Tag Archives: Kevin Carson

Hey Iraqis: How’s that “Liberation” Stuff Workin’ Out For Ya?

Center for a Stateless Society

building public awareness of left-wing market anarchism

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  on Mar 21, 2013

On March 19 Donald Rumsfeld, former US “Defense” Secretary and ongoing sociopath and moral leper, celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War with this tweet: “10 yrs ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil Iraqis. All who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.”

Just what “liberation” meant to Rummy, Dummy and Scummy can be seen from the agenda Paul Bremer implemented as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq. Imagine the kind of “What I Would Do If I Were Absolute Dictator For A Year” list an entire army of ALEC staffers and Heritage Foundation interns would come up with, with the RIAA, MPAA, Monsanto, Halliburton and Blackwater egging them on, and that’s basically what Bremer did to Iraq.

Bremer’s CPA was a classic “night watchman state.” Remember all those priceless historical treasures the looters “liberated” from the National Museum while the U.S. looked the other way? With Night Watchman Bremer’s go-ahead, global corporate looters gave the Iraqi economy just as thorough a ransacking.

Bremer’s infamous “100 Orders” repealed virtually all of the Saddam-era legal structure — except for the 1987 Labor Code, which prohibited collective bargaining in the state sector. The state sector encompassed two hundred state-owned firms (a major chunk of the industrial economy), and Bremer wanted to “privatize” them in insider sweetheart deals with crony capitalists. Legalizing unions might gum up the works.

The CPA refused to unfreeze the assets of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU). Bremer ordered US troops to storm the IFTU headquarters and kept it closed down for months. A local American commander helpfully told an imprisoned union organizer that Iraq was not a sovereign country, and that so long as it was under the administration of the CPA Bremer didn’t want unions.

Bremer’s 100 Orders also included Order 81 on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety,” which updated “intellectual property” law to “meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection” like the WIPO Copyright Treaty and Uruguay Round TRIPS Accord (which the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act was also passed to implement). Among other things, the new law criminalized saving seeds for the next year.

The entire legal regime Bremer implemented by decree was to remain the law of the land even after the restoration of sovereignty, until — and unless — it was supervened by a new constitution. The so-called “transfer of sovereignty” was to a government appointed by the CPA, enabling Bremer to evade the restriction in international law against a conqueror directly selling off state assets — while also leaving in place an “interim constitution” based on Bremer’s 100 Orders.

Article 26 of Bremer’s Constitution, stated that “[t]he laws, regulations, orders and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority … shall remain in force” under the interim government, until the “sovereign” puppet regime was replaced by general elections. As Naomi Klein observed in “Baghdad Year Zero” (Harper’s, September 2004):

“Bremer had found his legal loophole: There would be a window — seven months — when the occupation was officially over but before general elections were scheduled to take place. Within this window, the Hague and Geneva Conventions’ bans on privatization would no longer apply, but Bremer’s own laws, thanks to Article 26, would stand. During these seven months, foreign investors could come to Iraq and sign forty-year contracts to buy up Iraqi assets. If a future elected Iraqi government decided to change the rules, investors could sue for compensation.”

The “interim constitution” was designed to make its own replacement by referendum extremely difficult — among other things, requiring any new constitution actually approved by the people of Iraq (as opposed to decreed by Bremer’s fiat) to receive  at least thirty percent of the vote in sixteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces.

On top of everything else, Bremer appointed a whole slew of ministerial officials to five-year terms that would override any later decisions by an independent government.

Meanwhile, a “debt forgiveness” plan negotiated with creditor nations under IMF auspices used debt contracted by Saddam — debt that should have been treated as odious, and hence null and void — as a whip to coerce adherence to the Washington Consensus economic agenda.

This is the “liberation” agenda for which Rumsfeld and his fellow war criminals murdered hundreds of thousands, and physically crippled or psychologically scarred untold hundreds of thousands more. If that’s the kind of “liberation” you like, may you soon join Rumsfeld in hell.

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Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political EconomyOrganization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation, and his own Mutualist Blog.


Under Capitalism, Welfare State’s Main Function Is Corporate Welfare

by Kevin Carson

Thanks to a Twitter friend, I just stumbled across remarks from 2005 in which Walmart CEO Lee Scott called on Congress to pass a higher minimum wage:

“The U.S. minimum wage of $5.15 an hour has not been raised in nearly a decade and we believe it is out of date with the times. We can see first-hand at Wal-Mart how many of our customers are struggling to get by. Our customers simply don’t have the money to buy basic necessities between pay checks.”

At first glance this seems decidedly odd, coming as it does from the CEO of a company which — as you know if you’ve been following the Black Friday news — is notorious for keeping its workers’ pay as low as humanly possible. But if you think about it, there’s really no contradiction at all. There’s a fundamental prisoner’s dilemma at the heart of capitalism. It’s in the interest of large corporations collectively to guarantee sufficient purchasing power to keep the trucks moving and the inventories turning over. But it’s in the interest of individual large corporations to keep labor costs as low as possible.

Likewise, it’s in individual employers’ interests to pay only enough to maintain employees in subsistence while they’re actually working, without enough of a surplus to save against periods of sickness or unemployment. But it’s in the collective interest of employers to pay enough to cover the minimum reproduction cost of labor power.

Overcoming such prisoners’ dilemmas is the main purpose of the capitalists’ state. When the state mandates a minimum wage sufficient to facilitate the reproduction of the workforce (of course it doesn’t in practice, outside the European “social democratic” model of capitalism), the cost falls on all employers in a given industry equally. And unlike the case of a private, voluntary cartel, individual employers are unable to defect for the sake of a short-term advantage from double-crossing their competitors. So funding the minimum reproduction cost of labor-power is no longer an issue of cost competition among employers; it’s a collective cost of an entire industry that can be passed on to consumers as a cost-plus markup, via administered pricing.

Marx had a lot to say about this phenomenon, as illustrated by the Ten-Hours Act in Britain (Capital, vol. 1 ch. 10).

“These acts curb the passion of capital for a limitless draining of labor-power, by forcibly limiting the working-day by state regulations, made by a state that is ruled by capitalist-and landlord.

… [T]he limiting of factory labor was dictated by the same necessity which spread guano over the English fields. The same blind eagerness for plunder that in the one case exhausted the soil, had, in the other, torn up by the roots the living force of the nation.”

This common interest in preventing “exhaustion of the soil,” Marx argued, explained the counterintuitive support of many capitalists — as exemplified by employer Josiah Wedgwood — for the Ten-Hours Bill.

The state, in many ways, functions as an executive committee of the economic ruling class, carrying out for them in common many necessary functions it’s not in their interest to carry out individually. The state, in short, cleans up the capitalists’ messes for them.

Things like the minimum wage, collective bargaining, and universal healthcare may be perceived by individual capitalists as a restraint or an imposition. But they’re supported by the smarter capitalists — especially those in the industries that benefit most from them. Just consider the role of General Electric CEO Gerard Swope in the business coalition behind the New Deal.

The minimum wage increases aggregate purchasing power among the working class at large, and helps secure employers a reliable pool of labor power on a sustainable basis. The welfare state keeps unemployment, hunger and homelessness from reaching politically destabilizing levels that — without the state cleaning up the capitalists’ mess at taxpayer expense — might result in capitalism being torn down from below. Universal healthcare, whether on the British or Canadian model, externalizes labor costs on the taxpayer, which would otherwise be (and are, in countries like the U.S.) borne by employers who provide health insurance as a benefit.

Any time you hear soccer mom rhetoric about “our working families,” or self-congratulatory platitudes to the effect that “Democrats care,” look behind the voice and take a look at what the hands are actually doing. In a freed market — without the state to do the capitalists’ bidding — corporate capitalism would wither like a garden slug with salt on its back. The state works for the capitalists, not for you.


America’s Archons reincarnate Rome — Looting without Borders

DATE: 20 MARCH 2012POSTED BY : BY KEVIN CARSON

More than a year ago, I reported on the mission of Frank “Bagman of Empire” Wisner to Egypt (“Egypt: Let the Looting Begin,” Center for a Stateless Society, February 4, 2011). Wisner, formerly of Enron and AIG, was Obama’s plenipotentiary to Egypt, tasked with managing the post-Mubarak succession in as U.S.-friendly a direction as possible.

Wisner’s father, by the way, was another Bagman of Empire; as a founding spook of the OSS and CIA he managed the overthrow of Arbenz and Mossadegh. Wisner had co-chaired (with another noted bagman, James Baker) a commission that developed a post-Saddam vision for the governance of Iraq. Just reading the “100 Orders” issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the corporate looting pursuant tothem, should give you a good idea of Wisner’s agenda.

Today’s column is about another Bagman of Empire: John Timoney.

Richard Moore wrote twelve years ago, in “Escaping the Matrix” (Whole Earth Catalog, Summer 2000) about the Empire importing technologies of repression from the imperial Periphery to the Core and using them to manage the domestic population.

It’s nothing new. It’s as old as Caesar bringing the legions from Gaul back across the Rubicon. But now it’s being done in reverse. A high-level maestro of political repression from the American domestic police apparatus has found lucrative employment in Bahrain.

Timoney had already established himself as a notable carpetbagger of repression within the United States. As Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner, he supervised the police riot at the August 2000 GOP Convention. His Gestapo tactics there, and later as police chief of Miami during the anti-FTAA protests, were dress rehearsals for the police repression of Occupy protests in hundreds of cities across America: Gassing and breaking the bones of unarmed people, pre-emptively arresting organizers, planting evidence — you name it, Timoney’s been there and done that.

From the outset of the Seattle movement, Timoney was its J. Edgar Hoover — warning shrilly of the “International Anarchist Conspiracy” to disrupt meetings of neo-liberal institutions. He agitated relentlessly to apply the RICO statute to the anti-Globalization movement. Timoney is a close associate of Tom Ridge, going back to the latter’s provision of political cover to Timoney’s police riot, and after the post-9/11 establishment of the US Department of Homeland Security was rumored to have close informal ties to much of the Department’s leadership. Although his prospects for high office in Fatherland Security never materialized, he went on to an extremely lucrative career as lobbyist for the security-industrial complex. And as police chief of Miami, he got a chance to further refine his jackbooted thuggery from the Philly days.

Now Timoney — along with fellow carpetbagger John Yates, assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police — serves the Bahraini royal government. You know, the despotic Bahraini state that’s been engaged in brutal and murderous repression of the Arab Spring uprising there for the past year. Timoney, it seems, is for sale to any petty tyrant with petrodollars burning a hole in his pocket and wants to do a really high-class job (ahem) “using chemical weapons against his own people.”

It’s been said that to a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Give people a bunch of big hammers, and they’ll start looking for new ways to use them. Likewise, if your Empire has a need for torturers, thugs and detention camp guards, you’ll find all the volunteers you need to keep Abu Ghraib, Gitmo or Philly running. But once you have those guys (and gals, pace Lynndie England), they become an established constituency.

Somebody once quipped that the French Empire was built by retired army officers. Marijuana criminalization began, in part, as patronage for G-men unemployed by the repeal of Prohibition. Sometimes, likewise, MPs who get a taste for inflicting pain and domination on the powerless in squalid holes like Abu Ghraib or Baghram AFB come home and decide to become cops or prison guards (remember Dim in A Clockwork Orange?). And sometimes American cops become advisers to foreign despots’ secret police.

All uniformed thugs are brothers under the skin. And repression is becoming an industry without borders.


About the writer:

C4SS (c4ss.org) Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includesStudies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.


War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery … and Fighting Back is “Aggression”

Repost from: http://baltic-review.com/2012/01/war-is-peace-freedom-is-slavery-and-fighting-back-is-aggression/

By  | 14.01.2012 | 0:37 ET in Europe

The US Department of Defense recently promulgated a new “defense” guidance document: “Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” I use scare quotes because it just doesn’t seem quite right to use “defense” to describe a document that — like its predecessors — envisions something like an American Thousand-Year Reich

The greatest shift in emphasis is in the section “Project power despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges.” The “threat” to be countered is that China and Iran “will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities.”

That refers to a long-standing phenomenon: What Pentagon analysts call ”Assassin’s Mace” weapons — cheap, agile weapons that render expensive, high-tech, weapons systems ineffective at a cost several orders of magnitude cheaper than the Pentagon’s gold-plated turds. In the context of “area denial,” they include cheap anti-ship mines, surface-to-air missiles, and anti-ship missiles like the Sunburn (which some believe could destroy or severely damage aircraft carriers).

Thus the Pentagon defines as a “threat” a country’s ability to defend itself effectively against attack or to prevent an enemy from putting offensive forces into place to attack it. Yes, you read that right: To the American national security establishment, it’s considered threatening when you prepare to defend yourself against attack by the United States. It’s the perspective of a Family Circus character: ”Mommy, he hit me back!” That kind of double standard is pretty common in the National Security State’s assessment of the world.

What can one say of a situation in which America runs a military budget equal to the rest of the industrialized world put together, maintains military bases in half the countries around the globe, routinely intervenes to overthrow governments, rings China with military bases — then solemnly announces that China’s military establishment is “far larger than called for by its legitimate defensive needs?”

Considering that the U.S. considers its “legitimate defensive needs” to encompass outspending the other top ten military powers in the world combined and maintaining the ability to preemptively attack any other country in the world, it’s hard to guess what the Pentagon’s criterion is for determining China’s “legitimate defensive needs.” But it’s safe to say “legitimate” defensive forces don’t extend to the ability for China to defend its territory against attack from the main actual threat facing it: A global superpower trying to turn China’s neighborhood into a battlefield.

And how about attacking Saddam for “making war on his own neighbors” – when the U.S. actively supported his invasion of Iran in the 1980s? Not to mention the U.S. Marines waltzing in and out of most of America’s Caribbean “neighbors” throughout the middle of the 20th century. Did they have “incubator babies” in Nicaragua and Costa Rica back in the 1930s?

To Washington, any country capable of resisting American attack, or of ”defying” American commands (whether under a UN Security Council figleaf or not) is by definition a “threat.” And any country inflicting significant losses on U.S. military forces, in the process of defending itself against American military attack, is guilty of aggression (against U.S. attempts to “defend our freedom,” one presumes).

American perceptions of “self-defense” and “aggression” are as distorted as those of Nazi Germany. When the only way you can “defend yourself” against another country’s “threat” is to go to the other side of the world to fight it, because it lacks the logistical capability to project military force more than a few hundred miles outside its own borders — and the main “threat” is its ability to fight back when you attack it — you know something’s pretty messed up.

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C4SS (c4ss.org) Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

Kevin Carson

Kevin Carson


Bradley Manning: One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom”

 

http://www.bradleymanning.org/15918/bradley-manning-one-soldier-who-really-did-defend-our-freedom/

2010-12-30 Originally written by Kevin Carson for the Center for a Stateless Society

When I hear someone say that soldiers “defend our freedom,” my immediate response is to gag.  I think the last time American soldiers actually fought for the freedom of Americans was probably the Revolutionary War — or maybe the War of 1812, if you want to be generous.  Every war since then has been for nothing but to uphold a system of power, and to make the rich folks even richer.

But I can think of one exception.  If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning is frequently portrayed, among the knuckle-draggers on right-wing message boards, as some sort of spoiled brat or ingrate, acting on an adolescent whim.  But that’s not quite what happened, according to Johann Hari (“The under-appreciated heroes of 2010,” The Independent, Dec. 24).

Manning, like many young soldiers, joined up in the naive belief that he was defending the freedom of his fellow Americans.  When he got to Iraq, he found himself working under orders “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who he could see were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.”  The people he arrested, and handed over for torture, were guilty of such “crimes” as writing “scholarly critiques” of the U.S. occupation forces and its puppet government.  When he expressed his moral reservations to his supervisor, Manning “was told to shut up and get back to herding up Iraqis.”

The people Manning saw tortured, by the way, were frequently the very same people who had been tortured by Saddam:  trade unionists, members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, and other freedom-loving people who had no more use for Halliburton and Blackwater than they had for the Baath Party.

For exposing his government’s crimes against humanity, Manning has spent seven months in solitary confinement –  a torture deliberately calculated to break the human mind.

We see a lot of “serious thinkers” on the op-ed pages and talking head shows, people like David Gergen, Chris Matthews and Michael Kinsley, going on about all the stuff that Manning’s leaks have impaired the ability of “our government” to do.

He’s impaired the ability of the U.S. government to conduct diplomacy in pursuit of some fabled “national interest” that I supposedly have in common with Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Disney.  He’s risked untold numbers of innocent lives, according to the very same people who have ordered the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people.  According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Manning’s exposure of secret U.S. collusion with authoritarian governments in the Middle East, to promote policies that their peoples would find abhorrent, undermines America’s ability to promote “democracy, open government, and free and open societies.”

But I’ll tell you what Manning’s really impaired government’s ability to do.

He’s impaired the U.S. government’s ability to lie us into wars where thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners are murdered.

He’s impaired its ability to use such wars — under the guise of promoting “democracy” — to install puppet governments like the Coalition Provisional Authority, that will rubber stamp neoliberal “free trade” agreements (including harsh “intellectual property” provisions written by the proprietary content industries) and cut special deals with American crony capitalists.

He’s impaired its ability to seize good, decent people who — unlike most soldiers — really are fighting for freedom, and hand them over to thuggish governments for torture with power tools.

Let’s get something straight.  Bradley Manning may be a criminal by the standards of the American state.  But by all human standards of morality, the government and its functionaries that Manning exposed to the light of day are criminals.  And Manning is a hero of freedom for doing it.

So if you’re one of the authoritarian state-worshippers, one of the grovelling sycophants of power, who are cheering on Manning’s punishment and calling for even harsher treatment, all I can say is that you’d probably have been there at the crucifixion urging Pontius Pilate to lay the lashes on a little harder.  You’d have told the Nazis where Anne Frank was hiding.  You’re unworthy of the freedoms which so many heroes and martyrs  throughout history — heroes like Bradley Manning — have fought to give you.

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political EconomyOrganization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

 


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