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Daily Pickings is a blog on issues and events related to the work of the Critical Thinking project and invariably references videos, articles, books and academic papers. Accumulation of these materials adds to the "Critical Thinking reference library". Use the search facility to find articles on specific topics or you can browse the titles of every Dailly Pickings article since inception via the Site Map for which you need to be registered.
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Boiling frogs

The title of yesterday's Daily Pickings was "anger rising" but in truth, for most people, anger is absent or misdirected; there is some anger against government but it is usually tribal. In the US there is tribal anger evident at Donald Trump rallies where pro and anti-Trump supporters shout abuse at each other while Hillary Clinton continues gain financial support from Wall Street and the war making corporations. Meanwhile, Obama gets a free pass while escalating the nuclear arms race, drone warfare and conducting illegal wars, regime change etc. Not bad for a Nobel Peace Prize winner - as if such baubles have any credibility left. Where is the anger at the rising tide of belligerence risking conflict with China and Russia? There is none because the brainswashing of most of the population is so effective: "the US is the beacon and carrier of freedom to the world while Putin and China have global ambitions" - there is no physical evidence of any of this being true but the myths persist.

Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War by John Pilger
John Pilger takes apart the liberal commentariat and points to the need for a genuinely anti-imperialist analysis of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and yes — Bernie Sanders

US hegemony isn't limited to its military but extends to corporations for which the military is the muscle to enforce their will to dominate markets. Take Monsanto and Carghill and how their agenda was imposed on Iraq once the impediment of Saddam Hussein was removed and subsequently killed.


Anger rising

Charles Hugh Smith has rightly identified that our problems, of inequality and deprivation, are structural rather than political but while his analysis gets close to the foundations of the political economy, the causes he cites are at least one step removed from the fundamental flaws in the economic system. However, he does identify hierarchy as a fundamental issue.

The Anger of the Unprivileged Is Rising Globally by Charles Hugh Smith
The problems are not just political; they are structural. As I outline in my new book, Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform, there are two structural engines of disorder at the heart of the system:
1. Automation, software and the forces of globalization are disrupting jobs and wages everywhere.
2. Centralized hierarchies and the forces of financialization have extended the power of privilege globally so the few are benefiting at the expense of the many...

Automation is a benefit rather than a curse but only if we disassociate the means to life from paid employment. Centralised hierarchy is undoubtedly a problem and it is a problem that has persisted since civilisations began - we abandoned our non-hierarchical practices at some point but no-one yet really knows why. However, we can see from Frederic Laloux's work on "Teal" management practice that non-hierarchy is successful in managing large complex tasks, involving many people.

Financialisation arises from interest and the dark art of money (financialisation) is a lever of control - it is also probably the biggest obstacle to change because of its power to control everything else.


Political expediency or doing what's right?

The oft repeated phrase: "politics is the art of the possible" explains why durable, just policy is seldom formulated. Abstraction of specific issues or proposals leads to political horse trading over policies or solutions which rarely achieve their desired effect and often create (un)intended consequences which are worse than the previous status quo.

Until we work on developing solutions, irrespective of political expediency, in the full context of the political economy, the spiral into complexity and eventual collapse will continue. One example, of the arguments for political expediency crowding out the sanity of an integrated, elegant solution, is a recent meeting at the House of Commons organised by GlobalNet21 on Basic Income. The panel emphasised the politics of gaining support for "basic income" which gave raise to framing the debate into the narrow confines of affordability within the existing tax and benefits framework. Furthermore, the budgetary constraints which inevitably arise from such an approach meant that the debate was around "basic income" (£70 pw) rather than the means to a decent, comfortable life.

Sharing the value of the commons (land, resources, knowledge, nature etc.), which rightfully belong to no-one but should be available to everyone, is the other side of the coin to provide every human being with the means to life. Before enclosures and the industrial revolution, everyone could use nature to survive. Clearly returning to such a situation is impossible today but applying the principle through taxation (eg.Land Value Tax) to fund a proper citizens dividend is relatively straightforward and done right would also fund public services allowing income, employment, sales and other taxes to be reduced, or even abolished in time.

The arguments for an unconditional citizens dividend (UCD) have been well rehearsed in Daily Pickings and elsewhere, including this week's basic income meeting at the House of Commons.

In search of benefits

Something for nothing?

The case for taxing land is overwhelming: The rich, tax and land

In logistical terms, the solutions to our problems aren't complex and when one looks at the whole picture, one see clearly how the existing political economy operates for the benefit of the Structural Elite and their elevated cattle.


The great deception

The introduction to this video will jar with some because it references Margaret Thatcher but Christopher Booker's explanation of the EU's origins in the first 10 to 15 minutes is informative, not least the references to europhile Ted Heath (Tory) and  Labour's eurosceptic Hugh Gaitskill. Brexit is not a left/right debate; it is about who rules Britain: corrupt unaccountable bureaucrats or corrupt elected politicians? We can remove the corrupt politicians; the power of EU bureaucracy is cemented within the European treaties.

This special edition of the Runnymede Gazette exposes the undemocratic nature of the EU and the illusions of the progressive left operating with the belief that somehow the EU's institutions can be "fixed", ie. made accountable. The EU was, from the outset, conceived as an unaccountable, technocratic superstate; only its destruction will change that. The peoples of Europe do need to cooperate and collaborate on many levels but not enslave themselves to an hierarchical tyrannical technocracy.