Blueprint For A Progressive US: A Dialogue With Noam Chomsky And Robert Pollin

1902, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA — Child labor strike in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photograph 1902 — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

This is the first part of a wide-ranging interview with world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin. The next installment will appear on October 24.

Not long after taking office, it became evident that Donald Trump had engaged in fraudulent populism during his campaign. His promise to “Make America Great Again” has been exposed as a lie, as the Trump administration has been busy extending US military power, exacerbating inequality, reverting to the old era of unregulated banking practices, pushing for more fuel fossil drilling and stripping environmental regulations.

In the Trump era, what would an authentically populist, progressive political agenda look like? What would a progressive US look like with regard to jobs, the environment, finance capital and the standard of living? What would it look like in terms of education and health care, justice and equality? In an exclusive interview with C.J. Polychroniou for Truthout, world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin tackle these issues. Noam Chomsky is professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT and laureate professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Arizona. Robert Pollin is distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Their views lay the foundation for a visionary — yet eminently realistic — progressive social and economic order for the United States.

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, the rise of Donald Trump has unleashed a rather unprecedented wave of social resistance in the US. Do you think the conditions are ripe for a mass progressive/socialist movement in this country that can begin to reframe the major policy issues affecting the majority of people, and perhaps even challenge and potentially change the fundamental structures of the US political economy?

Noam Chomsky: There is indeed a wave of social resistance, more significant than in the recent past — though I’d hesitate about calling it “unprecedented.” Nevertheless, we cannot overlook the fact that in the domain of policy formation and implementation, the right is ascendant, in fact some of its harshest and most destructive elements [are rising].

Nor should we overlook a crucial fact that has been evident for some time: The figure in charge, though often ridiculed, has succeeded brilliantly in his goal of occupying media and public attention while mobilizing a very loyal popular base — and one with sinister features, sometimes smacking of totalitarianism, including adoration of The Leader. That goes beyond the core of loyal Trump supporters…. [A majority of Republicans] favor shutting down or at least fining the press if it presents “biased” or “false news” — terms that mean information rejected by The Leader, so we learn from polls showing that by overwhelming margins, Republicans not only believe Trump far more than the hated mainstream media, but even far more than their own media organ, the extreme right Fox news. And half of Republicans would back postponing the 2020 election if Trump calls for it.

It is also worth bearing in mind that among a significant part of his worshipful base, Trump is regarded as a “wavering moderate” who cannot be fully trusted to hold fast to the true faith of fierce White Christian identity politics. A recent illustration is the primary victory of the incredible Roy Moore in Alabama despite Trump’s opposition. (“Mr. President, I love you but you are wrong,” as the banners read). The victory of this Bible-thumping fanatic has led senior party strategists to [conclude] “that the conservative base now loathes its leaders in Washington the same way it detested President Barack Obama” — referring to leaders who are already so far right that one needs a powerful telescope to locate them at the outer fringe of any tolerable political spectrum.

The potential power of the ultra-right attack on the far right is [illustrated] by the fact that Moore spent about $200,000, in contrast to his Trump-backed opponent, the merely far-right Luther Strange, who received more than $10 million from the national GOP and other far-right sources. The ultra-right is spearheaded by Steve Bannon, one of the most dangerous figures in the shiver-inducing array that has come to the fore in recent years. It has the huge financial support of the Mercer family, along with ample media outreach through Breitbart news, talk radio and the rest of the toxic bubble in which loyalists trap themselves.

In the most powerful state in history, the current Republican Party is ominous enough. What is not far on the horizon is even more menacing.
Read more

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Hurricanes Make The Need To Dismantle Colonial Economics In The Caribbean Increasingly Urgent

Sint-Maarten, 6 september 2017
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hurricanes have always been a part of life in the Caribbean. The destruction they cause and inhabitants’ subsequent recovery have been observed throughout human history. What is alarming now, however, is the apparent increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes due to climate change.

For the Caribbean territories, the climate change challenges are even more severe than they are for most other places around the globe because they have an impact on the entire coastal and terrestrial ecosystems. The already poor state of the Caribbean marine environment restricts the ability of habitats such as seagrass meadows and coral reefs to recover from the effects of severe storms. Poor water quality and over-fishing, for example, promotes the overgrowth of algae, preventing recovery. With repeated hurricanes occurring over time periods that are insufficient for recovery to occur, this will only get worse.

Moreover, climate change can be expected to have negative effects on the tourism and hospitality industry. According to the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change Project, virtually all the Caribbean territories are highly vulnerable to climate changes and can expect to experience a “linear increases in the number of storms and hurricanes … loss of land from rising sea level … increased susceptibility of coastal infrastructure … negative impacts in the tourism sector.”

In this context, the severity of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which caused catastrophic destruction, should be a wake-up call, even though the devastation was not equally distributed across the Caribbean, and it will be far more challenging for some countries than others to recover from their tragic situations.

Caribbean policy makers need a fundamental shift in how marine environments are protected to enable long-term sustainability for the food and income they provide. Many locations in the Caribbean — for example, Puerto Rico — have ineffective marine protection rules and so destructive practices continue unchecked, meaning that when a disaster does occur, the environment is unable to recover. Besides, previous hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons across the globe have shown the severe negative effects storms can have on the marine environment. Hurricane Irma — one of the strongest on record to hit the region — recently scoured the islands leaving catastrophic damage in its wake, even in Cuba, “a country that prides itself on disaster preparedness.”

And just as the Caribbean began to piece together the devastating and potentially long-term impacts of Irma, Hurricane Maria has now left another path of destruction. Puerto Rico, the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos, and many other Caribbean islands have suffered what have been described as “apocalyptic conditions.” More than 30 cruise ports were damaged by these two hurricanes.

Some of the most severely affected areas of the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean — Florida, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — all house extensive seagrass meadows. These shallow water marine habitats support valuable lobster fisheries, as well as shrimp, conch and finfish fisheries. Seagrass also stabilizes sediments and protects the white sand beaches that attract so many tourists to the region. The devastation of coastal environments, particularly seagrass meadows, can also result in long-term losses of the benefits that humans receive from them, such as fisheries support or coastal protection. Damage to these ecosystem services consequently impacts human well-being, because people can no longer rely on them for their livelihood and food supply. Read more

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Robert Musil: Essays ~ Kapitel 1. Fragen der Zeit Politik in Österreich (1913)

Robert Musil 1880 – 1942

Man denkt bei diesem Begriff zu einseitig an die Schwierigkeit der Nationalitätenfrage. Denn die – obgleich eine Schwierigkeit – ist längst eine Bequemlichkeit geworden; über einen ernsten Anlaß hinaus ein uneingestandenes Ausweichen und Verweilen. Wie bei hohlen Liebenden, die immer neue Trennungen und Widerstände überwinden, weil sie schon ahnen, wie wenig sie am ersten Tag der Hindernislosigkeit noch miteinander anzufangen wissen werden. Wie Leidenschaft überhaupt nur ein Vorwand ist, keine Gefühle zu haben. Wenn die große Abrechnung beendet sein wird, wird es ein Glück sein, daß die schlechten Manieren, die man inzwischen angenommen hat, auch aus nichtigen Anlässen noch den Verwahrlosungsschein des Idealismus zu schaffen wissen werden. Aber dahinter wird die Leere inneren Lebens schwanken, wie die Öde im Magen des Alkoholikers.

Es gibt wenig Länder, die so leidenschaftlich Politik treiben, und keines, wo Politik bei ähnlicher Leidenschaft so gleichgültig bleibt wie in diesem; Leidenschaft als Vorwand. Nach außen ist alles so sehr parlamentarisch, daß mehr Leute totgeschossen werden als anderswo, und es stehen alle Räder alle Augenblicke wegen der nächstbesten Parteidrehung still; hohe Beamte, Generäle, Ratgeber der Krone dürfen beschimpft werden, man kann Vorgesetzten mit einer Drohung vor dem Parlament bange machen, verdient Geld mit Hilfe der Politik, ohrfeigt einander. Aber alles ist halb wie eine Konvention, ein Spiel nach Übereinkommen. Die Furcht, die man erregt, die Macht, die man ausübt, die Ehren, die man auf sich sammelt, bleiben – trotzdem sie in allen wirklichen und gemeinhin als wichtig geltenden Beziehungen völlig echt sind – in der Seele unwahr, spukhaft, geglaubt und respektiert, aber nicht gefühlt. Man nimmt sie soweit ernst, daß man ihretwillen verarmt, doch es scheint, daß man das ganze Leben bis zu solchem Grade nach etwas einrichtet, hier nicht das Letzte zu bedeuten. Es könnte ein großer, wenn auch erst negativer Idealismus darin gesehen werden. Das Tun legt diese Österreicher nie ganz auf sein Niveau fest. Es ist nicht an ihre Religiosität zu glauben, nicht an ihre Untertanenkindlichkeit oder ihre Sorgen; sie warten dahinter; sie haben die passive Phantasie unausgefüllter Räume und gestatten eifersüchtig einem Menschen alles, nur nicht den seelisch so präjudizierenden Anspruch auf den Ernst seiner Arbeit. Wogegen der Deutsche im Verhältnis zu seinen Idealen jenen unerträglich lieben Frauen gleicht, die plitschtreu wie ein nasses Schwimmkleid an ihren Gatten kleben.

Weiterlesen: http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/essays-6938/1

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Auke van der Berg ~ Ikki’s eiland. De horzel van het koninkrijk. Het gesprek

Eind oktober verschijnt:
Auke van der Berg ~ Ikki’s eiland. De horzel van het koninkrijk. Het gesprek

Rozenberg Publishers
ISBN 90 978 3610 495 1
216 pagina’s
Euro 19,50
$ 20,00
Omslag & DTP: Ingrid Bouws

Inhoudsopgave

Interviews:
Boi Antoin – Wat van ons is, is niet goed
Ben Oleana – Je moet eerst naar jezelf kijken
Michiel Bijkerk – Advocatuur als sacrale kuunst
Claudette Martijn-Reed – Ik was niet van plan de politiek in te gaan
Johan Giskus – Nederlanders houden niet van dansers
Larry Gerharts – Alles draait om enen en nullen
Norwin Willem – De knuppel is vervangen door woorden
Rignald Saragoza – Ik ben zo geboren, dat heeft een voordeel
Abilio Martis – Door hard te werken hoopte ik dat we het beter zouden krijgen
Misoyla Winklaar – Als je de hoop verliest, is er niets meer
Valerio Balentien & Aixa Abrahams – Alles gaat langzaam beter
Sidney Josepha – Op den duur kom je toch in Rome
Rachit Alberto & Sigmar Marchena – Er gebeuren dingen die je stil laten staan bij je leven
Giovanni Frans – Mijn wensen hebben niets met gezondheidszorg te maken
Kevin Thodé – Ik luister goed en hoor wat de mensen zeggen
James Finies – Er zijn veel mensen om me heen en ergens is het verhaal wel gelukt
Max Suart – Er is geen baby die als crimineel geboren wordt

Plus een veertigtal stukkies.

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Health Communication In Southern Africa: Engaging With Social And Cultural Diversity ~ Introduction

Introduction
A focus on Southern Africa as an area where more and better HIV/AIDS communication is needed cannot be better underlined than by recent figures on adults living with HIV (15-49 years): In Sub-Saharan Africa the figure stands at 11%, whereas the global percentage is 3.25% (UNAIDS, 2008). The rise in these figures over recent years can partly be accounted for by the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, which means that statistically people living with HIV have a higher life expectancy.

Still, 67% of the global HIV prevalence in 2007 was accounted for by Sub-Saharan Africa, as was 72% of the global AIDS deaths (UNAIDS, 2008). The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa affects women more than men (60% of people living with HIV were female in Southern Africa in 2007; UNAIDS, 2008), especially regarding HIV prevalence among youth. It is within this context that this book wants to consider the role that health communication may play in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Positive outcomes of health communication
How can health communication benefit the fight against HIV/AIDS? This positive influence may apply at different levels. Communication is an important part of prevention campaigns like in the case of the ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms) motto, which could contribute to a decline in HIV infections. Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa typically affects women more adversely than men, gender relations form an important contextual dimension of health communication. Prevention messages have to be reinforced by the empowerment of women, enabling them to change their vulnerable position in sexual relations and negotiations.

Prevention and treatment go hand in hand and both aspects should be addressed in health communication. Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) is a desirable outcome for several reasons. If people are infected they can get treatment and guidance. The spreading of infections may be controlled by more knowledgeable and responsible behaviour by HIV-infected people. Being more open about VCT might also change the perceptions of people living with HIV. Health communication can take the form of campaigns for better drug regimens and adequate state support. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) need to take antiretroviral medicine to avoid AIDS, and their Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) compliance might be improved by good instruction and motivation. New media technologies have created opportunities to develop support networks for social movements and non-governmental organisations working to ensure better access to anti-retroviral medicines for PLWA.

The best-known example of such a network in Southern Africa is the one built around the group Treatment Action Campaign (Berger, 2006; Wasserman, 2005). The portrayal of PLWA may be changed in a more positive direction. Mass media and government policies need to be analyzed critically to detect and change negative or undesirable social representations of HIV/AIDS, or of individuals or groups associated with the disease. Health communication may serve to counter stereotyping, vilification or marginalisation of PLWA in sections of society who are seen as undeserving of state support, e.g. prisoners, migrants, asylum seekers, or sex workers (Berger, 2006). Read more

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Health Communication In Southern Africa: Engaging With Social And Cultural Diversity – Cell Phones For Health In South Africa

L. Lagerwerf, H. Boer & H.J. Wasserman (Eds.) ~ Health communication in Southern Africa: Engaging with social and cultural diversity. Rozenberg Publishers/UNISA Press, Amsterdam/Pretoria, 2009

Abstract
There is widespread global use of technology in medicine and health communication, leading to terms such as telemedicine, telehealth and e-health. A wide range of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is used both in the provision of services, as well as for messaging and communication campaigns. In South Africa, limited Internet penetration has led to increased experimentation with cell phones as a tool for social change. This paper provides a discussion of three of such projects: The Teen SMS Helpline of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG); SIMPill which assists patients with compliance to their tuberculosis medication; and CellLife’s Cell phones for HIV programme. The projects are described, and the paper reflects on the general possibilities for using cell phones in healthcare, weighing advantages and disadvantages, particularly in the local South African context.

Introduction
The global trend of using new technologies in healthcare and health communication has made its way to Africa. A range of healthcare initiatives makes use of palm devices, the Internet, and other information and communication technologies, giving rise to the terms e-health, tele-health, and telemedicine (see Oh, Rizo, Enkin & Jada, 2005, for a literature review on the topic).

While the growing body of literature on this subject explores both the Internet and cell phones as ‘new’ media in the use of health promotion efforts, it is cell phones that are emerging as most popular, and possibly most effective, in health communication on the continent. Internet penetration in South Africa is increasing steadily, but the numbers of people with access to high-speed Internet connectivity here and elsewhere across Africa are probably still too low to allow the widespread success of Internet based applications, outside of telecentres set up specifically for this purpose. Recent statistics indicate that only one in 700 Africans has access to the Internet, versus one in four Europeans (Chakraborty, 2008).

On the other hand, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa has increased dramatically over the last few years. In 2007 Africa added over 60 million new
mobile subscribers and mobile phones represented 90 percent of all telephone subscribers (African Telecommunication/ICT Indicators, 2008). Indeed, cellphone penetration in Africa has increased rapidly since the privatisation of telephone monopolies in the mid-1990s (LaFraniere, 2005). Between 2000 and 2006, the total number of subscribers to cellphone services increased from 10 million to 110 million, in the 24 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and South Africa had more subscribers to cell phones than fixed lines (Buys, Dasgupta, Thomas & Wheeler, 2008). Similarly, an earlier study revealed that the number of mobile subscribers in 30 Sub-Saharan countries rose from zero in 1994 to more than 82 million in late 2004 and the rate of growth for the entire continent has been more than 58 per year (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006). Clearly, Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s fastestgrowing wireless market and the rate of growth for the entire continent has been more than 58 per year (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006). In South Africa, cellphone use is widespread, particular with the introduction of pre-paid services; and there are over 30 million users (Shackleton, 2007). Read more

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