News and Features


Editor’s Note: On weekends we bring you #TDOPicks – our picks for the best social science features we’ve found on the Internet this week. We feature a variety of content aimed at both the layman and the social science professional. Tell us what you’re reading or watching by tweeting @theDailyOpium with #TDOPicks or posting links on our Facebook page.

This week: Pork barrel politics, climate change, capitalism and US Empire.

What Leading Scientists Want You to Know About Today’s Frightening Climate Report,” RIchard Schiffman, The Atlantic.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases  its most alarming report  yet on the implications of the global environmental crisis:

“The head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, speaks for the scientific consensus when he says that time is fast running out to avoid the catastrophic collapse of the natural systems on which human life depends. What he recently told a group of climate scientist could be the most chilling headline of all for the U.N. report:

“We have five minutes before midnight.”

The Epochal Crisis,John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review

Do billion-dollar bank bail-outs mark the End of Civilisation? John Bellamy Foster runs down for us the intimate links between the anarchy of the capitalist global economy and the environmental crisis:

“It is an indication of the sheer enormity of the historical challenge confronting humanity in our time that the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, sometimes now called the Second Great Depression, is overshadowed by the larger threat of planetary catastrophe, raising the question of the long-term survival of innumerable species—including our own.

An urgent necessity for the world today is therefore to develop an understanding of the interconnections between the deepening impasse of the capitalist economy and the rapidly accelerating ecological threat—itself a by-product of capitalist development. “

The Decline of the American Empire”, Doug Henwood, Jacobin Magazine.

 (Remeike Forbes / Jacobin)

Do the excesses  of financial capital spell the end of the American Empire? Doug Henwood, in a review of the Making of Global Capitalism, tells us more:

 “As we learned the other day, 95% of the growth in income between the end of the recession in 2009 and last year went to the richest 1% of the population. But it looks like it’s taking the money and running. It doesn’t seem to have much faith in the future…

Gone seems to be the classically bourgeois executive ego, a relatively stable, if sometimes anal-retentive structure to guide the subject through life. In its place is a much more fragmented thing, adaptable to a world of unstable employment and volatile financial markets—but unable to think seriously about long-term things like social cohesion or, god save us, climate change.”

Selling Empire: American Propaganda and War in the Philippines.” Susan Brewer, The Asia Pacific Journal.

(Editorial cartoon from The New York Times)

“I thought it would be a great thing to give a whole lot of freedom to the Filipinos, but I guess now it’s better to let them give it to themselves.”

– Mark Twain, 1900

“McKinley’s portrayal of American rule in the Philippines as the “advancement of civilization,” and “a guaranty of order and of security for life, property, liberty, freedom of conscience, and the pursuit of happiness” held its appeal. His successors also would manipulate media coverage, present war as a humanitarian mission, and call for support of the troops when the “natives” resisted and criticism on the home front grew louder. The propaganda designed to build support for America’s first land war in Asia created an illusion of the United States as a benevolent liberator that lives on…

His goal, McKinley told Governor Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin was to “attain U.S. supremacy in world markets.” The United States had settled its western frontier, wrapping up thirty years of conflict with the Native Americans. With their own continental empire to manage, American expansionists seemed more interested in indirect imperialism—informal dominance through economic power—than direct imperialism, which entailed hands-on governance. For instance, U.S. companies already had made fortunes out of bananas and minerals from Latin America.

To further economic expansion, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan of the U.S. Navy advocated the construction of a canal through Central America, the buildup of a strong navy to protect trade routes, and the acquisition of refueling bases in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Mahan’s ideas had powerful support from McKinley, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA), Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, and other expansionists, called “jingoes.”

In particular, the United States wanted access to China with its millions of potential customers. So did Japan, Britain, Germany, Russia, and France. The imperial powers threatened to divide up China as they had Africa. In January 1898, the U. S. Minister to China warned Washington, “partition would destroy our markets.”

Within months the United States would be a Pacific power practicing direct imperialism in the Philippines to advance indirect imperialism in China.”

Chinese Factory Workers & the Toys They Make ,”  imgur.

Photo essays taken at five factories in mainland China, where 75% of the world’s toys are manufactured.

“Fresh Investigation Reveals Deterioration of Mattel’s Labor Conditions

“(New York) China Labor Watch (CLW) has released an investigative report on the labor conditions at one directly-owned Mattel factory and three Mattel supplier factories which also supply toys for companies like Disney, McDonald’s, and Hasbro. Investigators, who entered the factories as production workers or carried out interviews, revealed a long list of illegal and unfair labor treatment at these four factories…”

Revealed: true cost of the Christmas toys we buy from China’s factories”

Venezuela: A day with Nicolas Maduro.”, LINKS.

An interview with Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro by Víctor Ríos and Miguel Riera of El Viejo Topo, translated by Tamara Pearson for

 ” Venezuela is in the epicentre of a battle for a new world, a battle against imperialism for Latin America and the world. And in this battle I got to know even Hugo Chavez even better, as a human being, as a leader, as a very demanding person. He was very demanding. He was an example, but he was always clear about what he wanted and how to get it.”

Worse than the pork barrel.”, Randy David, Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Is ending pork barrel politics (or corruption in general) possible without challenging  a system of poverty and patronage  that props it up? Professor Randy David explains.

 “That the diversion of funds took place before P-Noy assumed the presidency does not alter the duty to investigate, render a report, and prosecute those responsible for plunder and criminal negligence. The Department of Justice has filed plunder charges against some people. And, in its special report on PDAF releases for 2007-2009, the COA admitted multiple lapses in auditing and monitoring.

Why does the President continue to insist there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the system itself?”

Enhanced by Zemanta