Friday, September 30, 2011

Assassin-In-Chief: Obama Can Kill US Citizens

It has been reported today that Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed in Yemen, along with four other terrorists. While there are many who will rejoice at hearing this news, in reality they should be fearful as al-Awlaki was an American citizen. His death at the hands of the US government sets a precedent while allows for the US government to indiscriminately kill American citizens if they are deemed a “threat to national security.”

The authority to kill US citizens abroad was given to the CIA by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks. President Bush would allow for the killings “if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests.” However, this is completely illegal as in 1981 then-President Reagan passed Executive Order 12333 which stated that "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." Yet President Obama continued this illegal policy as in 2010 he took "the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them."

While some may argue that strong evidence existed that al-Awlaki was "involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests," the fact of the matter is that the US goes around the world killing anyone whom it deems a terrorist and this is quite worrisome. The definition of terrorist does not have to be someone like al-Awlaki, it could be
Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush’s [or Obama's] list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.
According to an FBI memo released in 2003, an antiwar group were viewed as terrorists due to their opposition to the war in Iraq. Thus, anyone could easily be labeled a terrorist just for something as simple as opposing the government and potentially be a target for assassination.

And people say that America isn't becoming a police state.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is Another Depression Possible?: A Comparison of the Great Depression and Great Recession

In 2007, the world became engulfed in the largest economic slump since the Great Depression. The crisis was so damaging it was coined “the Great Recession” and there was much comparison of the recession to the Great Depression of the 1930s in the mainstream media. However, what many failed to do was an in-depth analysis of both the Great Depression and the Great Recession, to compare and contrast to two. Thus, this article will be a comparison of both economic downfalls, ending in an analysis of the current economic situation America finds itself in and asking the question if another Great Depression is possible.

The decade prior to the 1930s, the US was in a time of great economic boom known as “The Roaring Twenties.” Yet while the nation’s income rose about 20% (from $74.3 billion in 1923 to $89 billion in 1929), the majority of this wealth went to the richest as can be seen by the fact that “in 1929 the top 0.1% of Americans had a combined income equal to the bottom 42%” [1] and that the disposable income per capita rose 9% from 1920 to 1929, while the top 1% enjoyed a massive 75% increase in per capita disposable income. This greatly increased wealth disparity and led to a imbalance in the US economy where demand wasn’t equal to supply and thus there was an oversupply of goods as “those [the poor and the middle class] whose needs were not satiated could not afford more, whereas the wealthy were satiated by spending only a small portion of their income,” [2] which caused the US to become reliant on three things to keep the economy afloat: credit sales, luxury spending, and investment by the rich. However, the major flaw of an economy based on credit sales, luxury spending, and investments was that all three of those activities depended upon people’s confidence in the economy. If confidence were to lower, then those activities would come to a halt and with it the US economy.

The massive inequality in wealth was not solely in terms of socioeconomic status, but also extended to corporations as well. During the first World War, the federal government subsidized farms in earnest as they wanted to feed not only Americans, but also Europeans. However, once the war ended, so did subsidies for farms. The government began to support the automobile and radio industries, with help from then-President Calvin Coolidge in the form of pressuring the Federal Reserve to keep easy credit, as to allow for both industries to easily be heavily invested in.

In the 1920s, the profits of the automobile and its connected industries such as lead, nickel, and steel skyrocketed, so much so, that by 1929 “a mere 200 corporations controlled approximately half of all corporate wealth.” [3] The automobile boom also led to the creation of hotels and motels which in turn led “Americans spent more than a $1 billion each year on the construction and maintenance of highways, and at least another $400 million annually for city streets” [4] in the 1920s. In addition to the massive success of the automobile industry, the radio industry also preformed exceptionally well as “Radio stations, electronic stores, and electricity companies all needed the radio to survive, and relied upon the constant growth of the radio market to expand and grow themselves.” [5]

This dependence on two main industries to support the entire US economy led to quite serious problems as in the case of depending on the spending habits of the upperclass to support the economy, if the expansion of either the radio or automobile industries slowed down or halted, the US economy would meet the same fate.

Still further, there was wealth inequality on the international banking scene. After World War 1, the Americans lent their “European allies $7 billion, and then another $3.3 billion by 1920” and by 1924 “the U.S. started lending to Axis Germany,” eventually “climbing to $900 million in 1924, and $1.25 billion in 1927 and 1928” [6] The Europeans then used the loans to buy US goods and thus were in no shape to pay back the loans. One must realize that after World War 1, virtually all of Europe was hit hard economically by the war and thus unable to make any goods with which to sell, yet the US played a role as well due to its high tariffs on imports, thus increasing the difficulty in which Europe could sell goods and pay off its debt.

Yet, the massive wealth inequalities domestically were not the only problems that led to the stock market crash, financial speculation was rampant also, which allowed corporations to make huge amounts of money. As long as stock prices continued to rise, the corporation itself became near-meaningless. “One such example is RCA corporation, whose stock price leapt from 85 to 420 during 1928, even though it had not yet paid a single dividend.” [7] This was a serious fundamental problem in the stock market as many forgot that if stock prices increase extremely quickly, a bubble is being created and sooner or later it will burst. This speculation greatly distorted the values of corporations. Usually, the stock price somewhat correlates with the performance of the company, but due to the rampant speculation, companies that were doing horribly could now seem as if they were great investments, all based on the increase in their stock price.

A factor that led to rampant speculation was the ability to buy stocks on margin, which allowed for one to buy stocks without actually having the money. Due to this, investors could potentially get extremely high returns on their investments. Buying stocks on margin was quite easy as the process

functioned much the same way as buying a car on credit. Using the example of [the RCA corporation], a Mr. John Doe could buy 1 share of the company by putting up $10 of his own, and borrowing $75 from his broker. If he sold the stock at $420 a year later he would have turned his original investment of just $10 into $341.25 ($420 minus the $75 and 5% interest owed to the broker). That makes a return of over 3400%! [8] (emphasis added)

This massive speculation led stock prices to incredibly high levels, with “the total of outstanding brokers' loans [being] over $7 billion” [9] by mid-1929.

The stock market bubble soon burst as on October 21, 1929, prices began to fall so rapidly that the ticker fell behind. Prices fell even further due to investors fears which led them to sell their shares. The speculation and wealth inequality caused a major undermining of the entire market which led to the wealthy ending their spending on luxury items and investing, as well as “[the] middle-class and poor stopped buying things with installment credit for fear of loosing their jobs, and not being able to pay the interest,” [10] and with it the US economy came to a griding halt. The lack of spending led to a nine percent decrease in industrial production from October to December 1929. This led to job losses, defaults on interest payments, and the destruction of the radio and automobile industries as inventory grew due to no one having the ability to purchase anything.

Internationally, loaning had already come to an abrupt halt earlier in the decade because “With such tremendous profits to be made in the stock market nobody wanted to make low interest loans” [11] and trade quickly ended as the US increased already high tariffs and foreigners quit purchasing US goods.

A topic that is rarely mentioned in regards to the Great Depression is the role of the Federal Reserve. The Fed played a major role in why investment purchases collapsed dramatically. The main problem was that in the onset of the Great Depression, there was rampant deflation. This was caused by the fact that the M1 money supply had reached a peak in 1929 and went downhill from there, yet the Fed didn’t see this. Instead, they saw “only the statistics on the monetary base, the currency in circulation plus the funds held as reserves by the banks with the twelve Federal Reserve Banks,” [12] which showed that the monetary base had been steadily increasing since about 1929. Thus, since the Fed saw that the money supply was increasing, they found no reason to act, when in reality, the M2 money supply was decreasing rapidly. However, in the late 1920s, the Fed acted to end speculative banking and wound up applying more restrictive monetary policies than thought. This resulted in banks closing en masse, which the Fed initially welcomed, yet this caused

the banks and the banking public [to become] alarmed. Some people withdrew their funds from the banks. The banks became worried about withdrawal of deposits and even runs on banks. The banks reacted by holding reserves in excess of what the Fed required. [13]

This massive withdrawal of funds emptied the coffers of banks, thus causing the aforementioned deflation. The Fed’s actions, along with the stock market crash, led to a 90% decrease in investment purchases, cutbacks in the labor force due to business not being able to sell anything, and a downturn in consumer spending.

Thus, due to a mixture of socio-economic and industrial wealth inequality, high tariffs on foreign imports, a stock market bubble, and poor economic management by the Federal Reserve, the United States descended into the Great Depression.

Initially, in the onset of the Depression, then-President Hoover decided against the government taking action to help individuals on the grounds that “if left alone the economy would right itself and argued that direct government assistance to individuals would weaken the moral fiber of the American people.” [14] However, when he was forced by Congress to intervene in the economy, Hoover focused his “spending [on stabilizing] the business community, believing that returning prosperity would eventually ‘trickle down’ to the poor majority,” [15] and thus began the first implementation of what would later be called in the ‘70s, “trickle-down economics.”

The public, being appalled by the lack of empathy from Hoover, voted Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) into office. Once in office, he began embarking on programs that would come to be known as “The New Deal.” However, this was not a deal concerned with easing the pain of the Depression on ordinary people, rather FDR “sought to save capitalism and the fundamental institutions of American society from the disaster of the Great Depression.” [16] While the popular view is that the New Deal was radically different from Hoover’s plan, in reality the two plans didn’t truly differ to much as while some social programs were implemented, overall FDR’s plan “tended toward a continuation of ‘trickle down’ policies, albeit better-funded and executed more creatively.” [17]

He never truly adopted Keynesian economics, which argued that the “government should use its massive financial power (taxing and spending) as a sort of ballast to stabilize the economy.” [18] This can be seen in the Agricultural Adjustment Act which paid farmers to produce less, however, this “did little for smaller farmers and led to the eviction and homelessness of tenants and sharecroppers whose landlords hardly needed their services under a system that paid them to grow less” [19], while also not addressing the main problem of the Depression: weak consumer spending. Overall, the Act benefited mainly moderate and large agriculture operations. Another example is the National Industrial Recovery Act. The National Industrial Recovery Act encouraged industries to avoid selling below cost to attract more customers, and while this was good for businesses in the short run, it “resulted in increased unemployment and an even smaller customer pool in the long-run.” [20] FDR’s overall goal, while he did aid in the creation of social programs such as Social Security and enacted many jobs programs, was to protect capitalism and the very institutions that led to the Great Depression.

Another topic that isn’t even mentioned in examinations of the Great Depression is the Depression’s effect on home mortgages. During the 1920s and early 1930s, the US experienced a housing boom, whose peak was around 1924 for single-family houses and 1927 for multi-family houses.[21] In 1928, when the Fed began cracking down on speculation, housing investments began to fall due to the sharp increase in interest rates. Housing debt had “increased rapidly during the 1920s and continued to grow even after housing starts had begun to decline and house prices had leveled off” [22] and due to deflation, housing debt continued to increase until 1932. While rising debt usually doesn’t pose a problem for households as long as they could make their loans payments, yet household incomes and wealth decreased greatly during the Depression, thus leading “loan delinquencies and foreclosures [to soar], fueled by falling household incomes and property values.” [23] It was extremely difficult for homeowners to keep their property as “Falling incomes made it increasingly difficult for borrowers to make loan payments or to refinance outstanding loans as they came due.” [24] However, the situation would improve as unlike the experience with the financial industry, the government stepped in to remedy the situation with the creation of agencies such as the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Bank System which aided homeowners in financing their mortgages.

Unlike the Depression, where falling mortgages were a side effect of the overall economic crash, in this current recession, mortgages played a major role in facilitating a near collapse of the global economy. Ordinary Americans found themselves able to purchase homes as credit was easily available. Yet due to predatory lending on the part of banks, the majority of these houses were being bought by people who couldn’t afford them and many homeowners would soon find themselves having underwater mortgages due to “one-year adjustable –rate mortgages (ARMs) with teaser  rates for first 2-3 years of a mortgage” which “were set artificially low and then reset much higher.” [25] Due to credit rating agencies lowering the requirements for having mortgages rated AAA, the majority of these mortgages “were packaged into opaque securities and sold to public” and this “Subprime loans increased from 9% of new mortgage originations in 2001 to 40% in 2006.” [26] Yet at the end of 2006, events took a turn for the worse as mortgage payments decreased and with it the value of mortgage-backed securities.

The mortgage bubble burst left in its wake “destroyed household savings in the ensuring financial meltdown, forcing individuals to slash their spending,” [27] which led to a massive decrease in consumer spending and a long, painful recession. The housing bubble burst also had larger consequences as “The disappearance of cushion against future losses virtually froze the credit market.” [28] In addition to this, several large financial institutions such as Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns collapsed, thus prompting the government to intervene, though not on the behalf of the American people.

Just as in the Great Depression, the US government’s main goal was to protect the very institutions that caused the financial crisis instead of dealing with them. There were cries from leaders of the financial and political elite that massive companies such as AIG were “too big too fail,” thus the US government embarked upon a $700 billion bailout. However, the true cost of the bail out is more like $839 billion as

the $700 billion [was] in addition to an $85 billion agreement on a bailout of the insurance giant American International Group, plus $29 billion [was] support that the government pledged in the marriage of Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase. On top of all that, the Congressional Budget Office [said] the federal bailout of the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could cost $25 billion. [29]

This money was paid to the corporations by the US taxpayer. While the financial institutions stated that they needed to money to survive, once gotten, corporations used to bailout money to stabilize their corporations, but also to hand out massive bonuses to corporate executives. [30] This bailout did not address the root causes of the financial meltdown: incompetence of the US government in regulating the financial industry, massive financial speculation, and predatory lending.

As they had during the Depression, the Federal Reserve played a role in bringing about the recession. Their main goal was to try “to artificially prop up those markets [of bad debt and worthless assets]  and keep those assets trading at prices far in excess of their actual market value.” [31] To this end, the Fed provided $16 trillion to domestic and foreign banks in the form of secret loans and bought mortgage-backed securities that were in reality, completely and totally worthless. [32] In addition to this, many of the people on the board of directors at the Federal Reserve also had connections to corporations that received bailout money.

For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed's board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed.  Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed's emergency lending programs.

In another disturbing finding, the GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds.  One reason the Fed did not make Dudley sell his holdings, according to the audit, was that it might have created the appearance of a conflict of interest. [33] (emphasis added)

Thus, there was a very cozy relationship between the Federal Reserve and the banks that received bailout funds. This only serves to show the revolving door relationship between the two groups and how the Fed’s actions were subject to the interests of the large banks.

However, these are not the only actions the Fed took that helped to create the financial crisis. Their role goes back even further, almost a decade. In the early 1990s, Congress played a large role in trying to increase the amount of homeowners by passing the Home Ownership & Equity Protection Act of 1994 (HOEPA), which planned to address concerns of “reverse redlining” which was“the practice of targeting residents of specific disadvantaged communities for credit on unfair terms, and in particular by second mortgage lenders, home improvement contractors, and finance companies.” [34] To achieve these ends, the Act called for the establishment of residential mortgage loans which were fixed so that it would be easier for low-income home owners to repay their loans. The Act also gave the Fed the ability, not only to ensure that HOEPA was carried out, but also to

exempt specific mortgages or categories of  mortgages from any or all of the HOEPA requirements, or prohibit additional acts or practices in connection with any mortgage (not just “high cost mortgages”) that the Board determines are unfair, deceptive, or designed to evade HOEPA, or that are made in connection with a refinancing of a mortgage loan that the Board finds to be associated with abusive lending  practices, or that are otherwise not in the interest of the borrower. [35]

However, then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan refused to curb predatory lending as he touted a kind of laissez-faire economics and argued that the market would take care of itself. This refusal to attack predatory lenders would come back in later years in the form of the current financial crisis.

Many thought that with the election of Barack Obama, he would fulfill his much touted goals of “hope and change” to restore the US, yet this did not occur with America’s foreign policy, nor did it occur with America’s economic policy. Obama’s economic team consisted of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who was the “chairman of Citigroup Inc.'s executive committee when the bank pushed bogus analyst research, helped Enron Corp. cook its books, and got caught baking its own” and also “was a director from 2000 to 2006 at Ford Motor Co., which also committed accounting fouls and now is begging Uncle Sam for Citigroup- style bailout cash.” [36] Two former Citigroup directors, Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy and Time Warner Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons, were appointed to his economic team. Both Mulcahy and Parsons have shady pasts as not only were “Xerox and Time Warner got pinched years ago by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting frauds that occurred while Mulcahy and Parsons held lesser executive posts at their respective companies,” [37] but both were directors at Fannie Mae when that company was breaking accounting rules. To round out the group, former Commerce Secretary William Daley was appointed and at the time of his appointment, Daley was “a member of the executive committee at JPMorgan Chase & Co., which, like Citigroup, is among the nine large banks that just got $125 billion of Treasury's bailout budget.” [38] Thus, it was no surprise to anyone who was paying close attention to the financial crisis and Obama’s economic team that instead of attacking the root causes of the crisis, instead these advisors opted for a massive stimulus package of almost $800 billion. The situation had long been one where the patients were running the asylum.

While the stimulus undoubtedly saved millions of jobs, it didn’t fulfill its main objective: stimulate the economy. The debt ceiling debacle would serve to only make the situation worse as the Republicans wanted solely austerity measures implemented and the Democrats capitulated, almost without a fight. Both parties began to create in the public’s mind the idea that the only way to rein in the deficit was for austerity measures to be implemented. However, these austerity measures will only serve to exacerbate the situation as the IMF stated that implementing austerity measures “will hurt income in the short term and worsen unemployment in the long term.” [39] Thus, the $2 trillion that the government plans to cut in social programs will only serve to make an already horrid situation even worse.

Currently, America’s fiscal situation is in tatters. While the stock market is doing well, the real problem is unemployment, which is on a level that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression [40] and things are not going to get better soon. This becomes a serious problem as without employment, people don’t have money to spend and America’s economy “is predominantly driven by consumer spending, which accounts for approximately 70 percent of all economic growth.” [41] (emphasis added)

Another Depression is possible due to the fact that while things may seem to have calmed down for now, the deep, structural problems within America’s economy still exist, are still active and therefore still have the potential to do major damage in the future. Economist Nouriel Roubini stated that another crisis is already manifesting itself in developed nations. [42] The only thing that the bailouts served to do was delay the inevitable: the bailed out corporations will fail due to their own risky practices and they will bring the US and world economies down with them.


2: Ibid
3: Ibid
4: Ibid
5: Ibid
6: Ibid
7: Ibid
8: Ibid
9: Ibid
10: Ibid
11: Ibid
13: Ibid
15: Ibid
16: Ibid
17: Ibid
18: Ibid
19: Ibid
20: Ibid
22: Ibid
23: Ibid
24: Ibid
26: Ibid
27: Ibid
28: Ibid
33: Ibid
35: Ibid
37: Ibid
38: Ibid

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Israel, Bunker Bombs, and the Middle East

It was recently reported that the US quietly "sold to Israel bombs which have the ability to incinerate buried targets, including suspected sites in Iran which are believed to be part of Tehran's nuclear weapons program." [1] (emphasis added) Thus, one must wonder if this is part of a larger plan by the United States to attack Iran at a later date.

Seeing as how there are no bunkers in Palestine, the only logical explanation for the US to even sell bunker busting bombs to Israel is if they were to be used in an attack on a foreign nation. There are several mutual enemies that Israel and America have, but no more so than Iran. Iran's nuclear program has alarmed the allies and both Israel and the US have had plans, at what time or another, to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. (Not to mention that the US has supported terrorist groups to destabilize Iran.) While neither nation acted on these plans, the fact of the matter is that their intention to end Iran's nuclear program by force if necessary, was revealed and the rhetoric of both nations on Iran's nuclear program has not declined.

Syria  could play a major role in a future attack on Iran as the US has actively been working to destabilize Syria, ie co-opting its protest movement. [2] The US is supporting the civil society Movement for Justice and Democracy which is "a moderate Islamist organization that publicly eschews any ideological agenda aside from ending the Assad regime through democratic reform." [3] The reports that Syria is still killing peaceful protesters could provide the US with a pretext to launch a "humanitarian intervention" as they did in Libya. The chances of this occurring until now have been somewhat low, but they have greatly increased now that it has been reported that the US has plans for a Syria without Al-Assad. Currently “ the Obama administration has begun to make plans for U.S. policy in the region after [Al-Assad] exits” and while most nations are calling their ambassadors back home, the  “Obama administration officials say they are leaving in place the U.S. ambassador, Robert Ford, despite the risks, so he can maintain contact with opposition leaders and the leaders of the country’s myriad sects and religious groups.” [4] The US and its allies may also be recruiting jihadists to Syria to fight the Al Assad regime. [5]

While there have been no military movements by the US or its NATO allies, it seems to possibly be shaping up to a situation where the US militarily intervenes in Syria. If that occurs, the intervention could potentially engulf the entire Middle East region. [6]



Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

First, before I begin, I would like to thank all of you for supporting What About Peace. At first I was quite hesitant about creating this blog, but seeing the amount of support I get from all of you truly encourages me to keep going forward.

I am making an announcement. You may experience a slight decrease in the number of posts per week. This is due to the fact that the school year is now in full swing and in addition to school work, I am also working part-time to support my education. However, to make up for this, the articles that are posted will be longer in length and more in-depth.


Devon DB

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Revolutionary Idea for a Revolutionary Time: A Plan of Action for the Global Political Awakening by Andrew Gavin Marshall

The following article was published on The People's Book Project on September 20, 2011.

[The Rockefeller Foundation’s policies] were directed to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding. The Social sciences, for example, will concern themselves with the rationalization of social control; the Media and Natural sciences propose a closely coordinated study of sciences which underlie personal understanding and personal control.
- Max Mason, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, 1933[1]
Much of [the Global Political Awakening] is also fueled by globalization, which the United States propounds, favors and projects by virtue of being a globally outward-thrusting society. But that also contributes to instability, and is beginning to create something altogether new: namely, some new ideological or doctrinal challenge which might fill the void created by the disappearance of communism… But [communism] is now totally discredited, and we have a pragmatic vacuum in the world today regarding doctrines. But I see the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Carnegie Council, 2004[2]
We are in revolutionary times. Our societies – the political, economic, and social institutions and ideas that comprise our global, national, and local social structure – are in a state of transformation. We are entering into the Greatest Depression in history, our governments are driven by the logic of imperial insanity, whereby we are increasingly headed for a World War III scenario. The imperial strategists who advise and determine the policies of our nations are bent on a system of total global control. We undertake an imperialist war against the country of Libya, we seek to expand the global war into Pakistan, largely in order to challenge China’s growing influence in the world, and we have set the stage for another imperialist war in Yemen. The covert apparatus – military and intelligence – of our imperialistic nations have and continue to employ the techniques and support of terrorism in order to achieve strategic goals, including using terrorism against our domestic populations themselves.
The middle classes of the Western industrialized world are on the verge of total extinction, with the likely result of leading to riots, rebellion, and revolution. We have entered the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ where for the first time in human history, as American imperial strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski articulated, “almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.” With the Arab uprisings, we haveseen a new phase in the Global Political Awakening, which is itself a process in the long road to world revolution. Naturally, our imperial governments seek to co-opt, control, or totally oppress these revolutionary sentiments into more evolutionary, stable, and secure structures.
Elite think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission work to establish consensus among elites in a global project of social engineering, seeking to establish a system and structure of global governance and ultimately, global government. A major facet of this global social engineering project is through the global economic crisis – the Greatest Depression – whereby a great global debt depression will create and conditions necessary to serve as an excuse for a global government. Already, this process is well under way in the establishment of global economic governance, in the forms of a global central bank and a global currency.
Indeed, the system being constructed and engineered by the elite is not simply a global government as we may understand the notion of government in today’s context, but an entirely new structure, driven by the social engineering techniques of science and technology, into a Global Scientific Dictatorship.
So where are we? How did we get here? Who drove us here? What ideas created these circumstances? Where are we going? Why?
Understanding Power
These are questions I ask and seek to answer in my current book project, which is a historical, political, economic and social analysis of the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power in our world. Included in this examination is the history and emergence of the nation state, capitalism, central banking, and the rise of the powerful and dominant banking dynasties – such as Rothschild, Morgan, and Rockefeller – which have come to manifest themselves as the modern imperial families of the global era. Included in this heavily-researched study is the emergence of the concept of ‘social control’ and its manifestation through the creation of the public education system, the university education system, the development and evolution of the ‘social sciences’ as tools of ‘social engineering,’ the emergence of the major philanthropic foundations, founded, funded, and run by the dominant dynastic powers for the purposes of creating consensus among elites, and engineering consent among the governed. Also examined in the book is the apparatus of empire, including the IMF, the World Bank, the UN, the Bank for International Settlements, the Pentagon, CIA, and the uses and techniques of war and covert operations. However, the role of the foundations is a significant facet of the book.
The foundations play a significant part in the examination of power in our global society, and are a major focus of my book. The foundations were created in an era in large part defined by the elite ideology of eugenics, where the elite sought to engineer humanity itself, to establish themselves as entrenched in the social structure of the world, and to create the conditions through which that domination may be expanded and secured. The foundations not only funded and helped engineer the eugenics movement, but they have played a pivotal role in the control, co-optation, consensus-building, ideology construction, and engineering of consent in a large number of other areas: the formation and evolution of the social sciences (including political science, economics, sociology, psychology), the development and direction of science (in particular genetics, microbiology, physics, chemistry, psychiatry, medicine), the population control movement, funding and directing into ‘safe’ avenues major social movements which would otherwise threaten the global social structure and elite interests, such as the Civil Rights movement, the environmental movement, and the anti-globalization movement. The foundations have essentially created and managed a global civil society, supporting the development and proliferation of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which act as modern equivalents to the missionary societies of the formal colonial era, whereby they contribute moderately to relieving the symptoms of imperialism and domination (such as supporting efforts for education, health care, and human rights) while ultimately undermining and co-opting indigenous resistance movements which might otherwise challenge the power structures that created those symptoms in the first place. The foundations helped establish and fund the major think tanks, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission, which function by bringing together elites from banking, industry, media, academia, politics, military, intelligence and other areas in order to help establish consensus among the elites in the broader goal of engineering a system of global governance. As such, the foundations are ‘engines of social engineering,’ effectively constructing ideology, and aiding in the institutionalization of ideas.
It is the concept of the institutionalization of ideas which is a primary focus of my book, understanding power as being particularly relevant in this context. While certainly there are individuals, families, and groups which are dominant and hold enormous power, there were first ideas and institutions which allowed and facilitated the rise of these very individuals to such positions of power. In the book, I do not refrain from naming the names of the elite, with a particular focus on the roles of the Rothschild and Rockefeller families; however, I also place these dynastic influences within a wider context: understanding that these families were only able to rise to the positions of power they now hold because of the effect of particular ideas and institutions, such as those of the nation-state, capitalism, central banking, private banking, hegemony, empire, and social engineering. More than ingenuity, it was opportunity that allowed these families to rise to power. While since coming to power, they have generally been the dominant forces in steering the direction of the global social, political, and economic structures, they are as much a product of previous social, political, and economic power structures as the rest of us are. As such, we cannot erroneously and simplistically identify all the problems of our world with a few individuals or families. This would be a monumental error if we are to ever move forward and find new solutions. It is, in fact, the power of ideas which is central to understanding our world, and in particular, the effect of the ‘institutionalization of ideas.’
While critically examining the roles of these dynastic powers in our society is imperative in order to understand how we got to this place, if we limit ourselves to that focus alone, we risk the eventual failure of any attempt at true change. If we focus simply on these dynastic influences, we neglect the role played by the various ideas and institutions which have made possible the development of dynastic power; thus, if we fail to properly understand the nature and interaction of ideas and institutions in the context of power, we will ultimately only replace the names of those who dominate the world, not the system of domination itself. If we seek to only criticize and change the dynastic rulers, new ones will rise in their place, for we would hold onto various ideas and institutions which gave rise to them in the first place. After all, if it had not been the Rothschilds or Rockefellers, it would have been someone else. Even if we remove all the ideas and institutions which these dynasties have established, we neglect to see that there were previous institutionalized ideas which brought them to power in the first place. This is the focus of my book, seeking to understand power in the context of the institutionalization of ideas.
As such, we also can come to understand a different notion of human nature, manifested and made possible only by the removal of those ideas and institutions which dominate and oppress humanity, and thus, we can see a possibility of an era of true human liberation, a true global revolution. The circumstances for this global revolution are developing and increasing. Already, we are thrust within the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ where all of humanity is socially conscious, politically aware, and economically exploited. Thus, the conditions for radical change are made present. However, there still remains the multiplicity of views, understandings, ideologies, and intricacies of actions which make the ‘Global Awakening’ at present, a disunited, fractured, largely divided, often antagonistic, and easily co-opted global social phenomena.
The concept of the ‘Global Political Awakening’ has been popularized by the American imperial strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, former Bilderberg group member, and co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, who continues to serve on a number of boards of prominent elite think tanks such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the RAND Corporation. Brzezinski identifies the ‘global political awakening’ as the greatest strategic threat to the institutionalized powers of the world, and proposes that policies initiated by governments and other institutions must address this as the fundamental issue of our time, and thus support the expansion of global governance as a means to deal with this phenomenon. In discussing this concept, Brzezinski warned fellow elites in a speech to the Carnegie Council, that the ‘global political awakening’ remains relatively adolescent and disunited:
But I see the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.[3]
This book attempts to help fill the “doctrinal void” that Brzezinski identifies as being the fundamental force preventing the unification of the Global Political Awakening. I am attempting to write this book as a study of power in our world unlike any previous examination: how did we get here? Where are we going? And why? Further, the book, through its more comprehensive examination of the power of ideas and institutions, simultaneously undertakes an examination of resistance and potential solutions. As such, the book attempts to articulate a ‘Philosophy of Liberation,’ one that may appeal to the majority of the world’s population.
The Philosophy of Liberation
This philosophy, intended to serve as a potential doctrine for the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ has a broad appeal which can unite the left and right, which has the potential to gain support from both socialists and libertarians. Fundamentally, it is a simple concept: the ‘philosophy of liberation’ entails the absolute and total liberation of humanity from the ideas and institutions which dominate, co-opt, control, oppress and destroy humanity. The aim in such a concept of absolute and total liberation is to free humanity so that we may understand the true ‘human nature’, which has otherwise always been subject to various forms of control and oppression.
Apart from abstract notions of liberation and freedom, however, the book proposes particular plans of action and initiative which seek to bring such ideals to reality. The critical importance of understanding power in our world as a product of ideas and institutions is that we can come to see that what is needed to change this world into something that supports and liberates humanity (as opposed to controlling and oppressing humanity) is simply… a new idea. If ideas built this world and its power structures, if ideas built the institutions which dominate and control, if ideas gave rise to the dynastic powers which rule our world like modern imperial families, then what is required to bring all of this tumbling down is a new idea.
This new idea, which I set forth in the book, is a concept of anti-institutionalism: those ideas which seek to dominate must be challenged by those which seek to liberate; the institutionalization of those dominating ideas must be challenged by a counter-institutional structure which seeks to establish a parallel global system, so that the old institutions may be made irrelevant, antiquated, and extinct. The paradox here is that we must construct a counter-hegemonic system of institutions, but that they must be endowed with a strict adherence to a ‘philosophy of liberation’ which manifests itself as ‘anti-institutionalism.’ In short, we must create anti-institutional institutions.
Why is this so? Is this not entirely contradictory?
Indeed, these are fair questions, but they have fair answers. While we may have ideas of what is ideal, what is desired, and what is important; namely, concepts of peace, justice, democracy, freedom, and liberation. But we must establish a plan of action – a concept of how to achieve those ideals – yet this can only be done by understanding the world as it is, and therefore, the plan of action for liberation must be based on a realistic conception of the world if it is to have any chance of success in changing that world.
We live in a world of institutions and ideas. That is established. To create something new, to progress toward true liberation and freedom, we have to establish plans of action that act within – though opposed to – the global power structure of ideas and institutions. This does not propose a strategy of “change from the inside” where well-intentioned people join the institutions that dominate in the hopes that they may change the system from within those institutions. That strategy leads to folly and failure. Why? Because those institutions are dominated more by ideas than they are by individuals. The idea pervades, penetrates, and dominates the institution and infects the individuals within it, so that those with even the greatest and most humane of intentions can be corrupted and have their intentions disrupted by the institution they inhabit. No, what is needed is the formation of a counter-institutional structure.
The formation of institutions can allow them to flourish, spread, expand, and proliferate in a world which is predominantly institutional. If one wants to cross the sea to get to a new shore, one must first find a way to build a boat that facilitates the crossing. When the shore is reached, the boat has no more purpose. This is the concept of the counter-institutional structure: that it is only temporary, and that these institutions may seek to institutionalize – on a global scale – ideas which imbue a ‘philosophy of liberation’, and thus, they seek to bring about their own obsolescence. They deal with the world as it is, by creating structures within the global system (instead of isolating themselves from it), and thus in the same way that the ideas and institutions which seek to dominate have become so predominant and powerful in our world, we can effectively use the system against itself until the ideas and institutions which seek to liberate can become as powerful among the world’s people. Once a ‘philosophy of liberation’ has taken hold within the world’s population, and these counter-hegemonic institutions have helped establish an alternative system – helping to create people-oriented, locally organized, yet globally cooperative polities, economies, and societies – the institutions may be made irrelevant and dismantled, so that they may not be transformed through the potential to themselves dominate and control.
While the Global Political Awakening is a present reality in the world, the conditions for a true global revolution and challenge to the global power structures has yet to manifest itself. There are movements in different places, through different peoples, with differing ideas, but they are not yet united in aim, ideology, or action. The elite are seeking to establish a system and structure of global government, and are working very hard to establish such consensus among the global elite, as well as to employ specific strategies of action to effect such a change. We must do the same in order to counter this process.
Living in the era of the ‘Technological Revolution’, we are faced with an unprecedented dichotomy, whereby we are in the circumstances where for the first time in all of human history, a truly global oppressive system and structure of governance is made possible, and simultaneously, for the first time in human history, a global resistance and revolution against power structures is made possible via the communication and information revolutions, with the ultimate potential for all of humanity to become free simultaneously. This is unprecedented. Never before have all of humanity had the possibility of achieving liberation at the same time. Thus, we have never truly had a liberated human society. This is both the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity that humanity has ever faced. The elite see these developments in the same context, but with the perspective reversed. The elite see the greatest opportunity they have ever faced in human history as being to achieve the actual construction of a global government, never before possible, but now made plausible through advancements in technology; they also see the greatest challenge they have ever collectively faced in human history as being from a globally aware, active, and philosophically united world population seeking liberation and freedom. The elite are articulating these realities, and attempting to strategize and plan actions based upon these concepts. Brzezinski is perhaps the best example of this, as he has been articulating the notion of the ‘Global Political Awakening’ for many years, and has traveled to several of the more prominent think tanks among the imperial nations, warning the elites of the true realities of the world in which they seek to operate and dominate.
So too must the people of the world begin discussing these ideas, issues, and realities in order to establish consensus in understanding and initiatives for action. So long as we remain divided by artificial separations such as seeking change within the context of the ‘nation-state’ (as many in the anti-globalist movement seek a return to nationalism as a “solution”), which keeps them divided from the rest of the world. Only through solidarity of philosophy and action on the part of the world’s people may we come to actually and effectively create true change. The elite understand this. It’s time that we do too.
A Plan of Action: The People’s Project
The plan of action for establishing the anti-institutional counter-hegemonic system I set forth in my book is what I refer to as “The People’s Project.” The book, by setting forth a more comprehensive analysis of the global structures and systems of power, builds a solution based upon this more elaborate understanding. In particular, as the role of the philanthropic foundations is of particular interest and focus in the book, I propose that in order to properly counter the global power structures, we must create a type of ‘people’s foundation.’ This is what I refer to as “The People’s Project.”
Instead of being funded by wealthy billionaires, philanthropists, bankers and industrialists, the People’s Project would be funded by the people, using the means made available through the Technological Revolution: utilizing social media networks in order to fundraise from people and communities around the world, and to advertise, promote and disseminate the idea globally. As such, the Project is democratically funded, and in fact, it is a representation of genuine free-market principles, something which could appeal to the libertarian elements of resistance. The funding would be directed for specific initiatives and projects that the organization undertakes.
While the funding is democratic and free-market oriented, in that if an idea is not welcomed by the people, it simply wouldn’t be funded by them; the actual organization, operations, and day-to-day decision making process must be undertaken by a relatively small and cooperative group of individuals. If we attempt to make the entire decision-making process democratic, we would be attempting to manifest a democratic institution in an anti-democratic world, and it would be stalled, stagnant, and ultimately a failure. Thus, it must act as an institution of the likes of a major philanthropic foundation. Its operations must be effected and decisions made by a group of people so that it may function effectively within the global institutional system. However, this group of people must abide by a strict adherence to a ‘philosophy of liberation,’ and all the Project’s financial information, decisions, and initiatives must be made publicly available, so that they may be analyzed, discussed, and assessed by the public. The people must be treated as the patrons, since they provide the money. Projects will be proposed and planned by the group within the institution, and the people will discuss, debate, assess, and ultimately vote with their dollars. If a project does not have popular appeal or support, it will not be funded, and thus, will not move forward into action.
The initiatives of The People’s Project itself must seek to create the counter-institutional structure that would make the present global system of power structure irrelevant and extinct. As this is ultimately a process of de-institutionalization, we must understand it in a similar context: that of the de-institutionalization of psychiatric patients over the past several decades. Certainly, releasing prisoners of psychiatric institutions was the right thing to do, as the momentum built for this endeavour and many of these institutions were closed down, and their prisoners (or as they are often referred to, “patients”) were released. However, many of these released prisoners simply ended up as homeless people, having no where to go and nothing to be able to do. Does this mean that the institution was a good thing? No, it was and remains an incredibly dehumanizing idea and structure. The problem was multi-faceted: most important in the failure of de-institutionalization of psychiatric prisoners was the fact that the vast majority of society suffers a severe misunderstanding of what we commonly refer to as ‘madness’ or ‘mental illness.’ This misunderstanding is an intentional consequence of the ideas and institutions of psychiatry, psychology, and pharmacology which are extremely prominent within our society, and which have been largely influence by the major philanthropic foundations. Namely, without a more coherent understanding of what we refer to as “mental illness,” we cannot even begin to understand those who experience different emotional and psychological states of being, which we mistakenly refer to as “diseases.” However, as an impulse, we tend to quickly attempt to define, label, and control that which we do not understand, and therefore we often mistreat those who we are labeling as such. In 1933, Max Mason, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, wrote that the foundation’s policies:
were directed to the general problem of human behavior,with the aim of control through understanding. The Social sciences, for example, will concern themselves with the rationalization of social control; the Media and Natural sciences propose a closely coordinated study of sciences which underlie personal understanding and personal control. Many procedures will be explicitly co-operative between [Foundation] divisions. The Medical and Natural Sciences will, through psychiatry and psychobiology, have a strong interest in the problems of mental disease.[4]
What we refer to as “mental illness” or “madness” is yet another avenue and means through which power is exercised in our world, and this is perhaps the most pervasive, damaging, and destructive powers that exist in our world, largely brought about through the institutions and ideas of psychiatry and psychology, which have predominantly sought the prescription laid out by the Rockefeller Foundation, “to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding.” Psychology and psychiatry were largely avenues through which power sought to control the human mind, not to liberate it. Indeed, it is an incredibly important though little-known fact that in 1992, the World Health Organization released a study of comparing treatment of schizophrenia in the developed and developing world (rich vs. poor) that began in 1968, which concluded that patients in poor countries “had a considerably better course and outcome than (patients) in developed countries. This remained true whether clinical outcomes, social outcomes, or a combination of the two was considered.”[5] A follow-up study by the WHO again confirmed that in poor countries, patients suffering “severe mental health” issues had a much higher rate of recovery than those in the rich, ‘developed’ nations, which tend to treat such experiences as a biological disease, and confuse treatment with causation: as in, because we treat such conditions with chemicals (i.e., drugs), the cause of the condition must itself be chemical.
As we largely misunderstand and misinterpret (and thus mislabel) such conditions as “diseases,” we fail to be able to deal properly with those who are subject to such conditions. Thus, the process of de-institutionalization of psychiatric facilities led in most places to human tragedy. From the 1960s onward, radical psychiatrists and philosophers began to challenge the way people view and understand madness and “mental illness.” Among them were Thomas Szasz, who challenged the entire notion of “mental disease” with his famous essay and subsequent book, “The Myth of Mental Illness,” which was perhaps the greatest intellectual challenge to the entire psychiatric establishment ever developed. There was also the French philosopher Michel Foucault who took on the challenge of understanding the history, ideas and institutions of psychiatry as an exercise in power – what he referred to as ‘biopower’ – the direct influence upon the biology and psychology of the individual. There was the radical Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, who posited a different understanding of madness, explaining that, “Insanity is a sane reaction to an insane society.” And there was also the radial Italian psychiatrist, Franco Basaglia, who challenged the dominant ideas and who had actually created a successful method of de-institutionalization of psychiatric centers in Italy. Compared to the failures of North American deinstitutionalization, Italy achieved relative successes, largely at the initiative of Franco Basaglia, who sought to destroy the psychiatric institution itself. Basaglia understood that for deinstitutionalization to be successful, one must create the conditions which make the integration of patients into society possible. In one interview, Basaglia said:
It is not that we put illness aside, but rather that we believe in order to have a relationship with an individual it is necessary to establish it independent of the label by which the patient has been defined.[6]
What Basaglia realized was that, “psychiatric diagnoses were not independent of the prevailing moral and social order which tended to define normality and abnormality in its own class-based terms.” Psychiatry then, provided a “medical rationale” behind the “institutionalized violence” against the prisoners of psychiatric hospitals, which were largely poor, dispossessed individuals. As Basaglia explained:
Once the medical pretenses are gone, we can see the misery and the poverty that are the true nature of the asylum. The specificity of madness is also gone. The deception is obvious: it is one thing to say that an institution locks up fifty ‘sick’ people. It is quite another to say hat fifty ‘poor’ people have been locked up because there is no other solution to their problems.[7]
Psychiatry was thus understood as “a covert apparatus of brutal social control,” and psychiatric physicians were agents of social control. These technicians “diagnosed, with greater and greater precision and specificity, thus fragmenting the problem of ‘mental illness’ into a multitude of diseases so as to avoid confronting its wholeness, its unifying dimensions as a shared experience of alienated human needs.” In fact, “the inhuman regulations of the institution produce signs and symptoms that justify locking up the inmate,” and the “transformation of patient into object is almost literal.”[8] Thus, the institution itself often creates the ‘disease’ more than the individual experiences it as separated from the institution.
Basaglia’s program of deinstitutionalization included having the patients themselves help in physically destroying the institution with their own hands, most especially the physical barriers that confined and excluded them, such as doors, bars, and window gratings. Subsequently, ‘patients’ would work in the hospital, getting paid for their work, thus replicating the notion of a paid labour force on the outside of the institution. There would be daily meetings between staff and patients, and the meetings – known as the assemblea – were gradually transformed from a venue to express personal problems “toward using it as a vehicle for translating the personal into the collective and the political.”[9] The process of “destroying and, ultimately, closing down the wards of the [institution] had to be accompanied by the far more radical and difficult task of ‘opening up’ communities.”[10] The anti-institutional slogan put forward in this movement was, “Freedom is Therapeutic.” Thus, “alternative solutions had to be worked out, links re-established with the community; ex-patients had to develop new personal and social identities and to regain contractual power within the community.” Hence, the process of deinstitutionalization took place on two fronts: “in the hospital and in the community.”[11]
As the communities began to be integrated with the ex-patients, “townspeople could begin to recognize in the distress and suffering of former inmates some of the problems in living that plagued their own lives.” Further, “through the vehicle of art there existed yet another way of sensitizing the public at large to the violence of segregative control.” The physical institution itself, had been converted into a place for community interaction and life, turning wards and rooms into shops, college dorms, radio stations, and day care centers.[12]
Basaglia had to also “confront the old and uneasy alliance between psychiatry and the law. Demedicalizing and decriminalizing madness went hand in glove.”[13] Thus, laws had to be challenged and changed with made for a more effective and humane treatment of ‘patients’ and process of deinstitutionalization.
Why I spent so much time and space discussing the notion of psychiatry and its institutions of control is because the institution of psychiatry – both physical and ideational – can serve as a microcosm for understanding the global institution we live within today. Sociologist Erving Goffman published his monumental study of what he referred to as ‘total institutions’ in his 1961 book,Asylums. He defined the ‘total institution’ as “a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life.”[14] In short, we can understand the power structures of the world as a type of ‘total institution’: whereby people are segregated – or confined – from one another, where they live, eat, work, sleep, remain enclosed and entrapped, where their actions and personal psychological health are often resulting from the institution itself: they become a product ofthe institution, not simply a resident within it. The institution itself creates the conditions it purportedly seeks to treat. The world is, in fact, a total institution. As we move down the road to a system of global governance, that institution is being further defined, segregated, controlling, and dehumanizing. Within the total institution of global society, psychiatry does come to play a particularly dehumanizing and personally pervasive role. As a 1944 Annual Report of the Rockefeller Foundation indicated:
It is not too much to assert… that in its actual and potential contribution to general medicine, to education, to sociology, indeed to the general business of living, psychiatry, without claiming omniscience in itself, is cast for a role of fundamental importance in helping to shape any world that may come out of the present one.[15]
Just as Basaglia sought the means to more effectively and efficiently deinstitutionalize the mental asylums, so too must we – globally – seek to create a more effective process of deinstitutionalizing global society. This requires the dual process of breaking down the institutions that confine us, while simultaneously – and more painstakingly – seeking to establish links, changes, positions, and possibilities within the community itself.
The People’s Project would seek to establish these community initiatives on a number of levels. Just as the philanthropic foundations have engineered much of our society in the world today, down to the very construction of knowledge itself, so too must The People’s Project engage in social engineering, but not with a purpose to control; rather, with a purpose to liberate. These initiatives of the major philanthropic foundations have been articulated by many of their former leaders and administrators. Warren Weaver, a director of the Rockefeller Foundation who led the natural sciences department in the 1930s, wrote that:
The welfare of mankind depends in a vital way on man’s understanding of himself and his physical environment. Science has made magnificent progress in the analysis and control of inanimate forces, but science has not made equal advances in the more delicate, more difficult, and more important problem of the analysis and control over animate forces.[16]
In 1934, Warren Weaver wrote a proposal to the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation in which he asked:
Can man gain an intelligent control of his own power? Can we develop so sound and extensive a genetics that we can hope to breed, in the future, superior men? Can we obtain enough knowledge of physiology and psychobiology of sex so that man can bring this pervasive, highly important, and dangerous aspect of life under rational control? Can we unravel the tangled problem of the endocrine glands, and develop, before it is too late, a therapy for the whole hideous range of mental and physical disorders which result from glandular disturbances? … Can we release psychology from its present confusion and ineffectiveness and shape it into a tool which every man can use every day? Can man acquire enough knowledge of his own vital processes so that we can hope to rationalize human behavior? Can we, in short, create a new science of Man?[17]
The Foundation, however, is an important and potent example to follow for a counter-hegemonic institution. This is because of the nature of how the foundation influences and exerts its power, which while largely through funding initiatives, it can spur developments of entire fields and initiatives simply through the act of suggestion. As a former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Raymond Fosdick, wrote in 1934 in a letter to the board of trustees of the Foundation:
We do not have to be cynical to admit that if a foundation announces an interest in anthropology or astronomy or physio-chemical reactions, there will be plenty of institutions that will develop a zeal for the prosecution of these studies. The responsibility which this inescapable fact throws upon a foundation is enormous. The possession of funds carries with it power to establish trends and styles of intellectual endeavour… Indeed we would strongly advocate a shift of emphasis in favor not only of the dissemination of knowledge, but on the practical application of knowledge in fields where human need is great and opportunity is real. As a means of advancing knowledge, application can be as effective an instrument as research.[18]
Thus, as the Foundation influences, so too can The People’s Project influence. The key differences, however, are the ideology and patronage of the institution itself. As the former Rockefeller Foundation president Max Mason articulated, the foundation’s policies were directed “to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding.”[19] The People’s Project, however, would be directed “to the general problem of human society, with the aim of liberation through understanding.” Patronage is another important difference. In the private foundation, patronage is the result of wealthy philanthropists, industrialists, bankers and billionaires who fund the foundations, and thus influence and determine the direction it takes. With The People’s Project, patronage would lie with the people, funding would be democratically accountable, and thus, the direction of a project – if undesired by the people – would be made impossible by their refusal to fund the project. It is in this sense that the People’s Project may be accountable, even while its institutional structure is undemocratic.
As for specific initiatives that The People’s Project could and should undertake, I outline this somewhat more specifically in the “Project Philosophy” on the website for the Project; however, I will explain a general concept here.
The first initiative is referred to as The People’s Book Project, whereby the book I am writing may be funded and made possible. I will publish and make available the financial information, donations received, as well as logging the hours I have worked on the book, and thus, how much I am being paid to do so. I will update the site – The People’s Book Project – with information on what I am writing about at that time, giving an up-to-date and interactive process of writing the book, with comments and suggestions from readers and supporters. The book itself will serve as the philosophical foundation for the larger initiative of The People’s Project, laying the groundwork for a more comprehensive analysis and understanding of the world, and thus, serving as the basis for which the organization understands and acts in our world. The book also, as a conclusion, proposes the concept of The People’s Project in terms of solutions. Thus, if the book is itself funded and brought into being through this initiative, its very existence will be brought about by the recommendations it sets forth in its conclusions; thus, its existence may serve as evidence of its validity as a solution.
To put it simply: the book does not simply ‘recommend’ a solution, as it’s very existence would be evidence of that solution. Once the book is complete, The People’s Project can begin to undertake its larger initiatives.
Like the foundations, it must start with the formation of ideology and consensus. That is the purpose of the book itself, to establish a concrete understanding and to support the dissemination of those ideas to people and places around the world, to help institutionalize those ideas in the institutions which the Project creates and supports. Such institutions could and should include: radical think tanks, which are designed to produce research and recommendations for strategies aimed at the global liberation of humanity. The creation of liberation-oriented think tanks, as well as supporting them to become self-sufficient (perhaps in the same democratically funded way as the Project itself) could draw intellectual talents away from the powerful think tanks, or the “alternative” think tanks, which are supported by the major foundations and which draw intellectual talents which might otherwise support radical social change and revolutionary movements into a structure, institution, and context which forces them to be placated by the ideas of slow, evolutionary change to the system, but that type of change which simply addresses the symptoms of the global system, but doesn’t challenge the power structure outright. These types of think tanks exist as controlled opposition to the dominant imperial think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations. These “alternative” think tanks must be made irrelevant by the development of radical, liberation-oriented think tanks which seek to directly challenge the system itself, and help in the construction of new alternatives. Their existence alone would create the potential to attract intellectual talent, and thus, become successful initiatives.
Another avenue which The People’s Project should undertake is that of supporting the formation of a ‘new economy’, essentially helping establish a parallel economy to the global system we are all subjugated under. This would initially involve supporting initiatives aimed at creating local currencies, controlled and operated by local communities. The Project should organize conferences and meetings, bringing together representatives from various community currency projects around the world, in order to help understand the different projects, the failures and successes, and come to a better understanding of what works. Further, bringing such representatives together should also facilitate the establishment of trade and exchange ties between these communities, which is important to ensure that a project of building a parallel economy and community currency does not isolate itself from the world (and thus ensure its eventual failure, as it would ultimately be crushed by power-institutional forces from without), but that the parallel economy can establish itself globally. The key difference is that instead of operating through the dominant central banks, private banks, and multinational corporations, this parallel global economy would establish itself among the people directly. Of course, this implies the absolute necessity of – early on – bringing farmers and produce distributors into this system. In this sense, control over food is essential. We must reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependence upon the dominant institutions in our world.
Once community currencies can begin to be established, an immediate initiative of those communities (which the People’s Project can help begin) is to create a community foundation, funded entirely by the community bank, which is accountable to the people, not bankers. The initiatives and projects of the community foundation would mirror those of the People’s Project, but on a local scale. It must be funded by the community bank, without interest or debt. Since the concepts of interest and debt are just ideas, all we have to do to change their existence is to simply agree, collectively, that they are bad ideas. After all, currencies are faith-based, so we need to place our faith in a different currency system which supports people, not bankers. The community foundation could then be perpetually funded by the community bank in order to support local initiatives and community projects. Of course, this is a complex process which would take a great deal of time and effort, and not least without a great many failures along the way. But the point is that we need to establish a plan of action to begin effecting change and interaction and communication on a global scale.
This is not a utopian ideal, it is a humane ideal. Up until present time, what we refer to as “human civilization” is often the process of a coercive and socially constructed method of shaping humanity to fit within the confines and adjust itself to ‘society.’ Human history continuously shows examples whereby societies were constructed and people were then forced to adjust to those societies. Often this was done violently and coercively, but also, and more effectively, and most especially in the past century, this was done through the engineering of consent. The point of this Project is to help free humanity, so that we can properly understand human nature for the first time, and thus construct society around the needs and desires of human nature. Human civilization must come to reflect human nature; human nature can no longer be shaped within the confines of human civilization. As people are largely a product of their environment, down to the very notion of what we know as “mental illness,” we must begin to reshape the environment to support the people. We must construct our society in such a way that enhances and flourishes all that is good in human nature, while minimizing and undermining all that is bad in human nature. Currently, our society does the opposite. That is why war, poverty, dehumanization, and destruction are so common, whereas cooperation, liberation, peace, and harmonious existence are so rare.
It seems quite apparent that our little experiment known as ‘human civilization’ is actually more properly identified as a “dehumanized civilization,” as it ruins, oppresses, controls, co-opts, and seeks to destroy all that is good, wonderful, and beautiful in human nature. We must then, construct a new civilization, a “humane civilization,” one that undermines the negative aspects of human nature and supports the positive. Humans have a tendency to be corrupted by too much power, no matter the intentions and beliefs of that individual, too much power in one person or institution is self destructive. Subsequently, too much power in too few hands implies the de facto circumstance of too little power in too many hands, so that the vast majority of the world’s people are left with very little power even over their own lives. This leads to poverty, despair, violence, terrorism, war, hunger, hatred, and madness. What is implied then, is that power must be decentralized, people must gain more, and institutions must have less. In such a situation, we can begin to see the potential for humanity to gain – for the first time in all of human history – the ultimate liberation, the true freedom. As such, we would be able to see the true reality of “human nature.”
If you study mice in a maze, no matter for how long you may do so, you cannot ever hope to understand the mouse outside of the context of the maze itself. The mouse or mice you study and observe are products of that maze, as they are confined within it and their lives dictated by its walls and parameters. Therefore, you can never hope to conclude a true ‘nature’ of the mouse through observing it in such circumstances. Only when you break the walls of the maze and erase its foundations, thus freeing the mice to their own devices, can you even begin to understand the nature and potential of the mouse. This is the perspective we must come to understand in regards to humanity. We can commonly deduce that it is “human nature” to be violent, to hate, to kill, to destroy; that we need states and governments and powers to stand above and look over us, preventing us from destroying ourselves. Yet, we act in accordance with the confines of our own maze – the global institutional social system – and thus, we are a product – and our nature is thus a product – of the system we live within. If our nature is violent, hateful, and destructive, it is because the system we live within has made it so. Thus, we need to liberate humanity from that system, and simultaneously create a parallel system which may help to establish a society that requires cooperation, true individuality, respect, understanding, peace, and love. We are largely a product of our environment, therefore we must change both the individual – through our personal perceptions and understanding of the world – and the environment around the individual, in order to create a truly ‘humane’ society.
These are the aims and objectives of The People’s Project. The Book Project, as the first phase in the wider initiative explained above, seeks to establish itself as a basis upon which the People’s Project would understand and act in the world.The People’s Book Project can only be made possible through the support, donations, and word of mouth of the people themselves, activated through social media and the Internet, using the unprecedented opportunity we have before us as a result of the Technological, communication and information revolutions.
Indeed, nothing would be a greater shame than to exist in revolutionary times without revolutionary ideas.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of the People’s Book Project.

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[2] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004:
[3] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004:
[4] Lily E. Kay, “Rethinking Institutions: Philanthropy as an Historigraphic Problem of Knowledge and Power,” Minerva (Vol. 35, 1997), page 290.
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[8] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), pages 161-162.
[9] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), pages 164-165.
[10] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 167.
[11] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 168.
[12] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 169.
[13] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 170.
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[18] Robert E. Kohler, “The Management of Science: The Experience of Warren Weaver and the Rockefeller Programme in Molecular Biology.” Minerva (Vol. 14, No. 3), 1976, page 293
[19] Lily E. Kay, “Rethinking Institutions: Philanthropy as an Historigraphic Problem of Knowledge and Power,” Minerva (Vol. 35, 1997), page 290.