Boaventura de Sousa Santos *
In 1845, shortly after he published the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marx wrote his Theses on Feuerbach. The Theses were his first attempt at building a materialist philosophy that was centred on transformative praxis and radically different from dominant thinking, whose main exponent at the time was Ludwig Feuerbach. The famous thesis eleven, the best known of them all, reads: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” The word “philosophers” is used here in a broad sense, as referring to the producers of erudite knowledge, which nowadays might include the whole of humanistic and scientific knowledge deemed basic, as opposed to applied knowledge.
Most readers will find it difficult to accept what I am going to express here. Even though it is based on the best scientific minds that have been studying the universe, the situation of planet Earth and her eventual collapse, or qualitative leap to another level of reality, for almost a century, it has not penetrated into either the collective consciousness or the major academic centers. The old atomic, mechanistic and deterministic paradigm that arose in the XVI century with Newton, Francis Bacon and Kepler, continues in force, as if Einstein, Hubble, Planck, Heisenberg, Reeves, Hawking, Prigogine, Wilson, Swimme, Lovelock, Capra or so many others who have elaborated a new vision of the Universe and of the Earth had never existed.
Opinion, John Stoehr* – Newsweek
All of a sudden, there are numerous comparisons of President Donald Trump to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. This isn’t new, but the frequency and intensity are. I wonder if we are approaching an inflection point beyond which we won’t be arguing, when it will be plain to everyone, not just the president’s detractors, that Trumpism is totalitarianism’s cousin.
The most important instance of this comparison came from Jeff Flake. The outgoing Arizona Republican senator said Trump’s phrase “enemy of the people,” to describe the press, recalls Stalin.
Larry Elliott* – The Guardian
Western bank loans for projects in Africa were to be paid off via rising commodity prices. At least that was the theory …
Global interest rates are rising. Poor countries are finding it tough to pay back money borrowed from banks in anticipation of a commodity windfall that never materialised. Stir in some dirty dealing that has seen funds stolen and what do you have? That’s right: the makings of another debt crisis.
Editorial – The Guardian
Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to repatriate the 650,000 refugees who have fled violence in Rakhine state within two years. Many are concerned – and rightly so
The 650,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled what the UN human rights chief has called “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing” must have the right to return to their homes in northern Rakhine state, Myanmar. To say otherwise would be to concede to those who forced them out – the security forces and militias who have raped and beaten civilians, burned houses and killed even infants. Authorities say the campaign is directed against militants who attacked police, but the civilian toll speaks for itself. Despite this, some of the Rohingya now living in wretched conditions across the border in Bangladesh have said they wish to go back.
Opinion of John McCain* – The Washington Post
After leaving office, President Ronald Reagan created the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to recognize individuals who have fought to spread liberty worldwide. Nancy Reagan continued the tradition after her husband’s death, and in 2008 she bestowed the honor on human rights icon Natan Sharansky, who credited Reagan’s strong defense of freedom for his own survival in Soviet gulags. Reagan recognized that as leader of the free world, his words carried enormous weight, and he used them to inspire the unprecedented spread of democracy around the world.
Charles M. Blow – The New York Times
I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.
The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.
So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.
Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.
By Hazel Henderson*
Most bankers, economists and investors after a couple of drinks, will admit that money is not wealth. Money is a metric, like inches and centimeters, for tracking real wealth: human ingenuity and technological productivity interacting with natural resources and biodiversity undergirding all human societies along with the daily free photons from our Sun, as described in “Valuing Today’s Circular Services Information Economies”.
BY MOHAMMED ADEMO, JEFFREY SMITH (*) – Foreign Policy
Tepid reforms and halfhearted concessions won’t save the country’s authoritarian government from its existential crisis
For a brief moment last week, Ethiopia seemed poised to shed its reputation as Africa’s Stasi state. At a press conference on Jan. 3, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn vowed to free political prisoners and shutter the notorious Maekelawi prison, which has long served as a torture chamber for government critics, opposition leaders, journalists, and activists.
Robert J. Burrowes*
A long-standing French protectorate briefly occupied by Japan during World War II, Cambodia became independent in 1953 as the French finally withdrew from Indochina. Under the leadership of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia remained officially neutral, including during the subsequent US war on Indochina. However, by the mid-1960s, parts of the eastern provinces of Cambodia were bases for North Vietnamese Army and National Liberation Front (NVA/NLF) forces operating against South Vietnam and this resulted in nearly a decade of bombing by the United States from 4 October 1965. See ‘Bombs Over Cambodia: New Light on US Air War’.
Cas Mudde* – The Guardian
Oprah Winfrey isn’t the first celebrity to be floated as a presidential candidate. And she won’t be the last
When Oprah Winfrey gave a blistering speech of women’s empowerment at the Golden Globes, pundits went into overdrive speculating that she might run for office. Media networks are now dreaming of a 2020 presidential race between Donald Trump and Oprah.
Although Oprah has not confirmed anything, US media are brimming with op-eds for and against her candidacy and debates around the broader issue of “celebrity politics”.
Celebrity politicians are not something new, neither are they uniquely American.
Ronald Brownstein * – The Atlantic
According to previously unpublished findings, the blue-collar whites at the core of his coalition have lost faith over his first year in office.
A massive new source of public-opinion research offers fresh insights into the fault lines emerging in Donald Trump’s foundation of support.
Previously unpublished results from the nonpartisan online-polling firm SurveyMonkey show Trump losing ground over his tumultuous first year not only with the younger voters and white-collar whites who have always been skeptical of him, but also with the blue-collar whites central to his coalition.
Posted by Yves Smith – Naked Capitalism
Yves here. To add to the points made in this post: The naive economic view that “more open trade is every and always better” is unsound. It’s based on the faulty premise that moving closer to an unattainable ideal state of frictionless, unrestricted trade is preferable.
But that notion was debunked over 60 years ago, in the Lipsey-Lancaser theorem, in their paper, “The Theory of the Second Best”. It found that moving closer to that unachievable position could make matters worse, not better, and (gasp!) economist and policymakers needed to assess tradeoffs, and not rely on simple-minded beliefs. And the example Lipsey and Lancaster used was in trade, a specific example where the country liberalizing trade would wind up worse off.
By Baher Kamal – Wall Street International
At risk, over 20,000 species of bees in charge of pollination
The title is that of the song To bee or not to bee, which was composed by the Greek band “Locomondo” to support Greenpeace’s campaign Global Day of Action – Save the Bees!
In fact, in May 2014 around 1.000 Greenpeace volunteers and activists in 110 cities across Europe participated in the European day of action to spotlight the crucial role of bees and other pollinators for our food and agriculture.
Honeybees and wild pollinators play a crucial role in agriculture and food production… however, the current chemical-intensive agriculture model is threatening both, and thereby putting food supply at risk, Greenpeace has already warned a year earlier to the European Day.
By Roberto Savio*
ROME, Jan 2018 – This year, we will have 3 million tourists each day wandering the world. This massive phenomenon is without precedent in human history and is happening (as usual), with only one consideration in mind: money. We should pause and take a look at its social, cultural and environmental impact and take remedial measures, because they are becoming seriously negative if things are left as they are.
Sameer Kapoor listed for Triphobo Trip Planner a list of 20 places that have been ruined, due to excess of tourism. Antarctica is getting an alarming level of pollution. The famous Taj Mahal, a monument of love from the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to the memory of his wife, Mumtaz, has changed its shining milky white marble into a yellow shade. Mount Everest is strewn with trash from invading visitors.
By Slawomir Sierakowski* – Foreign Policy
If the EU really wants to punish Poland, it should turn up the pressure on Hungary.
Kaczynski has long promised the advent of “Budapest in Warsaw,” an allusion to Orban’s model of “illiberal democracy” that the Hungarian leader unapologetically touted in a 2014 speech. And in 2016, both leaders proudly announced a “cultural counterrevolution” within the European Union.
So when the EU turned up the heat on Warsaw in late December, Orban unsurprisingly pledged to “defend Poland,” implying that he would veto the threatened introduction of EU sanctions against the Polish government. But that outcome is far from certain.
By George Friedman – Geopolitical Futures.
The U.S.-Pakistan alliance is over. The Pakistani prime minister said as much during a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, a statement made in response to the announcement that the U.S. would cut off all aid to Pakistan for its failure to suppress jihadists in Afghanistan and, according to some, for its role in aiding them. There is reason to believe the statement is not just politics as usual. The interests of Pakistan and the U.S. are profoundly different, and though it is possible for them to reconcile them, it is unlikely.
Scarce impact of Wolf’s book among Republicans
By DAVID P. GOLDMAN*- Asia Times
Hatchet job should be seen for what it was from its inception: an attempt to show Trump couldn’t win office and that, if he did, it could only have been due to some awful accident
I read as much of Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ as my stomach lining could stand, and then I watched Donald Trump’s last rally of the 2016 presidential election. Groucho Marx’s old line came to mind — “Who are you going to believe; me, or your own eyes?”
By Robert Fisk* – The Independent
Isn’t the man in charge of the CIA’s Iran operations taking a serious interest in the latest events in Iran? Surely he is. That’s his job, isn’t it? But why this silence?
Most of us know the extremely rare but slightly creepy feeling of driving down a road or seeing a hill or listening to a conversation and being overcome by the absolute conviction that we’ve seen it or heard it before. Perhaps in an earlier incarnation. Or maybe just a few years ago, though we may not be able to place the experience in a time frame. It took me quite a while before a trusted friend was able to pinpoint why I found Iran’s latest miniature street revolution so weird. And so familiar. And so chilling.
By Antonio P. Contreras* – The Manila Times, Philippines
Too much of anything can be harmful, and something good that happens too soon may be short-lived.
There is a term for this. It is called hubris.
Some people thought that they could turn social media into a platform for their political maneuvers and ambitions. They thought this new platform for political participation could be gamed forever, and that they could command their purchased, paid or programmed minions to do anything at their bidding.
They forgot one important feature that characterizes this new technology. It cannot be monopolized and controlled. And it cannot be gamed forever.