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CounterPunch Vol 25 no 3 (partial)

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TELLS THE FACTS AND NAMES THE NAMES · VOLUME 25 NUMBER 3 · 2018The Political Economy of the Weapons Industry by Joan Roelofs Marx’s Alternative by Paul Street…
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TELLS THE FACTS AND NAMES THE NAMES · VOLUME 25 NUMBER 3 · 2018The Political Economy of the Weapons Industry by Joan Roelofs Marx’s Alternative by Paul Street Burning the Hemisphere by Stan Cox Mexicans Want Change by Laura Carlsen Free Trade is Not Free by Pete Dolackwww.counterpunch.org CounterPunch Magazine, Volume 25, (ISSN 1086-2323) is a journal of progressive politics, investigative reporting, civil liberties, art, and culture published by The Institute for the Advancment of Journalistic Clarity, Petrolia, California, 95558.Visit counterpunch.org to read dozens of new articles daily, purchase subscriptions, order books and access 18 years of archives. Periodicals postage pending at Eureka, California. POSTMASTER send address changes to: CounterPunch P.O. Box 228 Petrolia, CA 95558 ISSN 1086-2323 (print) ISSN 2328-4331 (digital) www.counterpunch.org All rights reserved. editor-in-chief Jeffrey St. Clair MANAGING EDITOR Joshua Frank CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Lee Ballinger, Melissa Beattie, Darwin Bond-Graham, Chloe Cockburn, Windy Cooler, Chris Floyd, Kevin Alexander Gray, Steve Horn, Lee Hall, Conn Hallinan, Barbara Rose Johnson, Binoy Kampmark, JoAnn Wypijewski, David Macaray, Chase Madar, Kim Nicolini, Brenda Norrell, Vijay Prashad, Louis Proyect, Martha Rosenberg, Christine Sheeler, Jan Tucker, Mike Whitney SOCIaL MEDIA EDITOR Nathaniel St. Clair administrative director & DESIGN PRODUCTION Becky Grant ecommerce specialist & administrative assistant Deva Wheeler Subscription & order fulfillment Nichole Stephens DESIGN CONSULTATION Tiffany WardleContact Information CounterPunch Business Office PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558 1 (707) 629-3683editorial: counterpunch@counterpunch.org business: becky@counterpunch.org subscriptions and merchandise: deva@counterpunch.orgSubmissions CounterPunch accepts a small number of submissions from accomplished authors and newer writers. Please send your pitch to counterpunch@counterpunch.org. Due to the large volume of submissions we receive we are able to respond to only those that interest us.Advertising Advertising space is available in CounterPunch Magazine. Media kit available upon request. All advertisements are subject to the publisher’s approval of copy, text, display, and illustration. CounterPunch reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertisement at any time. email becky@counterpunch.orgAddress Change Please notify us immediately of email and/ or mailing address changes for uninterrupted delivery of your magazine. By Mail: CounterPunch Business Office PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558 by Phone: 1 (707) 629-3683 By Email (preferred): nichole@counterpunch.orgDonations CounterPunch’s survival is dependent upon income from subscriptions, donations and book and merchandise sales. We are a non-profit, tax exempt organization under The Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, DBA CounterPunch. Donations are welcome year round. Donate by mail, telephone or online: www.counterpunch.org. If you would like to include IAJC in your will or make a bequest, please contact Becky Grant in the business office.1-year digital edition (PDF) $25 1-year institutions/supporters $100 1-year print/digital for student/low income $40 1-year digital for student/low income $20 All subscription orders must be prepaid— we do not invoice for orders. Renew by telephone, mail, or on our website. For mailed orders please include name, address and email address with payment, or call 1 (800) 840-3683 or 1 (707) 629-3683. Add $25.00 per year for subscriptions mailed to Canada and $45 per year for all other countries outside the US. Please do not send checks or money orders in currency other than U.S. dollars. We DO accept debit cards and credit cards from banks outside the US that have the Visa, Mastercard or other major card insignias. Make checks or money orders payable to: CounterPunch Business Office PO Box 228 Petrolia, CA 95558Letters to the Editor Send letters to the editors by mail to: CounterPunch PO Box 228 Petrolia, CA 95558 or preferably by email to: counterpunch@counterpunch.orgCover Image“Maga Brain” by Nick RoneySubscriber Password: summer2018Use this password to access the subscriber only archive at https://store.counterpunch. org/back-issues-subscriber-access/Subscriptions A one year subscription consists of 6 bi-monthly issues. 1-year print/digital edition $45In Memory of Alexander Cockburn 1941–2012table of contents VOLUME 25 NUMBER 3 · 2018letters to the editor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 columns Roaming Charges. . . . . . . . . . . 6borderzone notes Mexicans Want Change By Laura Carlsen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10eurozone notes Long to Reign Over Us By Daniel Raventós and Julie Wark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Man-made disaster in Puerto Rico.Empire Burlesque . . . . . . . . . . 7 The American Mirror By Chris Floyd12articlesThe future is all used up.Bottomlines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 “Free Trade” is Not Free By Pete DolackNeoliberalism and Hip Hop: On Gangsters Real and Fake By Nick Pemberton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Political Economy of the Weapons Industry By Joan Roelofs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Trump’s Quest for Energy Dominance By John Schlossberg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .How Capitalism is Working: Marx’s Alternative By Paul StreetMaria’s Missing Dead By Jeffrey St. Clair. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .We Burned Through a Whole Hemisphere in Just 500 years By Stan Cox. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Making NAFTA worse.14Between the Lines. . . . . . . . . . 9 Careless Courts By Ruth Fowler The perils of family court.16 culture 22 25 29& reviews Somebody’s Watching You By Lee Ballinger. . . . . . . . . . . 33 Dreaming in the Cinema By Ed Leer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35Roaming ChargesMaria’s Missing Dead By Jeffrey St. ClairThey knew it was coming. They knew when it would hit. They knew how strong the winds would be and how much rain the storm bands would unleash. They knew how high the surf might surge. They knew it would take out Puerto Rico’s decrepit power grid. They knew the island’s archaic water system would fail. They knew there would be landslides, burying roads, cutting off towns and isolating villages. They knew bridges and small dams would collapse. They knew backup generators would run out of gas. They knew hospitals and clinics would lose power. They knew tens of thousands of houses would be destroyed, leaving families homeless for months and sparking a refugee crisis. They knew there would be deaths and thousands of injuries. They knew children would be separated from parents, the elderly and infirm left alone. They knew there would be shortages of food, water, and medicine. They knew that Puerto Rico, struggling under crushing debt, imposed austerity and the cruel legacy of colonialism, was even less capable of dealing with the immediate aftermath of a super-storm than was Houston or New Orleans or Miami. They knew and yet they did nothing. Hurricane Maria gave plenty of warning. Despite being under siege from Trump’s budget cuts, NOAA had meticulously tracked the storm since it first formed as an ominous wrinkle in the broiling waters of the eastern Atlantic off the coast of West Africa. They tracked it as it migrated across the Atlantic, incubating in 85-degree waters until it coalesced into a tropical depression near the Lesser Antilles. Then within 24 hours, Maria morphed from a tropical storm into a powerful hurricane, fueled by the most “explosive6intensification” ever documented in the Atlantic Basin. On September 19, Maria entered in the Caribbean Sea, after smashing across the island of Dominica packing 165 mile per hour winds, the fiercest ever to hit the island. The first tentacles of Maria lashed Puerto Rico on September 20th. Over the next 24 hours, some parts of the island were drenched by 40 inches of rain, eight inches more than Houston received over three days during Hurricane Harvey. The power went out within a few hours, plunging the island into the largest blackout in US history and the second largest in the history of the world. For months, people in rural villages were forced to drink water contaminated by toxic waste, rotting animal corpses and raw sewage. George W. Bush was swiftly vilified for his callously lethargic response to the swamping of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Yet within a mere two weeks, Congress had appropriated $60 billion in emergency funding for Katrina survivors. In the wake of Maria, the government of Puerto Rico pleaded with the Trump administration for $94 billion disaster relief. It took the Ryan/ McConnell-led Congress six months to act on Puerto Rico’s urgent request for help and then they only allocated a mere $16 billion in federal aid. In those six months, more than 5,700 Puerto Ricans may have died, according to a mortality analysis by public health researchers at Harvard University. These weren’t victims of the storm itself, but of government indifference and incompetence in the days, weeks and months that followed. In the months after the storm, Puerto Ricans died from lack of basic medical care. They died because they ran out ofcrucial medicines. They died because they couldn’t get to dialysis treatments. They died because their breathing machines stopped working. They died of chronic conditions and acute disorders. They died of stress and heart attacks, they died of strokes and dehydration. They died of dehydration, exposure and starvation. They died of despair and suicide. They died from the criminal neglect of their own government. Trump should thank Roseanne Barr, whose racist Twitter-spasm knocked the Harvard Report on post-Maria deaths in Puerto Rico off the Sunday morning news talk shows, none of which even mentioned the staggering mortality rate, which was 90 times the government’s own total. The press, which largely left the island after Trump’s paper-towel tossing photo op in San Juan, is nearly as complicit as the president. For weeks, the official death toll in Puerto Rico stood at 16, an absurd figure that Trump repeatedly invoked in a running advertisement for how his administration should have rated a “10 out of 10” for its response to the Hurricane. This number eventually climbed to 64 deaths, and there it stood for 8 months, rarely questioned by the media despite the ongoing carnage of the island. The devastating Harvard Report, released on the eve of the new Atlantic hurricane season, came and went, a brief interlude in the national psychodrama. “It took too long to understand the need for an appropriate response was not about politics but about saying lives,” said Carmen Yulín Cruz, San Juan’s feisty mayor. “ Now will the government believe it?” There’s no sign that the government even read it, nevermind absorbed its urgent lessons. Now there is no excuse. Now we know what Puerto Ricans have known all along. Still, they do nothing. Instead, FEMA and its crony contractors are leaving the island, where tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans remain without safe drinking water and reliable electrical power. Fields remain fallow. Food is scarce. And people are dying every day. But who’s counting? cpBetween the linesCareless Courts By Ruth FowlerThere’s a lot of information out there about how the criminal justice system is failing marginalized people, people of color, people with minor drug offenses, undocumented people. But there is very, very little information about how the court system is failing parents and children by penalizing those without the means to pay for the necessary legal assistance to adequately navigate a system so incomprehensible that even those employed within it don’t seem to understand it and frequently make enormous mistakes. For three years I’ve been embroiled in a contentious custody battle in the US family court system which has taken me to court over 24 times. At first I had the means to pay for an attorney. Even with an attorney, navigating the legal system was complicated and overwhelming, responding to subpoenas, issuing subpoenas, trying to track down information, slipping through legal loopholes so obscure that neither party nor the judge, commissioner, clerk or attorney seemed quite to comprehend what was legal, what was not. Have you ever tried calling anyone to be a witness in court, particularly in a child custody case? It’s hell. No one wants to get involved, friends disappear into the woodwork. All the while, you’re reliant on some attorney who’s charging you an extortionate rate, and there is no way to understand if the information you’re provided with, the assurances that people you are paying are giving to you, is trustworthy. There are other alternatives. Some companies, such as the LA based Leavitt & Quinn are a family law center specializing in providing services to low income women in the LA area. With an income of $8,000 a year they decided that their ‘low cost’ charge for services would be$180 an hour. The Harriet Buhai center, which teaches women how to prepare for court and represent themselves. Document, document, document, they say. “He will screw up,” the attorneys kept telling me about my ex-husband. “Just give him enough rope to hang himself.” This is a phrase I have heard over and over again, most recently in Alice Anderson’s devastating memoir, ‘Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away’. In it Alice recounts her decade long battle with a family court system which continually allows abusive fathers access to their children. For some reason a man can abuse his wife, a child can witness this abuse, but the courts will not consider that same man a danger to the child. If the father does do something to hurt the child, they will be given supervised visitation and a reunification program of counseling—counseling with the abused child—to bring them unsupervised visitation again, and the vicious cycle will start over again. A documentary by the British filmmaker Rachel Meyerick, ‘What doesn’t kill me’, quotes statistics from Joan Meier’s research which states that protective mothers who challenge custody in family court often lose custody altogether—83% of the time, in the case of alleged sexual abuse. As Barry Goldstein, an expert in domestic violence states, “A US Justice Department study found that professionals without the necessary domestic violence training tend to focus on the myth that mothers frequently make false reports. This is based on the stereotype of a woman scorned.” The bar is different for women and men. Family court continues to handle domestic violence, abuse and sexual assault—criminal matters when itoccurs normally, but when it occurs with a family, they’re not held up to the same kind of rigor. This means professionals working in family court are not trained to deal with the kinds of personalities of serial abusers, many of whom can be charming, cordial and extremely persuasive. I recently filed in court asking for the right to return to my home country for eighty days to work with my son. My refusal to leave the US without my son has meant that my career, based in the UK, has pretty much dried up. I have the legal right to leave for eighty days— unless one of those days was a holiday which landed with my ex. My ex, predictably, was refusing to let me leave. The petty bureaucracies of the American legal system and an exhusband now dictate my every move: whether I can leave the city, the state, the country. Whether my son can come with me or not. If I choose to work and leave him behind, it will be used in court as evidence that I am an unfit mother and that my ex-husband an exceptional parent. So here I am, navigating a court system, tied to a country I really don’t want to be in, exhaustedly deciphering arcane rules and trying to appease bad tempered legal officials, spending time and money I don’t have on simply trying to stay united with my own child. The ostensible drive of family court is to prioritize the best interests of the child. And yet here is my child, surviving on calworks, foodstamps, GAIN and scholarships because his mother cannot return home to work without effectively abandoning him. The irony is not lost on the legal system. It just doesn’t give a fuck about women or children, like most of America. Like most marginalized people, no one will care until we’re lying on the floor and either party can use us to push for some legislation that might benefit their own financial interests. America: the land of ilk and money. cp9How Capitalism is WorkingMarx’s Alternative By Paul Street“The philosophers,” young Karl Marx wrote, “have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” Today, the founder of “scientific socialism” would hardly be overjoyed at the praise he has received from leading capitalist opinion and news organs like The Economist and the New York Times, who marked the recent 200th anniversary (May 5, 2018) of his birth by conceding that Marx was right. These establishment authorities admit that global capitalism—the soulless beast described as the handiwork of “the bourgeoisie” in Marx and Frederick Engels’ famous Communist Manifesto (1848)—generates mass misery, savage inequality, rampant poverty, the pitiless exploitation of billions, and the insidious oligarchic rule of a small number of giant corporations and financial institutions.Against False Conflation But so what? “What,” the Russian Marxist V.I. Lenin famously asked, “is to be done?” Not much, answer the system’s middle-class opinion-managers. The medicine, the Economist proclaims, is worse than the malady. It’s either (a) do the best you can under capitalism, with all its “imperfections,” or the totalitarian nightmare of Stalin, Mao’s, Ceceascau, and Kim jong-Un’s all-powerful state, replete with dungeons, conspiracy trials, confessions, stark production quotas, secret police. labor camps and firing squads. What is left out here is Marx’s actual alternative vision which has never really been carried into practice. In his late twenties, Marx, a fierce individualist and romantic humanist, imagined a “communist” future when all would be free to follow creative, self-actualizing pursuits beyond the narrow requirements imposed by “modern” class society’s stultifying division of labor: For, as soon as the division of labor comes into being, each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic and must remain so if he does not wish to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.Two decades later, near the end of the draft third volumeof his economic magnum opus Capital, Marx imagined a post-capitalist and hence (for him) post-class society, one in which the vast majority would be voluntarily and enthusiastically joined as “associated producers” to create a “true realm of freedom” beyond the necessity of onerous toil and in accord with their “human nature”: In fact, the realm of freedom … can only consist in socialised man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature; and achi
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