vendredi 31 octobre 2008

Lull

The left wing websites have gourged on the crisis, the markets steady and the papers have stopped headlining the business news. As yet, the reaction to the month's unprecedented events is non existent. There are still shoppers in the streets and goods on the shelves. The unions stay quiet, the offical left bluster but stay inactive. Again, the crisis is having a crisis of its own: "What am I? Where am I going?" We are being lulled. Cooled and then chilled. All is well.

Halloween mask

The woman tears at the man's face - only to reveal blood, flesh and bone.

Depression

The music in the supermarket was depressing. Kean, Coldplay and then some abject cover version of "Why did you have to be a heartbreaker?' The Géant in down town Lille was never going to be a happy place. Even in Spring and in the best of times, its location right next to the ringroad on which a steady roaring flow of traffic flashed by and at the edge of an industrial estate, passing through its faulty automatic doors it would feel like a major downer. On a grey end of Autumn morning it feels like a dose of medication. Inside, the clientelle all look pissed off. A man passes by and stops at the meat section. Hopefully, it's he who smells like that and not the lumps of oozing meat on sale. A small youngish woman whose eyes are ringed red shuffles past, an older man with a mashed drinkers nose drags himself down an aisle clutching a five litre plastic tub of wine. The publicity promises that 'These are the days where we fight for your spending power.' But all over Europe, living standards are falling. People have cut back spending on non vital things but now have started to curtail spending on food too. Activity has slowed down and people do less. There is no coincidence that the psychological term 'depression' means much the same thing. There is no need to think of psychological depression as a general 'mood' or the expression of some dysfunctional interior state. Like its economic namesake, it is all down to a functional crisis. That is, something holistic that has gone wrong that results in the curbing of activity. The Keynesian route out of the economic form of depression would have its analogy in the cognitive behavioural therapy applied to people who suffer from depression. Give people something to do, anything to stimulate them back to recovery. It cannot work. These palliative measures are tiny reminders that greater remedies are possible but under current circumstances, have been blocked off by recurrent indoctrination, ridicule and forgetting.

In the meantime, we line up with our compromised choices and disappointment, waiting for the upturn that will never arrive.

mardi 28 octobre 2008

No reason ever was given


Now nationalise the oil companies

With BP in plain crisis - its profits have risen by nearly 150% to $10bn - and other oil for profit companies making similar amounts of money, the time has surely come for the governments of the world to rescue them, sack their CEO's and, as unpalatable as it may sound, give the emoney to the tax payer. This sounds like pure 'capitalism', just as the bank bailout was termed 'pure socialism', but sometimes ideology has to be sacrificed to pragmatism.

lundi 27 octobre 2008

Closing in


A good day for the zombies




A rare treat for the politically dead and rotten scum of the right. A share rally and lots of dead foreigners.




US murder Syrians

The report on the BBC has it that this was a 'raid' - like some raid that male undergraduates iinflict on their fellow female students in American colleges. But, of course, it was, instead, a deperate act of a desperate administration whose foreign policy has failed catastrophically and is now lashing out with mindless violent glee on those it regards as its enemies but whom it has been unable to get round to invading or bombing proper in the past eight years.

The US action took place five or six miles inside the Syrian border and the US soldiers murdered eight civilians. Gunned down just like that. Lives shattered in an instant. The incident will be forgotten about in a couple of days of course. There will be far far less coverage on this criminal outrage than the average Mall shooting in Kansas or where ever.

A crucial part of the political forgetting process, after the maddeningly angering denials, is the bland statement that an "investigation" will be undertaken. The MSM takes its cue every time from this. The news is couched in modalities and scepticism of 'native' sources - in this case Syrian - and is always quick to introduce malignant hints that those on the receiving end either brought it all on themselves or were just really unlucky, as if they had been hit by lightning or swept away in a flood or the like. Then, without fail, when the reports are finally confirmed, the news story is reintroduced fourth or fifth item down the itinary and quickly passed over.

But this killing is of a different order. It's the first time the US have attacked anywhere in Syria. Today as well, further deaths in Pakistan at the hands of these out of control butchers. Sure 'Taliban' members get killed to, along with 'innocent' civilians. But when you describe resistance fighters as Taliban, then even that cover story instantly evaporates. And it's no use hoping for a change of tactic when Obama gets in. Just more of the same.

The boot has kicked the face in for long enough now surely. Beware out there, there will be a response to this.

dimanche 26 octobre 2008

Trap revealed


Please help

We live in uncertain, dangerous times. People all over the world are experiencing economic difficulties, losing their jobs, not getting enough to eat, working extra shifts and even jobs to try to make ends meet. But we here at REL want you to pay particular heed to a class of people who through no fault of their own are suffering more than anyone. It's lonely at the top, but when you've been there, seen the view and bought the mountain, but then, can you imagine the wrench, having it all taken away from you. That's worse. No questions asked. It takes all the money in the world to put it right. But so far that's not been enough. We are of course, talking about that endangered species, close to every government and poplace's hearts - the hedge fund manager. Please read this and give all you can. No cheques, just liquidity to the above address please,

"Sipping wine at a restaurant in the heart of Mayfair, where many hedge funds are based, a senior trader said: 'It's been another torrid week. Some of us aren't going to survive and that is going to be difficult for colleagues and friends with big mortgages and private school fees to pay. A lot are desperate.' "

Animal House

You can critise America and Americans for lots of things. I stick to the idea that it's not the American people I'm pissed off with, but the economic and foreign policies. True, Hollywood plays an important ideological role in securing US hegemony - but it's difficult to see how John Belushi et al in "National Lampoon's Animal House" can be thought of as indoctrination.

You know the film - made in 1978 pretty much at the height of the liberal comeback after the Nixon fiasco, it is America as I (outdatedly and politically suspect I know from an 'alleged' revolutionary) think of it's people: funny, anarchic, anti-establishment. OK, there are duff moments - the racism and the sexism jarr. But even here you could intellectualise a little and see it as that would be the way white priveleged males would have behaved at the time.

A friend told me, long ago, that he's bought a copy of the DVD (the film made more money than any other film in US history compared to its outlay $2m to $141m respectively) and said that quite a few 'controversial' scenes had been cut from the original. It's impossible to see how a similar film could be made these days in today's suffocatingly conservative artistic climate. Difficult to see anyone in America saying "Oh boy is this great!" and meaning it......

Rogue state

The American election is a foregone conclusion. Obama will win easily and the Republicans will be nearly eradicated from the political map. There are many reasons for its defeat. One of them is Sarah Palin. I hesitate to say that, it sounds sexist, but I mention it because I was struck by today's media topic that Palin has 'gone rogue'. First blush, it was early in the morning, I thought the scroll read Palins gone 'rogue'. Red? She's gone off message and is speaking up for herself the reports say. She's gone left wing I thought. Perhaps 'gone soft' on health care, progressive on tax and rational on foreign policy. They might win afterall. But no, of course not. This is the most boring election campaign ever in a country where politics has been neutralised, sanitized and intellectually cleansed. US politics makes Britain's look like something from Tarantino.

But I did expect something roguish, something interesting after such a build up as that, though. Especially when you read that McCain campaign advisers are angry about what she's up to. What can she be saying and doing? Does she want to bring back lynching, the death penalty for unAmerican thoughts and invade Brazil? No, she'd complained about robocalling and the Republican campaign pulling out of somewhere called Michigan. (European people are as ignorant about US geography as Americans are about Europe's, sorry).

You have to then wonder, what was the point in the Republimedia reporting this story? One, it's very boring and two it makes the Republicans look disunited, a sure way to ensure electoral failure. One can only surmise that the addage 'Any publicity is good publicity' is being applied here. The Republican campaign is as exhausted as McCain appears. He really does look a lot older than 72. It's shrill, poorly supported and incoherent. And so is he. The polls are all fake and designed to keep up the illusion that the Republicans stand a chance. If the real level of support were published, the Republican vote on the day would evaporate completely. And make any attempt to steal the election after they've lost look totally evident and criminal. Instead of like the last two times, just legalistic, bad luck and a close run thing.

It's a perfect storm that is going to destroy the GOP. They can't steal this one. All you liberal Americans out there - enjoy this morsel of comfort while you can - the next six months are going to be crazy.

samedi 25 octobre 2008

Unreported

Nowhere in the "serious" British press are reported the stories about the 2.5 million strong march against Berlusconi, his vile minions and neo-liberalism or the serious social consequences the British ruling clique have inflicted on the people with their wretched handout to the rich aka the bank bailout.

Each story is a viable and important part of the dramatic times that we have just entered yet both stories go totally unreporte in the British papers. People in the UK not being able to finish their studies and losing their homes and people in Italy marching against the very same policies.

No prizes for guessing why. ither they are incapable of thinking about anyone outside their tiny affluent world or they are being censored or censoring themselves. The only way to find out about the world in any depth is the internet these days.

The first cut is the deepest

The cutbacks have started. The British government is to cut back on higher education for students from poorer backgrounds. There is a £100m shortfall in the budget and o dear sorry the minister says, and presumably doesn't expect the predictable response, but there just isn't that sort of money available.

Yes - we know the reponse. It's a clear political choice the elites have made. Under the guise of blackmail and 'doing us all a favour in the long run', they have sheilded the upper class from the ensuing economic slump and are making the poor pay.

There is the temptation for some, the Will Huttons of this world, to give the elite the benefit of the doubt. The argument goes, 'If there hadn't been the money made available to the banks, then there would have been a run on them and the recession would have been ten times worse.' Well, like my philosophy Prof always said, 'Try to disprove an argument at its strongest point. Assume it to be true and prove it wrong that way.'

If there had been a run on the banks with people panicking and taking out all their cash, sure some institutions would have failed. They would have failed because they didn't capitalise themselves properly. They didn't have the reserves to cover themselves when the bets went bad. As you know, banks of late turned themselves into gambling machines, betting money they didn't really have. So the losers would have run out of money. You don't need a degree in economics to see that. People want their money back, the banks haven't got it - Uh-Urr, up go the "For Sale" signs, staff are laid off and the government insurance schemes cover the deposits, up to a socially acceptable level. (Incidentally, what should the maximum be? After all the talk of minimum wage, now is the time to press for the idea of a maximum level of wealth). The credit crunch was a stupid name given to a lack of trust that had built up between all the banks. No one could trust any body else enough to lend them money. Wages etc. were not going to be paid since the banks were hoarding the money they had. Now, the developments in the past few weeks have been dramatic but also have happened incredibly quickly. For example, Lehman Brothers was seemingly there one minute and - poof - gone the next. So bank failures can happen. There was a lot of collatoral damage, but that's all factored in. Hence, bank failures are just like any other industry failure. That's capitalism. Given, then, no handout, the fraudulent banks would have had to close down. That's dramatic, but that's the way capitalism is. The ones left standing would have been able to pick up the pieces. The government would have only needed to ensure the average account was secured. The systemic trigger for the collapse has been, of course, the fall in house prices. Now, if the government wanted to 'solve' the crisis, it is there that the government should have applied its financial magic wand. To more sound approach to solving the crisis, if that's the right way to think about it without thinking about total revolution for the moment (but really of course, that's THE only solution but that's next year I guess!), would be to dump money on those that need it.

But, by their latest move, the government in Britain is doing just the opposite. They have cut money from the poorest (and in education too!) in society. One can only conclude that their "solution" was never intended as a solution to prevent money for the ordinary people drying up, but was a gift to the real people they care about to protect them against the coming catastrophe.

Come, friendly bombs.

vendredi 24 octobre 2008

Free fall markets

First it was Berlusconi who said it, but no one is going to take that warped little shit seriously, but now Prof Roubini, guardian of the keys to the Temple himself, has suggested that now would be a good time to close the markets for a week or so, in order to prevent total panic from setting in. A talking head on Bloomberg scoffed at this idea as he said it would trigger capitulation in the bourses because it would be THE sign that things were finally out of control.

Here at REL our single share in Cadbury's suffered a bit of a dip today. Looking at the list of FTSE companies, Cadbury's was reported as having lost 99% of its value. Surely not? I paid two euros for this Flake. And it doesn't taste all that great. I wonder if it's got some Chinese protein substitute in it. If the markets close how the hell can I liquidate my position?

In a pan I suppose.

Austrian fascist still not dead?

The Guardian reports on that Austrian fascist who died in a car crash. Why do people worship him so much?

Liberate Austria!

Was Marx right?

Well, of course he was. But we are constantly 'mediatold' that his ideas are dead. But....
The Times newspaper - ever the socialist rag - poses this question and puts a vote box at the bottom of the page. The result - 51 yes 49 no. There was no 'undecided' tick-box needed. Society has split into two camps.

Another piece of evidence, tiny and barely significant in its way, but evidence nontheless, that things are changing. . .

Afghan family

I mentioned below the dreadful 'story' the Sun are covering. An exiled family from Afghanistan live in a house with a very high rent. Really, that's about it. However, the paper's discussion boards are raging about 'sending them back'. Obviously, the entire fake story is to divert people's attention from the massive economic crisis hitting Britain and to deflect some of the anger thatits creating and is going to create, onto innocent bystanders. However, my point here is to portray the level of dicussion. I realise I am on flimsy PC ground here. The people that write on these discussion boards are predominantly lower to working class and have a basic level of education.

Even so, here is 'workingboy', 28 in full flow - "we should talk all britian layz parents not works living with tax payers money, teenage girls having baby just the get house and alcol money,,,and you telling me everythings ok this country only afghan family left lol ".

OK, when I'm a bit pished my spelling gets worse but this fella must have been mortal.

jeudi 23 octobre 2008

Obama in trouble

Us at the REL know that whoever wins the US election, the outcome will be pretty much the same for the broad mass of the American people. More shit pie. But the campaign itself is mildly diverting at times. The Guardian doesn't seem to have warmed to Obama as much as it did previous Democrat candidtaes, yesterday it called the senator "cocky" for daring to speak of things he'd do after he won the election. Today under a heading "Obama gets backing from Iran" it writes "Top official hands McCain campaign ammunition by saying Democrat hopeful is 'more flexible and rational''

The undecided American public is presumably meant to think that if those nasty Iranians are "backing" 'Hussein' Obama - then he really must be a mad mulla. And - like o my god - he's flexible and rational. Holy Shit! The makes the guy practically a communist.

Obbama's main incentive must be that he cannot let himself be beaten by a stiff like McCain. Sure social justice nyahnyah, minority rights blaaah. But really, what must be spurring him on are the nightmares where he hears McCain's acceptance speech. How on Earth would you ever live that kind of thing down? Al Gore had an excuse - he got ripped off. But getting beaten by McCain means that you can be worse than practically brain dead (like Bush) and go the whole hog and be elected a corpse President. And no one wants to be remembered as the guy who lost the Presidential race to a dead guy.

Overproduction


Marx

This summarises the causes of the depression pretty well. The element of over-production has not been put forward enough by Marxist critics of late. "A strong possibility of a “global depression” – rather than the euphemism “recession" – is what the world today is facing. It is rooted in enormous over-production and income inequalities among and within the “producing nations" (China and India for example as against Britain and the US). there are also many possible outcomes. The worst would be new imperialist alliance systems and a global and probably nuclearized world war (the “ruin of the contending parties” to quote the Communist Manifesto). The best would be either the establishment or re-establishment of working-class power and socialist policies of economic development based on cooperative planning and public ownership in both industrialized and industrializing countries. Many other outcomes, such as global systems of resource and labor management through corporations, trade unions and governments operating through international organizations are also possible, depending on the developing social struggles as they are enacted in political-economic contexts. "

My fear is that the rling elites will try to tought this out and blithely, smugly carry on regardless. My worst fear is that they will ultimately get away with it. Hence, "the worse the better" at least in the medium term. Once people see plainly what's happening, then "the best" will get room to work itself out.

Recession - world tour

Sarkozy over here and Brown in Britain used to be keen on the idea that the recession (surely 'depression'?) would not effect their countries. In France, people are used to being reassured in this way, as back in 1986, was it?, when Chernobyl blew up, the French government insisted that the radioactive cloud would stop at the French borders. It didn't, of course, but by the time anyone took time to take any readings, things had just moved on. In Britain, it was treated, like all foreign news, as something far away about which we need to know as little as possible since it's to do with foreigners isn't it? It just can't effect us at all.

Well, that was then. The era of globalisation has shrunk imperial grandiosité and everyone now accepts that the slump will hit all countries. The comrades over at www.wsws.org write that "Recessions in US and Europe inevitably produce massive overcapacity in China, leading to swelling inventories, falling prices, plant closures and dramatically rising unemployment." which is surely part of the process, though Marxist theory argues that it is the over-production that causes the recessions in the first place.

The capitalist class has internationalised its system to the fullest extent possible. They knew the risks and the scale of the inevitable meltdown that would follow. The banking crisis has been a good way to get themselves a cushion to soften their landing. For the rest of us, a hard time on all fronts will follow. Indeed that whole stale metaphorical juggle about hard and soft landings is so bailed-out and bush. The British/US/Antartic economy is in for a 'soft landing' is a phrase that is spouted a lot in the economic sections of the media. It is entirely rendundant and there solely to send the viewer into a hypnotic state so as to forget the whole viscious mess. (For boom or bust, the working class will always lose out).

Apart from the fact that airline businesses are going bust, just how is the metaphor meant to convince? Who are the passengers? Where are we?they? going? Why can't the pilots land the planes very well? What do we do when we get off the plane that always seems to be heading for a soft landing but never really gets there? Who is in the control tower? Why don't the passengers hijack the plane since it seems to be going nowhere anyway.........

mercredi 22 octobre 2008

sliding away

FTSE All Share
2038.43
-91.03
-4.27%
Dow Jones
8443.86
-589.80
-6.53%

“The real deterioration in the economy is only just beginning,” said a London banker.

Awake

The new day keeps threatening to begin.

Quick point 3

The truly wretched Sun newspaper has been running a sorty about an Afghan family who fled their homeland seven years ago (hmmmm, I wonder why.....?) and who are lodged somewhere in a house in Acton, a house which the rag describes as a 'mansion'. The place has got seven bedrooms and the family have been housed there because there are seven children. The council followed the government rules and paid the landlord the 'going' rate of 12000 per month. That's a lot of money for one person to be getting. The Sun, though, took it as an insult to the working people of Britain, you know the tired score 'They come over here and.....etc.' and mounted a campaign to get them evicted. Not to get the greedy bastard landlord to drop the rent, but to kick the familiy out onto the streets. In a (connected?) move, the government minister stepped into the "row" and gave the impression that the Afghan family would be turned out of their lodgings.

The story is dreadful on many levels. First, the enthusiasm with which the trolls on the Sun discussion boards bray for the family (described in so many racist ways) not only to be kicked out of their home but to be kicked out of the country. Secondly, that the landlord is not the target of everyone's aprobation or at least government housing policy, over the last thirty years, that has led to free market (non)principles infesting rent and house prices. Thirdly, the government crawling sickeningly up to these prejudices. Finally, the fact that the family left their homeland just after the illegal invasion of their country passes them by too.

Why bother going on the paper's site. Well, one has to dip one's toe in the odure sometimes, to keep in touch with the baser side of one's homeland. . .

Quick point 2

What with the banks getting handouts for behaving badly, it should come as no surprise that Europe and the US are giving generously to Georgia. But, somehow it does. Together, both states are giving a total of 1.2 trillion euros to the stricken place. This is clearly outrageous. Georgia started the war and lost. Clearly, geopolitical considerations play a major role in this appalling decision but what kind of message does it send out to the world? Start a war if you're on the 'international community's side and either way you'll win.

Quick point 1

The latest OECD report on inequality and poverty in the world states that whilst the rate of inequality has slowed down in the UK, Britain is still a very divided country in terms of wealth. Further,

"The number of people living alone or in single-parent households increased in the UK more rapidly than in all other countries - average household size in the UK declined from 2.4 to 2.1 between 1985 and 2005 (OECD average decline of 2.7 to 2.6)
Income poverty - that is, a household with less than half the country's median income - fell from 10% to 8% in the UK between the mid-90s and 2005
For the first time since the 1980s, the UK poverty level is well below the OECD average
The number of children living in poverty fell from 14% to 10% between the mid-90s and 2005 - the second largest fall, behind Italy, during this period. But child poverty rates are still above levels recorded in the mid-70s and 80s
There is less social mobility in the UK, US and Italy than in Australia, Canada and Denmark, with parents' earnings being a more reliable guide to a child's future earnings"

The media is putting the best spin it can on these already suspect figures. The OECD is far from a neutral organisation. Its remit is determined by the needs of the free market and hence anything it concludes has to be seen in the light of its imperative to show that the markets work. It remarks that the culmulative rise in inequality over the past twenty years has been seven percent, which is, it holds, less than most people thought it was going to be. (But " "This may not sound like much of an increase," it explained, "but it is equivalent on average to taking $880 away from the poorest 50 percent and giving $880 to the richest 50 percent, although incomes at every level grew over the two decades.") It means that the highest paid receive nine times as much as the lowest paid but in Mexico and the US it is far higher. Britain's rate of inequality has slowed down according to the report and it is this that the lberal papers have seized upon. Desperate to protect the left flank of the Labour Party in the run up to the election, they will use any scrap of succour. And it is a scrap.

Firstly, the incomes of the exceedingly rich are excluded from the study. This severly reduces the meaning of the report. Secondly, the data only covers from two thousand to two thousand and five. In the British context, this is fortuitios because it includes various marginal trax reforms that benefited lower income people in the UK and excludes the return to neoliberal form from the end of the report up to now. Further, the report and its reporting play down the fact that inequality is still increasing. One must not forget that the creation of inequality is part of the purpose of neo-liberal economics. Hence the report's condescending attitude to those who argue, only with the naive evidence of their own experience of course, that inequality is deepening everywhere. The report claims, ridiculously, that there is a 'Hello' effect. People see the lives of the rich and famous in this type of magazine and subsequently, feel poorer than they actually are. I mean really. Do we need to go any further with that idea?

The report shows inequality is rising and excludes inconvenient data. It is just a propaganda piece - a sop to the liberal left in their desperate attempts to show that the free market not only works but is fair as well. In the current cimate, neither proposition is viable anymore.

lundi 20 octobre 2008

Forum

I read in the wsws.org site today, that The Sun has been focusing on a story about asylum seekers living it up or something. It's a tired tactic, obviously, in times of economic stress. Divert anger onto scapegoats. So I thought I'd have a little rant on the forum there and see if I got any response. Here's the opening gambit:

"We are going through one of the biggest scandals of British history. The ruling elites of this country are carrying out a gigantic theft of YOUR money so that when the depression hits, they will be ok.

Instead of telling you the truth about this fact, a truth that will mean your standard of living WILL GET WORSE, their media dregs up rubbish about people from Afghanistan. It is OBVIOUS why they are doing this. The elites FEAR your reaction to this THEFT. They are deeply anxious that YOU DON'T put two and two together and work out the correct politics to TAKE THESE PARASITES ON.

The looming DEPRESSSION will be unlike anything you have ever lived through. Your life will not be the same again. This ECONOMIC SLUMP will HIT YOU like you've never been hit before.

So the elites HAVE to DISTRACT you with tiny insignificant stories. This DIVERTS your anger - you are angry about the bank robbery it's YOUR money that they are TAKING from you - and creates SCAPEGOATS. DON'T FALL FOR IT!

The real enemy are the bosses, the rightwing collabos and the banks. They are all laughing at you and take you for fools so much that they think some stupid little story can divert your attention from the massive crime their friends are committing.

Don't let them get away with any of this. There are solutions to this crisis, but you need to ACT. And SOON."

It may turn out not be the greatest economic slump of all time - but then again, this is politics, and what you say has an effect, no matter how small, on current events. So a certain level of exaggeration is required. It was interesting to note that none of the top ten discussions mentioned the current bank handouts. Two centred on immigration and 'benefit' cheat stuff. Sure, it's only the Sun, but it does have a large readership and poisonous effects.

Updates to follow, perhaps.

Overture

All seems to be returning back to normal doesn't it? The money gods have calmed down, the markets have stablised and there have been no serious challeges to the government sponsored bonanza for the rich.

But, fret not, this recent phase is just the start. Now things will get really ugly. Stay angry. Do not be fooled.

dimanche 19 octobre 2008

If you fight you may lose

but if you don't fight, you've already lost.

Revolution may not be happening any time soon (?)- but quasi-futile gestures can be confidence building. Deface bank facades, step up anti-publicity work, knock out CCTV cameras and think of ways to sabotage the smooth running of contemporary capitalism. It's not bolshevism c.1916 but acorns metamorphose into oak trees.

samedi 18 octobre 2008

Preliminary conclusions

So far, the least of the political conclusions we can make is that all social and political contracts hitherto assumed to be incumbent upon us are null and void. The nature of the state's actions over the past month with regards to the banks, illustrates that the rule of law is an illusion. All is now permitted.

French bank blows 600 million

The French bank Caisse d'Epargne lost around 600 million euros (800 million dollars) in a derivatives trading "incident" during last week's market turmoil, the company said Friday in a statement.

Police fight police

Brazilian police fire tear gas at their own colleagues.

Guarding what?

The Guardian guards the illusion that all will be well. In a truly desperate article is illustrates all that its mission is about. First, that irritating use of the past tense again. At the time, the paper doesn't report 'Catastrophe imminent!' for fear of alarming its readership. But a few days later, it seeks to reassure by claiming 'The week disaster was averted'. Saved again. But who is saved we wonder? This brings us onto the second point. In this guff piece, it's Warren Buffet who is reported as saying "All is now well - go forth and buy!" Of all the people to ask. A billionaire share dealer. So, finally, what is the Guardian guarding? The peper is certanly not guarding the lot of the averagely paid working people of Britain. Or else it would be screaming with righteous indignation and rage against this giveaway to the financial elites. When sections of the workers plan sstrikes, the paper has in the past, urged them not to be greedy and seek arbitration and has used all its weight to support the government line. There have been exceptions, of course, which ust about saved its liberal credo. The reader is disappointed and annoyed but, hey, at least it kind of supported the miners...

Here, it's the complete opposite. Acceptance, acquiesence and bland reassurance. It is guarding the status quo from attacks on the left. In times of crisis, the role of key institutions is revealed. The BBC is another example. One might have thought so-called leftish papers might be an exception, but no, there it is in plain view. The media truly is a conceptual cage. Case proven beyond a shadow.

It should make the reader sick.

Cash for Trash

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21041.htm

jeudi 16 octobre 2008

mercredi 15 octobre 2008

Premature ejaculation

There are only two emotions spoken of when describing the stock market recently, "euphoria" and "panic". Prices shoot up in an orgy of buying and records are broken Monday. All is well thngs are workng. Next, record falls and despair takes hold. It contradicts the neoib theory that markets are rational. Rationality, at root, is characterised by a lack of emotion. The western philosophical ideal is that the mind controls desire. So one cannot describe the swings on Wall Street, in Paris, London and the far East as rational behaviour.

The pictures are wearily familiar to us. The lone stock broker looking desolately at his/her screen as columns of red numbers scroll by. The dealer, her hand in her hands looking blankly into the near distance as colleagues panic and shout with phones to both ears. Then, after the latest communiqué, interest rate decision or cash injection we get braying brokers shouting for joy, clenching thier fists punching the air and, pathetically of all, giving the high five. Take another look at this photo. The young(ish) buck, thinning hair brushed and gelled back (so much that one thinks this photo could come from the eighties) snapped in mid euphoric gesture clutches his electronic gadget like a trophy weapon, a significant object, a totem. His face is caught in a complex mixture of pride, pleasure and self-consciousness - he knows full well that he is being photographed - he has achieved, he has done the deal and his has won.
The older man whose face we don't see, but whose greying beard is just evident, holds his hand up in recognition and to join in with the younger dealer's relief and joy. His comportement, though, is more obscure. His right arm is raised and leans back slightly and he is calmer, his sleaves are not rolled up nor does he brandish any technological note book as an emblem of who he is.
The young pretender seeks confirmation from '201'. The young enthusiastic gun has shown his mettle, the young clerate has proved his enduring faith in the system and is blessed by a higher member of the economic clergy.

Meanwhile, outside the church the sky darkens and huge fists of swirling black cloud swallow up the blood red sunset.

Now bailout the rest of the economy

After all their efforts and a lot of our cash, the great leaders must have been expecting a quieter week this week. But the stocks plummeted again. Seven percent in London, France and the US. The banks knew this down turn stock shock was coming and got their bailout in first. There's nothing left for the rest of the useful parts of the economy. Even the trillions poured into the banking circuits, though, are hedged in the media - they 'aren't a panacea' 'they might work' 'we hope they will work' - as Bernanke said sounding wobbly this morning on Bloomberg.

After all that money, the bank rescue plan only might work and the real economy is in recession. Another few days like this one, and the whole system will start to creak.

We on the left must arm ourselves.

How very new labour

Talking about the unemployment figures some Minister for Employment excels in saying "But the job is to look forward and see how we can deal with any dip in employment rather than talking about the causes."

Yes, let's not talk about causes. That would be far too frightening, he should have added.

Spit on their graves


Dearly beloved, we are here to pay our last respects to the capitalist system.

How things change

Engles remarked in Socialism Utopian and Scientific that once the state is forced to take over faied institutions then it is seen that "capitalists have “no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons, and gambling on the Stock Exchange, where the different capitalists despoil one another of their capital.”

As this crisis unfolds and gathers speed, the stockprice of these old revolutionaries only increases.

mardi 14 octobre 2008

Asbestos workers 0 Idle bankers 3000000000000

In the end it was no contest. Though the two teams looked evenly matched at the start of the game - roughly 250000 on each side - the early (moral) gains by the hardy workers from the north of France were quickly cancelled out by the far more aggressive work by the bankers team. Football is an unkind sport and often refereeing decisions can be vital. Here, questions have to be asked about just what the referee was doing in widening the asbestos workers goalposts and tripling their height and taking the bankers' away at half time. Indeed the second half saw the extraordinary action of clearing the ground of spectators, cameras and other officials whilst the Idle Bankers FC midfeild occupied the room behind the scoreboard. When the match resumed several Asbestos workers had to be forcibly removed by police after they protested about discrepancies in the scoring system. In the 6000 strong protest march outside the ground Francois Desriaux, whose voice could hardly be heard over the cheers of the bankers' supporters overjoyed now that confidence had returned to their team, said that "...in a rigged match like that how could anyone think is was worth competing? It's a question of class. Look half my team died of lung cancer last year. With 3000 dying each year, how can we compete against cunts like these?" before he was ignored totally by the journalists still drunk from the free champagne after all the celebrating.

No to national unity!

The desperate national-all-in-this-together talk has already started to filter into French political discourse. The irrelevant Prime Minister Francois Fillion has called for the French Parliament to rally round the measures aimed at supporting the banks. Sarkozy himself used the idea to urge all French to be strong in the face of this crisis for the good of the country. It will crop up again if things turn ugly in the markets. There is no need for discussion why nationalist ideas are just rotten and historically bankrupt at this point, surely.

At the same time as calls for national unity are trumpeted in the media, the government attacks on working people get more aggressive, open and brutal. So it is clear to what sections of society these calls are made. The Figaro, Daily Mail, Tribune Telegraph types, indistinguishable in either France or Britain for their arrogance, sense of entightlement and hatred of us 'lower orders'. The 'nation', then, is not a geographical entity nor an imagined community but the speech of an aggressive section of the bourgeoise aimed at unifying class interest in times of extreme urgency.

Your presence is not required.

Legitimacy crisis


For us ordinary people, there can only be one response to this theft of our money by the wretched bastards who run the banks. That response is absolute fury. The money involved, just the interim figure, is around ten grand 10000 for every man woman and child. Going on for twice what the country spends on social things like education, health and public sector wages. Don't not get sucked into thinking that this was the only solution possible because if the government hadn't stepped in the entire system would have collapsed.


That's just guff. The only way the system will collapse will be on our terms. The people will decide when the system will be collapsed. This tawdry deal has been just about securing short term profits for a few wrinkly old men and their lizardy protegé in their silk suits in the city. They have always had the government at their mercy and are just collecting some overde earnings. Also, it isn't credible to think that the whole system of exchange and the holy circuits of money flow could just tumble like that - all for a few peanuts that is five hundred billion pounds of government handout. For on the scale of things, where the derivatives market totals five times the entire World's GDP, that's just a bit more than a little. Essentially, profits have been falling for some time and something drastic had to be cooked up. All that pay restraint and cut backs meant that the government had amassed a healthy enough pot of savings. Once the returns on their fraudulent bets fell away, the bank insects knew what to do and how much they could get away with. For surely, they thought, the people aren't going to do anything about it.


Further, the stockmarket bounce, as alluded to in the Tomb today, will for a time, reduce media concentration on this topic. This is one reason why the deal needed to be stitched up so quickly. Any further prolonged examination of the theft, would have meant that the enormity of the crime would sink in, people might have started asking pertinent questions and even start doing things. And now, the past tense can be started to be used. "Last week the banking system was on the brink of collapse" "The Prime Minister didn't think this was going to work". etc. All presented in the past tense so as to say, now, now today, phew, the danger has passed. It's all history now. You can all just forget about how the system is run and who benefits and why you lose all the time, the danger has gone, the big bad wolf has gone away, confidence has returned.


Well, no it hasn't. The consequences of this crime of the century will be paid for by its victims. It is here that the government has lost all that was left of its deomcratic legitimacy. Really, there are thousands of lessons to be learned from this crisis. The main one is that your vote is meaningless. Whoever gets in, they will act in favour of the unaccountable accountants and mountebank bankers who will always gouge out the public purse when they feel in the slightest bit threatened by the excesses that their uncontrollable system brings about.


The danger for us, is that the aliens have landed. They are now in control. The NEC is not some talking shop advising Gordon Brown about what to do. It is the government now. The danger is, that these putrid scumbags will now dictate further cutbacks and pay freezes so that the cost of their madness is spread onto the working people and those who, scandalously, do not earn over 75000pa. The ulimate danger is that we do not respond. The danger to our well being is that we switch off and try to 'get back to normal'. The danger is that the government will try to shore up its lack of credibility by appeals to "National Unity", like Turdsarkozy is feebly trying to do in France. That could lull just enough people to quell the outrage. Obviously, don't even listen to that type of horseshit.


But the real danger should be the danger that they are thinking about. What is 'danger' from their little shitheap point of view. From behind their smoked bullet proof carwindows, from the balcony as they look down on scenes of depravity, rape and murder, from the office blocks were mass starvation is organised - what is it they fear? For they do fear. Their universes are not permanent and invulnerable. They know things can change very quickly if they aren't careful. They do fear. Like animals they can sense the danger. And that danger is you. You, or rather the you that decides not to put up with it anymore and ceases to have confidence in their system. You who would be organised and united with others like you the 'yous' who have nothing very much to lose.


So pay no heed to the numbers from the stockrooms. Let their badly suited goons shout and cream themselves. The government's share price has collapsed and the confidence of its shareholders will never really recover. Do not, as the awful Will Hutton scrawls in the Guardian today, let your heart be warmed by the recent bounce. It's just the noise of robbers getting back to their den after a heist they thought they'd never get away with, came off.


You should be livid. You are livid. Let your heart be warmed by the fact that thousands, hundreds of thousands feel exactly the same way. Don't lie back and take it. Act. Even if it is just to talk about it, to stir things up. Use graffiti, go on a go slow, (remember inflation is now 5.2% and your pay rise was half of that...), deface bank facades, sabotage ATM's, and computer systems. Even futile gestures can lead to bigger things.


Don't let the danger pass. The government has just lost its legitimacy. You are the danger. Act on it.

lundi 13 octobre 2008

Meanwhile

In all this bailout bollocks, other important things have been submerged. Take the enormous problems in Africa. You can call it a crusty old Stalinist relic if you like, and you would be largely correct to do so, but Humanité does get to the parts other media nozzles just don't touch.

Their main point is that Africa needs about seventy billion euros a year to start to sort out the social catastrophe thats been going on there for, what how long now....A few years ago, one would have thought - "Blimey. That's, what, a heck of a lot of money there. It can't really be done can it. Can't we just send Bob Glandolf to solve it all again?" But now we're all older and wiser and immersed in the world's biggest ever financial SCANDAL (call a bollock a 'bollock' at least!), governments can suddenly get their hands on hundreds of billions of local currency overnight. There's talk - well it scrolled past on France24 - that the Eurozone could spray the thirsty little bankers who can't even trust themselves with over a trillion and a half Euros.

What gets us on the hook, is that we are not doing anything to stop them. In choosing champagne, yachts and luxury for the few over the mass of 500 million or so people the governement force us to collude in mass slaughter. Given this and the fact that all western governments are now bereft of legitimacy can only force one set of conclusions.

Sowhat are we waiting for I wonder. . . . ?

So much madness, so little time

As expected, shares rallied today, everyone is happy again and we are all saved. Thank you Gordon. Now the banks can lend us the money, at interest, that we'll be giving them for nothing. Given the lavish, and frankly ludicrous praise he's been getting for this liquidity squirt, he'll be up for the Nobel prize in Economics next year. (Why not? Every other talking cock with a two-two in the dismal science has one....). The MP's attack dog Darling did his best to defend the bailout in Parliament and must have felt an (illusory) glow of success as the brokers obediently bought stocks in a faux display of confidence.

In the ensuing undebate, Darling was his usual robotic 'self', the idiottories, well they were just themselves, agreeing with, but desperately trying to distance themselves, from a governing party that stole and inhaled all their ideas back in 1987 can't be an easy ticker, but half way through the debate, some MP actually said something interesting. I didn't catch his name but the giest of his point was that the total liabilities of the banks being "nationalised" amount to something over three trilion pounds. That, he went on to say, is three times national output and five times annual tax revenue. And - he didn't say - that's just the accessible figures. The bankers know there's far more skeletons in the cupboard, all clutching derivatives and laxitives or whatever these made-up names for "gambling" are actually called.

The PM and his media whores are all assuring us that the national debt won't be affected and that we will even make a profit on this deal in the long run. But he didn't even look as if he belived himself.

Another remarkable story, briefly treated in the Observer is that, as Peter Hain, an ex-Labour minister argues, it's now likely that power, water and transport companies may well need bailing out since they too have borrowed and gambled on a huge scale and are now running out of funds.

Iceland just got a lot closer.

Power to the American people

Amidst all the crisis news, it's easy to forget the people who take it on the chin. First, their bills go up, then they're booted out of their homes and then they get blamed for the entire chaos in the media.

The left is anti-American economic and foreign policy - but has never been anti-the American person in the street. The majority of them are working class and they will bear the cost of the handout for the rich policies of their administration. And the poor buggers have got an election next month.

So no gloating.

The Adam Smith Institute explodes


Nobody likes trolls. They are the people who crash in on websites they disagree with and argue against the main political direction of the site. 'Mike' is one on Lenin's Tomb. He plays the contented and complacent wage-slave and writes incessantly that no change is possible, the market will win in the end and that capitalism is the least bad system there is etc. Usually his observations are delelted. I don't know about that really. His points are so gross that they subvert themselves.


So trolls are sad people with nothing better to do than to antagonise their political opponents blogs. Well, I have to say, I had a pop at the Adam Smiths Institute's site over the weekend. I was interested in what their take would be on all the market short circuiting that's been going on. A "Sorry!" perhaps or "Maybe we should rethink our ideas." section. But not at all.


Their general take on all of this was that free markets has not been applied rigorously enough. The problem, see, is that there's been too much regulation over the past thirty years and that's what's caused all this recent mayhem. Irritated, I fired some bad tempered reply and presumed they'd axe it. But no -


"Not very convincing this is it really? " I intoned. "Your ideas have been in vogue for the best part of thirty years. All governments have sworn by them - deregulated, privatised and freed up. You cannot claim (because, really, believe me it sounds THAT desperate) that this hasn't been deregulated enough. I can just about accept the fact that the Soviet Union wasn't communism, but you guys using the same 'excuse' - face it - it's all over. You were wrong. All of you. You have merely provided ideological cover for a huge financial redistribution from the poor and lower to midle [sic - oops, bit tired here] classes to, well, you lot I guess. Well I hope you enjoy what's left of your ill gotten gains - before the lights go out, riots in the cities destroy what's left and national bankrupcy does for us all. Thanks again! "


Not best political theory I admit - but sound trolling.


Incidentally, it is an irony that the 1989 moment for the neolibs has them coming out with the same "excuses" some on the left made when the Soviet Union tanked and evaporated - "Ah, but that wasn't communism."


So, who's right to use this "Get out of empirical implosion free" card?

Stink

A member of the National Economic Council, Stephen Carter is well versed in the political skills required to keep the profits flowing and people beguiled enough not to act. Here he is advising underlings what to say to disappointed shareholers as his company NTL sank, "What I tell them is nine-tenths bullshit and one-tenth selected facts."

He'll go far in the National Government, that one.

dimanche 12 octobre 2008

Rich Governance

Gordon Brown said last week a propos the bailout and the new National Economic Council that “Quite simply, the new era that we have entered requires new ways of governing. We don’t just need to change policies to deal with the new financial difficulties but the way we take decisions, the way we govern, has got to change as well.... This is a new way of governing that is based on the uniqueness of the circumstances.”

This "new era" must be the depression our great leaders (OGLs) are preparing us for as they, like a vicar slowly letting out a gigantic bulbous of wind in tiny piffs, gradually soften us up for further drastic measures with their leaks, statements and press releases. The implication of the remaining part of this quote deos appear to be that 'even though we have given the rich nerly half of our GDP, that isn't enough. Sure we'll be giving them more money. But by 'not enough' I mean we need to get used to the idea of the bankers ruling us.'

It's a conclusion that must come easily to someone who so meekly, no, sorry, enthusiastically, granted interest rate control to a load of unelected Bank of England governers.

The quote's last sentence is more sinister. It sanctions just about anything. It is an attempt to absolve the government, preemptively, from the requiremnt to pay heed to democratic accountability. It is a threat to govern by decree and even by dictatorship.

One cannot help but wonder how pleased the hedge fund spongers and the leechy banker wallas must be this morning. All they have to do, if draw up a few unimaginable huge and illegal bets with the scum people they went up to Oxbridge with, draw in the money when times were good and once the economy slowed down, forment a crisis, get bailed out, but also become part of the government.

Legitmacy had drained away from the government but is also from the very idea of the British political system. Governance for the rich allows, even demands of those 'below' in the social order to disobey, sabotage and revolt.

All smiles

One thing I cannot stand about market rebounds is the return of the news presenters' smiles.

Blow job

I was permenantly removed from the Comment is Free section of the Guardian a few years ago. I was reading a piece by Martin Kettle that eulogized Tony Blair so much that it was embarassing. In it, he mentioned something about Monica Lewinsky (where is she now when her country needs her?) famous for assuming the position for the then president Clinton ( anag. onnclit). I was in a rush and my response wasn't exactly Oscar Wilde like in it satire. I said "Talking of Monica Lewinsky, this was a real blowjob of a piece." , meaning, 'This article was a little too much in support of the Prime Minister. So sychophantic indeed, was it that it was nigh analogous to the writer giving oral pleasure to the object of the writing viz The democratically elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.'



I noticed later that it had been removed. But also that I had been expelled. Thus banished, I cannot respond in kind to the truly awful puff piece by Jack Ashley in today's Pravdian. "Brown is standing tall....come the time come the man....unity....renewal.... " etc. He even mentioned the possibility (first mooted here, see below 'Worst case scenarios') of Blair being drafted into a national government of unity.

If there are people in the elites talking about that kind of farcical possibility, then things really are turning arse end up.

In the meantime - can someone go onto the Guardian Comment is Free site and tell Jack Ashley to feck off or something?

And the cat bounces

The markets will shoot up today. They have to. Despite all the doom talk about derivatives unwinding and the like, the end of the world will be postponed and the news will have some success at convincing everyone that everything is fine again.

Until Wednesday, or even tomorrow when the spectacle resumes. After all, precisely what have the great leaders implemented? Another bailout - just like the previous ones that failed. Our money - into the void.

samedi 11 octobre 2008

Junk paper

The Guardian, and the media in general, use the past tense in a specific way when they describe threatening situations. The crisis has slipped from the control of our great leaders and there is a real possibility of a global slump. Yet one keeps reading about how last Wednesday the system nearly collapsed or late last week this or some other mechanism nearly failed thus nearly sending the whole world into a hellfire tailspin into oblivion.

The impression is not of news but of being soothed. Of being manipulated into thinking that everything is fine really and that the danger, phew, has passed.

Christian Noyer on Bloomberg this morning was a lot more direct and, frankly, anxious. It was pleasing to watch. Some serious bloggers out there, you know the ones - see prisonplanet, for example, are reading like the end of te neolib world is like happening right now. Not last week and so the implication being - all is ok now, but right at this very moment.

vendredi 10 octobre 2008

Austrian fascist dead

The curse of the REL strikes! Far right politician Jorge Haider is dead after a car accident. I do hope the car isn't a write off and can be salvaged. Perhaps this is one of those "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler would you?" moments and someone in the future or in an alternative universe has grabbed the bull by the balls. The world seems a slightly better place this morning. Sure, it would be better if the Austrian Revolutionary Marxist Party had seized the main government buildings in Vienna, but sometimes, you have to enjoy some small consolations.

Then again, should we find enjoyment and satisfaction in the death of other people? Frankly, sometimes, yes.

Mum's gone to Iceland

I have to say, when I first saw the headline 'Iceland Bankrupt', like thousands of others I just thought it meant the frozen food place. It's not that far fetched. Shops on the high street are having a difficult time of late, and I thought, "Bugger. I like their raspberry sponges too". But it's the actual country. A whole country - ok, not a very big country but a country with a flag, currency and capital and all that. The banks have dragged the whole place down. Past governments embraced neolib doctrine and, voilà, well, we know the story after that. The solutions now seem extremely grim. The Russians have offered a few billion but it's not enough. (Hold on, the Russians?) It looks like the government will have to go and assume the position before the IMF. But that splendid, helpful and just institution doesn't give money out just like that. It imposes conditions, of course. Conditions described in the Independent as 'harsh strictures from the Washington based organisation'. These solutions are based on freeing up the country to free market principles. Right.

Look, do we have to think this through any further......? I mean does anyone have to go on anymore about that idea? All the Icelandic people will have to revolt and set up their own socialist society based on fish. Apparently, though, there is little sign of civil unrest. Yet. Or emigrate. Like the Easter Island people. Anything has got to be more viable than whatever the IMF zombies churn out.

What next?

Gordon Brown is panicking along with the rest of the cabinet. Nothing is working the figures get worse and worse. This is not a crisis of confidence. No amount of talk this weekend will alter the accumulation of debt, the decline in wages and profit and the effects of a financial system whose aim is the hoarding of wealth for a tiny over priviledged elite. This is a structural, functional and profound crisis. The markets, though, are just a crustation atop the whole tottering corrupt system.

A tiny symptom of the British government's paralysis and mental instability, the use of anti-terrorist legislation against Iceland, Iceland, and the near unhinged talk for "immediate" action ahead of this weekend's drone fest.

So much madness today - Berlusconi at one point even urged that the markets should be closed! We are neither for nor against. The markets are part of the irrational ways of organising social production under contemporary soon to be replaaced capitalism. It highlights, though, just how unlikely is a joint European approach. There are people on the streets in France, Belgium was shut down by a near general strike Wednesday and thousands marched on the Stock Exchange in London tonight.

Sparks, sparks everywhere................

jeudi 9 octobre 2008

Nutshell

The Daily Reckoning people are right wing liberationist cranks. But their site is a good source of economic data. They sum up the bailouts well, "For their part, the banks are grabbing all the Fed cash they can – and socking it away. They don’t lend it out...because they’re afraid it might not come back. And they need it to remain solvent. But if banks don’t lend, it defeats the whole purpose of giving them money. "

Exactly................

Maybe absolutely

After being given effectively 40% of UK GDP, you'd be forgiven for thinking that stockbrokers everywhere would be shouting for joy, reveling in the free cash and bathing in champagne. Perhaps they are on the quiet. Maybe they don't want us to see their greedy porcine faces all aglow with the thought of free trough. Even so, I may not often be right but I could be wrong again. Here's one broker hedging, just a little,

"We've had a few false dawns over the past couple of months and it's too early to call a complete recovery, but there's hope that these measures will get some traction at some point."
Richard HunterHargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers

So, after all that - a promise of nearly a trillion quid no questions asked - it's "too early" to even say that they might have some effect in the fairly distant future.......! I mean I don't like using exclamation marks - but I think the tiniest one is in order there really.

All the time

All along when the government lied to us that there was no money to increase wages, for the eradication of poverty for proper pensions, all along, the money was there. It was there all the time, but was being spent by the rich on things like yachts, jewelry, mansions and holidays and depraved drug fuelled sex parties.

Privatise the gains socialise the losses.

It's payback time surely.

One rule for them.....

The government isn't going to bail out councils who invested in Icelandic banks, which have gone bust, since Darling says "...[councils] are a better informed kind of investor." In other words, it serves them right. A glance at the councils involved reveals a more visceral reason that lurks in the Chancellor's mind,
Kent county council £50m
Brent approx £27m
Westminster £17m
West Sussex county council £12.9m
Havering £12.5m
Sutton £5.5m
Ipswich £2m

They are all southern councils. Still, there are ordinary and poor people who live in these places, and it will be those who end up at the sharp end of the coming cutbacks. Unless someone somewhere acts.

What if. . .

"The banks’ raid on the Treasury will lead to the gutting of social programmes and welfare payments, the loss of hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs and the introduction of widespread user charges for public services. This will be accompanied by tax increases on working people on a massive scale."

or

"The public finances were already under increasing pressure from a deteriorating economy but today's £500bn of public support for the banking sector could have surprisingly little impact on the figures." The piece oes on to say that money has been paid back from Northern Rock.

The Guardian can always be reliedon to calm things down. Don't believe it. The piece states blithely that " Taxes are expected to rise and spending will be cut" irrespective of the bailout. The system could still collapse and that would cost us dear anyway and we're all going to make a profit on the deal; It's a desperate mess of an article, and sounds like some WWII cover piece for an enormous defeat that is being presented as a moral victory.

mercredi 8 octobre 2008

Perspective

"The government’s move will not succeed in restoring confidence in the banking system. Given the weight of the financial sector in Britain, far higher than anywhere else, a comprehensive bailout package involving every UK bank and every UK deposit would be far beyond the means of the government.
To give some indication of the scale of what is involved—the assets of what are now, in many instances worthless loans of just four of the high streets banks, RBS, HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds TSB/HBOS—total €2 trillion, €1.6 trillion, €1.5 trillion and €1.4 trillion respectively. This is more than four times the value of Britain’s GDP."

These figures are never presented in the MSM. . .

RAGE

"The efforts to prettify what has been agreed should be rejected out of hand. The talk of a “partial” nationalisation of the banks by financial commentators obscures the fact that the state is taking public ownership of the banks’ liabilities."

Why aren't people out on the streets smashing banks up? This is the biggest bank robbery in human history.

The people must respond to the elites declaration of war on them.

There is no end to this


There is no end to this

I have seen your face

But I don't recognize all these thingsYou must have left behind

It's a problem, you know

That's been there all your life

I try to make you see the world without a view

That just turn black and white

Black October


Close your bank positions. Buy matresses. And tinned food. . .

Worst case scenarios

1. A huge stock collapse

2. A major company employing thousands goes bust

3. Ministerial resignations

4. (From our point of view): Unexpected return to 'normalcy' and happy wage slavedom. . .

5. "We may soon be hearing the declaration of various "emergency" measures involving the allocation of food and the rationing of oil products".

6. ATM's stop working

7. Tony Blair invited back into British cabinet.

Signal

"A cascading collapse of international finance is underway. "

Trotsky

“We are not a party like other parties. ... Our aim is the full material and spiritual liberation of the toilers and exploited through the socialist revolution. Nobody will prepare it and nobody will guide it but ourselves.”

On remaining calm

The papers are presenting the nationalisation of the banks as an entirely expected and ordinary late train kind of thing. The Guardian almost off-handedly announced that the deal will cost each man woman and child two thousand pounds. The figures vary, as usual, The Times estimates that the bail out will mount to around two billion pounds.

It almost goes without saying that it goes without saying that these are enormous amounts of money. Importantly, the media are certainly not putting these colossal figures into any kind of context. That would only serve to stir people's sense of justice. Yes, I said "sense of justice", because one of the many things one must remember in these splendidly darkening times, is that throughout the terrible neolib epoch , i.e. from about 1979 -2008, the majority of people in opinion polls remained 'stubbornly' left leaning. ('Stubbornly', that is, after years of indoctrination and political betrayal). To give people the idea of what this scandal involves - for that is what it truly is - one huge gigantic scandal - would make us think about what the handout means.

Meaning. The philosopher strokes her chin. In the sense of use for the moment. Let us remain pragmatic, after all pragmatism has worked out so well recently. The fifty billion sum represents two thousand pounds from everyone. Now, clearly that won't mean the government is going to take that amount from our bank accounts. The effect will be far worse. It will mean that the already paultry social spending 'targets' will be reduced or scrapped. It will mean our living standards will decline further and quicker than we had hitherto feared.

Money that was allocated for hospitals, schools, wages, pensions and infracstructural spending will be siphoned off to prop up the banks. And fifty billion is just an opening gambit. The actual figure could be four, five times as much. Eight thousand pounds per person. Ten thousand. . . The true consequences of this move, though, are efaced by presenting it in such individual ways.

For as the riches from the boom years were unevenly distributed, so to will the costs. The poor, the old and the ill will pay disproportionally far more than those who have already done fantastically well out of the one party neoliberal state we have been living under up to this point.

Take pensions. On the French TV is was scrolled that the crisis has already cost the US public and pension funds two trillion dollars - which is around, what, 1.4 trillion pounds. Now, the wrong question is to ask "Where has all that money gone?" Because it was never really there in the first place. You have got to think about pensions as a form of tax. That money was removed from you and me and invested by the banks. We now know just in what they invested the money. They blew it. They spunked it all away on luxury lifestyles, an orgy of gigantic spending at everyone else's, the broad masses' expense.

There is no bill to pick up. There is just now, the realisation by many others further down the pyramid scheme that the duping is over.

That, and the classic crisis of overproduction that has hit the West just at the same time. For, really, it is this that is the heart of the crisis. The rate of profit has fallen, there have been too many goods being made and investments are not generating sufficient return. It is a pincer movement. On the one hand bank insolvency on the other falling profit returns. Worse, wages have been reduced in the same epoch. This is the cause. If wages had risen enough, there wouldn't have been a subprime crisis. But that was never going to happen.

How to respond to this. Firstly, to keep talking about the sheer scale of this. Not just on blogs or with trusty comrades. With anyone. People on the train, bus at jobcentresss, pub, queue. One must stop being so reserved. This is not some 1987 mini-panic or just a tech bubble bursting. The sudden lurch into near panic over the last few days and the fact that the tumult has gone on now for over a year mean that this is indeed "the real deal". On the left, one may have grown accustomed to hearing doom laden forecasts about the imminent collapse of capitalism and yawned all through this, so far. That, it seems certain now, would be a mistake. One must spread discontent about the huge scale of the handout for the rich. For that is what it is. In the media, the bailout is being presented calm neutral tones. The elites are concerned what political effects this crisis will have. They don't want people on the streets. To prevent that, they have to dominate the debate and reduce people's sense of alarm, indignation and anger. That must be countered. Remember, word of mouth is stronger than government adverts - which we all know - is just about all the media are in this current debacle. (OK, always, but that's another blogpost). Talk about the ripoff in your own terms. Do not use the language that the BBC, The Guardian, The Times or the other nozzles use. Invent a 'Vocabulary of Rage' - 'creditcrunch', 'bailout', 'normal' 'subprime' - these terms are worn out. Transcend them.

Secondly, organise. The Labour Party obviously are part of the problem and have to be discounted. The Conservatives likewise. Don't even bother mentionng the other lot. One has to be doubtful about the entire range of parties currently on offer. Those isolated leftwingers dotted about the country - to whom this blog is aimed (!) - do not sit back and wait for the system to collapse all on its own. It needs your help for that. There's a march in London this weekend (see Lenin's Tomb for details) talk to people around you and inform them of this event. It's only a start. It won't be a February 2005. But the more people you can get to go the less effect the elites' message will have about this social theft. The old ways of representative democracy are crumbling infront of us. To remain passive would mean - well it's best not to think of what that would mean. The future comes soon enough without trying to predict it. But voting, well, that's all over, one way or another now.

Finally stay angry about this. It is direct theft in favour of the rich. Really a true revolutionary would be angry all the time about what's being going on the last thirty years or so, but this theft is different in that it is so open to view. It is the system's mechanics revealed. It is how things operate. One could go on using analogy and metaphor for pages, but you get the point. To let a political opportunity like this pass by without capitalising on it for socialist and revolutionary purposes would be another scandal. For this state of affiars cannot be allowed to go on. The lie about if we don't dutifully hand over our money to the banks then there will be economic collapse is really not even a lie, because to be a lie, something has to be believable. Economic collapse is happening right there outside right at this very moment and giving money to the banks won't change that. They are scared to lend to eachother, not because of some wil o' the whisp notion of trust. Remember blogocomrades, these are bankers. 'Trust' is just a word. They aren't lending because the returns just aren't there anymore.

So why give them money? Perhaps the government really is run by overeducated morons. It's a distinct possibility. Maybe they think that a mere fifity billion or so will make all the difference in the world. OK let's see let's have a look at the FTSE. Maybe this plaster will provide relief....Just looked and all Europen stock markets are down five percent. This on top of the DOW dropping 500 points last night. The give away will have no effect.

The money then can only be going to the people at the 'top'. The economic collapse is something they have known about for years. They knew what was coming. They've read their Marx, at least. That money is one last gouge from the public weal, before times become intolerable. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps there'll be a few more if people don't react too badly to this one. They are making sure they have enough liquidity to get by in the coming catastrophe. The government is merely a conduit, a clutch of willing useful idiots, that gives a cover for their gluttony and theft. So the third point is do not stay calm. Do not fall for the national unity nonsense that is sure to be unleashed in the coming months. There is no 'we' on a 'national' scale. There really are, now just the workers facing the bankers and bosses. It is as clear as day.

"And how long does it take a hungry public to turn mean? "

"It is equal to nearly 40 percent of Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP)."
Do not reamain calm.

mardi 7 octobre 2008

Erasure

The plane that wasn't. The American jet fighter, Hungarian relief plane flying saucer that didn't land in Iran and wasn't full of American officers story has been erased. It vanished from Al Jazeera and is wiped from this link.

I like things like that.

Deeper and down

DJIA Change:
- 357.62 (3.46%) 2046 CET.

You get used to seeing hefty numbers like that. It's strange, though, how the figures change on one site change sp rapidly and from site to site at pretty much the same time. Yahoo is ticking 282 down now, thirty seconds later. You can't trust the figures anympre. Maybe "this sucker is going down" and no one can keep up with the frantc brainless trading.

That quote will become THE quote of this crsis, when the wretched thing is studied in the future. One has to ask oneself, though, why the quote was released. It was presented in the SW as just another indication of how dumb the chimp is. The idea was, presumably, to get people on side for the Paulson cash for the rich handout. Yet the remark IS so stupid - it's plausible enough to think Bush said it, but the 'sucker' is pretty insulting, surely, for middle America.

Whatever, everytime he opens his slit of a mush, the markets tank. May he babble on.

It's what the people want

A reporter on Al Jazeera speaking from the Luxembourg emergency summit informs me that "People over here in Europe are saying 'Hey why can't we have a Paulson bailout for the banks over here?" I immediately switch off.

Later the same reporter recants. "People over here in Europe, when you walk around and meet them are saying 'Why the hell should we bail out these bankers?".

Even the reports on hedgefunds are, hedged.

uniformed speculation

Isn't the OJ Simpson punishment a bit steep and isn't he really just paying for a crime for which he was acquitted?

No matter, like the lady on the Al Jazeera publicity said 'Race is not an issue in the US'. We're sure his skin had nothing to do with the rage white America gave vent to when he got let off ten years ago. They were never going to forget that one. This is neither to defend not slate the man in question. But it's not as if the US is averse to letting killers get away with it.

Kick off?

Breaking news on Al Jazeera - can this be right? An American plane violates Iranian airspace and is forced to land.

Before they do things like this, don't the Americans ever think of what fuel they give to the conspiracy nutwings out there?

update - The story must be true, the US have denied it - "The Pentagon denied the report, saying all its aircraft were accounted for and none had landed in Iran. "

Fire!

Wood fires might seem romantic, exciting even. To others, they might appear a barbarous relic from the medieval age. Here in the middle of nowhere, there is no choice. Things being what they are financially, and the building be what it is architecturally, there they remain, pretty much as the fireplaces they were in 1891 when the house was built. Huge big gaps in the wall, a blackened wall at the back and a narrow little twisted chimney that rain and sometimes birds fall down.

A dialectic has developed between the fireplaces and myself. I put screwed up balls of paper (old Humanités) in the grate, scatter them with dry twigs and place larger branches and logs of wood on top of that. It's usually fairly cold in the morning so this has to be done pretty quickly. I light the edges of the paper. After a few minutes of the room is filled with acrid smoke. But slightly warmer. I am forced to open the window to get rid of the smog. The room clears but it is now colder than it was when I started. Also, I smell like a kipper. I repeat the process several times, varying the amounts of paper, wood and at one point sawing the logs into yet smaller chunks of fuel. After an hour of struggle, coughing and sooty tantrums, something approaching a fire gets going.

Meanwhile, the sun has come up and bathes the house in Autumn sunshine and I have to open the door to let some warm air out.

never enough


There's no escape from this dreary financial crisis. There is never enough money to bail the banks out, there is never enough panic just to have done and get it all over with.

dimanche 5 octobre 2008

Change the subject

I know we at REL said that the crisis had blown all other news of the agenda, but this morning and all of today, the financial catastophe (if that's what it is) has slipped down the agenda. The MSM nozzles I frequent have all dropped the story from their headlines. The bailout passage has been built up as a line drawn under it. 'Juicier' news has been presented. The OJ trial is a classic diversion. Next week will be tumultuos. The MSM's message this w/e, though, is 'Remain calm. All is well.'

Either they are right or things are about to get really out of control. My bet is on the latter.

vendredi 3 octobre 2008

The Indian Summer's Indian Summer

South of France late afternoon today. Poor - but the weather is fantastic. The bankers have got what they want - let's hope they choke on it.

This time it really is all over

Now the banks have got what they wanted - the crisis is over! We can all rejoice and look forward to years of prosperity, wealth and happiness for all! Hooray!

Half serious

The comment below on élite disintegration was only in jest - half jest anyway. But after hearing the news that Peterfucking Mandelson Peterfucking Mandelson is back in the Labour government, what further eividence does anyone need that the ruling elites have undergone a serious nervous breakdown the last few weeks and are capable of doing extraordinarily stupid things.

There's no point getting all worked up into a moral frenzy about this. All that 'we're extremely relaxed about people being filth rich' outrage is as passé as, well, as the stupid Labur Party. It's merely funny - funny in the same way that old uncles get pissed up, dance grossly and feel up cousins at horrible family get togethers.

"Mandelson, who is a European commissioner and not currently an MP, is expected to be made a peer to enable him to rejoin the government."

If this won't guarantee the election victory - nothing will!

jeudi 2 octobre 2008

Abyss

The billions of words that have flooded the media, the internet and human consciousness since the start of the credit crisis is begining to have serious consequences. No one believes what anyone is saying to anyone anymore and word sources are fearing that the Mean standard, the old fashioned idea that words and their exotic derivatives, 'sentences' and 'paragraphs' should be convertible into 'meaning', will have to be reintroduced in order to prevent such absurdities as "Analysts say German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck may have spoken too soon when he crowed last week that the US would lose its status as a superpower as a result of this crisis. He told Der Spiegel yesterday that we are "all staring into the abyss". from diluting the entire system of meaning exchange and plunging the world into custard.

For when you stare into the abyss, beware, it stares back into you.

Political elite disintegration?

We're as much in the dark as anyother outsider as far as this tedious economic crisis is concerned. I say tedious, because it's obscuring all sorts of other interesting developments in the world, like the huge demonstrations in Germany about the cut backs, the electoral kicking the German government got on the weekend and the recognition by top British military officials that the NATO war in Afghanistan is all but doomed.

But there are increasing signs that the crisis itself has started to have secondary effects. Or at least, if you stretch your imagination a little. Firstly, Digby Jones some CBI insect has resigned as trae minister. First thought was "You ungrateful upper class bastard." Second thought immediately following that was "What the hell was an unelected fat cat doing in a democratic government?!" Final thought was, that he must be ducking for cover, now that the economy is going banana. If this thought has legs, it is a hint that this crisis isn't some jumped up dptcom bubble that's just popped. This is not to suggest some iluminati take over is imminent (!) but when you read things like "Gordon Brown will announce a new emergency committee to take charge of the financial crisis when he unveils a shake-up of his frontbench team, it emerged today.

Downing Street has confirmed the prime minister is considering formalising some of the ad hoc economic meetings that have been taking place in recent days.

Number 10 is talking about setting up a "rolling group of people who can quickly take decisions".

you have to think that this situation has evolved into something to be taken a damn sight more seriously. Also, the Head of the Metropolitan Police has resigned over corruption charges. Unconnected. . .? who knows these days. But it's about time this incompetent duffer was dashed off. He was the failure who ordered De Menezes' execution. And if that wasn't enough to stir up a crisis atmosphere - the ever ungrateful DOW is on the slide again, as of late pm European time.

What are governments for?

After years of reading political theory books - all hopelessly idealistic - it is clearer now after a few weeks of this crisis, that the real purpose of government is to keep things smooth for the banks. For how else could one explain the governments' immediate public donation of funds to the banks at the expense of public spending needs. In all Western countries, social programs have been hit and will be hit by te drain from the treasury in order to prop up the banks. Billions overnight, from coffers that were described as empty (by Sarkozy) miraculously appear.

The media right across the board is running flat out to contain the public outrage over this issue. It's a real test. If the public wont be calmed down for this, it may spill over into the next leg of this economic disaster. Then people will beging to work things out for themselves. And who knows to where that will lead. . . ?

mercredi 1 octobre 2008

Wood stash

Half ten, they arrived with the thirty stair of wood for the Winter. It had got colder. The tractor was an old rusty cross-eyed get up with a broken radiator guard and the trailer it pulled was a ramshackle affair held together by blackened metal and worn-out planks of wood. The driver backed the stash into our open garage on the side of the road. There was about three hundred logs of various thicknesses, all about a metre long, and it took a few attempts to park up without hitting the never to be used hen coops and the beam that holds the slanting thing up. The other two blokes drew up in the car and got out. The old guy who drove the tractor was the gaffer though the young fella and the other, a middle aged man with thick white hair, didn't seem to take his authority that seriously. The old guy slowly got down from the cab

OK, he said. Lets get to work.

We stood on the small pile of logs left over from last year and started to heave the logs off the trailer. Some were surprisingly thin, a few not that much thicker than branches but others were real tree trunks. The majority took a lot of effort despite their size yet a few, dry and almost rotted, were as light as paper. The wood was from chestnut trees. It burns clean and gives out a lot of heat. The bark was brown and mottled, sometimes green in places. One had a colony of ants on it, the other a fat maggot. As the logs were thrown on the pile they played notes like from a giant xylophone. The work had a regular rythmn and we got through the ten metres cubed in twenty minutes or so. It was good to feel the physical work stretch and warm the muscles in my arms and back.

We soon finished. Inside over a glass of Bordeaux, the team told us about who they delivered wood to. All the English round here, the gaffer said and laughed. I said, in my dog French, that if there was going to be a recession, at least we'd have enough wood to keep warm. We pay him but we're twenty euros short. "Just give it to M. my auntie I'll see her next week", he says with a smile. They drink up and the white haired guy tells us they've got another delivery in the next village to do. After the au revoirs, the rickety tractor starts up and they're gone.

In L'Humanité today, the inside page story talks about the bank chiefs, politicians and commentators are all talking about the lack of trust but how the state will guarantee bank accounts. Like someone who says 'Don't worry - I'm not going to hurt you.', you have to wonder that, like the paper said, they are preparing people for the worst.

Selfishly, I think 'At least we've got a stash of wood'

Stupid bet

Over a wine sodden lunch, I bet my father in law that the price of oil wasn't going to go up to 300 dollars like he insisted it was going to by the end of next year. Never gamble, as I've said before - if you lose, you get pissed off, if you wing well you wish you'd bet more. Anyway, I thought I was in with a chance with this bet. At the time I told him, for two bottles of champagne, this is a sure thing because the US and the world economy is going into a recession and that means a drop in the demand for fuel.

Alas, Whitney makes the apposite point that, "Indeed, the $700 billion is just part of a massive "pump and dump" scheme engineered with the tacit approval of the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Once the banksters have offloaded their fraudulent securities and crappy paper on Uncle Sam, they will do whatever they need to do pad the bottom line and drive their stocks up. That means they will shovel capital into hard assets, foreign currencies, gold, interest rate swaps, carry trade swindles, and Swiss bank accounts. The notion that they will recapitalize so they can provide loans to US consumers and businesses in a slumping economy is a pipedream. The US is headed into its worst recession in 60 years. The housing market is crashing, securitzation is kaput, and the broader economy is drifting towards the reef. The banks are not going to waste their time trying to revive a moribund US market where consumers and businesses are already tapped out. No way; it's on to greener pastures. They'll move their capital wherever they think they can maximize their profits. In fact, a sizable portion of the $700 billion will likely be invested in commodities, which means that we'll see another round of hyperbolic speculation in food and energy futures pushing food and fuel prices back into the stratosphere. Ironically, the taxpayers largess will be used against him, making a bad situation even worse."

The hard bit to take of this is that last line,

Ironically, the taxpayers largess will be used against him, making a bad situation even worse.

In a small way, me as well. I'm going to have to shell out some dwindling sovs on (cheap!)champagne. . .