You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2007.

From TomDispatch, September 25, 2007

Before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, discussion of Iraqi oil was largely taboo in the American mainstream, while the “No Blood for Oil” signs that dotted antiwar demonstrations were generally derisively dismissed as too simpleminded for serious debate. American officials rarely even mentioned the word “oil” in the same sentence with “Iraq.” When President Bush referred to Iraqi oil, he spoke only of preserving that country’s “patrimony” for its people, a sentiment he and Great Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair emphasized in a statement they issued that lacked either the words “oil” or “energy” just as Baghdad fell: “We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq’s natural resources, as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit.”

That May, not long after the President declared “major combat” at an end in Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz did point out the obvious — that Iraq was a country that “floats on a sea of oil.” He also told a Congressional panel: “The oil revenue of that country could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. Read the rest of this entry »

With the country becoming mobilized around racism once again due to the trials of the Jena Six, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the historical movements that made these struggles today possible.

The question is, which movement has the more important legacy for our struggles against racism in America today, Civil Rights, or Black Power?

With that in mind, here are two great links I wanted to share:

An amazing 1963 video – Malcolm X, James Farmer (CORE), Wyatt Tee Walker (SCLC) and Alan Morrison (Ebony Magazine) debate the Race Crisis in America (2 hrs). Take a peek back at the debate during the peak of Civil Rights Movement.

With reflections from 1992 on the question of whether the CR movement succeeded.

Then there is UC Berkeley’s collection of videos and sound recordings of the Black Panther Party, which took a much more militant and radical stance against racist America. A fantastic resource, that you’ll want to bookmark…

“The Collapse of Complex Societies”

by Joseph Tainter

1988 Cambridge University Press

A classic book, highly recommended for anyone becoming aware of the coming collapse of industrial capitalism, or just anyone who is interested in the origins and failings of civilization more generally.  Tainter approaches the subject as an archaeologist, and attempts to decipher a general theory behind collapse – a process he describes as declining returns on investments by the ruling class.

Tainter doesn’t view it in terms of class, so he strangely falls into the realm of historical materialism while criticizing Marxism for not being materialistic enough.  The examples given (Rome, Maya, Chaco Canyon) help elucidate the topic by showing how the majority of the population tends to benefit and welcome collapse (he mentions how the average citizen/slave of Rome welcomed the ‘Barbarians’ who freed them from brutal debt and servitude).  Despite some academic and boring language, my only major complaint is the lack of substantive mention of oil and fossil fuel depletion, which has doomed global capitalism.  But the book is 20 years old, I guess he didnt see it coming.

by Carolyn Baker, Ph.D.

May 16, 2006

Two years ago when I was invited to watch the jaw-dropping DVD, The End Of Suburbia, I came away feeling terrified about the ramifications of Peak Oil, but only later did I reflect on the fact that there are virtually no women in the documentary – except the ditzy fifties caricatures who consumed everything that wasn’t nailed down. Subsequently, I began researching Peak Oil and then informing the students in my college history classes about what I consider the stellar historical event of the modern world, the end of hydrocarbon energy and probably the end of Western civilization. Yet consistently in the process of informing myself about Peak Oil, I encountered very academic charts, graphs, geological and economic studies, and lots of male voices. I had almost come to believe that the issue was exclusively a masculine concept when a female friend commented that the Peak Oil bell curve seemed to her rather phallic. My response was entirely the opposite: I had been perceiving it as a giant breast. Well, all Roschach testing and the dearth of women in the Peak Oil movement aside, what does the phenomenon have to do not only with women but the feminine principle itself? My answer: Everything! Read the rest of this entry »

“Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision”

by Barbara Ransby

2005 University of North Carolina Press

Just kept getting better as it went on. The writing style was not my favorite, the author seemed overly interested in teasing out categories or labels to apply to Baker’s life, rather than telling the bare facts. A more serious complaint is that the book spends hundreds of pages in Baker’s early life and upbringing, only to speed through the most politically interesting part of her life, in the Black Freedom Movement of the 50s and 60s. I’m sorry, but I can never get enough information about SNCC.

Nevertheless, it’s a good book, makes very useful points about radical democratic movement-building and education (that the role of the organizer is to bring people together and ask tough questions, and help nurture people to determine their own strategy and vision), and shows that Ella Baker above all others was the true mentor and parent of our grassroots organizing struggles today.

Stand-Up Peak Oil Comedy?

45 min. free video – educational and funny (if you can understand british accents)

by Robert Newman

Thursday February 2, 2006

The Guardian/UK

Our economic system is unsustainable by its very nature. The only response to climate chaos and peak oil is major social change

There is no meaningful response to climate change without massive social change. A cap on this and a quota on the other won’t do it. Tinker at the edges as we may, we cannot sustain earth’s life-support systems within the present economic system.Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature. It is predicated on infinitely expanding markets, faster consumption and bigger production in a finite planet. And yet this ideological model remains the central organising principle of our lives, and as long as it continues to be so it will automatically undo (with its invisible hand) every single green initiative anybody cares to come up with.

Much discussion of energy, with never a word about power, leads to the fallacy of a low-impact, green capitalism somehow put at the service of environmentalism. In reality, power concentrates around wealth. Private ownership of trade and industry means that the decisive political force in the world is private power. The corporation will outflank every puny law and regulation that seeks to constrain its profitability. It therefore stands in the way of the functioning democracy needed to tackle climate change. Only by breaking up corporate power and bringing it under social control will we be able to overcome the global environmental crisis.

On these pages we have been called on to admire capital’s ability to take robust action while governments dither. All hail Wal-Mart for imposing a 20% reduction in its own carbon emissions. But the point is that supermarkets are over. We cannot have such long supply lines between us and our food. Not any more. Read the rest of this entry »

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