Category Archives: Anarchism

Blythe Masters Tells Banks the Blockchain Changes Everything

[KC Editors note : Every once in a while even Bloomberg has an article that’s worth reading]

The penthouse meeting room in Le Parker Meridien hotel in midtown Manhattan is humming with chatter on this June afternoon. About a hundred money managers are networking at the end of the day at a Sandler O’Neill & Partners investor conference as the green rectangle of Central Park stretches into the distance 42 floors below. With neckties loosened and icy drinks in hand, the attendees largely ignore the founder of a fintech startup who’s presenting a PowerPoint about his investing smartphone app. But when the next guest takes the floor, the room falls silent.

These Wall Street veterans all know who Blythe Masters is. She’s the wunderkind who made managing director at JPMorgan Chase at age 28, the financial engineer who helped develop the credit-default swap and bring to life a market that peaked at $58 trillion, in notional terms, in 2007. She’s the banker later vilified by pundits, unfairly some say, after those instruments compounded the damage wrought by the subprime mortgage crash in 2008. Now, one year after quitting JPMorgan amid another controversy, Blythe Masters is back. She isn’t pitching a newly minted derivative or trading stratagem to this room. She’s promoting something wilder: It’s called the blockchain, and it’s the digital ledger software code that powers bitcoin.

Masters is the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, a New York tech startup. She says her firm is designing software that will enable banks, investors, and other market players to use blockchain technology to change the way they trade loans, bonds, and other assets. If she’s right, she’ll be at the center of yet another whirlwind that will change the markets.

“You should be taking this technology as seriously as you should have been taking the development of the Internet in the early 1990s,” Masters, a lithe 46-year-old Englishwoman with auburn hair and the proper diction of the Home Counties, explains to the rapt audience. “It’s analogous to e-mail for money.”

That’s a bold statement, but Masters isn’t the only voice heralding the coming of the blockchain. The Bank of England, in a report earlier this year, calls it the “first attempt at an Internet of finance,” while the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hails it as a “stroke of genius.” In a June white paper, the World Economic Forum says, “The blockchain protocol threatens to disintermediate almost every process in financial services.”

In a matter of months, this word, blockchain, has gone viral on trading floors and in the executive suites of banks and brokerages on both sides of the Atlantic. You can’t attend a finance conference these days without hearing it mentioned on a panel or at a reception or even in the loo. At a recent blockchain confab in London’s hip East End, the host asked if there were any bankers in the room. More than half the audience members, all dressed in suits, raised their hands.

Now, everyone’s trying to figure out whether the blockchain is just so much hype or if Masters’s firm and other startups are really going to change the systems that process trillions of dollars in securities trades. When investors buy and sell syndicated loans or derivatives or move money around the world, they must cope with opaque and clunky back-office processes that rely on negotiated contracts between buyers and sellers, lots of phone calls, lots of lawyers, and even the occasional fax. It still takes almost 20 days, on average, to settle syndicated loan trades.

Masters is betting that the blockchain, the breakthrough that permits people to buy and sell bitcoins without the need for an intermediary, can be used to streamline all manner of financial transactions. A June report backed by Santander InnoVentures, the Spanish bank’s fintech investment fund, estimated the blockchain could save lenders up to $20 billion annually in settlement, regulatory, and cross-border payment costs.

“You have front-end systems trading at warp speed, and nanoseconds of competitive advantage are being extracted, and yet the back end of Wall Street hasn’t been fundamentally overhauled in decades,” Masters says in an interview at her offices in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. “Firms are dealing with greater requirements for reporting, transparency, and dissemination of data. Costs have gone up and revenues have gone down. This technology really gets to the core of all those issues.”

That’s why there’s been a Cambrian explosion of blockchain startups, accelerators, and skunkworks in London, New York, and Silicon Valley. In April, UBS installed a half dozen developers in London’s Level39 accelerator to download blockchain source code from the Internet and delve into how it might revolutionize payments, cybersecurity, and other banking needs. Barclays, Goldman Sachs, the New York Stock Exchange, and Santander are backing cryptocurrency ventures. And no surprise, Marc Andreessen, Jim Breyer, Reid Hoffman, and other denizens of Sand Hill Road are all over this space. Venture capitalists plowed $400 million into dozens of digital currency startups in the first six months of this year, a fourfold jump from all of 2013, according to industry news site CoinDesk.

Some of these ventures are building on the actual bitcoin blockchain. In June, Nasdaq teamed up with Chain, a San Francisco firm, and launched a project to use the blockchain to issue and transfer the equity shares of closely held companies on the exchange’s private marketplace. “The blockchain is going to bring levels of efficiency to the financial markets that we’ve never seen before,” says Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld. “In time, it could be as impactful on the back office as electronic trading was on open outcry.”

By contrast, Ripple Labs, another San Francisco company, runs a self-contained network for financial institutions that doesn’t rely on bitcoin at all. Masters plans to offer banks and other financial players both options: Digital Asset is creating an off-the-shelf private blockchain product and developing ways to connect its customers to the existing bitcoin system.

Whatever form it takes, the blockchain has the potential to change the very structure of the financial services industry, says Oliver Bussmann, the chief information officer at UBS. “If you brought up bitcoin with bankers 12 months ago, you’d lose their attention immediately,” Bussmann says. “Now, everyone sees this as a critical topic. I know of more than 100 firms that are trying to make the blockchain more scalable, more secure, to make the one that everybody will use. There’s a race on out there.”

Maybe so, but rewiring the market’s infrastructure is an awfully big task. So is persuading financial players to place their trust in a system embraced by cryptocurrency anarchists and other fringy characters. Even if market pros do grasp the blockchain’s potential, will they buy in?

“Look, the technology is potentially great, but you’re going to have to bring along all the regulators and the banks to change the ecosystem,” says Hank Uberoi, the former co-head of Goldman Sachs’s global technology operations and now the CEO of Earthport, a London-based payments venture. “Change comes very slowly in that world. That’s going to be the hardest part.”

When it comes to adopting innovation, the financial services industry doesn’t exactly have a stellar record. For example, the global interbank payments system, which Uberoi’s Earthport is trying to shake up, is managed by a consortium of more than 10,000 institutions. It’s so antiquated that it still takes days to send transactions from one part of the world to another. Jon Matonis, a founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation, a Washington group that promotes the cryptocurrency, says a private blockchain run by banks could end up as just “another cartel” and function as poorly as the payments consortium.

Masters had a hard time believing Digital Asset's Sunil Hirani was serious when he first talked to her about bitcoin.

Masters had a hard time believing Digital Asset’s Sunil Hirani was serious when he first talked to her about bitcoin.
Photographer: Guzman/Bloomberg Markets

Blythe Masters swings open the door of her ninth-floor offices, parks her suitcase, and exhales. Fresh off a flight from London, she’s relieved to be back on solid ground. Masters says her airliner was landing when it suddenly roared back into the sky to avoid a collision on the runway. “That’s the most dangerous moment I’ve ever had on a plane!” says Masters, who’s dressed in a black knit tunic, black tights, and Burberry-plaid flats.

Her new digs at Digital Asset Holdings, with a worn wooden floor and views of air shafts, are a far cry from the Park Avenue executive suite at JPMorgan. The glass walls are covered in scribbled pieces of code and diagrams with a lot of boxes and arrows. A gray terrier named Luna, the office pooch, scampers under the conference room table. A guest notes that Nasdaq has just hired a “blockchain technology evangelist.” “We have a blockchain artist,” Masters replies, pointing out the one decorative object in the place, a painting depicting a network of black and blue lines. “That is our COO’s homegrown work,” she says with delight. “I rather like it.”

Born in Oxford and educated in economics at Cambridge, Masters came of age at JPMorgan. At 18, she joined its London office as an intern during a year off before university. By her mid-20s, Masters was working on the bank’s derivatives team in New York. She helped design a way to remove lending risk from JPMorgan’s balance sheet by getting another party to protect the bank against a default in return for a premium. The contract, which made it possible to bet a bond would fall in value, was dubbed a credit-default swap, and investors fell in love with it. In 1999, Masters, then 30, was named head of the bank’s global credit derivatives unit.

“Blythe has about as much wrapped up in one brain as I’ve ever encountered in finance,” says John “Mac” McQuown, co-founder of KMV, a maker of widely used credit analysis tools. McQuown, 81, has known Masters since the early 1990s. “She is inventive, a risk taker, and beyond a doubt a force to be reckoned with.”

Masters advanced quickly up JPMorgan’s ranks. Following a stint as CFO of its global investment bank from 2004 to 2007, she was appointed chief of a newly formed unit that helped clients manage risk in commodities markets. During the next five years, she built it into a profitable business that oversaw billions of dollars of physical assets. At the same time, Masters served as a board member and then chair of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, known as SIFMA. Along the way, she earned a reputation as that rare figure on the Street, a corporate player with the innovative chops of an entrepreneur.

“You were one of the most powerful women on Wall Street,” CNBC host Bob Pisani noted during an onstage interview with Masters at a fintech conference in June.

“What do you mean I was?” Masters deadpanned.

After the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, some media outlets highlighted her work with credit derivatives and cast her as one of the instigators of the crash. She became such a target of critics that a French graffiti artist spray-painted her likeness onto the wall of a museum called the Abode of Chaos near Lyon.

In a speech that year at SIFMA’s annual conference in New York, she noted that she’d been dubbed “The Woman Who Built Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction.” She responded to the swipes by saying the problem wasn’t the instrument but the way people used it. “Unfortunately, tools that transfer risk can also increase systemic risk if major counterparties fail to manage their risk exposures properly,” she said.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon backed her all the way through this period, but her fortunes turned in 2013, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission investigated whether traders in her commodities division manipulated California’s electricity market. JPMorgan paid a $410 million settlement to end the case without denying or admitting wrongdoing; Masters wasn’t implicated in the matter. Dimon agreed to sell the business to a Swiss trading firm called Mercuria Energy Group in March 2014, and Masters resigned.

For the first time in her career, she had nowhere to be and nothing to do except hang out with her husband and daughter in her Tribeca townhouse, catch up with friends, and pursue her passion for show jumping. Masters has won first-place ribbons riding her two beloved European warmblood horses, Aslan and Vamos.

Then one day that summer, she grabbed breakfast with Sunil Hirani, an entrepreneur who co-founded Creditex Group, one of the first CDS brokerages. Hirani, 48, an effusive man who’s made a fortune at the intersection of technology and derivatives, couldn’t stop talking about bitcoin. He was toying with the idea of creating futures contracts around the ersatz currency. He was also forming a startup, Digital Asset, to explore how to apply the blockchain to the markets. He’d teamed up with Don Wilson, the founder and CEO of DRW Trading Group, a Chicago-based market maker and trading firm.

Masters was surprised. Hirani was a shrewd Street vet. He’d sold Creditex for $513 million to Intercontinental Exchange in 2008. Why was he messing around with a technology associated with cypherpunks and anti-Fed libertarians? Wasn’t the currency’s price cratering amid scandals involving bitcoin-lubricated online drug bazaars and bankrupt bitcoin exchanges? “Can’t we talk about something more serious?” Masters pleaded with her old friend.

Hirani knew that Masters’s knowledge of the inner workings of the markets would make her the ideal person to build the firm he envisaged and to sell this new technology to Wall Street. So he persuaded Masters to do some homework. Over the next few weeks, she delved into bitcoin’s origins and discussed its potential with Hirani and his colleagues as well as her network of regulators and market players.

So what, exactly, is this thing that sounds like something you’d build with Lego pieces? Like many innovations in finance these days, the blockchain is code.

In 2009, a mysterious coder named Satoshi Nakamoto released bitcoin and the math that makes it work on the Internet. He (or she or they—Nakamoto has yet to be identified) created a peer-to-peer network to enable people to buy and sell bitcoins and to automatically secure and perpetuate the system. Every 10 minutes, coders around the world known as miners race to be the first to solve mathematical equations and record transactions made with bitcoins as entries, or blocks, on a digital ledger. In return for their work, which requires brute force computing power to complete, the program rewards miners with bitcoins, which motivates them to process transactions faster.

Here’s the key part: Every new block is connected to every prior one in a digital chain. So the record of every bitcoin transaction lives on the computers of the miners and is updated with each new entry. That’s why the blockchain is also called a distributed or a decentralized ledger. This replication makes the blockchain secure. The only way to tamper with it would be to seize control of most of the computers holding the blockchain in their memories, which miners call the “51 percent attack.” Such an assault has a better chance of materializing in the next Bond flick than in reality, says Matonis, who’s also an editorial board member at CoinDesk.

As Masters dug deeper into bitcoin, she learned that it was just one of many applications that could run on the blockchain. Startups in London, Silicon Valley, and even Mexico City were already developing ways to use it to transfer and record land titles, airline miles, gold, and diamonds. Masters realized that bitcoin wasn’t really about bitcoin—it was all about the blockchain. “I had an aha moment,” Masters says.

She then plumbed why the ledger could transmit assets without an intermediary, which would change everything she knew about the way the markets completed trades. Buyers and sellers, of course, can’t automatically trust one another. In the fixed-income market, for example, we need middlemen to draw up contracts between buyers and sellers that cover interest payments, terms, and collateral, plus clearinghouses to guarantee the exchange of cash for securities.

Through her research, Masters understood how you could input all that information into a digital “smart contract” on a distributed ledger. Conceptually, it’s similar to the way you can embed video in an e-mail. But the difference is that when you send that smart contract along, it doesn’t just contain data, it transfers ownership of the security. The value belongs to whoever possesses it. So a trade could be settled in minutes instead of days or weeks, Hirani says.

Anyone with access to the ledger can read the contract with a click of a mouse. That means regulators, who depend primarily on self-regulatory organizations to police the markets, could easily verify that a securities transaction didn’t violate anti-money-laundering rules or other laws. The blockchain, in essence, automates trust, Hirani says.

The clincher for Masters was how the technology can affect risk. Every hour that a trade hangs suspended between sale and purchase, the chances mount that it won’t be fulfilled, she says. Institutions have to set aside capital to protect themselves from such failures. Since the 2008 crash, regulators in the U.S. and the European Union have directed banks to allocate ever-larger sums to cover their exposures. If the blockchain could shorten the settlement time for, say, syndicated loans, from 20 days to 10 minutes, this risk would be reduced and capital would be freed up.

“I spent my whole career thinking about risk, markets, infrastructure, and regulation,” Masters says. “I had seen the financial crisis unfold, and I had seen the credit derivatives market get operationally ahead of itself, which resulted in systemic risk counterparty exposures. I began to believe that distributed ledgers had the capability to tackle that problem.”

In March, Masters joined Digital Asset as CEO. She, Hirani, and Wilson set to work developing blockchain-based software for three inefficient markets they deemed ripe for an overhaul: syndicated loans, U.S. Treasury repos, and equity shares in private companies. At the same time, Masters recognized that the open structure of the bitcoin process—no one controls who does the mining—would be anathema to an industry in which client confidentiality is sacrosanct. So in July, the company acquired Hyperledger, a San Francisco software firm that’s developing the technological equivalent of gated communities. Its system is designed so that users will be able to process transactions themselves rather than depend on the open bitcoin blockchain.

“With private chains, you can have a completely known universe of transaction processors,” Masters says. “That appeals to financial institutions that are wary of the bitcoin blockchain.”

While this vision of a superefficient financial world is enticing, let’s not forget that Masters and her rivals will have to persuade institutions and regulators to uproot decades of legacy IT systems and practices. And the introduction of the blockchain will make the markets’ infrastructure even more complex than it already is, at least in the short term.

Skeptics question whether one piece of code could in a single stroke make finance faster, more transparent, and more efficient. “People are talking about how the blockchain is going to be some kind of Messianic savior for the database industry,” says Bradley Howard, the head of digital media at Endava, a London-based IT services provider. “It may be fantastic in some cases, but it could also just be the latest fad.”

Yet Masters, who in July joined the board of Santander’s U.S. auto financing unit as nonexecutive chairman, is betting that the mindset at the highest levels of finance is changing. The advent of peer-to-peer lending, mobile banking, and other innovations is forcing Wall Street’s chieftains to rethink their businesses. She says the blockchain may be the biggest fintech play of them all.

“Blythe sees that a new industry is being created,” says Hirani, who’s known Masters for 17 years. “There’s no infrastructure. There’s no companies that have any kind of scale. She’s done the bank thing. She did commodities. She did derivatives. She did loan portfolio management. This allows her to bring all of that experience to bear in creating an ecosystem—and a company around it.”

Twenty-three years ago, Masters opened up fresh territory with credit derivatives. Now, she’s determined to do it again, although this time it’s with a technology that was initially designed to bypass the financial system. Masters, with a very British dose of understatement, puts it this way: “I’ve always been motivated to innovate where the implications are significant.”

This story appears in the October issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine.

 

Source : Bloomberg Business.

Standing at the Gates: Our Generation Has to Convert Ideas of Change Into Action

(Photo: Youth and Technology via Shutterstock)(Photo: Youth and Technology via Shutterstock)

I don’t know if I am becoming more argumentative and cantankerous as I get older, but I find myself in more and more arguments with strangers. The latest episode has stayed with me, partly because on paper our backgrounds and ambitions should have aligned.

I was sitting on a patio of a Mexican restaurant in Cape Town, next to a friend of a friend, a young Italian woman who lives in Silicon Valley. Conscious that this montage of globalization would not have been possible twenty years ago, I asked what brought her to the city. She told me how she is a recent graduate of Singularity University, an ‘innovation lab’ based in NASA’s Ames campus in northern California founded by Ray Kurzweil (father of the Singularity, the idea that a super intelligence will result as man merges with machine in the year 2045) and Peter Diamandis (founder of the X Prize and eager planet miner and solar system colonizer). She explained that she had previously worked at a ‘tech incubator’ in the ‘Valley’ and how she was focused on ‘disruptive thinking’ and ‘exponential technologies’ that could save the world.

As she glowed in reverence for the curriculum at Singularity University, she explained how she and her classmates have created a mobile application that will help accelerate education for up to one billion people, largely in developing countries, by ‘gameifying’ education.’ Hence her trip to South Africa. Somewhere between ‘productization’ and ‘monetization,’ I interjected by stating that the only proven model for exponential growth has been the computer microchip processor. Moore’s Law is not a universal law.

In fact, over the past two decades we have had increase in poverty and inequality, increasing food famines, and experts predict mass resource wars as we move to ‘peak everything.’ The Earth has lost 50% of its wildlife in the last 40 years, and according to the International Panel on Climate (IPCC) we will lose half of the planet’s biodiversity – that’s half the living plant and animal life in the world – as we mitigate for a four degree Celsius rise in temperature by 2050.

As these statements challenged the core of my new friend’s Panglossian world-view, I saw myself fall quickly out of favour. The politeness of new acquaintances gave way to a hostile barrage of illogical suppositions. “Would you have us go back to a primitive way of living? How are you living your supposed values as you drink bottled water? And who wouldn’t choose hope over despair?”

It was of course not my intention to elicit this type of reaction. I was hoping to encourage the next generation of idealist to expand her scope to include a more structural analysis of our current situation. But as always, ideology is a constant background condition. It strikes me that the real divide here has two axis lines.

The first is the whether or not one believes the world is getting better or worse. The second is whether one believes that history matters. Quite simply, if you believe the world is getting better and history is inconsequential, the technoutopian world-view has a natural gravitational pull. It doesn’t matter that we are creating unprecedented rates of species extinction, or that our current system amplifies the historical injustices of colonialism, imperialism, genocide, slavery, misogyny and racism, or even that perpetual growth has planetary bounds, as our ingenuity and technological prowess will inevitably overcome all of these inconvenient truths.

And of course, the question of who is the world getting better for is never questioned. The Western hope in technology as saviour is conveniently self-enforced by material comfort and privilege, and shelters us from recognising that eight out of ten of our brothers and sisters are living under $5 a day, the threshold which the UN body UNCTAD says is the minimum to achieve “a standard of living adequate for health and wellbeing”: the inalienable right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If one believes that things are getting worse and history is important, the corollary is that things can of course get better. True optimism is not whitewashing away anything but ‘good news’ but seeing deep trends of progress and potential in an accurate, whole picture. It is also knowing that where we came from can help us build a better roadmap to where we are going.

As we usher in this better world, we heed the lessons of the past so as to not replicate the violence, oppression, extraction and exploitation of our current economic and political system. We are encouraged to believe the former. Our education system is molded on the ‘victors of history,’ the elite perspective and selective memory. Those considered talented are usually those who show a deep and unquestioning acceptance of this perspective, who do well on standardized tests and faithfully validate and extend the establishment logic in their careers.

They are lauded with scholarships, awards and promotions that reinforce the virtue of their belief, their ‘giftedness.’ As John Ralston Saul reminds us, it is in the nature of all complex social and political systems to reward those who best perpetuate their logic. Where that logic is psychotic, based on self-interest, greed and shorttermism, that is the psychology and behavior that will be most rewarded. In such a system, the rest of us – the majority – who do not demonstrate that behavior come to serve its needs through their service of perpetual, and ever-greater debt – if not through school, then through healthcare or access to food or housing. Once indebted, we find ourselves having to work for money that is manufactured in privatized mints and administered by governments, the apparatchiks of the global corporate system.

As elite wealth and its associated power congeals – 85 billionaires now have the same wealth as 3.5 billion people- their power shows itself up as the only truly exponential factor, outside of microchip processors. In turn, thanks to the influence of money in politics around the world, we inexorably entrench the conditions of what we call this . In this way, the world system is organized according to neo-liberal logic of ‘trickle-up’economics that serve an undemocratic, unaccountable elite at the expense of the majority.

The result of believing that the arrow of progress is righteous and unbending, especially in the face of stark evidence to the contrary, is that we become not only complacent but complicit in the inherent destructiveness of this brand of late stage capitalism.

Take, as yet another example, the fact that for every dollar of wealth created, 93 cents goes to the top 1%. Unless this can be shown to be a gross and temporary aberration, it can only be concluded that this manner of wealth creation directly, inextricably and exponentially also creates vast wealth inequality. Add to that the fact that every dollar of wealth created heats up our planet thanks to the fossil-fuel based energy requirements; that the world’s poor and middle class pay grossly more than their fair share of the world’s tax as rich elites and multinational corporations opt out of their social contract through the use of tax havens and accounting black magic; and that, through global trade deals like NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the underlying operating principles are, right now, being super-charged and replicated for a whole new generation, and the true and extreme rapaciousness of this system are painfully apparent.

The promise of the Internet was to remove the gatekeepers of this dominant system, to usher in a world of democratic access to information, innovation and decision-making, beyond the old constraints of geographical borders. Instead, the culture of Silicon Valley has created a new ideology.

A fuzzy mix between technological determinism and free market evangelism. In their world, corporations like Google and Facebook are benevolent dictators, busily not being evil, even though they have monetized and made a marketable-commodity of what not long ago we considered our most private data, and are now as much the gatekeepers of this system as any steel or tobacco corporation, or government agency.

They appeal to the logical and necessary instinct for anarchism in our youth (and other free thinkers): the desire to creatively self-organize, and they twist that into an elitist form of Libertarianism, where there is little or no room for governments or regulation.

All the while they are training them to believe that the problems created by the market-fundamentalist system – climate change, mass poverty, rabid inequality – can be solved by the very same market mechanisms. As Peter Diamandis states, “In a world where the biggest problems on the planet are the biggest market opportunities, why wouldn’t you be focusing on them?”

We are told that chasing profit through technological incrementalism is somehow commensurate with solving the world’s problems. Distracted by ‘disruptive innovation,’ ‘conscious capitalism,’ ‘social enterprise,’ ‘impact investing’ and other deeply unpoliticized blind alleys, we are told we can go on exactly as we are. We have become prisoners of our own construction, forgetting that the crisis we face as a civilization is as much a crisis of the economic system as it is an ecological, spiritual and moral crisis.

Those who were supposed to become the gatecrashers – the radicals, the misfits, the real innovators, like the brilliant Italian woman I met that day in Cape Town – have become the gatekeepers through a combination of alluring ideology, debilitating privilege and myopic amnesia. As Milan Kundera reminds us in the Book of Laughter and Forgetting, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

If we connect the dots between the capitalist system and the crises that face us, if we think constellationally, a new set of solutions will emerge. They may include a re-localization of politics and the economy; the rediscovery of the Original Wisdom of Indigenous cultures around the world; putting limits on the power of corporations and taxes on the source of carbon use; a revival of barter and gift economies; the closing down of tax havens; an embrace of steady state economics; the provision of a citizen’s income to cover the basic necessities required for human dignity; and even the abolition of military spending.

Digital technology will inevitably play a powerful facilitating role, but technology is only a tool. In the absence of new principles – a new and wiser ideology – guiding the hands that use it, it can only change the pace, and not the direction, of travel.

Put simply, the task of our generation is one of reconstruction. If we want to truly be gate crashers, we must move beyond the frustration of the ineptitude and psychopathy of the elites, corrupt politicians and robber barons that are lionized in our media and educational institutions. We must start by taking responsibility.

The most powerful realization we must engender in ourselves and communities is that there is no separation between humans and all other life; this planet is, ultimately, a single bio-organism. From there, it is a short step to realizing that human power is such that the current state of this world – all the wealth and wonder and all the destruction and misery alike – are a product of our collective manifestation. We have a social, political and economic system that reflects our level of consciousness.

So we must simultaneously go deep within ourselves to reconnect with our source, and spread ourselves wide, throughout our communities. We must do whatever re-progamming is necessary for this new consciousness to emerge – unlearning, re-learning, remembering, examining our imprints, getting to a non-ordinary state through meditation or the use of psychedelics or whatever avenues allow us to be free thinkers again. And we will of course use the existing system to build the new system.

The aim will be to create structures that allow the conscious evolution and ascension of our species, in symbiosis with Nature. As the great Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo was fond of saying, we have to go from theoreticians of evolution to practioners of evolution. We must all be gatecrashers now.

By Alnoor Ladha

Alnoor Ladha is a co-founder of /The Rules, a global collective of activists and organizers focused on addressing the root causes of inequality and poverty. He is also a board member of Greenpeace International, USA.

 

Source : truth-out.org

This is Sparta – 1,000 Bitcoin ATMs are Coming to Greece

 

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I simply cannot stress enough how important Greece is to freedom, liberty and civilization across the globe. Greece is not a one-off, or merely a small nation in big trouble that holds little relevance for the rest of us. Greece is everything.

What is happening to Greece follows the exact same game plan of what will eventually happen to every other supposedly sovereign nation. First there is an explosion of debt. Then a crisis. Then a bailout. Then creditor imposed hardship is forced upon the average population, in conjunction with unlimited bailouts for the bankers and other oligarch criminals. Finally, when a public which mistakenly believes it is living in a democracy exercises its right to national sovereignty, the sad truth is exposed. They are not a people living under a free political system.

It is precisely because Greece has progressed further along than any other Western nation into this neo-feudal hellhole, that it presents an incredible opportunity for resistance, The Greeks, quite literally, must fight for their very lives. Having been pushed into a corner, they will be forced to experiment in myriad ways if they desire to escape the criminal oligarch vortex in one piece.

 

Last week, I explored how Greeks are already embracing various local alternative currencies in the post, Greeks Flock to Grassroots Alternative Currencies in Affront to Euro Debt Slavery. One of the more interesting observations from the original Wall Street Journal article was that:

Experts say TEM and other local currencies work best side-by-side with the euro, not as a replacement. 

The above is of course true when it comes to local currencies. It’s not true when it comes to Bitcoin, which is why I am so intrigued by the plan to bring 1,000 Bitcoin ATMs to Greece.

What makes this plan so interesting and ambitious, is that there is only one Bitcoin ATM in Greece at the moment.

From the CoinTelegraph:

Bitcoin service provider and exchange Cubits has partnered with Greek bitcoin exchange BTCGreece to install 1,000 bitcoin ATMs and help small and medium sized businesses move money.

“We are creating the ecosystem of bitcoin and blockchain solutions in the Greek market.” BTCGreece founder Thanos Marinos told CoinTelegraph. “That will include the rollout of 1,000 ATMs and solutions for the e-commerce and tourism industry. Partnering with best of breed companies in the bitcoin space will enable us to provide the Greeks with solutions that will ease the difficulties of the capital controls.”

The Greek government still restricts the weekly withdrawal limit for bank accounts and debit cards to US$464.76 per week. To help small and medium sized companies send payments abroad, the two companies plan to develop a cross border payment system, which will allow small businesses to send payments quickly, at low cost. Marinos:

“Btcgreece and Cubits are offering a solution to the small and medium sized businesses to keep their operations, pay their invoices outside of Greece, pay for datacenter and servers, without the limitations imposed by the banks under capital controls.”

Additionally, bitcoin adoption in Greece is growing rapidly, he added. Individuals and business are beginning to recognize the advantages of bitcoin and its decentralized nature.

“Bitcoin adoption is happening and in a very fast pace,” explained Marinos. “Bitcoin in Greece is not just hype but a solution to day to day problems of people and businesses under capital controls. Also a key factor is that the trust for the traditional banking system is long gone and people are open to bitcoin.” 

Best of luck to the Greeks. They need and deserve our full and total support. Their fight is our fight.

For related articles, see:

Yanis Varoufakis on “Europe’s Vindictive Privatization Plan for Greece”

Everything You Need to Know About the Greek Crisis and ECB Fascism in Two Paragraphs

Greeks Flock to Grassroots Alternative Currencies in Affront to Euro Debt Slavery

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

 

Source : Liberty Blitzkrieg.

The end of capitalism has begun

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic. But in the process technology has created a new route out, which the remnants of the old left – and all other forces influenced by it – have either to embrace or die. Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours. I call this postcapitalism.

As with the end of feudalism 500 years ago, capitalism’s replacement by postcapitalism will be accelerated by external shocks and shaped by the emergence of a new kind of human being. And it has started.

Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all.

Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant. The system’s defence mechanism is to form monopolies – the giant tech companies – on a scale not seen in the past 200 years, yet they cannot last. By building business models and share valuations based on the capture and privatisation of all socially produced information, such firms are constructing a fragile corporate edifice at odds with the most basic need of humanity, which is to use ideas freely.

Third, we’re seeing the spontaneous rise of collaborative production: goods, services and organisations are appearing that no longer respond to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy. The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free, abolishing the encyclopedia business and depriving the advertising industry of an estimated $3bn a year in revenue.

Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Parallel currencies, time banks, cooperatives and self-managed spaces have proliferated, barely noticed by the economics profession, and often as a direct result of the shattering of the old structures in the post-2008 crisis.

You only find this new economy if you look hard for it. In Greece, when a grassroots NGO mapped the country’s food co-ops, alternative producers, parallel currencies and local exchange systems they found more than 70 substantive projects and hundreds of smaller initiatives ranging from squats to carpools to free kindergartens. To mainstream economics such things seem barely to qualify as economic activity – but that’s the point. They exist because they trade, however haltingly and inefficiently, in the currency of postcapitalism: free time, networked activity and free stuff. It seems a meagre and unofficial and even dangerous thing from which to craft an entire alternative to a global system, but so did money and credit in the age of Edward III.

Post-capitalism apple trees. Illustration by Joe Magee

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Sharing the fruits of our labour. Illustration by Joe Magee

New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the “sharing economy”. Buzzwords such as the “commons” and “peer-production” are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself.

I believe it offers an escape route – but only if these micro-level projects are nurtured, promoted and protected by a fundamental change in what governments do. And this must be driven by a change in our thinking – about technology, ownership and work. So that, when we create the elements of the new system, we can say to ourselves, and to others: “This is no longer simply my survival mechanism, my bolt hole from the neoliberal world; this is a new way of living in the process of formation.”

The 2008 crash wiped 13% off global production and 20% off global trade. Global growth became negative – on a scale where anything below +3% is counted as a recession. It produced, in the west, a depression phase longer than in 1929-33, and even now, amid a pallid recovery, has left mainstream economists terrified about the prospect of long-term stagnation. The aftershocks in Europe are tearing the continent apart.

The solutions have been austerity plus monetary excess. But they are not working. In the worst-hit countries, the pension system has been destroyed, the retirement age is being hiked to 70, and education is being privatised so that graduates now face a lifetime of high debt. Services are being dismantled and infrastructure projects put on hold.

Even now many people fail to grasp the true meaning of the word “austerity”. Austerity is not eight years of spending cuts, as in the UK, or even the social catastrophe inflicted on Greece. It means driving the wages, social wages and living standards in the west down for decades until they meet those of the middle class in China and India on the way up.

Meanwhile in the absence of any alternative model, the conditions for another crisis are being assembled. Real wages have fallen or remained stagnant in Japan, the southern Eurozone, the US and UK. The shadow banking system has been reassembled, and is now bigger than it was in 2008. New rules demanding banks hold more reserves have been watered down or delayed. Meanwhile, flushed with free money, the 1% has got richer.

Neoliberalism, then, has morphed into a system programmed to inflict recurrent catastrophic failures. Worse than that, it has broken the 200-year pattern of industrial capitalism wherein an economic crisis spurs new forms of technological innovation that benefit everybody.

That is because neoliberalism was the first economic model in 200 years the upswing of which was premised on the suppression of wages and smashing the social power and resilience of the working class. If we review the take-off periods studied by long-cycle theorists – the 1850s in Europe, the 1900s and 1950s across the globe – it was the strength of organised labour that forced entrepreneurs and corporations to stop trying to revive outdated business models through wage cuts, and to innovate their way to a new form of capitalism.

The result is that, in each upswing, we find a synthesis of automation, higher wages and higher-value consumption. Today there is no pressure from the workforce, and the technology at the centre of this innovation wave does not demand the creation of higher-consumer spending, or the re‑employment of the old workforce in new jobs. Information is a machine for grinding the price of things lower and slashing the work time needed to support life on the planet.

As a result, large parts of the business class have become neo-luddites. Faced with the possibility of creating gene-sequencing labs, they instead start coffee shops, nail bars and contract cleaning firms: the banking system, the planning system and late neoliberal culture reward above all the creator of low-value, long-hours jobs.

Innovation is happening but it has not, so far, triggered the fifth long upswing for capitalism that long-cycle theory would expect. The reasons lie in the specific nature of information technology.

We’re surrounded not just by intelligent machines but by a new layer of reality centred on information. Consider an airliner: a computer flies it; it has been designed, stress-tested and “virtually manufactured” millions of times; it is firing back real-time information to its manufacturers. On board are people squinting at screens connected, in some lucky countries, to the internet.

Seen from the ground it is the same white metal bird as in the James Bond era. But it is now both an intelligent machine and a node on a network. It has an information content and is adding “information value” as well as physical value to the world. On a packed business flight, when everyone’s peering at Excel or Powerpoint, the passenger cabin is best understood as an information factory.

Postcapitalism evolution. Illustration by Joe Magee

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Is it utopian to believe we’re on the verge of an evolution beyond capitalism? Illustration by Joe Magee

But what is all this information worth? You won’t find an answer in the accounts: intellectual property is valued in modern accounting standards by guesswork. A study for the SAS Institute in 2013 found that, in order to put a value on data, neither the cost of gathering it, nor the market value or the future income from it could be adequately calculated. Only through a form of accounting that included non-economic benefits, and risks, could companies actually explain to their shareholders what their data was really worth. Something is broken in the logic we use to value the most important thing in the modern world.

The great technological advance of the early 21st century consists not only of new objects and processes, but of old ones made intelligent. The knowledge content of products is becoming more valuable than the physical things that are used to produce them. But it is a value measured as usefulness, not exchange or asset value. In the 1990s economists and technologists began to have the same thought at once: that this new role for information was creating a new, “third” kind of capitalism – as different from industrial capitalism as industrial capitalism was to the merchant and slave capitalism of the 17th and 18th centuries. But they have struggled to describe the dynamics of the new “cognitive” capitalism. And for a reason. Its dynamics are profoundly non-capitalist.

During and right after the second world war, economists viewed information simply as a “public good”. The US government even decreed that no profit should be made out of patents, only from the production process itself. Then we began to understand intellectual property. In 1962, Kenneth Arrow, the guru of mainstream economics, said that in a free market economy the purpose of inventing things is to create intellectual property rights. He noted: “precisely to the extent that it is successful there is an underutilisation of information.”

You can observe the truth of this in every e-business model ever constructed: monopolise and protect data, capture the free social data generated by user interaction, push commercial forces into areas of data production that were non-commercial before, mine the existing data for predictive value – always and everywhere ensuring nobody but the corporation can utilise the results.

If we restate Arrow’s principle in reverse, its revolutionary implications are obvious: if a free market economy plus intellectual property leads to the “underutilisation of information”, then an economy based on the full utilisation of information cannot tolerate the free market or absolute intellectual property rights. The business models of all our modern digital giants are designed to prevent the abundance of information.

Yet information is abundant. Information goods are freely replicable. Once a thing is made, it can be copied/pasted infinitely. A music track or the giant database you use to build an airliner has a production cost; but its cost of reproduction falls towards zero. Therefore, if the normal price mechanism of capitalism prevails over time, its price will fall towards zero, too.

For the past 25 years economics has been wrestling with this problem: all mainstream economics proceeds from a condition of scarcity, yet the most dynamic force in our modern world is abundant and, as hippy genius Stewart Brand once put it, “wants to be free”.

There is, alongside the world of monopolised information and surveillance created by corporations and governments, a different dynamic growing up around information: information as a social good, free at the point of use, incapable of being owned or exploited or priced. I’ve surveyed the attempts by economists and business gurus to build a framework to understand the dynamics of an economy based on abundant, socially-held information. But it was actually imagined by one 19th-century economist in the era of the telegraph and the steam engine. His name? Karl Marx.

The scene is Kentish Town, London, February 1858, sometime around 4am. Marx is a wanted man in Germany and is hard at work scribbling thought-experiments and notes-to-self. When they finally get to see what Marx is writing on this night, the left intellectuals of the 1960s will admit that it “challenges every serious interpretation of Marx yet conceived”. It is called “The Fragment on Machines”.

In the “Fragment” Marx imagines an economy in which the main role of machines is to produce, and the main role of people is to supervise them. He was clear that, in such an economy, the main productive force would be information. The productive power of such machines as the automated cotton-spinning machine, the telegraph and the steam locomotive did not depend on the amount of labour it took to produce them but on the state of social knowledge. Organisation and knowledge, in other words, made a bigger contribution to productive power than the work of making and running the machines.

Given what Marxism was to become – a theory of exploitation based on the theft of labour time – this is a revolutionary statement. It suggests that, once knowledge becomes a productive force in its own right, outweighing the actual labour spent creating a machine, the big question becomes not one of “wages versus profits” but who controls what Marx called the “power of knowledge”.

In an economy where machines do most of the work, the nature of the knowledge locked inside the machines must, he writes, be “social”. In a final late-night thought experiment Marx imagined the end point of this trajectory: the creation of an “ideal machine”, which lasts forever and costs nothing. A machine that could be built for nothing would, he said, add no value at all to the production process and rapidly, over several accounting periods, reduce the price, profit and labour costs of everything else it touched.

Once you understand that information is physical, and that software is a machine, and that storage, bandwidth and processing power are collapsing in price at exponential rates, the value of Marx’s thinking becomes clear. We are surrounded by machines that cost nothing and could, if we wanted them to, last forever.

In these musings, not published until the mid-20th century, Marx imagined information coming to be stored and shared in something called a “general intellect” – which was the mind of everybody on Earth connected by social knowledge, in which every upgrade benefits everybody. In short, he had imagined something close to the information economy in which we live. And, he wrote, its existence would “blow capitalism sky high”.

With the terrain changed, the old path beyond capitalism imagined by the left of the 20th century is lost.

But a different path has opened up. Collaborative production, using network technology to produce goods and services that only work when they are free, or shared, defines the route beyond the market system. It will need the state to create the framework – just as it created the framework for factory labour, sound currencies and free trade in the early 19th century. The postcapitalist sector is likely to coexist with the market sector for decades, but major change is happening.

Networks restore “granularity” to the postcapitalist project. That is, they can be the basis of a non-market system that replicates itself, which does not need to be created afresh every morning on the computer screen of a commissar.

The transition will involve the state, the market and collaborative production beyond the market. But to make it happen, the entire project of the left, from protest groups to the mainstream social democratic and liberal parties, will have to be reconfigured. In fact, once people understand the logic of the postcapitalist transition, such ideas will no longer be the property of the left – but of a much wider movement, for which we will need new labels.

Who can make this happen? In the old left project it was the industrial working class. More than 200 years ago, the radical journalist John Thelwall warned the men who built the English factories that they had created a new and dangerous form of democracy: “Every large workshop and manufactory is a sort of political society, which no act of parliament can silence, and no magistrate disperse.”

Today the whole of society is a factory. We all participate in the creation and recreation of the brands, norms and institutions that surround us. At the same time the communication grids vital for everyday work and profit are buzzing with shared knowledge and discontent. Today it is the network – like the workshop 200 years ago – that they “cannot silence or disperse”.

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Manuel Castells: how modern political movements straddle urban space and cyberspace

True, states can shut down Facebook, Twitter, even the entire internet and mobile network in times of crisis, paralysing the economy in the process. And they can store and monitor every kilobyte of information we produce. But they cannot reimpose the hierarchical, propaganda-driven and ignorant society of 50 years ago, except – as in China, North Korea or Iran – by opting out of key parts of modern life. It would be, as sociologist Manuel Castells put it, like trying to de-electrify a country.

By creating millions of networked people, financially exploited but with the whole of human intelligence one thumb-swipe away, info-capitalism has created a new agent of change in history: the educated and connected human being.

This will be more than just an economic transition. There are, of course, the parallel and urgent tasks of decarbonising the world and dealing with demographic and fiscal timebombs. But I’m concentrating on the economic transition triggered by information because, up to now, it has been sidelined. Peer-to-peer has become pigeonholed as a niche obsession for visionaries, while the “big boys” of leftwing economics get on with critiquing austerity.

Illustration by Joe Magee

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Information wants to be free. Illustration by Joe Magee

In fact, on the ground in places such as Greece, resistance to austerity and the creation of “networks you can’t default on” – as one activist put it to me – go hand in hand. Above all, postcapitalism as a concept is about new forms of human behaviour that conventional economics would hardly recognise as relevant.

So how do we visualise the transition ahead? The only coherent parallel we have is the replacement of feudalism by capitalism – and thanks to the work of epidemiologists, geneticists and data analysts, we know a lot more about that transition than we did 50 years ago when it was “owned” by social science. The first thing we have to recognise is: different modes of production are structured around different things. Feudalism was an economic system structured by customs and laws about “obligation”. Capitalism was structured by something purely economic: the market. We can predict, from this, that postcapitalism – whose precondition is abundance – will not simply be a modified form of a complex market society. But we can only begin to grasp at a positive vision of what it will be like.

I don’t mean this as a way to avoid the question: the general economic parameters of a postcapitalist society by, for example, the year 2075, can be outlined. But if such a society is structured around human liberation, not economics, unpredictable things will begin to shape it.

For example, the most obvious thing to Shakespeare, writing in 1600, was that the market had called forth new kinds of behaviour and morality. By analogy, the most obvious “economic” thing to the Shakespeare of 2075 will be the total upheaval in gender relationships, or sexuality, or health. Perhaps there will not even be any playwrights: perhaps the very nature of the media we use to tell stories will change – just as it changed in Elizabethan London when the first public theatres were built.

Think of the difference between, say, Horatio in Hamlet and a character such as Daniel Doyce in Dickens’s Little Dorrit. Both carry around with them a characteristic obsession of their age – Horatio is obsessed with humanist philosophy; Doyce is obsessed with patenting his invention. There can be no character like Doyce in Shakespeare; he would, at best, get a bit part as a working-class comic figure. Yet, by the time Dickens described Doyce, most of his readers knew somebody like him. Just as Shakespeare could not have imagined Doyce, so we too cannot imagine the kind of human beings society will produce once economics is no longer central to life. But we can see their prefigurative forms in the lives of young people all over the world breaking down 20th-century barriers around sexuality, work, creativity and the self.

The feudal model of agriculture collided, first, with environmental limits and then with a massive external shock – the Black Death. After that, there was a demographic shock: too few workers for the land, which raised their wages and made the old feudal obligation system impossible to enforce. The labour shortage also forced technological innovation. The new technologies that underpinned the rise of merchant capitalism were the ones that stimulated commerce (printing and accountancy), the creation of tradeable wealth (mining, the compass and fast ships) and productivity (mathematics and the scientific method).

Present throughout the whole process was something that looks incidental to the old system – money and credit – but which was actually destined to become the basis of the new system. In feudalism, many laws and customs were actually shaped around ignoring money; credit was, in high feudalism, seen as sinful. So when money and credit burst through the boundaries to create a market system, it felt like a revolution. Then, what gave the new system its energy was the discovery of a virtually unlimited source of free wealth in the Americas.

A combination of all these factors took a set of people who had been marginalised under feudalism – humanists, scientists, craftsmen, lawyers, radical preachers and bohemian playwrights such as Shakespeare – and put them at the head of a social transformation. At key moments, though tentatively at first, the state switched from hindering the change to promoting it.

Today, the thing that is corroding capitalism, barely rationalised by mainstream economics, is information. Most laws concerning information define the right of corporations to hoard it and the right of states to access it, irrespective of the human rights of citizens. The equivalent of the printing press and the scientific method is information technology and its spillover into all other technologies, from genetics to healthcare to agriculture to the movies, where it is quickly reducing costs.

The modern equivalent of the long stagnation of late feudalism is the stalled take-off of the third industrial revolution, where instead of rapidly automating work out of existence, we are reduced to creating what David Graeber calls “bullshit jobs” on low pay. And many economies are stagnating.

The equivalent of the new source of free wealth? It’s not exactly wealth: it’s the “externalities” – the free stuff and wellbeing generated by networked interaction. It is the rise of non-market production, of unownable information, of peer networks and unmanaged enterprises. The internet, French economist Yann Moulier-Boutang says, is “both the ship and the ocean” when it comes to the modern equivalent of the discovery of the new world. In fact, it is the ship, the compass, the ocean and the gold.

The modern day external shocks are clear: energy depletion, climate change, ageing populations and migration. They are altering the dynamics of capitalism and making it unworkable in the long term. They have not yet had the same impact as the Black Death – but as we saw in New Orleans in 2005, it does not take the bubonic plague to destroy social order and functional infrastructure in a financially complex and impoverished society.

Once you understand the transition in this way, the need is not for a supercomputed Five Year Plan – but a project, the aim of which should be to expand those technologies, business models and behaviours that dissolve market forces, socialise knowledge, eradicate the need for work and push the economy towards abundance. I call it Project Zero – because its aims are a zero-carbon-energy system; the production of machines, products and services with zero marginal costs; and the reduction of necessary work time as close as possible to zero.

Most 20th-century leftists believed that they did not have the luxury of a managed transition: it was an article of faith for them that nothing of the coming system could exist within the old one – though the working class always attempted to create an alternative life within and “despite” capitalism. As a result, once the possibility of a Soviet-style transition disappeared, the modern left became preoccupied simply with opposing things: the privatisation of healthcare, anti-union laws, fracking – the list goes on.

If I am right, the logical focus for supporters of postcapitalism is to build alternatives within the system; to use governmental power in a radical and disruptive way; and to direct all actions towards the transition – not the defence of random elements of the old system. We have to learn what’s urgent, and what’s important, and that sometimes they do not coincide.

The power of imagination will become critical. In an information society, no thought, debate or dream is wasted – whether conceived in a tent camp, prison cell or the table football space of a startup company.

As with virtual manufacturing, in the transition to postcapitalism the work done at the design stage can reduce mistakes in the implementation stage. And the design of the postcapitalist world, as with software, can be modular. Different people can work on it in different places, at different speeds, with relative autonomy from each other. If I could summon one thing into existence for free it would be a global institution that modelled capitalism correctly: an open source model of the whole economy; official, grey and black. Every experiment run through it would enrich it; it would be open source and with as many datapoints as the most complex climate models.

The main contradiction today is between the possibility of free, abundant goods and information; and a system of monopolies, banks and governments trying to keep things private, scarce and commercial. Everything comes down to the struggle between the network and the hierarchy: between old forms of society moulded around capitalism and new forms of society that prefigure what comes next.

Is it utopian to believe we’re on the verge of an evolution beyond capitalism? We live in a world in which gay men and women can marry, and in which contraception has, within the space of 50 years, made the average working-class woman freer than the craziest libertine of the Bloomsbury era. Why do we, then, find it so hard to imagine economic freedom?

It is the elites – cut off in their dark-limo world – whose project looks as forlorn as that of the millennial sects of the 19th century. The democracy of riot squads, corrupt politicians, magnate-controlled newspapers and the surveillance state looks as phoney and fragile as East Germany did 30 years ago.

All readings of human history have to allow for the possibility of a negative outcome. It haunts us in the zombie movie, the disaster movie, in the post-apocalytic wasteland of films such as The Road or Elysium. But why should we not form a picture of the ideal life, built out of abundant information, non-hierarchical work and the dissociation of work from wages?

Millions of people are beginning to realise they have been sold a dream at odds with what reality can deliver. Their response is anger – and retreat towards national forms of capitalism that can only tear the world apart. Watching these emerge, from the pro-Grexit left factions in Syriza to the Front National and the isolationism of the American right has been like watching the nightmares we had during the Lehman Brothers crisis come true.

We need more than just a bunch of utopian dreams and small-scale horizontal projects. We need a project based on reason, evidence and testable designs, that cuts with the grain of history and is sustainable by the planet. And we need to get on with it.

  • Postcapitalism is published by Allen Lane on 30 July. Paul Mason will be asking whether capitalism has had its day at a sold-out Guardian Live event on 22 July. Let us know your thoughts beforehand at theguardian.com/membership.

Postcapitalism by Paul Mason (Allen Lane, £16.99). To order a copy for £12.99, go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.

 

Source : The Guardian.

The War on Conspiracy Realists Continues

British government under Cameron’s watch has been an active and willing partner in the Machiavellian strategy of divide and rule in the Middle East spearheaded by the US and Israel.

CIA-MI6-Libya

By Brandon Martinez

Do you believe that governments occasionally conspire to undermine the public good? Do you believe that governments manipulate people through fear to achieve nefarious ends such as war and intervention abroad? Do you believe that ‘elected’ officials serve rich and powerful special interests rather than the majority population?

If you answered yes to any of the above, and you are a British citizen, then you could be the target of a new ‘counter-extremism’ initiative spearheaded by that country’s perverse Prime Minister David Cameron. As part of his Orwellian ‘counter-extremism’ effort, Cameron has instituted a number of truly despotic measures intent on stifling free speech and extirpating ‘heretical’ viewpoints about false flag terrorism and the undue influence of Zionists on Western foreign policy.

agent-cameron-VT

While self-evident to most clear thinking people, the notion that the West is deliberately targeting Muslims and their countries in accordance with an intricately fashioned master plan of divide and conquer will now be a prohibited opinion that could put the British police state on your trail.

“Muslim conspiracy theorists,” Cameron proclaimed in a recent speech outlining his ‘five year strategy’ to combat extremism, who believe that “Jews exercise a ‘malevolent’ power, that [the] Israeli intelligence agency Mossad inspired 9/11 and that the UK allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash” are to be singled out for suppression.[1]

Cameron’s 1984-style designs will give parents the ability to revoke their children’s passports if suspected of holding ‘extremist’ beliefs. Police will be given new surveillance powers as well as the authority to vet what certain ‘extremists’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ post on social media. Additionally, Ofcom – Britain’s communications regulatory body – will also be empowered to “crack down on television channels broadcasting extremist messages.” ‘Extremist messages’ appears to be a thinly disguised euphemism for anything not consonant withWestern and Zionist propaganda.

Cameron’s aggressive moves against free expression were not unforeseen. During a speech at the United Nations last September, the British leader decried “conspiracy theorists” as “non-violent extremists” who should be confronted with the “full force” of the British state.[2] The theory that Israel and Western intelligence agencies were involved in the fabrication of 9/11 and other false flag attacks was specifically mentioned by Cameron as one of those “dangerous ideas” that needs to be eliminated from public discourse. Inferences about Jewish-Zionist manipulation of Western foreign policy towards the Islamic worldshould also be combatted, said Cameron in the speech.

Distracting the Public from Western Sponsorship of ISIS

All of this disingenuous bluster rings hollow when one considers the fact that Western governments and their allies have supported, and many would argue created, ISIS to serve their duplicitous agenda in the Middle East.

The CIA, MI6 and Mossad, in conjunction with the oppressive autocrats of Saudi Arabia, have long worked with Wahhabi-Salafist extremist elements in the Middle East and North Africa to counter other more formidable, non-sectarian adversaries in the region such as Libya’s Gaddafi, Syria’s Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran. A re-run of the CIA’s “Operation Cyclone” which empowered Mujahideen forces in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s is currently unfolding in the Middle East under the auspices of many of the same players.

Award winning reporter Seymour Hersh revealed in a 2007 report titled “The Redirection” that the Bush administration launched a joint covert operation with Israel and Saudi Arabia to augment “Sunni extremist groups” and other fanatics to weaken the influence of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.[3]

Obama picked up where Bush left off, flooding Syrian and Libyan insurgent groups with untold largesse and arms, using the corrupted Arab Gulf kingdoms as conduits for weapons transfers for the sake of plausible deniability.

Hersh’s sources close to the US government told him that the Saudis assured Washington that they exercised control over the extremist Wahhabi and Salafist groups, and would steer their fanaticism towards the Shiites. “It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s then-National Security Advisor, purportedlytold his American counterparts in the Bush administration. “We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.”[4]

Part of the arrangement, Hersh explained, was a guarantee from the Saudis that Israel’s security interests would be safeguarded, which clarifies why ISIS and its affiliates have not attacked Israel despite the country’s close proximity to the terrorists’ strongholds in Syria and Iraq. “Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran,” Hersh noted was the first point in a series of “informal understandings about their new strategic direction” to combat Shiite influence led by Iran.[5]

ISIS themselves have mostly eschewed hostility towards Israel, posting an official statement on social media in July 2014 saying that they’re more interested in fighting “Muslim infidels” than the Zionist state.[6]

Israeli officials have expressed similar sentiments, with Israel’s former envoy to the US, Michael Oren, stating in a September 2013 interview that Tel Aviv “prefers” ISIS and al-Qaeda over the “bad guys backed by Iran,” namely Syria’s Assad and Hezbollah.

Propagandist Israel’s former envoy to the US, Michael Oren. See: Video clip

Oren forthrightly conceded that Israel is committed to defeating through terrorist violence “the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut” with Assad in Syria functioning as the“keystone in that arc.”“That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post.“With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.”[7]

The unholy alliance between Israel and the Salafist jihadists came right out in the open inJune 2015 when ISIS released a video threatening to topple Hamas in Gaza[8], promising to bring bloodshed and ruin to the Strip. Salafist elements tied to ISIS have in fact attacked Hamas havens in Gaza on multiple occasions over the past few months, showcasing their utility as pawns of Israel.[9][10][11]

There are also well-documented direct connections between ISIS-linked militants and Israel. A 2014 report compiled by United Nations observers stationed in the area revealed that the Israeli military has provided anti-Assad militants with sanctuary on the Israeli side of the Golan region, ostensibly treating wounded fighters in Israeli field hospitals and even giving them caches of weapons and other supplies.[12]

On top of material support for the terrorists that have besieged Syria, Israel has aided their onslaught through numerous air strikes against Syrian military targets since the turmoil began in earnest in 2012, effectively attempting to tip the tide of the war in theTakfiris’ favour.[13]In January 2015 Israel conducted an airstrike that wiped out a brigade of Hezbollah fighters on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, once again highlighting the Takfiri-Tel Aviv nexus.[14]

In light of such treachery against Arabs and Muslims trying to liberate themselves from oppression and domination, ISIS’s primary function as anacquiescent tool of US-Israeli imperialism cannot be understated.

Perfidious Albion

As Prime Minister Cameron feigns outrage and opposition to Islamic extremism, the British government under his watch has been an active and willing partner in the Machiavellian strategy of divide and rule in the Middle East spearheaded by the US and Israel.

The 2015 trial of Swedish national Bherlin Gildo – who fought for a militant group in Syria –confirmed London’s role in backing Takfiri insurgents battling Damascus. In his defense, Gildo’s lawyers introduced evidence that British intelligence agencies “were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he was, and were party to a secret operation providing weapons and non-lethal help to the groups, including the Free Syrian Army.”Confronted with this contradiction, the British court dropped all charges against Gildo, fearing more embarrassing evidence showcasing British complicity with Syrian rebels could surface during proceedings.[15]

In 2013, Roland Dumas, France’s former foreign minister, told a French television station that during a visit to Britain two years before the Syrian crisis began in 2011, British officials informed him of a secret plan to spark a rebel invasion of Syria.[16] “Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria,” Dumas said, pinpointing the origins of the scheme to Israel which, according to Dumas,sought to oust a neighbouring regime hostile to its imperial ambitions in the Levant. Dumas then recounted a conversation he had with an unnamed Israeli prime minister who allegedly told him that the countries in the Middle East that get in the way of Zionist objectives for the region would be swiftly eliminated.

In an April 2014 report entitled “The Red Line and the Rat Line,”[17] journalist Seymour Hersh uncovered British involvement with a CIA-led covert operation in Benghazi, Libya, wherein the Agency was secretly channeling the looted weapons stockpiles of the fallen Gaddafi regime to Western-backed Syrian rebels through a “rat line.”Commenting on Hersh’s report, The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn described the CIA/MI6 “rat line” project in Benghazi as a “supply chain for the Syrian rebels overseen by the US in covert cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”[18] He summarized Hersh’s findings in more detail as follows:

“The information about this comes from a highly classified and hitherto secret annex to the report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee on the attack by Libyan militiamen on the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. The annex deals with an operation in which the CIA, in cooperation with MI6, arranged the dispatch of arms from Mu’ammer Gaddafi’s arsenals to Turkey and then across the 500-mile long Turkish southern frontier with Syria. The annex refers to an agreement reached in early 2012 between Obama and Erdogan with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar supplying funding. Front companies, purporting to be Australian, were set up, employing former US soldiers who were in charge of obtaining and transporting the weapons. According to Hersh, the MI6 presence enabled the CIA to avoid reporting the operation to Congress, as required by law, since it could be presented as a liaison mission.”

In addition to conniving with the US and Israel to arm Takfiri rebel gangs that eventually overran Gaddafi and continue to menace Syria, the British government has also covertly collaborated with Wahhabi extremists in its own country who serve as cartoonish fodder for anti-Muslim war on terror propaganda. In a May 2013 report for the Asia Times, security scholar Nafeez Ahmed disclosed that the British-based Salafist group Al Muhajiroun has been secretly supported by the British intelligence services since its inception in 1996.[19]That group has spawned nearly all of the supposed Islamic extremists implicated in (and perhaps framed for) various attacks in Britain, including the alleged ‘shoe bomber’ Richard Reid, the alleged Woolwich killers of British soldierLee Rigby, the alleged 7/7 bombers and many others accused or convicted of terrorism-related offenses. Ahmed contends that various dubious personalities acting as leaders of Al Muhajiroun over the years – including Abu Hamza, Omar Bakri, Haroon Rashid Aswat and Anjem Choudary –have been clandestine agents of British intelligence fronting as ‘Islamic radicals.’

Anjem Choudary is a British Muslim social and political activist. WIKI

Despite his vocal support for al-Qaeda and ISIS, outwardly championing their grotesque bloodletting in Syria and Iraq today, Anjem Choudary (the current leader of Al Muhajiroun which has re-branded and re-named itself several times) is left untouched by British authorities and appears frequently on mainstream media. How can this impunity be explained if Choudary and his organization are operating independently without state protection? “Almost every major terrorist attack and plot in the UK has in some way been linked to Choudary’s extremist network,” noted Ahmed in the aforesaid piece, yet the radical preacher and his organization “[continues] to function with impunity in new incarnations.”

“[T]hrough Al Muhajiroun,” Ahmed explained, “MI5 is spawning many of the plots it lays claim to successfully foiling – as the FBI is also doing.” The MI5-controlled front group essentially serves a dual purpose:1) itfunctionsas a repository forMuslim patsies used in US-Israeli-British false flag operations, and 2)it acts as a recruiting hub for Wahhabi-Salafist mercenaries wielded as cannon fodder in various battle zones where Western/Zionist geopolitical and economic interests are at stake.

Unraveling the Web of Intrigue

Those not learned in the dark arts of black operations will likely be confused by all of this. “The West is fighting a war on Islamic extremism,” the indoctrinated lemmings will proclaim with confidence, completely unaware that they are being played for fools by professional spooks trained to employ artifices against the masses.

The surface rhetoric that politicians employ is merely a pack of daft lies intended to divert attention from the real agendas that drive policy. The public is fed a steady diet of cover stories and feel-good rationales – fanciful tales of good vs. evil ­– to pacify adverse reactions to and deflect unwanted attention from nefarious plots designed to benefit rich people and their interests.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and British Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron himself inadvertently identified whom some of these wealthy string-pullers are: Jewish Zionists committed to overturning every regime in the Middle East that is not yet subordinated to Tel Aviv. The other half of that equation includes an assortment of profiteering Anglos, Americans, Europeans, Arabs, Russians, Chinese and other money-mad opportunists.The Cameron’s, Obama’s, Harper’s, Hollande’s and Merkel’s of the world are mere screens or dummies for the real power behind the throne: the unscrupulous financiers, oligarchs and speculators who dominate Wall Street and the City of London, and to a lesser extent Shanghai and Moscow.

The Zionists, however, seem to be the most organized, the most aggressive and the most committed to living out their grandiose messianic dreams. Whether that vision entails a “New Middle East” in which “Greater Israel” rules the roost or a global government headquartered in Jerusalem remains to be seen. Either way it spells disaster for most of the world’s peoples.

Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez

Sources

[1] “Parents may cancel children’s passports in war on IS,” The Week, July 20, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150724070333/http://www.theweek.co.uk/64449/cameron-attacks-ludicrous-extremist-conspiracy-theories

[2]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g-HqRP-ANk

[3] Seymour Hersh, “The Redirection,” The New Yorker, March 5, 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20150318015442/http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Elad Benari, “ISIS: Fighting ‘Infidels’ Takes Precedence Over Fighting Israel,” Israel National News, July 8, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140831070443/http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/182632

[7] Herb Keinon, “’Israel wanted Assad gone since start of Syria civil war’,” Jerusalem Post, Sept. 17, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20150112102133/http://www.jpost.com/Syria-Crisis/Oren-Jerusalem-has-wanted-Assad-ousted-since-the-outbreak-of-the-Syrian-civil-war-326328

[8]“ISIS Threatens To Topple Hamas In Gaza,” Reuters, July 1, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/isis-hamas-gaza_n_7704360.html

[9]“Isis blamed for Gaza City bomb attacks,” The Independent, July 20, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-blamed-for-gaza-city-bomb-attacks-10400747.html

[10]“ISIS Allies Target Hamas and Energize Gaza Extremists,” New York Times, June 30, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150713130805/http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/01/world/isis-allies-target-hamas-and-energize-gaza-extremists.html?_r=0

[11]“ISIS supporters claim attack on Hamas base in Gaza Strip,” Russia Today, May 8, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150713195921/http://rt.com/news/256941-isis-attack-gaza-hamas/

[12]“UN details Israel helping Syrian rebels at Golan Heights,” Russia Today, Dec. 8, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150316140841/http://rt.com/news/212319-israel-helps-syrian-militants/

[13]“Head of Syrian army after alleged airstrikes: Israel working with ISIS and al-Qaida,” Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150316154301/http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Head-of-Syrian-army-after-alleged-airstrikes-Israel-working-with-ISIS-and-al-Qaida-383907

[14]“’Israel strike’ kills Hezbollah men in Syria’s Golan Heights,” BBC News, Jan. 18, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150316090443/http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30873402

[15]“Terror trial collapses after fears of deep embarrassment to security services,” The Guardian, June 1, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150610080819/http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/01/trial-swedish-man-accused-terrorism-offences-collapse-bherlin-gildo

[16]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeyRwFHR8WY

[17]Seymour Hersh, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” London Review of Books, April 17, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150315050157/http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

[18]Patrick Cockburn, “MI6, the CIA and Turkey’s rogue game in Syria,” The Independent, April 13, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150110040831/http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/mi6-the-cia-and-turkeys-rogue-game-in-syria-9256551.html

[19]Nafeez Ahmed, “UK pays price for MI5 courting terror,” Asia Times, May 30, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20130801060233/http://atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-300513.html

 

Source : Veterans News Now.

NYSE hacked? Anonymous warned of trouble on Wall Street hours before New York Stock Exchange computers taken offline

Anonymous may have been involved in the problems that have crippled the New York Stock Exchange, according to a tweet sent by the group.

“Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street….” one of the group’s most popular accounts tweeted. “We can only hope.”

Authorities have so far denied that there is any sign of a hack. But YourAnonNews sent the tweet around midnight local time, before the problems were known and when the exchange was closed.

While many accounts associate themselves with the group, a few have formed that send out detailed information about the attacks and seem to have inside information on the group’s workings.

YourAnonNews is one of those pages, having been central in previous operations by the group. It describes itself as a “Signal boost for Anonymous operations, resistance movements, & journalism,” and has nearly 1.5-million followers.

The account hasn’t sent out any tweets since just before the NYSE’s problems began.

The Department of Homeland Security has said that there were “no signs of malicious activity at this time” and blamed the outage on technical problems.

 

Source : The Independent.

Michel Bauwens: Here’s What a Commons-Based Economy Looks Like

So what might a commons-based economy actually look like in its broadest dimensions, and how might we achieve it?  My colleague Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation offers a remarkably thoughtful and detailed explanation in a just-released YouTube talk, produced by FutureSharp. It’s not really a video – just Michel’s voiceover and a simple schematic chart – but the 20-minute talk does a great job of sketching the big-picture strategies that must be pursued if we are going to invent a new type of post-capitalist economy.

Michel focuses on the importance of three specific realms that are crucial to this new vision – ecological sustainability, open knowledge and social solidarity. Each is critical as a field of action for overturning the existing logic of market capitalism. 

Fortunately, there are many promising developments in each of these realms. Many parts of the environmental movement seek to go beyond the standard “market-oriented solutions.” There is a growing body of open source-inspired projects for software code, information, design and physical production, which is now spawning new types of global sharing of information with distributed local production. And there are many advocates and initiatives for social justice and fairness in the economy, such as cooperatives and the solidarity economy movement.

The problem, says Bauwens, is that these movements do not generally connect with each other or coordinate internationally. He therefore sees the need for “meta-economic networks” to bridge these fields of action. So, for example, we need “open cooperativism” enterprises to bridge open knowledge systems and cooperatives, so that open network (or licensed) systems are not simply dominated by large corporations in the way that Google, Uber and Airbnb have done. We also need to develop an “open source circular economy” to bridge the worlds of eco-sustainability and open knowledge.  We will never address major environmental problems if the technological and product solutions are based on proprietary knowledge; open circulation of knowledge can change that.

Bauwens also sketches a compelling scenario by which commons-based projects can begin to develop a new politics through such vehicles as a new “ethical entrepreneurial coalition,” a “Chamber of Commons,” and “Commons Assemblies.”  He calls for new types of cooperative finance that can support sustainable production (based on the idea of sufficiency shared by all) as well as the mutualizing of knowledge (vs. its privatization via patents and copyright) and social solidarity (to ensure just and fair distribution of any surplus value created).

While the overall vision may strike skeptics as utopian, the truth is that many of the ideas in Bauwen’s scenario are already underway, if not well-developed.  What’s mostly missing is a wider orientation and commitment to a coherent, shared vision such as this one.  There is also a need for new bridges of social practice and coordination among the three key fields of action.

Check out Bauwens’ short talk here. You can also check out several short short videos introducing the basic concepts of peer production here.

Anyone who is especially interested in this topic should know that the P2P Foundation plans to host a three-day summer school on “The Art of Commoning,” from August 25-27, in Cloughjordan ecovillage in Tipperary, Ireland.  Details here and here.

 

Source : Bollier.org

Disciplined Minds – Complete Audiobook

A special treat for all you Kickass-Cookies readers. The complete audio version of the book ‘Disciplined Minds’ by Jeff Schmidt. This is the current ‘field manual’ for being a revolutionary figure in your workplace.

 

Enjoy!

 

http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/archive/audiobooks/Disciplined%20Minds/Disciplined%20Minds.jpg

 

Disciplined Minds
A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-battering System That Shapes Their Lives, by Jeff Schmidt (2000)

Read by Lyn Gerry

Complete Audiobook (360 MB 13 Hour MP3 file)

Audiobook Chapters plus playlist (316MB ZIP file)

Browse the chapters for download

 

By Chapter

      01 Timid Professiona..> 19-Sep-2010 20:17   30M  
      02 Ideological Disci..> 19-Sep-2010 20:18   26M  
      03 Insiders, Guests ..> 19-Sep-2010 20:19   15M  
      04 Assignable Curios..> 19-Sep-2010 20:19   13M  
      06 The Division of L..> 19-Sep-2010 20:20   12M  
      07 Opportunity.mp3      19-Sep-2010 20:20   35M  
      08 Narrowing The Pol..> 19-Sep-2010 20:21   44M  
      09 The Primacy of At..> 19-Sep-2010 20:22   21M  
      10 Examining the Exa..> 19-Sep-2010 20:23   30M  
      11 Gratuitous Bias.mp3  19-Sep-2010 20:24   17M  
      12 'Neutral' Voices.mp3 19-Sep-2010 20:24   15M  
      13 Subordination.mp3    19-Sep-2010 20:25   16M  
      14 Resisting Indoctr..> 19-Sep-2010 21:27   36M  
      15 How to Survive Pr..> 19-Sep-2010 20:27   29M  
      16 Now or Never.mp3     19-Sep-2010 20:28   25M  
      
Note: Chapter 5 is unsuitable for reading out due to multiplicity of formulae.

 

This book explains the social agenda of the process of professional training. Disciplined Minds shows how it is used to promote orthodoxy by detecting and weeding out dissident candidates and by exerting pressure on the rest to obey their instructors and abandon personal agendas such as social reform — so that they, in turn, can perpetuate the system by squeezing the life out of the next generation.

Shortly after writing this book, Jeff Schmidt was fired from his position as Editor of the academic journal, Physics Today. After many years of legal battling, he was judged to have been dismissed without good cause, awarded a considerable sum of damages and reappointed, whereupon he swiftly resigned.

 

Reviews

 

John Pilger begins his review entitled ‘Brainwashing the polite and professional way‘ by referring to this book as “one of the most original and provocative books of the past decade”. The book’s theme, writes Pilger “is postmodern America but also applies to Britain, where the corporate state has bred a new class of Americanised manager to run the private and public sectors: the banks, the main parties, corporations, important committees, the BBC”. He proceeds to cite a string of examples which underscore how relevant Schmidt’s analysis is to understanding the “corporate coup d’état” that has swept through Britain, and attempted to destroy alternative visions of how we might live.

The book has generally been favorably reviewed, with one reviewer calling it “bold and refreshing” and noting that “Schmidt’s voice has the authenticity of experience and concern, and thus has a much more subversive quality” than the traditional sociological approaches.

 

Source : UnwelcomeGuests

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