Thursday, February 11, 2016

Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050 


Forbes, How to save capitalism from capitalism. 

The Dream That Became a Nightmare 

"a progressive solution inside the eurozone is impossible."
"The war on terror" and our friends in barbarity
Tony Wood (NLR 2004): What has been the international response to the ongoing assault on Chechen statehood? As the Chechen foreign ministry official Roman Khalilov dryly notes, ‘the international community’s record of timely, painless recognition of secession is extremely poor’. [51] Here Chechnya has been a casualty of the basest Realpolitik. Western governments gave the nod to Yeltsin’s war as a regrettable side-effect of a presidency that had at all costs to be prolonged, if capitalism was to be successful in Russia. Putin has benefited from a similarly craven consensus. Yet for all the column inches expended on the harm done to Russia’s fragile democracy by the imprisonment of YUKOS chairman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, it is in Chechnya that the face of Putin’s regime is truly revealed, and it is above all by its sponsorship of wanton brutality there that it should be judged.

The few early criticisms of Putin’s campaign from such bodies as the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were soon toned down, and dismissed by European governments as counter-productive amid attempts to welcome Putin to the European fold. In September 2001, while state-sanctioned murders were being committed with impunity in Chechnya, Putin received a standing ovation in the Bundestag; in the summer of 2002, Chirac endorsed the Russian view of the ‘anti-terrorist operation’, and he and Schroeder reiterated their support at Sochi in August 2004. Collective EU efforts have been limited to humanitarian aid for the refugee camps in Ingushetia. [52]

Despite repeated approaches from Maskhadov’s envoys, the UN has, for its part, refused to meet with Chechnya’s legitimately elected leaders—though Kofi Annan was quick to express his grief at the assassination of the puppet Kadyrov earlier this year. On a visit to Moscow in 2002, Annan even praised Putin’s efforts at conflict resolution—doubtless appreciative of the latter’s prior backing for his bid to secure a second term as Secretary General. Questions about Russia’s actions in Chechnya have routinely been sidestepped at meetings of the UN’s Human Rights Committee.Nor has support been forthcoming from elsewhere. Arab governments have emphasized their support for Russia’s territorial integrity, while in 1999 the Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi insisted the Russo-Chechen war was strictly an internal affair. China has seen in Yeltsin’s and now Putin’s suppression of Chechen aspirations for independence a useful precedent for its own dealings with Tibet and Xinjiang. [53]

Official reaction in the US, of course, has been conditioned by the needs of the ‘war on terror’. After the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, Putin wasted no time in linking Chechnya to the wider battle against Islamic extremism, and gave the US permission to plant forward bases across Central Asia, its former sphere of influence, as a quid pro quo for Washington’s approval for war in Chechnya. The Bush administration has responded with the requisite silence—though this is a marked change of tack for many of the neo-cons, whose hostility to Russia has meant support for Chechen independence from unlikely quarters. Members of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya include Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, Elliott Abrams, Midge Decter and James Woolsey. Outside official circles, right-wingers such as Richard Pipes have also argued the Chechens’ case, pointing out that authoritarianism is in Russians’ DNAand that Putin would do well to learn the lessons de Gaulle drew from Algeria. [54]

Liberals, by contrast, have been divided between those who accept the devastation visited on Chechnya as a regrettable bump in Russia’s difficult road to a stable democracy, and those who actively endorse Putin’s war. Despite the constitutional propriety of the Chechens’ demands, there is almost universal agreement on the unacceptability of Chechen independence. ‘The first requirement is the exclusion of formal independence as a subject for negotiation’, concludes Jonathan Steele, on the grounds that Putin will simply not accept secession. [55] Anatol Lieven describes Russia’s right to wage war on Chechnya as ‘incontestable’, at the same time urging ‘more nuanced’ assessments of Russian war crimes. More recently, he has insisted that the West take a tougher line with Maskhadov, pressing him not only to break with the ‘terrorists’ but to fight them ‘alongside Russian forces’. [56] Blair’s fulsome support for Putin, meanwhile, only underscores the hypocritical selectivity of his ‘humanitarian interventionism’.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"What happened was what always happens when a state possessing great military strength enters into relations with primitive, small peoples living their independent lives. Either on the pretext of self-defence, even though any attacks are always provoked by the offences of the strong neighbour, or on the pretext of bringing civilization to a wild people, even though this wild people lives incomparably better and more peacefully than its civilizers . . . the servants of large military states commit all sorts of villainy against small nations, insisting that it is impossible to deal with them in any other way."
Leo Tolstoy, 1902 draft of Hadji Murat 

“Facebook teaches you how to be a neoliberal agent”. An interview with Philip Mirowski

"Under neoliberal pressure the university has been totally transformed. There was a time when people might have wanted some sort of university legitimacy, but that is becoming less and less important since universities are becoming more like think tanks, places for hiring intellectuals. The university doesn’t produce experts today; it produces research programmes for those who want to pay for it, which is exactly what neoliberals want”.  

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A great quote from 19th century economist Frederic Bastiat: When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it”.
The never-ending banking story continues with the biggest character in this story of greed, recklessness, fraud and criminality being the British 'global bank' HSBC.

Crimes abroad...crimes at home, too

On Thursday 4 February 2016 the [British] Government unveiled the privatisation of its final stake in Royal Mail, bringing the curtain down on five centuries of state ownership.

'Is there no limit to what this Government will privatise?': UK plasma supplier sold to US private equity firm Bain Capital
Figures of the Other: Brother, Neighbour, Stranger, Enemy

"Christianity preaches the love of the neighbour, yet ultimately reduces him to a repetition of the self. Modern democracy rests on fraternity, but all too often distorts it into inconsistent ideologies of identity, which pave the way for more or less explicit forms of racism. The battle for the emancipation of woman runs itself the risk of succumbing to a global dispositif of sameness dominated by Capital and its ruthless values. Faced with unprecedented social, economical, and political crises, we are today increasingly urged to treat any kind of otherness that challenges our fragile egos as an enemy."

Monday, February 08, 2016

For someone who has recently been in Saigon, this gives me a chill in the spine.

1965-1975: Another Vietnam
The Tunisian Uprising and Beyond

"In focusing his work on the technologies through which subject populations were ‘incorporated into – and not excluded from – the arena of colonial power,’ Mamdani substantiates his notion of the bifurcated state as a mode of governance. Bringing this analysis to its logical conclusion, he argues that ‘no reform of contemporary civil society institutions can by itself unravel’ such power. Rather, to redress the legacies (both material and epistemological) of the bifurcated colonial state would ‘require nothing less than dismantling that form of power.’ As attested to by past and ongoing forms of revolutionary mobilisation by those who have been treated as second-class citizens, many Tunisians have reached a similar conclusion."