Category Archives: Europe

Robert Stark Interviews Roman Bernard about the Paris Terrorist Attack & the Political Situation in France

Link here.

Now this interview is simply superb. I have never heard of this fellow before and he is connected with the Alt Right but I found that he had few if any objectionable views. Perhaps Europe is so Loony Left that Alt Right over there simply means “sane.”

He does have a very strong French accent, but it was just strong enough to be charming, disarming and even sexy but not so strong as to hinder communication. I understood easily 90-95% of what he said.

Great views on the politics and social structures of France about which I knew little. If you are into the politics and sociology of modern France, this interview is a must listen!

Great interview!

 

Roman Bernard lives in Paris, is the European Editor for RADIX JOURNAL, is in political communications and marketing, and is a former sports reporter.

Topics include:

The role that Paris plays as the center of power in France.
How Paris is a three-tier city with a wealthy left-leaning white center (where the attack happened), a 2nd tier which is mostly poor immigrants, and a 3rd Tier which is the white flight suburbs.
How Roman walked by the Bataclan Theatre before the attack and saw many of the victims and how he knows people who knew people who died.
The psychological processes Roman went through after the attack (human, anger, confidence).
How the terrorist explicitly targeted Whites and spared the lives of non-Whites.
How two of the terrorist were refugees.
The media’s myth that Paris was under total martial law.
How the police used the attack as justification to break into people’s homes.
How Prime Minister Hollande lied about the borders being closed.
How propaganda is more important than history and facts.
The Football scene from The Dark Knight Rises.
French football as a form of civic nationalism.
How Qatar owns the major football team in France, is hosting the next World Cup, is largely responsible for the crisis in Syria, and combines the worst aspects of Arab and Western cultures.
How Syria has a connection to Western Civilization due to colonization by the Greeks, Romans, and French.
The Syrian War as a racial conflict.
How the French Government is supporting the Syrian rebels against the Alawites who were allies of the French under colonialism.
The plans by the Western elites and Gulf states to dismantle Syria and build an oil pipeline.
Michel Houellebecq’s Submission which is about an Islamist takeover of France.
Demographic trends in France.
How the key issue is western atomization and that Islamization is the symptom of that malady.
The 2015 French Regional Election.
Marine Le Pen and the Front National.
How the Front National is a coalition of former socialists in the de-industrialized North and affluent conservatives in the South.
Why Roman views the key issue as national survival and that economic and social issues should be left to local regions.

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Why “They Have Too Many Kids” Is a Bad Argument against Third World Poverty

EPGAH writes:

You keep saying the Third World “breeds normally”, but that’s not true, otherwise they wouldn’t outnumber us in our own countries–and for that matter, wouldn’t have TENS OF MILLIONS to dump on us, if they weren’t overbreeding!

Pick a country in Europe, and tell me how many MILLIONS they have to spare to dump on the Third World. Then pick a Third World Hell and tell me how many MILLIONS they have to spare to dump on US! Or just count how many MILLIONS they already HAVE dumped on us!

That will help you count how much they’re overbreeding.
Round to the nearest MILLION if it helps your calculations?

They breed too much because they are poor and have shitty governments. When you give women education, health care, housing and work, and you give families security in sickness and old age, the birth rate crashes. The birth rate has crashed in Kerala in India under Communist rule for the last 25 years. Same thing in Cuba. Same thing everywhere you do this. People have kids for security in old age and to have workers to help on family farms. If you give people pensions, support against illness and no reason to use their kids as labor, they stop having so many kids. The main thing is education of women. The less education women have, the more kids they have.

Bolivia is a classic case where people scream that the Bolivians have too many kids, and the place is overpopulated. Yet Bolivia is one of the least populated states on Earth. If you want to talk overpopulated, look at Singapore or the Netherlands.

Mexico is another case where the overpopulation crowd scream that the country is overpopulated and the people have too many kids. Mexico has never been overpopulated. Mexico has the same population density as California. Furthermore, the Mexican birthrate, while not low, has been crashing since the early 1960’s.

Furthermore, in a number of countries in the developing world, for whatever reason, the birth rate has completely crashed and is now at or below replacement. Of course these same overpopulation theorists still scream that these places are overpopulated as long as they are poor even if the women are not even breeding enough to sustain the population. One wonders at what point exactly a 3rd World country’s population is not “having too many kids.” It seems that as long as they are poor, the people are having too many kids. The 3rd Worlders can’t win. No matter what they do, as long as they are poor, they are always having too many kids.

Saying “they have too many kids” has always been a dodge that rightwingers use to justify poverty that is mostly caused by gross maldistribution of resources and money in backwards rightwing developing countries where the rich steal every nickel in the place and leave everyone else holding the bag.

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Changing Definitions of “Communism” in Our Era

Repost from the old site:

As a member of the Left, I am used to purges and being told that, in general, I am not leftwing enough. I’ve been purged from quite a few leftwing groups for insufficient political correctness or not being leftwing enough.

I was made to feel quite unwelcome at a Green Party meeting for daring to suggest that being invaded by millions of immigrants might be bad for US workers and the environment. I was given the cold shoulder by Greens for daring to suggest that their gleeful plot to defeat every Democrat running for office in 2000 was both offensive and stupid.

I was thrown out of the local cell of the CPUSA for “not being a Communist” and “supporting capitalism”.

Never mind that the noun “Communist” doesn’t have a whole lot of meaning anymore. The Communists in China are supporting capitalism in spades, in the very worst varieties of it yet, and still call themselves Communists. The Communists in Vietnam have introduced a lot of capitalism to their system.

Salvador Allende was a Communist who ruled Chile under a completely democratic system.

The Sandinistas had one of the most democratic systems in Latin America in the midst of an armed rebellion against the state.

Imagine if armed terrorists were running around the US, killing 1.8 million Americans over a 10-yr period, and being supported by the US’ worst enemies, say North Korea and Iran.

They have invaded farms and lined up the farmers and their families and farmworkers and tortured all of them to death. They specialize in raiding schools and hospitals where they murder teachers in front of their students and murder doctors, nurses and patients after lining them up against the wall. This is what America was supporting in the Contras.

Imagine that in the face of this provocation, a large US newspaper, a wildly rabid and yellow journalist sheet of the type we do not see anymore, regularly cheered the terrorists on with screaming boldface headlines, and every day urged the killing of the President, all members of Congress and everyone working for the US government. Do you think the FBI would shut down that paper or what?

This is what the Sandinistas had to put up with, and they didn’t even put the traitors in jail. They merely censored some of the more outrageous articles. Far from being a dictatorship, the Sandinistas were one of the most democratic states that ever existed.

Euro-Communists have run very European state governments for decades and have been present in Parliament and Cabinet level positions. Euro-style Communists have been running Indian state governments for decades also and have been present in the Parliaments of Japan and Nepal in large numbers.

In Europe, India, Nepal and Japan, the Euro-Comm types have all supported as much democracy as anyone else in their states supported, and they have all supported high levels of capitalism.

In the most recent issue of the CPUSA’s theoretical journal, the CPUSA fully supported the economic project of the Chinese Communist Party, and stated, “the transition from capitalism to socialism may be more on the order of decades than years”. Regarding democracy, the CPUSA said, “It seems probable that there can be no true socialism without complete democracy”.

Since 1979 and surely since 1989, there has been a Hell of a lot of rethinking going on in the Communist movements of the world. The dictatorship of the proletariat, democratic centralism, bans on private party – all of that is up for grabs. Many Communists nowadays support full democracy and a mixed economy.

There are now many religious Communists, especially Liberation Theology Catholics in Latin America and the Philippines. There have always been Muslim and Christian Communists in the Arab World. Cuba now allows Christians into the party. There are organizations of Christian Marxists in Cuba holding meetings and publishing documents.

Camilo Torres, a Catholic priest, led an armed guerrilla movement in Colombia in 1965. Another Catholic priest, an American, led an armed guerrilla movement in Honduras in 1983. There are Catholic priests who are very active in the Maoist NPA guerrillas in the Philippines. There were even Catholic priests, nuns and lay workers who supported the Shining Path in Peru, to the point of helping them carry out military operations.

If all this news violates your cherished ideas about what it means to be a Communist, you need to quit reading this blog right now and go somewhere where your lower intelligence can be better accommodated – such as this website.

Marx and Lenin were not Gods. Communism is a scientific movement. Marx and Lenin, being materialist beings (humans), were surely capable of error about many things. The Communist Manifesto is not a religious text. If you run your life by a cookbook, dogmatically define words only with a Webster’s, think definitions are as hard as rocks and pigeonhole people in various pegs on a pegboard, you are just flat-out on the wrong blog.

There are plenty on the Right who think that anyone who does not fit the Websters definition of Communist must be a liar or an idiot. There are plenty on the Left who think that anyone who does not fit their definition of a Communist is a “revisionist” or a “fake Communist”.

Npwadays, who is a Communist? To tell the truth, anyone who says he is! What is the definition of Communism? It’s in flux, and it means all sorts of things depending on all of the competing versions of the philosophy out there.

In the Linguistics branch called Semantics, we learned that the dictionary does not necessarily give you the correct or complete definition of a word. A word means whatever people who are using it say it means – it’s that simple. Communism means whatever Communists say it means, in all of their competing visions.

If you can’t your head around that, like I said, maybe you came to the wrong blog – go here instead. If this post stimulates your thinking, that’s the general idea. If you agree with most of the above, bookmark me.

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Great Cheap Wines, Part 2

Repost from the old site:

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some great cheap wines, mostly for $5 or less for 750ml or $10 or less for 1.5m. We will continue to look at more wines in this post.

I live on a really low income that is just above the poverty line, so I really can’t afford to spend much on wine. Nevertheless, I like my wine to taste good! A lot of cheap wines taste bad. So, this series is for those who don’t want to spend much money on wine but want something tasty enough so you don’t want to spit it back into the glass when you drink it.

Frei Brothers Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Frei Brothers Vineyards, Modesto, California, – Not so good, with black cherry, blackberries and vanilla predominating. This is another bad one from 2004, like the Mondavi Merlot below. Same bitter, nasty, biting aftertaste. Not a good wine at all, just avoid it.

Fish Eye Merlot 2004, Fish Eye Winery, Ripon, California – Great. Fruity with shades of plums. Smooth, goes down real easy with a great finish. All the Fish Eyes I have tried so far have been great.

Cook’s Brut Champagne, Cook’s Champagne Cellars, Madera, California – Very bad, crisp and fruity with pear and apple. This champagne is truly horrible. It’s also very cheap and none of the others were affordable at all.

Riunite Lambrosco Emilia, Cantine Riunite, Campegne, Italy – I’m not supposed to like it but I do. Many people trash this wine because it tastes a bit like a soft drink or sparkling grape juice. So what! A great wine for those who don’t like wine. Keep in mind it’s only 8% alcohol. Soft and fruity.

Barefoot Merlot 2003, Barefoot Cellars, Napa, California – Great. Chocolate and raspberry flavors with a bit of anise. This wine is delicious, and is often cheap or on sale. Everything Barefoot makes is good.

Woodbridge Robert Mondavi Merlot 2004, Woodbridge Winery, Woodbridge, California – Not so good. This wine is pretty bad, I must say. I don’t know if this was a bad year or what for Mondavi (it was not for their White Zins) but this wine is bitter, with a nasty aftertaste.

Avoid at all costs. Woodbridge is one of Robert Mondavi’s cheaper lines, and the wines in these lines are simply not aged as long as more expensive wines, but still, many cheaper wines in this category are still quite good.

Woodbridge Robert Mondavi White Zinfandel 2005, Woodbridge Winery, Woodbridge, California – Great, fruity, flowery, light and sweet. Keep in mind that the snobs hate White Zinfandel because it is considered to be “not a real wine”.

That is, it’s the sort of wine that non-wine-drinkers would like. Snobs/connoisseurs think it is more soft drink or Koolaid than wine. Who cares! It tastes great!

Woodbridge Robert Mondavi White Zinfandel 2004, Woodbridge Winery, Woodbridge, California – Another great White Zin from Mondavi. Strawberry and apple, light and sweet.

Woodbridge Robert Mondavi Zinfandel 2004 – Great Zinfandel! It has that fascinating peppery flavor unique to Zinfandels, along with black cherry and blackberry. Zinfandels do well in California’s warm climate. It got a good review on Cork Reviews here.

Turning Leaf Pinot Noir 2005, Turning Leaf Wineries, Modesto, California – Good stuff. Black cherry, berry and spice. Pinot Noirs are kind of funny wines – they seem a bit sour, so you may or may not like them. But I enjoyed this wine.

Turning Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Turning Leaf Wineries, Modesto, California – Everything Turning Leaf makes is good. A deep fruity taste with spice, vanilla and oak.

Bolla Merlot De Venieze 2005, Fratella Bolla SPA, South Pietro, Verona, Italy – Very good. I like these Venetian wines. Cherry, cranberry and plum flavors predominate.

Chateau Ste Michelle Colombia Valley Merlot 2002, Chateau Ste. Michelle Wineries, Patterson, Washington – Fantastic. Buy it. Raspberry flavors aged for 16 months in barrels.

Lindemann Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Lindemann Wines, Karadoc, Victoria, Australia – Everything they make is good. If you can find it on sale, grab it. There are some great wines coming out of Southeast Australia these days.

Canyon Road Merlot 2004, Canyon Road Winery, Geyserville, California – An excellent wine, plum and red cherry with some vanilla. Creamy, smooth finish.

Beringer Stone Cellars Merlot 2004, Stone Cellars, Napa, California – excellent, smooth, even looks gorgeous in the glass. Fruity, blueberry with plum and blackberry. A good wine.

Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Stone Cellars, Napa, California – Great, smooth and rich, nice palate. Plum and berry and a long finish. Beringer Stone Cellars is making some really great cheap wines.

Beringer White Zinfandel 2005, Beringer Vineyards, Napa, California – Bright and crisp with strawberry and flowers. Another great White Zin.

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Great Cheap Wines

Repost from the old site:

In this post, I will review some great cheap wines. Since I live on $14,000/yr, it’s essential that the wines I buy be inexpensive. The general dividing line here is $5 and under for 750 ml and $10 and under for 1.5 liters. I am not a wine connoisseur, but I do drink a couple of glasses of red wine every night.

After a while, if you have any refined palate at all, you develop a taste for what tastes good and what does not. This post is intended for the unsophisticated wine drinker, not the connoisseur. The person that is simply looking for good cheap red wines that taste good and don’t bite back at you when you drink them.

Please note that in addition to the wines below, I also tried many wines that simply did not make the cut. Most of them, but not all, were cheaper. For a long time I drank these wines. They are quite cheap – you can often get a 1.5 ml bottle for $6 or $7. I include Gallo, Forestville and Inglenook, amongst others, in this category.

If this is all you drink, these wines seem fine, especially compared to bottom of the barrel jug. But once you start moving a few grades above these, you quickly lose a taste for those wines, and at the moment, I have moved on.

I drink 2 glasses of wine a night. If you do the same, the wines below will cost you about $2.50 a day, a reasonable expense in the US for one of life’s grandest pleasures, even for those barely above the poverty line.

Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, Mendocino County, CA: The flavor is black cherry, a bit of vanilla, chocolate and spice. Not bad. A northern California wine from an area along the Russian River where a lot of wines are being grown lately.

Concha y Toro Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 2004: An excellent wine from Chile’s Central Valley. Those who have tried a Cabernet-Merlot combination may wish to try this one out. Combinations of these two wines is particularly common in Chile.

Casarsa Merlot Delle Venezie (Venetian Merlot) 2003: A great Italian wine grown just outside Venice, in a major wine-growing region of Italy. The Italians and French make some superb cheap wines.

Purple Moon Shiraz 2004, Purple Moon Winery, Manteca, CA: A great, very fruity wine. It got a good review here. Three more reviews are here, two positive and one negative. A wine from the Central Valley of California.

Estrella Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Estrella River Winery, Napa, CA: A very good wine. Napa Valley is of course the very famous wine-growing region in California.

Milla Vineyards Sunset Red Table Wine 2005, Milla Vineyards, Fresno, CA: A nice wine but it is quite sweet. It’s not Port or Sherry, but it’s not totally dissimilar to Kosher Grape Wine. I like dry wines myself, but this wine was quite good. If you like a sweet table wine, you will enjoy this. This wine normally sold for around $7 a bottle but I got it on sale for under $5. Another wine from California’s Central Valley.

Chateau Lasgoity White Zinfandel 2005, Chateau Lasgoity Vineyards, Madera, CA: Noticing that it was bottled in a very nondescript (one might even say, cheap-appearing) label, I was not optimistic about this wine. I was delightfully surprised. This is one of the best White Zins I have ever had. No bite, bitterness or aftertaste at all. Yet another California Central Valley wine.

****
Milla Vineyards Ruby Cabernet 2004, Milla Vineyards, Fresno, CA: A really, really great wine! Ruby is a new wine variety, with a very heavy taste of cherry. According to Wikipedia, Ruby Cabernets are not well regarded, since they supposedly “have not yet been able to produce quality wines”. Once again, this wine normally sells for around $7 a bottle or so but I was very fortunate to be able to pick it up for under $5.

Perhaps I am not a connoisseur, but I loved this wine! I went back to the store and bought about 1/2 the bottles in stock and recommended it to the checkers at the counter, something I usually don’t do. A great wine for people who are not big wine fans. I can’t recommend this wine highly enough. I wish I had a case!
*****

PKNT Merlot 2003: Another superb wine from Chile’s Central Valley. Plum and berry flavors predominate here. PKNT stands for “picante” or spicy. It means to spice up your life. These wines are being aggressively marketed with an expensive advertising campaign. Check the website for more.

Echo Falls Merlot, grown at Mission Bell Winery, Madera, CA; bottled at Echo Falls Winery, Woodbridge, CA: An excellent wine. The flavors are currant and raspberry, with hints of oak, spice and herbs. Mission Bell Winery is part of Canandaigua Wine Company in Madera, CA. This is yet another Central Valley wine. The Central Valley is an up and coming wine-growing region in California.

French Market Merlot Vin De Pays D’Oc 2003 Red Table Wine: An absolutely delicious smooth, fruity French wine. The French make some of the best wines around, and this is another example. Cherry, strawberry and plum flavors predominate here. However, to be honest, this wine has garnered at least one terrible review on the Internet.

Kedem Cream Red Concord, Royal Wine Corp, Bayonne, NJ: A creamy, smooth red grape wine. Another Kosher Jewish grape wine but this one is particularly good. Great if you like sweet wines. This wine is grown in upstate New York.

L’Authentique Red Table Wine , La Caumette, France: Another great, fruity, cheap French table wine. When it comes to low-end wines, the French seem to make some of the best. Review here. This wine is a Bordeaux, though you it won’t tell you on the label.

Delicato Shiraz 2003, Delicato Family Vineyards, Manteca, CA: A great wine from another California Central Valley winemaker. This wine has a strong blackberry flavor. It won Best Shiraz in California for three years at the California State Fair. That’s an amazing feat for such an affordable wine. Review here. Yet another California Central Valley wine.

*****
Woodbridge Robert Mondavi Merlot 2003, Woodbridge Winery, Woodbridge, CA: I swear, this is the smoothest Merlot I have ever had. Every Robert Mondavi wine I have ever drunk was just great, and smooth is the word, including his great White Zinfandel. No bite, no aftertaste, no bitterness.

A wine for people who non-wine drinkers. I usually can’t afford his wines but lately some of them have been down to $5 for 750 ml and $10 for 1.5 liter. Yet another California Central Valley wine, this time from around the Lodi region.
*****

Archeo Sicilia Nero d’Avola 2003, Ruggero di Tasso: A berry flavor with meshed with the soft tannins of the oak barrels it was stored in. This is a superb Italian wine. The Italians, like the French, make some of the best cheap wines around. This wine is from southwestern Sicily. Review here.

 

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“Democratic Capitalism in the Last Stages? Capital as Agency in Wolfgang Streeck’s Analysis of the Crisis,” by Kees van der Pijl

This is an excellent paper discussing Wolfgang Streek’s latest and popular book, Buying Time. People like to bash Marxism, but as a tool for analysis of capitalism it is unsurpassed. But no capitalist will ever admit that. Everything in this paper is 100% true (except for the suggesting that the Charlie Hebdo attack was a false flag) but no US newspaper, newsmagazine, TV News or radio news will ever tell you this true story. Instead they will recycle an endless series of lies from the capitalists.

The capitalists do not want you to know what they are doing, and this is why they operate in secret, lie constantly and use codewords and memes. This is because the capitalist project is not good for the vast majority of Americans. Only perhaps the top 20% benefit from the capitalist project in the US. As the paper shows, Western capitalists have been trying to get out from under the Social Contract that they made with labor and society as a whole after World War 2 as a measure to head off Communism.

This project hays been operating in stages since  the 1960’s, and we are now near the final stage. Every one of these stages has been good for the capitalists and bad for wage labor, society, and I would argue democracy.

This is because the capitalist project lately is a profoundly antidemocratic one. Any project that redistributes wealth from the bottom 80% to the top 20% is hardly democratic.

Further if your project is to redistribute wealth from the bottom 80% to the top 20%, it would make sense to lie about your project and not admit that you are doing that. Instead of harming the bottom 80%, you say you are helping them. The capitalists also argue that those who seek to redistribute wealth from the top 20% to the bottom 80% (the Left) are actually harming the bottom 80%! As the capitalists own all the media in the West, there is no contrary narrative to this wild lie.

Any project that seeks to harm the majority at the expense of a minority must disguise its aims. As this is generally the project of capitalists and conservatives in general, both capitalist and conservative discourse is typically profoundly dishonest as they both seek to convince the bottom 80% that an elite project to harm them is actually going to help them.

What would happen if the capitalists and conservatives were simply honest about their redistributive aims? They would have to say that they were pushing a project to redistribute wealth upwards from the bottom 80% to the top 20%. Further they would have to say that their project is going to harm wage labor every step of the say.

What is the likelihood that such an elite reverse Robin Hood Project would fly? Never estimate the American voter’s tendency towards conservative masochism and supporting their class enemies economically. Nevertheless, I doubt that even the hyper-masochistic American working and middle classes would go along with a project to take from the bottom 80% and give to the top 20%.

Since conservative and capitalist projects are always designed to take harm the masses and help an elite through upward wealth redistribution, conservatism all down through history has typically been extremely dishonest. If you are running an elitist project, you can’t exactly come out and say so.

This is perhaps my biggest beef against conservatives – their extreme and continuous dishonesty in public discourse. The extreme and near continuous lying of conservatives only confuses the masses and poisons the well of public discourse.

Talking with a conservative is like trying to have a conversation with a psychopath. How can you possibly have a productive conversation with a pathologically lying sociopath? This is what political discourse in the West has boiled down to in he last 35 years.

Furthermore, when one side is lying constantly, this makes a mockery out of claims of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. What good is freedom of the press if the press is all owned by pathologically lying sociopathic capitalists? How can alternative or dissident voices even make themselves heard if the only way to talk to the public is to be rich enough to own a printing press, TV station or radio station?

Democratic Capitalism in the Last Stages?
Capital as Agency in Wolfgang Streeck’s Analysis of the Crisis

Paper for the 5th EU experts’ Discussion, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin, 11-13 December 2015

Kees van der Pijl
Centre for Global Political Economy
University of Sussex

Abstract

Wolfgang Streeck’s Gekaufte Zeit/ Buying Time contains a compelling analysis that points to the origins of the current crisis in the wave of strikes of 1968-69. It caused the capitalist class to try and wrest free from the post-war social (-democratic) contract forced on it by labor.

However, not only does Streeck not pay attention to imperialism and war, he also tends to assume that capital-as-agency governed the entire period since, attempting to postpone the full social impact of the crisis in three different ways, restricting democracy as it went along. However, the three periods he distinguishes (inflation, state debt and private debt) were directed by changing coalitions of capitalist interests uniting behind a different concept of control – corporate liberalization and two versions of neoliberalism.

This highlights that in 2008, when these remedies all had exhausted themselves, capital-as-agency in command was the bloc of forces led by speculative money-dealing capital, which in the 1990’s had captured the states of the West and steered them onto a path of high-risk, high-reward policies both in the economy proper and in international affairs. This explains why after 2008, solutions to the crisis followed this particular political-economic orientation, with more risk-taking in all areas on the agenda.

The debate on the crisis of 2008 continues to produce significant works, often concentrating on the fact that although the crisis was caused by neoliberalism, tackling it has not included a clean-up of the worst features of that particular form of capitalism such as off-shore, financialization, or the flexibilization of labor(e.g. Mirowski 2013).

Wolfgang Streeck’s Buying Time (here cited from the German original, Gekaufte Zeit, Streeck 2013) in this connection claims that the options for a democratic capitalism to find a way out of the crisis after three attempts to postpone its effects have been exhausted. It is the argument of Buying Time that will serve as a framework for organizing my reflections here.

Streeck’s conversions, first from and then back to a historical material position, are best left for the gossip column. Yet whilst it is a laudable step to pick up where he left off as a Marxist, the readings back from his earlier days are not sufficient to cover all aspects of the current situation.

More particularly, his argument that we must conceive of capital as agency, a self-conscious social force, remains incomplete. It misses the dimension of capital/class fractions as moments/components in the process of class formation, their different abilities to weld class compromises with forces outside their own ranks, and the successive concepts of control (German, Herrschaftskonzepte) that guide them and society at large along a path of a certain necessarily limited rationality.

Corporate liberalism and neoliberalism are such concepts. Since these different concepts have very different implications in the sphere of, say, whether or not violence plays a role in the formulation of policy, we must pinpoint their precise composition in terms of ruling blocs. That this shortcoming is not immediately evident in Buying Time is also because Streeck does not really deal with imperialism, war and repression as aspects of a capitalism in crisis.

Fractions, Class Compromises, Concepts of Control

Streeck begins by taking his distance from the structuralist premise of Theodor Adorno (in whose honor the lectures brought together in Buying Time were delivered) and the Frankfurt School theorists. They employed a notion of capital as apparatus, not as agency; as means of production instead of class.

Thus difficult class-theoretical questions, e.g., concerning the difference between managers and property-owning capitalists, small and large capital, and so on, could be avoided. But a theory of capitalism from which capital as agency is absent, remains anemic (Streeck 2013: 43-4, 44 n., 47).

This is indeed the beginning of all wisdom, but it is not enough. To understand capital as agency we must realize that capital as such, as a totality, is never a given. When we look at it in class terms, we will see different axes of capitalist class formation, contesting the terrain among each other as they seek to build coalitions of interest casting their nets beyond the immediate concerns of firms/sectors from the process emanates – fractions of capital.

Forming from vantage points such as productive versus money capital, international, national, or sub-national/regional, and the like, fractions of capital in the process of class formation seek to transcend the initial principles which they must uphold to survive by developing a tentative, broader concept of control, a program for managing a broad range of political-economic terrains.

Such a program requires the political-ideological talents of organic intellectuals who arise in the same process and who earn the patronage of powerful interests expecting to gain from it.

These ‘intellectuals’ (professional politicians, corporate executives, participants in private planning groups, writers) may in fact be the first to see an opportunity and start the process. But they always are the ones who take the initial project forward into the sphere of politics, where it either blossoms out into a comprehensive concept of control, or not.

For as Gramsci writes, politics is an immediate impulse to action which is born on the “permanent and organic” terrain of economic life but which transcends it, bringing into play emotions and aspirations in whose incandescent atmosphere even calculations involving the individual human life itself obey different laws from those of individual profit, etc. (Gramsci 1971: 140).

Hence groups that do not obtain any material reward, but only symbolic concessions, may yet become part of the constellation of forces supporting a particular concept of control: say, an armaments policy that benefits the military-industrial complex in real terms also satisfies the chauvinism of people who stand to lose from a warlike stance in terms of income, life-chances etc.

In that sense, a political-economic fraction profiting from a specific conjuncture will succeed in making their particular interests appear as the interest of the entire capitalist class or even society at large (Hickel 1975). We can think of export-oriented capital when foreign trade opportunities are on the rise, finance in a period of restructuring when fixed capital is being liquidated, and so on.

A successful process of class formation culminates in a stage where so many real and symbolic concessions have been made (‘symbolic’ generally referring to political aesthetics, often by conjuring up a threat that feeds into bellicose chauvinism) that no rival concept of control can hope to cover all these fields.

One concept of control thus becomes truly comprehensive in that all political efficiency and success is premised on it and all social forces, even those from whom the whole process emanated to begin with, must subordinate their immediate, short-term interests to this program (Bode 1979).

At the heart of each such constellation of forces, then, we must assume there are key class compromises that lend coherence to the starting point from which a concept of control can be developed before it merges with the conjunctural conditions under which other interests will be inclined to sign on – at a diminishing rate of actually inflecting the final result (which by the way, as a formula of the general interest, is never spelled out but is experienced as self-evident ‘common sense’).

Only when a concept loses its comprehensiveness and unravels will it be recognized as the particular project of special interests and lose this common sense quality.
So when Streeck proposes to enlarge the notion of a legitimization crisis (originally formulated by Adorno’s student, Jürgen Habermas) by substituting the two actors identified in that theory, the state and the citizen (Habermas 1973) by three (the state, capital, and the wage-dependent population), what is still lacking is which fraction is providing the capitalist class interest with a specific thrust.

Also, closely related, we must know whether or not and to which extent the ‘wage-dependent population’ is either part of the initial class compromise, a later entrant, or not rewarded at all except perhaps with symbolic gestures or sentiment.

Why is this important? Streeck’s argument is that the crisis of a capitalism seeking to liberate itself from the democracy imposed on it after 1945 really dates from 1968-69. Since then, ‘capital’ (acting through the state) has tried three methods of postponing its full impact – inflation, state debt, and private debt – until in 2008, the entire edifice came crashing down.

That suggests four crises of restructuring in which ‘capital as agency’ acted under different concepts of control, reflecting different fractional vantage points based on entirely different class compromises, a different balance between material and symbolic rewards, etc.

Thus in the last crisis of 2008, ‘capital’ was the capitalist coalition formed (as I will explain) by speculative, money-dealing capital, immersed in high-risk operations both economically and politically, connected to the apparatuses of covert action and violent power projection that must compensate for the fact that it hardly makes any real concessions any longer outside the oligarchies in command.

The environment too is only seen as an object of speculative gain, with an emissions exchange the typical (and useless) form of dealing with the crisis of the biosphere. Other ‘solutions’ too will carry the stamp of this particular coalition and the concept it operates under, and it was the same for the previous crises of restructuring. In each case, a different ‘anthropology’ is involved as well – from the responsible, ‘embedded’ citizen-worker of the 1950’s to the atomized, ‘elementary human particle’ of today.

From this perspective, the immediate future, bar a political landslide away from capitalism altogether, may be much bleaker than Streeck envisages. Even his (already bleak) prediction that democracy may be abolished altogether under the factual directorate of high-risk, covert operators will exclude any negotiated reduction of democracy and instead involve provocation and war, covert action-induced emergencies and a suspension of rights.

This is what is happening before our eyes. So whilst for capital as a whole we cannot be sure where it will be heading in seeking a way out of certain profitability constraints from a fractional viewpoint in combination with the tendency in the conjuncture of profit distribution, the degree of probability in fact increases.

Even if we follow Streeck’s understanding of a legitimization crisis as arising from the dissatisfaction of capital with democracy and the obligations imposed by it and his thesis that the functioning of the capitalist economy is not a technical but a political issue as are growth and full employment, we should again specify this for the separate, fraction-to-‘imagined totality’ trajectories of each post-war concept of control.

Crises indeed are not technical malfunctions but follow from legitimization crises of a special kind (Streeck 2013: 49), but these can be understood in a much more specific sense. In fact he says a lot that enriches our understanding of a concept of control and its inherent class compromises, as when he writes about capitalism presuming a social contract in which legitimate mutual expectations are laid down formally or informally (Streeck 2013: 51).

Again a differentiation in terms of fractions works to enhance this understanding of capitalism as a time-bound, historically specific social order in need of legitimization, which crystallizes in different forms in space and time; forms that are negotiable and are negotiated anew once the malfunction of a particular format of the social contract, that is, the comprehensive concept of control, becomes evident.

I begin with the post-war concept of corporate liberalism (my terminology) because it was the crisis of this form of capitalism in 1968-69 of which the full impact according to Streeck was postponed several times until it exploded in 2008.

Corporate Liberalism after the War

Corporate liberalism is the liberalism governing relations between bodies internally organized along their own principles, so ‘sovereign’ in their own domains. It was based on the class compromise forced on capital by organized labor with the strengthened Soviet bloc adding its weight to the balance of forces and decolonization announcing potential further shifts to the detriment of the West’s pre-eminence in the global political economy.

Economically it rested on Keynesian countercyclical state intervention, capital controls (allowing the Bretton Woods system of a gold-dollar standard with fixed exchange rates to function), and the spread of demand-led, Fordist mass production.

This was what Streeck calls the ‘very specific settlement’ in which capital had to make an effort to prolong and renew its social license, whilst allowing politically determined social goals to govern the profit economy and yet avoid a spillback to fascism or yield to the temptations of the Soviet-type planned economy (Streeck 2013: 51).

In the terms introduced above, the fraction of capital positioned centrally in this set of intersecting influences and lending substance to the original New Deal and post-war Marshall Plan projections of a corporate liberal capitalist social contract was productive capital.

The class compromise at the heart of the corporate liberal concept of control was that between capital and organized labor in production. In this sense we can speak of an epoch of democratic capitalism, at least for the North Atlantic political economy – not for Vietnam, or Indonesia, and other areas for which no parallel Yalta compromise (which in Europe included the legitimate presence of large communist parties outside the Soviet bloc) had been agreed.

As such it is the strongest corroboration of the thesis that in capitalism, democracy does not depend on the bourgeoisie but on the presence in force (including, in the state apparatus) of organized labor (Rueschemeyer et al. 1992). Streeck notes that in the course of the 1950’s and 60’s, election turnout increased everywhere (2013: 87).

The global wave of wildcat strikes in 1968 and ’69 then signaled to the capitalist class that social protection and countercyclical crisis management had lasted too long, and capital found that its maneuvering space for further concessions had been closed (Streeck 2013: 53). As full employment was undermining workplace discipline, managers were reminded of Kalecki’s 1943 thesis concerning the need to maintain a certain level of unemployment to cushion labor militancy.

Capitalists now began to prepare for evacuating the post-war social contract, abandoning their erstwhile passivity and restoring their capacity to act and actively shape social relations instead of being ‘planned in’ by democratic politics (Streeck 2013: 54). As noted, the capitalist crisis that we are experiencing today according to Streeck has its origins at that juncture.

For since that time, the state postponed the full social impact of the crisis by throwing money into the breaches in order to neutralize and defuse potential social conflicts – inflation, state indebtedness, expansion of private credit markets and finally, in 2008, buying up state and bank debt by central banks; through these phases, capital has wrested free from the post-war democratic compact with labor by steadily reducing democracy and citizen’s rights.

Thus a phased unfolding of the fundamental tension between capitalism and democracy through a progressive liberation of the capitalist economy from democratic intervention, indeed a removal of democracy from capitalism by removing the economy from the sphere of democracy. What awaits us now is possibly the suspension of the remaining democracy itself.

This is the Streeck thesis. I will now go through these different phases, beginning with inflation. Like the New Deal prefiguring comprehensive, North Atlantic corporate liberalism, all these changes were initiated by the United States, although sometimes the rise to pre-eminence of different fractions occurred in or via other component parts of the English-speaking West, or as I call it, the ‘Lockean heartland’.

‘Europe’, that is, the expanding Franco-West German compromise out of which today’s European Union evolved, followed the trend. It also necessarily suffered from the successive crises/transitions, because the continental European economies are structurally far less amenable to the neoliberal departure(s) from corporate liberalism – the further to the south (beginning with France relative to Germany), the less.

The Decade of Inflation and Its Architects

The first instance of ‘buying time’ following the crisis of 1968-’69, the decade of inflation, was not neoliberal, it was charted by productive capital under its compromise with labor – indeed deepening the compromises on which post-war capitalism had been built in the first place. ‘The inflationary money policy of the decade following the strike wave around 1968 secured social peace in the context of a rapidly expanding consumer society’ (Streeck 2013: 62).

Inflation enlarged, at least seemingly, the ‘cake’ to be distributed without really making it larger. Inflation not only prolonged the class compromise with organized labor but also brought out the underlying compromise on which the stand-off with the Soviet bloc, agreed at Yalta in 1944 (again, the division of Europe), had been based.

Détente resulted from the eroding bloc discipline in the two zones of limited sovereignty. The Atlantic ruling class had to deal with a Gaullist rebellion leading elements of the European capitalist class to explore economic opportunities in the east, and with Greek pressures for democracy (which were only kept in check by a NATO-supported military dictatorship from 1967 to ’74).

In the 1970’s the West also came up against a ‘Eurocommunist’ challenge, respectful of Yalta but not necessarily of corporate liberal capitalism. The Soviet state class in turn faced the 1968 Czechoslovak ‘spring’, likewise a politically hybrid development it feared it might not control, Romania’s explorations beyond the Yalta divide, and so on. The United States also ran up large deficits in order to continue its doomed war in Vietnam, a costly disaster that in August 1971 forced it to cut the dollar from gold.

The point here is that this decision, which opened the decade of inflation, was essentially an action following the logic of the corporate liberal concept of control and its core class compromise with labor. So it was not just ‘capital’ which ‘bought time’ but to a particular fraction of capital and its organic intellectuals (politicians, economists, and so on) doing it for capital, in this case, productive capital first.

The decision to end the (already restricted) exchange of dollars for gold had mercantilist overtones, with the ten percent import duty the clearest sign of the interests of productive capital dictating it. Likewise, abandoning the fixed exchange rates of Bretton Woods was not originally conceived as a step towards a liberalized financial regime, on the contrary.

In the Nixon administration only George Shultz, and at a further remove, Charles Kindleberger among economists, thought along the lines of making US deficits a foreign investment proposition. The others were still corporate liberals focused on Keynesian deficit spending having to be recouped later in the business cycle (Bassosi 2006: 34).

Productive capital concerns also expressed themselves in the incomes policy advocated by the head of the Federal Reserve, Arthur Burns, a hard Rightist no doubt, who was irate about the wave of strikes and who, to quote the New York Fed’s own report, was strongly opposed to any attempt ‘to “buy” low levels of unemployment by tolerating inflation’ (cited in Panitch and Gindin 2012: 141 – note the terminology, the opposite of the Streeck thesis).

Even so, the authoritarian undertow of the incomes policy was aimed at enforcing the corporate liberal class compromise on the terms prior to the 1971 turnabout. Even more ominously for the still marginal neoliberal tendency, the productive perspective was echoed in the 1975 proposal for a national economic planning body (Panitch and Gindin 2012: 143).

Elsewhere I have documented the autonomization of the managerial cadre in the context of the crisis of the 1970’s, and their role in the ‘planned interdependence’ of the period – the credit-financing of the industrialization aspirations of the Third World coalition for a New International Economic Order as well as Soviet bloc modernization with inflationary dollars accumulated in the London Eurodollar and Eurocapital markets.

In Europe, too, the productive capital perspective and its inbuilt class compromise with organized labor were still guiding policy, not only via the rise of the Left in southern European and Social Democratic governments or majority coalitions in the north. Even in Britain, a Tory prime minister, Edward Heath, after a visit to West Germany returned with the idea of fostering ‘finance capital’ combinations modeled on the continental model whilst attempting to rein in labor militancy by (mildly) authoritarian legislation.

Yet this drew the fire of the employers’ organization CBI for …spoiling the relations with organized labor (cited in Overbeek 1990: 160; on Heath and capital groups, Ramsay 2002: 12-13). The key step was of course British entry into the European Community in 1973, a step again motivated by Heath’s expectation it would stimulate Britain’s industrial modernization (Overbeek 1990 157).

In sum, Stephen Gill writes, ‘the dangers in Nixon’s policies… were the way they nurtured “domestic” forces, and, by undercutting the welfare of key allies, undermined the international consensus which was needed to manage the system effectively’ (Gill 1990: 136, emphasis added).

In the second half of the 1970’s when the capitalist economies were hit by a marked decline in the growth rate in spite of rising inflation, a period of stagflation set in that eventually, in 1979, led the US Federal Reserve to intervene and raise interest rates to around 20 percent, thus terminating inflation until the present day (Streeck 2013: 63; see the statistics in Panitch and Gindin 2012: 142, table 6.2).

Thus the proliferation of the class and international compromises of the corporate liberal epoch, bolstering the forces opposed to the operation of liberal capitalism nationally and internationally, provoked a counteroffensive, not from capital per se but specifically from money capital. This explains why such a sharp turn was made after the inflationary prolongation of the post-war compromises.

The Turn to Systemic Neoliberalism

From Wolfgang Streeck’s perspective, capital in the late 1970’s ‘withdrew its consent from the postwar social contract by denying it the necessary investment funds,’ and the history of the system since the 1970’s can be understood as the struggle to free capital from social regulation forced on it after the war.

Capital no longer trusted a state which almost everywhere had fallen into the hands of Social Democratic governments or coalitions (Streeck 2013: 54-5, cf. 45). What was in order was to end the inflationary prolongation of the post-war social contract with organized labor, a high-risk operation given the resistance that was to be expected on the part of the trade unions and which had to be broken at all costs (Streeck 2013: 64).

However, it was not capital as such acting here but a different fraction leading capital and imbuing society as a whole with its particular perspective. In other words, the capitalist class and the managerial cadre and all other auxiliary and subordinate social forces switched the pursuit of their interests and expectations to a concept no longer formulated from the vantage point of productive capital.

Instead it was formulated from the vantage point of what ‘was needed to manage the system effectively’ (as above). It is as important to recognize the internal struggles within the capitalist class as to see the struggles with labor, in international relations etc., if we want to be able to predict the shelf-life of a particular format of capitalist development and especially, to see the political crisis moments in the transition phase from one concept of control to another, as the ‘outgoing’ leading fraction continues to pursue solutions typical of the concept unraveling.

So the head of the CBI protesting that anti-strike legislation was spoiling relations with organized labor, cited above, was simply arriving late at the party.

Now the fraction perspective available to ‘manage the system effectively’ can be any one. But in the conditions of capital abrogating the post-war class and international compromises and intent on shifting production to locations outside these compromises and hence, liquidate previous positions including breaking the mold of the national state compartmentalization in order to establish a global political economy, in the circumstances was money capital as the embodiment of capital in general.

For production to take place, the cycle of industrial capital must ‘land’ in what David Harvey calls, ‘human resource complexes… to which capital must, to some degree, adapt’ (Harvey 2006: 399); after which it resumes its ‘circulation’ in the form of commodities for sale.

Under the compulsion of competition, capital in money form is then reinvested, not mechanically in the same type of activity but only after a survey of all productive opportunities, which implies a comparison of all ‘human resource complexes’ in relation to markets, transport costs, and the like.

Under the compromise with organized labor, and various ramifications such as capital controls, state countercyclical policy, etc., the human resource complexes were very much fixed in national spaces, but this was now to be opened up.
If the ‘moment’ of liquidation of fixed assets and the attendant relations of production assumes the quality of a systemic correction, as it did between the crisis of 1974-75 and the early 1980’s, the commanding heights of the cycle as a whole, money capital, must be given the maneuvering space in which it can perform this reordering.

This then was the juncture at which the revocation of the post-war social contract ushered in the epoch of neoliberal capitalism, but with the emphasis (initially) on the systemic aspect, not the predatory neoliberalism that would follow. It was intended, first of all, to bring back the income share of the capitalist class to the pre-war level and everywhere produced rapidly increasing inequalities (Streeck 2013: 58; Piketty 2014).

For the core Lockean heartland, 1979 was the cut-off date in which the entire set of compromises on which the previous era of corporate liberalism had been based, was called into question. Besides the abrogation of the class compromise with organized labor in production, it also was the year of the NATO missile decision, intended to scuttle détente and launch a new round of confrontation with socialist forces as around the globe obstacles to the restructuring production were to be removed.

This time the new Cold War was really ‘waged’, not as a posture on the basis of an (incomplete) international compromise as at Yalta, but as a fight to the end. 1979 was also the year of the Volcker Shock, which squeezed inflation from the system by raising real interest rates to around 20 percent and thus kicked the world into the debt crisis.

This was the crisis of sovereign debt, Streeck’s second instance of ‘buying time’. It worked to cut the classes and states profiting from inflation down to size economically just at the time when a violent crusade (announced already by the fascist coups in Chile, Argentina, and other Latin American countries, as well as the ‘Strategy of Tension’ in Europe) was launched against them.

The new posture of the capitalist class, formulated from the vantage point of systemic money capital, entailed a class compromise with asset-owning middle classes. Propertied middle classes had been mobilizing against the corporate liberal consensus and exploiting its ‘legitimacy crisis’ from the late 1970’s, but they were only a subordinate force in the transition.

At such a juncture alternative concepts are being formulated, all striving for comprehensiveness. Yet only one will triumph in the end – for as long as it lasts. It then also captures and reorganizes the state. Streeck mentions that the taxpayer movement resisting levies, and agitating under the banner of ‘starving the beast’ (the state), no longer trusted as the embodiment of the general interest (Streeck 2013: 103).

One is reminded of the fact that this class compromise and hence the ascendant concept of control is shaped by class struggle as was the case with corporate liberalism in the 1930’s.

However, the neoliberal concept that took the place of corporate liberalism in the transition period necessarily came to rely on ‘the beast’ again (a strong state), because every concept of control finds its ultimate expression in the state/group of states in the sense of the specific format of class relations condensing at that level (Poulantzas 2008: 307). As with changing capitalist fraction roles, we are looking at changing forms and orientations of states.

The tax revolt as a process of class formation fed into a form of state relaxing the tax burden on the upper income groups; governments reduced taxation and then borrowed from those it no longer taxed, obviously aggravating the public debt (Chesnais 2011: 113).

Privatization policies also gave asset-owning middle classes a chance to profit from booming stock markets, whilst rising asset prices, notably of real estate, allowed middle classes to borrow against the value of their (mortgaged) property.
However, as Streeck highlights, after the restrictions on democracy by rolling back trade union power and blunting the ability to strike, the contraction of debt and reduction of public services to pay for it to middle classes no longer taxed at former rates also further reduces democracy.

Democracy, he writes, is about the identity between the population as the principal and government as the agent, which should be sufficiently strong to make the former subscribe to the debt obligations incurred by the latter – irrespective whom they voted for and whether the credit was ever destined for them (Streeck 2013: 138). Of course as public provision withers, the readiness to pay taxes can only further decrease (Ibid.: 176).

In addition to the compromise with asset-owning middle classes, there also evolved a subordinate compromise in production with new groups entering the labor market such as women and the young and other hitherto marginalized categories of workers, in the sense that flexibilization of labor to some extent corresponded to their individualized lifestyles (Streeck 2013: 60).

Here the role of postmodern culture with its rejection of hierarchies and established rights also contributed to shaping a popular base for attacking organized labor in the name of ‘combating rigidities’, a notion spreading with the new volatility of finance (Harvey 1995).

All this of course does not compensate for the momentous loss of influence of labor, ‘the wage-dependent population’, which would double in size once China as well as the Soviet bloc and its outliers were thrown open for investment in the late 1980’s.

In the Anglophone Lockean heartland the systemic neoliberal concept crystallized first; outside it, Streeck argues, the neoliberal orientation of the European integration process too dates from the 1980’s, when the de-democratization of the economy and the bracketing of democracy from the economy began (Streeck 2013: 147-8).

He cites a 1939 article by Hayek which argues that moving decisions to a supranational level already implies a neoliberal tendency (Streeck 2013: 144-5). In Europe, the newly founded European Round Table of Industrialists after a brief flirtation with protectionism reflecting the outgoing corporate liberalism (notably in France under Mitterrand, the 1980-83 period), became the spearhead of making continental Europe conform to the ascendant concept of systemic neoliberalism.

It fell in line with abrogating the class compromise with organized labor as it identified inflexible labor markets as hampering ‘competitiveness’, which in a sense was true, coming after the defeats of the labor movement in the United States and Britain and other Anglophone heartland countries (van Apeldoorn 2002: 67-8).

The transition was accompanied by Delors’ move from the helm of Mitterrand’s failed Keynesian experiment to the European Commission, supposedly for a second try at the appropriate level (the level at which, as Streeck cites Hayek, the odds are against any sort of compromise with labor).
In fact therefore he managed the neoliberal wave by announcing the completion of the European internal market and modeling European policy along the lines of the German high productivity/low inflation export strategy (van der Pijl et al. 2011: 392).

In the course of the 1990’s, governments began to worry about the share of debt service in their budgets whilst creditors starting worrying about the ability of the states to pay back their debts. Once again the United States took the initiative to curtail social spending and restore a balanced budget under Clinton (Streeck 2013: 66).

O’Connor did not yet recognize in 1973 that the growing burden of debt service itself would be a major factor in the fiscal crisis (Streeck 2013: 109; O’Connor 1973). One can look at the debt state in light of ‘buying time,’ but one can also see it as the emergence of a new political formation.
The privatization of state assets in the process reduced the state role in the sphere of social protection, tasks which were now delegated to the market (Streeck 2013: 110). Also states resorted to forms of advanced financing in order to avoid breaking constitutionalized limits on public debt.

Public-Private Partnerships are such a form, in that states ask private firms to provide credit for public works (building hospitals etc.) that are then paid back over decades, usually at very unfavorable rates for the public purse given the relative incompetence of governments faced with international lawyers assisting the companies in drawing up PPP contracts (Streeck 2013: 174n.).

Here I would add the element of criminal complicity given the ease with which ministers move from public office to the private sector they had been dealing with when in office, as in the case of the British NHS (Pollock 2004).

The Final Round: Privatizing Debt under the Auspices of the ‘Financial Services’

As a result of the assault on social spending, a new legitimization deficit threatened, which was responded to by a new round of liberalizing capital markets to provide further means of payment, in this case by creating private debt, or ‘privatized Keynesianism’ (C. Crouch). This is the third way in which the fund of disposable resources is increased and purchasing power is created to try to close the gap with the promises made in the post-war period (Streeck 2013: 68-9).

Again I would argue that we must specify the forces involved in this third phase of buying time in order to know who was in charge when it collapsed in 2008 and who wrote the script for dealing with that collapse and its aftermath.

Here the fact that the restructuring away from nationally compartmentalized, compromise-rich corporate liberalism to a globalizing capitalism under a neoliberal concept required lifting the restrictions imposed on money capital in the 1930’s plays the crucial role.

For if money capital in the sense of quasi-social capital necessarily had to guide this process if it was to bring about a restoration of capitalist class power relative to the forces ranged against it nationally and internationally, all aspects of that regime had to be loosened.

The financial repression achieved by the New Deal’s centerpiece, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, separated high-risk, speculative international financial operations from low-risk, national deposit banking; only thus was productive capital able to accommodate to the militancy of the labor movement at the time.

The Volcker Shock of 1979 inevitably enabled a resurgence of this commercial form of money operations too. Here the abandoning of the fixed exchange rate regime in 1971 did play a role even if it occurred under the auspices of a productive-capital bloc (interestingly also including Paul Volcker in a key role as a Treasury official).

Inflation expanded the amount of US dollars circulating across the globe and accumulated outside the reach of the US financial authorities notably in the city of London, especially after the OPEC cartel and others demanded an inflation correction beginning in 1973. Their dollar holdings caused the offshore Eurodollar and Eurocapital markets to balloon and served as a key source for borrowing by the Soviet bloc and the Third World coalition (Burn 2006).

Capital in money form, ‘finance’ thus got back in its stride across a broad front, step by step undermining the separation between speculation and deposit money (Glass-Steagall was formally revoked in 1999). This is best understood by looking once again at how money functions as a means of market exchange first, symbolized as the M (money) in between two forms of goods or services, C (commodities), so C – M – C.
This includes what Marx calls ‘money-dealing capital’, say, trade in currencies or commercial paper. The profit that is made here is commercial profit, buying cheap and selling dear. Once money becomes capital, and is invested in production, the cycle assumes a different form, M – C (..P..) C’ – M’, and profit is based on surplus value obtained as unpaid labor in production (..P.. , and denoted by ’, the value increment).

In developed capitalism, money-dealing capital, ‘trade in financial services’, remains operative. Unlike investment money with its ‘systemic’ view of the whole cycle, it is only marginally connected to the production of surplus value; it preys on it from the outside, via the profit distribution process, not directly (in the Institutionalist tradition of Thorstein Veblen, all forms of capital prey on production in this sense).

Peter Gowan captures the shift with finance that occurred in the 1990’s when he writes about the rise of proprietary trading and financial arbitrage that ‘trading activity here does not mean long-term investment…in this or that security, but buying and selling financial and real assets to exploit – not least by generating- price differences and price shifts’ (‘speculative arbitrage’, Gowan 2009: 9, emphasis added).

Here we are looking at money capital with a completely different, in fact ‘irresponsible,’ attitude even from a capitalist point of view, hence the label ‘predatory’ neoliberalism. The financial operators driving it forward by exploiting new accounting rules and legal loopholes after the definitive collapse of state socialism in 1989-91 assembled allies among politicians and (‘micro’-)economists into a rapidly widening array of forces eager to share in the bonanza.

Streeck highlights how this frenzy was underpinned by a new theory of capital markets; which were now considered able to self-regulate rather than remain under state supervision (the ‘efficient market hypothesis’) (Streeck 2013: 69). Amidst the high-velocity movement of funds flowing through offshore jurisdictions, asset bubbles became a regular feature of 1990’s capitalism, culminating the predatory raid on Asian economies in 1997-98.

Just as corporate liberalism had produced the responsible citizen-worker and systemic neoliberalism the heroic late-20th-century bourgeois, predatory neoliberalism shaped an anthropology of its own in the form of the postmodern homo economicus, nervously finding his/her way in a jungle of potentially fatal choices in which all certainties have been suspended.

Across the spectrum, predatory neoliberalism fueled an attitude of anti-politics, since as Streeck emphasizes, its ideological mantra is that markets distribute wealth through general rules, whereas politics brings into play power and connections.

Once the idea has settled that the market is natural condition, its ‘decisions’ can be presented as falling from the sky and all politics dismissed as driven by ‘interests’ (Streeck 2013: 97). Organizing for anything becomes suspect as interest-driven power-play, ultimately entailing new Auschwitzes or gulags.

The language of the epoch, still widely spoken today, is replete with demagogy, in which ‘our side’ is endowed with an inherent goodness in the confrontation with successive incarnations of evil – from Milosevic to Saddam and on to Putin. This aesthetics of politics takes the place of material compromises for which the space is closing down. Speculators in fact gambled away many of the assets the middle classes had counted on to bolster their wealth and even their social security.

The aesthetics of politics, the invocation of highly emotive themes such as the ‘tsunami’ of foreigners invading our land, civilization in danger, the threat of terrorism and war, thus substitutes for real material concessions, although pockets of compromise, carried over from the earlier phases, remain, both with organized labor and with asset-owning middle classes.

The thrust, then, especially after the turn of the millennium, has been in the direction of unrestrained predatory neoliberalism with no barriers against risk-taking and with demagogy riding high. This is not a general condition of capital as such, but the operation of the system from the vantage point of money-dealing capital, immersed in risk and (often exorbitant) reward and relying on deceit to obtain social consensus.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with the international posture both of China and of post-Soviet Russia not able to really challenge the pretensions of the US to lead the ‘international community’, promote ‘good governance’, etc., the risk-taking inherent in predatory neoliberalism has also spilled over into adventurous, high-risk foreign policy maneuvers with an enhanced role for covert action.

At this juncture the European project too switched to predatory neoliberalism with the establishment of the Eurozone. As majorities for social protection became less and less possible as a consequence due to the adhesion of eastern European countries, the European Commission in the 1990’s forced through the privatization of large slices of the public sectors of member states in the name of competition law.

Under EU Commissioner Mario Monti, the German public banking system’s competition rules, long an irritant to the private banks, were finally eliminated (Streeck 2013: 150, 150n.).

Streeck provides some important pointers such as the fact that in the first decade of the 21st century the European Court of Justice became the chief executor of the ‘Hayekization’ of the EU, or the ‘European Union as a liberalization machinery’ (Streeck 2013: 148).

The Court’s rulings concerning the right to strike and codetermination in the name of untrammelled service provision and capital movements turned the EU into a machinery for liberalization. Its high point was the Eurozone, in which the freeing of the capitalist economy from democratic constraints reached its pinnacle (Streeck 2013: 151; an earlier, positive analysis of the Court’s role is in Cohen-Tanugi 1987).

Streeck calls the Eurozone a frivolous experiment as it removed the possibility of highly heterogeneous economies to defend themselves without simultaneously abolishing the national states and national democracy (Streeck 2013: 250).
The euro was indeed a project of and for money-dealing capital. The committee consisting mainly of central bankers that worked out the euro project in 1988-89 could not miss the pre-eminence of this form of capital even if it had wanted to – certainly after the European Exchange Rate Mechanism collapsed under the attacks of speculators in the early 1990’s.

Hence it recommended that the Euro’s role as a means of exchange would remain confined to the Eurozone, making the euro an investment object first of all. To attract short-term money flows, its interest rate (the sole monetary policy instrument of the European Central Bank at the outset), was set just above the US rate (Chesnais 2011: 90, 120; Varoufakis 2013: 198-9).

The mistaken but widely-held assumption that after the crisis of 2008 there existed a sort of pure capitalist vantage point with its anchorage in the states of the West which would be able to see that speculation had gone too far, etc. overlooks that capital as agency only comes about as a result of a build-up of a class coalition around a certain fraction, which thus is able to generalize its particular interest as the general capitalist interest and even the general interest altogether.

The collapse of 2008 happened when the formula of the general interest was predatory neoliberalism advanced by money-dealing capital. There was no other capitalist or popular force that had been able to contest its hegemony.

The idea that a crisis of this magnitude produces a rethink again abstracts from real power relations; the bail-out may briefly have looked like a return to Keynesianism but in fact was about saving the banks with public money and consolidating the capture of the state by a bloc of forces operating under the auspices and with the world-view of high risk/reward money-dealing capital.

This socially irresponsible fraction, relying for social consensus on political aesthetics and demagogy, will not be able to find solutions that are rational even for capital as a whole because its rationality is far narrower. There is no other form of capital waiting in the wings, and this is in fact also argued by Streeck (as when he writes that it has become practically impossible to determine what is state and what is market and whether the states have nationalized the banks or the banks have privatized the state, 2013: 71-2).

However he also appears to assume a sort of commanding heights from which successive episodes of ‘buying time’ have been tried by capital as such, whereas in fact we are looking at never-ending struggles in which money-dealing capital has been able to reap the fruits of privatization, liberalization and flexibilization of labor on a global scale.

A Terminal Crisis of Democracy?

As with capitalism, Streeck also tends to assume that there is a hypothesized ‘democracy’ which ‘failed to recognize’ the counterrevolution against the social capitalism of the post-war era, just as it ‘failed to regulate’ the financial sector in the 1990’s (Streeck 2013: 111-2). Just as he tends to turn capitalism into a spectator witnessing its own corruption by speculation, he presents democracy a witness of its own demise.

I should add immediately that this tendency in Streeck’s argument is contradicted by his own often acute observations concerning the real relations of force (as when he describes the creditors of the indebted states as a second constituency, a sort of shadow citizenry far outstripping the power of the original constituency, the people (Streeck 2013: 118-9).

In fact capitalism, as I have argued above, never exists outside its own momentary constellation of social forces, so it cannot by definition ‘correct’ any supposed aberrations in how it functions. That instance, a sort of independent regulator within the bounds of the system does not exist. The same with democracy: democracy denotes the degree to which the population at large can influence the operation of the forces that govern it, both the formal government and the relations of production.

Here the claim of the Communist Manifesto that all history is the history of class struggle should guide our understanding or Gramsci’s argument about Marxism as absolute historicism, an absolute humanism of history, for that matter (Gramsci 1971: 465).

Only in the context of the real relations of force, in all their complexity, can we discover the ability for change; not by appealing intuitively to the good conscience of a social order. Because ultimately capital as agency appears to stand outside its own field of operation and thus retains an ability to ‘try’ different solutions, the notion of class struggle remains underdeveloped in this otherwise important book.

More particularly absent is how class struggle reverberates in and is relayed through the fraction structure of capital as it strives to establish itself as agency embodying the general interest of capital. Hence the struggles within the capitalist class (nationally and internationally) remain in the dark, and democracy merely registers how in the development of class and fraction struggles, class compromises crystallize.

Here an echo from an earlier period appears to take the place of a developed class analysis when Streeck writes about Marx’s idea of countertendencies as in the case of the falling rate of profit, a familiar trope for the readers of Capital Volume III (Streeck 2013: 15, 15 n.).

The succession of instances of buying time seem to arise from one fundamental malfunction due to the operation of these countertendencies which are conjunctural and necessarily temporary as the incorporation of more spheres of life by capital clashes with the logic of the social life-world (Streeck 2013: 16).

Yet here the author tends to overlook that the analysis of Capital volume III takes the analysis of class struggle of Vol. I and the analysis of fraction struggles in Vol. II to an even more concrete level, and without taking these prior struggles into account more explicitly, the tendencies/countertendencies argument remains superficial, not identifying the real dynamics animating successive constellations of forces.

This again affects the understanding of what awaits us after 2008. Again Streeck’s analysis is highly relevant in its main conclusion. Each of the instances of ‘buying time’ was accompanied by a defeat of the wage dependent population that made it possible to introduce and deepen neoliberalization (Streeck 2013: 76).

The end of inflation, by a secular weakening of the trade unions and the termination of their ability to strike in conditions of durable unemployment; the consolidation of the state budget by cuts in and privatization of social provision and curtailment of social citizenship and a commercialization of many aspects of social security, granting new opportunities to insurance companies stepping in as guarantors of social security. The crash of 2008 then also robbed many of their savings, whilst entailing further cuts and job losses (Streeck 2013: 77).

Since the 1960’s voter participation in elections has fallen substantially; the lower the income group, the steeper this decline has been. It is not a sign of satisfaction but of resignation: ‘The political resignation of the lower strata protects capitalism from democracy and stabilizes the neoliberal turn that is at its origin’ (Streeck 2013: 90, cf. 87-8).

Democracy is slowly being replaced by a pure spectator sport, a form of entertainment for the middle classes, in which emaciated, essentially similar political parties temporarily play as if they are enemies only to conclude Grand Coalitions between them – a strategy that Streeck rightly argues is probably the most appropriate form of government anyway in the era of states having to answer to creditors’ demands first (Streeck 2013: 127-8).

Politics as entertainment and theatre reminds one of the thesis of Guy Debord in one of the signal texts of the 1968 movement (Debord 1967).

Here too a fraction analysis would work to deepen the argument. For the lingering assumption that there remains a conscientious democracy that can intervene as such tends to also assume that this theatre will obey the laws of the theatre in that it is orderly staged, the audience knows its place etc., whereas if predatory neoliberalism runs the show as it does today, there is nothing orderly about the response to the crisis in this respect either.

Indeed whilst economically the system is running aground amidst rampant speculation, the abolition of democracy too obeys the laws of high risk policies, involving covert action and provocation, terror scares to bolster the forces calling for a state of emergency, and military adventures, today in the Middle East and North Africa as well as on the borders of Russia, soon to be enlarged with a more pugnacious policy towards China.

Under such circumstances, the abolition of democracy will not take the form of a peaceful spectacle fooling and entertaining the audience but of repression and war.

Of course in the EU the abolition of democracy has already passed through a phase of high-handed demagogy of which the handling of the Greek Spring and the prevention of a Portuguese one are the key instances (in Portugal the Left was not even allowed to translate its election victory into forming a government).

After all the president of the Bundesbank in mid 2012 already declared that if a country does not meet its EU budget obligations, national sovereignty should be automatically transferred to the European level and consolidation measures will be adopted for which in the national parliament may not exist a majority (Streeck 2013: 155).

After Greece and Portugal, France’s subjection to limited democracy was not a matter of enforcing budget constraints any longer but obtained by a terror scare, the declaration of the state of emergency and the suspension of civil rights.

As the consequences of the wars in the Middle East and North Africa are spreading to Europe via the refugee crisis, fragments from the warring parties in these regions (Turks vs. Kurds, jihadists fighting secular regimes) inevitably link up with destitute, marginalized groups in societies here. In that sense the attacks in Paris in November 2015 (perhaps unlike the Charlie Hebdo attack which still had a strong whiff of a double-agent operation) are certainly a sign of things to come.

In this situation we should certainly heed Streeck’s exhortation that critical intellectuals have a duty not to be primarily concerned with their reputation by repeating the mantra that there is no alternative and not be intimidated by the ruling technique of dismissing opposition as populism (Streeck 2013: 219). At the same time, we need a sharper eye for the actual forces the critics are up against if they want to be effective.

References

Bassosi, Duccio. 2006. Il governo del dollaro. Interdipendenza economica e potere statunitense negli anni di Richard Nixon (1969-1973). Firenze: Edizioni Polistampa.

Bode, Ries. 1979. ‘De Nederlandse bourgeoisie tussen de twee wereldoorlogen’, Cahiers voor de Politieke en Sociale Wetenschappen, 2 (4) 9-50.

Burn, Gary. 2006. The Re-emergence of Global Finance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Chesnais, François. 2011. Les Dettes Illégitimes. Quand les Banques font Main Basse sur les Politiques Publiques. Paris: Raisons D’agir.

Cohen-Tanugi, Laurent. 1987 [1985]. Le Droit sans L’état. Sur la Démocratie en France et en Amérique, 3rd ed [preface S. Hoffmann]. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.

Debord, Guy. 1967. La Société du Spectacle. Paris: Buchet/Chastel.

Gill, Stephen. 1990. American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gowan, Peter. 2009. Crisis in the Heartland: Consequences of the New Wall Street System. New Left Review, 2nd series (55) 5-29.

Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks [trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G.N. Smith]. New York: International Publishers [written 1929-’35].

Habermas, Jürgen. 1973. Legitimizationsprobleme im Spätkapitalismus. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Harvey, David. 1995 [1990]. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Harvey, David. 2006 [1982]. The Limits to Capital, rev. ed. London: Verso.

Hickel, Rudolf. 1975. ‘Kapitalfraktionen. Thesen zur Analyse der herrschenden Klasse’. Kursbuch, no. 42 (December), pp. 141-154.

Kalecki, Michal. 1972 [1943]. ‘Political Aspects of Full Employment’, in E.K. Hunt and J.G. Schwartz, eds., A Critique of Economic Theory. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Mirowski, Philip. 2013. Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste. How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown. London: Verso.

O’Connor, James. 1973. The Fiscal Crisis of the State. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Overbeek, Henk. 1990. Global Capitalism and National Decline. The Thatcher Decade in Perspective. London: Unwin Hyman.

Panitch, Leo and Gindin, Sam. 2012. The Making of Global Capitalism. The Political Economy of American Empire. London: Verso.

Piketty, Thomas. 2014. Capital in the Twenty-First Century [trans. A. Goldhammer]. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Pollock, Allyson M. 2004. NHS plc. The Privatization of Our Health Care [with C. Leys, D. Price D. Rowland and S. Gnani]. London: Verso.

Poulantzas, Nikos. 2008 [1976]. ‘The Political Crisis and the Crisis of the State’ [trans. J.W. Freiburg], in The Poulantzas Reader. Marxism, Law and the State [ed. J. Martin]. London: Verso.

Ramsay, Robin. 2002. The Rise of New Labor. Harpenden: Pocket Essentials.

Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, Stephens, Evelyne H., and Stephens, John D. 1992. Capitalist Development and Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Streeck, Wolfgang. 2013. Gekaufte Zeit. Die vertagte Krise des demokratischen Kapitalismus [Frankfurter Adorno-Vorlesungen 2012]. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Van Apeldoorn, Bastiaan. 2002. Transnational Capitalism and the Struggle over European Integration. London: Routledge.

Van der Pijl, Kees. 1984. The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class. London: Verso.

Van der Pijl, Kees. 1998. Transnational Classes and International Relations. London: Routledge.

Van der Pijl, Kees. 2006. Global Rivalries from the Cold War to Iraq. London: Pluto; New Delhi: Sage Vistaar.

Van der Pijl, Kees; Holman, Otto; and Raviv, Or. 2011. The Resurgence of German Capital in Europe: EU Integration and the Restructuring of Atlantic Networks of Interlocking Directorates After 1991. Review of International Political Economy, 18 (3) 384-408.

Varoufakis, Yanis. 2013 [2011]. The Global Minotaur. America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy [rev. ed]. London: Zed Books.

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“Ayatollah Khamenei: ‘Westerners Mourning French Tragedy Should Pause for a Moment,” by Eric Walberg

Great piece by Eric Walberg on Ayatollah Khamenei’s latest speech. Khamenei is a very wise man, and he doesn’t support terrorism against the West. He’s not a Salafi Jihadi. He’s Shia, and the radical Sunnis think that the Shia are infidel heretics who need to be killed. I enjoy his speeches, and I also enjoy those of the leader of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah.

Shia Muslims are generally a lot easier to get along with than Sunni Muslims. For one thing. they have been persecuted themselves by Sunnis for centuries, so they have an idea of what it means to be a persecuted on the basis of one’s religion.

In Hezbollah controlled areas of Southern Lebanon, the Shia leave the Christians completely alone. There are many Christian villages there, and Hezbollah lets them do whatever they want. They are not subject to Sharia or Muslim dress codes, and Hezbollah doesn’t enforce Sharia anymore even on the Muslims it controls. Shia Muslim women in Hezbollah controlled areas are not even obliged to wear a headscarf.

There are also Sunni, Christian and Druze members of Hezbollah, and the non-Shia Hezbollah members experience no discrimination.

You can go into Hezbollah-controlled areas of Southern Lebanon and walk into a bar and order a beer. It’s not a problem at all.

The Shia have always been the more progressive Muslim sect as, like Catholics, they believe that Islam is a living religion that must be continuously interpreted to keep up with the times. Hence, Islam is continuously being interpreted by Ayatollahs as Catholicism is constantly being interpreted by Popes to be relevant with the times in which Shia Muslims are living.

This leads to a lot interesting thinking and rulings. Iran’s Ayatollahs have decided that transsexualism is compatible with Islam, and one of the highest ranking Iranian clerics is a transwoman or a man who has now turned into a woman.

Prostitution is also quite common in Iran, and the Ayatollahs see prostitutes are more of a persecuted group of women who need protection than carriers of vice. Recently there has been a lot of talk among the Iranian leadership about making prostitution legal and housing prostitutes in houses with madams overseeing them.

This would be done under the rubric of temporary marriage, a Shia custom that allows Shia to have sex even outside of marriage.

In fact, in the extremely religious city of Qom, the headquarters of the religious clergy, there is a thriving prostitution scene, and the male religious students studying there regularly buy prostitutes. There are many prostitutes plying their trade in Qom.

This also is done under the rubric of temporary marriage. The male religious student simply selects a prostitute, and the two of them go to one of the many religious clergy in town and say they want to have a temporary marriage. The clergyman then grants them a temporary marriage lasting usually about three days.

The student and the prostitute then go somewhere to have sex. Somewhere often means one of the large local cemeteries where believe it or not, prostitutes ply their trade in the underground tombs! The three day marriage often lasts more like a couple of hours, as the two do the deed and then part.

A high ranking woman in the Iranian government has made use of temporary marriage to have sex with ~50 male clerics over the years. She has been quite outspoken about her religiously sanctioned promiscuity, and apparently the Ayatollahs are just fine with it too.

When it comes to Islam, the Shia are clearly a different bird altogether.

Ayatollah Khamenei: “Westerners Mourning French Tragedy Should Pause for a Moment”

by Eric Walberg

The leader of the Islamic Revolution has once again addressed Western youth who either for the most part are misinformed about Islam because of the bias in media and society in favor of Israel and Zionism, or are Muslim but living in a climate of Islamophobia and in desperation have drifted to the militant jihadist movement which began in Afghanistan in 1979 with US blessing and is now a permanent feature of world politics. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls on them to “reconsider the threat of terrorism in the world, its roots and to find a deep insight into Islam.”

The tone of the Ayatollah’s reflections is calm and friendly, the content intelligent and at the same time heartfelt. You can feel his spirit of universal love and his anguish at the suffering that terrorism brings. It is sad to note that Western media and politicians have an obsession against Iran despite Iran’s constant reaching out and attempts to help the West fight terrorism. The reasons, of course, are Iran’s staunch support for Palestine and its refusal to submit to the dictates of imperialism. Both unforgivable ‘sins’.

These are not rational reasons. Following 9/11, Iranian intelligence shared information with US intelligence – until President Bush found out and put a stop to it. Iran made intelligent proposals to resolve the nuclear energy stand-off for the past decade, all rejected by the US. The world is blessed by Iran’s support for Palestine, as the Arab states are just not up to the task.

Like his earlier appeal, once again the Ayatollah calls for dialogue on the most painful matters to “create the grounds for finding solutions and mutual consultation”, or the situations will continue to spin out of control.

For the Ayatollah, each life is important and each unnatural death is a tragedy. “The sight of a child losing his life in the presence of his loved ones, a mother whose joy for her family turns into mourning, a husband who is rushing the lifeless body of his spouse to some place, and the spectator who does not know whether he will be seeing the final scene of life – these are scenes that rouse the emotions and feelings of any human being…whether they occur in France or in Palestine or Iraq or Lebanon or Syria. The Muslim world shares these feelings and are revolted by the perpetrators”.

The supreme leader explained that Muslims have suffered far more than anyone else due to colonial occupation and the trauma that Israel inflicts daily on Palestinians. Westerners mourning the French tragedy should pause for a moment.

“If the people of Europe have now taken refuge in their homes for a few days and refrain from being present in busy places – it is decades that a Palestinian family is not secure even in its own home from the Zionist regime’s death and destruction machinery. What kind of atrocious violence today is comparable to that of the settlement constructions of the Zionist regime?

“This regime…every day demolishes the homes of Palestinians and destroys their orchards and farms. This is done without even giving them time to gather their belongings or agricultural products and usually it is done in front of the terrified and tear-filled eyes of women and children who witness the brutal beatings of their family members.

Shooting down a woman in the middle of the street for the crime of protesting against a soldier who is armed to the teeth – if this is not terrorism, what is? This barbarism, just because it is being done by the armed forces of an occupying government, is it not extremism? Or maybe only because these scenes have been seen repeatedly on television screens for sixty years, they no longer stir our consciences.”

The Ayatollah laments the ongoing invasions and violation of the Muslim World by the West, “another example of the contradictory logic of the West. The assaulted countries, in addition to the human damage caused, have lost their economic and industrial infrastructure. Their movement towards growth and development has been thrown back decades.”

The Ayatollah looks to the youth of today, who he hopes will be educated to understand the beauty of Islam, and its compatibility with both Christianity and Judaism, its long history of peaceful relations, its rejection of imperialism and colonialism. They must “discover new means for building the future and be barriers on the misguided path that has brought the West to its current impasse.”

The Iranian leader optimistically assumes that people in the West mostly understand of the true nature of modern politics. That Westerners understand the role of the US in “creating, nurturing and arming al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their inauspicious successors, [that] these forces behind terrorism are allies of the West, while the most pioneering, brightest and most dynamic democrats in the region are suppressed mercilessly.”

I wish his words reflected the reality that I see around me in Canada. People are willfully ignorant about these matters, not wanting to see their governments as guilty of nurturing terrorism. My goal in writing is to inform people in these matters, but it is hard to get the message out. It is primarily time-servers who are welcomed by the mainstream media to ‘inform’ citizens.

I admire the Iranian leader’s honesty in pointing out that it is Western ‘culture’ that promotes “aggression and moral promiscuity”, and tries to destroy other cultures. “The western world with the use of advanced tools is insisting on the cloning and replication of its culture on a global scale. I consider the imposition of Western culture upon other peoples and the trivialization of independent cultures as a form of silent violence and extreme harmfulness.”

He does “not deny the importance and value of cultural interaction, but warns against “inharmonious interactions”. That conjures up the image of Westernized youth sneaking into a Russian Orthodox cathedral or a Tehran public place and loudly promoting a Western ‘human rights’ agenda with Western photojournalists on hand, waiting to send some distorted image out on the internet. The upshot is either Russophobia or Islamophobia, whereas the real violation is of national dignity.

This shows that Western culture is in fact non-culture, and promotes apathy, decadence, or nihilism which oppresses us all today. But, disillusioned as I am with Western media and its brainwashing, I was heartened after the Paris bombings to hear sensible Canadians reject the jihadists’ plan to promote Islamophobia, forcing Muslims to join them in their will-o’-the-wisp Caliphate.

There are many Muslims in Canada now – eleven of them are members of Parliament in the ruling Liberal Party. A 30-year-old Afghan woman Maryam Monsef is Minister of Democratic Institutions. Muslims are first rate Canadians – hard working, quiet, educated, devout. They are slowly transforming Canada for the better, including acting as examples of what Islam can do to benefit society.

I am also encouraged by the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister, ousting the ultra-Zionist Iranophobe Stephen Harper. Muslim Canadians voted for Trudeau en masse. All eleven Muslim MP’s are Liberals. He has a silver bullet against terrorism: the only way to fight ISIS responsibly is to ‘do the right thing’, and expose their policy of violence as bad for Muslims, bad for everyone. Already thousands of communities across the country have pledged to sponsor Syrian families and are busy hosting fundraisers.

Terry Nelson, Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization, says Manitoba’s plans to bring refugees in from other countries should not be impacted by events in Europe. “There’s been an invitation for 2,500 Syrian people to be here in Winnipeg,” he said. “They should not be judged by a small minority of people that are terrorists. We live in the greatest country in the world. The most peaceful country in the world. We are blessed.”

The Ayatollah’s message is here.

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The Damned, “New Rose”

God I love The Damned. From 1976! The year the Sex Pistols appeared on the scene. The Damned was one of the first British punk rock group, forming around the same time as the Pistols and other early groups. They also liked to smash up their instruments on the stage. The Who of course started that sort of thing.

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Will European-Style Muslim Problems Come to the US?

EPGAH writes:

“In these riots, we saw Muslims who don’t practice the Islamic religion in their daily lives standing up for their culture and religion in a very aggressive way. Copenhagen was smoking for an entire week due to several hundred of fires, and the police and firemen trying to calm the situation down were also attacked.

“A big part of the rioters ended up in the prison where I worked, and I therefore I had the chance to talk with them. Almost all of them were Muslims, and they all claimed that what they have done — starting fires, attacking the police etc. — was justified since Danish society, through its pressure on integration and through reprinting the Mohammed cartoons, has proven itself to be racist and against Islam and Muslim culture. ”

This is from your own article in 2010!

How do we avoid Moslems “standing up for their culture” in America like they did in Denmark, and continue to do in France, Sweden, Germany, even the UK?

Denmark is ~5% Muslim right now. That’s a bad percentage. In Europe, once they start getting up around 5%, they start causing a lot more problems.

I don’t know. Do you see thousands of Muslims running amok in the US setting fire to whole neighborhoods where flames burn for a week due to the continuous arson?

Let’s worry about problems like that if and when they ever happen. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. US Muslims are not going to tear up the neighborhood like these Euro Muslims are. These Muslims in the US just don’t have any numbers.

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“Problems” and “Solutions”

Discuss Severaid’s quote and my examples given below, agreeing, disagreeing or expanding on the notion.

The chief cause of problems is solutions

– Eric Sevareid

I think this guy is onto something.

Examples:

War on Terror – Solution was all out war on “terrorism” – really just disobedient Muslim states and some international guerrilla/terrorist groups.

The “solution” did not solve the problem at all, and in fact it made it much worse and introduced quite a few new problems.

The “solution” to the “Muslim terrorism problem” did nothing to alleviate the problem, and the problem only expanded massively, in the process destroying much of the secular Muslim world and replacing it with ultra-radical, armed and ultraviolent fundamentalists. Several new failed states were created out of functioning but authoritarian secular regimes.

A wild Sunni-Shia war took off with no end in sight. A new Saudi-Iran conflict expanded to include all of the Sunni world against Iran and some Shia groups.

The policy was incoherent – in places (Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Libya) secular nationalists were overthrown and replaced with radical fundamentalist regimes (Iraq, Palestine) or failed states teeming with armed fundamentalist actors (Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Mali). In other places, fundamentalist regimes were overthrown and secular nationalists were put in (Egypt).

We alternately attacked and supported radical groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. An awful Russia-Turkey conflict took off on the Middle east with the US and NATO siding with Al Qaeda and ISIS supporting Turks. The US attacked and armed fundamentalists to attack Shia Iranian, Hezbollah and Houthi armies waging all out war on Al Qaeda and ISIS. In Yemen we actively attacked the Shia who were fighting Al Qaeda while supporting Al Qaeda and fundamentalist Sunnis with intel and weaponry.

Some Kurds were called terrorists and support was given to those attacking them. Other Kurds were supported in their fight against ISIS. In actuality, all of these Kurd represented the same entity. There really is no difference between the PKK, the YPG and the rulers of the Kurdish region. Meanwhile, Kurds fighting for independence were supported in Iran and Syria and attacked in Turkey though they were all the same entity.

Billions of US dollars and thousands of US lives were wasted for essentially no reason with no results or actually a worsened situation. Russia, one of the most effective actors in the war against Al Qaeda and ISIS, was declared an enemy and attacks on them by our allies were cheered on.

A horrible refugee crisis was created in Europe.

Muslim populations in the West were substantially radicalized.

Instead of ending Islamic terrorism, Islamic terrorist, conventional and guerrilla attacks absolutely exploded in the Middle East and to a lesser extent in Europe, Canada, Australia and the US. It also exploded in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Thailand, the Philippines and of course Syria and Iraq. There was considerable fighting and terrorism in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco and Jordan. The Palestinians ended up much better armed than before and the conflict exploded into all out war on a few occasions.

Terrorism and guerrilla war exploded in Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Somalia and Kenya with some new attacks in Niger, Mauritania, Chad and Uganda. Somalia took a turn for the worse as a huge Al Qaeda force set up shop there and the country turned into the worst failed state ever with nothing even resembling a state left and the nation furthermore split off into three separate de facto nations.

The “solution” failed completely and simply ended up creating a whole new set of problems that were vastly worse than the original problem for the which the solution was directed.

Technology: Technology itself could be regarded as a lousy fix to many problems.

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