Propaganda s03e01

This week The Moral Economy’s Eddy, Chell, Franz, Nawaz and Andrew got around to recording the first podcast of the their third season! You might have noticed that we’ve changed our name from The Moral Economy Podcast to Propaganda, a podcast by the Moral Economy. This is in part do to the fact that we see ourselves as directly working through propaganda. In other words, we’re bringing up current, worldly events presented to us by major media companies and attempt to provide a critical perspective to them. We come with the assumption that all the information we (human beings) receive is in one way or another biased. The second reason we chose Propaganda is because the word “propaganda”, like so many other words, have been transformed through time and power to mean something completely different. We want to take it back to mean: information. Lastly, we chose Propaganda, because it probably made you stop and look. ‘What? These guys are openly admitting that they’re spewing propaganda?’ That’s right, we are, and we like it!

#GlobalProblemsLocalSolutions #MilitantPersonalities

// Audio

Part 1 (download):

Part 2 (download):

Global Political Situation (GPS)

From Syria to Haiti, Our Leaders Are The Problem, Not The Solution



  • US-Russian relations context Syria have been in the news a lot. First, US suspends Syrian cease fire talks with Russia. According to Reuters “The United States broke off talks with Russia on Monday on implementing a ceasefire agreement in Syria and accused Moscow of not living up to its commitments under the Sept. 9 deal to halt fighting and ensure aid reached besieged communities.”
  • Second, Russia vetos UN Syrian cease fire resolution because of calls for a halt to Russian bombing (Russia proposes alternative resolution minus halt to bombing, it doesn’t pass). According to The Guardian, “A Russian counter-resolution, which omitted mention of aerial bombardment, was voted down with nine votes against and four in favour.”
  • Third, France calls for war crimes investigation against Russia for Aleppo bombing: According to The Independent, “The French foreign minister has said he will ask the International Court of Justice to investigate possible war crimes in Syria.”
    Question: Why the pressure by Europe and the US on Russia, when EU and the US already have committed plenty of war crimes, most notably the recent American Saudi supported bombing on the Yemenese funeral home?
    This leads to another question. Why is the west so involved in Syria? It’s always been both an ally to the West and Russia. It’s allowed the West to hold their torture prisons, supportive of Israel and at the same time it’s been a close ally to Russia. What interest does the West have in Syria? Why have the vehemently supported known radical Islamists to overthrow the moderate, dictatorship of Assad? And don’t give me the human rights violations bullshit. 🙂
  • Fourth, Putin cancels a planned trip to Paris after the Kremlin accused France of trying to humiliate the Russian leader. This came hours after the French president François Hollande said that Russia might face charges war crimes over its bombardment of Aleppo in the Syrian conflict. Putin told French TV, not entirely inaccurately, “I believe deeply that some of the responsibility for what is happening in the region in general and in Syria in particular lies especially with our western partners, above all the USA and its allies, including the main European countries.”
  • And, finally, sources indicate that Russia has already established a no-fly zone in Syria (this is espically important given Hillary’s ongoing commitment to establish a US enforced no-fly zone, raising the question, does she want war with Russia?). Russia has also built up its forces in Syria since a ceasefire collapsed in late September.
  • In the latest, according to the Guardian an unexpected round of multilateral talks on the future of Syria is to start on Saturday involving initially Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and possibly Qatar, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said.” The talks will be held in Lausanne, and will exclude the UK, France and other European states. It is unclear, even with the inclusion of these other European states, how talks between these states could end up with anything good.

  • This comes amidst attempts by the Clinton Campaign and the media to smeare Wikileaks for having ties to Russia. Recently Wikileaks released yet more emails from the Clinton campaign. According to the Intercept they show, among other things, that Hilary has repeatedly praised Wal-Mart in her paid speeches, that she acknolowedges Saudi financing of terrorist organisations and acts, and that, behind closed doors, Clinton appears to sympathise with the investment giant Goldman Sachs, despite Goldman Sachs obstructing Democratic proposals for financial reform. The emails are from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s gmail account and were leaked in the thousands Wikileaks over the past week. These emails reveal a strained relationship with the Saudi Arabian government and tensions over their role in the Syrian conflict. Furthermore, according to Democracy Now! the “leaked emails show how Hillary Clinton’s campaign struggled to deal with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s popularity during the primary season.”
  • The NY-Times then jumps in with the following, “In the final weeks of a dizzying presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump is suddenly embracing an unlikely ally: The document-spilling groupWikiLeaks, which Republicans denounced when it published classified State Department cables and Pentagon secrets about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” How best to discredit something than to associate it with Donald Trump?

  • We’re not going to talk about Trump, because everyone talks about him all the time, and it should have been clear many years ago that he is an abhorrent human being.
  • In Haiti, the death toll from Hurricane Matthew has topped 1,000. The storm hit a week ago, but many areas have still received no aid. Food and medicine have run out. Authorities are now digging mass graves for those killed by the Category 4 storm. The country is also battling a growing cholera outbreak. United Nations officials say nearly 1 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, with up to 80 percent of Haiti’s food crops destroyed in some areas. Aid agencies estimate that at least 60,000 people are staying in temporary shelters. Over 2.1 million people have been affected by the storm, with 1.4 million being in need of help according to the United Nations.
  • South African students have been protesting uni fees across the country for the past few months. According to The Guardian “Student protesters at South Africa’s prestigious Wits University forced their way into lecture halls and caused many lessons to be abandoned on Monday, ratcheting up pressure in a dispute over tuition fees. Violent clashes with police have erupted regularly on campuses across the country in recent months, and several universities have been closed to avoid further unrest.” Newspeak aside, the South African governerment says it will try to lower student fees, but protestors are calling for free education. Just last week the police used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters at the Wits University campus. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College campus in Durban there are ongoing battles between protesters and police, and there are similar clashes at UWC in Cape Town, NMMU in Port Elizabeth, DUT in Durban, UFS in Bloemfontein, the University of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape.
    “Essentially what they are saying is if there is no free education, there should be no education at all,” Wits University rector Adam Habib said last week. University authorities claim that many students want to return to class and that the protests don’t represent the majority of undergraduates. According to Thalo Mokoena, of the Student Representative Council: “We wanted to get the university to join us. But if we stop now it means we go back to classes having won nothing.” Students have also been protesting in Pretoria, Capte Town and Durban.

  • Not entirely unrelated to student protests, there has been an ongoing US prision strike against prison slavery. According to the
    IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee “Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016. In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.”
  • The month-long prison strike is the largest prison strike in US history. The strike aims at ending the racist continuation of slavery in the form of prison labour ever since the 13th ammendment made slavery illegal except under incarceration. According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 “non-Hispanic blacks (37%) comprised the largest portion of male inmates under state or federal jurisdiction in 2013, compared to non-Hispanic whites (32%) and Hispanics (22%). White females comprised 49% of the prison population compared to 22% black females.” In that year the incarceration rate of the United States was the highest in all the world. While the US has about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it holds about 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.
  • In addition to being held as slaves, prisoners are forced to buy their own things, such as shoes, extra blankets and toilet paper. Some prisons even change for electricity and room and board. Prisoners often owe the state thousands of dollars in debt — which can be a reason to be sent back to prison. In Colorado, there’s a ballot initiative to remove the exception to the slavery prohibition from the state constituition.
  • It should be remebered that many slaves are in prison due to drug possession. Now, according to CommonDreams.Org, “two prominent human and civil rights organizations are calling on the U.S. government to decriminalize all drug use and possession”. This is to be found in a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that finds that the so-called war on drugs has caused “devastating harm.” They found that there were 574,640 arrests for the possession of marijuana possession in the US in 2015, which is more arrests than for all violent crimes combined. As a part of ending prison slavery we have to work to end the war on drugs, which has always been a war on poor black and brown communities in order to feed slavery in its new form.

  • Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte orders US forces out of country, cutting 65 years of military ties
  • “The president of the Philippineshas promised to dismantle the nation’s 65-year military alliance with the United States, warning Washington not to treat the nation’like a doormat’. Rodrigo Duterte has ordered 28 annual military exercises with US forces to be halted and an ongoing US-Philippines amphibious beach landing exercise to be the last in his six-year presidency.” This comes at the heels of increased US criticism of the Philipine leader for his high-ended measures as a part of anti-drug campaign that has seen 3600 people die in a short of span of three months. Western countires, particularly the US, have critisiced the doings of the populist Duterte as being in violation of universal human rights standards.…

  • Also, the 8th BRICS Summit kicked off in Goa today
  • “Top items on the agenda include the New Development Bank and and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement that the BRICS countries, most notably China are pushing for to question Western-dominated world economic infrastructure.


We want to point out to our listeners that, while conflict spreads throughout the world, and people question whether we are approaching a third world war, another danger is looming. Global warming is a threat to us all, and while our leaders are hung up, bickering with one another, and we stand by watching in awe and disgust, we forget how all of these conflicts all over the place — from bombings in Syria and Yemen to scandals in the United States — are connected. Global warming will, without a doubt, exacerbate all of these conflicts, as it will exacerbate current and future political-economic crises. But global warming is only an outward manifestation on a global scale of what takes place in countless communities across the world, especially the West: that is the use of fossil fuels and the wanton exploitation of our planet. And on the local, grassroots level many people agree that we should all pitch in. But that can’t be done unless we all act together, and as we see all over the world, our usual means of acting together and coordinating with each other — the government — is currently going haywire. But the government has always been going haywire; that’s what elections are: institutionalized chaos. Politicians, backed by global capital, fling muck at each other back and forth. But they never point out that the sources of our problems lie in the system itself. Meanwhile people on the ground — workers, students, everyday folk — have to fix the problems that politicians and the global capitalist system create.
In South African students have been protesting uni fees across the country for the past few months. In the US there has been an ongoing prision strike against prison slavery. This last Tuesday climate activists were arrested for attempting to shut down tar sands oil from coming into the United States. In Syria democratic forces are fighting for liberation and protecting refugees all while being shelled and bombed. All of these things, from war refugees to climate refugees, from students to slaves, are the result of the system we are in. And the question that I give now to all of us is, how do we get our heads above the fog of war and the fog of media lies to do something about it?

Current Issue Analysis (CIA)*

“Militant Personalities”


What is a militant personality? To the ears of many such a concept is foreign, a word from another language. As a good philosopher, I will attempt to explain the concept “militant personality” by breaking the term into its two components.
First, “personality”. A personality is something we always associate with an individual, as something that defines a person in the way that they present themselves to the world. So we can say perhaps there are positive and negative personalities. Positive personalties, for example, are sunny personalities, people who appear to shine due to their happiness and optimism. There are solemn personalities, people whose sober seriousness makes you realise the full weight of a situation. And there are evanescent personalities: friendly, bubbly people whose very smile excites you, even if you don’t know why.
To the negative personalities. One negative personality is the pessimist. The pessimist is the person who, far from saying that the glass is half empty, looks at a full glass and expects it to explode at any minute. There are melancholic personalities, people who can’t see the silver lining around anything, even a bar of chocolate. And there are aggressive personalities, especially people who mistake their unchecked physical and verbal offensiveness for being dominant, for being an alpha.
To get into the meaning of “militant”, I would like to talk briefly about aggressiveness. I see aggressiveness as the issue around “militant personalities” that throws people off. Let’s just look at the very definition of “militant”, provided by Google:
militant – adjective: favouring confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause.
Example: ”the army are in conflict with militant groups”
synonyms: aggressive, violent, belligerent, bellicose, assertive, pushy, vigorous, forceful, active, ultra-active, fierce, combative, pugnacious
Is this a fair description of militance? Why is being active, assertive and vigorous associated with being aggressive, violent and belligerent? In order to understand militance better, I think we can oppose it to mere aggression and associated traits.
Aggression is indeed a big problem; it is no exaggeration when I say it is the biggest problem we face today. I am not talking about your neighbourhood bully taking milk money from kids with glasses. We all see aggression on the news. Police brutality. Attacks by white supremacists. Suicide bombings. This is the picture of aggressive people that we have. And the media tries to feed us another picture: black thugs, car-burning anarchists, and dangerous, dangerous militants.
But I am also not talking about what we see in the media. I am talking about what we don’t see. The fact is, the most aggressive people are those who are in power. They are the people who make decisions about our lives while at the same time seeing us as lesser than them. Seeing us as tools to make profit. Objects to abuse and throw away. Cannon fodder. And we have built a world around seeing their aggression as leadership, when, in fact, it is far from it. They might be capitalists, politicians, generals, religious leaders, dictators. For lack of a better name, I will call them aggressors.
Each of these examples is in fact an example of people who are, in effect, just following orders. And again, aggressors know this. The drone operator has an explicit order from higher command. The anonymous online misogynist is taking cues from and being emboldened by people like Donald Trump. Policemen, prison guards, white supremacists, suicide bombers — these are all people who act on their own volition, but they are also people who have been primed and prepped throughout their lives to want to act this way, so that when a person in power needs something done, these people are already in the position and frame of mind to do it. That is aggression, the result of aggressive personalities being cultivated in our society so that the wealthy, presentable, acceptable aggressors can set poor, dirty, deplorable aggressive people against one another, against us.
A militant personality is exactly the thing we all need in order to escape this aggressive frame of mind, to take ourselves out of the position in which we are used by patriarchal, capitalist aggressors as tools for their gain. So what is a militant personality? It should be clear by now that “militant personality” has no clear, set definition. It is more of a measure than anything else. We can all have varying personality traits and still have militant personalities, because we use the militant personality in order to measure ourselves and grow. A militant personality seeks to find a balance between personality traits while also recognising that we don’t necessarily have to catch ‘em all. They are not Pokemon, strange creatures that we find in a fantastical world, capture, imprison, enslave, train, and set to battle one another. Those are soldiers. Personality traits are things that are fluid and dynamic, and that we nourish and cultivate in ourselves and in others. In doing so we may find that we develop some traits more than others, but that these traits aren’t extremes, aren’t eccentricities, but are in fact polished, measured, well-rounded, holistic personal, psychological phenomena.
That said, there are a few things that make up a militant personality, and I will go into them briefly here. The first I will mention is integrity. That means not compromising on principles, because compromising on principles in a sense means betraying those principles, as well as our friends and comrades who hold those principles. Do we compromise on sexual assault and rape? As if just a little bit of sexual assault is okay? No, because we know that even that (quote) “little bit” is the tip of the iceberg of sexism and patriarchy. As soon as we compromise on our anti-sexist or anti-racist or anti-capitalist principles, we set ourselves up for failure. A militant personality means knowing that success comes only through fighting for our principles.
The other side of this is non-dogmatism. It’s one thing to not compromise on principles, it is quite another thing to uncritically follow a principle and to attack others for not doing the same. How do you know the principles you follow are the right one if you don’t question them? How do you know your are following the principles for the right reasons if you don’t question yourself and others? A good example of this is the principle of environmentalism, which leads many people — in no small part due to capitalist exploitation — to uncritically buy so-called organic, “bio” products that are in fact worse for the environment (and your health).
Another trait of a militant personality is emotional intelligence. If you want to have integrity and remain non-dogmatic, then you have to be flexible, both in how you apply your principles and in how you approach learning, and that means being more emotionally intelligent. Flexibility, after all, should flow from our empathy. We all make mistakes in our lives, so we shouldn’t condemn people for doing the same – otherwise we are hypocrites. Furthmore we should be able to see how people reached their decisions, to step into their shoes in order to learn both from their mistakes and their achievements.
Compassion, too, is part of our emotional intelligence. In order to be flexible and to learn, we have to be less judgmental, to stop questioning the intentions of our friends and comrades, and of people in general. The best example of where we do this is in the personalities I mentioned above. Melancholic or depressed people are treated, for instance, as if it is their own fault, as if they are trying to be difficult. Depression is a major clinical condition, yet we treat it like an annoying thing that depressed people do on purpose. We wouldn’t do this to a cancer patient. Just as there is an environmental source of cancer, there is a source to depression, and blaming the depressed person keeps that person in the environment that caused the depression in the first place.
Furthermore, too often we blame a person’s personality for something circumstantial, for something situation-dependent. Having a militant personality means having the discipline not just to react to a situation based on our perceptions of people, and to understand that our perceptions can often be very wrong. Too often, as well, we don’t have the discipline to be patient and simply listen to people, to accept what they are saying, as we always want to get our own word in.
Once we have compassion and discipline – the keys to listening and learning from one another – then we understand negative personalities differently. We no longer have to dismiss people merely as attention-seekers, as lazy bums, as addicts, as naggers and complainers. We can understand that if a person exhibits a negative trait, then that person likely needs help to understand this negative trait in order to change and grow. This cannot be done by simply exhibiting another negative trait, by attacking the person, by saying they are simply sick and twisted. Many behaviours cannot be tolerated, but through compassion we can help bring people who exhibit some bad behaviours in line with their own principles, as well as learn from them about our own principles.
And once we understand that our personalities can be influenced by others, that we can influence other people, then we understand that people with good personality traits aren’t just naturally good people. They had the environment and social living conditions — the friends and family and teachers — to help them grow. The lesson to be learned here, then, is that people who exhibit negative personality traits also need these things in order to get better. But furthermore that we need these things in order to learn to make ourselves better — for if there is one personality trait that we all need, it is the humility to know that we never know enough.
In order to be compassionate we have to be creative, and understand that creativity is also something that has to be cultivated. We can do this by becoming well-rounded, by trying out new things and learning new skills such as drawing, painting, writing, programming, hacking, public speaking. We can do this by learning about new subjects like biology, math, literature, political-economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, religion. Most of all we can do this by sharing our experiences, and listening intently to the experiences of others. The more experiences — our own and others’ — that we can learn from, the more creative and compassionate we can become.
A militant personality therefore means breaking away from our comfort zones — both in the thoughts that comfort us and in the habits and situations we are comfortable with, so that we don’t become sedentary and complacent. It means developing our emotional connections between each other, but also developing our own and others’ consciousnesses, so that we don’t become reactionary and individualistic. It means loving each other, having the empathy and compassion not only to stop questioning each others’ intentions, but to stop each other from judging people, which leads to prejudice and hatred. It means understanding that material possessions have a value beyond money, and money itself has a value beyond what it can buy us, in the time and effort people put it to every cent we have, so that we don’t become wasteful and materialistic.
The militant personality is the revolution of the self that we need before we have any other revolution. But like revolution in this sense, we don’t have to associate militancy with aggression. In order to fight back against everyday sexists, racists and fascists and the patriarchal, racist, exploitive capitalist system that creates them, we don’t have to be aggressive. But we do have to be assertive, and understand that their violence against us means we have to practice self-defence. If our ideals are truthfulness, honesty, sincerity and earnestness, then the only true, honest, sincere and earnest practice of these ideals is self-defence. And the best self defence lies in us, in developing our personalities so that we can work together and grow.
The militant personality is nothing more and nothing less than the revolution, which is the continuous cultivation and practice of the ideals and principles we already hold, in order to live in a world in which we are equal and free.


“To live! Like a tree alone and free
Like a forest in brotherhood”

Nâzım Hikmet Ran (1902-1963)


Bella Ciao

Credit to Youtube User ankhst
From Unwomanizers holiday show at 50 Mason St in San Francisco, CA on 3 Dec 2011


*we changed the title from Current Issue to Current Issue Analysis at the last minute

Robert Pyotr Wolff