

According to Baran and Sweezy (1966), the economic surplus is the amount over and above what is required to produce a given level of output and is normally considered as comprised of things such business profits, property rents, interest payments, and wasteful expenditures on such things as luxury items, advertising, retailing, research and development1, finance, and military programs. Using Piketty’s equation (or inequality), since r > g, the surplus of the wealthier classes rises faster than what it can invest in productive investment or assets.

Hence, in order to use the excess surplus that is accumulated, the result is spending on many wasteful items according to Baran and Sweezy. Wasteful and non-wasteful activities are seen from a traditional Marxian perspective these that uses a non-productive and productive dichotomy for classifying economic activity and labor.2

Productive activity or labor includes those activities such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, utilities, construction, transportation, and some forms of government activity such as education, sanitation, and emergency services (Baran and Sweezy 1966, Shaikh and Tonak 1994, Mohun 1996 and 2014 among others).

These activities and labor are considered productive because they produce surplus value and add value in that they satisfy the consumer needs of food, clothing, shelter, education, etc.

Those economic sectors that are classified as unproductive add little or no value and are only ancillary to the productive sectors of the economy. Yet, the unproductive sectors are necessary in order to provide an outlet for accumulated surplus that cannot be channeled into productive sectors if the latter are not growing (Baran and Sweezy 1966).

For Baran and Sweezy (1966) this combination of surplus value obtained from worker exploitation (where workers produced output greater than their wages) and expenditures for non-productive labor and activities made up their concept of the economic surplus.

Therefore, as wages remain stagnant or decline as prices and profits rise (which would cause r to increase even more relative to g in Piketty’s equation) and as non-productive sectors grow, then a nation’s economic surplus would grow. Along with this growth in economic surplus, as wages are stagnant or declining, one would expect to see rising inequality due to rising labor exploitation, and so there should be a high degree of correlation between the economic surplus and inequality.

This research note proceeds as follows. Next is a section in which the methods of evaluating the argument that the economic surplus and inequality are linked are discussed. Then a results section summarizes the findings. Finally, a discussion and conclusion elaborate on the research results and offers recommendations for further research.

Methods

This paper uses time series, least squares regression to predict the levels of income inequality (top 1% income share, including capital gains) and wealth inequality (net private wealth as a portion of all income3) in the US from 1929 to 2013 using the monopoly capital concept of economic surplus as a percentage of GDP. This is a method similar to that used by Lambert and Kwon (2015a) in which they predicted the percentage change in top income shares over a similar time period using different concepts of surplus and other variables.

The top 1% income share and wealth to total income numbers come from the World Wealth and Income Database, a database created by Piketty and other researchers of inequality (Alvaredo, Atkinson, Piketty , Saez, and Zucman 2016). The economic surplus as a portion of US GDP was used by Baran and Sweezy (1966) to illustrate the level of exploitation occurring in the US over time.

In an appendix by Joseph D. Phillips, the surplus as a portion of GDP is constructed as the sum of business profits, rent, property income, interest, dividends, depreciation, and the value of the “wasteful” sectors of the economy (e.g., finance, insurance, real estate, services, government etc.) divided by GDP.

Later, Shaikh and Tonak (1994) fine-tuned the economic surplus concept as a portion of GDP that is basically the value of Gross Domestic Product less the value of the wages and salaries in the productive sectors of the economy. This paper adapts their concept, which has also been used by other authors (Wolf 1987, Lambert and Kwon 2015a and 2015b). The source of the data is from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) National Economics Accounts tables website, http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm , and more specifically Table 1.1.5, Gross Domestic Product and Table 6.2A, Compensation of Employees by Industry.4

This paper contends that there should be a high degree of correlation between the economic surplus and two variables, income and wealth inequality, since capitalist wealth and income are extracted by high rates of labor exploitation and the wasteful investment of surplus into productive and non-productive activities.

Results

Figures 1 and 2 show that the economic surplus concept and the income and wealth shares are highly correlated and have strong, direct and positive relationships. Table 1, Model 1, shows the economic surplus as a percentage of GDP to be a statistically significant predictor of the income shares of the top 1%, and it explains about 88% of the variation in top 1% income shares.

A one percent increase in economic surplus is associated with around a 12% increase in top 1% income share on average. In Model 2, a 1% increase in economic surplus as a share of GDP predicts a 163% increase in the wealth to income percentage on average.

Model 2 shows the economic surplus variable to be statistically significant and explains about 73% of the variation in wealth to income. In using ordinary least squares analysis, the Durbin-Watson statistic is less than the lower critical value at α < 0.05 for both models indicating positive serial correlation, so Newey-West standard errors to correct for any autocorrelation or serial correlation are used in both models (Studenmund 2006, pages 334-335).

Discussion and Conclusion

The regression results support the hypotheses advanced by this paper. The bulk of the gains made by the upper classes in US society appear to have occurred because of increases in US economic surplus, which grew as a result of stagnant wages to labor (or greater labor exploitation) and greater investment in what Baran and Sweezy (1966) would characterize as “waste” – the unproductive sectors of the US economy (Lambert and Kwon 2015a).

Politically, greater labor exploitation and greater inequality in both wealth and income make for a potentially volatile situation according to Piketty (2014).

Toward the end of his book The Theory of Capitalist Development (1970 (1942 original), set in the US during the Great Depression and on the eve of its entry into World War II, Paul Sweezy speculates on the question of whether fascism is inevitable in a society which has suffered and continues to suffer a major economic crisis.

Similar to the nations that suffered trauma during and after World War I because of economic hardships, military defeat and/or subsequent economic crisis (e.g., Germany and Italy), the US was dealing with high unemployment and excess industrial capacity, although the US had come out of World War I stronger than any other nation in the world.

Sweezy believes that a nation which has embarked in imperialist ventures in the past (i.e., has had colonies or territories) and has a capitalist economy, although a faltering one, and has suffered some type of national trauma (war, depression, etc.) is a good candidate for a fascistic takeover of the government. He rejects this as an inevitability for the US during the time of his writings for the book, but leaves open the possibility for a later date should circumstances change.

Have circumstances changed enough since then? Other writings on fascism and socialism offer some clues as to possible future scenarios. The US has possibly suffered the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression due to the 2007-2009 Great Recession and its aftermath.

Subsequent economic growth after the recession’s “end” in 2009 has been very slow, with stagnant wages, a great number of people dropping out of the labor force, an increase in the official poverty rate, and now an apparent slowdown in the global economy, which could spell more trouble for the US economy (Greenhouse and Leonhardt 2006, Foster and Magdoff 2009, Lambert 2011, Mongiovi 2015, Patnaik 2016).

Although illegal immigration has declined during this time period, there still persists a common belief among the working classes that a large number of illegal immigrants are harming the working class (Goo 2015). Additionally, the aftermath of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and continued problems with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS have put the nation almost on a perpetual wartime footing since 2001.

Fascism has been generally defined as a political and economic system which arises from national political and/or economic turmoil and wherein capitalism is seen as chaotic and has to be managed by a strong, nationalistic government led by elites which seeks to unite labor and upper class interests rather than try to exploit class struggle.

The capitalist class, however, is allowed to retain its property rights and business interests, although it now has to submit to a “managed” form of capitalism in which industry is organized into large and cooperative cartels (Sabine and Thorson 1973, Carsten 1980, Renton 1999, Amin 2014). In return for full and steady employment, labor gives up its unions and a large number of its rights, which assists with an austerity efforts to balance national budgets and pay off debts.

Such a compromise goes a long way in managing social spending that cannot keep up with the chaos (economic downturns), unemployment, poverty, and inequality brought about due to capitalism’s excesses (O’Connor 1973). Piketty (2014) acknowledges that much of the austerity movement in developed and developing countries has emanated from the fact that most bondholders are from the world’s wealthy and upper classes, and therefore, austerity is imposed to make sure that the debt is properly serviced and paid, even if it means harsh conditions for debtor nations.

Fascism does seem plausible in other nations that are undergoing austerity due to having to repay debts to the IMF or other financial institutions. Repressive regimes could arise when faced with labor and working class strife arising from a negative reaction to austerity measures. Although there is a more remote chance in the US since many of its financial institutions hold such debt, it is not entirely out of the question.

This is due to the possibility of chronic deficits and a debt level at 100% of GDP which the nation does not seem capable of adequately addressing in the current political climate. Inaction with regard to increasing taxes or significantly decreasing spending seems to be the norm now, although this may change if the economy becomes very bad in the future.

O’Connor (1973) speculates that greater and greater levels of social spending are necessary in a monopoly capitalist economy due to capitalist interests being able to shift more and more social problems on to the government (spending on unemployment, welfare, and job training, for example). Yet at the same time, capitalist interests resist greater levels of taxation.

With the resistance to higher taxes and a rising budget deficit and debt level, austerity and cutbacks are the next option, which in turn could lead to a working class revolt. The reaction to such a revolt could lead to some type of politically and economically repressive regime. This is a grim but possible scenario unfortunately.

Table 1: Times Series, Least Squares
Model 1: Dependent Variable is US Top 1% Income Shares including Capital Gains, 1929 to 2013
b
(Newey-West standard errors)

Constant -21.672
Econ Surplus as Pct. GDP 12.011***
(0.559)

Adjusted r2 : 0.883

n = 85

Model 2: Dependent Variable is Net Private Wealth as Pct. Of Income, 1929 to 2013
b
(Newey-West standard errors)

Constant -110.008
Econ Surplus as Pct. GDP 163.091***
(34.098)

Adjusted r2 : 0.731

n = 85

***p < 0.01

References

Alvaredo, Facundo, Tony Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. 2016. “World Wealth and Income Database”. Accessed on January 22, 2016.

Amin, Samir. 2014. “The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism”, Monthly Review, 66(04) (September). Accessed on January 23, 2016.

Andrews, Charles. 2014. “Professor Piketty Fights Orthodoxy and Attacks Inequality”, Marxism-Leninism Today. Accessed on January 10, 2016.

Baran, Paul A. and Paul M. Sweezy. 1966. Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Carsten, F. L. 1980. The Rise of Fascism, Second Edition. University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Collins, James C. 2001. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Do Not. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Chemi, Eric and Ariana Giorgi. 2014. “The Pay-for-Performance Myth”, Bloomberg Business. July 22, 2014. Accessed on January 8, 2016.

Feldstein, Martin. 1999. “Reducing Poverty, Not Inequality”. The Public Interest, Number 137, Fall 1999. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. . Accessed on January 8, 2016.

Foster, John Bellamy. 2014. The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism, Second Edition. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Foster, J. B., and F. Magdoff. 2009. The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Foster, John Bellamy and Michael D. Yates. 2014. “Piketty and the Crisis of Neoclassical Economics”, Monthly Review, 66(6) (November): 1-24. . Accessed on January 10, 2016.

Goo, Sarah Kehaulani. 2015. “What Americans Want to Do about Illegal Immigration”, Pew Research Center, Fact-tank. August 24, 2015. . Accessed on January 23, 2016.

Greenhouse, S., and D. Leonhard. 2006. Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity. The New York Times, August 28. Available at .

Houston, David. 1997. “Productive-Unproductive Labor: Rest in Peace,” Review of Radical Political Economics, 29(1): 131-139.

Laibman, David. 1999. “Productive and Unproductive Labor: A Comment,” Review of Radical Political Economics, 31(2): 61-73.

Lambert, Thomas E. 2011. Falling Income and Debt: Comparing Views of a Major Cause of the Great Recession. World Review of Political Economy 2(2): 247-261.

Lambert, Thomas E. and Edward Kwon. 2015a. “The Top 1 Percent and Exploitation Measures,” Review of Radical Political Economics, 47(3): 465-476.

Lambert, Thomas E. and Edward Kwon. 2015b. “Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inefficiency,” International Review of Applied Economics, 29(4): 1-20.

Mongiovi, Gary. 2015. “Piketty on Capitalism and Inequality: A Radical Economics Perspective,” Review of Radical Economists, 47(4): 558-565.

Mohun, Simon. 1996. “Productive and Unproductive Labor in the Labor Theory of Value”, Review of Radical Political Economics, 28(4) (December): 30–54.

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Newman, Benjamin J., Christopher D. Johnston and Patrick L. Lown. 2015. “False Consciousness or Class Awareness? Local Income Inequality, Personal Economic Position, and Belief in American Meritocracy”, American Journal of Political Science, 59 (2): 326–340. April 2015.

Newport, Frank. 2015. “Americans Continue to Say U.S. Wealth Distribution Is Unfair”, Gallup Poll. May 4, 2015. http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/CEO-stocking-stuffers-report.pdf. Accessed on January 4, 2016.

O’Connor, James. 1973. The Fiscal Crisis of the State. St. Martin’s Press: New York.

Patnaik, Prabhat. 2016. “Capitalism and Its Current Crisis”, Monthly Review, 67(8) January: 1-13.

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Sabine, George H. and Thomas L. Thorson. 1973. A History of Political Theory, Fourth Edition. Dryden Press: Hinsdale, Illinois.

Shaikh, Anwar and E. Ahmet Tonak. 1994. Measuring the Wealth of Nations: The Political Economy of National Accounts. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Solt, Frederick. 2008. “Economic Inequality and Democratic Political Engagement”, American Journal of Political Science, 52(1): 48-60. January 2008.

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Northern Nigeria Versus Southern Nigeria

Another William Playfair Web writes:

What about Northern Nigeria? Any better? I’ve heard more of corruption in the oil-Rich south, where, well, there’s something to be had.

Yes, although the presence of radical Islam there is serious, most of the victims of Boko Haram have been other Muslims.

There is almost no corruption in the north of Nigeria, and there is also very little crime.

All of the crime and all of the corruption is in the South.

Northern Nigeria is much poorer than the South.

Stuff like this is why hereditardianism leaves me cold. I’m sure those Southern Nigerians all got the crime and corruption genes and somehow the Northern Nigerians got the law-abiding citizens gene </snark>.

Now where are you guys with your “Poverty made ’em do it – it’s not their fault, the poor darling criminals” theory?

Waiting for your  excuses this time. Waiting…

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Omar Mateen: Self-Hating Homosexual

Latest news.

That is absolutely incredible news, but knowing psychology as well as I do, I ended up saying, “Well of course,” as I so often do nowadays as I become more wise and crystallized and less quick and fluid in my midlife.

Self-hating gay, extremely homophobic, hung out in the gay bar he shot up all the time, used numerous gay dating apps with his friends to hook up with gay men for gay sex all the time. It all adds up so perfectly.

Whether he was really gay, just bisexual or whatever the Hell his sexual orientation was is not known, but I doubt if most predominantly straight men would hang out in gay bars all the time and use gay hookup apps to meet men for sex on a regular basis. It just doesn’t work that way. Yes, straight men have sex with men, and predominantly straight bisexual men exist, but they don’t act like that. The sex they have with men looks a lot different from this. This guy is looking more and more like a closet case.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense that he got radicalized online as the FBI says. He said he was a member of Hezbollah and also praised the Chechen bombers in Boston (Yemeni Al Qaeda inspired) and and a Florida acquaintance who went to Syria, joined Al-Nusra (US-backed Syrian Al Qaeda) and blew himself up in a suicide bombing attack. He also pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS in the middle of the act. None of that makes sense. Al Qaeda and ISIS hate each other, and they are both the worst, deadliest enemies of Hezbollah. No one supports all those groups at once. It’s madness.

The guy is looking more and more like a nutcase. His wife says he was a bipolar, abusive wife-beater. Co-workers at various places described him as a time bomb.

Yes, the FBI watched him for a bit, but do you have any idea how many people get on their watch lists at one time or another? Lots. The watch lists change all the time, and the FBI is incredibly overwhelmed with the watch lists that are current, not to mention the old ones. Even being on a watch list does not mean a lot, as it certainly doesn’t mean that the FBI is watching you all the time. We still have a democracy here for now anyway, and you cannot go around locking up everyone on a watch list. The crime of “dangerousness” does not yet exist here, at least not unless Donald Trump becomes Dictator.

The perpetrator was a nut, a nutcase not a lot different from another heavily armed nutball who traveled to LA to bomb and shoot up the LA Gay Pride Parade. That man was a non-Muslim White man, and he was going to do the same thing this guy did.

In this highly charged modern environment with simple access to highly powerful military weapons for any buyer in the country, there are heavily armed time bombs all over the country stockpiling weapons and waiting for the right moment to go off and kill as many people as they can. A few of these types are claiming to be inspired by terrorist groups, but most are not. All of these characters are more or less lone wolf attacks by lone or dual terrorists acting alone or in pairs. You can’t stop lone wolf terrorists. There’s nothing to be done. Look at Israel’s experience.

This will not be the last of these attacks. There will be more. It’s only a matter of time.

Exactly how Mr. Trump is going to stop this sort of thing is news to me. I’m all ears to hear his great plan, except that so far he doesn’t have one. Mr. Trump needs to tell us just how he is going to stop this sort of thing, and he’s yet to do so.

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Homosexuality in the Muslim World: An Overview

Looking at a video like that, one might get the impression that Muslims are routinely murdered in the Muslim World. Whether or not Muslims think that that is what should be done or not, the death penalty for homosexuality is rarely carried out in the Muslim World, with some notable exceptions in the Levant and Mesopotamia. These areas for whatever reason (probably cultural) have the worst homophobia and anti-gay violence in the Muslim World.

Even among radical Muslims like the Taliban in Afghanistan, sex with men and teenage boys is very common. Homosexuality is quite common in Pakistan, especially in the radicalized West, but no one does much about it. There have been a few “executions of gays” in Iran, but the last hanging I saw was supposedly for two men who were convicted of raping teenage boys, not simple homosexuality.

In Iraq, things have been pretty bad for gays since 2001. Before 2001, Saddam did not care about them much one way or the other. The Shia militias have been murdering many gays and ISIS of course also murders homosexuals.

Gays are killed in ISIS-controlled areas of Syria. Government persecution of gays by the Syrian state is off and on. Some gays are arrested and tortured or beaten by the state, but this is not common. In recent years, Syria has taken a hands off approach to homosexuals, sort of a see no evil, hear no evil, don’t ask, don’t tell approach. The state does not approve of gays, but they pretty much leave them alone recently. There is actually a gay hookup application being used by Syrian gays and there are quite a few men on there. It would be trivial for the state to go after users of the app, but they have not done so. There are even 25 accounts in ISIS-controlled Raqqa!

I read an account by a gay man who went to Syria with his male lover ~15 years ago. They visited a coastal city and the man said that he and his partner were propositioned everywhere – even by taxi drivers. They took a stroll along the beach and said that the social scene was all male and a lot of the men seemed to be coming onto them. He described Syria as a gay paradise.

There are quite a few gays among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They are ostracized from the rest of the refugee community and live in fear, residing communally with other gay men in crowded apartments in Beirut.

Homosexuality is rampant in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at least. Traditionally not much has been done about it. A gay man took a trip to Kuwait recently and described it as a gay paradise. He met all sorts of Kuwaiti men who seemed to figure out he was gay via gaydar and propositioned him.He went to the beach at midnight and there saw a number of gay couples having sex on the beach by the moonlight.

There are even actual gay bars in Saudi Arabia, but they are not labeled as such. The authorities know what they are, but they don’t do anything. Also in Saudi Arabia men often walk around holding hands or with their arms around each other, so it’s easy for gay men to do this too and get away with it. A Kuwaiti friend of mine told, “All Saudi men are gay.” I asked her to elaborate and she said, “Well, at least 50%.” She also said that most of them were married and the homosexuality was more properly seen as bisexuality. She also said it caused a lot of problems for married Saudi women who did not appreciate this behavior.

Ostentatious homosexuality is persecuted. A wedding party for two gay men was recently broken up by authorities. In addition, ~40 gay men have been arrested recently for crimes such as marrying other men, dressing like women in public and posting a gay flag on their balcony. The prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for all of these men. So you can see that Saudi Arabia has a don’t ask, don’t tell mindset about homosexuality.

Opportunistic lesbianism or bisexuality is very common among put-upon Saudi princesses or sheikhas. A lot of these women are miserable due to male chauvinism and try to allay their sorrows via pills, booze and lesbian affairs. Nothing is done to these women at all There are separate boys and girls high schools and supposedly there are problems with epidemic opportunistic lesbianism or bisexuality in girls’ schools. It is getting to be such a problem that it is interfering with girls’ education via problems like drama, breakdowns, crying and fights over lesbian romances.

It is very common for homosexuals to be killed in Palestine. Happens all the time. In fact, a number of Palestinian gay men have asked for and been given asylum in Israel on account of being gay.

Homosexuality goes on in Lebanon and not much is done about it. However, in the South, Hezbollah has a tendency to beat up gay men if they hear about them, but they don’t kill them. There are occasional arrests and imprisonments. A woman was recently sentenced to one year in prison for lesbianism.

In Egypt, male homosexuality is very common from Cairo all the way down to the south. I read a blog post by a gay man who went there, and he was amazed at how much homosexuality there was. In the South, river boatmen on the Nile propositioned him. He also met a gay male couple in Egypt who lived together quietly. Nobody much cared. Most people seemed to know about it, but there was a don’t ask, don’t tell mindset going on.

However, the Egyptian state does not approve of ostentatious homosexuality. A raucous gay party on a large boat in the Nile was recently broken up by authorities. A number of the participants were sentenced to up to four years in prison. ~20% of young Egyptian men engage in opportunistic homosexuality, mostly because women are not available. Most of them play the male role and hence do not consider themselves gay. A few men play the female role and are labeled as gay.

All of the above is from the Mubarak era; I have no idea what things are like now.

I have no information about homosexuality in Libya, Tunisia or Algeria. However, homosexuality has traditionally been very common in Morocco. Western gay expats including a number of men of letters such as William S. Burroughs and Paul Bowles lived there for years. Bowles lived in Morocco for most of his life. Both men frequently had sex with gay teenage boys and young men in the cities. However, some of his neighbors found out about this behavior and got angry at Burroughs. I have read reports that said that ~20% of young single Moroccan men engage in opportunistic homosexuality which takes the same form as the Egyptian model above.

I have no information about homosexuality in Muslim Africa in the Sahel, the Horn or south.

Homosexuality is supposedly very common in Turkey. Western men sentenced to time in Turkish prisons have said things like, “All Turkish men are gay.” I doubt if that is accurate, but male homosexuality may be common there.

I have no information on homosexuality in Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Muslim Russia, Muslim Ukraine, Stans or Xinjiang in China.

I also have no information on homosexuality in Muslim Burma, Muslim India, the Muslim South in Thailand, the Muslim South in the Philippines or Indonesia.

I also have no information about homosexuality among Muslim communities in the West.

Any information on homosexuality in these Muslim nations and communities would be welcome.

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Is There Such Thing As a Moderate Muslim?

I really don’t like the rightwing implications of this baiting of liberals, but the criticism stands.

I would like to point out a few things here. I have been spending some time around the local Arabs who run the store on the corner. One night a Yemeni came in who had his beard cut in about the same way that this speaker did. He was also wearing a certain sort of white garment which is cut just a bit short near the feet, exposing a bit of thigh. While this is a common garment in Saudi Arabia, it is also typical jihadi garb.

If you see someone in the West wearing garb like that, it’s not really ok. I am not saying the man was a terrorist, but the beard and that garment to me meant that he was at least somewhat of a radical or an Islamist, much more of one than the local Muslims who run the market, none of whom have those particular beards nor who wear that short garment.

Notice the full beard on the speaker. Notice also how he sprinkles his speech with “Allahu Akbar.” We think that this cry is heard frequently in the Muslim World,but actually it is not. I yelled “Allahu Akbar” to one of the local Yemenis one time as a joke, and he looked a bit stunned.

Then I did a lot more research and I learned you are not really supposed to say that among more moderate Muslims. In fact, if you go around saying, “Allahu Akbar” outside of certain contexts, you are seen as an Islamist, a radical or especially a jihadi. The only other context where it might be ok may be during wartime. For instance, in the Syrian Civil War, even government troops sometimes yell, “Allahu Akbar” in the field. However, the Islamists yell it much, much more.

If you watch ISIS battlefield videos, you will notice that the Islamists are saying it constantly, often under the breath, typically with every artillery round they fire or IED they set off. After a major explosion on enemy territory, you can hear large numbers of them yelling it a lot.

With his beard and the fact that he unnecessarily puts “Allahu Akbar” in a normal conversational style speech, we can be assured that the speaker is some sort of Islamist or radical.

Also while it is true that many Sunni Muslims do believe in what the speaker said at least in theory, in the Muslim world, the death penalty for male homosexuals is not often carried out.

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