The Octant
Insights and reporting from Caleb Maupin

bombing iraq

Development and poverty eradication may be in the overall interest of the human race, but certain powerful forces see it as a threat to their position as hegemonic rulers of the global economy.

Prior to 2011, Syria was a prosperous Middle Eastern country. The Baathist government had taken tremendous steps to improve the lives of Syria’s people. Between 1970 and 2009, the life expectancy for Syrians increased by 17 years, and the infant mortality rate was reduced exponentially. According to the US Library of Congress, in 1981 forty two percent of the Syrian adult population was illiterate, but just ten years later, in 1991, illiteracy had been wiped out by a mass educational campaign.

Syria built the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River with the assistance of 900 technicians and a loan of 100 milllion from the Soviet Union. In 2007, China had already begun investing “hundreds of millions of dollars” into Syria for the purpose of modernizing its “oil and gas infrastructure.”

But look at Syria today. Millions have fled as refugees. Over half a million have died. Terrorist groups control huge swaths of territory. Much of the overall infrastructure of the country, including water treatment facilities, power plants, and schools have been destroyed.

Can anyone rationally argue that attempts by western countries to remove the Baathist government led by Bashar Assad have benefitted the population?

Wrecking Countries in the Name of “Democracy”

Nicaragua is a similar story. The government of the Sandinistas, under the slogan of “Christianity, Socialism and Solidarity” has made tremendous efforts to improve the lives of the people. Between 2005-2014, poverty in Nicaragua was reduced by 30%. The GDP increased by 36% between 2007-2016. While its neighbors in Central America ,Guatemala and Honduras, are notorious wrecks of poverty, crime, and underdevelopment, Nicaragua has been a powerhouse of growth. The World Happiness Index even noted how optimism about life  increased more among Nicaraguans than in any other country in 2016.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is only 28 years old. She is a New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage, and after an upset primary vote, she will be the Democratic Party's nominee for U.S. Congress in November. Ocasio-Cortez is almost guaranteed to be elected to Congress, as the district is overwhelmingly controlled by the Democratic Party. Her victory in the primary was over Joe Crowley, a longstanding figure in New York City politics. 

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and aligns herself with Bernie Sanders and other members of the Democratic Party who reject the pro-market, neoliberal economic policies long favored by the party's National Committee.

After her victory, all across U.S. media a debate about "socialism" has taken place. Among Republicans and conservatives, alarm-bells have sounded. Ocasio-Cortez is accused of wanting to "turn the USA into Venezuela." Because Ocasio-Cortez has criticized capitalism, her critics equate her to Marxist-Leninists, and invoke Cold War rhetoric against her.

Meanwhile, supporters of Ocasio-Cortez insist that "socialism" simply refers to government policies intended to deliver economic justice. TV host, Joy Behar, defended Ocasio-Cortez in a heated exchange on national TV, saying that socialism had been successful in Norway and Sweden. 

Geopolitics

The traditional aesthetics of left and right are lost in the unfolding confusion of the 21st century. Wall Street bankers, the most powerful entities on the London Stock Exchange, the Silicon Valley elites, speaking to us through CNN, Facebook, Twitter, and every high tech mechanism for molding opinion, are screaming “revolution!”

The Arab Spring seemed to be the opening explosion, and the fallout from that geopolitical disaster continues. Libya went from being the African country with the highest life expectancy and most prosperous economy to its present condition as a failed state, with refugees fleeing and terrorists setting up shop. Syria has faced over half a decade of civil war, as western-backed “revolutionaries” who beheaded children and bombed churches unleashed hellish conditions in the hopes of toppling a government led by Baathist Arab Socialists. Western media now cheers for mobs of enraged students and armed extremists who work to topple the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela, decrying the popular, elected Bolivarian leaders as “dictators.”

Powerful voices from the western world are screaming almost in unison: “revolt!” But revolt against what? For what purpose? What is the goal of this highly romantic, but ideologically vague CNN-led revolution? No answer has been provided. It is as if the ghost of Leon Trotsky has shed his socialist aspirations, kept only his fixation on barricades and firing squads, and taken the helm of western geopolitics.

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In being defined merely by its opponents and fixating on a fear of Russia, a large chunk of the far-left has usurped the role held by the far-right during the Cold War.

In 1963, folk singer Bob Dylan, whose left-leaning lyrics seemed to define the liberal politics of the era, composed a song which was a  mockery of the right-wing anti-Communist organization known as the John Birch Society. He wrote:

Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue

I didn’t know what in the world I was gonna do

Them Communists they was comin’ around

They was in the air

They was on the ground

They wouldn’t gimme no peace

The John Birch Society was easy to laugh at. This far-right organization was made up doctors, lawyers, and other middle class elements and operated in a clandestine manner. Its members were reportedly shown a “secret book” claiming to prove that Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist, receiving orders from the Russians.

Invoking Russia To Attack Dissidents

However, for those involved in peace marches and activism for civil rights, the Birchers were more than just a joke. As McCarthyism ebbed after the death of Stalin and talk of detente dominated mainstream politics, the far-right took up the task of mobilizing to attack and silence left-wing activists.

evilcult

President Trump increasingly surrounds himself with anti-China fanatics, but in reality, his supporters may  find the truth about the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping to be quite inspiring.

When Donald Trump addressed his supporters in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, among those in attendance were members of an extremist, religious organization dedicated to toppling the Chinese government. The Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, distributed leaflets throughout the crowd promoting its publication “Epoch Times” stating that it is dedicated to “exposing communism.”

To the westerners Falun Gong seeks to recruit and influence, the religious cult appears to be merely a peaceful, exercise-oriented, spiritual organization. Many young non-Chinese urban professionals turn to it, seeing it almost as another version of yoga, mindfulness training, or group therapy. The extremism and politically charged nature of the group is well hidden from these naive, western recruits, and mostly reserved for its ethnically Chinese cadre.

However, the reality of the Falun Gong is not hard to find out, for those who really want to know the truth. Falun Gong refers to homosexuals as "demonic." The group believes that women’s suffrage is a sign of societal decay in a “dharma ending period.” The organization opposes interracial marriage, arguing that people of mixed racial backgrounds are without souls.

The organization glorifies feudalism in China, and sees the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to modernize the country, improve human rights, and raise the overall standard of living as a deviation from the “natural order” of ancient times when peasants “knew their place” serving “natural superiors” in the landowning class. The practices of the Falun Gong are rooted in the primitive, superstitious rituals intended to glorify this repressive structure.

CNNlogo

As CNN reporter, Gary Tuchman, mocked supporters of Donald Trump who displayed signs supporting the internet “Q-Anon” movement, he blatantly misrepresented a well-established fact.

Tuchman taunted one Trump supporter who said mainstream media was ‘weaponized by the CIA’ saying: “I don’t know anyone in the CIA except for a few people I’ve interviewed over the years? But weaponized by the CIA? What does that even mean?… Do you think I’m weaponized by the CIA?”

Xi Book

Politics in Western countries often involves celebrity gossip, scandals, rumors, and tweetstorms. Political leaders pander to adolescent sentiments among the public, cultivating a mindset akin to sports fans -- cheering on their favorite teams while booing their opponents.

However, when one opens the pages of Xi Jinping's "The Governance of China," the second volume now available in English, the pages present a lost art, something that was essential in building civilization: statecraft.