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Hang The Bankers: Info-graphic clearly explains the LIBOR conspiracy scandal
07.10.2012
07:22 pm

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Class War
Crime
Economy
History
Politics
Stupid or Evil?

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Please spread far and wide, the sooner the public catches on to this story, the more likely it is that these bastards will do hard jail time instead of collecting $30 million dollar bonuses.

This is a make or break moment for the human race, it really is. Time for some heads to be put on sticks and paraded around lower Manhattan and the Hamptons.

There’s a larger version at Accounting Degree.net.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
More John Lydon on ‘Question TIme’, this time sticking it to the banks


 
Marc has already posted some of this here on DM, but for those who would like to see more, here is the entire Question Time show featuring John Lydon (among others) which went out on BBC1 last Thursday.

We all gathered round the computer monitor to watch this broadcast last week, and I have to admit it felt like real event television. Having someone with the wit and stature (not to mention televisual infamy) of John Lydon sitting as part of a panel on a mainstream political show simply does not happen very often.

It was a mixed blessing. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pro-drug decriminalisation discussion, which Marc linked to before, and I thought he could have handled that part better. I also found some of his showboating grating, but hey, the guy is a rock legend, so I guess a bit of attention grabbing narcissism is to be expected.

But where Lydon really shone was in the opening few minutes of the show, when the panel were asked about the current banking crisis, and how the UK government intends to investigate the LIBOR scandal. Perfectly cutting through the blame-throwing merry-go-round the politicians were spinning in an attempt to avoid giving any real answers, Lydon was loud and direct, and did what he does best - namely, a physical representation of righteous fury. Below is the entire episode, but the beginning of Question Time is worth watching just to see Lydon put Louise Mensch and her ilk firmly in their place, by reminding them that this is not some abstract argument or phiopsphical discussion. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake:
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Extraordinary Scenes: Striking Miners arrive to heroes’ welcome in Madrid
07.10.2012
06:09 pm

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Class War
Current Events
Politics

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miners_march_madrid_2012
 
Incredible images are coming in from Madrid tonight, showing the crowds of over 150,000 people who came out onto the streets to support the striking miners on their Black March.

Tuesday night, the marching miners triumphantly entered the city, having walked halfway across Spain in protest against the government’s austerity cuts and plans to remove subsidies from the coal mining industry.

The miners’ strike has been seen as the People’s Strike, born out of last year’s Indignados demonstrations, and has gained country-wide support as the miners marched form town-to-town, city-to-city.

Tonight’s arrival in Madrid will be the start of larger demonstrations tomorrow against the government’s policies.

While Spain’s mainstream media has ignored tonight’s events, the people of Spain have been sharing photographs and footage on line, of which these are but a small selection.

More can be found here and here. Read more on the story here.
 
miners_madrid_2012
 

Video by Juan Luis Sánchez for El Diario, via Socialist Worker.
 
More pictures, after the jump…
 
With thanks to Maria Salavessa Hormigo Guimil, Isabel Mar Almadan and Teresa Carrington
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Mitt Romney makes more than the median US household income in just 5 hours!
07.10.2012
11:09 am

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Class War
Idiocracy
Politics
The wrong side of history

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This comes via Redditor “bigger_than_jesus”:

In an average work year there are 2080 work hours. He made $21.7m in 2010. The median household income is about $50,000. It will take the median household 433 years to make what Romney made in 2010. Here’s more showing how out of touch he is:

He suggested to borrow $20,000 from your parents to start a business. That is nearly half of the median household income in America. He made that in 2 hours.

He casually bet Rick Perry $10,000, with the cavalier attitude of someone betting their couch cushion change. He made that in 1 hour.

He characterized $374,000 as “not very much.” He made that in 35 hours, less than a work week. The median household income at 35 hours is less than $900.

It will take the median household 7.5 years to make what Romney earned in 35 hours.

I’ve tried to make it clear, in my writing here at Dangerous Minds, that I am no fan of either the Democrats or President Obama. The ONLY reason I vote a straight Democratic ticket is because I hate the Republicans more. If the American electorate is stupid enough to elect Mitt Romney (not that I am losing any sleep over this coming to pass) then the country will have gotten what it well and truly deserves: an oligarchy.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Is Mexico’s president-elect the male Sarah Palin or the gay OJ Simpson of politics?
07.09.2012
05:40 pm

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Politics
Pop Culture

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Mexicans may have woken up the day after their election worried that they’d chosen a “himbo” who has never read a book version of Sarah Palin to lead their country in the form of seemingly empty-headed pretty boy president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, but it might be worse than even that nasty nightmare come true: What if Peña Nieto is more like a closeted gay OJ Simpson/John Edwards kind of homicidal super-cad hybrid character?

Sounds vaguely like a telenovela that has jumped the shark, no?

Wonkette’s Lisa Wines has the down and dirty. Trust me this shit is the best:

Agustín Humberto Estrada Negrete, a former director and teacher at a school for children with special needs, claims to have been Peña Nieto’s homosexual lover for seven years while Peña Nieto was governor of Mexico state and married to Monica Pretelini. Estrada Negrete claims that Peña Nieto’s wife discovered him and Peña Nieto inflagranti and an argument between husband and wife ensued. When Peña Nieto started to beat his wife, Estrada Negrete decided it was time to leave. The next thing he knew, Monica Pretelini was dead. Since Estrada Negrete had been beaten before by Peña Nieto, he is convinced that Peña Nieto killed his wife. In an interview, Estrada Negrete said that after Monica Pretelini’s January 2007 death, Peña Nieto cried upon Estrada Negrete’s breast, “I went too far.”

On May 12, 2007, Peña Nieto’s deceased wife’s bodyguards were murdered while accompanying Peña Nieto’s three children, their maternal grandparents and aunt in Veracruz. Only the truck of the bodyguards was targeted; the family was unhurt. Estrada Negrete attests that these were the same bodyguards who would come and pick him up, in the same truck, for his assignations with Peña Nieto.

On May 17, 2007, just four months after the death of Peña Nieto’s wife, Estrada Negrete participated in an LGBT event, posing in a red dress. The photo of him in a dress made it into the papers and since then, Estrada Negrete’s life (as well as the lives of his family and the mothers of the school children who supported him) has been in grave danger. Estrada Negrete says this was the end of his relationship with Peña Nieto, since he had always been warned by Peña Nieto that there would be dire consequences if he came out of the closet.  Estrada Negrete lost his job, was arrested twice for minor charges, tortured and gang-raped in jail, had death threats written on the walls of his school and inside his home and finally someone tried to kill him with a plastic bag over his head. Left for dead on the street, luckily the Red Cross saved him. In a wheelchair he escaped to the United States in 2010 with his political asylum papers in hand. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed a precautionary measure in Mexico to protect Estrada Negrete and his family and eventually was able to get the Mexican government to pay Estrada Negrete’s teacher’s back-pay. He lives in San Diego now, still fearing for his life but denouncing Peña Nieto and telling his story any chance he gets.

Adding to the mystery, on the day of Peña Nieto’s wife’s death, the announcements were all over the place. First, the governor’s own spokesperson announced that she had died from an overdose of anti-depressants (other reports said sleeping pills), then that she was brain dead, then finally, the doctor who had been treating her for two years made an announcement that she had been having seizures and that she had suffered, this time, from a fatal one, which caused cardiac arrhythmia and in turn respiratory arrest, from which she died. No wonder Peña Nieto was so confused in a May 2010 TV interview with respected Univisión journalist Jorge Ramos, when Ramos asked Peña Nieto how his wife had died. He couldn’t answer. He babbled on and on like he did at the Guadalajara book fair when asked what books he’d read that influenced his life. Ramos had to remind him that his wife died of an epileptic seizure. We think that Peña Nieto should have said in Guadalajara that the book that most influenced him was, If I Did It, by OJ Simpson.

Of course, all the bad things happened when he was just a tyke (in his thirties). Now he’s a man (in his forties). And president. So we’re sure he’s learned his lesson, right? Well, all is not well in the soap-opera fairy tale of Peña Nieto and Angelica Rivera, his soap-opera star wife. On March 13 of this year, Angelica Rivera was admitted to a hospital, bruised and beaten. Mexican radio station Radio Formula confirmed that Rivera was hospitalized for two days in March after she “fell from the stairs.” On May 29, Mexican actress Laura Zapata (Tony Mottola’s sister-in-law) tweeted that Angelica Rivera was severely beaten by Peña Nieto and hospitalized again. This time, no media outlets confirmed Angelica’s stay in the hospital, because according to Laura Zapata, the attending physicians were told not to say a word.

Ay yi yi!

Read more of Gay? Murderer? The telenovela life of president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto at Wonkette
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Noam Chomsky on how the Occupy movement might affect the US Presidential election
07.09.2012
09:19 am

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Activism
Class War
Current Events
Politics

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“If you’re rich and powerful, you can never have enough…”

The Guardian’s Gary Younge talks to Noam Chomsky about why the Occupy movement is so important, where it goes from here, and how it will affect the election. You can watch a longer version of this interview, here.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Kathy Acker interviews William Burroughs
07.08.2012
01:33 pm

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Art
Literature
Media
Politics
Pop Culture

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Literary outlaw, word virologist and post-modernist punk rock scum Kathy Acker and her mentor William Burroughs, the hombre invisible, smartly crack linguistic whips in this insightful conversation from 1988, which took place at the October Gallery during Burrough’s first British art exhibition.

What a pleasure this is - two artists clearly enamored of each other and pleased to be in each other’s presence. Burroughs is particularly open and fluid in this chat which includes some fascinating, but all too brief, stuff on Scientology, EST and Buddhism, and space travel. Burroughs goes on at the greatest length when dealing with the subject of Jesus and the Christ virus.
 

 
Parts two and three after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Illuminati exposed: Why the Libor conspiracy scandal is the most important story in the world
07.08.2012
10:49 am

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Class War
Economy
History
Politics

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American banks are about to be engulfed by the biggest scandal in financial history. Or maybe not, it will largely depend on how closely the public pays attention. If they are paying attention, the game, as it is currently being played, is finished.

The Libor scandal reveals capitalism’s vaunted Free Market is a con trick, which has been fraudulently controlled by international banks for their own and select cartels and speculators’ interest. The cost of this fraudulent activity has been paid for by the public - the savers, mortgage owners and pensioners. There is now proof positive that the financial elite have been playing us all for fools.

The bankers at the tip top of the food chain (literally) have been caught red-handed with their collective hands in our collective cookie jars, to put it another way.

Last week, Barclays’ Bank was fined $450-million for manipulating Libor (the London Inter Banking Offered Rate). This is the rate through which banks lend. The rate is agreed upon every day by a select group of banks, and is considered a “global benchmark worth hundreds of trillions of pounds.” The slightest deviation in the rate can cost a bank billions.

Libor along with Euribor are the central mechanisms for setting global interest rates for a vast array of financial services and products.

Libor is the largest, operating over 10 currencies, which includes determining the rate of US dollars in the form of Eurodollars.

Traders in the main financial markets in London, New York and Japan colluded to set inter bank rate, thus making either huge profits or covering-up their losses.

Traders like low interest rates so they can buy cheap bonds and make quick speculative profits. The retails side prefers high interest rates, which can help savers make higher return on their savings. Between the two positions is a “sacrosanct” wall which prevents either side from fraudulent collusion. At least that’s the idea…

Last week, Barclays’ Bank admitted their bankers broke through this so-called “sacrosanct” wall, and that there was collusion in the “fixing” of inter bank rates. (Translation: The bankers are behaving like the mafia)

The US watchdog the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) said it wasn’t just Barclays’ traders who were involved in the market manipulation but the bank’s top bosses.

‘...as a result of instructions from Barclays’ senior managemnet, the Bank routinely made artificially low LIBOR submissions to protect Barclays’ reputation from negative market and media perceptions concerning Barclays’ financial condition.’

Leaked e-mails between traders revealed the staggering level of collusion between traders and bank staff.

‘Dude. I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I’m opening a bottle of Bollinger.’

While the bankers bashed the Bolly, the public picked up the tab.

That investment bankers are corrupt, psychopathic thieves of the lowest order is nothing new, but the Libor scandal shows that the whole process of rate fixing is not dependent on the realities of market values, but on the arbitrary say so of investment bankers!!!

In other words, the whole of Capitalism is based on a house of cards, which are, at last, about to come tumbling down.

A friend, with ties to the financial industry, recently said that the public’s relationship with the banks was similar to a put-upon wife with an abusive and violent husband. The worse the husband behaves, the more the wife forgives. Until one day, something snaps, and the wife realizes her husband is a brutal bully, a monster, a low and despicable human, and there has been no real love in their relationship on his side. ‘One day, the public will similarly wake-up and realize the banks have been brutalizing them for centuries.’

If not NOW, when? It’s now of never with this one. It’s off the scale of scandal. This is a real “lock them up and throw away the key” moment.

This is what must be kept in focus as the Libor scandal begins to expose the scale of the other banks involved in similar fraudulent activity. At present, sixteen other banks are suspected of involvement. Already, a blame-game has commenced with the current Conservative government attempting to lay the blame for the Libor scandal at the previous Labour government’s door. All of this is of secondary importance.

Here’s the take-away: Governments have colluded with banks to keep the public imprisoned with debt. Cheap loans, credit cards, mortgages, and unemployment, are the core values of Western-Liberal-Capitalist society, which is based on keeping its citizens impoverished and debt-ridden. We can only hope that the Libor scandal will lead to the irrevocable damage of the banking and finacial industry’s reputation, which will in turn lead to the nationalization of banks and strict regulation of the financial industry.

Below, Matt Taibbi tells Eliot Spitzer: “This is like finding the whole world is built on quicksand”
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jonathan Krohn Confessions of a right-wing child star
07.08.2012
09:54 am

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Current Events
Hysteria
Politics

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I have enjoyed watching how young Jonathan Krohn, former wunderkind of the CPAC conservative set, has handled himself in his new role as an apostate pariah to the Right.

It would seem like the recent chronology went something like this: Bill Maher did a bit about that idiot kid in West Virginia spouting off on his YouTube channel about how Obama was making high school kids gay, and in the same segment, ran a little of the famous viral video of a then 13-year-old Krohn at CPAC giving his obnoxious kiddie conservative take on America’s problems and being applauded wildly by the barking seals Republican activist attendees.

I hadn’t thought of Krohn since that video made the rounds, but I did make a mental note to Google him the next day to see what he was up to, maybe for a post about him here on Dangerous Minds. Well, Politico’s Patrick Gavin must’ve had that same idea (and better follow-thru than yours truly) because he contacted Jonathan to see what he was up to. The resulting article, which saw Krohn renouncing his former conservative beliefs saw him caught in a crossfire of childishness unleashed by the frat boys of Tucker Carlson’s lowbrow wanna-be Breitbart Daily Caller blog.

And then it just ballooned from there, as Jonathan Krohn explains in an article he penned for Salon (I wanted to invite Jonathan to write something like this for Dangerous Minds, but, yeah, my follow-thru is terrible these days):

Four years ago, at the age of 13, I gave a speech at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference). To be honest, I had no idea how big a deal it was to make a two-minute appearance on a B-list panel. But the speech blew up, and I became the child star of the right wing — like the conservative Macauley Culkin, except I’ve never had a drug problem or dated Mila Kunis, unfortunately.

My involvement at such a young age happened for manifold reasons: I always enjoyed writing (I had gotten my first paid writing gig when I was 9), I enjoyed politics (or at least the theory of politics), and I grew up in Georgia, where conservative ideologues dominated the radio and the populace. Mix those things with the naïveté of a kid and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a fresh, right-wing pundit. My star role worked out well for a while. I didn’t have to question any of the talking points I’d made in my speech, and I got to drone on and on about them at numerous Tea Parties and other conservative gatherings. I felt justified in my beliefs if for no other reason than no one actually told me I was wrong. Instead, men like Bill Bennett and Newt Gingrich hailed me as the voice for my generation and a hope for America.

But then, earlier this week, Politico released an interview in which I announced I wasn’t a conservative anymore — and the proverbial crap hit the fan. Since then, I have been treated by the political right with all the maturity of schoolyard bullies. The Daily Caller, for instance, wrote three articles about my shift, topping it off with an opinion piece in which they stated that I deserved criticism because I wear “thick-rimmed glasses” and I like Ludwig Wittgenstein. Why don’t they just call me “four-eyes”? These are not adults leveling serious criticism; these are scorned right-wingers showing all the maturity of a little boy. No wonder I fit in so well when I was 13.

No wonder, indeed! One commentator said he would have left the boy in the woods to die as a baby. (Never considering the possibility that he might be raised by wolves to become the American Lenin? Why not kill him with your bare hands for the sake of future)

I can totally relate to Jonathan Krohn and appreciate how he handles these silly attacks with grace and perspective. As I have admitted (confessed?) here in the past, I was a massive, huge, crazy Ayn Rand nut when I was a kid (to this day, I have a virtually encyclopedic knowledge of her work). I owned every book, cassettes of her Ford Hall Forum lectures and two huge binders of all of her magazines and newsletters. To gather that kind of completest Ayn Rand library at that time (late 70s/early80s) was expensive and I mowed lawns and did unpleasant gardening work to afford it. I devoured her writing at that age. I thought it was the most important thing I’d ever read, as idiotic as that seems to me now.

Ironically, it was during the course of my teenaged Ayn Rand phase that I discovered the work of philosopher Herbert Marcuse (quoting myself here):

“It was via an article published in her magazine The Objectivist (“Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of the New Left” by George Walsh) that I first came across the ideas of the New Left. Not all that long afterwards, I became much more interested in the types of philosophers that Rand and her disciples decried as “academic barbarians,” “dangerous irrationalists” and “mutilators of student’s minds,” than I was in Rand herself.

Not only did I find that the ideas of the New Left resonated more with my own innately experienced view of the world around me, it also seemed clear that if the ideas of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School terrified the Ayn Rand brigade as much as they obviously did, then they must also be much more authentic ideas, too.

Yep. Although it might come as a surprise to less intellectually agile types on the Right who tend to make up their minds at a young age and keep it that way, smart kids don’t always stick with the same worldview they have at 13 as they mature. My discovery of the work of Herbert Marcuse (which led to Marx, Hegel, Sartre and the Situationist International) saw me make a much sharper left turn than young Mr. Krohn, who sees himself as a left-leaning independent, has, but, like I say, I can easily relate to the guy, admire his intelligence and understand fully why he’s so eager to leave Georgia for NYU (I wanted out of West Virginia like a bat out of hell when I was his age). I wish Jonathan Krohn the best of luck in his future endeavors and I expect that this won’t be the last time we hear from him.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Is Marxism becoming mainstream with younger people?
07.06.2012
02:09 pm

Topics:
Class War
Economy
Heroes
History
Politics

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There’s a “must read” article that appeared on The Guardian’s website—ironically on the 4th of July, America’s national celebration of revolution—about a new-found interest in the ideas of Karl Marx among younger people. Going on in London this week is a five-day seminar/festival, organized by the Socialist Workers’ Party, called Marxism 2012. The festival is expected to draw several thousand people, many of them in their 20s and early 30s.

At the start of the piece, French Marxist thinker Jacques Rancière lays out a remarkably blunt truth to Guardian editor Stuart Jeffries: “The domination of capitalism globally depends today on the existence of a Chinese Communist party that gives de-localised capitalist enterprises cheap labour to lower prices and deprive workers of the rights of self-organisation. Happily, it is possible to hope for a world less absurd and more just than today’s.”

Aren’t Marx’s venerable ideas as useful to us as the hand loom would be to shoring up Apple’s reputation for innovation? Isn’t the dream of socialist revolution and communist society an irrelevance in 2012? After all, I suggest to Rancière, the bourgeoisie has failed to produce its own gravediggers. Rancière refuses to be downbeat: “The bourgeoisie has learned to make the exploited pay for its crisis and to use them to disarm its adversaries [Tea party dupes, he is talking about YOU—RM]. But we must not reverse the idea of historical necessity and conclude that the current situation is eternal. The gravediggers are still here, in the form of workers in precarious conditions like the over-exploited workers of factories in the far east. And today’s popular movements – Greece or elsewhere – also indicate that there’s a new will not to let our governments and our bankers inflict their crisis on the people.”

That, at least, is the perspective of a seventysomething Marxist professor. What about younger people of a Marxist temper? I ask Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal, a 22 year-old English and drama student at Goldsmiths College, London, who has just finished her BA course in English and Drama, why she considers Marxist thought still relevant. “The point is that younger people weren’t around when Thatcher was in power or when Marxism was associated with the Soviet Union,” she says. “We tend to see it more as a way of understanding what we’re going through now. Think of what’s happening in Egypt. When Mubarak fell it was so inspiring. It broke so many stereotypes – democracy wasn’t supposed to be something that people would fight for in the Muslim world. It vindicates revolution as a process, not as an event. So there was a revolution in Egypt, and a counter-revolution and a counter-counter revolution. What we learned from it was the importance of organisation.”

This, surely is the key to understanding Marxism’s renaissance in the West: for younger people, it is untainted by association with Stalinist gulags. For younger people too, Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalism in his 1992 book The End of History – in which capitalism seemed incontrovertible, its overthrow impossible to imagine – exercises less of a choke-hold on their imaginations than it does on those of their elders.

This is extremely significant, as Jeffries rightly points out. Even in America this is increasingly the case. Young people who have graduated from college with crushing amounts of debt, no health insurance, and who work in dead end jobs (if they can get a job at all) with no clear path to begin their careers are becoming quite interested in understanding what the hell happened. It’s really no surprise that they’ve started to google Capitalism’s greatest critic and read up on his ideas. Many people who joined in various OWS protests around the country were further exposed to Marxist critiques of Capitalism and Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek who has become an unlikely intellectual rockstar to young, politically active American leftists who hang on his every word. These recent “converts,” if you will, have only just started to do more research and talk to and exchange ideas with other like-minded people.

As today’s disillusioned, but media-savvy 20-somethings begin their own inroads to influencing the culture, expect that music, film, TV, blogs and even our mainstream news outlets will become more friendly to the ideas of Marx and Engels, even if they aren’t always given credit for them. Ideas that 160 years after they were originally formulated, are starting to make so much sense to intelligent young people living through an age of Capitalism in deep crisis. Will American ever embrace “Marxism,” per se? That seems doubtful, of course, simply due to the cultural knee-jerk taboo around this particular “ism,” but still there is the rather pressing issue of Marxism’s historical inevitability:

Call it whatever you want to, but a situation where a mere 1% of the population control most of the wealth doesn’t seem like it’s going end so well for the ones doing the hoarding.

There’s a big problem that Capitalism increasingly faces: Because of the Internet, over the past fifteen years or so, the average person has easy access to information sources that they never dreamed of or knew existed in the first place. Before the mid-90s, it was much more difficult for the man on the street to be able draw a connection between the price of a particular drug and the net worth of the CEO of the pharmaceutical company that manufactures it. Today, they are beginning to understand that when a CEO of a pharmaceutical company is making $50,000,000 a year that they are paying a TAX ON THEIR OWN HEALTH for the sake of that rich asshole’s obscene salary with EVERY PILL THEY TAKE. Or consider the tax paid directly to the billionaire Walton family from EVERY product sold in a Wal-Mart. It’s a breath-taking con when you consider that ONE GODDAMN FAMILY basically gets to add their own personal tariff to every product sold in the world’s largest retail behemoth!

HOORAY FOR FUCKING CAPITALISM.

HOORAY FOR WALL STREET VAMPIRES.

Only a delusional idiot, the Royal family, the Walton family or a charter member of the 1%, would even wish for the current system to stand as it is. And the opinion of anyone who thinks America or Europe (or China or Russia for that matter) is still going to be doing business the same way in 2032 as it is done in 2012 should be dismissed with extreme derision.

Of course, the American people aren’t going to tip sales of The Communist Manifesto (the world’s #2 selling book of all time) to overtake The Bible any time soon, but then again they needn’t read a German philosophical treatise on how the price of a particular commodity is derived, either, when they’ve got folks like Jon Stewart, Cenk Uygur, Martin Bashir and Rachel Maddow to explain it to them.

In the same sense that ideas once common to the lunatic fringe of the John Birch Society have now achieved mainstream “respect” via Glenn Beck and Fox News, so will covertly Marxist ideas become mainstreamed as younger people coming of age with their eyes wide open in this shitty economy have their day. Eventually the major tenants of Marxism will arrive in the American marketplace of ideas in the guise of plain-talking, good old-fashioned common sense.

Back to Jeffries:

For a different perspective I catch up with Owen Jones, 27-year-old poster boy of the new left and author of the bestselling politics book of 2011, Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Class. He’s on the train to Brighton to address the Unite conference. “There isn’t going to be a bloody revolution in Britain, but there is hope for a society by working people and for working people,” he counsels.

Indeed, he says, in the 1860s the later Marx imagined such a post-capitalist society as being won by means other than violent revolution. “He did look at expanding the suffrage and other peaceful means of achieving socialist society. Today not even the Trotskyist left call for armed revolution. The radical left would say that the break with capitalism could only be achieved by democracy and organisation of working people to establish and hold on to that just society against forces that would destroy it.”

Owen Jones is right. A violent revolution in America seems beyond a remote possibility, as well, whether from the left (not enough stomach for violence) or right (stomachs too fat for being able to inflict much violence). The future American revolution will be one won at the ballot box and through superior demographic numbers. As has been pointed out many, many times, in many, many places, the heyday of the reactionary right that began with Reagan is increasingly being seen in the country’s rear view mirror, demographically speaking. America will always have its conservative wingnuts, it’s just that we’ll have far fewer of them as the Tea partiers and Fox News viewers start to die off in the coming years. Democracy is a numbers game. It always has been.

Having toiled at a major daily newspaper myself, I won’t hold it against Stuart Jeffries that he was obliged to quote at least one “Debbie Downer” about the common, hackneyed misconception of what “Marxism” means, in this case Prof. Alan Johnson, of Edge Hill University, who thinks Communism, “[a] worldview recently the source of immense suffering and misery, and responsible for more deaths than fascism and Nazism, is mounting a comeback; a new form of leftwing totalitarianism that enjoys intellectual celebrity but aspires to political power,” on the World Affairs blog:

“The New Communism matters not because of its intellectual merits but because it may yet influence layers of young Europeans in the context of an exhausted social democracy, austerity and a self-loathing intellectual culture,” wrote Johnson. “Tempting as it is, we can’t afford to just shake our heads and pass on by.”

That’s the fear: that these nasty old left farts such as Žižek, Badiou, Rancière and Eagleton will corrupt the minds of innocent youth. But does reading Marx and Engels’s critique of capitalism mean that you thereby take on a worldview responsible for more deaths than the Nazis? Surely there is no straight line from The Communist Manifesto to the gulags, and no reason why young lefties need uncritically to adopt Badiou at his most chilling. In his introduction to a new edition of The Communist Manifesto, Professor Eric Hobsbawm suggests that Marx was right to argue that the “contradictions of a market system based on no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’, a system of exploitation and of ‘endless accumulation’ can never be overcome: that at some point in a series of transformations and restructurings the development of this essentially destabilising system will lead to a state of affairs that can no longer be described as capitalism”.

That is post-capitalist society as dreamed of by Marxists. But what would it be like? “It is extremely unlikely that such a ‘post-capitalist society’ would respond to the traditional models of socialism and still less to the ‘really existing’ socialisms of the Soviet era,” argues Hobsbawm, adding that it will, however, necessarily involve a shift from private appropriation to social management on a global scale. “What forms it might take and how far it would embody the humanist values of Marx’s and Engels’s communism, would depend on the political action through which this change came about.”

This is surely Marxism at its most liberating, suggesting that our futures depend on us and our readiness for struggle. Or as Marx and Engels put it at the end of The Communist Manifesto: “Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

Read “Why Marxism is on the rise again” by Stuart Jeffries at The Guardian

Thank you, RU Sirius!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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