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29 Sep 19:00

Tony Benn's Ten-Minute History Lesson on Neoliberalism, by @Gaius_Publius

by (Gaius Publius)
Tony Benn's Ten-Minute History Lesson on Neoliberalism

by Gaius Publius

I had a different group of pieces I've been working on recently, revolving around a recent interview by Noam Chomsky that touches on our so-called "capitalism" and also on the Bernie Sanders candidacy. But this video sets that up nicely. It's a ten-minute speech by long-time British politico and Labour Party member Tony Benn, sadly recently deceased.

Our thanks to the people at Naked Capitalism for bringing this to our attention. There it's presented without comment. I'd like to print some of the text, just to emphasize some of its points.

First the video. (I've bumped the start to about two minutes in, but you can back it up if you like.)

And now from a self-made transcript. You've seen all of these points before, but to see them assembled and rounded back to where it all begins is quite striking. My emphasis below:

This country and the world have been run by rich and powerful men from the beginning of time. ... The only real wealth in the world is land, and resources that lie under it, and the people. ...

In 1834, only 2% had the right to vote ... Out of trade unionism came the change ....

The [20th century] slumps were not acts of god ... but a direct result of too much economic power in the hands of too few men who behaved like a totalitarian oligarchy in the heart of our democratic state. The had and they felt no responsibility to the nation. ...

In wartime there are no economic arguments at all. I've never heard a general say, "I can't bomb Baghdad this month because I've exceeded my budget." In wartime you do whatever is required. We should adopt the principle that in peacetime you do whatever is required. People want jobs, they want homes, want a decent income, a good education, health care ...

When you come to the Thatcher period, this is what's so interesting. Thatcher was a much cleverer woman than we give her credit for. She knew perfectly well the strength of the labor movement lay in three sources of power. One was the trade union movement. So she took on the miners ...

What she said, and this is very clever, "You can buy your council house so you'll be a property owner. You may not be able to get a wage increase, but you can borrow." And the borrowing was deliberately encouraged because people in debt are slaves to their employers. That's how the whole thing began. The borrowing was a deliberate policy ...

She also attacked local government ... Local councilors now are agents of the Treasury. They can only spend money the Treasury give them on things the Treasury tells them they can spend it on. ...

And she attacked the public sector and privatized it. And this privatization is international. I met an old friend of mine, Kenneth Kaunda, the president of Zambia. ... He said, "We had a great debt and the IMF came along and said, 'We'll lift your debt if you sell off all your schools and hospitals to multinational corporations.'"

So privatization is a deliberate policy, along with the destruction of local democracy and the destruction of the trade unions to restore power back to to where it was. And what we're now back in, that's what the whole crisis is about, the restoration of power to those who've always controlled the world, the people who own the land and the resources and all the rest of it. And that is something we need to understand. ...

There's more in the speech besides just this. Check out his action as Postmaster (at 8:00). And his plan for the banks. And his statement about how popular his ideas are among actual voters. (Reminds us that Sanders has the same wind at his back; actual wishes of the people.)

There really is only one story in this country — the "flow of funds" story, the massive passing of money to the rich from everyone else. Whatever else we've been made to suffer, and are going to be made to suffer, comes from that one story. With that in mind, I'd like to close where Benn closes, and to ask you to return to these comments as we consider Noam Chomsky's remarks later in the week.

It's very important to keep optimism. ... Progress has always been made by two flames burning in the human heart. The flame of anger at injustice. And the flame of hope you can build a better world.
Exactly. We'll come back to this when we turn to the Chomsky interview.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)


29 Apr 21:24

Baltimore Man Lets Geraldo Have It Over Fox News Coverage

by Susie Madrak
Baltimore Man Lets Geraldo Have It Over Fox News Coverage

Watch the video, it's great. Geraldo, as usual, is exaggerating his own importance:

The situation heightened when one protestor stepped in front of the camera and Rivera tried to move him out of the way.

"Don't touch me!" the protester shouted.

"Stop blocking my camera!" Rivera yelled back.

Protesters can be heard in the background screaming that Fox News "lies" and accusing the network of "making money off of black pain."\

[...] Rivera commented on the incident Wednesday morning, telling "Fox & Friends" that the protester he argued with was being "truly annoying and obstructionist."

"I had an important story to tell standing there," he said. "It’s exactly that kind of youthful anarchy that led to the destruction and pain in that community.”

28 Apr 19:29

Baltimore gang members call bullshit on police reports that gangs called truce to kill cops

by Xeni Jardin

Baltimore members of the Black Guerrilla Family, the Bloods and the Crips talk to a Baltimore TV news reporter, and say they did not make a truce so that they could unite and harm police officers. (more…)

28 Apr 18:25

One guy in Baltimore's thoughts on Baltimore riots

by Xeni Jardin

I get the anger that drives the violence, but this was really well said.

Maurice Kane Carter: “I am all for fucking shit up if it gets us closer to a solution.”

[via] (more…)

03 Apr 18:40

64 horrible things about the Internet

by Mark Frauenfelder

That sentence is the best thing I read all day.

"iTunes is like having your hand held by a robot who wants to walk into the ocean and die." How very true these feel. Read the rest
30 Mar 16:00

Down with April Fools' Day

by Mark Frauenfelder

John Oliver hates April Fools' Day. I agree with him. I propose we turn April 1 into "April Friendly Day," and delight friends and strangers with wonderful things.

17 Mar 06:33

Playing the unplayable Death March (but not releasing the penguins)

by Cory Doctorow

John Stump's 1980 composition Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz (from 'A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich') is a parody of a composition and not intended to be played -- but someone did! Read the rest

27 Oct 02:00


29 Jul 16:07

How to cut a bagel into two interlocking rings

by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 12.04.00 PM

You will need a knife, a non-toxic marker, and some math.

20 May 22:49


16 Jul 19:49

explore-blog: More timeless truth from Anaïs Nin

16 Jul 21:11

ahhhhbree: r.m. drake


r.m. drake

15 Jul 05:00

#1046; A Soft Definition of Hacking

by David Malki

finding yourself in possession of both a series of unbagged bagels AND a stack of old CD spindles is a sign that matters may have progressed beyond the power of a 'hack' to solve

09 Jul 01:58

nevver: Errol Morris

11 Jul 17:18

The City’s a Playground for Cartoon Characters by OakOak

by Steph
[ By Steph in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

oakoak urban interventions 1

Anything from a crooked cinder block to an ephemeral beam of light falling across the street can inspire a playful interactive scene by French street artist OakOak, making passersby stop and smile. Whether by temporary paper cut-outs or more permanent graffiti, the artist transforms ordinary urban settings in fun and unexpected ways.

oakoak urban interventions 2

oakoak urban interventions 3

OakOak wanders the streets seeing creative possibilities in virtually every quirk and imperfection, turning what could be seen by others as urban blight into playful works of art that might only stick around for a day or so, but still manage to brighten people’s day.

oakoak urban interventions 4

oakoak urban interventions 5

oakoak urban interventions 9

Little Bruce Lee figures bend metal poles or break through concrete and trapeze artists prepare to tightrope across chains. A stain on a wall might become a stream of genie-producing smoke emitted from a magic lamp, or a sewer grate could become a snail shell.

oakoak urban interventions 6

oakoak urban interventions 8

Says OakOak of his hometown of St. Etienne, “I like this city, her atmosphere, and I wanted it to look nicer. It was an industrial city with many coal mines; now it’s in regeneration and still quite poor. But it’s easily travelled by foot with awkward aspects ideal for art. I saw shapes everywhere, and wanted to realize them.”

Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebUrbanist:

The City is a Playground: 15 Interactive Installations

Art installations that invite or even dare passersby to join in on a fun activity transform even the most stiff and boring urban environments into public ... Click Here to Read More »»

Graffiti Lettering: Cool Characters, Alphabets & Fonts

It's impossible to give names to all of the lettering styles graffiti artists use. But there are a few well-known alphabets that are seen over and over. Click Here to Read More »»

The Wilds of Panama City: New Street Art Animals by ROA

Street artist ROA brings bold black-and-white animals measuring three stories in height to the gritty streets of Panama City in a new series of work. Click Here to Read More »»

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[ By Steph in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

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11 Jul 21:30

If Google were a guy (video)

by John Aravosis

From the College Humor guys, a look at what life would be like if Google were a real person.

And the subjunctive never existed.


Follow @aravosis
NOTE FROM JOHN: I know I say this a lot, but I’m not kidding, we need your help sharing our content on social media if we’re going to keep AMERICAblog alive. Please share our stories, which brings us visitors, and helps us earn more ad revenue.” Thanks for your help. JOHN
07 Jul 02:19

Tumblr | f42.jpg

02 Jul 03:05

"These arguments are not those of serious people. Though it seems almost unnecessary to explain, here..."

“These arguments are not those of serious people. Though it seems almost unnecessary to explain, here are the reasons why.” Even assuming the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation, the court fails to see, and defendant never explains, how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has any effect whatsoever on procreation among heterosexual spouses. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not change the number of heterosexual couples who choose to get married, the number who choose to have children, or the number of children they have.

The state’s attempts to connect the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage to its interest in economic stability and in ‘ensuring humanity’s continued existence’ are at best illogical and even bewildering … The court can think of no other conceivable legitimate reason for Kentucky’s laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

[A]s this Court has respectfully explained, in America even sincere and long-held religious views do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted.”


Federal judge in Kentucky rips apart dumbest argument against gay-marriage (via micdotcom)


04 Jul 03:00

A kitten aboard a floating Victoria water lily pad in the...

A kitten aboard a floating Victoria water lily pad in the Philippines, 1935.Photograph by Alfred T. Palmer, National Geographic Creative

25 Jun 09:51

Instant câlin

(Source + merci à Robin pour la suggestion)

03 Jul 20:41

I couldn't figure out this optical illusion painting until the very end

by Mark Frauenfelder

"Found at Gallery at Ice in Windsor, UK painted by Brian Weavers."

02 Jul 00:00

Surface Area

This isn't an informational illustration; this is a thing I think we should do. First, we'll need a gigantic spool of thread. Next, we'll need some kind of ... hmm, time to head to Seattle.
29 Jun 05:45

Internet's Own Boy, free CC-licensed download on Internet Archive

by Cory Doctorow

The Creative Commons-licensed version of The Internet's Own Boy, Brian Knappenberger's documentary about Aaron Swartz, is now available on the Internet Archive, which is especially useful for people outside of the US, who aren't able to pay to see it online. Read the rest

29 Jun 05:07

Whole Lotta dulcimer

by arbroath
Sam Edelston performs Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love on a 3-string electric mountain dulcimer.

YouTube link.
09 Jun 00:00

4.5 Degrees

The good news is that according to the latest IPCC report, if we enact aggressive emissions limits now, we could hold the warming to 2°C. That's only HALF an ice age unit, which is probably no big deal.
03 Jun 20:06

get along

by Myner

Get Along

11 May 05:08

Dancing bats

by arbroath
08 May 16:42

Majority Of U.S. Millionaires Say They Should Be Taxed More To Reduce Inequality

by Susie Madrak

(Credit: nic221)

A massive 64% of America millionaires openly say that they should be taxed at a higher rate to help reduce inequality. Almost the same number, 63%, support a higher minimum wage.
05 May 19:42

Misled By Maps

by Andrew Sullivan

Girls Names

Ben Blatt ruins everyone’s good time by pointing out the shortcomings of viral maps like this one, which shows the most popular names for baby girls by state over time:

In 1984, only 13 states are labeled Ashley; by 1992, 30 states are. But it turns out that in 1984, a female baby born in the United States was actually 8 percent more likely to be named Ashley than in 1992.

Ashley was still the most popular girls’ name in 1991 and 1992. But its newfound dominance of the map is not the result of its growing popularity. Ashley was on the decline by the early ’90s—but other names were declining even faster. The original maps don’t actually say that Ashley was increasing in popularity in the early ’90s, but the way the information is presented, that misunderstanding is almost unavoidable. …

Again, this doesn’t mean the baby-name maps are wrong. They don’t purport to show anything except the most commonly given name in each state. In fact, these particular maps are well-designed and informative, if you have time to wade through the implications of the data. But it’s easy to see false trends here. Behind each map is data for hundreds of names across 50 states that would need to be examined closely to find the real trends. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a viral Excel sheet.

But then he makes amends with an interactive feature displaying some maps of his own:

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 1.12.27 PM

04 May 11:28

Why Atheists Need To Come Out, Ctd

by Andrew Sullivan

A reader writes:

I’m enjoying the discussion about atheists and morality. Unlike some of your other atheist readers, I’m not particularly offended that we’re often seen as immoral. It’s fairly obvious that the reason we’re viewed that way by the faithful is that they haven’t had much real-life contact with good, moral atheists. It reminds me very much of how conservatives who haven’t interacted with a real gay person often call that community immoral. It’s simply fear of the unknown. My own experience speaks to this.

I grew up a Christian in the Bible Belt, surrounded by a conservative peer group. In my Christian elementary school, atheism was literally unthinkable – it didn’t even occur to me that people didn’t believe in God. In high school, I met my first atheist, and he was one of the warmest, kindest people I’ve ever met. He was super nerdy like me, and we bonded over our similarities. The fact that someone could be so kind and also not believe in God was somewhat shocking to me at the time.

As I slowly deconverted to atheism during college, I would always think back to him as my model of a truly good atheist.

My own view of morality slowly evolved away from needing a God and towards a naturalistic explanation. We are social animals in a harsh world. To survive, we needed to establish rules of conduct that allow us to work together against the elements – a moral code. No God needed. I do hope that, eventually, this will become the prevailing view.

In order for this to happen, we need more people like my high school friend. We need more atheists who are soft-spoken and genuinely good, loving people who can demonstrate by example that atheists aren’t frightening anarchists. Conversion doesn’t happen in debates or through legislation – evangelicals have known this for a long time. Conversion occurs through many personal interactions over years.

I dislike the approach of the New Atheists not because I disagree with their views, but because their methods push the faithful away from atheism. It’s insanely counterproductive. Who wants to be friends with the self-righteous bully? As much as I love Hitchens’ passion, clear-mindedness, and brutally logical arguments, I think my high school friend was a much better advocate for atheism than Hitchens. And don’t get me started on Dawkins. What a fucking asshole. In the same way that the gay community slowly won the argument by being out and showing that they’re just like the rest of us, we atheists need to be out and demonstrate kindness and love to our neighbors.

By the way, the fact that I’m not completely out tears me apart. My mother is a very devout Christian with an anxiety disorder. I fear that telling her about my true beliefs would cause her enormous emotional strife. She might truly believe I’m going to Hell. Who could put that sort of burden on his mother? I hope that, eventually, our religions will evolve to a more accepting view of atheists, so that people like me won’t have to be in the closet.

Previous Dish on the need for atheists to come out here and here.