Parina

Literature, economics and more...

Category: General (page 1 of 49)

Climate Change

As Wolfgang Munchau points out in his blog, no one is really concerned with possibly the greatest danger facing humanity (barring an “accidental” nuclear holocaust), climate change.

There are protests, gilets jaunes, there is a great reaction to the economic conditions imposed, a reaction conveniently denigrated by the nebulous term “populism”. There is discontent and growing violence everywhere.

Barring the British school children’s demonstration there are hardly any mass popular (sorry for the term) manifestations to show genuine and deep concern over this danger.

And this will not change. Politicians everywhere are certainly not bothered by this “problem”. They have a short time span to worry about. The next elections. As for mass movements, again the time span is important. The great wave of discontent in Europe, and elsewhere is a reaction to neo liberal economics and the debilitating austerity imposed. When incomes are being slashed, welfare dismantled, education restricted to those who can pay (through the nose!) in the so called civilized world, who will or can worry about something that seems very far away in time?

Politicians of the revolving door species which dominates the world at present (also as a result of the neo liberal economy prevailing) are the last creatures likely to worry their pretty little heads over such a matter.

Francis Fukuyama informed us that  the demise of Communism had signaled the “end of history” since the capitalist system had prevailed.

He was quite right, This dominant system, to which there is no alternative, just about ensures that the world will either be drowned in a  great big global flood (rings a bell?) or demolished in some raging global fire (hell on earth?).

The triumph of the system so celebrated does not auger well for the future of humanity. Which as likely as not is in for real trouble, trouble that the Markets not only cannot cope with, but will have triggered.

 

 

Populism

A dirty word, an insult a means to denigrate your opponent? The word has flooded the media and has become a if not The major element in current political discourse. But what does it actually mean? The will of the people? Originally. The abuse of the will of the people? Perhaps. Rightly or wrongly those accused of populism in the current context are sleazy politicians whipping the people up for their own electoral success.

But in the prevalent climate ?globally I think ? ALL politicians suffer from/use various degrees of populism to curry electoral favour from the far right to the far left and everyone else in between. The rise of nationalist populism sweeping through Europe is decried and it is indeed extremely worrying and reminiscent of the 1930?s, the Weimar Republic and the horrendous rise of fascism.

However, that is where the analysis stops. Short. We are told that Europe is in danger from this rise in nationalist populism and there have been all sorts of cries from intellectuals and so on in attempts to stem this tide. Again the fundamental causes of this phenomenon are skirted over. The main cause proffered (and used by the populists) is the influx of refugees and immigrants.

This is exceedingly convenient for all concerned. Fascism/populism reared its ugly head in the 1930?s mainly for other reasons. Reasons which are very close to what is going on today. Economic discontent. The neo-liberal dogma (because that is what it is) has permeated economic ?thinking?(or failure to think). Resulting over the recent decades in the appalling inequality (still growing), the diminution of the middle class, in short the worship (and implementation) of stringent Austerity which only helps the rich get much richer and the poor much poorer and more numerous.

The EU and the Euro have become vehicles for establishing often debilitating austerity and stoking popular discontent. The populace is growing restless and needs to rebel against this phenomenon impoverishing them and diminishing their standard of living. Resulting in an EU totally alien to the original ideals.

An outlet is needed. In Greece the popular vote turned left. However Mr. Tsipras soon proved unequal to the task and decided that ?if you can?t beat them join them? which he did with relish and has now become the darling of the European elite because he continued the imposition of austerity with a vengeance.

So the gathering and growing discontent turns to the right. Needless to say the right and far right parties growing in strength in Europe are taking great advantage of it while the ?Elites? wring their hands and decry the horror of ?populism? while brushing the real economic problem they have been instrumental in imposing under the carpet. For them populism is a nefarious affliction that appears to have descended from the skies. But is hasn?t. It has been created by their own politics.

So when all the calls to fight the rise of this ugly phenomenon chose to totally ignore the main cause of the discontent, the far right risks growing stronger and stronger.

In Davos, we are told, the gathering discussed ways to deal with the problem. But what are they supposed to do about it when it is they themselves who are in fact the problem?

CASSANDRA?

Over twenty years ago Bernard Connelly wrote ‘The Rotten Heart of Europe’ when he was running the monetary affairs unit of the European Commission. For his pains he was summarily fired and even denied access to the EU buildings. His crime? Seeing, setting out and warning over the catastrophic construct of the single currency being designed for the EU. It is now common knowledge that he was perfectly right. As an Economist (and not as some latter day Nostradamus) he saw why and how this experiment was flawed and dangerous.

Like Cassandra he was totally ignored. And worse even. Perhaps the way he was treated for his analysis should have been a warning sign for us. Had it been a load of ridiculous waffle would the EU directorate have even bothered with him? Hardly.

The Eurozone ?crisis? is proof enough that he was perfectly right.

But despite the Greek plight and the Italian stand off, I am referring to this book today, because at some point he says, that the collapse of the European Union will begin from the pavements of Paris*

I very much fear he may well be vindicated yet again.

 

*Not a verbatim quote but the gist of what he wrote.

 

 

Centenary Celebrations

A hundred years since the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The end of the Great War as it was till it became the First World War since it had not really ended in 1918. So what were we celebrating in fact?

The imagery chosen itself, I feel, was very eloquent. The Chancellor of Germany and the President of the Republic of France walking to the famous or infamous or both railway carriage where the original Armistice had been signed, to sit beside each other for the photo and sign something again, symbolically. What exactly?

A glum faced Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the way out after having driven the EU to the brink of collapse even perhaps through her eternal procrastination and kicking that can down the bloody road interminably till it has now started to wobble dangerously on the edge of the cliff.

The President of the Republic of France, Emmanuel Macron looking rather insipid beside her, having failed utterly to convince the lady beside him of his proposals for the EU which could save it, since they were met with her persistent and stubborn Niens all the time to everything and anything that could reform the hapless Union. Not to mention his failure to achieve anything at home apart from growing dissent and anger which may well translate into something very ugly in the coming Euro elections.

So these two figures were of necessity the ones symbolising the end of that terrible war. Or at least of the first part of it. Because as they walked away we were reminded by the BBC that this is the first time a German Chancellor has walked down this path since Adolf Hitler when the French signed their surrender to him in the second half of the horrendous European wars, in that very same carriage. Whoops. Hardly an auspicious association though perhaps a pertinent one.

The whole show was very depressing and perhaps this ominous little bit of it should have been avoided. It can?t help auguring ill.

 

 

Britain, Greece and the EU

I grew up in London. As a child I tended to be a bit confused. There was Britain and there was the Continent which was something else that Britain did not belong to. Summer holidays were spent in Greece, where there was Greece and Europe which was again the ?other? somewhere this time Greece did not belong to.

Now in Geography lessons we learnt that the continent of Europe did indeed include both the British Isles and of course Greece, and in history lessons that both of these were very important in the history of Europe, albeit in different times in and different ways.

When I was a little older, in the sixties when Britain still had not joined the then Common Market, swarms of day trippers from the ?Continent? would cross the Channel to do their shopping in Britain because prices were so much cheaper, thereby justifying the extra cost of travel.

All and any attempts by Britain to join the EEC or even just hints, were squarely vetoed by General de Gaulle who roundly declared that were Britain to be allowed into the Common Market she would destroy it. Hmmm.

Not taking the snub lightly, Britain finally managed to enter the Common Market in 1973 through Edward Heath?s persistent efforts, after de Gaulle?s demise that is. Greece entered the Common Market in 1981 after the fall of the Military Junta through the misguided belief that this membership would ensure democracy for the country,

The EEC had not been too keen on either membership. Britain owing to the fear of perfidious Albion and Greece because? well really this was a tinpot little country of no importance but whose historical legacy pushed it through.

And as things played out, perhaps it would have better, who knows? for both countries and the EU had neither of these two countries becomes members.

The following expansion of the EEC firstly to Spain and Portugal, then later to the ex Communist countries of Eastern Europe does not seem to have benefited the project for many and varied reasons.

And now Brexit is indeed threatening to tear down the whole edifice. Perhaps de Gaulle will be vindicated.

But then again perhaps the possible collapse of the EU, when and if it does happen (something that seems likelier by the day) for all the mismatches with Britain on the one hand and Greece on the other, blame should be attributed to where it is due: the Merkel-Schauble factor. The polices they imposed and the undemocratic way in which this was done led to resentment, pain, fear and even a resurgence in racism.

Let us not forget Schauble?s infamous doctrine: no matter what a country may vote for it makes no difference, economic policy cannot change. Implying it would always be decided by Germany and no one else was entitled to have a say.

However, it does seem that the people do matter after all.

 

 

 

Once More Unto the Breach

I have been absent for a long time. Owing to despair. Just what was the point of banging and banging one’s head against a padlocked door? The Elite KNOWS you (or anybody else) do not!

“We” thought the Soviet Economy was bad and unworkable because it was a command economy. “We” were right. Or were “we”? The European Union is a command economy. Directives for everything. In Greece, the great experiment in European Economic practice, collective bargaining has been banned and replaced by Government decision, for one. And just about everything is subject to the decisions of a totally illegitimate body, the Eurogroup, that decides in secret meetings and imposes whatever the German finance minister thinks, in his myopia, is best for Germany.

The whole of the EU is run by unaccountable, unelected nonenities (on the whole) who answer to no one.

Which may be why many a lapsus linguae has been heard referring to the “Soviet Union” instead of the “European Union”.

Cause enough for despair. Situation irreparable. No way a sober interesting or even useful thought can even be heard if it dissents to the received European wisdom which is law though imposed undemorcatically and totally arbitrarily.

And, it may be added, totally disastrously. And here, as paradoxically as it may seem, is where cause for some hope may be found.

The EU is floundering, globalism is being contested. Unfortunately revolt has found expression in the so called extreme right so far. The left is responsible for this. After the Greeks elected a left wing government, turning to it to change this catastrophic doom spiral, it flinched. It was not up to the task so decided instead to capitulate to the EU directorate and ended up imposing the worst EU measures devised to disastrous results for the Economy.

All the so called social democrat and left of center parties did the same in a variety of ways, from Tiny Blair’s New Labour to the German SPD joining in coalition governments and so on. So where else to turn? Rage and disgruntlement has turned sharp right.

It is time, therefore, to try and bring the debate to perhaps saner and more workable ideas. Especially now when we are on the brink of a disastrous collapse of the world order. One does not wish to reverse this collapse. It is a highly needed one. But we are at a dangerous crossroads.  We need to be aware and act, so: Once more unto the breach dear friends,

“I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge”
(From William Shakespeare’s Henry V)

 

Black Adder in Greece

Lots of great news for Greece! Consumer confidence, they tell us is up! But they also tell us (in a mumble) that consumption is down. We are exiting the MoU austerity imposing regime in August, they tell us! But have to accept, again in a mumble that, yes well, ah, of course austerity will continue and probably get worse with all the horrendous measures already proactively voted for the purpose.

If none of all this seems to make any sense, we must remember that all the brilliant people (mainly in the district of what is known as the EU and EZ) assure us that all is gong extremely well. Even if we cannot quite see it, it is they who really KNOW because… aha! They can read the runes which we mere mortals cannot.

And as if all this were not enough, the Guardian newspaper (that shall forever remain tainted by the shame) thought it would be a great idea to tout a 2,500 GBP guided tour of the misery in Greece. You will be taken to the immigrant centres to see how horrible conditions are, and to visit Greek families struck down by the horrific austerity regime, now living in destitution and penury!

Well now, if that isn’t straight out of Monty Python, or Black Adder,  I don’t know what is!

From his various witty quotes it appears that our current Fin Min Mr Euclid Tsakalotos is very fond of Black Adder and Monty Python since he loves using quotes as put downs, and no doubt thinks it’s all very funny.

And in a pitch black sort of way maybe it is. The trouble is,

No one is laughing.

 

 

Revolving Door and Gravy Train for ex Leaders & Politicos

Senior citizens wonder what went so wrong with the world while younger people wonder why the world is in such a shameful state. It is always easy to look back at the past and think that: Oh! things were so much better then! And this is indeed something that is assumed to have played a part in the vote for Brexit, for Trump and perhaps even the French elections.

And of course one always remembers the Good things and not the Bad. However, there is one thing that has become so much worse. Undeniably. The ethics of former political leaders, or rather lack thereof. There is of course nothing illegal in accepting six digit payments for giving a talk. Nor is it illegal for ex Goldman Sachs employees to go into government or ex politicians to go to highly paid jobs in say Goldman Sachs.

I refer to Goldman Sachs just because it is the most obvious, not because it is the only financial or other institution that has such influence. The governor of the Bank of England, the governor of the ECB to name but two of the most important currencies in the world are both ex Goldman Sachs men.

Manuel Baroso who was not at all a successful Prime Minister was given the job of President of the EU Commission (where his term was not a sparkling success since the debt crisis broke out and the way it was handled may well lead to the collapse of the EZ if not the EU) but never mind, he was duly rewarded for all his pains with a well paid job at … yes. You guessed it.

There is no end to such cases from around the world. That is the infamous revolving door. But another instance is the exorbitant fees these excellent people who run our lives (for better or for worse… usually the latter) are rewarded with. To take the most blatant examples. Bill Clinton has made millions (and makes no secret of it) from charging exorbitant sums for giving talks. Tony Blair went full throttle not only with overpaid talks, but various consultancies and such as well.

And now splashed across our screens (what used to be headlines in the papers) Barrack Obama to get $400,000 for one talk. Who? The great and wonderful Barrack Obama who could do no ill! And this is just the beginning for him.

To my mind this is obscene. All sense of any decency that ever was has disappeared. And yes, in times gone by this would have been considered a disgrace and not something to shout out about in triumph.

But as we wonder, why the hell is the world in such a state? maybe we should bare this in mind. Politicians of whatever colour or creed, do not give a damn about what their job is supposed to be. They are more interested in what they can get out of it. Not by graft or embezzlement or anything obviously illegal, but from the perks offered them.

And the question is, would Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and now the iconic Barrack Obama (to name but the most obvious though David Cameron has now also climbed on the band wagon) be offered such exorbitant sums for a simple talk, or offered such highly paid jobs where they are not expected to do much at all, if they had done their jobs properly?

That is if they had served their people, those who voted them into office and whose interests they were supposed to uphold and pursue, rather than curry favour and indeed serve the interests of Banks, financiers, and various businesses instead?

Hardly. Had the interests of people and society come first and foremost there would have been no remuneration of this kind for them at all.

It is obscene and it is disgraceful and shows how these people have no ethics, no ideals and one vision only. How to make millions for themselves. And this they can only do by screwing the people well and truly.

 

A Glimps into the Near Future?

Recent News item

Emirates Secretly Sends Colombian Mercenaries to Fight in Yemen
The New York Times

The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops adds a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran. Read the full story
This cold lead to something like the following:-

Emirates/Saudi Arabia go bust owing to fall in oil prices (not a fantasy that, but a distinct possibility on the cards). Sick and tired of chicken every day and general conditions, when on top of it all pay checks cease to arrive (because paymasters have gone bust), the Latin American troops rise up in rebellion and easily take over Arab Kingdoms. After slaughter of princes etc. who failed to pay them, they join the other anarchist groups that have evolved. After more blood baths and since oil is no longer worth much on the market and there?s nothing but desert out here, they start arranging and protecting flows of desperate people into Europe. Europeans set up meetings and summit meetings and more meetings and keep quarreling among themselves and blaming Greece for not keeping the hordes out,  and are of course unable to stave off the influx of desperate people because they cannot agree whether to call them refugees or immigrants. In the meanwhile the Latin American mercenaries have revived a Che Guevara cult and as they penetrate Europe with ease they start gathering cheering crowds since they promise to string up all these enemies of the people imposing vicious inhuman austerity. Last scene of the film/book the Latin American army marches triumphantly into Berlin to the strains of Leonard Cohen?s ?First we take Manhattan then we take Berlin?. A Pan European crowd (knitting perhaps?) screams with ecstatic joy as Merkel is brought cowering to the guillotine and poor old Wolfie is allowed to roll off a cliff.

In other words… Gothic hordes taking over Rome, or Anatolian Turk warrior tribes taking over from Arabian Caliphate.

Happens all the time.

Facetious! But analysis can?t cut it any more for what?s going on, only the ravings of a demented fiction writer!

That said… Chaos rules.The more mere mortals try to impose their idea of order over anything the more they give rise to chaos.

Guy Burgess the Villain of the Piece

I recently read Andrew Lownie’s book STALIN’S ENGLISHMAN The Lives of Guy Burgess. I am old enough to remember the furore and media frenzy over the Cambridge five spy ring. How Burgess and Maclean absconded. The Kim Philby shock and so on, so I came to this book with great interest.

One comes out of this enthralling read wondering whether you would have really liked Guy Burgess (as all children seemed to have done) or utterly abhorred him (as most of the society hostesses of the time seem to have done). I have to confess to a puerile reaction. I think I would have liked him very much. A brilliant mind. Extensive knowledge of history, the arts, music. A sense of humour. An almost Wildean figure in scathing repartee not least.

But above all, I believe we should give him credit where it is due. He was an ideologue through and through. He believed in a better world, he believed in fighting against fascism. His spying was not inspired by the motive of any pecuniary gain. Just as we have to grudgingly admit of Margaret Thatcher that she was a Conviction politician, whether we liked her politics or not, so we have to admit of Guy Burgess that he was a man of conviction, whether we like the idea of spying or not.

It is a debate we may have over Edward Snowden as well, but be that as it may. Guy Burgess appears to have been a man of rare brilliance who destroyed himself through excess. Just about an excess of everything. Nevertheless a man sincere in his beliefs who acted on them out of conviction.

Given the state of affairs today, I found this quote, from a man credited with “a power of historical generalisation which is one of the rarest intellectual faculties..” * rather apt and something that we should perhaps still bear in mind, despite the changed historical circumstances. Guy Burgess maintained:

You’ve either got to choose America or Russia. People may have their own view which to chose, but Europe is something wishy-washy that simply does not exist. 

 

A quote by Goronwy Rees,page 325, hard back edition. 

 

Older posts

© 2019 Parina

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑