france

According to Emmanuel Macron, the days of popular sovereignty are over

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/09/2017 - 12:36am in

by Thierry Meyssan, September 5, 2017, via VoltaireNet Delivering a keynote speech before the most senior of French diplomats, President Macron revealed his conception of the world and the way in which he intends to use the tools at his disposal. According to him, there will be no more popular sovereignty, neither in France, nor in Europe, and therefore no more national or supra-national democracies. Neither will there be any more collective interest, no more Republic, but an ill-defined catalogue of things and ideas which compose the common good. Describing their new programme of work to the ambassadors, he informed them that they should no longer defend the values of their country, but find opportunities to act in the name of the European Leviathan. Entering into the details of certain conflicts, he described a programme of economic colonisation of the Levant and Africa. Participating in the traditional Ambassadors’ Week, President Macron gave his first general speech on foreign policy since his arrival at the Elysée Palace [1]. In this article, all the quotations in inverted commas …

A German Model?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/09/2017 - 12:53am in

Tomorrow Germany votes, and there is little suspense, besides the highly symbolic question of whether the far right will make it into the Bundestag.

Angela Merkel will be Chancellor for the fourth time, marking a long period of political and policy stability. In the past fifteen years Germany emerged as the model to follow for the other large economies. For since its economy has performed better, in terms of growth and unemployment, than France or Italy.

I have at discussed at length, here and elsewhere, the costs of the German success in terms of global imbalances and uncooperative behaviours. Last week I wrote a piece for the newly born magazine LuissOpen (Ad: Follow it on twitter! There is plenty of interesting content well beyond economics! End of Ad).

The piece lists, in a non exhaustive way, a number of weaknesses that can be spotted behind the shining macroeconomic results, and also argues that there is much more than labour market liberalization behind a successful economic model (including in Germany).

The original piece can be found here (and here in Italian). I copy and paste it below

Three months after his commencement, Emmanuel Macron delivered last week one of the most important, and controversial, promises of his agenda. The loi travail that will become operational in the next few weeks mostly deals employment protection, which is weakened especially for small and medium enterprises. The aim is to lift constraints for firms hiring, and thus increase employment. This first set of norms should be followed in the next weeks or months by norms aimed at improving training and employability of unemployed workers. Once completed, the package would be the French version of the flexicurity that Scandinavian countries put in place in the past, with different degrees of success.

Without entering into the details of the law, the set of norms approved by the French government, just as the Italian Jobs Act voted in 2014, is a bold step towards the flexibilization of  labour market relations that Germany has in place since the early years 2000, with the so-called “Hartz Reforms”. The German experience, and to a minor extent the first few years of application of the Job Act, can help understand how the French labour market could evolve in the next few years.

Germany in fact sets itself as an example. The argument goes that the reforms it implemented in 2003-2005, did liberalize labour markets, and since then, with the exception of the first years of the crisis, unemployment has been steadily decreasing. But in fact, this is a misleading example, because the Hartz reforms were embedded in a complex institutional setting, which goes well beyond labour market flexibility.

First, an important segment of the German labour market, the one linked to manufacturing and business services, has always been ruled by long-term agreements between employers, workers, and local work councils. For these insider workers a system of work relations was in place, in which highly paid workers acquired skills through vocational training (within or outside the firm), and were protected by an all-encompassing welfare system. Vocational training created robust bonds between the firms, that had often invested substantial resources in the training, and the workers, whose specific skills could not easily be transferred to other sectors or even to other firms.

At the turn of the century, globalized markets coupled with the aftermath of the reunification, exerted a serious pressure for a restructuring  of labour relations.  This restructuring happened through a consensus process that did not involve the government, and kept untouched the bond between the firm and the worker created by vocational training.

The mutual interest in preserving the long-term relationship between workers and firms in the insider markets, led to agreements aimed at reducing costs or to increase productivity without increasing turnover or reducing average job tenure. These agreements could involve on the workers’ side labour sharing, flexibility in hours and in labour mobility, wage concessions, reductions in absenteeism. In exchange for this, firms would guarantee continued investments in innovation and in the (vocational) training of workers, and job security.

It is crucial to understand that the Hartz reform did not touch the insiders market (manufacturing, finance, insurance and business, etc), that as we just said had already begun restructuring without government intervention. The reform made the welfare system less generous, while  allowing access to benefits even for workers with low earnings, thus de facto introducing incentives to low-paid jobs. Furthermore, it liberalized temporary work contracts, and made more flexible a few sectors subject to competition from posted workers (i.e. construction).

The combined result of reforms and endogenous restructuring yielded a spike in part time jobs, and an increase of employment. But it also widened the gap in earnings and in protection between workers in the export-oriented sectors and the others.

The second feature of the German system that made it resilient during the crisis is the existence of a dense network  of local public savings banks (the Sparkassen). Savings bank were a defining feature of the banking sectors of a number of European countries (e.g. Spain, Italy), but have progressively become marginal. Germany is therefore an exception in that its local savings banks are still a pillar of its economy.

Local savings banks have specific public interest missions, as they are involved in the development of local communities, and in financing households and firms (in particular SMEs). The law only allows operation within the region of competence, which shields them from competition while keeping them close to their stakeholders. Similarly, the ambit of their operations is limited (for example, they face limits in their capacity to engage in securities trading or in excessively risky financing).

To avoid that these limitations hamper their effectiveness and their solidity, the banks work as a network  among them. The network exhibits economies of scale and of scope, while remaining close, in its individual components, to local communities. Furthermore, the existence of solidarity mechanisms (rescue funds) ensures that temporary difficulties of a bank are tackled without spreading contagion.

The major private commercial banks, very active in international markets, did suffer like in most other countries, were a drain on public finances, and drastically contracted their lending to the real sector. The Sparkassen on the other hand kept their financing steady (especially to SMEs) and required virtually no state aid. As a consequence, the local savings banks cushioned the impact of the financial crisis on the German economy, and their continued financing of firms is certainly a major factor in explaining the quick rebound of the German economy after 2010.

If taken together, the banking sector and the labour market institutions design a remarkably efficient system, geared towards the establishment of long run relationships in which the interests and the objectives (between entrepreneurs and workers, between banks and firms) were aligned.

But this effectiveness did not come without costs. From a macroeconomic point of view, profitability and competitiveness increased, but also precautionary savings, induced by a less generous welfare state, and by the increased uncertainty faced by workers. The “success” of the German export-led economy, that had a 9% current account surplus in 2016, is based on the compression of domestic demand, and on a labour market that is increasingly split in two, and in which inequality increased dramatically.  The low unemployment that should make other countries envious hides a massive increase of the so-called working poor. (See figure 2 here)

I would push this even further: the Hartz Reform had a strong impact on labour market dualism and precariousness, but only a minor one in explaining the resilience of the economy. A recent CER policy brief makes a somewhat similar point.

Following the Jobs Act, the Italian labour market seems to be headed in a similar direction as the German one. The recent data released by ISTAT on labour market development certified the return of employed people to the pre-crisis peak (2008), thus marking, symbolically the end of the crisis. Yet, GDP is still 7% below its 2008 level, meaning that the increase of employment happened in low value added sectors (such as for example tourism and catering), and often with part-time contracts. These are typically sectors with low and very low wages, and stagnant productivity dynamics. At the same time, wages (but not employment) increase in manufacturing-export oriented sectors. The Italian labour market, in a sentence, is heading towards the same dualistic structure that characterizes the German one. This explains why, like in Germany, Italian domestic demand stagnates; why the increase in employment is obtained at the price of increased precariousness and of the working poor; why, finally, while the numbers say that the crisis is beyond us, the actual experience of households is often different. Italy, and to a minor extent Germany, are the best proof that employment and growth do not necessarily go hand in hand with increased well-being.

Focusing exclusively on labour market flexibility, Italy and in France only imported one element of the German “model”; and probably the one that is by far the least important.  The German capacity to put in place long term relationships, the real key to economic resilience success, is lost in our countries.

Filed under: France, Germany, labour markets, Structural Reforms, Wages Tagged: dualism, export-led growth, flexicurity, France, German elections, Germany, Hartz Reform, jobs act, loi travail, long-termism, Macron, Merkel, reforms, sparkassen, wage compression, wage restraints, working poors

Richard Coughlan Refutes the Claim that Muslims Will Outbreed White Europeans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/09/2017 - 12:00am in

This is another excellent video from the vlogger and stand-up comedian, Richard Coughlan. In this one he utterly destroys the video that has been going around, and been promoted by the far right, that within a few years Muslim immigrants will outbreed the traditional western European inhabitants of Europe. This is part of the general ‘Eurabia’ scare, again heavily promoted by the racist and Islamophobic right, that due to the massive disparities between White European and Muslim birthrates, Muslims will soon become the dominant ethnic group in Europe, with Whites a minority in their own countries.

Coughlan goes through the statistical claims made in the video, and refutes them with the real statistics. At one point he shows that instead of Muslims immigrants to France having eight children for every one White French child, the real figure is much lower. Most Muslim immigrants to France come from Algeria, where the birthrate is actually 2.1, which isn’t far off the European average birthrate of 1.6 or whatever.

He also demolishes the claim that Muslims will soon outbreed ethnic Germans. The video does this by cherrypicking bits from an official demographic report compiled by Herr Rademacher of the German statistics department. Rademacher’s now joined the EU statistics department, and has made a statement about the abuse of his statistics in the video. He states that the real figures are much less, and that there is absolutely no chance of Muslims overtaking Germans. He is also understandably quite angry about his figures being so abused.

He also makes the point that rather than having just arrived in Britain fifty years, Muslims have been around for a very long time. He states that the first record of a Muslim in Britain dates from the 8th century.

Coughlan’s an atheist, and concludes the video by pointing to the video’s own ending, where it urges its viewers to share the Gospel. It is, according to him, a piece of fundamentalist Christian propaganda. He does this to attack those right-wing atheist vloggers and pundits on YouTube, that have promoted it, and criticizes them for using such a Christian piece of religious propaganda to support their anti-Muslim bigotry. As an atheist, he considers one equally as bad as the other.

I am very definitely not an atheist, and have absolutely no problems with any Christian wishing to share the Good News. However, this video is not about spreading the Gospel. It’s about creating a sense of impending panic and racial fear, a fear that can only lead to more extreme nationalism amongst White Europeans, religious and ethnic friction and violence.

I have therefore put this video up, because these pernicious demographic lies have been circulating for several years now, and are at the heart of much EDL and BNP propaganda. Both of these groups have claimed that due to the rise in the European Muslim populations, there will be a race war in the next decade as the Muslims seek to impose their dominance on the country by force. At the last election one of the Kipper politicos in Wiltshire had to resign because he repeated this vile lie.

Republicans Try to Block RT from Being Shown in US

The Republicans are up to their tricks again, trying to stop American audiences from taking their news from alternative sources and so getting a clearer, different picture from that the corporate media wishes to impose. In this report by Samira Khan from RTUK, Republican Senator John McCaine and one of his colleagues are trying to pass a bill, which would allow American network providers to avoid having to carry RT – Russia Today – in the US. The ostensible reason is that Russia is using the broadcaster, which is owned by the Russian state, to influence American politics. There’s a clip in the programme of various Republicans in Congress debating and complaining that too many Americans are getting their views from RT.

The programme notes that there are three other state-owned foreign broadcasters in the US. These are France 24, Al-Jazeera, which is owned by Qatar, and, of course, the Beeb. None of these will be subject to the McCaine’s and Graham’s bill.

I’m very much aware that RT is owned by Russia, which since the Second World War has been America’s ideological and geopolitical opponent. And, despite the Fall of Communism and the introduction of capitalism, Russia still is in geopolitical opposition to America. But the claims that Russia is interfering in US politics is pure rubbish.

This twaddle ultimately comes from Hillary Clinton and her attempts to blame everyone else for her failure and corruption at the elections. She claimed that the leaked emails from the Democratic National Convention, which showed how corrupt she was in her dealings with corporate backers, and how she and Debbie Wasserman Schultz unfairly manipulated the internal electoral process within the party to stop Bernie Sanders coming to power, came from the Russians. They weren’t. They came from disgruntled members of her own party.

As for the accusation that Russia was influencing US politics, there’s no evidence that they were doing so unduly, or at least, no more than they had been. And as William S. Blum has pointed out on his Anti-Empire Report, that’s a lot less than America has interfered in other countries. He has a whole list of the countries, in which America has interfered in their politics and elections, not counting those, which the US has actively invaded or organized or backed coups to overthrow liberal and left-wing, but not necessarily Marxist or even Socialist governments. And there are pages and pages on this in Blum’s book.

This is just another attempt by the political establishment to try and shut down alternative media, and stop the American people from finding out what their country is really doing. Not just around the world, but also to them. Thanks to both the establishment Democrats and the Republicans’ promotion of corporate interests, as Pat Mills observed in one of his talks on politics and comics, there are pockets of America which are like the Third World. And this is White America, never mind Blacks, who still remain much poorer.

The corporate establishment is panicking, both in America and over here in Blighty, because people are no longer buying the right-wing propaganda churned out by Fox News and MSNBC, or by a supine BBC over here, which has turned its news into a kind of British TASS for Conservatives. (TASS was the Soviet state news agency before the collapse of Communism). They’re taking their news from alternative sources, like the Real News Network, RT, Democracy Now!, The Young Turks, Secular Talk, the David Pakman Show, Sam Seder’s Majority Report in the US, RTUK over here, media commentators like Chunky Mark the Artist Taxi Driver, and a whole plethora of bloggers and vloggers. And they’re getting worried.

It’s why establishment journos in the press and on the Beeb are whining about how the decline of their sector of news gathering and publication means that there will no longer be a consensus view that broadly unites people of all shades of political opinion. What this actually translates into is a panic that they won’t be able to shape public opinion like they could. They argue this means that opinions are becoming increasingly polarized and oppositional. It also means that they’re afraid that they can’t shape public opinion for the benefit of their corporate proprietors like they used to, and without influence and declining sales they could see all that lucrative advertising money that keeps so many of them going, drying up.

And the giants of the internet are also panicking. It’s why Google is so keen to demonetize ‘controversial’ material on YouTube. The excuse is that they’re doing so to stop racist, Alt Right, Nazi and Islamist propaganda appearing on the platform. But as so much of what is demonetized extends to left-wing news outlets, like David Pakman, Sam Seder and Democracy Now!, this excuse is very spurious and flimsy indeed. Google has said it wants to prioritise corporate content. It’s therefore just another big corporation trying to silence the critics of the corporate capitalism that’s destroying the planet and impoverishing everyone in the world except the super-rich 1 per cent.

It’s also why Facebook has also changed its policy, so that bloggers like Mike over at Vox Political also find it hard to reach their audience.

People the world over aren’t buying the corporate, establishment propaganda. They are turning to alternative media, which includes Russia Today, to find out about what’s really going on. And the corporate media is terrified. Hence this wretched bill. And I’ve no doubt that if this gets through Congress, the Tories will try something similar over here. After all, RT is also over here, as is the Iranian state broadcaster, PressTV, and they also tell the British public facts and information that they really don’t want people to see. Like George Galloway talking about the oppression of the Palestinians in Israel, and western militarism and imperialism in eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Pat Mills Talks to Sasha Simic of the SWP about the Politics of 2000AD

This comes from the Socialist Workers’ Party, an organization of which I am not a member and which I don’t support. But this is another really great video, in which one of the great creators of the British comics for over forty years talks about politics, social class, the role of capitalism and women and feminism, not just in 2000AD, but also in comics and publishing generally, and the media.

Mills was speaking as part of annual four day convention the Socialist Workers hold on Marxism. Simic introduces himself as the person, who gets the annual geek slot. As well as a member of the party, he’s also a convener of USDAW. And he’s very happy in this, the centenary of the Russian Revolution, to have on Pat Mills.

Mills starts by saying that as he was growing up in the 50s and 60s, he read the same books everyone else did – John Buchan, Ian Fleming, Dennis Wheatley, Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlet Pimpernel. But there was something about it that made him angry, and it was only looking back on it that he came to realise that what infuriated him was the fact that these were all authors from the upper and middle classes, who created heroes from those class backgrounds. He makes the point that these were good writers, but that some of their work was very sinister the more you go into it. Like John Buchan. Buchan was the major propagandist of the First World War. Mills says that Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s infamous spin doctor, had nothing on him. He promoted the First world War, for which he was rewarded with the governorship of Canada.
He states that he doesn’t want to go too far into it as he’ll start ranting. Nevertheless, he’s glad to be able to talk to the people at the SWP’s convention, as it means they have a similar opinion to him, and he doesn’t have to censor himself.

He makes the point that there are very, very few working class heroes, and believes this is quite deliberate. It’s to deprive working people of a strong role. When the working people do appear, it’s as loyal batmen, or sidekicks, and there is an element of parody there. And it’s not just in comics and literature. In the 1980s he was contacted by the producers of Dr. Who to do a story. He wanted to have a working class spaceship captain. He was told by the script editor that they couldn’t. They also didn’t like his idea to have a working class family. It was only by looking back on where this hatred of the heroes of traditional literature came from, that he came to realise that it wasn’t just that he didn’t want to have any generals in his work.

He also talks about how it’s easier to get away with subversion in comics, as comics are treated as a trivial form of literature, which nobody really cares about. The profit motive also helps. So long as it’s making money, comics companies don’t care what’s going on. And this explains how he was able to get away with some of the things he did in Battle. He states that the way he works is by pretending to write something mainstream and inoffensive, and then subvert it from within. An example of that is Charley’s War in Battle. This looks like an ordinary war strip, but in fact was very anti-war. Even so, there were times when he had to be careful and know when to give up. One of these was about a story he wanted to run about the entry of the Americans into the War. In this story, a group of White American squaddies are members of the Klan, and try to lynch a Black soldier. Charley wades in to help the Black guy. The management rejected the story on the grounds that they didn’t want anything too controversial. Mills decided to draw in his horns and bite his tongue at that point, because he had a bigger story lined up about the British invasion of Russian in 1919, when we sent in 20-30,000 men. It was, he says, our Vietnam, and has been whitewashed out of the history books.

He also makes the point that subversion was also present in the girls’ comics. Even more so, as there was a psychological angle that wasn’t present in the boys’. For example, there was one story called ‘Ella in Easy Street’, where a young girl reacts against her aspirational family. They want to get on, and so the father has two jobs, and the mother is similarly working very hard to support their aspirations. But Ella herself is unhappy, as it’s destroying what they are as a family. And so she sets out to sabotage their yuppie dream. Mills says that it’s not all one-dimensional – he looks at the situation from both sides, pro and con, but the story makes the point that there are things that are more important that materialism and social advancement, like family, comradeship. He says that such a story could not be published now. It’s rather like The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, where the hero, in the end, throws the race as a way of giving the system the finger.

Mills reminds his audience just how massive girls’ comics were in the ’70s. They were bigger, much bigger, than the boys’. 2000AD sold 200,000 copies a week in its prime. But Tammy, one of the girls’ comics, sold 260,000. This is really surprising, as women read much more than we men. These comics have all disappeared. This, he says, is because the boys’ took over the sandpit. He has been trying to revive them, and so a couple of stories from Misty have been republished in an album.

This gets him onto the issue of reaching the audience, who really need it. In the case of the stories from Misty, this has meant that there are two serials on sale, both of which are very good, but in a book costing £17 – odd. The only people going to read that are the mothers of the present generation of girls, perhaps. To reach the girls, it needs to be set at a lower price they can afford. This is also a problem with the political material. If you write something subversive, it will receive glowing reviews but be bought by people, who already agree with you. He wants his message to get further out, and not to become a coffee table book for north London.

He talks about the way British comics have grown up with their readership, and the advantages and disadvantages this has brought. British comics has, with the exception of 2000AD, more or less disappeared, and the readership of that comic is in its 30s and 40s. People have put this down to demographics and the rise of computer games, saying that this was inevitable. It wasn’t. It was our fault, says Mills. We fumbled it. Games workshop still have young people amongst their audience, while the French also have computer games across the Channel, but their children are reading comics.

Mills goes on to say that it’s easier writing for adults. Writing for 9 and 10 year olds is much harder, because if they don’t like a story, they’ll say. He says to his audience that they may think the same way, but they’re much too polite to say it at conventions. And they had to respond to their young readers as well, as the kids voted on it every week. They’d tell you if they thought it was a bad story, even if you thought it was the best one so far, and asked yourself what was wrong with the little sh*ts.

He also talks about how difficult it is to break into comics. He has friends, who have been trying for decades to get into 2000AD, and have been unsuccessful. His advice to people trying to do so is: don’t bother. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s 2000AD. And this also effects text publishing. All the publishers have now been bought up, so that HarperCollins have the fingers in everything, such as Hodder and Stoughton. And their politics aren’t ours.

The way round this is to get into web publishing. Here he digresses and talks about pulp fiction, which is a close relative of comics. He was talking to a guy at a convention, who writes pulp fiction and puts it on the net. It only costs a few pence. The man writes about a zombie apocalypse, but – and this is true, as he’s seen the payment slips – he’s pulling in £3,000 a month. Mills says that this is important as well. He wants to get his material out there, but he also wants to eat. This shows you how you can make money publishing it yourself. Later on in the video, after the questions and the comments from the audience, he goes further into this. He mentions some of the web publishers, one of which is subsidiary of Amazon, which will allow people to publish their own work. He also talks about self-publishing and chapbooks. He found out about these while writing Defoe, his story about Leveller zombie killer in an alternative 17th century England. Chapbooks were so called because they were cheap books, the cheap literature of the masses. And this is what comics should go back to. He says that everyone should produce comics, in the same way that everyone can also make music by picking up an instrument and playing a few chords.

He also praises some of the other subversive literature people have self-produced. Like one piece satirizing the British army’s recruitment posters. ‘Join the army’, it says, ‘- like prison, but with more fighting’. Mills is fairly sure he knows who wrote that as well. It was another guy he met at a convention, who was probably responsible for the anti-war film on YouTube Action Man: Battlefield Casualties. He enormously admires this film, and is envious of the people, who made it.

He also talks about some of the fan letters he’s had. One was from the CEO of a school, he talks about the way reading 2000AD opened up his mind and changed his moral compass. The man says that everything he learned about Fascism, he learned from Judge Dredd, everything about racism from Strontium Dog, and feminism from Halo Jones. He and his headmaster, whom he names, were both punks and he’s now opened a school in Doncaster. The most subversive thing you can do now is to try to create an open-minded and questioning generation of young people. The letter is signed, yours, from a company director, but not an evil one, and then the gentleman’s name.

He concludes this part of the talk by describing the career of James Clarke, a member of the Socialist Labour Party, the Communist Party, a lion tamer and conscientious objector. During the War he ran escape lines for British squaddies in France. And people say that pacifists are cowards, Mills jokes. How much braver can you be than sticking your head in a lion’s mouth. He wrote a pamphlet defending a group of comrades, who tried to start the revolution by following the example of the Irish Nationalists and blow things up with a bomb. The pamphlet argued that this was wrong, and that if the working class wanted to gain power, they should concentrate on confronting capitalism through direct action. He also wrote poetry. Mills describes Clark as being a kind of Scots Tom Baker. One of these is a biting satire of Kipling’s If. The poem begins by asking if the reader can wake up every morning at 5 O’clock, or 4.30, and then labour at their machines, and see their wives and children suffer deprivation while those, who haven’t earned it take it all the profits, and describes the backbreaking grind of hard working life for the capitalist class in several stanzas. It ends with the statement that if you can do all that, and still be complacent, then go out, buy a gun and blow your brains out.

Clearly, I don’t recommend any actually do this, but it is a witty and funny response to Kipling’s poem. I found it hugely funny, and I do think it’s a great response to what was voted Britain’s favourite poem by the Beeb’s viewers and readers a few years ago. Can you imagine the sheer Tory rage that would erupt if someone dared to recite it on television!

Many of the comments are from people thanking Mills for opening their eyes and for writing such great stories. They include a man, who describes how Mills’ works are on his shelf next to his copy of Das Kapital. Another man describes how he used to buy 2000AD just after going to church on Sunday. So after listening to some very boring sermons, he came back from Baptist chapel to read all this subversion. One young woman says that the zines – the small press magazines, that appeared in the 1990s – seem to be still around, as she has seen them at punk concerts. Another young woman says that although comics are seen as a boys’ thing, when she goes into Forbidden Planet near her, there are always three girls in there and two boys. She also talks about how many young women read Japanese manga. Mills states in reply that manga stories generally are light and frothy, and so not the kind of stories he wants to write. But as for women in comics, he says that he spoken several times to students on graphic novel courses, and each time about 75 per cent of them have been women, which is good.

He also talks about Crisis and Action. The Third World War strip in Crisis was about the politics of food, and was set in a world where food production was dominated by a vast multinational formed by the merger of two of today’s megacorporations. Mills states that when the strip covered what was going on in South America, that was acceptable. However, at one point he moved the story to Brixton, finding a Black co-writer to help with the story. At that point, the White Guardian-reading liberals started to be uncomfortable with it. There was also a story in which Britain leaves the EU. This results in the rise of a Fascist dictatorship, and the EU responds by invading Britain. Mills says that he’s been trying to get Crisis relaunched, but the company are stringing him along with excuses, probably because it’s easier than arguing with him.

Mills obviously did the right thing by finding a Black co-writer. Marvel suffered a barrage of criticism with some of their attempts to launch a series of Black superheroes, like the Black Panther as part of the Blaxploitation wave of the 1970s. The Black Panther was particularly criticized. The creators were old, White dudes, who didn’t understand urban Black culture, even if the comics themselves were sincere in presenting a sympathetic view of Black Americans and combating racism.

He also talks briefly about Action, and the controversy that caused. What really upset Mary Whitehouse and the rest was ‘Kid’s Rule UK’, a strip in which a disease killed everyone over 16, and Britain was inhabited solely by warring street gangs. Mills used to take the same train from where he was living at the time with Mary Whitehouse. He said he was editing a Hookjaw script at the time, and notice Whitehouse over the other side of the carriage looking daggers at him. So he put in more carnage and more arms and legs being bitten off.

One of the most interesting questions is about the politics and morality of Judge Dredd. Dredd is a fascist, and in one of the strips it seemed to take the side of authority over subversion with no irony. This was in a story about the punks taking over Megacity 1. At the end of the strip, Dredd gets hold of the leader, and makes him say, ‘I’m a dirty punk.’ Mills actually agrees with the speaker, and says that there are people, who take Dredd as a role-model. He’s had letters from them, which he doesn’t like. He doesn’t know what these people do. Perhaps they have their own chapterhouse somewhere. He went cold inside when he heard about the story. It wasn’t one of his. It was by John Wagner, who isn’t at all political, but is very cynical, so this has some of the same effects of politics. But 75 per cent of Dredd comes from Mills. Mills states that it’s a flawed character, and that can be seen in why the two Dredd films never did well at the box office. Dredd was based on a particular teacher at his old school, as was Torquemada, the Grand Master of Termight, a genocidally racist Fascist military feudal order ruling Earth thousands of years in the future. They were both two sides of the same coin. That was why he enjoyed humiliating Torquemada. But it isn’t done with Dredd. Yet it could have been different, and there could be instances where people have their revenge on Dredd without losing the power of the character. He states that it was because Chopper did this in the story ‘Unamerican Graffiti’, that this became the favourite Dredd story of all time.

It’s a fascinating insight into the politics of the comics industry. The zines and other self-published small magazines he describes were a product of the Punk scene, where people did start putting together their own fanzines in their bedrooms. It was part of the mass creativity that punk at its height unleashed. As for the web comics, he talks about a couple that he finds particularly impressive, including those by the author of the dystopian science fiction story Y – the Last Man, set in a future in which all the men in the world have been killed by another disease. A number of my friends used to publish their own small press magazines in the 1990s, as did Mike. Mike started his own, small press comic, Violent, as an homage to Action when it was that comics anniversary. Mike was helped by some of the artists and writers from 2000AD, and so some of the tales are very professional. But probably not for delicate, gentle souls.

Amongst SF fandom, chapbooks are small books which another publishes himself. And they have been the route some professionally published authors have taken into print. Stephen Baxter is one of them. I think his Xelee stories first appeared in a chapbook he sold at one of the SF conventions.

Looking back at Kids Rule UK, this was my least favourite strip in Action. I was bullied at school, and so the idea of a Britain, where everything had broken down and there was nothing but bullying and juvenile violence really scared me. Action took many of its strips from the popular culture of the time. Hookjaw was basically Jaws. One-Eyed Jack seemed based very much on the type of hard-boiled American cop shows, if not actually Dirty Harry. One of the SF movies of the late sixties was about an America in which teenagers had seized power, and put all the adults in concentration camps were they were force-fed LSD. One of the four Star Trek stories that were banned on British television until the 1980s was ‘Miri’. In this tale, Kirk, Spock and the others beam down to a planet occupied entirely by children, as all the ‘grups’ – the adults – have been killed by disease. Kids Rule UK seems very much in the same vein as these stories.

Mills’ story about Dr. Who not wanting to show a working class family, let alone a spaceship captain, shows how far the series has come when it was relaunched by Russell T. Davis. Christopher Eccleston basically played the Doctor as northern and working class, wile Rose Tyler’s family and friends were ordinary people in a London tower block. As for not wanting to show a working class spaceship captain, that probably comes from very ingrained class attitudes in the aviation industry. A friend of mine trained as a pilot. When he was studying, their tutor told the class that the British exam included a question no other country in the world required, and which was particularly difficult. He stated that it was put there to weed out people from working or lower middle class backgrounds, as they would fail and not be able to retake the exam, as their competitors from the upper classes could.

It’s great to hear Mills encourage people try to produce their own work, and not be disheartened if they are rejected by mainstream publishers. I’m also saddened by the absence of any comics for children. They offered me when I was a lad an escape into a whole world of fun and imagination. And at their best, they do encourage children to take an interest in real issues like racism, sexism, bigotry and exploitation. I hope some way can be found to reverse their disappearance.

Counterpunch: Bernie Sanders Outlines His Plans for ‘Medicare for All’

Today’s Counterpunch has a piece by the radical, progressive Democratic politician, Bernie Sanders, reblogged from the New York Times. In it, Sanders discusses the outrageous scandal that 28 million Americans have no medical coverage, despite the fact that their country spends more on healthcare than almost any other nation. He points out that this is because the insurance-based healthcare system is designed not to give Americans access to decent healthcare, but to enrich the companies’ executives and shareholders. He describes how many Americans cannot afford healthcare, and are forced to cut down on the drugs they need, simply because they cannot pay for them. He argues that the experience of Canada, and the Medicare programme brought fifty years ago, both show that single-payer healthcare is cheap, popular and effective.

He states that he intends to introduce a bill for Medicare for All into Congress next Wednesday, and outlines how he envisages an initial four year transition period from the current American system. He also makes it plain that there will be concerted opposition to his proposal.

His piece begins

This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care to every person as a human right? Or do we maintain a system that is enormously expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic, and is designed to maximize profits for big insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street and medical equipment suppliers?

We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need. This is not what the United States should be about.

All over this country, I have heard from Americans who have shared heartbreaking stories about our dysfunctional system. Doctors have told me about patients who died because they put off their medical visits until it was too late. These were people who had no insurance or could not afford out-of-pocket costs imposed by their insurance plans.

I have heard from older people who have been forced to split their pills in half because they couldn’t pay the outrageously high price of prescription drugs. Oncologists have told me about cancer patients who have been unable to acquire lifesaving treatments because they could not afford them. This should not be happening in the world’s wealthiest country.

Americans should not hesitate about going to the doctor because they do not have enough money. They should not worry that a hospital stay will bankrupt them or leave them deeply in debt. They should be able to go to the doctor they want, not just one in a particular network. They should not have to spend huge amounts of time filling out complicated forms and arguing with insurance companies as to whether or not they have the coverage they expected.

Even though 28 million Americans remain uninsured and even more are underinsured, we spend far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation. In 2015, the United States spent almost $10,000 per person for health care; the Canadians, Germans, French and British spent less than half of that, while guaranteeing health care to everyone. Further, these countries have higher life expectancy rates and lower infant mortality rates than we do.

Please go to the Counterpunch site and read the whole article. It’s at:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/14/why-we-need-medicare-for-all/

The state and state-funded healthcare systems of the European countries have contributed immensely to their people’s health and wellbeing, ever since Bismarck introduced it in Germany in 1875 in an attempt to steal working class votes away from the socialist SDP.

And it’s driving the Reaganites and Thatcherites of the corporate sector up the wall, because it denies them so much of the juicy profits that comes from the insurance-driven sector. That’s why the Tories over here have been privatizing the NHS piecemeal by stealth ever since the days of Maggie Thatcher. It’s why the corporate bosses of the big healthcare firms, like the fraudster Unum, came over here at the beginning of New Labour’s tenure in office to lobby Blair to privatize the NHS.

And it’s part of the reason the Blairites, Tories and Lib Dems, and their paymasters in big business and lackeys in the media, including the Beeb, fear and hate Jeremy Corbyn, as the Republicans and the corporatist Democrats around Hillary Clinton despise Bernie Sanders in the US.

Any civilized country has to demand proper medicine for its people, regardless of the demands of the corporatists to keep it the expensive privilege of the affluent. So, go Bernie! And may Corbyn also win in his fight to renationalize the NHS.

French workers protest Macron’s labour reform – and the troika’s arrival in Paris

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 9:00pm in

Tags 

articles, france

Yesterday, French labour unions mobilised in the streets of France against President Macron’s push to deregulate the labour market. Macron’s move is much more than a simple ideological battle of how to best attack France’s unemployment – it takes place in a wider European context, that deserves exploring.

Three years ago, then French President Hollande, as if asking for clemency, said: “Don’t ask us to do in five years … what our German friends did in more than ten years in a much more favourable economic setting and without any constraint from the public deficit.” At the time, Berlin was growing impatient with Paris’ reluctance to mimic its own labour market reforms, and was pressuring France to make similar moves. These “structural” reforms reflected Europe’s new paradigm of austerity and neoliberal convergence, which were aimed at two things.

First, to disguise wage ‘moderation’, the obliteration of hard-won labour rights and the decimation of trade unions under the false promises of boosting employment, fostering entrepreneurship and allowing for investment to flourish as a result.

Second, and most critically, to harmonise French labour market “flexibility” with Germany as part of Wolfgang Schäuble’s ultimate plan for Europe: to prepare the ground for the de facto installation of a troika directorate in Paris and other European capitals.

Ahead of the German elections later this month, President Macron isn’t apologetic at all: he will push his neoliberal labour reform at once – and its subsequent and inevitable welfare state restructuring – to pave the way for Schäuble’s plan.

Macron was elected fully aware of Schäuble’s plan for Europe. His counter-plan was to make a deal with Chancellor Merkel: to deliver a Germanised French labour market (which some French corporations would eagerly embrace) in exchange for a ‘federation-lite’ (including a small common budget, 1% of eurozone GDP, some Eurobonds, funding some federal investment projects and possibly a federal unemployment and bank deposit insurance).

DiEM25 criticised this proposed deal as a Faustian bargain: We argued that, even if Macron Germanised French labour, Merkel would not deliver the ‘federation-lite’. She would make promises but then take them back. But even if she did, in the end, buckle, Macron would waste all his political capital to effect a federation-lite that is macroeconomically and socially insignificant. Once citizens realised that, he would be toast.

Things have already turned out far, far worse than we expected. Merkel, Schäuble but also Schultz rejected out of hand Macron’s federation-lite. Gone! Instead, they are proposing that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should be transformed into a souped-up European Monetary Fund: i.e., a bailout fund (like the IMF) with an additional capacity to lend monies for the purpose of some investment and unemployment benefit payments.

For some this sounded much like Macron’s idea: a common fund for eurozone member-states paying for investment and insurance. Not so! The ESM has the same, exact, structure as… the Eurogroup. Indeed, its governors are the Eurogroup members! Moreover, for every euro it pays to a country, it does so on condition that its expenditure is reviewed by the troika (which they call the Euro Working Group) and comes with strings attached. This means something startling: For France or Italy to benefit from this ‘reformed’ ESM-EMF, they will have to subject themselves to… the troika.

Conclusion 1: Schäuble’s plan, which was always about taking the troika to Paris and to Rome, is alive and kicking. And the worst? Our sources tell us that the bureaucrats Macron has surrounded him with have convinced him that the ESM-EMF is a decent idea.

Conclusion 2: Macron is finished. Yesterday, DiEM25 members fought on the streets of Paris, and will continue to fight throughout Europe! Our European New Deal must be our discursive weapon and our members our soldiers.

French workers are right to protest, as they understand these reforms are proving devastating everywhere they have been implemented; they need only look at Spain to know what’s coming: the institutionalising of the polarisation in the job market, the weakening of the position of work and organised labour, and de facto downgrading of working conditions, especially for the young.

Ultimately, however, what needs to be recognised is that this continued exercise of pandering to big business by maximising its profitability at the expense of impoverishing workers and stripping them of their hard-won rights is only a consequence of the Schäuble plan to rid the EU of its core values and quash its peoples’ democratic yearning. Conquering Paris with the troika landing in the Élysée palace is key to this plan’s success.

 

Critical voices in critical times: Fanon, race & politics - an interview with Mireille Fanon-Mendès France (part 1 of 2)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/09/2017 - 6:03pm in

Mireille
Fanon-Mendès France, activist, scholar, and daughter of Frantz Fanon, talks about the enduring relevance of his ideas and passions in
contemporary political life.

The Fanon artwork by Gaber at http://gaberism.net/ portrait of Mireille Fanon-Mendes France by Linda Herrera.

The work and life of
Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), whose incisive and visionary work on
revolution, liberation, race, emancipation, and decolonization,
continues to resonate in these “interesting” times. Who better to
talk about the enduring relevance of Fanon’s ideas and passions in
contemporary political life then his formidable daughter, Mireille
Fanon-Mendès France. In addition to being an authority on Fanon,
Fanon-Mendès France is a scholar of decolonialism, UN expert on
people of African descent, legal advisor in a law firm in France, and
human rights activist
on Palestine

and other places where the right to self-determination is in
question. She also works on issues of land tenure in countries where
people were enslaved and indigenous people annihilated after
colonization. She is a member of the Frantz
Fanon Foundation
.
Her most recent article is, “Charlottesville,
un rassemblement, une question allant bien au-delà des Etats Unis.

We met in the
Luxemburg Garden in Paris on
June 9, 2017 for
a conversation about Fanon, populism, race, migration, policing, new
social movements, and education. Above all, we pondered if and how
the kind of emancipatory movements that rose with such force half a
century ago during the anti-colonial and civil rights movements,
could have a chance in an era of policed and neoliberal
globalization.

This interview and
accompanying videos is in two parts.

 

 

 

How is the work
and writing of Frantz Fanon relevant today?

What
Fanon began to do as an activist, psychiatrist, and journalist, was
to find the way to free the people from alienation, colonial
alienation and, in the case of Fanon, social and mental alienation.
He was not alone. We have to underline, he was not the only one doing
that. In the 1960s there was a movement. We can think of [Patrice]
Lumumba (1925-1961), and also Steve Biko (1946-1977). But he was the
only psychiatrist linking his professional practice to his activism
and his thinking. We can speak of Fanon as
thought in action, this is one of his unique features.

[These figures] tried
to free the people of alienation, but they did not succeed [in
completing] the process of liberation. What they got was the
liberation of people, but not their emancipation.  We have to
think now about how to get the emancipation of people in order to
have a free Being, non-alienated, emancipated, and non-racialized,
non-stigmatized for reasons of skin color, gender, sex, class,
religion, or whatever the reason. And that’s why the work
introduced by Fanon is still relevant. Because in fact, his work is
not done. He thought about the first steps of this process of
emancipation. He was thinking about issues like women, and role of
the veil among Muslim women. He was thinking about what does it mean
to be a Being? The question of universality. Is there a real
universality or a “colonial universality”? Is it a “decolonial”
universality, or colonial? Until now, there is only colonial, not a
decolonial universality. We need now to find answers to all these
questions he raised.  

We [have to be
cognizant] that we are asking these questions from within a
financialized and militarized system that took shape after World War
II. This system tends to [divide humans] into “Beings,” and
“Non-Beings.” This universality we speak of denotes a colonial
perception of the world. In fact, it has become clear that the
capitalist world was built on a series of lies which are being
constantly repeated. They become truths through the international
community and its multilateral institutions, and also by a large part
of civil society.

There has been a
continuous wave of uprisings and popular movements around the world
since the Arab Uprisings of 2010/2011. Do you think we are in an era
of emancipatory movements, or are they something else?

In most of our
societies, people are ready to carry on and work for social
transformation, to break the divide of Beings / Non-Beings [but they
don’t know the way]. The financialization of the world
unfortunately even negatively impacts the way people live and think.
I think now people want to see some change, but I don’t think they
want to have political change. They want to see change for [the sake
of] change, but not for a strong project for social transformation.
[That’s
why I think] people don’t
care about social transformation. I really think they only care about
some small change at the political level. For example, to be able to
watch someone else on the television, [different from] the formal
politicians we have in France, the US, and other countries. We
are no longer in a society that fundamentally values human
emancipation. We are in a society of illusion, built from the past
but with more cynicism.

It
is in this narrowing space, in this time of decline, that populist
movements emerge. It’s very dangerous because these [populists] are
not in favor of the people. They are in favor of a certain part of
the society, and particularly in favor of the Being. Their concern is
with rich people, the powerful people, and how to keep the power
between them. Their objective is not to share the power, to see for
example, a participatory democracy, the application of fundamental
rights or environmental [issues]. They are not concerned about these
things. They give us just some carrots to eat. But just some very
small carrots to say we are happy, and it’s okay. But really, they
are just concerned with how they can keep the money and use the
system to work more in their favor, for their own profit.

You
can take the last US and French elections as examples. A lot of
people voted for Trump. He is a very dangerous person, and absolutely
unpolitical. He knows nothing about fundamental rights, not even
about human rights. Really, he does not know anything. He is very
focused on himself and his family. And in France there’s Macron.
He’s just a technocrat. He does not know about politics either. I
think the people who elected Trump and Macron made a huge mistake.
And for me, I am now hopeless. I don’t see how we can transform
this kind of situation. It will take a long time.

This
type of election has an impact on the mental health of a society. The
members of society feel themselves dispossessed of their intelligence
and of their right to think. The
question becomes, how we can find a space where thought can be
reconstructed and people allowed to think? In the meantime, we are in
a depressed state and somewhat hopeless.

In France, many
people supported Emmanuel Macron for president even if they opposed
his policies. They considered the far right National Front party,
Marine
Le Pen
,
more dangerous.

 I disagree
totally with all these people who were saying we should vote for
Macron because we don’t want Marine Le Pen.  If we decide to
vote for Macron in order to avoid having Le Pen as president, it
could be a solution. But then we [would have needed] to negotiate
with Macron, to say, “We are not in favor of your policies. We
refuse your policies. But we know we need to be behind you in order
to avoid Marine Le Pen.” But without any negotiation, the people
gave Macron the carte
blanche
.
And now Macron considers that the people support him. And he’s very
happy with that. He’s doing political games. Politics now is like
an internet game, [trying to have stories go viral]. 

I’m
sure he’s absolutely not aware about African descent here or what
it means to be racialized in this country where there is this stupid
slogan, “vivre
ensemble

(live together). That means absolutely nothing. They have individual
projects for their own interests, not for the good of the people. We
really shouldn’t wait for anything [positive] from them. Presidents
like Trump, Macron, and many others around the world, are very
destructive.

At the same time
as the rise of “anti-political” populists, we also have the rise
of more left-leaning figures like Bernie Sanders in the US and
Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France. Do you think they represent a
different kind of political project with possible emancipatory
elements?

For
me, Mélenchon is absolutely not at the same level as Bernie Sanders.
I don’t know Bernie Sanders very well, beyond what I read, but if I
make some comparison with Mélenchon, I can say Mélenchon for me is
not an alternative.
I do not see in him any real change of approach, or something
substantially different than what we have had in government for
decades. He’s
a nationalist, a chauvinist, and sometimes expresses curious
understandings of Islam and the Arab world. And even if during his
presidential campaign he took some lessons to appear politer and
[more politically correct], in fact, he has a background of verbal
violence. By this I mean he is
above all oriented by a “white” perception of the world, shaped
by European Modernity.

He’s
not concerned with [suffering] people and he does not know anything
about Africa. He knows of course about politics in South America, but
not about the largest part of the population, those Non-Beings in
South America. And here I’m speaking about people of African
descent. He knows nothing about the continent of Africa and nothing
about Asia, about India. He repeats things like, “China is the
enemy.” No, China is not the enemy. We have to deal with China. We
have to work with China to build a decolonial and social approach,
and not an approach based on hierarchy and domination.  For me,
this moment is really like a nightmare and every morning I ask
myself, “Oh, how is the world today? Is it the end?” Not in terms
of armed war, but in terms of war against the human being.

How has France
remained intertwined with countries of the African cont
inent?

The African continent
is still
under
colonization. We just have to note that it’s a new form of
colonization. It is under colonization not only by former colonizing
countries, but by the IMF, the World Bank, European Bank, European
commission, the European Union. Europe pays the salaries of the
functionaries of the African Union and imposes bilateral agreements
that are unfair and wrong.

One of the reasons
[France] is a rich country, though we have a lot of debt, is because
of the money given by the African states to manage their
own money
.
[This money is] coming from Africa. … And it’s terrible. 
Francophone states in Africa are obliged to pay a kind of tax from
colonial times. If they don’t, they are expelled from the CFA
[franc currency] system.Nobody thinks about that. And there is not
one current president from these 14 African countries ready to say to
France, “Ok, stop now. Enough is enough.” And really, they have
to do that if they want to work for their populations. Because by
accepting [these conditions], they accept that France transnationals
and private funds can plunder Africa’s natural resources without
any redistribution. You can see how transnational capital succeeds
with the help of [African] states to plunder the natural resources
and steal the lands. You see this in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda,
throughout southern Africa. It’s terrible to see how the population
is expelled from their lands in the interest of just a few. This
plundering partly explains the high level of poverty. Europe, the
“white world,” needs Africa’s and South America’s natural
resources to live. It needs to continue to do what it wants and to
exploit the world for its own profit. 

We need a strong
African continent in order to balance political international
relations and to have a real third force. We need a third force. We
cannot leave these [destructive] Occidental countries to do what they
want, to bring war everywhere. Because they put all people in danger
and they push the world to its fall.

Mireille Fanon-Mendes France, 2017 Picture by Linda Herrera.Do
you have ideas about how to build a “third force”?

It’s
always difficult because if there is something on Africa, it’s not
coming from Africans. It’s coming always from abroad, from the
“experts.” If you go to Africa you will find lots of people who
can speak about the future of Africa. They have projects. They have
political ideas. And they’re absolutely able to think about their
future. But the former colonizing countries do not want to see such
people. They don’t care. More or less they are considered as
enemies. And related to that, one of Frantz Fanon’s concerns in
the beginning of 1960s, the main objective and obsession for him, was
how to build African Unity without the former colonizer. Otherwise,
if you maintain the former colonizer in one way or another, you are
still under colonization. And it is the reality now. This continent
is still under colonization.

How can returning
to the work of Fanon help us to tackle some of these contemporary
issues in Africa and beyond?

Fanon is helping us
because he forces us to not renounce the project of emancipation. He
forces us to go further and continue his work. In fact, when you
read, The
Wretched of the Earth

(1961) or L'an
V de la révolution algérienne

(1959) (A
Dying Colonialism
),
there is some thinking on the evolution of the coming world, but via
the African continent. He anticipated that if the African continent
did not build unity, their liberation movements would fail. And this
is exactly where we are [today]. And that’s a problem also because
the African continent is not the continent we need to balance
international relations.

But
now, I don’t know how we can proceed. Really, I don’t know. It’s
a difficult situation. Here in France we are under a State of
Emergency. It means our private and public liberties are really
reduced and anyone can be arrested. For example, if someone here
passes and understands we are speaking about emancipation or
whatever, and he misunderstands something, he can go to the police.
We could be denounced. And we could be arrested under the fiche
S

[as a threat to national security.] And with no access to a lawyer
for 72 hours.

And
when there is a demonstration, like the COP21, (global
climate conference in Paris
in
November-December 2015), a lot of people [roughly 200]  were
arrested, without any reason. Without any tangible proof, just based
on denouncement, suspicion. And people are afraid. The consequence
now is that people are afraid to be engaged. It takes a lot more
courage now to be engaged. That wasn’t the case before, it was much
easier. Today to be active requires
a double commitment: a commitment to solidarity, but also a
commitment to be willing to give up your freedom for the collective
good.

There
is also an anxiety that permeates this elitist and financialized
world order, that of losing one's work or of never finding work to
begin with. And this is especially true for young people. Most
of the people are living with anxiety. And in this way, the dominant
class succeeds to win and to impose the kind of life they want, to
control the people.

I’m
thinking, related to Fanon, what Fanon said about colonization and
how it affects the colonized people. Now, we are in the same
situation but not because of colonization, but because of
globalization. They succeed to maintain in all of us a high level of
anxiety, of fear. For example, walking in the public space we don’t
know if we will have an attack, or whatever. And then there’s the
instability with work, the difficulty to get good healthcare, a
quality education for your children, whatever. At every level of life
you are under anxiety. Because with globalization, if you are out of
the globalization system, you may
be considered or feared to be out,
totally out of life. And for people, the most important thing is to
be maintained inside this globalization system. It’s functioning
exactly like the colonized system. I think really, we have to think
like that—what Fanon said about colonization, how it could be
applied to the globalization system. Really very intelligent
(laughs). It’s just because we have an interview [I came up with
this idea]. I did not think about this before that.

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Dr Gerald Horne on Trump as the Product of the Racist History of the US

This is another fascinating video from Telesur English. It’s from an edition of the Empire Files, in which the host, Abby Martin, interviews Dr. Gerald Horne, the chair of History and African American Studies at the University Houston. Dr. Horne is the author of 20 books on slavery and black liberation movements. The blurb for the video on YouTube states that his most recent work is The Counterrevolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States.

The video is just over half an hour long, and it completely overturns the entire myth of the founding of the United States, in which the Founding Fathers were noble idealists, intent on bringing about a truly democratic state in which all men would be free. In fact the opposite was true. The Founding Fathers were either slave-owners, or else otherwise deeply connected to slavery and slave trade through their business interests. Instead of noble liberators for everyone, they were deeply opposed to granting Black Americans their freedom.

Dr. Horne argues that they were the products of British imperialism and its slave trade, which was first introduced into the Caribbean and then shifted north to the English colonies in North America. He traces the history of Black enslavement and anti-Black racist movements from the American Revolution to the American Civil War, and thence to the formation of successive waves of the Klan. His intention is to show that Trump is not an historical aberration, a strange historical throwback on America’s long progress to freedom and liberty, but a product of America’s racist history and the mass support anti-Black movements have enjoyed and exploited throughout it.

The programme begins by explaining the background to the Confederate monuments, which the Unite the Right stormtroopers marched to defend in Charlottesville the week before last. These were not simply memorials to great generals or valiant soldiers, as the myth around them says. Most of the Confederate monuments in the US were erected in two periods – the period of Jim Crow in the 1920s and ’30s, when the segregation laws were being introduced, and the 1950s when the Civil Rights movement was beginning. They were set up to convey a very specific message: that while Black Americans were technically free, the ‘Negro’ had better know his place beneath the White man. Or else.

He then goes on to describe the emergence of slavery in the US. He states that Britain at the end of the 16th century was ‘a failed state’. The British Civil War of the 1640s between Charles I and parliament was a quasi-bourgeois revolution, which gave some rights to the British merchant and middle classes. The real bourgeois revolution was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which allowed the middle classes to exert more political control, and allowed British merchants to wrest control of the slave trade away from the Crown as a royal monopoly.

The most important part of the British empire in the New World at the time was the Caribbean, and particularly Jamaica. These colonies became immensely profitable due to sugar. However, in the 1720s there was an economic crisis in Caribbean slavery, so some of the major Caribbean slaveowners moved north, to Carolina and other parts of the US. It was from these slave-owning families that the Founding Fathers were descended.

Horne also briefly discusses the role north American slavery played in the definition of White identity. Back in Europe, the different European peoples saw themselves as members of separate nations – English, Irish, Scots, French, Germans and so on. it was only when they crossed the Atlantic to America that they created an overarching racial identity to differentiate them from their Black slaves.

Horne then goes on to argue that the major catalyst for the American Revolution was the American colonists’ frustration at the British governments attempts to limit slavery and stop further colonial expansion beyond the Alleghenies. One of the critical moments in this was the Somerset Case, which ruled that slavery was illegal in England. The ruling was expanded to Scotland a year later. The taxes against which the Boston Tea Party was staged included those levied on slaves. They had been imposed by the British government as a deliberate anti-slavery measure. The British government was also tired of expending men and treasure in the various wars against the continent’s indigenous peoples. This angered the colonists, who longed to expand and seize native American land to the west. One of those, who stood to make a profit from this, was George Washington, who was a land speculator. As indeed, in a curious historical parallel, is Donald Trump. The Founding Fathers also feared and hated Black Americans, because the British had given their freedom to all Black Americans, who remained loyal. As a result, the Black Americans were solidly behind the British against the emerging independence movement.

Dr. Horne then goes on to talk about the American Civil War, and Lincoln’s emancipation of the slaves held by the Southern states. Horne points out that it was felt at the time that Lincoln had somehow broken the rules of war, and done the unthinkable by arming the slaves. As for Lincoln himself, he didn’t have much sympathy with them, and was considering deporting them after the end of the war. Horne goes on to discuss how the deportation of Americans of African descent continued to be discussed and planned at various periods in American history afterwards. It was yet again discussed in the 1920s, when there was a movement to deport them back to Africa.

After the ending of slavery in American following the defeat of the South, many of the American slave-owners and traders fled abroad, to continue their business overseas. Several went to South America, including Brazil, while others went to Cuba.

After the Civil War came the period of reconstruction, and the foundation of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 19th century. Horne also talks about the lynching movement during this period of American history, which continued into the early 20th centuries. Not only were these intended to terrorise Black Americans to keep them in their place, but at the time they also were also almost like picnics. Photographs were taken and sold of them, and White spectators and participants would cut the fingers off the body and keep them as souvenirs. Dr. Horne remarks that, sadly, some White homes still have these digits even today.

He also talks about the massive influence D.W. Griffith’s viciously racist Birth of a Nation had on the Klan, boosting its membership. Klan groups began to proliferate. In Michigan, one branch of the Klan concentrated on fighting and breaking trade unions. Later, in the 1950s, the Klan entered another period of resurgence as a backlash against the Civil Rights campaign.

Horne makes the point that in this period, the Klan was by no means a marginal organization. It had a membership in the millions, including highly influential people in several states. And the Klan and similar racist organisations were not just popular in the South. The various pro-slavery and anti-Black movements also had their supporters in the North since the time of the Civil War. He also argues that the campaign against segregation was extremely long, and there was considerable resistance to Black Americans being given equality with Whites.

He also states that one of the influences behind the emergence of the Alt-Right and the revival of these latest Fascist and White supremacist movements was the election of Barak Obama as the first Black president of the US. Obama was subject to rumours that he was really Kenyan, with the whole ‘birther’ conspiracy theories about his passport, because he was Black, and so couldn’t be a proper American. And it is this bitter hostility to Obama, and the perceived threat to White America which he represents, that has produced Trump.

Watching this video, I was reminded of Frederick Douglas’ great speech, What To the Slave is the Fourth of July? Douglas was a former slave and a major voice for abolition in America. His speech noted how hollow the rhetoric about the Founding Fathers protecting Americans from slavery under the British, when they themselves remained slaves in reality.

He’s right about the rule of the sugar economy in saving the British colonies in the Caribbean, though from my own reading about slavery in the British Empire, what saved these colonies first was tobacco. It was the first cash crop, which could easily be grown there.

The role opposition to the British government’s refusal to allow further colonial expansion in provoking the American Revolution has also been discussed by a number of historians. One book I read stated that British colonial governors were encouraged to intermarry with the indigenous peoples. Thus, one of the governors on the British side actually had cousins amongst one of the Amerindian nations. The same book also described how the British granted their freedom to Black loyalists. After their defeat, the British took them to Canada. Unfortunately, racism and the bleak climate led them to being deported yet again to Sierra Leone. There were also Black loyalists settled in the British Caribbean colonies. One report on the state of colony instituted by its new governor in the early 19th century reported that the former Black squaddies were settled in several towns, governed by their own N.C.O.s under military discipline. These Black Americans were orderly and peaceful, according to the report.

As for the former American slave traders, who emigrated to Latin America, this is confirmed by the presence of one of the witnesses, who appeared before the British parliament in the 1840s, Jose Estebano Cliffe, who was indeed one of the émigré merchants.

Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks have also described the horrors of the lynchings in the Deep South, including the picnic, celebratory aspect to these atrocities. They made the point that if news reports today said that similar lynchings had been carried out by Arabs in the Middle East, Americans would vilify them as savages. But that attitude doesn’t extend to those savages in the US, who carried out these atrocities against Blacks.

It’s worth mentioning here that Blacks weren’t the only victims of lynching. Tariq Ali in an interview in the book Confronting the New Conservatism about the Neocons states that in Louisiana in the 1920, more Italians were lynched than Blacks.

The video’s also worth watching for some of the images illustrating Dr. Horne’s narrative. These include not only paintings, but also contemporary photograph. Several of these are of the slaves themselves, and there is a fascinating picture of a group of Black squaddies in uniform from the Civil War. I found this particularly interesting, as the photographer had captured the character of the soldiers, who had different expressions on their faces. Some appear cheerful, others more suspicious and pessimistic.

There’s also a very chilling photograph of people at a lynching, and it’s exactly as Dr. Horne says. The picture shows people sat on the grass, having a picnic, while a body hangs from a tree in the background. This is so monstrous, it’s almost incredible – that people should calmly use the murder of another human being as the occasion of a nice day out.

This is the history the Republican Party and the Libertarians very definitely do not want people to read about. Indeed, I put up a piece a little while ago at a report on one of the progressive left-wing news programmes on YouTube that Arizona was deliberately suppressing materials about racism, slavery and segregation in its schools, and making students read the speeches of Ronald Reagan instead. As for the removal of Confederate monuments, right-wing blowhard and sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly, formerly of Fox News, has already started making jokes about how ‘they’ want to take down statues of George Washington. Nobody does, and the joke shows how little O’Reilly really understands, let alone cares about the proper historical background behind them. I’ve no doubt that Dr. Horne’s interpretation of history would be considered by some an extreme view, but it is grounded in very accurate historical scholarship. Which makes it an important counterbalance to the lies that the Republicans and Libertarians want people to believe about the country and its history.

DiEM25 anti-austerity campaign France 2017

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/09/2017 - 1:20am in

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We promised Macron that if he “becomes merely another functionary of Europe’s deep establishment we will oppose him... ” Now the time has come to do exactly that.

Julien Mattia/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved.

When
France was heading the presidential election, DiEM25 published a statement
related to Macrons candidacy. We promised to “mobilize fully to help” him defeating Marine le Pen. But there was
also another part to our promise to Macron: if he “becomes merely another functionary of Europe’s deep establishment we will oppose him no less energetically than
we are – or should be – opposing Le Pen now
.”

Now the time has come to do exactly that!

The
overall thrust of Macron's labour reforms is to continue the process of
“ultra-liberalizing” of the labour market. Governments have been working on
weakening workers' rights and protections for at least a decade, in particular
during the Hollande presidency. The attempted labour reforms of the Valls
government were attenuated in parliament after strong opposition in the
streets. Macron is now pushing to get labour reform done this year, going much
further than Hollande/Valls tried to go. He has proceeded by passing
legislation which enables the government to rewrite the labour law.

We -
as members of DiEM25 - want to oppose these reforms and founded a task force
related to it. Members of the French Provisional National Committee (PNC) are
working right now on an analysis of the neoliberal reforms in France. In the
long term, we want to put these reforms in the context of similar reforms which
have taking place in other European countries and creating a chronicle of
neoliberalism in Europe.

But we wouldn’t be a movement for democracy in Europe
if we were just working on papers and not using actions to oppose these kinds
of tendencies in France and elsewhere! 

That’s
why we are informing you today of our plan to take action and start a
solidarity campaign for the people and their protest in France. What we imagine
is to show our solidarity on a European wide scale and for this we collected
the following recommendations of how you - as member of DiEM25 or member of a
local DSC - can participate.

The start of the campaign will be the 12th of September 2017, the
day the worker unions begin to strike in France. Simultaneously we want to send
them our solidarity. The task for the DSCs will be to organize local actions. These actions can be, for example:

-              
a small demonstration in front of the French embassy
or another symbolic place which is typical for your location with signs and
banners

-              
paint the ground of a public space in your town or
city with statements, wishes or greetings to the French protesters

-              
share pamphlets or flyers to passers and inform them
about the issue and try to put this in the context of neoliberal reforms in
your own country

-              
organize an information booth

-              
or maybe you have even better and more creative ideas
than our recommendations, it is up to you!  

Please take pictures or videos of
your actions and share it with the public and with us!
If
you have connections to other political groups or parties on your local level,
invite them to join you. It doesn’t matter if you are 10,000 people or 2
people. It is important to show that we are here and stand up with the people
of France.

Make solidarity great again!

Signed
by DSC Leipzig, PNC France, DSC Lyon, DSC Paris, DSC Copenhagen, DSC Berlin

Country or region: 

France

Rights: 

CC by NC 4.0

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