Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vexed: Brief Points on Art, Voyeurism and Pornography by Augustine Zenakos

Panayiotis Lamprou, “Portrait of My British Wife” (via

Vexed: Brief Points on Art, Voyeurism and Pornography                                                  
by Augustine Zenakos

In an article in The Guardian about a photograph by Panayiotis Lamprou, Portrait of My British Wife, on the shortlist of this year’s Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize, the writer asks what he admits is a “vexed question”: “When does art become voyeurism or, indeed, pornography?”
The first problem with such a question is the precise way it is posed: the concept of pornography is not a direct extension – a kind of ‘bloating’ – of the concept of voyeurism, as is implied by the way the question is formulated. A consumer of pornography is not simply a less inhibited voyeur. In fact, whereas voyeurism may be an extremely ‘open’ concept that easily lends itself to metaphor, pornography is a very ‘closed’ concept that does not lend itself to metaphor at all. (Whereas there is a metaphorically voyeuristic, there is no metaphorically pornographic.) If I were to attempt a definition, I would suggest that pornographic is the kind of image where any narrative is rendered meaningless in favour of explicitness.  (That is why In Thru the Backdoor 2 is pornography, whereas In the Realm of the Senses is not.) Voyeurism does not work in the same way. The voyeur, actual or metaphorical, inscribes him/herself in a narrative, the consumer of pornography is deprived of it.
The second problem with the question is that art and voyeurism are hardly mutually exclusive. More precisely, if we concede that something is voyeuristic, this does not preclude its being art. On the contrary, the element of voyeurism is crucial in countless Venuses and Magdalenes that we admire as great works of art. In the same way, the photograph is quite clear: the fact that this is the photographer’s wife renders our viewing act indeed voyeuristic, but this forms part of the artistic function of the work – it is not its opposite.
The third problem is that whatever is sexually explicit is not necessarily pornographic. The determining factor for pornography is not sexual explicitness – it may rather be approached through the question: what else is an image, apart from sexually explicit, what else does it do apart from revealing all? The reason we cannot consider many works of art as pornographic is that they are complex interweavings of meaning, including narrative strands that incorporate sexual explicitness as their integral part. On the other hand, what makes a pornographic work is its insistence to include only the revelation-by-itself, its eclipse of all narrative, of all other meaning. This is clearly not the case with this photograph.
It seems that a “vexed” question begs a vexed answer: sometimes you can’t get a right answer, unless you have asked the right question.
Post scriptum: Much more interesting than the question of art versus pornography is the question of gender bias in the photograph. Meaning that, although a wife can of course be territorial about a husband, the photograph is dependent on the fact that only a wife can be a true ‘possesion’. This is one of those instances where oppressive speech, though not exactly appropriated as is the case in activist discourse, is given as an a posteriori key to a reading of the work, in order to imply its own oppressive content. This is complicated further by the implication in the designation ‘British’, with all its allusions to northern sexual repression thawed by southern sexuality. (Though not ‘casual’ sexuality, as has been argued; more appropriate would be to say ‘uninhibited’: shaved pubic hair and unshaved armpits hardly spell out casualness.) All in all, this is fighting fire (stereotypes) with fire: a primal fear is contained in the thought of losing one’s women to the PIIGS**. I have to admit I enjoyed it thoroughly.

**PIIGS : An acronym used to refer to the five Eurozone nations, which were considered weaker economically following the financial crisis: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Since the nations use the euro as their currency, they were unable to employ independent monetary policy in order to help battle the economic downturn.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Communique from France : First round: It continues!...

Hello Everyone, this is a message from Void Network.
We just recieved this message and we propose you to read and
distribute this communique:

Here is a translation of the most recent communique

from an assembly that has been occuring in Paris. Please post and
dsitrubute (posting is extremely helpful)
This communique was distrubuted as a flyer at
a demonstration in Paris today.
There are more communiques to come as
soon as they are translated.
Solidarity, Calamity Barucha
First round: It continues!

For more than three weeks, a high scaled social movement is underway
in the country. Pension reform has been it's starting point.

We are well aware that everything is being done to make the weapon of
striking less effective. The state uses the tools of law- legal
obstacles and requisitions; and on the other hand, the atomization and
segmentation resulting from the last thirty years of re-structuring of
capital tends to neutralize the destructive capacity of the strike.
The days of mass protest, to their limited effects, had the main
interest of the base finding it's legitimacy to grow and go beyond the
framework imposed by the unions. It is through the blockading,
especially in strategic points of the petro-chemical and
transportation sectors, that the movement gave itself the means to
intensify the power struggle, despite attempts by the government and
media to separate "good strikers" from blockaders, as they have done
for a long time between demonstrators and rioters. But it is the very
distinction between who has the legitimacy to fight and who doesn't
which is necessary to break. Thus, it was the high schoolers, who,
landing with a crash into the movement, practiced blockades of
establishments or major roads, aswell as  riots to express anger
against the state and commodities.

For all those who believe that reform is only part of a general
deterioration of our living conditions; for all those who may not have
direct means of blocking  production but have refused to resign;

For those who think it is necessary to go beyond the categorical
separations maintained by capital; For all these, the practice of
flying picket (translators note: a flying picket is a technique which
has been used throughout France but particularly in Rennes-it is the
practice of small groups who scatter throughout the city and block
activities, transport, general circulation. These groups have been
reported to be a mixed-make up of particpants, such as unemployed with
unionist, ect) can be effective. Re-inforce existing blockades aswell
as create new ones  where we consider it useful; but also as a way to
gather together to coordinate and organize.

If unions in agreement with the government and the media, seem now
whistle the end of the game,  the movement  nevertheless continues.
Diffuse and persistent anger suggests the opposite of what they
advertise: Not the end of the struggle but the beginning of their end!
We will find ourselves in a assemblies to discuss the following

Paris:Go to the Porte St Martin (M ° Strasbourg-St Denis) for a
procession in protest under the banner "Strike, lock, riot-every age
loots their cage!"

Thursday 19h, the CICP, 21ter rue Voltaire, Madame Rue balls Friday
19h to IPC, 17 Quai de Charente, M ° Corentin Cariou The next
appointments will be announced on the title
http://paris.indymedia.orgsous "First round: it continues! "Contact:

In French-

Premier round : On continue !

Depuis plus de trois semaines, un mouvement social c est en cours dans
le pays. La réforme des retraites a été son point de départ.

On se rend bien compte que tout est fait pour rendre l’arme qu’est la
grève moins efficace. L’Etat use des outils du droit, entraves légales
et réquisitions ; d’autre part l’atomisation, la segmentation issues
de la restructuration du capital de ces trentes dernières années
tendent à neutraliser la capacité de nuisance de la grève. Les
journées de manifestation massive, aux effets alors limités, ont eu ce
principal intérêt pour la base de se trouver une légitimité et de
pousser et déborder les cadres imposés par les syndicats. C’est par le
blocage, notamment dans les secteurs stratégiques de la pétrochimie et
des transports que le mouvement s’est donné les moyens d’intensifier
le rapport de force, malgré les tentatives du pouvoir et des médias de
dissocier bons grévistes et bloqueurs, comme ils le font de longue
date entre manifestants et casseurs. Mais c’est la distinction même
entre qui est légitime à lutter et qui ne l’est pas qu’il faut briser.
Ainsi, des lycéens, débarquant dans le mouvement avec fracas, ont
pratiqué blocages d’établissement ou de voies de circulation et aussi
émeutes où s’expriment une certaine rage contre l’Etat et la

Pour tous ceux qui considèrent que cette réforme n’est qu’un élément
d’une dégradation générale de nos conditions de vie  ; Pour tous ceux
qui n’ont pas forcément les moyens directs de bloquer la production
mais refusent de se résigner ;

Pour tous ceux qui pensent qu’il est nécessaire de dépasser les
séparations catégorielles entretenues par le capital  ; Pour tous
ceux-là, la pratique du piquet volant peut être efficace. Renforcer
des blocages existants aussi bien qu’en créer là où nous l’estimons
utile ; mais aussi se retrouver pour se coordonner et s’organiser.

Si les syndicats, en accord avec le gouvernement et les médias,
paraissent à présent siffler la fin de la partie, le mouvement perdure
pourtant. La colère diffuse et tenace laisse entrevoir le contraire de
ce qu’ils annoncent : non la fin de la lutte mais le début de leur fin
! Retrouvons-nous en assemblée pour discuter de la suite du mouvement.

Rendez-vous à la porte St Martin (M° Strasbourg St-Denis) pour un
cortège dans la manifestation sous la banderole « Grève, blocage,
émeute, chaque âge saccage sa cage ».

Jeudi 19h, au CICP, 21ter rue Voltaire, M° Rue des boulets Vendredi
19h, à la CIP, 17 quai de Charente, M° Corentin Cariou Les prochains
rendez-vous seront annoncés sur http://paris.indymedia.orgsous le
titre « premier round  : on continue ! » contact :

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Letter from French Comrades about the general strike and the riots in France

Here attached and pasted is a communique from 
comrades in Paris translated into english by 
american writer Calamity Barucha. 
Please forward this widely, post onto
your blogs ect . We are trying to get this out there 

because there haven't been many communqies 
until now and hopefully people will
organize some soli-demos.
This same group who wrote this will soon 

come out with another 
communique that will be broader, consolidating 
more info and having a bigger anylisis and 
comrades will translate it.... 
But for now this is all we have so help us 
get it out there.
-sleepless in europe, 
Void Network

The following is a communiqué that appeared 

on Paris Indymedia, written by comrades who breifly 
occupied the Opera in Bastille, Paris on Satruday. 
Since the appearance of this communique,
mainstream media reports rising violent resistance 
across France on Tuesday, as once
again up to three million people took to the 

streets and riots occurred from Lyon to the Paris 
suburbs. As the Guardian reports, the
strikes have “appeared to be pushing France closer 

to crisis today as fuel shortages were felt across the 
country and violence erupted on
the sidelines of protests by children.”  

According to media, if fuel is not made available 
to cargo trucks in the next few days (due to
blockades and strikes), the economy could become 

paralyzed when factories and workplaces 
run out of supplies.

Translated from French:

The state and the bosses only understand one language
Monday, October 18th, 2010

During the last days numerous initiatives have begun to flourish
everywhere: secondary schools, train stations, refineries and 

highwayshave been blockaded, there have been occupations
of public buildings,workplaces, commercial centers, 
directed cuts of electricity, and ransacking of electoral 
institutions and town halls...In each city, these actions are 
intensifying the power struggle and demonstrate that many 
are no longer satisfied with the forms of
actions and words of order imposed by the union

In the Paris region, amongst the blockades of train stations 

and secondary schools, the strikes in the primary schools,
the  workers pickets in front of the factories, people create
inter-professional meetings and collectives of struggle 
are founded to destroy categorical isolation and separation. 
Their starting point:
self-organization to meet the need to take ownership over our
struggles without the mediation of those who claim to speak for
workers. Many of us do not organize ourselves according to the
traditional forms of strikes on work sites, yet provided, we still
find a desire to contribute to the general movement in economic

Thus, we find this movement as also an opportunity to go beyond the single issue of pensions, the question of work, in order to
develop and build together a critique of exploitation.

Starting from these questions we decided Saturday to occupy the Opera Bastille. This was to disturb a presentation that was live on radio, to play the trouble makers in a place where the cultural merchandise circulates and to organize an assembly there. So we met with more than a thousand people at the “place de la nation”, with banners stating “the bosses understand only one language: Strike, blockade, sabotage”
and “against exploitation: block the economy”, with the desire to go beyond the strictly limited framework of the union’s demonstration. We reassembled at the end of the demonstration in the contrary sense and arrived at the place of action, finally finding ourselves in a free demonstration situation surrounded by an impressive police force. Very
quickly more than a hundred police officers in civil dress, helped by the syndicalists service, ordered to split the demo in two and prevented a certain number of people from joining in.
With eggs and fireworks we pushed away the cops as far as possible from our demo, and we left “accidentally” some traces along our way. Note in passing to those who find nothing better to do than speculate on undercover officers from images stolen by journa-cops, there is no question of crying over two windows of banks whose attack is merely a weak response to the violence of capital.

Upon arrival at the Bastille, due police repression and confusion, only about fifty people were able to finally enter the opera while others chose to disperse.
The cops deployed in the square were able to arrest some forty people who were taken into custody in several police stations. Monday night, most were released, but at least 5 others remain in custody and go before the judge this would be Tuesday…they are charged with “armed assembly” and “destruction of goods by an organized gang”. As always, the powers decided to strike fast and hard, hoping to accentuate or create separations (between reasonable sydicalists unionists and simple shop-owners, between students and rioters ...) in order to smash everything that contributes to the
emergence of a genuine power relation against the state and the bosses. Police used “flashbang” grenades and rubber bullets against overly energetic high school students; the refinery workers suffer not only attacks from the police but also direct threats by the “prefect” to pursue them, and of requisition; the pissed off demonstrators who
decided not to just calmly disperse risk prison as in St. Nazaire.
Since the beginning of the movement over a thousand people have been arrested.

The multiplication of initiatives that escape the traditional
gravediggers of struggles belies clear to all those who would like to isolate the black sheep and prevent protesting that which is largely accepted, beyond the numbers of years of contribution. These actions allow us to glimpse the possibility of a movement where the corporatist struggles are left behind, where the bureaucrats loose foot, where struggles are not limited to what is allegedly acquired.

There is way more to take than they want us to believe!

Stop the pursuits. Freedom for everyone...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Europe's Fiscal Dystopia: the "New Austerity" Road By MICHAEL HUDSON

Void Mirror publish an article written some days before the G20 Summit in Toronto originaly published at the influential political magazine CounterPunch :

EU Today, US Tomorrow

Europe's Fiscal Dystopia: 

the "New Austerity" Road


Europe is committing fiscal suicide – and will have little trouble finding allies at this weekend’s G-20 meetings in Toronto. Despite the deepening Great Recession threatening to bring on outright depression, European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet and prime ministers from Britain’s David Cameron to Greece’s George Papandreou (president of the Socialist International) and Canada’s host, Conservative Premier Stephen Harper, are calling for cutbacks in public spending.
The United States is playing an ambiguous role. The Obama Administration is all for slashing Social Security and pensions, euphemized as “balancing the budget.” Wall Street is demanding “realistic” write-downs of state and local pensions in keeping with the “ability to pay” (that is, to pay without taxing real estate, finance or the upper income brackets). These local pensions have been left unfunded so that communities can cut real estate taxes, enabling site-rental values to be pledged to the banks of interest. Without a debt write-down (by mortgage bankers or bondholders), there is no way that any mathematical model can come up with a means of paying these pensions. To enable workers to live “freely” after their working days are over would require either (1) that bondholders not be paid (“unthinkable”) or (2) that property taxes be raised, forcing even more homes into negative equity and leading to even more walkaways and bank losses on their junk mortgages. Given the fact that the banks are writing national economic policy these days, it doesn’t look good for people expecting a leisure society to materialize any time soon.
The problem for U.S. officials is that Europe’s sudden passion for slashing public pensions and other social spending will shrink European economies, slowing U.S. export growth. U.S. officials are urging Europe not to wage its fiscal war against labor quite yet. Best to coordinate with the United States after a modicum of recovery.
Saturday and Sunday will see the six-month mark in a carefully orchestrated financial war against the “real” economy. The buildup began here in the United States. On February 18, President Obama stacked his White House Deficit Commission (formally the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) with the same brand of neoliberal ideologues who comprised the notorious 1982 Greenspan Commission on Social Security “reform.”
The pro-financial, anti-labor and anti-government restructurings since 1980 have given the word “reform” a bad name. The commission is headed by former Republican Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson (who explained derisively that Social Security is for the “lesser people”) and Clinton neoliberal Erskine Bowles, who led the fight for the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Also on the committee are bluedog Democrat Max Baucus of Montana (the pro-Wall Street Finance Committee chairman). The result is an Obama anti-change dream: bipartisan advocacy for balanced budgets, which means in practice to stop running budget deficits – the deficits that Keynes explained were necessary to fuel economic recovery by providing liquidity and purchasing power.
A balanced budget in an economic downturn means shrinkage for the private sector. Coming as the Western economies move into a debt deflation, the policy means shrinking markets for goods and services – all to support banking claims on the “real” economy.
The exercise in managing public perceptions to imagine that all this is a good thing was escalated in April with the manufactured Greek crisis. Newspapers throughout the world breathlessly discovered that Greece was not taxing the wealthy classes. They joined in a chorus to demand that workers be taxed more to make up for the tax shift off wealth. It was their version of the Obama Plan (that is, old-time Rubinomics).
On June 3, the World Bank reiterated the New Austerity doctrine, as if it were a new discovery: The way to prosperity is via austerity. “Rich counties can help developing economies grow faster by rapidly cutting government spending or raising taxes.” The New Fiscal Conservatism aims to corral all countries to scale back social spending in order to “stabilize” economies by a balanced budget. This is to be achieved by impoverishing labor, slashing wages, reducing social spending and rolling back the clock to the good old class war as it flourished before the Progressive Era.
The rationale is the discredited “crowding out” theory:
Budget deficits mean more borrowing, which bids up interest rates. Lower interest rates are supposed to help countries – or would, if borrowing was for productive capital formation. But this is not how financial markets operate in today’s world. Lower interest rates simply make it cheaper and easier for corporate raiders or speculators to capitalize a given flow of earnings at a higher multiple, loading the economy down with even more debt!
Alan Greenspan parroted the World Bank announcement almost word for word in a June 18 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Running deficits is supposed to increase interest rates. It looks like the stage is being set for a big interest-rate jump – and corresponding stock and bond market crash as the “suckers’ rally” comes to an abrupt end in months to come.
The idea is to create an artificial financial crisis, to come in and “save” it by imposing on Europe and North America a “Greek-style” cutbacks in social security and pensions. For the United States, state and local pensions in particular are to be cut back by “emergency” measures to “free” government budgets.
All this is  an inversion of the social philosophy that most voters hold. This is the political problem inherent in the neoliberal worldview. It is diametrically opposed to the original liberalism of Adam Smith and his successors. The idea of a free market in the 19th century was one free from predatory rentier financial and property claims. Today, an Ayn-Rand-style “free market” is a market free for predators. The world is being treated to a travesty of liberalism and free markets.
This shows the usual ignorance of how interest rates are  really set – a blind spot which is a precondition for being approved for the post of central banker these days. Ignored is the fact that central banks determine interest rates by creating credit. Under the ECB rules, central banks cannot do this. Yet that is precisely what central banks were created to do. European governments are obliged to borrow from commercial banks.
This financial stranglehold threatens either to break up Europe or to plunge it into the same kind of poverty that the EU is imposing on the Baltics. Latvia is the prime example. Despite a plunge of over 20 per cent in its GDP, its central bankers are running a budget surplus, in the hope of lowering wage rates. Public-sector wages have been driven down by over 30 per cent, and the government expresses the hope for yet further cuts – spreading to the private sector. Spending on hospitals, ambulance care and schooling has been drastically cut back.
What is missing from this argument? The cost of labor can be lowered by a classical restoration of progressive taxes and a tax shift back onto property – land and rentier income. Instead, the cost of living is to be raised, by shifting the tax burden further onto labor and off real estate and finance. The idea is for the economic surplus to be pledged for debt service.
In England, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has described a “euro mutiny” against regressive fiscal policy. But it is more than that. Beyond merely shrinking the economy, the neoliberal aim is to change the shape of the trajectory along which Western civilization has been moving for the past two centuries. It is nothing less than to roll back Social Security and pensions for labor, health care, education and other public spending, to dismantle the social welfare state, the Progressive Era and even classical liberalism.
So we are witnessing a policy long in the planning, now being unleashed in a full-court press. The rentier interests, the vested interests that a century of Progressive Era, New Deal and kindred reforms sought to subordinate to the economy at large, are fighting back. And they are in control, with their own representatives in power – ironically, as Social Democrats and Labor party leaders, from President Obama here to President Papandreou in Greece and President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in Spain.
Having bided their time for the past few years the global predatory class is now making its move to “free” economies from the social philosophy long thought to have been irreversibly built into the economic system: Social Security and old-age pensions so that labor didn’t have to be paid higher wages to save for its own retirement; public education and health care to raise labor productivity; basic infrastructure spending to lower the costs of doing business; anti-monopoly price regulation to prevent prices from rising above the necessary costs of production; and central banking to stabilize economies by monetizing government deficits rather than forcing the economy to rely on commercial bank credit under conditions where property and income are collateralized to pay the interest-bearing debts, culminating in forfeitures as the logical culmination of the Miracle of Compound Interest.
This is the Junk Economics that financial lobbyists are trying to sell to voters: “Prosperity requires austerity.” “An independent central bank is the hallmark of democracy.” “Governments are just like families: they have to balance the budget.” “It is all the result of aging populations, not debt overload.” These are the oxymorons to which the world will be treated during the coming week in Toronto.
It is the rhetoric of fiscal and financial class war. The problem is that there is not enough economic surplus available to pay the financial sector on its bad loans while also paying pensions and social security. Something has to give. The commission is to provide a cover story for a revived Rubinomics, this time aimed not at the former Soviet Union but here at home. Its aim is to scale back Social Security while reviving George Bush’s aborted privatization plan to send FICA paycheck withholding into the stock market – that is, into the hands of money managers to stick into an array of junk financial packages designed to skim off labor’s savings.
So Obama is hypocritical in warning Europe not to go too far too fast to shrink its economy and squeeze out a rising army of the unemployed. His idea at home is to do the same thing. The strategy is to panic voters about the federal debt – panic them enough to oppose spending on the social programs designed to help them. The fiscal crisis is being blamed on demographic mathematics of an aging population – not on the exponentially soaring debt overhead, junk loans and massive financial fraud that the government is bailing out.
What really is causing the financial and fiscal squeeze, of course, is the fact that that government funding is now needed to compensate the financial sector for what promises to be year after year of losses as loans go bad in economies that are all loaned up and sinking into negative equity.
When politicians let the financial sector run the show, their natural preference is to turn the economy into a grab bag. And they usually come out ahead. That’s what the words “foreclosure,” “forfeiture” and “liquidate” mean – along with “sound money,” “business confidence” and the usual consequences, “debt deflation” and “debt peonage.”
Somebody must take a loss on the economy’s bad loans – and bankers want the economy to take the loss, to “save the financial system.” From the financial sector’s vantage point, the economy is to be managed to preserve bank liquidity, rather than the financial system run to serve the economy. Government social spending (on everything apart from bank bailouts and financial subsidies), disposable personal income are to be cut back to keep the debt overhead from being written down. Corporate cash flow is to be used to pay creditors, not employ more labor and make long-term capital investment.
The economy is to be sacrificed to subsidize the fantasy that debts can be paid, if only banks can be “made whole” to begin lending again – that is, to resume loading the economy down with even more debt, causing yet more intrusive debt deflation.
This is not the familiar old 19th-century class war of industrial employers against labor, although that is part of what is happening. It is above all a war of the financial sector against the “real” economy: industry as well as labor.
The underlying reality is indeed that pensions cannot be paid – at least, not paid out of financial gains. For the past fifty years the Western economies have indulged the fantasy of paying retirees out of purely financial gains (M-M’ as Marxists would put it), not out of an expanding economy (M-C-M’, employing labor to produce more output). The myth was that finance would take the form of productive loans to increase capital formation and hiring. The reality is that finance takes the form of debt – and gambling. Its gains were therefore made from the economy at large. They were extractive, not productive. Wealth at the rentier top of the economic pyramid shrank the base below. So something has to give. The question is, what form will the “give” take? And who will do the giving – and be the recipients?
The Greek government has been unwilling to tax the rich. So labor must make up the fiscal gap, by permitting its socialist government to cut back pensions, health care, education and other social spending – all to bail out the financial sector from an exponential growth that is impossible to realize in practice. The economy is being sacrificed to an impossible dream. Yet instead of blaming the problem on the exponential growth in bank claims that cannot be paid, bank lobbyists – and the G-20 politicians dependent on their campaign funding – are promoting the myth that the problem is demographic: an aging population expecting Social Security and employer pensions. Instead of paying these, governments are being told to use their taxing and credit-creating power to bail out the financial sector’s claims for payment.
Latvia has been held out as the poster child for what the EU is recommending for Greece and the other southern EU countries in trouble: Slashing public spending on education and health has reduced public-sector wages by 30 per cent, and they are still falling. Property prices have fallen by 70 percent – and homeowners and their extended family of co-signers are liable for the negative equity, plunging them into a life of debt peonage if they do not take the hint and emigrate.
The bizarre pretense for government budget cutbacks in the face of a post-bubble economic downturn is that the supposed aim is to rebuild “confidence.” It is as if fiscal self-destruction can instill confidence rather than prompting investors to flee the euro. The logic seems to be the familiar old class war, rolling back the clock to the hard-line tax philosophy of a bygone era – rolling back Social Security and public pensions, rolling back public spending on education and other basic needs, and above all, increasing unemployment to drive down wage levels. This was made explicit by Latvia’s central bank – which EU central bankers hold up as a “model” of economic shrinkage for other countries to follow.
It is a self-destructive logic. Exacerbating the economic downturn will reduce tax revenues, making budget deficits even worse in a declining spiral. Latvia’s experience shows that the response to economic shrinkage is emigration of skilled labor and capital flight. Europe’s policy of planned economic shrinkage in fact controverts the prime assumption of political and economic textbooks: the axiom that voters act in their self-interest, and that economies choose to grow, not to destroy themselves. Today, European democracies – and even the Social Democratic, Socialist and labour Parties – are running for office on a fiscal and financial policy platform that opposes the interests of most voters, and even industry.
The explanation, of course, is that today’s economic planning is not being done by elected representatives. Planning authority has been relinquished to the hands of “independent” central banks, which in turn act as the lobbyists for commercial banks selling their product – debt. From the central bank’s vantage point, the “economic problem” is how to keep commercial banks and other financial institutions solvent in a post-bubble economy. How can they get paid for debts that are beyond the ability of many people to pay, in an environment of rising defaults?
The answer is that creditors can get paid only at the economy’s expense. The remaining economic surplus must go to them, not to capital investment, employment or social spending.
This is the problem with the financial view. It is short-term – and predatory. Given a choice between operating the banks to promote the economy, or running the economy to benefit the banks, bankers always will choose the latter alternative. And so will the politicians they support.
Governments need huge sums to bail out the banks from their bad loans. But they cannot borrow more, because of the debt squeeze. So the bad-debt loss must be passed onto labor and industry. The cover story is that government bailouts will permit the banks to start lending again, to reflate the Bubble Economy’s Ponzi-borrowing. But there is already too much negative equity and there is no leeway left to restart the bubble. Economies are all “loaned up.” Real estate rents, corporate cash flow and public taxing power cannot support further borrowing – no matter how wealth the government gives to banks. Asset prices have plunged into negative equity territory. Debt deflation is shrinking markets, corporate profits and cash flow. The Miracle of Compound Interest dynamic has culminated in defaults, reflecting the inability of debtors to sustain the exponential rise in carrying charges that “financial solvency” requires.
If the financial sector can be rescued only by cutting back social spending on Social Security, health care and education, bolstered by more privatization sell-offs, is it worth the price? To sacrifice the economy in this way would violate most peoples’ social values of equity and fairness rooted deep in Enlightenment philosophy.
That is the political problem: How can bankers persuade voters to approve this under a democratic system? It is necessary to orchestrate and manage their perceptions. Their poverty must be portrayed as desirable – as a step toward future prosperity.
A half-century of failed IMF austerity plans imposed on hapless Third World debtors should have dispelled forever the idea that the way to prosperity is via austerity. The ground has been paved for this attitude by a generation of purging the academic curriculum of knowledge that there ever was an alternative economic philosophy to that sponsored by the rentier Counter-Enlightenment. Classical value and price theory reflected John Locke’s labor theory of property: A person’s wealth should be what he or she creates with their own labor and enterprise, not by insider dealing or special privilege.
This is why I say that Europe is dying. If its trajectory is not changed, the EU must succumb to a financial coup d’êtat rolling back the past three centuries of Enlightenment social philosophy. The question is whether a break-up is now the only way to recover its social democratic ideals from the banks that have taken over its central planning organs.
Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist and now a Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), and president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET). He is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. He can be reached via his website,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

General Strike in France 12, 13 , 14 October 2010

Προσθήκη λεζάντας
Void Network recieves very positive news from France this week about the general strike is taking place there and especialy about the actions and initiatives of young people there. 
As the maintream media reports

...."Rampaging mobs vandalised banks, expensive cars and designer shops across France yesterday as two million people protested at Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis.

A general strike paralysed the country as workers caught in the credit crunch demanded higher wages, job protection and taxes on the rich from the French president.Looting and violence erupted in most major cities, with gangs smashing bank and shop windows and attacking other symbols of wealth.Riot police used tear gas on marauding youths as they tried to contain the chaos in Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Riot police said: "There were outbreaks of violence everywhere. There were groups set on targeting anything that represented ostentatious wealth. "Banks, expensive cars and some shops were vandalised." Teachers, train drivers, air traffic controllers, hospital and mail staff joined the action supported by all the unions and the socialist opposition. It caused severe disruption to trains and airports and the Paris underground. The protests also delayed thousands of Britons though Eurostar services were running. Unions said at least two million turned out - as many as the last general strike in January..."
You can read political analysis about the strike in France here:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (film)

Void Network invites you to see the film

Gonzo: The Life and Work of 

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson


Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a 2008 documentary film directed by Alex Gibney. It details Hunter S. Thompson's landmark writings on music and politics.[1]Friends and family (including Tom Wolfe and Ralph Steadman) provide interviews to help describe the mythos of Hunter and his life.

Hunter S. Thompson was often portrayed in popular culture as a dangerously absurd, drug-crazed journalist bent on comic self-destruction. While this portrayal is certainly not completely inaccurate, he is also considered by many to be one of the most important American writers of the 20th century.
Thompson was known for an explosive writing style that employed what he called “action verbs” to comically spin outlandish tales that were completely unbelievable, yet providing a unique viewpoint to accurately describe the underlying reality at hand. Thompson almost always wrote in the first person narrative, and his stories became so colorfully contrived that they easily slipped into the realm of fiction; however, the basic framework of the story he told was very often true. Thompson’s writing style exploits this void between the realms of fiction and non-fiction, and it has become known as Gonzo Journalism. Other notable gonzo writers include Timothy Edward Jones and P. J. O'Rourke.
Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, on Sunday, February 20, of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound

you can read a review about the film from New York Times here:

you can find more info about Thompson's life and work here: