N° 31. July 2012

- The Anti-Empire Report, William Blum
- 50 Shades of Populism, David Macaray
- Stinking Hot Plutocratic Mess, Paul Street
- Quebec’s ’Truncheon Law’ Richochets as Student Strike Spreads, Martin Lukacs
- Mexico’s Return to “Perfect Dictatorship”, Michael Wilson
- You are all suspects now. What are you going to do about it ?, John Pilger
- The Longest War, Kathy Kelly
- Whose Egypt ?, Deepak Tripathi
- Thoughts for Independent Algeria’s 50th Birthday, David Porter
- Thoughts on a joint but unequal Palestinian-Israeli struggle, Noa Shaindlinger
- Israeli Mustard, Uri Avnery
- The present stands no chance against the past, Robert Fisk
- Freedom for Nabil Al-Raee and Zakaria Zubeidi in Palestine, Freedom Theatre of Jenin
- Yemeni photographer Boushra Almutawakel and the Egyptian writer Nawal al Saadawi

- Missing, Elizabeth Pickett
- June 21: National Day of Action against PNC, Occupy Wall Street
- Nuclear power plant Koodankulam (South India) Must Be Stopped, Vandana Shiva
- Land for the people ! Nonviolent Movements Against Land Grab and Militarism
- The Wall, Pinkfloyd
- America. At Home. Abroad, Anonymous ART of Revolution

A quarter of a century on and the grim consequences of the Reagan-Thatcher era dogma of ’rolling back the frontiers of the state’ and
relaxing controls over international finance have become manifest
at many levels, not least in the monetary mayhem that shows little
sign of abating.
The stability of governments, economies, banks and financial
institutions, taken for granted for so long, has been weakened by a succession of seismic shocks that continue to rock their foundations.

"Are we beginning to witness the end of capitalism?" someone asked
me recently. Given the helter-skelter revelations of financial
skulduggery, some might well suppose we are moving towards an
imminent grand finale. The question does demand some serious
thought, but I suspect the answer is neither yes nor no. Yet there
are some disturbing and alarming features that few analysts and commentators seem too eager to flag up.

In the immediate aftermath of the so-called Great War, the most
eminent economic guru John Maynard Keynes wrote with foreboding
in The Economic Consequences of Peace: "Lenin is said to have
declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was
to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation,
governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important
part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only
confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some….Lenin was certainly

Not quite a century later and capitalist governments have been
gleefully following Lenin’s recipe for disaster. From rescuing
collapsing banks to the bail-out of Eurozone defaulters, the
outcome has been the overt rather than secret confiscation
of the ’wealth of their citizens’. Universally economists, politicians
and even those commanding of the state levers of the financial
system, have thrown their hands up in despair, confessing they
really do not know what to do - when perhaps what they really
mean is they don’t know what they are doing.

Central monetary authorities have turned prudential economics
upside down, pouring fake assets into an economic black hole,
while simultaneously warning of the risks of low inflation.
The deceitful sophistry of the current economist’s lexicon delights
in terms such as quantitative easing, which in this electronic era
does not require the actual printing of money, but the mere allocation
of credits on a computer file. In effect it is another way of cooking
the books - and we as citizens end up footing the bill. Dressed
up as austerity measures, there is a concerted effort to curtail
public services, yet bind the taxpayer to featherbedding private
sector operations in perpetuity.

Rather than presaging the end of capitalism, the present economic maelstrom is leading to capitalism on welfare with business milking
billions from public funds. There are a few signs that the hegemony
of global corporatism may well be approaching a turning point.
If the real underlying cause of our economic woes has been the
blank cheque demanded to pursue endless, unwinnable wars
(with bellicose corporations growing ever fatter on
taxpayer-bankrolled profits), governments are beginning
to look for soft targets in the corporate sector.

The $455 million penalty imposed on the UK’s Barclays Bank
for its role in rigging London interbank interest rates, with a
discernable impact on inflation rates, seems small beer in contrast
to the $3 billion fine imposed on GlaxoSmithKline for the ’biggest
healthcare fraud in US history". That some elements of a pretty
crooked corporate sector are being called to account is welcome,
but the overwhelming impact of the new austerity era on both
sides of the Atlantic remains unchanged. While the process
impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. Keynes was
certainly right.

Neville Rigby

Photos FB and Spartak Khamis.