A Teaser to ‘The Empire of Poverty’: The First Volume of The People’s Book Project

A Teaser to ‘The Empire of Poverty’: The First Volume of The People’s Book Project

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

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The following is a little teaser to some of the ideas, approach and perspective being pursued through the research and writing of the first volume of The People’s Book Project, ‘The Empire of Poverty.’ Please consider donating to the Project to help these efforts come to fruition.

It’s important to try to understand the global economic and financial system – the banks, corporations, central banks, economic policies (and effects) of governments, trade agreements, the creation and value of currencies, the function of the oft-heard ‘markets’ – as daunting as the task may seem. One might think that they need a degree in Economics in order to understand the complexities of the global economy, to comprehend the correct choices and policies which achieve the desired results. One might think that this is true, but it isn’t. The truth is that if most economists understood the global economy, and knew the ‘correct’ choices to make, we wouldn’t be where we currently are.

Economics – both theory and practice – is an illusion. There are no concrete rules on which to base economic thought; there is no ‘gravity’ to its physics. Economics is not science, it’s sophistry; the sleight of hand, the quick and slick tongue, the wave of the wand, the theatrics of the stage set for all to see, and the effects – as destructive as they may be to the real world and all life within it – are largely hidden from view; the illusion keeps the population enraptured in awe, aspiration, and fear.

This is not to say that there cannot be anything real produced or given growth by what we call ‘economics’: there are of course exchanges made, resources used, products created, lives benefitted, and entire societies and peoples changed. The effects are very real. However, they have a disproportionately destructive, oppressive, and dehumanizing effect upon the vast majority of humanity: they bestow upon a tiny fraction unparalleled power, and thus, dehumanization in another form; while creating a comparably minimal buffer of generally satiated and malleable middle classes, educated well-enough to work and survive the horror show that is the global economic order, but consumed by a culture lacking in substance and meaning, and thus, left morally, psychologically, and intellectually lobotomized, physically paralyzed, and thus, once again, dehumanized.

So our global economic order has the effect of generally dehumanizing all who are subject to its whims and whammies; which is to say, almost everyone, everywhere. Those peoples and societies that are not integrated into the global economy tend to be bombed, invaded, overthrown or droned. Those who remain are doomed to slow death: one in seven people on earth live in urban slums[1] – more than the combined populations of Canada, the United States, and the European Union – while the majority of humanity lives in deep poverty, in hunger, and malnutrition; with 18 million people being killed from poverty-related causes every year, including over 9 million children.[2] Every year.

During the Holocaust, approximately six million Jews were killed. Take that number, add 50% to make 9 million, and just think: this is how many children die every year from poverty. Every year a new Holocaust.

These deaths are preventable. Truly. It has been estimated that less than the yearly Pentagon budget would lift the poorest 3 billion people of the world out of extreme poverty. In fact, in the twenty years following the end of the Cold War in 1991, there were roughly 360 million preventable deaths caused by poverty-related issues, more than the combined deaths of all of the wars of the 20th century.[3]

But this is not our priority. Our priority is that banks and corporations make as much profits as possible, because this – by some unknown and unseen magic – will (it is said) benefit everyone else. It is propagated and believed that this system, as it exists, or even with the proper tinkering and toiling, can represent the totality of life and being on this world; to be humanizing, and to represent ‘human nature’ at its best. But if this system were ‘human nature,’ why would it be so dehumanizing? How many organisms grow by destroying that which their existence depends upon? Parasites, cancers and various diseases can kill the host before transferring to another.

We have no other host to go to. Those who sit atop the global structure know this, which is why they express such an interest in finding new planets to escape to (and presumably, plunder and destroy). The billionaires have given up pretending to care for the world’s billions of people suffering, which is why they are looking to space travel, mining asteroids, and searching for hospitable environments elsewhere.[4] Their long-term ‘exit strategy’ is to abandon ship, not to change the direction we currently traverse.

Are we – as a species – a cancer upon the earth? Looking at the big picture, it may often seem that way. But it is in the small moments, the single acts, exchanged emotions, interacting individuals, in the every day life – those moments of joy, love, wonder – in which we find our own personal meaning, in which we discover that humanity – and human nature – can be so much more than destructive, petty, and pestilent behaviour. We are told we are a society of ‘individuals’ – that we are free, democratic and equal. If that were the case: why are we so isolated? We are individuals, yes, in the physical sense: but we are disconnected from the collective, separated from the species as a whole.

We think and act individually, but do so ignorantly, and arrogantly. Our thoughts and feelings are collected and collated by our commanding culture of irrelevance. The immense gift of a human mind – with all of its possibilities and capabilities, both known and unknown – is largely squandered on pop culture, sports, celebrities, consumer items and entertainment. So long as we remain distracted by the ‘celebration of irrelevance’, we are lobotomized of our meaning.

Is this how you see yourself as an individual? As the world you live in? It’s not an appealing thought. So why, then, do we live in a world in which as individuals we may act morally, purposefully, passionately, and proudly; though as a collective species, we are petty, parasitic, power-mad, pathological, and pretty much evil?

Is it ‘human nature’ that our personal values and priorities are not reflected in the collective – institutionalized – expression of humanity? Or, is it that the way in which our society is constructed, the institutions and ideologies, the policies, programs, priorities and effects of the way in which our world is ordered and altered, is inherently counter to ‘human nature’? In other words: is human nature inherently self-destructive; or, is our constructed human ‘society’ (our global social, political and economic order) inherently destructive to human nature? Does human nature pervert the effects we have upon the world, or do the structures of world order – and power – pervert human nature?

It is this vast disconnect between our personal values and the form they take at the global – collective – level of the species, which is ultimately so dehumanizing. Because power is centralized at the top, and for such a tiny fraction of the species – so much so that there has never been a more unequal and vast ‘Empire of Poverty’ in all of human history, the ‘great inequality’ is not of wealth, but of power.

Wealth is an illusion: a manufactured means to power, a collective delusion. Power is central to human nature. Every person needs power: they need autonomy over their own lives, thoughts, feelings, and decisions. It is central to maturity, it is central to leaving adolescence and becoming an adult, and it is central to finding a sense of self-worth. Understanding oneself is to empower oneself. Power is about possibility, personal fulfillment, passion and purpose. It has individual and social representations. It can be seen – or not – in your own life, but also in the world around us.

A pre-requisite for power is freedom. The process of achieving freedom is, itself, empowering. Once (and if) achieved, it is of immense responsibility to use your new power of freedom wisely, for the effects that it may have upon others and the rest of the world are endless. Power is freedom, quite simply, because slavery is the opposite of both freedom and power: it is the most un-free and the most disempowering personal position to be in.

Freedom is power; power is freedom. If we were actually free, we would have significantly more power. But we don’t. We barely have any control over our own individual lives, let alone the world around us. We leave all that to the others, to those with the proper degrees, the ‘expertise,’ the politicians, the pundits, the ‘right’ people… because they’ve obviously done such a great job of it so far. We remain – as a species, and very often as individuals – neutered from the necessities of individual empowerment, subjected instead to the very-often-arbitrary abuses of power over others.

So if we are not free, what are we? Certainly, we are not slaves, for we have no shackles, bear the brunt of no whips, serve no visible masters. We are, perhaps, slaves of another kind. We are financially, reflexively, intellectually, emotionally and hopelessly and very often spiritually enslaved to the system, as it exists. We are slaves to money. We serve the masters of money, with our time, with our labour and efforts, with our interactions, exchanges, interests, intelligence and aspirations. We are slaves to money.

Our society is built and sustained upon it; and our species is being driven to extinction because of it. The cause and effect of money – or more aptly, debt – slavery, is the distribution of power among the species: too few have too much, and too many have too little. This imbalance of power within the species is leading to our self-destruction, our inevitable extinction if we continue along this path.

Money is both the means and very often – the reason – for continuing down this path, for maintaining this imbalance. While very few have all the money, everyone – and everywhere else – has all the debt. This is not the wondrous ‘free market’ capitalist utopia which is incessantly babbled about, but the very real global feudal dystopia, both cause and effect of the power imbalance and money-system. In feudalism, there is no freedom, only serfdom.

Welcome to our global economic order, serf!

Welcome to the Empire of Poverty.

But it’s not hopeless. The truth is both painful, but also full of possibilities. The truth is that we do have the ability to understand the world we live in, to comprehend our global economic order. We don’t need a degree; we just need honesty.

The illusion that is our economic system is built not upon technical knowledge, but rather, technical language, a highly political language, “designed to make lies sound truthful, murder respectable, and to give a feeling of solidity to pure wind,” as George Orwell defined the term. Our inability to communicate honesty, and thus effectively, about our economic – and indeed, political and social – system is an essential mechanism in maintaining that system.

To speak and ‘understand’ this language, at least at a superficial level, usually does require some ‘education’: economists must be trained, so too must political and other social scientists. The artificial separations in their knowledge – (as in, the notion that the economic world exists separate from the political and social world, and thus, must be studied separately) ensures that none who receive a ‘proper education’ achieve a profound understanding of the world. Some may, but they are few and far between, and usually weeded out or co-opted.

Such a ‘proper education’ will allow one to gain enough basic knowledge related to the sector of society in which they aim to explore and advance, and they are given just enough knowledge to do so, but not enough to honestly look at – let alone have the capacity to communicate – the reality of how our global political, social and economic order functions and evolves. They may see problems, make recommendations, propose policies, and they may even do some good, but ultimately – as we still remain on the path toward extinction – they have not, and cannot – do enough.

Few possibilities – few ‘solutions’ – or opportunities, are communicated to the populations that are effected under and by these societies, and by the decisions the few at the top make. People are generally given a small set of options from which to choose, like guessing what’s behind door number one or two, when both are ultimately terrible, and ineffectual (in a positive sense). We put ‘faith’ – however empty – into the hands of politicians, we consume the crap spewed in the media, or we lose ourselves in the vast vacancy that is the ‘substance’ of our culture; a culture of mythology, lies, fantasy, persuasion, punishment, entertainment and manipulation.

Our hope is first in honesty. We can – and must – look honestly at the world for what it is, not what we want or imagine it to be, but what it is. Then, we can – and must – communicate this message, and to do so honestly and directly. This is a human reality, and it must become a part of a collective human knowledge, a shift in understanding, and thus, a change in direction; away from the current-inevitably of extinction, and toward survival. What comes after is for future generations to determine. For now, we must aim to simply survive.

Our goal must first be to begin charting a new path toward survival; this must be the duty of our present living and younger generations, as challenging, demanding and terrifying a responsibility that may be, it is either that, or extinction. And this is not a matter of hundreds or thousands of years away; it could be as soon as decades. If you – like me – are between 18 and 45 – the coming few decades of the world in which you currently live and hope to survive will become increasingly dreadful, destructive, oppressive, and disempowering. We cannot afford to continue kicking the can down the road, delaying – and exacerbating – the inevitable.

There is always hope, not in myths and fantasy, but hidden in reality. In our actions, ideas, in us – as individuals – connecting, interacting, sharing, working and creating together, as collectives, as part of a larger human organism; beginning to act as if we don’t want to self-destruct as a species, creating a new society – a new order – to make the current one obsolete. This is our great challenge. How do we navigate through living within the present existing order, while simultaneously seeking to create a new and alternative order? Moreover, how do we achieve this if it takes nearly all our effort, time and energy to simply survive the present order? To put it as crudely (and honestly) as possible: how the fuck are we supposed to change the world?!

I don’t know the answers. But I think that the best way to get them is to ask honest questions, seek an honest understanding, and to communicate honestly – about ourselves and the world – personally, and globally. This book is my attempt to understand and speak honestly about the world, not to speak in a language that only economists and political scientists or other so-called ‘experts’ can understand, but to speak plainly and directly. This will require me to dedicate some focus in attempting to translate political language into English. I don’t have a degree, and you won’t need one to read this, or to understand it.

The hope, then, that I hold for this book – and the wider book project of which it is apart – is that it presents an accessible and usable collection of knowledge. It is not the book that asks every question, or has ever answer (no books do!), but it is an attempt at taking a different approach to asking and seeking answers to some rather important questions about our world: what is the true nature of our society? How did we get here? Where are we going? Why? And, what can we do to change it?

This is but an introduction to our world, by no means comprehensive or conclusive, simply accessible, honest, and (hopefully) useful.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 26-year old researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, chair of the Geopolitics Division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and the World of Resistance (WoR) Report, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.

Notes

[1]       Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (Verso: London, 2007), pages 151-173.

[2]       Thomas Pogge, “Keynote Address: Poverty, Climate Change, and Overpopulation,” Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law (Vol. 38, 2010), pages 526-534.

[3]       Ibid.

[4]       Dan Vergano, “Billionaires back ambitious space projects,” USA Today, 13 May 2012:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-04-25/space-exploration-billionaires/54866272/1

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The Empire of Poverty

The People’s Book Project has been in the works for a good deal of time. The Project consists of crowd-funding my efforts to do research and write a series of books analyzing historical and present institutions, ideologies and individuals of power and the processes of resistance to those power structures, in various political, economic and social realms. A modern history of ‘Power and People’, if you will. It’s not an easy endeavour, but with the funding – through donations – that have gotten me to the present point, an enormous amount of research and writing on a wide variety of subjects has been undertaken.

Currently, I am in the process of finishing off the research on the central banking/monetary system. Following this, I will accumulate the research I have done on several other issues and begin weaving it all together in a readable, coherent and concise framework to present the first volume of the People’s Book Project, focused on the global economic system. Included in this volume will be a look at the dynastic power structures of our economic system, largely resting in financial and corporate families; the power and function of banks and financial institutions; the development and spread of corporations; corporate and financial profits; global poverty and hunger; the destruction of the middle class; debt as a mechanism of control and domination; the global land grabs; global trade agreements; the global financial and economic crisis, it’s causes and effects; the central banking system and financial markets; debt crises, austerity, adjustment programs and the reshaping of the global order, guided by bankers, oligarchs and unelected technocrats. This volume aims to analyze and help others understand the nature of the global economic order: how we got here, where we’re going, and just perhaps, what we can do to change our path.

Now in terms of the research and writing I have done, all of which is still very rough in terms of drafts, here is a brief summary outlining how many pages of writing/research I have completed:

- the global financial crisis: 55 pages

- the European debt crisis: 300 pages

- central banking: 55 pages

- financial markets: 112 pages

- corporate power: 58 pages

- trade agreements: 58 pages

- global resources, food crisis, global land grabs: 50 pages

On top of that, I have over 100 pages more of dispersed research on several remaining topics. Now, this does not mean that I will be publishing an 800-page book. What this means is that – even as I have not yet finished my research on the central banking system – I will have roughly 800 pages of work to go through in order to put together the first official draft of the first volume for the People’s Book Project, tentatively entitled, “The Empire of Poverty.”

Now, before I go on to ask for money, I want to explain what I have been doing with my time, besides all of the above. I have not done any specific fundraising for the Book Project in a couple months, as I have not had the ability to dedicate as much time as I would like to work on the book specifically. Instead, I have been working on the following: doing research and writing for a continuous project for Occupy.com – the Global Power Project – examining the individuals who govern society’s major institutions and assessing their other institutional affiliations in an attempt to map the networks of influence wielded by global elites; starting a new continuous research project for Occupy.com – the World of Resistance Report – examining the instances and evolution of global protests, uprisings, revolts and revolution around the world; running the Geopolitics Division of The Hampton Institute – a new, up-and-coming U.S.-based think tank with a radical perspective on the world; doing weekly podcasts for BoilingFrogsPost; doing commissioned articles for various sites; and finally, working – with a few select friends – on starting up our own non-profit organization (on which I will be writing in more detail in the near future).

Now, fortunately for myself – and for those who have been consistent supporters of the Book Project – there has been a great deal of overlap between all these ventures: my research and writing for all these projects directly supports my work on the book. This is why I have avoided doing any specific fund raising for the book recently. However, I now have accumulated enough work and research to really push forward to the editing phase (once my work on central banking is complete, on which I will also be writing an exclusive article for a specific website). What I do need, at this point, is TIME: the time to spend adding the finishing touches to the research, and the time to read through, edit, and start putting together the first complete draft of “The Empire of Poverty.”

Unfortunately, in our present global economic order – of which I will provide much more elucidation in the first volume of the series – time… is money. I wish that I could manage to continue all my work for the other ventures (and thereby not be as reliant upon donations to survive), while also doing the work on the book, but I simply do not have enough time to do it all. Thus, I am undertaking a fundraising initiative to raise $2,500 to subsidize the time needed in order to dedicate my efforts to the book. I assure you, NO ONE is more interested in having this book completed than I am, and all the enormous support it has been given from around the world has been a wonderful – and surprising – gift; truly remarkable, and for which I am eternally grateful. But now I am also impatient. I want to be done, I need something to be completed. I have attempted to balance my time with all these new projects, but have been unable to put in the desired time and effort specifically for the book. Now, that time has come.

Please consider donating to – or spreading the word to others about – the first volume of The People’s Book Project: “The Empire of Poverty.”

Thank you, sincerely.

Andrew Gavin Marshall

fundraising

The Project to Expose Power Structures

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The People’s Book Project has been ongoing for some time now. I recently attempted a fundraising campaign (aimed at raising $2,000) to support work on the Book Project for March and April. I never met the funding goal, but came very close, due to the extremely generous support of readers.

That support has led to significant progress on the project: no new chapters are being started currently. Rather, I am now focusing on finishing the existing chapters and beginning the process of editing together the first volume of the People’s Book Project, focused on issues related to the global economic crisis: the food crisis, land grabs, global poverty, slums, trade, so-called “free trade” agreements, corporate power, bank domination and profits, austerity policies, debt crises, and resistance to economic and corporate tyranny.

Over the next two months, the first volume of the book project should be nearing the first complete edit. But for that to happen, I need to again ask for support from readers to contribute to making this project a reality.

Check out the newly-designed website for The People’s Book Project!

Don’t forget to ‘like’ the Facebook page!

Please consider being a contributor and patron to The People’s Book Project. I am aiming to reach the fundraising goal of $2,000 to support the remaining research, writing, and editing for the first volume of the ‘global economic order.’

This project aims to expose global power structures in order to arm the people with enough information to try to change them. Help contribute to redistributing power by empowering the people with information and knowledge!

Contribute today!

Thank you,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

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Writing for Revolution: A Crash Course in Contemplating the World

Writing for Revolution: A Crash Course in Contemplating the World

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

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Are you wondering why, since we are told we are in an “economic recovery,” you do not feel as if you are in an economic recovery? Did you know that the United States has bombed the Philippines using a drone? Have you heard that France recently went to war in the West African country of Mali? Remember when we bombed Libya in 2011? And how we invaded and occupied Afghanistan for over a decade… and counting? Remember how Iraq was destroyed? Corporations, banks, drug cartels, the arms industry and oil, energy, mining conglomerates are all making record profits; how are you doing?

Have you heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), potentially the largest “free trade” agreement ever, being negotiated with 11 countries and over 600 corporations “in secret” for several years? Did you know that Obama runs an “international assassination” campaign with military drones, bombing countries all over the world, targeting those selected for an official “kill list”? Did you know that the FBI considered ‘Occupy Wall Street’ activists to be “potential terrorists”? Did you know that there is a war against whistleblowers and civil liberties, reaching far beyond what George Bush ever attempted?

Have you heard about large protests in Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and across Europe? Have you ever wondered what’s going on there? Are you curious how the situation in Greece affects you here, wherever you are? Remember when there was talk of an “Arab Spring”, as people in far-away places like Tunisia and Egypt rose up against dictators whose names and state repression we never knew before? What happened with those ‘revolutions’? What’s going on in Syria? Did you hear that China is the next “rising” power in the world?

What does that mean to us, to our future?

We, who sit relatively comfortably within North America, or the West more generally, hear and see images of famine, war, death, disease and destruction all over the world. Is this really the way the ‘rest’ of the world is, or are we involved in making it that way?

Are you curious about the world, about contemplating and understanding the world? Well, I am! That’s why I have spent the past year and a half working on a book project, doing seemingly endless research and writing, to try to piece together what information I can, in a way that I am able to contemplate it, and pass it along to others in an approachable, well-documented, and understandable way. I am not saying I have “the answers”, but through time, energy, and research, I have collected enough information to begin to put pieces together, provide a general framework, for looking at the world and coming to your own conclusions.

I want to understand the world as best as I can, the way it really works, the way society, the economy, politics, war, corporations, banks, governments and international organizations really function. I want to understand the people who are in power, what they believe, what they think, say, and do. I want to know the ways in which populations all over the world react to or resist those in power. And I want to be able to convey the information I come across, the research I do, by writing it in such a way that it is understandable to as many people as possible.

I am not writing an ‘academic’ book, nor do I have any use for ‘academic language’, apart from noting its inability to communicate with others. I am certainly not writing a book for ‘policy-makers’, to “advise” governments on proper initiatives and programs to “better the world”. I have spent several years of my life, off and on, in the university system, attempting to (slowly) get a degree in Political Science and History. Degrees, I was told, provide legitimacy. And so while I began researching and writing for most of my time, some six years ago, I would also be periodically in school, getting an “education”.

I was, of course, fortunate enough to have found a few great professors along the way, from whom I learned a great deal and was exposed to different ideas and perspectives. But these were sadly the exceptions of a “good” education; the most enlightening and inspiring were the most rare, and frequently, were punished by the school – and faculties – for being such. What does that say about our “education” system?

Among the real benefits of a modern education is the access to information it provides, through classes and professors, certainly, but primarily through access to libraries and journals. The amount of information which exists in the world is immense, and constantly growing by large leaps and bounds. With information being digitized and shared through the Internet, more people have more access to more information than ever before in human history. If one truly wants an “education” the likes of which only the modern world can provide, look to that access, not the guardians of information from past eras, who so very often are called “professors” and “academics”.

For that reason, I took the skills and access of an “academic” education to truly begin my own personal education. I took a two-to-three year “hiatus” from school to focus on my own work, having landed a job as a paid researcher and writer. I left that job to pursue my book and, in doing so, subjected myself to the “market forces” of attempting to live as an independent researcher and writer, not connected to any institution, and dependent upon the donations and support of others, around the world.

It amazes me to this day – and every day – how I have been able to get where I am, doing what I am doing, all because of the support of people around the world, most of whom I have never met or known personally.

This was the start of The People’s Book Project, a year and a half ago.

In that time, I have undertaken extensive research and writing: one book became a long book, then many books, and seemingly had no end in sight. The process, while very rewarding, has been quite often terrifying, worrying and stressful. I even returned to school, in part to bring some structure into my life, and in part to pursue the degree I had not finished, worried about my own future on my present path. I returned to take one class, still focusing on the book as my priority, and then the students at my school went on strike. I paid little attention at first, as I barely considered myself a student. I was only physically at the school two days a week for an hour each time. And after a few years of pursuing research on my own, I found it exceedingly difficult to adapt to the more structured process of a “classroom,” with an itinerary of what I am “supposed” to read, and by which date it must be read.

Suddenly, I began to acknowledge what was going on around me, with students taking to the streets to fight a tuition increase, being beaten by riot police and arrested. I clearly wasn’t the only person who had a problem with the educational system. So I began to look closely at the situation here in Quebec, and I began to write about it, participate in the protests, and lend whatever support I could to the movement in the best way I know how: through doing the research and writing the results.

I had never before had such a surprising reception to what I was writing: my articles were going viral through social media and being referenced in newspapers and media across the country, and I was doing multiple radio and television interviews. I was afraid my ego or arrogance would get ahead of me, but I truly felt inspired by a social movement flourishing all around me. Everywhere you went and the people you interacted with – the student movement was becoming a wider social movement. And regardless of what people were saying or how the media portrayed it, everyone was talking about it. You could see it everywhere you went. Months prior, I would occasionally meet up with friends in a bar, but now I was meeting up with friends in protests and marches: these were the new forums for social interaction and engagement with others in my own generation. It was inspiring and drove me to write and work with a new dedication and purpose.

What came out of the experience was the necessity of not simply focusing (in the book and in life) on the problems of the world, on those in power, on power structures, on oppression and war and empire but – more importantly – on that which opposes (and those who resist) power and the problems of the world.

This radically changed the evolving nature of the book: resistance was a requirement.

And this pushed me to study Europe, the debt crisis, and the reactions of populations in Greece, Spain and beyond. In turn, I began to look more closely at the ‘Arab Spring’ and the unfinished and emerging revolutions across much of the world.

As the research for this book has moved forward, and the writing has progressed in kind, it has been a constant struggle in determining how best to present the information, understand and explain the results – deciding what to include, what to leave out, what chapter to go where, what chapters there should be, how I will break up the subjects, chronological or regional? If I break up the ‘war and empire’ section from the ‘corporate and economic’ section, does this re-enforce a superficial divide between these sectors? The questions and concerns go on and on.

When one is attempting to study a deeply interdependent world in which all matters interact and engage with each other, how can one legitimately and constructively break up these sections and still provide a realistic analysis? These questions have been constantly in mind and have led to frequent re-organization of the structure of the book, while the actual research and writing continues unabated by the whims of my own inability to create or adapt to a more rigid ‘structure’

But guidance and goals have also served a profound purpose: they have focused the work more, expanded the understanding, but limited the objective. I have been able to narrow into specific subjects as the focus of this, the first volume, in what I intend to be a series of books. I am still working a great deal on the first volume, adding only to that which I had already planned to research.

A great deal of the research and writing done over the past year and a half will not be included in the first volume. I have written varying amounts of what could amount to multiple books but each, on its own, would require significant work in order to complete. For that reason, I have intended to focus the first book in the series on that which I have written on the most: what is going on in the world today and in recent years? The research I have done in past years contributes to my understanding of the present world, and so it will inform the first volume; thus the efforts done so far in the book project will not be for nothing.

Perhaps not coincidentally, when the student movement in Quebec faded – as a new government came to power, promising to resolve the issues through ‘formal’ political channels – I chose not to return to school. Instead, I chose to focus exclusively on the book. After all, there seemed an odd feeling of hypocrisy in writing about subjects such as the failure of the modern educational system to provide a better understanding of the world, and yet simultaneously seeking to acquire a piece of paper which declared my own understanding to be “legitimate”. I do not seek to join that world of academics, where the more “educated” I am, the more incapable of communicating knowledge to others I become.

When once asked what the “science” aspect of Political Science was, my only reply was that it was “the science of B.S.”  – how to speak as if you know what you’re talking about, to talk about what you know nothing about, to ‘talk’ while saying nothing and think without feeling anything. There is a reason why Political Science produces politicians and policy-makers. A well-trained ‘political scientist’ can B.S. their way through most situations and justify any circumstance.

I spent several years getting this type of “education”, speaking this type of language and understanding these types of concepts. I do not seek to join that world of politicians and policy-makers. As I often tell friends and family: if I ever run for office, don’t vote for me.

It is a challenging thing to attempt to try to understand the world by detaching from some of its more prominent institutions. I do not seek to separate from the world, but to find a connection to the world which holds substance and meaning for me. I see this in people, in protests, in resistance, creativity and revolution; I see it in the potential for people. It’s something to which I feel is worth dedicating my life and work. Unfortunately, it is not something made easy to acquire, and less so to sustain. I have attempted to undertake a project with a large purview and limited resources, independent of institutional support and direction.

I won’t lie – it’s been a constant struggle, but worth every moment and all the effort.

There have been ups and downs, successes and failures, and lessons learned. There have been times where I felt lost, frustrated and incapable of proceeding. There have been times where I felt focused, dedicated and incapable of stopping. This is one of those times.

In the past few months, I have been getting work writing commissioned articles for other sites, even recently beginning a research project with Occupy.com. It has been a relief to develop other sources of income, and rewarding to make new connections and reach new audiences. But still, I must find the time and energy to focus on my book. Commissioned work is good, but it alone does not pay the bills, nor does it provide enough time to work on the book. Thus, I must come to find and establish a better balance in my work, also as I begin to work with new organizations, and even begin the planning process with a friend and associate to start our own.

Thanks to the recent donations to The People’s Book Project, I have been able to throw myself back into the book this last week. My focus, dedication and determination are as strong as ever, and my intention to finish the first volume in the book in the near future appears closer than before.

In the province of Quebec and the city of Montreal, the students are back on the streets, protesting and getting arrested, struggling against the state which stabbed them in the back (as governments tend to do), and my focus is back on the book, progressing and nearing completion. I do not have any illusions that it will take a significant amount of time and effort on my part to do so, but if the ability to do so exists, the inevitability of doing so will persist… and persevere.

I have a goal. I am narrowing my focus and strengthening my efforts. But as always, I need your help to get there.

Are you curious about trying to understand the world? Well, so am I.

The information and resources exist to build up a good capacity of understanding, though it must be in a constant state of adaptation and self-reflection as you come across new information, subjects, ideas and perspectives. I look at the views I have, the ones I’ve changed and how I got to where I am, and it seems clear that my own understanding is constantly changing. Therefore, whatever “understanding” I offer to others – at whatever time I offer it – is never going to be complete; there is always more information, there are always other perspectives, and there is always much more to learn than can ever be known.

So I do not propose that I “know” more than others, or that I have some sort of monopoly on defining “reality”. Instead, I only propose that as I have spent the past six years doing research and writing, and the past year and a half working on this book, I have developed and refined skills at utilizing the access and information that has been made available to me. This is simply a result of practice. The more you do it, the more you learn how to do it better. The more you research, the more you learn. The more you write, the more you communicate. I do not expect everyone to undertake the same research as myself, for all must live their own lives and follow their own passions, but I do think this information is necessary for all people, for as many people who want access to it.

Think of The People’s Book Project as a way to “outsource” your own research to me. I’ll put in the effort, and attempt to summarize the results in easily readable, understandable language, but not dumbed-down or made superficial.

I want to write a book with academic standards of research, but approachable to anyone. I think that the first major requirement for any progress to solving the multiplicity of problems in the world is to first start by engaging in open, direct and honest communication about the world we live in. This, I believe, can be reflected in one’s own individual life – though not without its problems – of learning to engage and interact with others on the basis of this same open, direct and honest communication. It’s easier said than done, both in personal life and the wider world. But I think it’s necessary, at all levels and capacities.

In the past year and a half, as I have made this book the central focus of my energy and efforts, often at the expense of other areas of my life, it has become as much a result of my own ideas and actions as my own beliefs and actions have resulted from it. In short, I am a product of this book as much as it is a product of me. For that reason, I intended to provide some information here about my own process, interest and evolution through the People’s Book Project, so that you may better understand the Project, itself.

I have attempted to be open, direct and honest with you here in assessing my progress, explaining my process and in asking for help with this purpose. Everything that has been done thus far is only because of the support I have received from others. Everything I continue to do will be equally derived from similar support. Nothing that has been – or will be – done with this Project would be possible without the support of many people, in many places, all over the world. And that is exactly the point: it is, after all, the People’s Book Project, made possible by – and for the benefit of – the people, not simply myself.

So, I thank all of you who have – at one or many times over – supported The People’s Book Project in any and every capacity. Thank you for the opportunity, the means and the possibility to do this. And now I ask you to continue helping, to continue your support and to continue spreading the word, for the more people who know and talk about The People’s Book project, the more potential sources of support would exist, and perhaps the less annoying I will have to be in asking for support.

Outsource to me your research, and I’ll provide to you results: a crash course in contemplating the world.

Sincerely,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

 

fundraising

 

Progress on the People’s Book Project

Fundraising efforts for The People’s Book Project are making good progress, and have raised a total of $545.00 out of the goal of $2,000 to finance the Project over the next two months. So thank you very much to the generous contributions thus far, and keep spreading the word, every bit helps! Truly.

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So where is the money going? Primarily, the money goes to covering my general living expenses so that my time can be dedicated to the Book Project, but there are also specific costs associated with monthly subscriptions to news services (such as the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times) which, unfortunately, are necessary to provide the resources for research. Online news sites typically have a maximum amount of articles which can be read for free on their sites (usually around 5-8 per month), and thus, without these subscriptions, research can be heavily curtailed, as they are valuable resources, specifically depending upon the subject matter of focus.

And on that note, what subjects will the current donations be going towards doing research on, as well as writing chapters from? Currently, the focus is on finishing the chapters introducing the subject and mechanisms of imperialism in the modern world, specifically that of the United States: the main planning bodies of empire within government (Pentagon, CIA, National Security Council, State Department), as well as outside, at think tanks and foundations (Council on Foreign Relations, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment, Center for Strategic and International Studies), and the main players in the American Empire over the past 60 years (Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Madeleine Albright, etc.). I will be examining the specific imperial strategies, in their own words, and briefly look at some of their plans in action.

In the chapter on Empire in the Age of Obama, I will be examining the transition from the “War on Terror” to the Obama’s administration’s “overseas contingency operations” (as it was renamed), and the specific strategies, plans, and actions of empire under the current President: drone wars, destabilization campaigns, counter-insurgency in Afghanistan, maintenance of vassal states, support for dictators and human rights abuses, arms trade, more recent wars in Yemen, Libya, Mali, and elsewhere, coups (such as that in Honduras), military bases and expansion, AFRICOM and the militarization of foreign policy in Africa, the relationship between natural resources and imperial policy, and looking at the human costs of empire around the world.

I have also started the chapter on the Arab Spring, focusing thus far on Tunisia, but which will include Egypt and Bahrain, as well as the lesser-known protests and reactions in Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan, among others.

On top of this new research and writing, I will be aiming to complete past chapters already begun, on issues of the food crisis, global land grabs, environmental devastation, and indigenous resistance. I am also hoping to begin editing previously written chapters to start putting together the first draft of the first volume of The People’s Book Project, so that the editing process can proceed in line with the research and writing itself.

These are some hefty goals for the next two months, but if I have the funds, I can dedicate the time and energy to the work. My ultimate goal is to have the first draft completed by the Summer, at which point I will begin the process of final edits and publishing.

So, please consider donating to the People’s Book Project to help this objective be realized. Thank you to all who have contributed, past and presently, and to those who will do so in the future.

Sincerely,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

Writing the People’s Book Project

The People’s Book Project is an on-going, crowd-funded initiative to write a series of books examining the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power and resistance in the world today. The first volume of the Project will be completed ASAP, and looks primarily at the world in the past few years, studying issues of poverty, economic crisis, debt crisis in Europe, banking, corporate power, environmental destruction, food crisis, land grabs, imperialism, war, global governance, anti-austerity movement, student movements, indigenous resistance, and the prospects of global revolution

To continue researching and writing the first volume of The People’s Book Project, I am undertaking a fundraising effort aiming at raising $2,000 to sustain the Project over the next couple months. Thus far, $300 has been raised, and to the donors, a great deal of appreciation is warranted. But that leaves another $1,700 to raise. Please consider making a donation below, and take a look at a brief summary of SOME of the topics that will be discussed in the first volume!

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So what is contained within the first volume?

- A general introduction to the ‘Sociopathic Society’: what is sociopathic and psychopathic behaviour, and how is it reflected in the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power within our society?

- The Culture of Criminality: prisons are full, but of the wrong people. In the upper echelons of power, whether locally or globally, criminal behaviour is rampant (and profitable), from arms dealing to the drug trade, human trafficking, sex trafficking, terrorist financing and the like, some of the world’s most powerful banks, corporations and individuals have their hands all over these dirty trades of misery-profit. I examine these trades and some of the key players within them.

- An Introduction to Institutions: what are the dominant institutions within society, how do they function, whose interests do they serve, and what forms of power do they wield? This will be a very brief introduction to the nature and role of specific institutions within our modern society, from banks and corporations to foundations, think tanks, universities, and the state itself.

- American Empire, Inc.: This section will briefly examine some of the recent history of the American/Western imperial system, looking at the state apparatus of empire (Pentagon, CIA, State Department, National Security Council, etc.), the ideologies and “doctrines” of empire (what are the actual stated goals of foreign policy according to those who dictate the policy?), and who are the key players? Enmeshed in a world of think tanks, corporations, and government officials, key players like Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Madeleine Albright, Brent Scowcroft and others, emerge as constant guiding figures for imperial planning.

- The Global Economic Crisis: What are the structural and ideological causes of the global economic crisis which began in 2008? Who are the key players? What are the role of the big banks, central banks, government agencies, corporations? Who profits? What is the result of the crisis for those in power, the middle class, and the poor? What are the “solutions” that were enacted? Will they make things worse? have they already?

- Food, Land, and Poverty: looking at the current state of global poverty, where roughly half the world’s 7 billion people live on less than $2.50/day, where over one billion live in slums, where tens of millions die from poverty-related causes each year. The food crisis of 2007 and beyond have pushed tens of millions more into poverty and hunger, and the subsequent global land grabs are fast becoming the world’s number one economic, social, and environmental crisis, as international investors push peasant and small farming populations off their land (and into hunger, poverty, and slums).

- Empire in the Age of Obama: What have Obama’s policies in foreign affairs been representative of? The “change” he promised or the continuity of past presidents? From expanding the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan, to waging global drone wars, new wars in Libya, Mali, a rapid militarization of Africa, coups and regime change, Empire in the Age of Obama is as vicious as ever. This looks at the function of the modern imperial system, the relationship between the United States and the world, the maintenance of “vassal” states, and human rights abuses.

- The Arab Spring: From Tunisia, to Egypt, Bahrain, and beyond, this examines the causes, evolution and consequences of the so-called Arab Spring revolts which began in 2010 and have continued to present day. What have been the responses from the Western imperial powers? How have the revolutionary movements changed and evolved?

- Europe in Crisis: this examines the causes of the European debt crisis, the key players and institutions, the evolution of the crisis in Greece, Spain, and Italy, as well as the massive social movements which have erupted in response to the programs of “austerity” and “adjustment” (read: impoverishment and exploitation), from anarchists in Greece, to the Indignados in Spain, protests in Italy, and new regional and global movements which have emerged in response to the crisis.

- Students in the Streets: education is in crisis, with more graduates, less jobs, and enormous debt. Students have been protesting and going on strike and revolt from Greece, to the UK, Chile, Quebec, and Mexico. This section looks at the causes of this crisis, the reactions to it, and the future of education itself.

- Police State America: Over the past decade, the United States – and many of its Western allies – have become “homeland security” states, with increased surveillance, militarization of domestic space, destruction of civil liberties, and are fast tracking down the road to “technological tyrannies.” With the emergence of social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, we see the actual purpose of “Homeland Security”: to protect the powerful from the people.

- Environmental Destruction and Indigenous Resistance: this section examines global environmental crises with a focus on the direct interaction between modern human society and the environment, with pollution, deforestation, resource extraction, climate change, toxic waste dumping and other activities threatening the survival of the human species. The causes of the global environmental crisis are systemic: the institutions, ideologies, and structures of power thrive on environmental destruction, and on the front lines of its consequences – as well as resistance against it – are indigenous peoples all over the world: from Africa, to Central and South America, and in Canada with ‘Idle No More’, Indigenous peoples are showing the path forward in addressing issues of environmental devastation, and that we must all begin to act as if we are ‘Indigenous to the Earth.’

- Global Governance, the Future of Power: ideologies, institutions and individuals of power are increasingly global in scope, and are rapidly seeking to globalize in structure. Regional governance structures, such as the EU, which are devastating their own populations, are held up as models for the rest of the world to follow. Banking, corporations, trade, and the monetary system are increasingly global in scope. So-called “free trade agreements” are making corporations more powerful than governments, as new structures of global governance emerge, remaking the world in the ‘corporate image’, increasingly totalitarian, exploitative, and destructive.

- The Prospect of Global Revolution: as power globalizes, so too is resistance. The global movements of resistance, from Egypt and Tunisia, to Greece, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, to Canada and the United States, may be taking place in specific circumstances, and with specific demands, but they represent a change taking place in the world: the population of the world is rising up in resistance, slowly but surely. What are the common factors driving this? What are areas of mutual co-operation? What is the potential for future evolution into making meaningful change?

This is not meant to be an exact outline, but is meant to be a general look at the subjects which the first volume of The People’s Book Project is attempting to examine.

Please help this Project continue by donating today!

Thank you,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

Power, Empire, and Revolution: The First Volume of The People’s Book Project

I am attempting to raise funds to finance The People’s Book Project over the next two months, with a goal of raising $2,000.

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This will help provide the time and resources necessary to complete several chapters of the first volume of The People’s Book Project. The goal is to finish the first volume as soon as possible, at which time it will begin the editing and publishing process.

So what is contained within the first volume?

- A general introduction to the ‘Sociopathic Society’: what is sociopathic and psychopathic behaviour, and how is it reflected in the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power within our society?

- The Culture of Criminality: prisons are full, but of the wrong people. In the upper echelons of power, whether locally or globally, criminal behaviour is rampant (and profitable), from arms dealing to the drug trade, human trafficking, sex trafficking, terrorist financing and the like, some of the world’s most powerful banks, corporations and individuals have their hands all over these dirty trades of misery-profit. I examine these trades and some of the key players within them.

- An Introduction to Institutions: what are the dominant institutions within society, how do they function, whose interests do they serve, and what forms of power do they wield? This will be a very brief introduction to the nature and role of specific institutions within our modern society, from banks and corporations to foundations, think tanks, universities, and the state itself.

- American Empire, Inc.: This section will briefly examine some of the recent history of the American/Western imperial system, looking at the state apparatus of empire (Pentagon, CIA, State Department, National Security Council, etc.), the ideologies and “doctrines” of empire (what are the actual stated goals of foreign policy according to those who dictate the policy?), and who are the key players? Enmeshed in a world of think tanks, corporations, and government officials, key players like Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Madeleine Albright, Brent Scowcroft and others, emerge as constant guiding figures for imperial planning.

- The Global Economic Crisis: What are the structural and ideological causes of the global economic crisis which began in 2008? Who are the key players? What are the role of the big banks, central banks, government agencies, corporations? Who profits? What is the result of the crisis for those in power, the middle class, and the poor? What are the “solutions” that were enacted? Will they make things worse? have they already?

- Food, Land, and Poverty: looking at the current state of global poverty, where roughly half the world’s 7 billion people live on less than $2.50/day, where over one billion live in slums, where tens of millions die from poverty-related causes each year. The food crisis of 2007 and beyond have pushed tens of millions more into poverty and hunger, and the subsequent global land grabs are fast becoming the world’s number one economic, social, and environmental crisis, as international investors push peasant and small farming populations off their land (and into hunger, poverty, and slums).

- Empire in the Age of Obama: What have Obama’s policies in foreign affairs been representative of? The “change” he promised or the continuity of past presidents? From expanding the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan, to waging global drone wars, new wars in Libya, Mali, a rapid militarization of Africa, coups and regime change, Empire in the Age of Obama is as vicious as ever. This looks at the function of the modern imperial system, the relationship between the United States and the world, the maintenance of “vassal” states, and human rights abuses.

- The Arab Spring: From Tunisia, to Egypt, Bahrain, and beyond, this examines the causes, evolution and consequences of the so-called Arab Spring revolts which began in 2010 and have continued to present day. What have been the responses from the Western imperial powers? How have the revolutionary movements changed and evolved?

- Europe in Crisis: this examines the causes of the European debt crisis, the key players and institutions, the evolution of the crisis in Greece, Spain, and Italy, as well as the massive social movements which have erupted in response to the programs of “austerity” and “adjustment” (read: impoverishment and exploitation), from anarchists in Greece, to the Indignados in Spain, protests in Italy, and new regional and global movements which have emerged in response to the crisis.

- Students in the Streets: education is in crisis, with more graduates, less jobs, and enormous debt. Students have been protesting and going on strike and revolt from Greece, to the UK, Chile, Quebec, and Mexico. This section looks at the causes of this crisis, the reactions to it, and the future of education itself.

- Police State America: Over the past decade, the United States – and many of its Western allies – have become “homeland security” states, with increased surveillance, militarization of domestic space, destruction of civil liberties, and are fast tracking down the road to “technological tyrannies.” With the emergence of social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, we see the actual purpose of “Homeland Security”: to protect the powerful from the people.

- Environmental Destruction and Indigenous Resistance: this section examines global environmental crises with a focus on the direct interaction between modern human society and the environment, with pollution, deforestation, resource extraction, climate change, toxic waste dumping and other activities threatening the survival of the human species. The causes of the global environmental crisis are systemic: the institutions, ideologies, and structures of power thrive on environmental destruction, and on the front lines of its consequences – as well as resistance against it – are indigenous peoples all over the world: from Africa, to Central and South America, and in Canada with ‘Idle No More’, Indigenous peoples are showing the path forward in addressing issues of environmental devastation, and that we must all begin to act as if we are ‘Indigenous to the Earth.’

- Global Governance, the Future of Power: ideologies, institutions and individuals of power are increasingly global in scope, and are rapidly seeking to globalize in structure. Regional governance structures, such as the EU, which are devastating their own populations, are held up as models for the rest of the world to follow. Banking, corporations, trade, and the monetary system are increasingly global in scope. So-called “free trade agreements” are making corporations more powerful than governments, as new structures of global governance emerge, remaking the world in the ‘corporate image’, increasingly totalitarian, exploitative, and destructive.

- The Prospect of Global Revolution: as power globalizes, so too is resistance. The global movements of resistance, from Egypt and Tunisia, to Greece, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, to Canada and the United States, may be taking place in specific circumstances, and with specific demands, but they represent a change taking place in the world: the population of the world is rising up in resistance, slowly but surely. What are the common factors driving this? What are areas of mutual co-operation? What is the potential for future evolution into making meaningful change?

This is not meant to be an exact outline, but is meant to be a general look at the subjects which the first volume of The People’s Book Project is attempting to examine.

Please help this Project continue by donating today!

Thank you,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, with a focus on studying the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power and resistance across a wide spectrum of social, political, economic, and historical spheres. He has been published in AlterNet, CounterPunch, Occupy.com, Truth-Out, RoarMag, and a number of other alternative media groups, and regularly does radio, Internet, and television interviews with both alternative and mainstream news outlets. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project and has a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.

Open-Source Education and the People’s Book Project

occupy-education

The People’s Book Project is a crowd-funded initiative to support the research and writing of a series of books studying ideas, institutions, and individuals of power… and resistance. The Project has been going for roughly a year and a half, and has yielded an immense amount of research and writing, all thanks to the generous donations of supporters, as well as readers who have shared and promoted the Project and articles.

While a great deal of work has been produced, I have focused my attention on finishing the first volume as soon as possible, with an emphasis on looking at the world in present day, at social, economic, and political institutions, ideas, and individuals who dominate and resist the current world order, asking the question: what is the nature of our society? In seeking to answer this question, I have set the focus of the first volume on the subjects of the global economic and financial crisis, the debt crisis in Europe, imperialism in the ‘age of Obama,’ poverty, exploitation, corporate power, environmental destruction, the encroaching police state, global governance, and conversely, resistance to all these areas: anti-austerity movements, student movements, indigenous movements, revolutions in the Arab world and beyond, Occupy, and the emergence of a global revolutionary impetus.

This book is intended to be an ‘introduction’ to the ideas and institutions of world power, to provide the reader with a better understanding of the nature of power, moving beyond mythology and rhetoric and closer toward reality: how does power actually function? Future volumes of the Book Project will aim to provide a far more comprehensive examination of our global system, its history, and the plethora of institutions which dominate, as well as the history of revolutionary ideas and actions.

It is essential, however, that the first volume focuses on present day issues, and further, that it is finished soon. In the past month or so, I have attempted to avoid overt fundraising activities, since it is very often the same generous individuals who consistently give to the Book Project, and I have instead been doing an increasing amount of work in getting commissioned articles and research projects for others, so that I may become more independently funded. While this is certainly a welcome change in my own life (getting paid to do what I love!), it adds a great deal to my plate, as time and energy spent researching and writing commissioned pieces is not spent on the book.

Nevertheless, I have been making time and putting in effort to moving as far ahead in the Book Project as possible. In the past couple months, I have written a great deal for chapters related to the global food crisis, land grabbing, global poverty, corporate and financial power, as well as imperialism (so far focusing on imperialism in Africa and the Arab world), and I have also completed a good deal of research for other chapters and areas. Progress is the name of the game, though the pace of such progress tends to sway according to financial imperatives. For this reason, I am asking for your support, dear readers, to donate to The People’s Book Project so that more time may be dedicated toward finishing the first volume in the next couple months.

I would also like to briefly touch on some ideas and plans as to where the Project may lead, since it is not merely dedicated to my own research and writing, but has a much wider objective: to help do my part in trying to change the paradigm of thought and action, to infuse individuals with information and arm them with knowledge so that they can use their own creative potential to change the world for the better. This Project is also dedicated toward the establishment of a new organizing, which is currently in the planning stages: The People’s Foundation. It’s objective would be similar, though it’s means would be much greater. It would be dedicated to research, open-source education, new media, bringing activists together, establishing exchanges and building bridges to similar organizations around the world. The People’s Book Project itself helps lay the groundwork of research upon which The People’s Foundation could be built and how it aims to function, what it hopes to achieve. Both projects are in the works, and aim to be a continuing and evolving process. One could say that it is an attempt to ‘walk the walk’ instead of merely ‘talking the talk.’ Research and writing have their place, but action is essential. My objective with the People’s Book Project is to help advance understanding and action.

These objectives are not possible without the generous support of readers, and that support is needed once again. I will continue to be providing samples from the Project as the work progresses, and am hoping to get out some pieces on the subjects of imperialism, war, and land grabbing in the very near future.

So thank you, dear readers, for your consistent and continuing support. None of this would be possible without you, and that is exactly the point: it’s called the PEOPLE’S Book Project because it does not result merely from my own research and effort, but only from what is made possible by the efforts of many, and for the purpose of benefit not merely to myself, but to many. Implicit in both the conclusions of my research and the function of the Project itself, is that nothing is possible without the combined efforts of many: the ‘individual’ is only made possible by the understanding that it is part of a collective, that the individual cannot exist without the group, without the many; the person cannot exist without the people. That is where the world’s solutions stand: in collective organization, initiative, and action, so that true individuality may flourish from the support of the many, so that the creative capacity of groups can outweigh the creative limits of single units.

The future is an exciting place. So please consider helping The People’s Book Project get there!

Sincerely,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, with a focus on studying the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power and resistance across a wide spectrum of social, political, economic, and historical spheres. He has been published in AlterNet, CounterPunch, Occupy.com, Truth-Out, RoarMag, and a number of other alternative media groups, and regularly does radio, Internet, and television interviews with both alternative and mainstream news outlets. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project and has a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.

Corporate Culture and Global Empire: Food Crisis, Land Grabs, Poverty, Slums, Environmental Devastation and Resistance

Corporate Culture and Global Empire: Food Crisis, Land Grabs, Poverty, Slums, Environmental Devastation and Resistance

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

2013_01_02_idlenomorehuffpo

Corporate power is immense. The world’s largest corporation is Royal Dutch Shell, surpassed in wealth only by the 24 largest countries on earth. Of the 150 largest economic entities in the world, 58% are corporations. Corporations are institutionally totalitarian, the result of power’s resistance to the democratic revolution, which was begrudgingly accepted in the political sphere, but denied the economic sphere, and thus was denied a truly democratic society. They are driven by a religion called “short-term profits.” Corporate society – a state-capitalist society – flourished in the United States, and managed the transition of American society in the early 20th century, just as Fascists and Communists were managing transitions across Europe. With each World War, American society – its political and economic power – grew in global influence, and with the end of World War II, that corporate society was exported globally.

This is empire. The American military, intelligence agencies, and national security apparatus operate with the intention of serving U.S. – and now increasingly global – state and corporate interests. Wars, coups, destabilization campaigns, support for dictators, tyrants, genocides and oppression are the products of Western interaction with the rest of the world.

In the same sense that “God made man in his own image,” corporations remade society in their own interest; and with equal arrogance. Corporations and banks created or took over think tanks, foundations, educational institutions, media, public relations, advertising, and other sectors of society. Through their control of other institutions, they extend their ideologies of power – and the variances between them – to the population, to other elites, the ‘educated’ class, middle class, the poor and working class. So long as the ideas expressed support power, it’s ‘acceptable.’ It can extend critiques, but institutional analysis is not permitted. Ideas which oppose institutional power are ‘ideological’, ‘idealist’, ‘utopian’, and ultimately, unacceptable.

Corporate culture dominates our society in the West. Being inherently totalitarian institutions, the culture – and its institutions – become increasingly totalitarian. This is the response by private economic power to undo the achievements in human history which came through increased democracy in the political sphere. Corporations and banks seek to control and consume all things, to dominate without end.

The only reason corporations were and are able to be the defining cultural institution of the 20th and now 21st century, is because of their economic power. This is derived from exploitation: of resources, the environment, labour, and consumers. It is enforced with repression: the job of the state in the state-capitalist society, along with massive subsidies and protectionist measures for corporate and financial interests. As corporate power extended around the world, the rapid destruction of the environment and resources accelerated, and Western powers ‘outsourced’ the environmental devastation our consumer societies ‘require’ to the so-called Third World. We consume, and they suffer; a marriage of inconvenience that we call “civilization.” Corporations and our state keep the rest of the world in a state of poverty and repression, eternally attempting to block the inevitable global revolution to create a human society that acts… humanely. We were busy buying things. Couldn’t be bothered.

Now what our societies have done to the people on whose land we now live, or everyone else in the world, is being done internally, to us. Everything is up for sale! Corporations make record profits, hoard billions and trillions in cash reserves, NOT being invested, but likely waiting until your standard of living is significantly reduced so that your labour and resources are cheaper, and thus, ultimately more profitable. This is called ‘austerity’ and ‘structural reform,’ political euphemisms for impoverishment and exploitation.

Corporations, banks and states have in recent years caused a massive global food crisis, driving food costs to record highs almost every subsequent year from 2007 onward. With billions of people in the world living on less than $2 per day, the majority of humanity spends most of their income on food. Price increases in food, caused primarily by financial speculation (big players include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays), push tens of millions more people into poverty and hunger. Roughly one billion – 1/7th of the world’s population – live in slums. And they are growing rapidly. Massive urban slums were developed out of the imperialism Western states and corporations imposed upon the rest of the world, pushing people off the land and into the cities, whether induced by poverty or coerced by bombs and guns. All billed to the imperial Western state sponsors of terrorism. We supported (and support) ruthless and tiny elites in the countries we dominate[d] around the world, and now we are just beginning to realize the ruthless and tiny elite which rules over our own domestic lives. Their social function is that of a parasite: to suck the life blood out of all global society.

Food price increases have helped spur a massive global land grab, with Western (as well as Gulf and Asian powers) grabbing vast tracts of land – and water – around the world, for pennies on the dollar. This grab is most extensive in Africa, where in the past several years, mostly Western investors have grabbed land which amounts to an area roughly the size of Western Europe. The land not only contains extensive resource wealth, most importantly water (the Nile is up for sale!), but it is home to hundreds of millions of people, and globally, there are 2.5 billion poor people engaged in small-scale farming. This is primarily done through communal land ownership, something which Western society – with its ‘divine right’ of private property – does not understand. Thus, in international, state, and corporate law – which we designed – we deem communally owned and used land to be legally owned by the state. Our ‘investors’ – banks, hedge funds, pension funds, corporations and states – strike deals with corrupt states across the world to give us 40-100 year contracts for vast tracts of land, paying little or sometimes no rent. Then the “empty land” – as we call it – is cleared (of it’s “emptiness”, no doubt), evicting peoples who have been there for generations and beyond, who depend upon the land and the food it produces for their very lives. These people are being driven to cities, and ultimately, slums.

This is what we call “productive” use of land. So naturally, we then destroy it, eviscerate its environment, poison and pollute, extract, exploit, plunder and profit. Or we simply hold onto the land, not using it at all, just waiting until it goes up in profit. Even major American universities like Harvard are getting involved in the massive land grabs across Africa and elsewhere. This is the largest land grab in history since the late 19th century ‘Scramble for Africa’ where Europeans colonized almost the entire continent. When we do use the land for ‘productive use’, we say it will “help the climate” and “reduce hunger.” How? Because we will produce food and biofuels. And in doing so, we will use massive amounts of chemicals, pesticides, genetically modified organisms, deforestation, biodiversity destruction, highly mechanized and heavy fuel-use farming techniques. The food we produce – which is not much, we have more interest in things like biofuels, lumber, minerals, oil, cash-crops, etc. – is then exported to our countries, and away from the poor ones where hunger and poverty are so prevalent. They lose their land, gain more poverty, with the added bonus of extensive food insecurity, hunger, starvation, slum growth, increased mortality rates, disease, and violence. Poverty is violence.

This is how Western states, banks, corporations and international organizations address the issue of “hunger”: by creating more of it. And in a deeply disturbing irony, we call this moving towards “sustainability.” Little did we know that power interests have a different definition of “sustainability” than most people: they simply combined the words sustained and profitability, and called it “sustainability.” And coincidentally, that word already has a meaning to most people, so we simply misinterpreted the meaning. But there are people who take that concept seriously, those who experience the major costs of an unsustainable society.

We are witnessing a massive global resistance to these processes, largely driven by indigenous peoples – in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and now in North America. In Canada, the ‘Idle No More‘ movement began with four indigenous women in Saskatchewan deciding to meet up and discuss their concerns about Steven Harper’s “budget bill,” which, among other things, had reduced the amount of Canada’s protected rivers, lakes, and streams from roughly 2.5 million (as of Dec. 4, 2012) to somewhere around 62 (as of Dec. 5, 2012). Now a large, expanding, and increasingly international social movement led by indigenous peoples is taking place. Less than two months ago, it began with four women having a discussion.

Canada’s Indigenous peoples are showing Canadians – and others around the world – how to stand up against power. And they’ve had practice. For over 500 years, our societies have been oppressing and often eradicating indigenous populations at ‘home’ and abroad. Indigenous peoples, like other oppressed peoples, are at the front lines of the most oppressive nature of our society: they experience and have experienced exploitation, environmental devastation, domination and decimation. With the world’s Indigenous peoples speaking – not only in Canada, but across Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere – it is time that we in the West begin to listen. It is always important to listen to those who are most oppressed; the histories of our ‘victims’ are rarely written or known, at least not to us. Victims remember. And it matters that we begin to listen.

How can we expect to change – or know what and how to change – our societies if we do not listen and learn from those who have experienced the worst of our society? Indigenous people are now giving us a lesson in democratic struggle. If we continue on our current path, Indigenous communities will be completely wiped out; the powers that rule our society will have completed a 500-year genocide.

So we have to ask ourselves the question: should we now listen to, learn from, and join with these people in common struggle for justice and the idea of a humane society, or… are we still too busy buying things?

Perhaps it is time we all should be ‘Idle No More.’

The above was a short summary of roughly three separate chapters currently being researched and written as part of The People’s Book Project. To help the Project continue, please consider spreading the word, sharing articles, or donating.