Friday, 30 September 2011

Michael Parenti's page

Please visit Michael Parenti's page where many of his books (at least those still in print) are available!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Class Warfare Indeed! by Michael Parenti

Over the last two decades or more, Republicans have been denouncing as “class warfare” any attempt at criticizing and restraining their mean one-sided system of capitalist financial expropriation.

The moneyed class in this country has been doing class warfare on our heads and on those who came before us for more than two centuries. But when
we point that out, when we use terms like class warfare, class conflict, and class struggle to describe the system of exploitation we live under—our indictments are dismissed out of hand and denounced as Marxist ideological ranting, foul and divisive.

Amanda Gilson put it perfectly in a posting on my Facebook page: “[T]he concept of ‘class warfare’ has been hi-jacked by the wrong class (the ruling class). The wealthy have been waging war silently and inconspicuously against the middle and the poor classes for decades! Now that the middle and poor classes have begun to fight back, it is like, the rich want to try to call foul---the game was fine when they were the only ones playing it.”

The reactionary rich always denied that they themselves were involved in class warfare. Indeed, they insisted no such thing existed in our harmonious prosperous society. Those of us who kept talking about the realities of class inequality and class exploitation were readily denounced. Such concepts were not tolerated and were dismissed as ideologically inspired.

In fact, class itself is something of a verboten word. In the mainstream media, in political life, and in academia, the use of the term “class” has long been frowned upon. You make your listeners uneasy (“Is the speaker a
Marxist?”). If you talk about class exploitation and class inequity, you will likely not get far in your journalism career or in political life or in academia (especially in fields like political science and economics).

So instead of working class, we hear of “working families” or “blue collar” and “white collar employees”. Instead of lower class we hear of “inner city poor” and “low-income elderly.” Instead of the capitalist owning class, we hear of the “more affluent” or the “upper quintile.” Don’t take my word for it, just listen to any Obama speech. (Often Obama settles for an even more cozy and muted term: folks, as in “Folks are strugglin’ along.”)

“Class” is used with impunity and approval only when it has that magic neutralizing adjective “middle” attached to it. The
middle class is an acceptable mainstream concept because it usually does not sharpen our sense of class struggle; it dilutes and muffles critical consciousness. If everyone in America is middle class (except for a few superrich and a minor stratum of very poor), there is little room for any awareness of class conflict.

That may be changing with the Great Recession and the sharp decline of the middle class (and decline of the more solvent elements of the working class). The concept of middle class no longer serves as a neutralizer when it itself becomes an undeniable victim.

“Class” is also allowed to be used with limited application when it is part of the holy trinity of race, gender, and class. Used in that way, it is reduced to a demographic trait related to life style, education level, and income level. In forty years of what was called “identity politics” and “culture wars,” class as a concept was reduced to something of secondary importance. All sorts of "leftists" told us how we needed to think anew, how we had to realize that class was not as important as race or gender or culture.

I was one of those who thought these various concepts should not be treated as being mutually exclusive of each other. In fact, they are interactive. Thus racism and sexism have always proved functional for class oppression. Furthermore, I pointed out (and continue to point out), that in the social sciences and among those who see class as just another component of “identity politics,” the concept of class is treated as nothing more than a set of demographic traits. But there is another definition of class that has been overlooked.

Class should also be seen as a social relationship relating to wealth and social power, involving a conflict of material interests between those who own and those who work for those who own. Without benefit of reason or research, this latter usage of class is often dismissed out of hand as “Marxist.” The narrow reductionist mainstream view of class keeps us from seeing the extent of economic inequality and the severity of class exploitation in society, allowing many researchers and political commentators to mistakenly assume that U.S. society has no deep class divisions or class conflicts of interest.

We should think of class not primarily as a demographic trait but as a relationship to the means of production, as
a relationship to power and wealth. Class as in slaveholder and slave, lord and serf, capitalist and worker. Class as in class conflict and class warfare.

And who knows, once we learn to talk about the realities of class power, we are on our way to talking critically about
capitalism, another verboten word in the public realm. And once we start a critical discourse about capitalism, we will be vastly better prepared to act against it and defend our own democratic and communal interests.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Connection to many of Dr. Parenti's articles on another site

The Iraq War Is a Smashing Success by Michael Parenti

A reader recently reported on my Facebook wall that President George Bush had admitted to singer Tony Bennett that the Iraq war had been a "mistake." I beg to differ.

The Iraq war has not been a mistake. There was a miscalculation, it being assumed that the US invasion would be quick, easy and dearly welcomed by appreciative Iraqis. Instead the US has faced a bitter, destructive, protracted and costly conflict. There was a "mistake" in terms of operational expectations but Bush achieved what he intended and Obama is faithfully carrying on with the mission. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld think tank, Project for a New American Century, had called for an invasion of Iraq over a year before 9/11. Iraq had to be taken out either with a quick easy war or a long tough one. In any case, the invasion and destruction of Iraq was not a "mistake."

The US destroyed a country that had the audacity to retain control of its own oil supply, kept its entire economy under state control (rather than private corporate ownership), and did not invite the IMF or the giant transnational corporations in. Iraq charted an independent course under a dictator who originally had served the CIA, and had destroyed the left progressive democracy that existed in Iraq since the 1958 revolution. But Saddam then retained control of the country's resources instead of throwing everything wide open to western investors.

Saddam also got out of line on oil quotas (wanting an equitable share of the international market). And he decided to drop the US dollar as the reserve currency and use the Euro instead. So he and his country have been correctly destroyed in keeping with the interests of the US-led global empire. Everything is now privatized, deregulated, devastated and poor--as with Yugoslavia and soon with Libya. Mission accomplished. Pace Tony. Read my book THE FACE OF IMPERIALISM if you ever find time.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The September 11 Orgy by Michael Parenti

From Michael Parenti, 12 September 2011

For more than a week--and extending into September 12 and probably continuing a while longer-- the media have saturated the airwaves with 9/11 stories including sad tragic tales of friends of people who knew relatives who were lost or affected in some way by the terrible attacks of ten years ago. We kept hearing how we as a people and a nation "were never the same after 9/11." (So might as well go bomb Afghanistan for ten years and destroy Iraq and now Libya.)

Again and again we heard "What were you doing when you first heard the news?" "How did it make you feel to confront such a loss? "Do you still grieve for him or have you achieved closure?" "And what of that generation that was too young to remember 9/11? What are they thinking now?" and on and on, all day, all week.

The whole world is repeatedly expected to give sympathy and admiration to America the Great, the nation that sustained this tremendous 9/11 loss yet gathered itself together and met the enemy (whoever that might be). Overlooked in all this is the fact that other nations continue to experience equally horrible attacks, if not even more bloody and costly in lives than America's endlessly observed and mourned 9/11. And the US military is often the perpetrator.

Chile suffered a 9/11 of its own (literally September 11, 1973) when that country's democracy was smashed by a Chilean military trained, advised, directed, armed, and financed by the US Pentagon and CIA, with many thousands arrested, tortured, and executed over a period of years without stint. And there was the destruction of Yugoslavia by 78 days of US aerial attacks, economic sanctions, and US-financed secessionist wars. And now the thorough destruction of Iraq with over a million casualties, transforming it from the most prosperous country in the Middle East to one of the very poorest and most devastated in the world.

And what of the natural disasters: the tsunami that rocked Fukushima leaving over 20,000
dead or missing, with a nuclear disaster that some say is worse than Chernobyl--treated like just another disaster story. And earlier tsunamis and earthquakes and famines that have taken many thousands of lives in Southeast Asia, Haiti, Chile, and elsewhere. And what of Bhopal where a culpable, profiteering, criminally negligent Union Carbide corporation brought utter misery and death to hundreds of thousands of innocents.

As for our own 9/11, if the authorities really feel as deeply about it as they say, then why don't they launch an investigation of the whole tragedy (not that dog and pony 9/11 commission engineered by George W.) so that we might be able to answer some of the questions that still haunt. And while feeling the utmost compassion for our 9/11 losses, we need the US government and US media to show some awareness that we are not the only country on this planet, that there are other tragedies endured by other nations, often far worse than 9/11, often perpetrated by US imperialist authorities, the very same authorities that read mournful inspirational passages at Ground Zero.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Conference with Michael Parenti; 14 Sept 10:00 - 15 Sept 16:00 Utah

"What is Capitalism?" Conference with Michael Parenti

Utah Valley University Room SC213 A, 800 West University Parkway, Orem, UT

The Revolutionary Students Union along with The Utah Democracy Project, UVU Honors Program, Peace and Justice Studies, and the School for Humanities and Social Sciences will be hosting a conference on capitalism and the impact it has on various aspects of our life. Our key note speaker will be Michael Parenti who is a respected academic and commentator. He will be delivering a talk on Thursday called "Profit Pathology and Its Alternatives." We hope you'll join us for the discussion about capitalism. You can find the entire conference list below.

10:00-11:00 Can the World Survive?: Capitalism and the Environment
11:00-12:00 System of a Down Turn: The relationship between Capitalism and the Ressession

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 The High Cost of War: Capitalism and War Profiteering
2:00-3:00 Is Equality Under the Market Possible?: Capitalism and Social Justice
3:00-4:00 Investing in Poverty: Capitalism and the Developing World
4:00-6:00 End of Poverty

Thursday (Sept. 15)
10:00-11:15 Selling Education: How Does Capitalism Change the Education System?
11:30-12:45 Profit Pathology and Its Alternatives Michael Parenti

1:00-2:15 Lunch

2:30-3:45 The Price of Beauty: What are the Effects of Capitalism on Art