Britain Has Never Faced Up to the Shame of Empire

Nearly half of Brits think we should be proud of our colonial heritage.

Ministers have had a tough time working out who Britain’s new trading partners will be after it leaves the EU. At one point it was reported that the British government was hoping to reach out to countries that were once part of the British Empire. The idea is that, now the blood has dried and the dust from the cannonballs settled, the nations of the Commonwealth will be only too happy to jump into a vigorous new age of trade with their former colonial master. Some civil servants doubted this, dubbing the government’s plans “Empire 2.0”.

These imperial crimes – and many more – are either not known or glossed over, lost in the tide of colonial nostalgia and the fog of ignorance.

On the same morning these plans for a colonialism reboot were announced, I spoke to Shashi Tharoor, an Indian MP and the author of a new book, Inglorious Empire. The book details the enormous economic damage done to India by the Empire, takes apart the hypocritical notion that some of what the British did in India was for “the good of India”, and calls for an end to the monumental ignorance surrounding the subject.

Tharoor laughs when I ask him about Empire 2.0: “Well, Empire 1.0 was a bad idea, to put it mildly. Why would you want a second version?” And yet, to listen to several leading members of the British government and to the fantasies of Britain’s great importance conjured up during the Brexit campaign, a second version of the empire is exactly what a lot of people want.

It’s understandable, in a way. Once upon a time, the sun never set on the lands Britain controlled. Those nostalgic for empire still dream of having the union flag ironed by a Nigerian servant, or getting an Indian boy to make them a nice, cool G&T. Read More 

The One Reason America Can’t Police the World Anymore: Washington Is Broke

Even if America once felt wealthy enough to squander its financial resources in such pursuits, those days have ended. Washington is effectively bankrupt, with massive unfunded liabilities. Its fiscal future will only worsen as Baby Boomers continue to retire.

The annual budget battle is at its peak and Washington continues to flaunt its remarkable dysfunction. This fiscal irresponsibility affects more than domestic programs. In the coming years, it is likely to drive U.S. foreign and military policy.

Terrorists abound but mostly result from maladroit U.S. policies that create enemies and make other people’s conflicts America’s own.

The U.S. government has no more important duty than defending the nation. However, providing for the “common defense,” as the Constitution puts it, is remarkably easy. America has vast oceans east and west and peaceful neighbors to the north and south.

Today only Russia, with an arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles, could launch a serious attack on America. However, Moscow has no incentive to do so, since the result would be devastating retaliation. China’s military is expanding but directed at preventing Washington from dominating the People’s Republic of China at home and in its neighborhood.

If the Left Was Right, Why is the Right Winning?

How Narcissism Left the Left Irrelevant and Impotent

Once upon a time, the left was concerned with with transforming the life of the average person, for the better, often radically so. It was devoted to really, significantly, genuinely changing the world, society, it’s structures and institutions — the material reality of human lives, in other words. Where did that left go? The old left built a new world — no, really. In Europe and Britain and Canada, it gave everyone, for the first time in human history, healthcare, childcare, retirement, incomes, and so on.

The old left built a new world — no, really. In Europe and Britain and Canada, it gave everyone, for the first time in human history, healthcare, childcare, retirement, incomes, and so on. 



Why I Am Afraid Of Global Cooling

In the run-up to the publication of his next book, Charles Eisenstien states; I’ve been monitoring sources across the spectrum of opinion on climate change. The other day I happened upon this piece, which describes recent measurements of ice mass and ice extent gains in the Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland, along with cool surface and tropospheric temperatures. My heart sank. This is what I’ve been worried about for several years now as I’ve seen cracks spread in the global warming consensus.

Why on earth would I be concerned about global cooling? Given the dangers of global warming, one would think that signs of a cooling trend would be welcome news. Phew! Ecological catastrophe averted! Now we can go back to business as normal.

This is precisely my concern. Business as normal is ruining the planet – regardless of whether the climate is warming or cooling.

The Story of Separation says: What happens to nature need not affect ourselves. I subscribe to a story which says the contrary: that self and other, human and nature, inner and outer, are not really separate. That everything that happens to the world happens, in some manner, to ourselves as well. That with every extinction, something dies in us. That with loss of biodiversity comes cultural and spiritual poverty. That environmental pollution inevitably coincides with the spread of moral, mental, physical, social, and spiritual poisons.


How Capitalism is Costing Us Civilization

The Reason We’re Repeating History, Instead of Forging a Better Future

By Umair Haque

There’s a theme that keeps coming up in discussion I have lately, with people from around the world. “If the rich and powerful countries of the world are failing…who should we aspire to be?” It’s a good question. It cuts to the heart of now. This age, where all the old ways, systems, ideas seem to be failing catastrophically, brings with it a crisis of selfhood (which is why identity politics have flared up, too.) We don’t know who we are anymore — or who we should be.

That’s not so strange. Capitalism, which ruled the world, and is now collapsing, tells us we’re nobody, that we have no inherent value, worth, our purpose whatsoever. The price of modern capitalism was any deeper self than what you earned, acquired, exploited. And yet we can see that happily trading away our souls and selves for riches that never came wasn’t exactly the world’s best idea. So on the one hand, we have a new kind of freedom, but that leaves us in a bind. Who are we? Are we just failed proles? Are we budding social democrats? Are we the same old brutal colonizers and slavers we’re descended from? Wait — who should we want to be? Can you feel that pained cry rising up around the world? I can.

The beginning of the end of capitalism?

Does the gilet jaune movement signal the start of a resistance movement against capitalism?


Respect my existence or expect my resistance


 [Martin Luther] King correctly judged, however, that real and lasting equality required the reform of capitalism – a change in the system itself.

Isaac Asimov Came up with the Three Laws of Robotics in his 1942 short story “Runaround”, as a safety feature for the terrifying idea of autonomous robots, or today’s ideas of autonomous drones and weapons platforms. However, there are many of us that fear capitalism as much as we fear intelligent drones.

I have therefore, adapted Asimov Laws of Robotics as the Four Laws of Capitalism;

1. A corporation may not injure human beings physically, mentally or economically or, through inaction, allow human beings to come to harm.

2. A corporation may obey orders given it by human beings except where  such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A corporation may protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

4. A corporation is not and can never be deemed to have personhood.

The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force. Michael Parenti – Against Empire

Capitalism was once viewed by workers as a system to be fought. But capitalism is no longer challenged. Capitalist bosses, men such as Warren Buffett, George Soros, and Donald Trump, are treated as sages, celebrities and populists. The liberal class functions as their cheerleaders. Such misguided loyalty, illustrated by environmental groups that refuse to excoriate the Obama White House over the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, ignores the fact that the divide in America is not between Republican and Democrat. It is a divide between the corporate state and the citizen. It is a divide between capitalists and workers. And, for all the failings of the communists, they got it. Chris Hedges – Journalist

Americans have been taught — indoctrinated, perhaps — to think of the economy as capitalism. Quite literally: if capital returns are high — which is what all the above really measure — then Americans suppose the economy is booming. But capital returns — profits, dividends, stock markets, GDP (or their opposites, deficits) — are not the economy at all. They are just the success of capitalists, at increasing their capital. Hence, the average American — who isn’t a capitalist, since the true capitalists, Bezos, Brin, Buffett, are tiny in number — is cheering on capitalists increasing their capital, but not his own income, savings, living standards, health, longevity, or happiness. Victory for capitalism, comrades!!

 Decapitalism by Yellow Vest – Albert Bates

A funny thing happened on the way to the UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland. They started rioting in Paris. At first the two events seemed unrelated. The Yellow Vest protests (Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes) were started by a petition and a Facebook event posting calling to protest a new fuel tax in Paris because, the protesters claimed, it was really just paying for tax cuts for the 1%. The protests snowballed into riots when President Emmanuel Macron said the goal of the administration’s economic reform program is to increase France’s competitiveness in the global economy, and that the fuel tax is intended to discourage fossil-fuel use. He later agreed to roll back the tax, but it was too late. The vests were out of the trunks.

Katowice is host, in the heart of Polish coal country, to the UN’s annual effort to fly 20,000 people to some city to make it look like something is being done about climate change. Eighty percent of the heat and power for the Polish conference was supplied by coal.

As the Yellow Vest riots grew larger and pulled in more of the French and Belgian population, delegates in Katowice started wondering if maybe events happening in the two places were connected. What if this is what it looks like when a government tries to curb greenhouse emissions by raising the price of fossil fuels?

15-year-old savant and minor star of this year’s COP Greta Thunberg explained in a press conference that raising fuel prices is a dumb move, if fighting climate change is what French President Macron was doing it for, because it hurts those on the bottom rungs of the ladder more, and people with money would be able to buy what they needed at any price. Read More