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(04 Sept) 170801 Noam Chomsky - Neoliberalism: An Accounting

Neoliberalism is an odd term when you think about it. It is hardly new and it is not particularly liberal. It has been a great economic success story-for the 1%. The detritus of neoliberalism litters the landscape from smashed unions to shredded safety nets, and deregulation of everything from airlines to banking to telecommunications. And how does one measure the human costs of shattered dreams and broken lives? The consequence? A backlash. Many working people are angry. Keep squeezing them and they will be prey for charlatans and demagogues who exploit their vulnerability and fear with scapegoating and false promises. As "The Nation" magazine observes, "Alongside growing economic inequality, we have suffered growing political inequality, with a Princeton study declaring that the influence of ordinary citizens on policy is 'negligible.' The United States," "The Nation" says, is becoming "an oligarchy."

Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The legendary MIT professor practically invented modern linguistics. In addition to his pioneering work in that field he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is "America's greatest intellectual" who "makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable." At 88, he still gives lectures all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda and the Public Mind, How the World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

(11 Sept) 170802 Robert Hackett - Climate Change and the Media

Climate change poses a long-term threat to humanity and the Earth. Sixty percent of people get their news from TV. How are the networks reporting on the crisis? This is from a study from Media Matters, a non-profit media watchdog organization: "In 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, collectively decreased their total coverage of climate change by 66 percent compared to the previous year, even though there were a host of important climate-related stories, including" global record-breaking temperatures, "the signing of the Paris climate agreement, and numerous climate-related extreme weather events. Apart from PBS, the networks also failed to devote significant coverage to climate-related policies, but they still found the time to uncritically air climate denial - the majority of which came from now-President Donald Trump and his team."

Robert Hackett, a leading critic and media theorist, is professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, SFU in Burnaby, BC. He has published widely on media issues. He is co-author of Journalism and Climate Crisis.

(18 Sept) 170803 Chris Hedges - Stopping Fascism

One dictionary defines fascism as, "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism." The first fascist party was founded by Mussolini in Italy in 1915. Its etymology is traced to the Latin word meaning a bundle of rods tied around an axe, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. Today, the term, for many, immediately conjures up horrific images of storm troopers. But contemporary fascism has undergone a major wardrobe change. Could it happen here? Some see elements of it now with what is called populism, America First, coupled with a largely imagined past, Make America Great Again. The media are denounced as "the enemy of the people," a phrase Stalin used. Critics of the Leader are bullied and insulted.

Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has covered wars in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.org and is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of many books including Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, The World As It Is, and Wages of Rebellion.

(25 Sept) 170804 Michael Parent - Conspiracy and Class Power

Class and power are closely correlated, That societies have a ruling class is derided as passe Marxist rhetoric. But to deny its existence is folly. Class can be measured by one's income and savings, and ownership of stocks, bonds and property. Power is more difficult to calibrate. It is the capacity of a ruling class to produce outcomes that enrich and enhance its status. There are many forms of power such as economic, political and military. That a ruling class acts to promote its interests by getting together and planning seems only logical. To simply dismiss these meetings as conspiracies is absurd. Power brokers and corporate elites don't meet in dark, smoke filled back rooms or on amusement park merry-go-rounds but rather they gather in well-appointed offices with plush carpets and comfortable chairs and are served croissants and gourmet coffee.

Michael Parenti is a brilliant orator and one of this country's foremost independent political analysts. He has taught at major colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of numerous books including Democracy for the Few, The Face of Imperialism and The Assassination of Julius Caesar.

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