Tag Archives: Utopia

The forgotten utopia: The Indus people may have lived for 700 years without war, weapons or inequality

The Indus civilisation lived across South Asia from 2600-1900 BC
Artefacts, such as jewellery, have been found, but not a single weapon
There is little evidence of a government, royalty or any other leader
Some experts have said it is impossible for Indus to have lived in this way
But until the Indus scripture has been translated, it is difficult to know

By SHIVALI BEST FOR MAILONLINE

Many believe the idea of a utopian society is an impossible fantasy.

But there may have been one mysterious, ancient group of people that was able to fulfil the dream of life without conflict or rulers.

Remains of the Indus civilisation, which flourished from 2600 to 1900 BC, show no clear signs of weapons, war or inequality.

This is according to Andrew Robinson. the author of ‘The Indus: Lost civilisations’, who has written an in-depth piece in the New Scientist.

‘All signs point to a prosperous and advanced society – one of history’s greatest,’ he writes.

The Indus Empire stretched over more than a million square miles across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Ganges, over what is now Pakistan, northwest India and eastern Afghanistan.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3791308/The-forgotten-utopia-Indus-people-lived-700-years-without-war-weapons-inequality.html#ixzz4KQArUPmt
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“Catch your dream – Utopia is possible.”

 

The Spanish Town Where People Come Before Profit

By Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton

In the south of Spain, the street is the collective living room. Vibrant sidewalk cafes are interspersed between configurations of two to five lawn chairs where neighbours come together to chat over the day’s events late into the night. In mid-June the weather peaks well over 40 degrees Celsius and the smells of fresh seafood waft from kitchens and restaurants as the seasonably-late dining hour begins to approach. The scene is archetypally Spanish, particularly for the Andalusian region to the country’s south, where life is lived more in public than in private, when given half a chance.

Specifically, this imagery above describes Marinaleda. Initially indistinguishable from several of its local counterparts in the Sierra Sur southern mountain range, were it not for a few tell-tale signs. Maybe it’s the street names (Ernesto Che Guevara, Solidarity and Salvador Allende Plaza, to name a few); maybe it’s the graffiti (hand drawn hammers-and-sickles sit happily alongside encircled A’s, oblivious to the differences the two ideologies have shared, even in the country’s recent past); maybe it’s the two-storey Che head which emblazons the outer wall of the local sports stadium.

Marinaleda has been called Spain’s ‘communist utopia,’ though the local variation bears little resemblance to the Soviet model most associate with the phrase. Classifications aside, this is a town whose social fabric has been woven from very different economic threads to the rest of the country since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the mid 1970s. A cooperatively-owned olive oil factory, houses built by and for the community, and a famous looting of a large-scale supermarket, led by the town’s charismatic mayor, in which proceeds were donated to food banks, are amongst the steps that have helped position Marinaleda as a beacon of hope.

As the Spanish economy continues its post-2008 nosedive, unemployment sits at 26 percent nationally, while over half of young people can’t find work. Meanwhile, Marinaleda boasts a modest but steady local employment picture in which most people have at least some work and those that don’t have a strong safety net to fall back on.

But more than its cash economy, Marinaleda has a currency rarely found beyond small-scale activist groups or indigenous communities fighting destructive development projects: the currency of direct action. Rather than rely exclusively on cash to get things done, Marinaleños have put their collective blood, sweat and tears into creating a range of alternative systems in their corner of the world.

When money hasn’t been readily available – probably the only consistent feature since the community set out on this path – Marinaleños have turned to one another to do what needs doing. At times that has meant collectively occupying land owned by the Andalusian aristocracy and putting it to work for the town, at others it has simply meant sharing the burden of litter collection.

While still operating with some degree of central authority, the local council has devolved power into the hands of those it serves. General assemblies are convened on a regular basis so that townspeople can be involved in decisions that affect their lives. The assemblies also create spaces where people can come together to organise what the community needs through collective action.

“The best thing they have here in Marinaleda, and you can’t find this in other places, is the [general] assembly,” says long-term civil servant for the Marinaleda council, Manuel Gutierrez Daneri. He continues, “Assembly is a place for people to discuss problems and to find the solutions,” pointing out that even minor crimes are collectively addressed via the assembly, as the town has no police or judicial system since the last local cop retired.

In his time as mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has managed to leverage considerable financial support from the state government, a feat which Gutierrez Daneri attributes to the town’s collective track record for direct action. “If you go ahead with all of the people behind you, that is very powerful,” he says.

As a result, the small town boasts extensive sports facilities and a beautifully-maintained botanical garden, as well as a range of more basic necessities. “For a little village like this, with no more than 2,700 people, we have a lot of facilities,” says Gutierrez Daneri.

British ex-pat Chris Burke has lived in Marinaleda for several years, and he explains that access to the public swimming pool only costs €3 for the entire summer. Burke recounts Mayor Sánchez Gordillo saying to him, “The whole idea of the place being somewhere good to live is that anyone can afford to enjoy themselves.” Burke adds pragmatically, “You can’t have a utopia without some loss-making facilities.”

From Occupation to Cooperation

In 1979, Sánchez Gordillo was first elected as the town’s mayor. He led an extensive campaign to change Marinaleda’s course, which began with hunger strikes and occupying underutilised land.

Read more » Truth-out
http://truth-out.org/news/item/24982-the-spanish-town-where-people-come-before-profit

Preying on Poverty: How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks

by Barbara Ehrenreich
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell. ….

Read more » Common Dreams

Once upon a time in Afghanistan

PART THREE – THE LOST HISTORY OF HELMAND

By: Adam Curtis

When you look at footage of the fighting in Helmand today everyone assumes it is being played out against an ancient background of villages and fields built over the centuries.

This is not true. If you look beyond the soldiers, and into the distance, what you are really seeing are the ruins of one of the biggest technological projects the United States has ever undertaken. Its aim was to use science to try and change the course of history and produce a modern utopia in Afghanistan. The city of Lashkar Gah was built by the Americans as a model planned city, and the hundreds of miles of canals that the Taliban now hide in were constructed by the same company that built the San Francisco Bay Bridge and Cape Canaveral. Here is what Helmand province looks like today. ….

Read more » BBC

‘Festive, Righteous Anger’: Occupy Makes May-Day Comeback With Massive Demonstrations

By Sarah Jaffe and Anna Lekas Miller and Sarah Seltzer and Julianne Escobedo Shepherd and Alex Kane and Joshua Holland

Yesterday, Occupy recaptured the public’s attention with rallies, marches, parties, and yes, arrests all over the country.

All over the world, May 1 is celebrated as International Workers’ Day. Yesterday, May Day also marked the reemergence of the Occupy movement, with events in cities all over America. AlterNet’s reporters were in the field — here are their dispatches from New York and the Bay Area …

Read more » AlterNet

Imperialism didn’t end. These days it’s known as international law

By: George Monbiot

A one-sided justice sees weaker states punished as rich nations and giant corporations project their power across the world

The conviction of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is said to have sent an unequivocal message to current leaders: that great office confers no immunity. In fact it sent two messages: if you run a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law; if you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.

While anyone with an interest in human rights should welcome the verdict, it reminds us that no one has faced legal consequences for launching the illegal war against Iraq. This fits the Nuremberg tribunal’s definition of a “crime of aggression”, which it called “the supreme international crime”. The charges on which, in an impartial system, George Bush, Tony Blair and their associates should have been investigated are far graver than those for which Taylor was found guilty.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, claims that Taylor’s conviction “demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions”. But the international criminal court, though it was established 10 years ago, and though the crime of aggression has been recognised in international law since 1945, still has no jurisdiction over “the most serious of crimes”. This is because the powerful nations, for obvious reasons, are procrastinating. Nor have the United Kingdom, the United States and other western nations incorporated the crime of aggression into their own legislation. International law remains an imperial project, in which only the crimes committed by vassal states are punished. ….

Read more » guardian.co.uk

Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

By Khaled Ahmed

Origin of our national mindset

The Army is composed of Punjabis up to 80 percent. Even the Navy, which should normally absorb coastal populations, is composed almost exclusively of Punjabis.

The ‘vitality’ and ‘dynamism’ of the middle class in Pakistan are channeled into ideological aspirations that negate the modern state

The economist says the middle class anywhere in the world is a factor of dynamic growth: a growing middle class means the country will post good growth rates. But for the non-economist, no two middle classes may be alike. In Pakistan, the middle class is conservative, just like India’s; but unlike India, it is ideological, anti-American and pro-Taliban.

The Indian Constitution informs the attitude of the Indian middle class, which is tolerant of secularism. In Pakistan, the Constitution inclines the middle class to desire sharia and consequently prefer the ‘harder’ sharia of al Qaeda to state ideology. It is the sentinel of the unchanging character of the medieval state presented as a utopia by state ideology.

Continue reading Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

U.S falls to 47th in press freedom rankings after Occupy crackdown

By Ellen Connolly

Sweeping protests around the world made it an extremely difficult year for the media, and tested journalists as never before, the annual report into press freedom reveals.

The annual report by Reporters Without Borders has been released, showing the United States fell 27 points on the list due to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests.

The slide in the United States places it just behind Comoros and Taiwan in a group with Argentina and Romania.

Reporters Without Borders said the heightened unrest around the world resulted in a significant shake-up of the group’s annual Press Freedom Index, which assesses governments’ commitment to protecting media freedoms.

The Paris-based non-governmental Reporters Without Borders has named “crackdown” the word of 2011 in an assessment of global media freedom during a year in which journalists covering sweeping protests were tested as never before.

The non-governmental organisation seeks to defend journalists’ freedom to work and combat censorship internationally. ….

Read more » daily Mail. co. uk

If profits are high, then the system is working just fine — for the 1%. But for us 99%, the profit lust is itself the heart of the problem

Free-Market Medicine: A Personal Account

by Michael Parenti

When I recently went to Alta Bates hospital for surgery, I discovered that legal procedures take precedence over medical ones. I had to sign intimidating statements about financial counseling, indemnity, patient responsibilities, consent to treatment, use of electronic technologies, and the like. ….

Read more » Common Dreams

How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’

By George Lakey

While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

Neither country is a utopia, as readers of the crime novels by Stieg Larsson, Kurt Wallender and Jo Nesbro will know. Critical left-wing authors such as these try to push Sweden and Norway to continue on the path toward more fully just societies. However, as an American activist who first encountered Norway as a student in 1959 and learned some of its language and culture, the achievements I found amazed me. I remember, for example, bicycling for hours through a small industrial city, looking in vain for substandard housing. Sometimes resisting the evidence of my eyes, I made up stories that “accounted for” the differences I saw: “small country,” “homogeneous,” “a value consensus.” I finally gave up imposing my frameworks on these countries and learned the real reason: their own histories.

Continue reading How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’

Pakistan: What next? Fasten seat belts. Ready, set, GO….

Pakistan: What next?

By Omar

Pakistani prime minister warns of coup plot»  http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-prime-minister-warns-of-coup-plot/2011/12/22/gIQA1vJWBP_story.html

The usual rumors are afoot. Apparently this time the army wants to get rid of Zardari, cut PM Gilani down to size, then install an interim regime and hold elections. Imran Khan is being launched with obvious establishment support, but he is not the only card they hold. Many windows are open on that computer screen. The Mullah-military alliance has been called into service. Why? to raise the price in the next round of bargaining with the US embassy? To get muscle in place for the next elections? to support a real hard coup? who knows. But some brilliant scheme is afoot and we will soon see what it is.

Some analysts are warning that the army is playing with fire here, but the army thinks these people are under control and if truth be told, they are…when and where has Sami ul haq or Hafiz Saeed taken any step that has offended the army? these are the good jihadis and the army does not fear their going out of control. You can complain that such productions eventually raise the “black banners of Khorasan” temperature in the nation and are not conducive to future plans for capitalist utopia, but the army (and for that matter, the US embassy and even the much wiser Chinese embassy) doesnt think like that…they are all “practical people”. I suspect that the “deep thinkers” in GHQ as well as their patron embassies believe that bombs go off because bombs are made and bombers are trained and sent by people who know what they are doing, “culture-vulture” has nothing to do with it. They are far more cynical about these things….what else explains this madness?

Meanwhile, the middle class is primed and ready for another round of army-sponsored “clean government”It almost seems like its fated to happen. Every few years the middle class comes to a fork in the road: do we accept that we are a normal country with normal problems (normal as in “norm”) and they will have to be solved using normal methods that work or dont work in the whole wide world? or do we double down and bet that this time the angels in aabpara will get it right and armies of efficient capitalists animated by the two nation theory and the spirit of jihad will raise the GNP and the black bannerof khorasan and blah blah blah? And every few years, the blessed middle class says YES to aabpara and away we go, for one more crazy ride until all the bullshit runs out and incompetent and corrupt civilian janitors (the others having been hanged) are called in to clean up the shit…..

In the long run, I think the army and its bed fellows will move on to more “normal” statist third world capitalism (http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/12/the-historic-task-of-the-pakistani-bourgeoisie.html). But they are not yet ready for such a tame country. Selling nuisance value may be a risky and high stakes game, but its not without its thrills and rewards. Fasten seat belts.
Ready, set, GO….

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/12/22/pakistan-what-next/

The Shocking Truth – Statement Issued from Zuccotti Park by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street

– As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice we must not lose sight of what brought us together.

We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members.

That our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors.

That a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people, and the Earth, and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

We come to you at a time when corporations – which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality – run our governments.

We have peaceably assembled here as is our right to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in workplaces based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is, itself, a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut worker’s health care and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams, but look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products, endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives, or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully kept people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners, even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

To the people of the world, We, the New York City general assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble, occupy public space, create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard.

VIDEO

Courtesy: http://www.twf.org/News/Y2011/1005-Occupy.html

A massive demonstration of Occupy Toronto and all its supporters will take place Saturday at 2 pm, starting from St. James Park (Jarvis and King)

We are asking everyone to come out and demonstrate Saturday, to bring friends, relatives, workmates, and everyone who cares about democracy and the objectives of the Occupy Movement, which is to oppose the gross wealth being accumulated by the rich and powerful 1% at the expense of the 99% – the rest of the population whose wages and incomes have fallen dramatically, many of whom are unemployed and under-employed, many of whom are poor and very poor, and many more who are youth and whose lives and futures have been dramatically altered by the insatiable greed of the most powerful corporations and the richest people in the world.

Join the rally at the corner of Jarvis and King at 1:30 pm, Saturday, to march & distribute People’s Voice, and our statement in support of the Occupy movement.

Please RSVP to erowley@live.ca to help, or for more info.

Comradely and in Solidarity!

Liz Rowley

The U.S.A we admire – Former Philadelphia Police Captain Joins Occupy Protesters, Gets Arrested

Former Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis joined Occupy Wall Street protesters on Tuesday.

He was seen holding a sign reading “NYPD Don’t Be Wall Street Mercenaries.”

In a video interview with Livestreamers, he railed against the excessive power of corporate America and the wrongful eviction of protesters from Zuccotti Park. He said if the occupations “continue to grow, you’re going to see a lot more of the FBI.”

Rea more » Common Dreams

Jesus was a socialist and also the world’s greatest revolutionary

What would Jesus do? – by Mehdi Hasan

Conservatives claim Christ as one of their own. But in word and deed, the son of God was much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe.

Was Jesus Christ a lefty? Philosophers, politicians, theologians and lay members of the various Christian churches have long been divided on the subject. The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev once declared: “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, went further, describing Christ as “the greatest socialist in history”. But it’s not just Russian ex-communists and Bolivarian socialists who consider Jesus to be a fellow-traveller. Even the Daily Mail sketch-writer Quentin Letts once confessed: “Jesus preached fairness – you could almost call him a lefty.”

That conservatives have succeeded in claiming Christ as one of their own in recent years – especially in the US, where the Christian right is in the ascendancy – is a tragedy for the modern left. Throughout history, Jesus’s teachings have inspired radical social and political movements: Christian pacifism (think the Quakers, Martin Luther King or Bruce Kent in CND), Christian socialism (Keir Hardie or Tony Benn), liberation theology (in South America) and even “Christian communism“. In the words of the 19th-century French utopian philosopher Étienne Cabet, “Communism is Christianity . . . it is pure Christianity, ” …

Read more : Newstatesman