Progressive Calendar 05.23.12 /2
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 23 May 2012 12:49:20 -0700 (PDT)
*P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   05.23.12*

1. Rally vs stadium 5.23 4:30pm

2. Cavlan campaign - Michael Cavlan for US Senate
3. Chris Hedges      - A victory for all of us
4. James Petras     - The politics of language and the language of
political regression
5. ed                      - Per Fume (haiku)

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From: Dave Bicking davebicking [at]
Rally vs stadium 5.23 4:30pm

Dear friends,

We are down to the last days before the FINAL vote on the Vikings stadium
in Minneapolis!  I have been working against the Vikings stadium for over
6 years, and public participation is ignored and blocked at every turn.
One thing left that we haven't done - a mass rally!!

***** Wednesday (tomorrow!!), May 23, 4:30 - 7pm, Rally against stadium
tax, on last evening before Mpls City Council Committee vote, at Mpls City
Hall, 4th St. side.  Mark your calendars also for follow-up rally after
Committee vote and before final Council vote the next day:  rally
Thursday, May 24, same time and place.

Please come even if you don't live in Minneapolis.  Eventually, the
economy will make stadium subsidies impossible.  Help us set a precedent
in Minneapolis, as the first city to stop these scams; not as the last
city to be so stupid!

Here is the full announcement:

Minneapolis Says NO to Stadium Tax Scam!!

         No Subsidies for Billionaire Zygi!
                                 We Demand Our Right to Vote!

RALLY:  Wednesday, May 23 4:30 - 7pm, Mpls City Hall
Meet outside on 4th St. side.    Come as soon as you can.

It's not a "done deal";  however, we only have days left to stop them.
Zygi Wilf can't get any money from Minneapolis unless the Mpls City
Council votes to
approve the deal.  IGR Committee votes on Thursday, May 24, 10am; full
City Council votes on Friday, May 25, 9:30am.  Both votes are in Council
Chambers, Room 317, City Hall - come if you can.  No public comment will
be allowed, but your presence is important!

This vote is critical to our city´s future!   If the Council votes "Yes",
this will be the biggest long-term financial commitment in the city´s
history.  Total payments may exceed $675 million.  This debt will be a
burden on our children and grandchildren for the next 30 years.  We have
far more important priorities than subsidizing a billionaire.

Irresponsible!   The city has NO money to pay for this until 2021, after
the Convention Center debt is paid.  In the meantime, the city pays no
principal, or even interest, just racking up more debt each year!  This is
not an investment.  The city will not own a piece of the stadium, and it
receives no revenue that would help pay the debt.  The construction jobs
will be long gone before the city even starts paying.  This is short-term
gain with severe long-term consequences.

Undemocratic!   In 1997, Mpls residents voted overwhelmingly to protect us
from the power of the City Council to tax us for professional stadiums.
As a result, our City Charter (Constitution) requires a referendum for any
such costs over $10 million.  City leaders asked for and received a State
exemption from their own Charter!  If the Council votes "Yes" on this
plan, they will take away your hard-won right to a vote by the people!

Quit Playing Games With Our Children's Future!!

Minneapolis CAN say NO!

The majority of our State Legislators who represent Minneapolis voted
AGAINST this terrible deal.  They recognized it as undemocratic and unfair
to Minneapolis.  Don´t let our City Council sell us out!

If this makes you angry, DO SOMETHING NOW!  Come to the rally, come to the
Council meetings, and contact the members of the Mpls City Council!

Contact info:

The 7 Council members who currently support this irresponsible and
undemocratic Vikings stadium scam:

Barbara Johnson   612-673-2204   barbara.johnson [at]
Diane Hofstede   612-673-2203   diane.hofstede [at]
Don Samuels   612-673-2205   don.samuels [at]
John Quincy   612-673-2211   john.quincy [at]
*Sandra Colvin Roy   612-673-2212   sandra.colvin.roy [at]
*Meg Tuthill   612-673-2210   meg.tuthill [at] *Kevin Reich
612-673-2201   kevin.reich [at]

*the last 3, Reich, Tuthill, and Colvin Roy, are the mostly likely to
  switch sides.  We just need one more "No" vote!

Thank these 6 protectors of the city; encourage them to stand firm:

Cam Gordon   612-673-2202   cam.gordon [at]
Robert Lilligren   612-673-2206   robert.lilligren [at]
Lisa Goodman   612-673-2207   lisa.goodman [at]
Elizabeth Glidden   612-673-2208   elizabeth.glidden [at]
Gary Schiff   612-673-2209   gary.schiff [at] Betsy Hodges
612-673-2213   betsy.hodges [at]

WE'LL BE BACK!  Follow-up rally Thursday evening, May 24, same time and
place.  A celebration if the committee votes "No";  an angry protest if
they vote "Yes", with the demand that the Council overturn the committee
vote on Friday morning!

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From: Michael Cavlan RN openprogressivemichael [at]
Cavlan for US Senate

The Michael  Cavlan for US Senate 2012 campaign is asking for your help.

We are now entering the time to gather signatures to be allowed to be on
the ballot, for the 2012 election.

Our opponent is Senator Amy Klobuchar. Who desperately needs to be
challenged and replaced.

So, we need your help. We have two weeks to gather the needed 2,000
signatures. So in that vein we need you to help us. If you can help gather
signatures then please contact us. You can either go to a location you
already know or we can provide information on locations.

Or you can even just collect signatures from your friends and family.

If twenty people gather just ten signatures a day, for the fourteen days we
can do this, we will be able to get 2,800 signatures. It is that simple and
do-able. But only with your help.

Or Senator Amy Klobuchar can go unchallenged. If you do not know what she
should be, then you need to understand just why this campaign is so
important. The date to start gathering the needed signatures start Tuesday
May 22nd and ends Tuesday June 5th.

Thank you for helping to stand up for the beginning of a true democracy.
Free from corporate money.

You want corporate money out of politics? Stop voting for it.

Call me if you are interested in helping. Any small amount of help will be
greatly appreciated.


Michael Cavlan
Candidate US Senate 2012
Minnesota Open Progressives


Michael Cavlan RN openprogressivemichael [at]
9:25 PM (16 hours ago)


Today we gathered 210 signatures from two teams. There are other teams out
there but I do not know how many signatures they have, as yet. As such, I
will only count actual signatures that I have in my hands.

210 is a great start. That means only 2600 to go for our goal of 2800.

Thank you

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A Victory for All of Us by Chris Hedges ,
Published on Saturday, May 19, 2012 by

In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead
plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary
Leon Panetta that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA). We filed the lawsuit, worked for hours on the
affidavits, carried out the tedious depositions, prepared the case and went
to trial because we did not want to be passive in the face of another
egregious assault on basic civil liberties, because resistance is a moral
imperative, and because, at the very least, we hoped we could draw
attention to the injustice of the law. None of us thought we would win. But
every once in a while the gods smile on the damned.

Iraq War veteran Sgt. Shamar Thomas leads a demonstration in New York’s
Grand Central Station to call attention to a law signed by President Barack
Obama that granted extraordinary powers to the military. (photo: AP/Mary
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled
Wednesday that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a
stunning and monumental victory. With her ruling she returned us to a
country where—as it was before Obama signed this act into law Dec. 31—the
government cannot strip a U.S. citizen of due process or use the military
to arrest him or her and then hold him or her in military prison
indefinitely. She categorically rejected the government’s claims that the
plaintiffs did not have the standing to bring the case to trial because
none of us had been indefinitely detained, that lack of imminent
enforcement against us meant there was no need for an injunction and that
the NDAA simply codified what had previously been set down in the 2001
Authorization to Use Military Force Act. The ruling
was a huge victory for the protection of free speech. Judge Forrest struck
down language in the law that she said gave the government the ability to
incarcerate people based on what they said or wrote. Maybe the ruling won’t
last. Maybe it will be overturned. But we and other Americans are freer
today than we were a week ago. And there is something in this.

The government lawyers, despite being asked five times by the judge to
guarantee that we plaintiffs would not be charged under the law for our
activities, refused to give any assurances. They did not provide assurances
because under the law there were none. We could, even they tacitly
admitted, be subject to these coercive measures. We too could be swept away
into a black hole. And this, I think, decided the case.

“At the hearing on this motion, the government was unwilling or unable to
state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention
under [Section] 1021,” Judge Forrest noted. “Plaintiffs are therefore at
risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.”

The government has 60 days to appeal. It can also, as Mayer and Afran have
urged, accept the injunction that nullifies the law. If the government
appeals, the case will go to a federal appellate court. The ruling, even if
an appellate court upholds it, could be vanquished in the Supreme Court,
especially given the composition of that court.

We had none of the resources of the government. Mayer and Afran worked for
weeks on the case without compensation. All of us paid for our own
expenses. And few people, including constitutional lawyers of Glenn
Greenwald’s caliber, thought we had a chance. But we pushed forward. We
pushed forward because all effort to impede the corporate state, however
quixotic, is essential. Even if we ultimately fail we will be able to say
we tried.
This law was, after all, not about foreign terrorism. It was about domestic
dissent. If the state could link Occupy and other legitimate protest
movements with terrorist groups (US Day of Rage suffered such an attempt),
then the provisions in the NDAA could, in a period of instability, be used
to “disappear” U.S. citizens into military gulags, including the
government’s offshore penal colonies. And once there, stripped of due
process, detainees could be held until, in the language of the law, “the
end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war that would be a lifetime.

Human existence, as I witnessed in war, is precarious and often very short.
The battles that must be fought may never be won in our lifetime. And there
will always be new battles to define our struggle. Resistance to tyranny
and evil is never ending. It is a way, rather, of defining our brief
sojourn on the planet. Revolt, as Albert Camus reminded us, is the only
acceptable definition of the moral life. Revolt, he wrote, is “a constant
confrontation between man and his obscurity. … It is not aspiration, for it
is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without
the resignation that ought to accompany it.”

“A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an
object,” Camus warned. “But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he
reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be
classified as an object.”

The lawyers and I and the other plaintiffs mounted this challenge because
what had been solidified into the legal code was a palpable wrong. Victory
or defeat was not part of the equation. Not to challenge this law would
have meant being complicit in its implementation. And once resistance
defines a life it becomes reflexive.

“You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up
this most unusual career,” Vaclav Havel said when he was battling the
communist regime in Czechoslovakia. “You are thrown into it by your
personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external
circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a
position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work
well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. ... The dissident
does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking
power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not
attempt to charm the public. He offers nothing and promises nothing. He can
offer, if anything, only his own skin—and he offers it solely because he
has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply
articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.”

Rebellion is an act that assures us of remaining free and independent human
beings. Rebellion is not waged because it will work; indeed in its noblest
form it is waged when we know it will fail. Our existence, as Camus wrote,
must itself be “an act of rebellion.” Not to rebel, not to protect and
nurture life even in the face of death, is spiritual and moral suicide. The
Nazi concentration camp guards sought to break prisoners first and then
kill them. They understood that even the power to choose the timing and
circumstances of one’s death was an affirmation of personal freedom and
dangerous to the status quo. So although the guards killed at random they
went to great lengths to prevent people in the camps from committing
suicide. Totalitarian systems, to perpetuate themselves, always seek to
break autonomy and self-determination. This makes all acts of resistance a
threat, even those acts that will not succeed. And this is why in all
states that rule by force any act of rebellion, even one that is
insignificant, must be ruthlessly crushed. The goal of the corporate state,
like that of any totalitarian entity, is to create a society where no one
has the capacity to resist.

It is not going to get better. The climate crisis alone will assure that.
The corporate state knows what is coming. Globalization is breaking down.
Our natural resources are being depleted. Economic and political upheavals
are inevitable. And our corporate rulers are preparing a world of masters
and serfs, a world where repression will be our daily diet, a world of
hunger and riots, a world of brutal control and a world where our spirits
must be broken. We have to stop asking what is reasonable or practical,
what the Democratic Party or the government can do for us, what will work
or not work. We must refuse now to make any concessions, large or small. We
must remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil. We must no longer
let illusions pacify us. Hell is truth seen too late. In large and small
ways we are called to resist, resist, resist, as we race heedlessly into
the abyss.

Copyright © 2012 Truthdig, L.L.C.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle.

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The Politics of Language and the Language of Political Regression by James
/ May 19th, 2012

Capitalism and its defenders maintain dominance through the ‘material
resources’ at their command, especially the state apparatus, and their
productive, financial and commercial enterprises, as well as through the
manipulation of popular consciousness via ideologues, journalists,
academics and publicists who fabricate the arguments and the language to
frame the issues of the day.

Today, material conditions for the vast majority of working people have
sharply deteriorated as the capitalist class shifts the entire burden of
the crisis and the recovery of their profits onto the backs of wage and
salaried classes. One of the striking aspects of this sustained and
on-going roll-back of living standards is the absence of a major social
upheaval so far. Greece and Spain, with over 50% unemployment among its
16-24 year olds and nearly 25% general unemployment, have experienced a
dozen general strikes and numerous multi-million person national protests;
but these have failed to produce any real change in regime or policies. The
mass firings and painful salary, wage, pension and social services cuts
continue. In other countries, like Italy, France, and England, protests and
discontent find expression in the electoral arena, with incumbents voted
out and replaced by the traditional opposition. Yet throughout the social
turmoil and profound socio-economic erosion of living and working
conditions, the dominant ideology informing the movements, trade unions and
political opposition is reformist: Issuing calls to defend existing social
benefits, increase public spending and investments, and expand the role of
the state where private sector activity has failed to invest or employ. In
other words, the left proposes to conserve a past when capitalism was
harnessed to the welfare state.

The problem is that this ‘capitalism of the past’ is gone and a new more
virulent and intransigent capitalism has emerged forging a new worldwide
framework and a powerful entrenched state apparatus immune to all calls for
‘reform’ and reorientation. The confusion, frustration, and misdirection of
mass popular opposition is, in part, due to the adoption by leftist
writers, journalists, and academics of the concepts and language espoused
by its capitalist adversaries: language designed to obfuscate the true
social relations of brutal exploitation, the central role of the ruling
classes in reversing social gains and the profound links between the
capitalist class and the state. Capitalist publicists, academics and
journalists have elaborated a whole litany of concepts and terms which
perpetuate capitalist rule and distract its critics and victims from the
perpetrators of their steep slide toward mass impoverishment.

Even as they formulate their critiques and denunciations, the critics of
capitalism use the language and concepts of its apologists. Insofar as the
language of capitalism has entered the general parlance of the left, the
capitalist class has established hegemony or dominance over its erstwhile
adversaries. Worse, the left, by combining some of the basic concepts of
capitalism with sharp criticism, creates illusions about the possibility of
reforming ‘the market’ to serve popular ends. This fails to identify the
principle social forces that must be ousted from the commanding heights of
the economy and the imperative to dismantle the class-dominated state.
While the left denounces the capitalist crisis and state bailouts, its own
poverty of thought undermines the development of mass political action. In
this context the ‘language’ of obfuscation becomes a ‘material force’ – a
vehicle of capitalist power, whose primary use is to disorient and disarm
its anti-capitalist and working class adversaries. It does so by co-opting
its intellectual critics through the use of terms, conceptual framework and
language which dominate the discussion of the capitalist crisis.

Key Euphemisms at the Service of the Capitalist Offensive

Euphemisms have a double meaning: What terms connote and what they really
mean. Euphemistic conceptions under capitalism connote a favorable reality
or acceptable behavior and activity totally dissociated from the
aggrandizement of elite wealth and concentration of power and privilege.
Euphemisms disguise the drive of power elites to impose class-specific
measures and to repress without being properly identified, held responsible
and opposed by mass popular action.

The most common euphemism is the term ‘market’, which is endowed with human
characteristics and powers. As such, we are told ‘the market demands wage
cuts’ disassociated from the capitalist class. Markets, the exchange of
commodities or the buying and selling of goods, have existed for thousands
of years in different social systems in highly differentiated contexts.
These have been global, national, regional and local. They involve
different socio-economic actors, and comprise very different economic
units, which range from giant state-promoted trading-houses to
semi-subsistence peasant villages and town squares. ‘Markets’ existed in
all complex societies: slave, feudal, mercantile and early and late
competitive, monopoly industrial and finance capitalist societies.

When discussing and analyzing ‘markets’ and to make sense of the
transactions (who benefits and who loses), one must clearly identify the
principle social classes dominating economic transactions. To write in
general about ‘markets’ is deceptive because markets do not exist
independent of the social relations defining what is produced and sold, how
it is produced and what class configurations shape the behavior of
producers, sellers and labor. Today’s market reality is defined by giant
multi-national banks and corporations, which dominate the labor and
commodity markets. To write of ‘markets’ as if they operated in a sphere
above and beyond brutal class inequalities is to hide the essence of
contemporary class relations.

Fundamental to any understanding, but left out of contemporary discussion,
is the unchallenged power of the capitalist owners of the means of
production and distribution, the capitalist ownership of advertising, the
capitalist bankers who provide or deny credit and the capitalist-appointed
state officials who ‘regulate’ or deregulate exchange relations. The
outcomes of their policies are attributed to euphemistic ‘market’ demands
which seem to be divorced from the brutal reality. Therefore, as the
propagandists imply, to go against ‘the market’ is to oppose the exchange
of goods: This is clearly nonsense. In contrast, to identify capitalist
demands on labor, including reductions in wages, welfare and safety, is to
confront a specific exploitative form of market behavior where capitalists
seek to earn higher profits against the interests and welfare majority of
wage and salaried workers.

By conflating exploitative market relations under capitalism with markets
in general, the ideologues achieve several results: They disguise the
principle role of capitalists while evoking an institution with positive
connotations, that is, a ‘market’ where people purchase consumer goods and
‘socialize’ with friends and acquaintances. In other words, when ‘the
market’, which is portrayed as a friend and benefactor of society, imposes
painful policies presumably it is for the welfare of the community. At
least that is what the business propagandists want the public to believe by
marketing their virtuous image of the ‘market’; they mask private capital’s
predatory behavior as it chases greater profits.

One of the most common euphemisms thrown about in the midst of this
economic crisis is ‘austerity’, a term used to cover-up the harsh realities
of draconian cutbacks in wages, salaries, pensions and public welfare and
the sharp increase in regressive taxes (VAT). ‘Austerity’ measures mean
policies to protect and even increase state subsidies to businesses, and
create higher profits for capital and greater inequalities between the top
10% and the bottom 90%. ‘Austerity’ implies self-discipline, simplicity,
thrift, saving, responsibility, limits on luxuries and spending, avoidance
of immediate gratification for future security – a kind of collective
Calvinism. It connotes shared sacrifice today for the future welfare of all.

However, in practice ‘austerity’ describes policies that are designed by
the financial elite to implement class-specific reductions in the standard
of living and social services (such as health and education) available for
workers and salaried employees. It means public funds can be diverted to an
even greater extent to pay high interest rates to wealthy bondholders while
subjecting public policy to the dictates of the overlords of finance

Rather than talking of ‘austerity’, with its connotation of stern
self-discipline, leftist critics should clearly describe ruling class
policies against the working and salaried classes, which increase
inequalities and concentrate even more wealth and power at the top.
‘Austerity’ policies are therefore an expression of how the ruling classes
use the state to shift the burden of the cost of their economic crisis onto

The ideologues of the ruling classes co-opted concepts and terms, which the
left originally used to advance improvements in living standards and turned
them on their heads. Two of these euphemisms, co-opted from the left, are
‘reform’ and ‘structural adjustment’. ‘Reform’, for many centuries,
referred to changes, which lessened inequalities and increased popular
representation. ‘Reforms’ were positive changes enhancing public welfare
and constraining the abuse of power by oligarchic or plutocratic regimes.
Over the past three decades, however, leading academic economists,
journalists and international banking officials have subverted the meaning
of ‘reform’ into its opposite: it now refers to the elimination of labor
rights, the end of public regulation of capital and the curtailment of
public subsidies making food and fuel affordable to the poor. In today’s
capitalist vocabulary ‘reform’ means reversing progressive changes and
restoring the privileges of private monopolies. ‘Reform’ means ending job
security and facilitating massive layoffs of workers by lowering or
eliminating mandatory severance pay. ‘Reform’ no longer means positive
social changes; it now means reversing those hard fought changes and
restoring the unrestrained power of capital. It means a return to capital’s
earlier and most brutal phase, before labor organizations existed and when
class struggle was suppressed. Hence ‘reform’ now means restoring
privileges, power, and profit for the rich.

In a similar fashion, the linguistic courtesans of the economic profession
have co-opted the term ‘structural’ as in ‘structural adjustment’ to
service the unbridled power of capital. As late as the 1970’s, ‘structural’
change referred to the redistribution of land from the big landlords to the
landless; a shift in power from plutocrats to popular classes. ‘Structures’
referred to the organization of concentrated private power in the state and
economy. Today, however, ‘structure’ refers to the public institutions and
public policies, which grew out of labor and citizen struggles to provide
social security, for protecting the welfare, health and retirement of
workers. ‘Structural changes’ now are the euphemism for smashing those
public institutions, ending the constraints on capital’s predatory behavior
and destroying labor’s capacity to negotiate, struggle or preserve its
social advances.

The term ‘adjustment’, as in ‘structural adjustment’ (SA), is itself a
bland euphemism implying fine-tuning , the careful modulation of public
institutions and policies back to health and balance. But, in reality,
‘structural adjustment’ represents a frontal attack on the public sector
and a wholesale dismantling of protective legislation and public agencies
organized to protect labor, the environment and consumers. ‘Structural
adjustment’ masks a systematic assault on the people’s living standards for
the benefit of the capitalist class.

The capitalist class has cultivated a crop of economists and journalists
who peddle brutal policies in bland, evasive and deceptive language in
order to neutralize popular opposition. Unfortunately, many of their
‘leftist’ critics tend to rely on the same terminology.

Given the widespread corruption of language so pervasive in contemporary
discussions about the crisis of capitalism the left should stop relying on
this deceptive set of euphemisms co-opted by the ruling class. It is
frustrating to see how easily the following terms enter our discourse:

Market discipline – The euphemism ‘discipline’ connotes serious,
conscientious strength of character in the face of challenges as opposed to
irresponsible, escapist behavior. In reality, when paired with ‘market’, it
refers to capitalists taking advantage of unemployed workers and using
their political influence and power lay-off masses workers and intimidate
those remaining employees into greater exploitation and overwork, thereby
producing more profit for less pay. It also covers the capacity of
capitalist overlords to raise their rate of profit by slashing the social
costs of production, such as worker and environmental protection, health
coverage and pensions.

Market shock – This refers to capitalists engaging in brutal massive,
abrupt firings, cuts in wages and slashing of health plans and pensions in
order to improve stock quotations, augment profits and secure bigger
bonuses for the bosses. By linking the bland, neutral term, ‘market’ to
‘shock’, the apologists of capital disguise the identity of those
responsible for these measures, their brutal consequences and the immense
benefits enjoyed by the elite.

Market Demands – This euphemistic phrase is designed to anthropomorphize an
economic category, to diffuse criticism away from real flesh and blood
power-holders, their class interests and their despotic strangle-hold over
labor. Instead of ‘market demands’, the phrase should read: ‘the capitalist
class commands the workers to sacrifice their own wages and health to
secure more profit for the multi-national corporations’ – a clear concept
more likely to arouse the ire of those adversely affected.

Free Enterprise – An euphemism spliced together from two real concepts:
private enterprise for private profit and free competition. By eliminating
the underlying image of private gain for the few against the interests of
the many, the apologists of capital have invented a concept that emphasizes
individual virtues of ‘enterprise’ and ‘freedom’ as opposed to the real
economic vices of greed and exploitation.

Free Market – A euphemism implying free, fair and equal competition in
unregulated markets glossing over the reality of market domination by
monopolies and oligopolies dependent on massive state bailouts in times of
capitalist crisis. ‘Free’ refers specifically to the absence of public
regulations and state intervention to defend workers safety as well as
consumer and environmental protection. In other words, ‘freedom’ masks the
wanton destruction of the civic order by private capitalists through their
unbridled exercise of economic and political power. ‘Free market’ is the
euphemism for the absolute rule of capitalists over the rights and
livelihood of millions of citizens, in essence, a true denial of freedom.

Economic Recovery – This euphemistic phrase means the recovery of profits
by the major corporations. It disguises the total absence of recovery of
living standards for the working and middle classes, the reversal of social
benefits and the economic losses of mortgage holders, debtors, the
long-term unemployed and bankrupted small business owners. What is glossed
over in the term ‘economic recovery’ is how mass immiseration became a key
condition for the recovery of corporate profits.

Privatization – This describes the transfer of public enterprises, usually
the profitable ones, to well-connected, large scale private capitalists at
prices well below their real value, leading to the loss of public services,
stable public employment and higher costs to consumers as the new private
owners jack up prices and lay-off workers — all in the name of another
euphemism, ‘efficiency’.

Efficiency – Efficiency here refers only to the balance sheets of an
enterprise; it does not reflect the heavy costs of ‘privatization’ borne by
related sectors of the economy. For example, ‘privatization’ of transport
adds costs to upstream and downstream businesses by making them less
competitive compared with competitors in other countries; ‘privatization’
eliminates services in regions that are less profitable, leading to local
economic collapse and isolation from national markets. Frequently, public
officials, who are aligned with private capitalists, will deliberately
disinvest in public enterprises and appoint incompetent political cronies
as part of patronage politics, in order to degrade services and foment
public discontent. This creates a public opinion favorable to ‘privatizing’
the enterprise. In other words ‘privatization’ is not a result of the
inherent inefficiencies of public enterprises, as the capitalist ideologues
like to argue, but a deliberate political act designed to enhance private
capital gain at the cost of public welfare.


Language, concepts, and euphemisms are important weapons in the class
struggle ‘from above’ designed by capitalist journalists and economists to
maximize the wealth and power of capital. To the degree that progressive
and leftist critics adopt these euphemisms and their frame of reference,
their own critiques and the alternatives they propose are limited by the
rhetoric of capital. Putting ‘quotation marks’ around the euphemisms may be
a mark of disapproval but this does nothing to advance a different
analytical framework necessary for successful class struggle ‘from below’.
Equally important, it side-steps the need for a fundamental break with the
capitalist system including its corrupted language and deceptive concepts.
Capitalists have overturned the most fundamental gains of the working class
and we are falling back toward the absolute rule of capital. This must
raise anew the issue of a socialist transformation of the state, economy
and class structure. An integral part of that process must be the complete
rejection of the euphemisms used by capitalist ideologues and their
systematic replacement by terms and concepts that truly reflect the harsh
reality, that clearly identify the perpetrators of this decline and that
define the social agencies for political transformation.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New
York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the
landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of
Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent book is The Arab
Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack. He can be reached at:
jpetras [at] Read other articles by James, or visit James's

This article was posted on Saturday, May 19th, 2012 at 8:00am and is filed
under Activism, Capitalism, Classism, Language, Markets, Privatization,

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