Truth isn’t only in English

by Marc Batko

Truth is not only in English

Invitation to a New Beginning

by Marc Batko

Articles from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have convinced me that policy mistakes in foreign affairs, economic thinking, reducing working hours, education, distribution, affordable housing and combating poverty reflect state failure, market failure or an inability to learn from other cultures.  Recognizing failure, tragedy and collapse are often blocked as negativism or endangering our exceptionalism.

Refusing criticism and debate are signs of dementia, infantilism, systemic narcissism or xenophobia or inability to learn.  How strange that the US corporate media hardly ever mentions O Canada!  How can we remember what we have never learned?  Is the media only a megaphone of gossip and slander where Trump, Gates, Netanyahu and Zelensky are given unlimited space and never questioned?  Isn’t this like magnifying the “Three Little Pigs” or “Humpty Dumpty” as our secular national hymn or driving on a bumpy road with only three tires?  Should it be a surprise when students drop out when education is based on outdated neoliberal or imperial myths and a balanced world that doesn’t exist any more?

The US empire is in a state of permanent decline and the world is in economic stagnation and low growth while weapons companies boast unprecedented profits and the super-rich add trillions to their wealth and the 99% struggle to pay for rents, food, housing and health care?

Unfettered capitalism is unfettered greed based on the vicious lie that money is a private matter, not a public necessity.  The law of the stronger is the law of the jungle.  Social problems are not usually police problems.  The rule of the majority must be balanced by minority protection for the state to be legitimate (cf. Loni Guenier).

Hatred leads only to blindness as in relations with Russia and China!  Can we rediscover our interdependence and admit our blindness, egocentrism and insularity?

The future should be anticipated and protected in the present (cf. Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope), not extrapolated from a present bursting in social, political and economic myths and lies!


Pope Francis as a Non-conformist

by Marc Batko

Pope Francis has been the leader of the Catholic Church for 11 years.  As the first Latin American or Argentinian Jesuit pope, Pope Francis has been a consistent and passionate advocate for the poor and social justice.  He is well-known for courageously emphasizing that “this economy kills.”  He is less known for his vigorous support of social movements, for increasing the relevance of faith and for warning that “NATO has been barking at Russia’s border.”

The US economy that has dominated the world for more than a century is an economy of indebtedness and enrichment.  In neoliberalism, the financial sector has expanded and the public sector has shriveled.  In neoliberalism, markets are self-healing, threats are exogenous, not endogenous, money arises out of nothing, money is a private matter, not a public necessity, financial markets return to equilibrium and debts and speculation are positive and sustainable.  These are myths promoted without discussion or criticism by the state and the media. 

Speculation is actually a form of violence but nevertheless is normalized and welcomed.  The financial markets made themselves independent around 1999 with Clinton’s abrogation of the 1933 Glass-Steagal Act separating commercial and speculative banking.  The 2008 financial crash was marked by millions of foreclosures and bank closings leading to the unemployment of millions.  The world recognized that late-stage financial capitalism was full of contradictions and had to be radically changed.  Housing, taxation and bank stability were the first pillars of neoliberalism to collapse.

What does it mean that Pope Francis has been ignored for 11 years as an outsider and non-conformist?

What would an economy that works for everyone look like?  As examples, we could point to worker-owned enterprises, state subsidies for environmentally-friendly part-time work, Vancouver Canada’s 26 community centers, Vancouver Canada’s three-structure Welcoming Center for Refugees built in 2014, successful experiments of a 4-day work week in the UK, Spain, Portugal and Finland.

Liberation theologian Jon Sobrino spoke of the anti-reign that makes impossible a more social and human existence.  Permanent war, enrichment of weapons companies and promotion of financial markets and speculation are prominent examples of waste and unsustainability.  Hedge-fund managers and credit default experts are really unproductive since they don’t increase real wealth or provide human services.  Economist Karl Polany called money, land and labor “fictitious commodities” since they cannot be multiplied at will.

For centuries, education and universities were institutions encouraging critical thinking and enlightenment.  With the rise of financialization and the financial markets, universities have become machines of social conformity.  Since the state has withdrawn from financing education, tuition has exploded to $30,000 or $40,000 a year and lending or financialization has become a big business.  (author’s note: my tuition at the University of Wisconsin, Madison was $500 a semester in 1965-1967!)  Professors must publish in state-of-the-art journals where criticizing tax havens, stock buybacks, micro-second betting (the casino economy), insider trading, speculation or neoliberal myths is taboo. 

Graduates should have career opportunities beyond Amazon assembly lines and Uber drivers.We need a Marshall Plan for journalism run by progressive foundations or philanthropists, not the state.

The US is an empire in permanent rapid decline that resists the changing world reality.  BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and growing) now has a greater GDP than the G7.  China has built 600 schools in Iraq and airports in Africa.  China, the work bench of the world, has become the leader in electric car production, smart phones and high-speed levitation trains (200 to 300 mph).

With Chinese investments, countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa are building their infrastructures and freeing themselves from structural adjustment policies and the Washington Consensus of privatization, deregulation and liberalized (casino) markets. Not long ago, countries had to grow strawberries and orchids for Miami and not rice and beans for their own people. The world is changing.  People are no longer rushing after Coca-Cola, rock-n-roll and financial products as in the recent colonial history!

Economics isn’t even discussed in the 2024 US presidential election campaign except by Jill Stein, economist Michael Hudson laments.  The US of Amnesia (cf. Gore Vidal) or the US of Denial (cf. Richard Wolff) is isolating itself and moving into irrelevance.  Citizens United, the bizarre 2010 Supreme Court decision that said money was speech and corporations were persons, made elections into auctions on the quiet.  Donald Trump after dividing and ruining the country with his two 2017 tax heists is making the US into a political farce of fake news, lies, scapegoating and misinformation.  In 2017, $8 trillion was given to corporations and households with over one million dollars.  According to MSNBC, Trump created more debt than all past US presidents combined!

According to, Bill Gates dispersed over $310 million to The Atlantic, MSNBC, Fox News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, Foreign Affairs, the University of California, and a myriad of others to purchase his unchallenged authority in the new health religion or health government.  Universities, broadcast stations and magazines are usually strapped for funds and welcome Gates’ contributions.

State intervention is vital in building SROs (single-resident occupancy) and millions of affordable apartments.  Otherwise private developers will be prohibited from building affordable units because of rising material costs, land costs and labor costs.  In the Vienna model, the city bought up viable land to prevent speculation and rental costs were reasonable.  Magic thinking and wishful thinking are as useless \as corrupt politicians who make promises and only say what people want to hear.  Thanks to our “bright-sided” culture (cf Barbara Ehrenreich), people often only hear what they want to hear!

Society (Gesellschaft in German) is very different from community (Gemeinschaft in German).  Vietnam and Southeast Asia have flourishing food economies.  China enriches countries with high-speed turbo trains and airports.

Is the US training teachers and nurses or doubling down on corporate welfare and stadium construction?  Are universities only tentacles of the police state (cf. Michael Hudson)?

How can the constitutional state be strengthened and the security or emergency state prevented?

Political scientist Benjamin Barber wrote a massive book “Strong Democracy” that could help us design a future worth living!  Cities that are full of boarded up buildings and skid-rows cannot be transformed by wishful thinking or the promises of corrupt politicians!  Resist the beginnings of soft fascism (cf. Dorothee Soelle)! 

d have become a village of SROs and affordable apartments.  The corrupt state ruled only by capital and idolatrous profit maximization turned away again from the common good!  Instead, all we have is a gigantic, vacant parking lot too far from businesses and offices to be useful.

The right-wing counter-revolution dismantled the welfare state.  Since the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, a third of all new wealth has accumulated in the pockets of the top 1%.  Socialism for the rich and ruthless uncaring capitalism for the rest of the population!  The poor and homeless, victims of the rule of capital and the irrational goal of profit maximization, are denied basic human rights and made invisible.

Hope comes from outside the nihilistic society with its boarded-up businesses, outmoded myths, financial bubbles and permanent wars.  More than wishful thinking, magic thinking or empty promises of corrupted politicians is needed to turn skid-rows into livable human communities.  Housing, taxation, and bank stability were the first pillars of neoliberalism to collapse.  Now security guards bump into other security guards; the walkable city becomes another de-industrialized wasteland.  Universities become tentacles of the police state (cf. economist Michael Hudson) or social machines of conformity.  Critical thinking, dissent, enlightenment and social relief should be priorities of a society that learns from the past.  Tolerance and anti-militarism should be “no-brainers” after the horrors of Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Gaza and Ukraine.

Humpty Dumpty has fallen and all the king’s horses and soldiers cannot put the status quo back together again! Babylon the Great, the great whore that devoured the world’s wealth as the self-chosen indispensable empire, has fallen!  Two elderly men in dementia battle for the US presidency without discussing indebtedness or enrichment, alternative economics or neoliberal myths!

Jesus laughs at the kings of the earth!  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?  Do you expect a reward for your lies, indifference and complacency, for stuffing your pockets while the US empire falls and the global economy stagnates?  Do you think other countries will listen when you speak arrogantly and hostilely?  Germany and the US threatening China is like dwarfs on steroids or three-year olds bellowing at a heavy-weight champion!

The first will be last and the last will be first!  Those working one hour will receive the same as those who worked all day since the enjoyment and salvation of God is the true reward of life!  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  Jesus’ parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee is a disappointment for those who believed capitalism was an eternal natural law and its own ethic.

The God Yahweh stands above the four world empires (cf. Dan 2).  God himself is the eschatological gift of salvation, wholeness, and happiness.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the land promise to Israel, liberation theology proclaims.  His sacrifice was to be the end to human sacrifice since God demands justice, not human sacrifices or animal sacrifices.  Our challenge is to think spiritually and become post-materialists!

The anti-reign (cf. theologian Jon Sobrino) lives from the blood of the prophets, saints, and martyrs.  The US empire has a history of 240 years of war for hubris, resources, power projection and scapegoating!  The right-wing counter-revolution is based on resentment and greed, permanent wars and the tax avoidance industry, tax havens and stock buybacks, an anti-social misanthropic agenda oblivious to the rights of coming generations, the rights of the poor, disabled and elderly and the rights of nature.

Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand! were Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus in his words and  life revealed the merciful forgiving God  and was the truth of God in person (auto-aletheia) and the kingdom of God in person (auto-basileia).  The whole Christian life should be a life of repentance, Martin Luther pleaded in the first of his 95 Theses (1517).

The ego must die for the self to be born.  The aesthetic stage is limited to fleeting, transitory pleasure (cf. Soren Kierkegaard, Stages of Life)  as the dietary laws were a stage to the eternal law of love of God, neighbor and self.

God’s Word slays to make alive, said Martin Luther.  The choice is faith or talking to oneself.  In “One-Dimensional Man,” philosopher and social critic Herbert Marcuse denounced the false needs, false consciousness, and alienation standing in the way of liberation, wholeness and social transformation.  The one-dimensional society is only based on fear and intimidation.

The rulers of the world do not know peace, only envy, jealousy and optimizing self-glory and self-righteousness.  Peace, peace, peace, they cry but there is only destruction said the Roman historian Tacitus.

We live on the shoulders of the prophets, witnesses, and writers of faith.  The unbelieving world denounces the other as the cause of chaos.  Neoliberalism destroys curiosity and rhythm and doesn’t know music, wonder, astonishment, resilience or the magnificence of nature and the smallest.  Film director Werner Herzog distinguishes mathematical truth from ecstatic truth or truth of nature.  Absolutist truth leads to discrimination and dehumanization of others while hatred leads only to blindness, to 240 years of war, and to hatred of Russia or hatred of China.

In “1984,” George Orwell warned that two minutes of hate would be ordered to unite the spiritless country.  Donald Trump who calls himself the “Chosen One” or “the Nelson Mandela of our time” or a celebrity after the “Apprentice Show” has given us eight years of hate with the media’s obsequiousness.  Calling himself the victim of culture wars and the media, he has poured his venom and scorn on the weakest, immigrants, the disabled and the homeless, denounced leftists as “vermin,” Mexicans as “rapists and murderers,” the Department of Justice (e.g. Obama judges), the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, women and all the media (e.g. as losers)  The victimization deceiver unleashes a torrent of slanders, accusations, name-calling and mud-throwing and is uninterested in policy debates, discussions, human rights, international law, and the struggles of minorities and the poor.  The attention-whore mocks democracy and language.  Make America Great Again  is just a cynical disguise to Make Trump Great Again and keep Trump out of jail for bank fraud, insurance fraud, defrauding New York of a billion dollars, two 2017 tax heists of $8 trillion and pedophilia with Jeffrey Epstein.

Trump is a misanthropic, sociopathic narcissist, who was brought up on a “Kill, Kill mantra”, learned from Roy Cohn never to admit a failure or mistake and blame the weakest.  When his Atlantic City casinos went bankrupt, he got a nearly billion- dollar credit and didn’t pay any taxes for nearly a decade!  The loose cannon sets himself above the law and declares when you’re a celebrity they let you do whatever you want!  Nebuchadnezzar, the destroyer of the Jerusalem temple in 587 B.C., Hitler who repeated the lie “International Jewry was exterminating Germany,” Zelensky and Netanyahu who had razed Gaza to the ground and killed 30,000 Palestinians in a six-month genocide are Trump’s compatriots.

The people are ahead of the government, particularly when the state serves capital and is wedded with the corporate media.  The Yes comes before the No in a society mindful of social ethics.  In Jesus’ radicalization of the law, stoning adulteresses is prohibited and reaping corn for food is allowed.  Telling the truth is a revolutionary act in a corrupt time, George Orwell admonishes us in this time of upheaval and uncertainty.

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