Category Archives: Neo-Liberalism

What the World Economic Crisis Teaches Us About Capitalism

This is a must-read piece from an editor of GegenStandpunkt in Germany, now translated into English.

Everyone knows that this is dangerous for money. The newspapers write that inflation is imminent, even a currency reform – where money is deleted after all. For rescuing the banks, money is deleted in the end. What does this once again reveal? Everyone knows that this is the most crazy money printing action that has ever been brought under way – and they all say at the same time that this is necessary. They say at the same time that an alternative would just be impossible. So they profess that finance is the true wealth of society: this stronghold of the equation that every piece of money is more money, which the banks administer, this power to draw advance of capital out of the sleeves, to create it, wherever there is an opportunity to make business, this power is the true wealth of capitalistic nations. This is what these nations depend on, or to say it in other words: with this radicalism, by which they now are rescuing their banks, the governments profess the reason of state prevailing here: they risk their own financial power in order to rescue the private one.

It is through the power of finance (financial capitalism) that capitalistic nations hold economic monopoly over the world.

The whole article is here.

For more on the economic crisis from a heterodox perspective, see URPE.

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Brand Obama – No You Can't

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President Obama’s popular appeal makes him a dream for marketing companies looking to siphon profits by using his image and rhetoric. So it should come as no surprise that the White House is looking into copyrighting “brand Obama.”

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.

[…]
Riding the wave of Obama’s popularity may become a concern when advertisers use his likeness without permission to imply that Obama is endorsing a product or cause. The White House through the years has objected to commercial use of presidential faces, such as footage of President George H W Bush in a Cold War-themed 1989 television ad for cold medication.

Is “si se puede” going to come under attack?

Given the massive sale revenues generated using brand Obama, how much is he worth? Can he sell himself and just pay off some of the trade deficit that may help hedge U.S. dollar and restore some credit credibility to this country?

It’s not clear who will lose from this precisely, but the winners list is quite apparent with White House litigators at the very top.

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Filed under Neo-Liberalism, Politics

The World Economic Forum – The Crisis

Anti-Wef Demo Davos 2009 by JUSO Schweiz.

The ‘leaders’ of the world gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) this past weekend to advance the failed and flawed concept of ‘free trade’ to generate economic growth for their respective nations. The forum ended in “we don’t know what to do but we must do something quickly…”
Who elected these guys?

In the next few weeks, governments will follow the good bank / bad bank policy in an effort to get the banking sector under control. That is a short-term fix till the next crisis of capitalism.

Europe is ripe with unrest. The Guardian reports on the following protests and ‘riots’ that may be part of a larger picture of growing resentment against ‘failed states’ (and here we define failed states as those who cannot take care of the basic needs of their constituents):


Upset at the government’s handling of the economic crisis, protesters in PARIS clashed with police last week, throwing bottles and overturning cars
Thousands of protesters held rare rallies throughout RUSSIA on Saturday, calling for the resignation of the government as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass
Fuelled by fears of rising job cuts, wildcat strikes against foreign workers spread through oil refineries and other energy facilities in BRITAIN on Saturday
Venting their fury at the way that the political class allowed the
country to slip towards bankruptcy, ICELANDERS all but stormed their Parliament a few days ago
Last week in LATVIA—where growth has been in double-digit figures for years—10,000 people, rioting over the country’s economic troubles, besieged the parliament and threw Molotov cocktails at police
Some 7,000 protesters gathered outside the LITHUANIAN parliament on January 16 to demonstrate against the government’s reforms, forcing the police to fire rubber bullets to dispel the mob

In China, 20 million migrant workers lost their jobs, which threatens social stability since these workers were already displaced from their rural lands due to development.

Crossing over the Pacific and in Brazil, the less publicized but largest gathering of anti-globalization forces called the World Social Forum was held where more than 100,000 people convened to discuss how neo-liberal globalization was destroying itself and and how it was imperative to define the world we want. The forum also concluded with mixed results. Does anyone else see a pattern here?

It sort of reminds me of immigration reform conference calls: a chaotic bunch of good people who have a lot of ideas but little desire to go maverick with implementing them. If we can’t deal with tiny things like immigration reform, there is little chance of dealing with the collapse of the U.S. economy given how incompetent American economists are due to the stifling of heterodox ideas in Economic Departments across the country. The BEST economists are not hired by the U.S. government or businesses — they end up mostly as failed lecturers or professors in the Ivory Tower. That’s part of the reason this country is in a crisis — a failure to listen to solutions outside of the ‘capitalist world order.’

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San Francisco May Become First City in the United States to Decriminalize Prostitution

And Michael Foucault wishes from his grave that he could have lived 25 years more had it not been for his misadventures in Iran.

(Hey, I love Foucault)

The jibe was in reference to his opposition to the repression of human sexuality and how governments had made ‘prostitution’ into a social problem. Government control of ‘prostitution’ does not just entail repressive mechanisms (following from Foucault’s repressive hypothesis), but has also created acceptable prostitution (the billion-dollar porn industry) and unacceptable ones (people forced to work the streets out of sheer desperation)

The ballot question technically would not legalize prostitution, since state law still prohibits it, but the measure would eliminate the power of local law enforcement officials to go after prostitutes.

Often, innocent transgendered and transsexuals are targeted by law enforcement for just ‘standing there’ – That should stop.

The first thought in my head upon hearing about Proposition K was a Why Not? Whoring is already decriminalized Re:Capital Hill, handsomely rewarded and more virulent! Does it matter whether it’s whoring out your body, your conscience or your principles? San Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris is protesting that ‘prostitution is not a victimless crime’ – Yes Ms. Harris, the American people know that by now.

Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.

Alas, our wives and daughters are not enough. Now they are whoring out our livelihoods.

Vote Yes on Prop K

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Filed under LGBTQ, Neo-Liberalism, Political Theory

Cricket – Sachin Tendulkar and the Subaltern

I love the contradiction and irony of this.

Source: Times of India

We have the greatest batsman in the history of cricket on the one hand, making history yet again by becoming the highest run-getter in Test Cricket.

Juxtaposing that individual brilliance is the Sensex (Indian Stock Market) dipping below 10 K yesterday thanks to the US-led global financial meltdown.

Congratulations to the Master Blaster for succeeding where neo-liberal markets have failed; after all markets are not for ‘uniting’ peoples or nations, and building solidarity. However, employing the legend of Sachin Tendulkar is a win-win game for global capitalism even if the Sensex does not show it.

Such is the strength of the human spirit and national pride, that the Indian media called Sachin Tendulkar ‘King of the World’ and announced that 1 BILLION Indians are celebrating this proud moment. It was a moment of ‘national unity’ maybe even Pan-Indian unity, in the midst of a financial crisis that has bankrupted businesses, left thousands jobless and worried about their future. I can only speak for myself; sick, hungry and fasting all the way in the United States but up at 2am to see the historic moment.

I don’t know how the subaltern feels about Sachin Tendulkar and this historic moment. Tendulkar is the Mahatma Gandhi of Indian cricket — his story, his legend perpetuates the Indian space as a universal solvent or solution for caste divisions, religious differences and communalism. From an industrialized-nation standpoint, cricket is considered a ‘subaltern sport’ and mistakenly-so.

We can hardly call it subaltern in the world of corporate sponsorship and ownership. Cricket was part of the colonial seduction, the colonial paraphernalia of the British Raj and co-option by Indians was of the utmost importance to British empire. It was only through making Indians part of the game, making them consumers of yet another colonial product that an elitist sport, considerably a ‘gentleman’s game’ like cricket instead of kabaddi or gulli danda, became a national sport, a site for national glory.

As a legacy of British colonialism, cricket presents a strong critique of the term ‘post-colonialism.’ After all, how post-colonial can India be as a country if it has simply adapted a British sport and turned it into the national sport of India?
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Filed under Desi, Neo-Liberalism, Sports

Documentary 'Border' – Masquerading as Neither 'Left' nor 'Right'

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From the Press Release (propaganda) of this new pro-restrictionist, pro-Minutemen ‘Documentary’ called ‘Border’:

The shocking documentary ‘Border’ shows how a porous border and limited enforcement enables human smugglers and drug traffickers to extort, rape, murder and humiliate those seeking a better life in the United States.

Destroying the notion that those who want to secure the border are racist xenophobic bigots, filmmaker Chris Burgard shows how the predominantly Hispanic property owners and law enforcement personnel on US side of the border are fighting a war against drug cartels that move people and drugs across the unforgiving and desolate desert terrain.

Contrary to the talking points of the so-called ‘immigrants rights’ groups, Burgard shows how illegal immigrants are sometimes locked into indentured servitude to the smugglers who’ve delivered them to safe houses in cities like Tucson and Phoenix. The smugglers, commonly known as ‘Coyotes,’ threaten to kill the families of the newly arrived immigrants if they don’t pay extortion money. Sometimes, this servitude can go on for years.

The claims made in this press release are ludicrous. Pro-immigrant rights group online such as The Sanctuary have never supported the smuggling of ‘illegal immigrants’ and indentured servitude. We even have huge reservations about guest-worker programs that could potentially create a separate class of laborers more prone to exploitation.

Furthermore, the documentary deceptively tries to claim that since immigrants trying to come into the United States through porous borders have to undergo extraordinary dangers, border enforcement works in favor of these immigrants?! What? First, try telling that to the families of migrant workers that are shot by the U.S. border patrol. Second, if the borders were indeed so ‘porous,’ wouldn’t coming over be child’s play? And third, do you seriously expect us to believe that the Minutemen are patrolling the border to protect ‘illegal immigrants’ and stop drug cartels? The fact that the documentary symphatizes with the Minutemen should be enough to stray clear of it.

The biggest fallacy of the documentary is the assumption that border enforcement is somehow the solution to ‘illegal immigration’ and all the dangers surrounding it. However, if immigration from Mexico and Latin American countries was easier, if people did not need to wait in line for 20 years to reunite with family, if the category for unskilled work visas was not riddled with bureaucracy, if migrant workers could migrate easily across borders, they would not be desperate enough to hire coyotes, risk exploitation and harm crossing over the desert terrain or Rio Grande.

If, in Latin America, the United States did not support the disproportionate elite & multinational corporation ownership of lands primarily used for agriculture that consequently prevented people from sustaining themselves, if it did not ruin economies and livelihoods by waging a war against narcotics while simultaneously selling those narcotics to arm reactionary movements, if this country worked to make labor as free and mobile as capital, a large number of migrants would have no reason to flee ‘North’ in order to survive and make a living.

The border, and enforcement of walls erected to keep out the unknown–whether it is done in protection of or from the unknown–still constructs and reifies differences, still otherizes. The documentary is simply more nativist propaganda masquerading as impartial ‘truth.’

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Filed under Immigration, Nationalism, Neo-Liberalism, Racism

Thinking too much can make you 'fat' …

Thinking Too Much Can Make You Fat

I cannot believe that popular media still uses the word “fat” to denote “overweight” or “obese.” It is scientifically incorrect to use the word “fat” to describe a person whose Body Mass Index is much higher than average.

There is something else about this study that makes no sense to me–how many “fat” scientists, engineers, brain surgeons and geeks do you know? Somehow, my head visualizes ‘geniuses’ as thinner than average, which the article does concede as true at some point: “consuming fewer calories leads to sharper brains and longer life.” So the people with sharp brains–do they not ‘think’ and consume more calories? Or are the ‘smart people’ of the world actually couch potatoes who never use their brains? The entire study sounds like a disaster in circular reasoning waiting to happen.

I think what continues to amuse me is how capitalism works to create profits from one phenomenon only to turn around and profit from the ‘opposite’ of that phenomenon. For example, first, it was the ‘fast food’ industry with high calorie and convenient (unhealthy) foods that has contributed to ‘obesity’ in most developed and developing countries. Now the very people who have been consuming these ‘foods’ for so long are sold gym memberships, diets, supplements, organic and healthier foods to ‘lose weight’ and keep fit. I am not going to be shocked when the powers of profit-making co-opt the ‘slow-food’ movement either.

The same applies to fossil fuels and oil corporations. If you pay attention, you will notice that the giant oil corporations of today are buying out the patents to renewable energy. In the near future, expect these polluting powers to continue to exercise monopoly on our energy needs.

Excuse me, all this thinking has me hungry. Now where are those weight loss shakes…

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