Tag Archives: neoliberalism

Age of Anger, by Pepe Escobar

source: Asia Times

Every once in a (long) while a book comes out that rips the zeitgeist, shining on like a crazy diamond. Age of Anger, by Pankaj Mishra, author of the also-seminal From the Ruins of Empire, might as well be the latest avatar.

Think of this book as the ultimate (conceptual) lethal weapon in the hearts and minds of a rootless cosmopolitan Teenage Wasteland striving to find its true call as we slouch through the longest – the Pentagon would say infinite – of world wars; a global civil war (which in my 2007 book Globalistan I called “Liquid War”).

Mishra, a sterling product of East-meets-West, essentially argues it’s impossible to understand the present if we don’t acknowledge the subterranean homesick blues contradicting the ideal of cosmopolitan liberalism — the “universal commercial society of self-interested rational individuals” first conceptualized by the Enlightenment via Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Voltaire and Kant.

History’s winner ended up being a sanitized narrative of benevolent Enlightenment. The tradition of rationalism, humanism, universalism and liberal democracy was supposed to have always been the norm. It was “clearly too disconcerting,” Mishra writes, “to acknowledge that totalitarian politics crystallized the ideological currents (scientific racism, jingoistic rationalism, imperalism, technicism, aestheticized politics, utopianism, social engineering)” already convulsing Europe in the late 19th century.

So, evoking T.S. Eliot, to frame “the backward half-look, over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror” that eventually led to The West versus The Rest, we’ve got to look at the precursors.

Smash the Crystal Palace

Enter Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin – “the first of many ‘superflous man’ in Russian fiction,” with his Bolivar hat, clutching a statue of Napoleon and a portrait of Byron, as Russia, trying to catch up with the West, “mass-produced spiritually unmoored youth with a quasi-Byronic conception of freedom, further inflated by German Romanticism.” The best Enlightenment critics had to be Germans and Russians, latecomers to politico-economic modernity.

Two years before publishing the astonishing Notes from the Underground, Dostoyevsky, in his tour of Western Europe, was already seeing a society dominated by the war of all against all in which most were condemned to be losers.

Dostoevsky: Society dominated by the war of all against all in which most were condemned to be losers.

In London, in 1862, at the International Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, Dostoyevsky had an illumination (“You become aware of a colossal idea … that here there is victory and triumph. You even begin vaguely to fear something.”) Amid the stupor, Dostoyevsky was also cunning enough to observe how materialist civilization was enhanced as much by its glamor as by military and maritime domination.

Continue reading Age of Anger, by Pepe Escobar

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrDigg thisBuffer this pageShare on StumbleUponFlattr the authorShare on RedditPrint this pageShare on LinkedIn

John Pilger: Why the British Said No to Europe, by John Pilger

Source: telesur

John Pilger strikes a blow to the hypocrisy of a wider political culture that apologizes for the crimes of the EU while denigrating the nation’s poor.

The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy. Millions of ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt by their presumed betters in the major parties, the leaders of the business and banking oligarchy and the media.

This was, in great part, a vote by those angered and demoralized by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the “remain” campaign and the dismemberment of a socially just civil life in Britain. The last bastion of the historic reforms of 1945, the National Health Service, has been so subverted by Tory and Labour-supported privateers it is fighting for its life.

A forewarning came when the treasurer, George Osborne, the embodiment of both Britain’s ancient regime and the banking mafia in Europe, threatened to cut 30 billion pounds from public services if people voted the wrong way; it was blackmail on a shocking scale.

Immigration was exploited in the campaign with consummate cynicism, not only by populist politicians from the lunar right, but by Labour politicians drawing on their own venerable tradition of promoting and nurturing racism, a symptom of corruption not at the bottom but at the top. The reason millions of refugees have fled the Middle East—first Iraq, now Syria—are the invasions and imperial mayhem of Britain, the United States, France, the European Union and Nato. Before that, there was the willful destruction of Yugoslavia. Before that, there was the theft of Palestine and the imposition of Israel.

The pith helmets may have long gone, but the blood has never dried. A nineteenth century contempt for countries and peoples, depending on their degree of colonial usefulness, remains a centerpiece of modern “globalization,” with its perverse socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor: its freedom for capital and denial of freedom to labor; its perfidious politicians and politicized civil servants.

All this has now come home to Europe, enriching the likes of Tony Blair and impoverishing and disempowering millions. On 23 June, the British said no more.

The most effective propagandists of the “European ideal” have not been the far right, but an insufferably patrician class for whom metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of the 21st century zeitgeist, even “cool.” What they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumerist tastes and ancient instincts of their own superiority. In their house paper, The Guardian, they have gloated, day after day, at those who would even consider the EU profoundly undemocratic, a source of social injustice and a virulent extremism known as “neoliberalism.”

Continue reading John Pilger: Why the British Said No to Europe, by John Pilger

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrDigg thisBuffer this pageShare on StumbleUponFlattr the authorShare on RedditPrint this pageShare on LinkedIn

Conversation: Lock Up the Men, Evict the Women and Children, by Chris Hedges

source: Information Clearing House

Matthew Desmond’s book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” like Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed,” is a heartbreaking snapshot of the rapacious exploitation and misery we inflict on the most vulnerable, especially children. It is a picture of a world where industries have been created to fleece the poor, and destroy neighborhoods and ultimately lives. It portrays a judicial system that has broken down, a dysfunctional social service system and the license in neoliberal America to carry out unchecked greed, no matter what the cost.

“Her face had that look,” Desmond wrote. “The movers and the deputies knew it well. It was the look of someone realizing that her family would be homeless in a matter of hours. It was something like denial giving way to the surrealism of the scene: the speed and the violence of it all; sheriffs leaning against your wall, hands resting on holsters; all these strangers, these sweating men, piling your things outside, drinking water from your sink poured into your cups, using your bathroom. It was the look of being undone by a wave of questions. What do I need for tonight, for this week? Who should I call? Where is the medication? Where will we go? It was the face of a mother who climbs out of the cellar to find the tornado has leveled the house.”

Being poor in America is one long emergency. You teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, homelessness and hunger. You endure cataclysmic levels of stress, harassment and anxiety and long bouts of depression. Rent strips you of half your income—one in four families spend 70 percent of their income on rent—until you and your children are evicted, often into homeless shelters or abandoned buildings, when you fall behind on payments. A financial crisis—a medical emergency, a reduction in hours at work or the loss of a job, funeral expenses or car repairs—can lead inexorably to an eviction. Creditors, payday lenders and collection agencies hound you. You are often forced to declare bankruptcy. You cope with endemic violence, gangs, drugs and a judicial system that permits brutal police abuse and ships you to jail, or slaps you with huge fines, for minor offenses. You live for weeks or months with no heat, water or electricity because you cannot pay the utility bills, especially since fuel and utility rates have risen by more than 50 percent since 2000. Single mothers and their children usually endure this hell alone, because the men in these communities are locked up. Millions of families are tossed into the street every year.

We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prison population. More than 60 percent of the 2.2 million incarcerated are people of color. If these poor people were not locked in cages for decades, if they were not given probationary status once they were freed, if they had stable communities, there would be massive unrest in the streets. Mass incarceration, along with debt peonage, evictions, police violence and a judicial system that holds up property rights, rather than justice, as the highest good and that denies nearly all of the poor a trial, forcing them to accept plea bargains, is one of the many tools of corporate oppression.

Continue reading Conversation: Lock Up the Men, Evict the Women and Children, by Chris Hedges

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrDigg thisBuffer this pageShare on StumbleUponFlattr the authorShare on RedditPrint this pageShare on LinkedIn

Conversation: Radical Democracy & Climate Change Activists; Paul Street & Kevin Hester

This is as usual one good conversation for that weekend morning boost of conciousness we so like at Oceania Saker!

Click below to have a listen.

CPRadio

This week Eric welcomes author and columnist Paul Street, and radical envrionmentalist and political activist Kevin Hester to CounterPunch Radio. First, Eric chats with America’s leading ultra-sectarian ideological criminal Paul Street about why he’s having second thoughts about Bernie Sanders, and why the ruling elites might be as well. Eric and Paul discuss the Sanders campaign, what it means for grassroots activism, and whether or not it’s a dead end for those seeking radical change. They also touch on The Donald, the trumpen proletariat, and the danger of a fascist state in a post-President Trump scenario.

In the second part of the show Eric connects with Kevin Hester out on his isolated island in New Zealand to discuss the looming climate catastrophe and the unravelling of the biosphere. Eric and Kevin discuss the bleak, dystopian future of abrupt climate change, the latest report from James Hansen, and why everyone should be conscious of what is to come. Also, they examine the connection between climate change, the environment, and imperialism. Not exactly the rosiest picture, but an important reality.

Musical Interludes:

I See Hawks in LA – Raised by Hippies
Gospel Beach – California Steamer
Freedom: Sove Peyi Mwen
Beachwood Sparks – Talk About Lonesome

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrDigg thisBuffer this pageShare on StumbleUponFlattr the authorShare on RedditPrint this pageShare on LinkedIn

The “Gig Economy”; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs, by Mike Whitney

Source: counterpunch

shutterstock_335122163

“Contrary to the rising-tide hypothesis, the rising tide has only lifted the large yachts, while many of the smaller boats have been dashed on the rocks.” Joseph Stiglitz, economist

American plutocrats and their political lackeys in congress have implemented a plan that’s putting pressure on wages and further decimating the already-battered middle class. By sustaining high levels of unemployment over a long period of time, US elites have “restructured the labor force”, which is a pretentious-sounding expression that means they’ve created a permanent underclass that’s willing to slave-away at demeaning, part-time jobs for mere peanuts without uttering a peep of protest. This metamorphosis of the workforce has taken place mostly in the shadows, concealed behind a thick fog of state propaganda touting the fictitious “recovery”, a recovery in which long-term jobless workers have abandoned all hope of finding gainful full-time employment and resigned themselves to a lifetime of scrambling from one odious task to the next just keep a roof over their heads and the wolves away from the door.

After eight years of applying this coercive ‘starvation strategy’, the plutocrat’s ‘grand plan’ is finally coming into focus. According to economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger’s new paper titled “The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015″:

“All of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.”

“Alternative work arrangements”? You mean there’s been zero growth in ordinary 9 to 5, 40-hour-per-week jobs in the last 10 freaking years???

Indeed, that’s exactly what it means. It also means that Obama’s relentless crowing about the phantom “recovery” is mostly bunkum. There is no recovery. It’s an invention built on the ruined lives of people who have been forced to take all-manner of servile, low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs just to keep food on the table. That’s Obama’s glorious recovery in a nutshell. Here’s more from the World Socialist web Site:

“All US job growth for the last decade came in “alternative work arrangements”—people working as independent contractors, temps, through contract agencies or on-call—according to a study published Tuesday by Princeton University and the RAND Corporation…

The actual number of contingent full-time workers rose from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015, an increase of 9.4 million. Since total US employment rose by 9.1 million during this period, the number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.” (Temps and contractors accounted for all US job growth since 2005, World Socialist Web Site)

Repeat: “The number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.”

Great. So we’re actually going backwards, is that what they’re trying to say?

Continue reading The “Gig Economy”; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs, by Mike Whitney

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrDigg thisBuffer this pageShare on StumbleUponFlattr the authorShare on RedditPrint this pageShare on LinkedIn

Fukushima – Deep Trouble, by Robert Hunziker

Source: counterpunch

shutterstock_286493465-1

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster may go down as one of history’s boundless tragedies and not just because of a nuclear meltdown, but rather the tragic loss of a nation’s soul.

Imagine the following scenario: 207 million cardboard book boxes, end-to-end, circumnavigating Earth, like railroad tracks, going all the way around the planet. That’s a lot of book boxes. Now, fill the boxes with radioactive waste. Forthwith, that’s the amount of radioactive waste stored unsheltered in one-tonne black bags throughout Fukushima Prefecture, amounting to 9,000,000 cubic metres

But wait, there’s more to come, another 13,000,000 cubic metres of radioactive soil is yet to be collected. (Source: Voice of America News, Problems Keep Piling Up in Fukushima, Feb. 17, 2016).

And, there’s still more, the cleanup operations only go 50-100 feet beyond roadways. Plus, a 100-mile mountain range along the coast and hillsides around Fukushima are contaminated but not cleansed at all. As a consequence, the decontaminated land will likely be re-contaminated by radioactive runoff from the hills and mountains.

Indubitably, how and where to store millions of cubic metres of one-tonne black bags filled with radioactive waste is no small problem. It is a super-colossal problem. What if bags deteriorate? What if a tsunami hits? The “what-ifs” are endless, endless, and beyond.

“The black bags of radioactive soil, now scattered at 115,000 locations in Fukushima, are eventually to be moved to yet-to-be built interim facilities, encompassing 16 square kilometers, in two towns close to the crippled nuclear power plant,” Ibid.

By itself, 115,000 locations each containing many, many, mucho one-tonne bags of radioactive waste is a logistical nightmare, just the trucking alone is forever a humongous task, decades to come.

According to Japanese government and industry sources, cleaning up everything and decommissioning the broken down reactors will take at least 40 years at a cost of $250 billion, assuming nothing goes wrong. But dismally, everything that can possibly go wrong for Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) over the past 5 years has gone wrong, not a good record.

And, Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics?

Continue reading Fukushima – Deep Trouble, by Robert Hunziker

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrDigg thisBuffer this pageShare on StumbleUponFlattr the authorShare on RedditPrint this pageShare on LinkedIn