Chris Hedges on Gun Rights, Obama’s Empire, and Serious Revolt (by breakingtheset)
But if austerity politics are so self-defeating, why have ruling classes in most leading capitalist countries embraced them with such fervor? The key question to raise in this connection is: “Catastrophe for whom?” While austerity has produced prolonged mass unemployment and falling living standards for millions of people, it has so far turned out rather well for the people at the very top of the economic pyramid.
According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center that analyzed data from the Census Bureau, from 2009 to 2011, “the mean net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent.” In dollar terms, the richest households saw their wealth increase on average by $800,000, while the rest of us suffered an average $6,000 decline.
Meanwhile, ruling classes in the U.S. and elsewhere are using the crisis to restructure their economies in ways that they think will make them more competitive in the long run. This includes wage cuts, attacks on public sector unions and significant cuts in social spending. If they can impose this agenda, then they may consider low growth for the foreseeable future a price worth paying.
Whether or not this strategy will actually produce stronger economic growth in the long term is another question, but a significant segment of elite opinion regards it as their best bet. Hence, it becomes necessary for them to tell the rest of the population that there is no alternative to the bitter pill of austerity, and that we should therefore downsize our expectations. Krugman gets this when he writes, “The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a façade of academic rigor. What the top 1 percent wants becomes what economic science says we must do.”"
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You are a Marxist and social theorist. In your latest book, you refer to the “art of rent,” that is, when capital makes extra profits from local discrepancies. What exactly do you mean?
Harvey : Simply put, a monopolist can demand a premium for a sought-after commodity. These days, cities try demanding premiums by advertising themselves as culturally unique. After the Guggenheim Museum was built in Bilbao in 1997, cities all over the world followed its example and began developing landmark projects. The goal is to be able to say: “This city is unique, and that’s why you need to pay a special price to be here.”
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But if every city had a Guggenheim Museum or a philharmonic like the one currently being built in Hamburg, wouldn’t there be a sort of inflationary effect when it comes to such flagship projects that would lead them to fail?
Harvey : The bubble has already burst in Spain, and many of the huge projects remain only half-finished. Incidentally, major events like the Olympic Games, the soccer World Cup and music festivals serve the same purpose. Cities try to secure themselves a prime position on the market — like a rare wine of an exceptionally good vintage."
"It is quite extra-ordinary to see how, over 45 years ago, leading ‘Western’ Marxists managed to get through an entire debate on The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism (Hilton et al., 1976) without once mentioning the colonial context of the rise of British industrial capitalism. As we shall try to demonstrate, the imperial nexus played a crucial role in it. Capitalism was a global phenomenon from the outset, not only by way of trade but also by way of extraction of resources from the colonies that underpinned capital accumulation in the metropolis. So it continues today. That blind spot in Marxist historiography, which fails to locate the colonial relationship at the centre of capitalist development in the metropolis is also responsible for a missing dimension in Marxist political practice. The fate of the working class in the advanced capitalist countries is, more than ever, linked inextricably with that of the working people of the so-called Third World. But Western labour movements have done little to integrate their struggles with those of the workers of the Third World."
Colonialism and the Rise of Capitalism - Hamza Alavi. (via mehreenkasana)
"There is a pervasive view that the object and the effect of Pakistan’s military alliance with the US was to strengthen it vis-a-vis India. That is how Indian nationalist scholars and politicians have represented that alliance. That is also how Pakistan’s rulers themselves have sought to justify it. The rhetoric of US politicians themselves about it was rather different. They suggested that the alliance was to bolster Pakistan as a first line of defense of South Asia against Soviet designs for ‘expansionism’ in the South Asian region. This was in line with the McCarthyite cold war spirit of the times and legitimated such a military alliance within the US. It seems that the emphasis on this argument was calculated also to allay Indian fears. If the purpose and function of the Pakistan-US military alliance were to strengthen Pakistan vis-a-vis India, a view that is endorsed by critics of the alliance as well as its apologists in Pakistan, ironically it played no part in Pakistan’s wars with India, when it was defeated twice in 1965 and again in 1971. In fact the US went to great lengths to reassure India that the alliance held no threats towards India. The US administration took great care to ensure that the military hardware that it supplied to Pakistan in terms of the Alliance, was not to be available to Pakistan for use in its conflicts with India. India-centered explanations of the US-Pakistan military alliance obscure its true purpose and significance and the overall dynamics of Pakistan’s foreign policy, as a protege of the US."
Hamza Alavi in The Origins and Significance of the Pakistan-US Military Alliance. (via mehreenkasana)
India, who are you?
Feature Film || Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
I wanted to put an above shot of every vignette but I realized that it would total 11 photos, one more than Tumblr allows, so I chose the photos that feature an aerial view of the cheers moments.
- Why did you call me at the office today?
- I had nothing to do. I wanted to hear your voice.