November 11, 2014
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Political perez hilton this is not
November 11, 2014
Copyright © LeftCentral. All Rights Reserved
October 29, 2014
LeftCentral Book review © all rights reserved.
“Ali even motivates the dead”. (Don King)
On the 26 March 1974 in Venezuela, George Foreman defended his heavyweight title against Ken Norton. Muhammad Ali sat ringside with commentator Bob Sheridan; even as a non-combatant, Ali dominated the event. Ali greater than the sport itself, given the role he played in reviving boxing. Nevertheless, through years of exile, after his refusal to fight in South-East Asia, Ali received little thanks; the boxing establishment froze him out. His own sense of justice always acute, as his response as a youth, living in Louisville, to the murder Emmett Till in Mississippi (1955) indicates. A name change and subsequent religious conversion followed, built on an outlook shaped by Marcus Garvey, a philosophical interest emanating from his father, Cassius, Sr. And it would be back in Africa, 40 years ago, that Ali would remedy a personal injustice with universal relevance. Read more of this post
August 13, 2014
Looking on the bright side is not always easy, even for me, though the words of Daniel Berrigan encourage buoyancy; as faith always starts with oneself. It means an overriding sense of responsibility for the universe, making sure that the universe is left in good hands and the belief that things will finally turn out all right if we remain faithful. That said, it`s worth remembering that the natural optimism of the spirit must contend with the equally innate pessimism of the intellect. Especially, when looking at the political landscape from a left-wing position. In these circumstances, it’s necessary to conclude that the fight has been completely fixed, against the many by the very few. Such sentiment only amplified when one considers the more articulate commentary emanating from the USA today. Such as Chris Hedges suggesting that the political system has undergone a corporate coup d’état. Resulting in an inverted totalitarianism, not discernible through an individual demagogue but instead expressed via the anonymity of the corporate state. This shadowy leviathan has made a servant of the contemporary Democratic Party an organization dominated by fake liberals, masquerading as the social democrats of the past, uttering political clichés favouring the poor, while serving the interest of monopoly and capital. The USA today resembles Pottersville rather than Bedford Falls but a progressive government tradition does exist, which was shaped both by the right as well as the left. Read more of this post
August 1, 2014
The greatest speech ever made by Chris Hedges is an in-depth examination of USA domestic and foreign policy. This is a comprehensive and powerful analysis. Hedges employs a wealth of sources both contemporary and classical in this 55 minute talk.
The speech is at times both depressing and inspiring but it`s always thought provoking and hugely reflective.
No commentary here can convey the incredible majesty of the words employed by Hedges. The greatest speech ever made? Well possibly Cicero could give Hedges a run for his money.
January 24, 2014
We have the machinery of democracy, the structure and we have representative government but it was never a democracy and it never intended to be a democracy, it was founded by a small group of people who wanted independence from England…the motive was not democracy Howard Zinn
Professor Linda Colley`s short talk on the British Constitution, allowed her to contrast constitutional developments in Britain; with that of the fledgling American Republic, then in the process of moving from Articles of Confederation towards a Federal government. The `Constitution of the United States` is described by Colley as something; “widely viewed as sacred”, the sacrosanct words are then uttered by the anointed President Elect Obama. Professor Colley then explains that the founding fathers were influenced by the British notion of a separation of powers; she doesn’t point out that the American version has teeth and while the founding fathers wanted a more democratic system than monarchical Britain, they didn’t aim for a genuinely democratic structure. But rather designed a system of government that would allow power to rest in the hands of an elite group of rich men. Her talk missed an opportunity to outline the real significance of Britain’s unwritten Constitution on the framers of the American Constitution. Read more of this post
October 31, 2013
Dedicated to David Wright who is about to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Alan Greenspan the former chair of the Federal Reserve has just published a book an occasion that allows time for reflection. In his pomp he was known as Saint Alan and the economic consensus he helped shape, today appears unruffled and widespread. The austerity programme followed by the UK government recently commended by Greenspan, a supporter of George Osborne. One of the important ingredients for economic success according to Mr Greenspan (speaking several years ago) is the need for `growing worker insecurity which reduces pressure for compensation and decent working conditions` the UK government is following that piece of advice to the letter. Meanwhile in the USA wealth resides in the hands of a tiny fraction of the population a `section so small that the census doesn’t even pick it up…a tenth of a percent of the population`. This has political implications because power is held in limited hands and helps explain the ideological hinterland of Barack Obama, a centrist amid a right wing consensus. Unsurprisingly there has been no Obama New Deal. Given this situation, one need not wonder why adherence to the market continues unabated. Even though the crash of 2008 is considered worse than 1929, but in the 1930s a new consensus emerged, while today a conservative orthodoxy dominates. Read more of this post
October 23, 2013
`We have to pick campaigns that are not too big and not too small. And the target of eight is large enough that as long as we vary our tactics from campaign to campaign we should be able to begin to see patterns about what`s working and what`s not. That’s the science strategy and as we learn more about how to change corporate behaviour we will be able to ratchet up the difficulty of our campaigns`. Taren Stinebricker-Kauffman Read more of this post
October 15, 2013
In 1925 the state of Tennessee passed an Act forbidding the teaching of evolutionary theory, the law was tested when John Scopes from Dayton was put on trial. Clarence Darrow defended Scopes against a prosecution team led by William Jennings Bryan. The trial put religion and first amendment rights under the legal microscope but there was also an economic subtext to this cause celebre, Bryan was after all, the man who made the remarkable Cross of Gold speech in 1896. Regarding the Scopes trial, Bryan got it wrong, though his position was not without merit. Darwinism had been misappropriated and incorrectly applied at the turn of the twentieth century and used to undermine the position of US workers. Social conservatives at the time justified economic inequality on the grounds that it was a natural consequence of the `survival of the fittest`. This clashed with Bryan`s democratic outlook, while wrong he challenged science for the noblest of humanitarian/economic reasons, he remembered the poor and the downtrodden whose grievances he powerfully articulated in 1896. Read more of this post
August 23, 2013
On this day in 1927 Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed, their final hours spent writing letters to loved ones. They were apparently remarkably calm, this the final dreadful stage in a seven year legal battle. In the very early hours of that terrible morning another man was executed with them, though his composure not as pronounced. He was Celestino Madeiros and while he was executed for an unrelated matter he had admitted to his involvement in the armed robbery and murder for which Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted. Madeiros had given compelling evidence which totally absolved both men but still failed to save them from the electric chair. Read more of this post