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January 30 2013

Book of the Day: Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change The World

Key thesis: The localist form of citizenship may empower us, but it cannot confront capitalism. Against a global network of power must emerge globalised forms of struggle.

* Book: No Local. Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change The World. Greg Sharzer. Zero Books, 2012.

Here is the summary of this book which challenges localist initiatives:

“Can making things smaller make the world a better place? No Local takes a critical look at localism, an ideology that says small businesses, ethical shopping and community initiatives like gardens and farmers’ markets can stop corporate globalization.

These small acts might make life better for some, but they don’t challenge the drive for profit that’s damaging our communities and the earth. No Local shows how localism’s fixation on small comes from an outdated economic model. Growth is built into capitalism. Small firms must play by the same rules as large ones, cutting costs, exploiting workers and damaging the environment. Localism doesn’t ask who controls production, allowing it to be co-opted by governments offloading social services onto the poor. At worst, localism becomes a strategy for neoliberal politics, not an alternative to it.”

The author Greg Sharzer argues:

“In 2011, as Greece continued its inexorable slide towards bankruptcy, The Guardian featured economist Costas Lapavitsas on how Greeks were coping with the crisis. As unemployment grew, communities lost:

the means to live as well as the norms, customs and respect of regular work. Barter has appeared among the poor and the not so poor… Schools and transport are disintegrating. People are abandoning cities to return to agriculture, a sure sign of social retrogression.

The strange Marxist curse of “social retrogression” attracted the attention of geographers David Harvey and Keir Milburn. They countered that, far from being a sign of social decay, the return to agriculture was, in fact, a sign of resistance. Going back to the land was “crucial in building alternatives to the neoliberal policies that have impoverished so many”, and “a move full of potential.”

All three economists are socialists: they believe in the power of mass social movements, like the Arab Spring and mass mobilizations across Europe, to change capitalism. Yet if they agree on an active, resistant kind of citizenship, they disagree on what direction citizens should put their energies. One is about mass resistance to austerity; the other is a form of localism. At the heart of this disagreement, I would argue, are two different concepts – not of citizenship but of capitalism.

Our world is structured by how wealth gets produced. As I argue in my book No Local: Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change The World, capitalism is a system of making wealth socially and keeping it privately. Most of us, the ‘99%’, have to work; a very small number of people, the capitalists, get to own. The latter face two major problems: they have to expand their production and lower their costs or risk competitors swallowing them up. This constant drive to expand creates unnecessary production and crisis. When the profit rate falls, capitalists have to do everything in their power to restore it. That can mean a recession and austerity, or even a war – anything to eliminate excess capacity and ‘surplus’ workers.

How we respond to this austerity – resistance or adapation – depends on how we understand capitalism. Localism sees it as uneven and fragile; the dispossessed can operate at the margins to create a fulfilling life for themselves. The alternative, a democratic, revolutionary socialism, agrees that capitalism is unstable and open to change, but not at the margins: rather, capitalism creates its own grave-diggers at its very centre. The working class, who have nothing to sell but their work, create everything and can therefore run everything. Capitalism can be organized against and overcome.

In the abstract, we can choose both. By going back to the land, we can create communities of resistance that provide the material and moral strength to resist neoliberalism. However, by not confronting capitalism, this localist form of citizenship fails on every level: ethical, practical and political.

Ethically, localism lets capitalists pass the costs of their failures to workers. Why be so quick to abandon the schools, hospitals and factories that have defined contemporary society? Workers fought for the good education, healthcare and jobs that capitalist governments are trying to eliminate.

Practically, localities can’t recreate the amenities and infrastructure of an advanced society: the mass transit, renewable energy and dense urban development needed to transform to a low-carbon economy are impossible without the vast, international coordination of resources and technical know-how.

Politically, localism dodges important strategic questions: how do we oppose attacks on pensions, wages and services that workers have fought for? How do we deal with entrenched forms of state and corporate power, which have no problem with tiny cooperatives and the occasional black-masked riot, but whose profits and stability are genuinely threatened by a general strike?

The localist from-below vision empowers people as everything from consumers to producers but, crucially, not as citizens. This is because a citizen is a fundamentally political being who engages with the issues of people who don’t have the opportunity or luxury to drop out. As I argue in No Local:

Marx famously alliterated, “Here is the rose, dance here!” We begin with society as it is, not as we’d like it to be. Voluntarism means substituting one’s own personal projects and priorities for building social movements, rather than trying to understand and change conditions as they exist right now.

Lapavitsas can talk about social retrogression because he believes workers create collective wealth, in the form of public services and productive capacity. The problem is not one of austerity but ownership: in fact, workers create vast wealth, actual and potential, that is squandered privately. Put towards public, democratic ends, that wealth could end poverty, hunger and create a comfortable life for all.

How do workers learn to run things? Through resistance: fighting for change wherever the issue of the day arises, be it privatisation, layoffs or government-imposed austerity. Through struggle, we build the capacity to create independent and democratic movements. This kind of citizenship emerged in Quebec during the student occuptions of 2012, and it continues in Egypt in the struggle against the new regime. Those activists are trying to create an entirely new, collective, democratic citizenship, based on an egalitarian society.

Whatever concessions social movements were able to carve out of states in their more generous pre-crisis days, states have shown themselves to be instruments of capitalism – not because they’ve been ‘captured’ by corporate elites but because their job is to manage the system of profit-making. We can either resist or give in, but there is no outside to the class struggle. As I argue in No Local:

class struggle allows activists to learn first–hand about the strategies and principles necessary to build a movement. This kind of prefiguration embodies social justice, cooperation and community, all cherished localist values, plus one that’s even more important: collective resistance. Rather than imagining possible futures, we can practice and learn about the political steps needed to get there.

The pan-European general strikes against austerity last November are a great example. As workers connect local issues to the global crisis, we can create a new form of citizenship, confronting, not avoiding the strategic questions of how to take power from capital. Against the globalized age of austerity, we will create our own globalized age of resistance.”

Reposted from02myEcon-01 02myEcon-01

November 26 2012

November 20 2012

April 20 2012

02mydafsoup-01

Karl-Marx-Allee Shops

Where there had been ruins of a an area of densely populated, working class housing, the East Germans build what they styled "The first socialist street". It replaced the "Große Frankfurter Straße" and from 1949 to 1961 was known as "Stalin Allee".

Designed in the so-called wedding-cake style, the socialist classicism of the Soviet Union, the avenue, which is 292 feet wide and nearly 1¼ miles long, is lined with monumental eight-storey buildings containing spacious and luxurious apartments for workers, as well as shops, restaurants, cafés, a tourist hotel, the "Berolina", and the "International" cinema.
Reposted fromvintagephotography vintagephotography
02mydafsoup-01

Karl Marx Allee

Where there had been ruins of a an area of densely populated, working class housing, the East Germans build what they styled "The first socialist street". It replaced the "Große Frankfurter Straße" and from 1949 to 1961 was known as "Stalin Allee".

Designed in the so-called wedding-cake style, the socialist classicism of the Soviet Union, the avenue, which is 292 feet wide and nearly 1¼ miles long, is lined with monumental eight-storey buildings containing spacious and luxurious apartments for workers, as well as shops, restaurants, cafés, a tourist hotel and an enormous cinema (the International), At each end are dual towers at Frankfurter Tor (in the middle distance) and Strausberger Platz.

Reposted fromvintagephotography vintagephotography
02mydafsoup-01

March 18 2012

02mydafsoup-01
[...]

Wenn Gauck sich unter Berufung auf Hannah Arendt darüber beklagt, daß der Totalitarismusbegriff seriösen Historikern als ein für den Systemvergleich zwischen der BRD und der DDR vollkommen untauglicher Begriff erscheint, befindet er sich damit, anders als er suggerieren will, mitnichten in Übereinstimmung zu dem, was die liberale Philosophin selbst darüber dachte. Darauf wies zuletzt Micha Brumlik richtigerweise hin. (taz, 24.2.2012). Denn Arendt stand die Gefahr eines Mißbrauchs des Begriffs zu antikommunistischen Propagandazwecken deutlich vor Augen. Deshalb empfahl sie nachdrücklich, »mit dem Wort ›totalitär‹ sparsam und vorsichtig umzugehen.« (Arendt 1986, S. 636) Was die Philosophin unter einer vernünftigen westlichen Politik verstand, hat mit Gaucks Perspektive denkbar wenig zu tun. Sie empfand es nämlich als Problem, »daß uns die Ära des Kalten Krieges eine offizielle ›Gegenideologie‹ hinterlassen hat, den Antikommunismus, welcher gleichfalls dazu neigt, einen Anspruch auf Weltherrschaft zu entwickeln«. (Arendt 1986, S. 635)


Die DDR konnte Arendt schon deshalb nicht als ein Beispiel totalitärer Herrschaft erscheinen, weil sie den Tod Stalins als den Ausgangspunkt eines Reformprozesses im gesamten sozialistischen Lager deutete. Im 1966 geschriebenen Vorwort zum dritten Teil ihres 1951 erstveröffentlichten Buchs »Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft« schrieb sie: »Denn wie man auch den oft verwirrenden Zickzackkurs der sowjetischen Politik nach 1953 deuten mag, es läßt sich nicht leugnen, daß das riesige Polizeiimperium liquidiert wurde, daß die meisten Konzentrationslager aufgelöst sind, daß es keine neuen Säuberungsaktionen gegen ›objektive Gegner‹ gegeben hat und daß Auseinandersetzungen zwischen den Mitgliedern der neuen ›kollektiven Führung‹ heute nicht mehr durch Schauprozesse, Selbstbezichtigungen und Morde beigelegt werden, sondern indem man jemanden degradiert oder aus Moskau verbannt.« (Arendt 1986, S. 647)


Für solcherart Differenzierungen hat ein Mann wie Gauck nur wenig Sinn. Von Entspannungspolitik und Friedensdiplomatie hält er nicht viel. Daher muß es auch nicht überraschen, daß er heute noch gegen jene Christen polemisiert, die sich im »Kalten Krieg« für Frieden und Abrüstung einsetzten, um die Gefahr eines Atomkriegs abzuwenden. »Sie waren bereit, der guten Kontakte zu den Unterdrückern wegen die Kontakte zu den Oppositionellen zu begrenzen, und sie waren trotz eines Kommunismus mit imperialen Absichten bereit, den demokratischen Westen mental und militärisch abzurüsten. War das nicht die Fortführung einer Appeasement-Politik, deren Gefährlichkeit uns in Europa bewußt sein sollte?« (Gauck 2012, S. 45)

[...]
17.03.2012: Ihr Mann von morgen - Oder: Was der Neuen Rechten an Joachim Gauck so gut gefällt (Tageszeitung junge Welt)

February 24 2012

January 12 2012

Les socialistes français et l’Iran (1975-1985) - Les essais - Publications - Fondation Jean-Jaurès

Si, au cours des années 1970, l’Iran est regardé, depuis l’Europe, avec une certaine méfiance, le Parti socialiste français s’engage très tôt aux côtés de l’opposition iranienne. Témoin privilégié par ses responsabilités au sein du Parti socialiste, Alain Chenal offre un regard personnel sur une décennie d’histoire mouvementée de l’Iran...

 >>>> Synthèse à télécharger

 ---------------------

 // oAnth - original URL -- http://www.jean-jaures.org/Publications/Les-essais/Les-socialistes-francais-et-l-Iran-1975-1985

 

See it on Scoop.it, via manually by oAnth - from my scoop.it contacts
Reposted byiranelection iranelection

November 21 2011

02mydafsoup-01

Programme of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1905

In its cultural and social relations, contemporary Russia increasingly enters into closer and closer ties with the advanced countries of the civilised world, while at the same time it preserves a number of peculiarities that have been formulated by the course of its past history, its local conditions, and its international situation.

All the advanced countries of the civilised world, parallel to the growth of the population and its basic needs, experience the growth of man's power over nature, the improved means of utilising its natural forces, and the increase of creative power of human work in all the spheres of activity. This growth is an indispensable condition for social progress and for the struggle toward a balanced and harmonious development of human individuality.

But this growth of human control over nature takes place in contemporary society under a condition of bourgeois competition of uncoordinated economic units, of private control of the means of production, of transformation of the latter into capital, and of advance exploitation of the direct producers or their indirect subordination to capital. Parallel to the development of the foundations of contemporary society, society itself increasingly transforms itself into two classes: a class of exploited toilers who receive increasingly lower rewards for the wealth their work creates, and a class of exploiters who have a monopoly on the control of natural forces and the social means of production.

As long as in those narrow frames of bourgeois capitalist relations there develop-albeit one sided and incomplete-forms of collective labour and mass production, so long will the contemporary economic development reveal positive, creative aspects, because it prepares certain material elements for a higher socialist system of life and unites in a compact social force the industrial armies of hired workers.

However, since bourgeois capitalist forms tend to narrow, limit, and impede the development of collective forms of labour and socially productive forces, the contemporary economic development strengthens its negative, destructive aspects: the anarchy of commodity production and competition; sterile waste of its economic forces; crises which shatter the national economy to its foundation; the growth of exploitation; dependence and insecurity of the toiling masses; the corrupting power of money on all moral standards; the selfish struggle of all against all for existence and privileged position.

Mutual relations between the positive and negative aspects of contemporary economic development vary from one branch of industry to another and from one country to another. They are relatively good in more advanced branches of industry and in countries of classical capitalism; they become less and less good in other branches of industry, especially in agriculture, and in countries situated less advantageously in the international economic struggle.

But, regardless of those distinctions, the incompatibility and contradiction between the positive and the negative aspects of contemporary economic development represents a general and growing fact fraught with serious historical consequences.

With the growth of social division between the exploiters and the exploited, with the growth of contradictions between the productivity of labour and the inconsequential reward of workers for their products, and with the increase of the norms of their exploitation, there also grows dissatisfaction among the exploited with their conditions in contemporary society.

The exploiting classes are trying to perpetuate the basis of their existence exploitation through rent, profit on capital in all of its forms, and increased taxes of the toiling masses. By means of syndicates, cartels, and trusts they are trying to control, for their egoistic gains, the means of production as well as consumption. They are trying to appropriate for their class interest all the institutions of the contemporary state and to transform it completely into a weapon of their rule and impoverishment of the exploited. Finally, they are striving to subjugate spiritual and material literature, art, science, and public opinion in order to keep the toiling masses not only in economic but in intellectual dependence as well.

Not possessing any other resources, or having lost them already in the struggle, they are joining hands with the reactionary forces of the dead past, are resurrecting racial and religious animosity, are poisoning national consciousness with chauvinism or nationalism, and are entering into alliances with the remnants of monarchical and Church-clerical institutions.

The bourgeois system has gradually abandoned its former progressive content, has brought intellectual sterility to its ruling classes, has caused the alienation of the intellectual and moral flower of the nation, and has left it to suffer in the hostile camp of the oppressed and the exploited.

The exploited classes naturally are trying to protect themselves from the pressing burden, and in proportion to the growth of their consciousness they are uniting themselves in this struggle and are directing it against the very foundations of bourgeois exploitation. International by its nature, this movement is becoming increasingly a movement of the great majority in the interest of the great majority, a factor that represents the key to its victory.

International revolutionary socialism represents a conscious expression, scientific illumination, and formulation of this movement. Its aim is intellectual, political, and economic emancipation of the working class. It advances above all as an initiating revolutionary minority, as the fighting vanguard of the toiling masses, trying constantly at the same time to merge with the masses and incorporate them into its ranks. Its basic practical aim is to make all layers of the toiling and exploited people awake that they are one working class, that that class is the only hope of their freedom by means of a planned, organised struggle to create a socio-revolutionary upheaval that consists of:

  1. Freeing of all public institutions from control of the exploiting classes.
  2. Eliminating, alongside private property in natural forces and in public means of production, the very division of the society into classes.
  3. Eliminating the contemporary, stratified, compulsory, repressive nature of public institutions while at the same time preserving and developing their normal cultural functions; that is, planned organisation of public work for public good.

The realisation of this programme will make possible an uninterrupted, free, and unhampered development of all spiritual and material forces of mankind. It will also turn the growth of public wealth from a source of dependence and oppression of the working class into a source of prosperity and balanced harmonious development of human dignity. It will also halt the degeneration of mankind from uselessness and superfluity on the one hand, and, on the other, the presence of excessive work and semi-starvation. Finally, only through the introduction of a free socialist society will mankind be able to develop fully its physical, mental, and moral capabilities and introduce realism, truth, and solidarity ever fully into public life. Consequently, the essence of contemporary socialism is the freeing of all mankind. It seeks elimination of all forms of civil strife among peoples, of all forms of violence and exploitation of man by man; instead, it seeks to introduce freedom, equality and brotherhood of all regardless of sex, race, religion or nationality.

The Socialist Revolutionary Party of Russia views its task as an organic, component part of a universal struggle of labour against the exploitation of human dignity, against all barriers that prevent its development into social forms, and conducts it in the spirit of general interests of that struggle in ways that are determined by concrete conditions of Russian reality.

The mutual co-operation between the patriarchal nobility-bureaucratic autocracy and new bourgeois exploitation intensifies the social problem in Russia. The development of capitalism reveals here, more than anywhere else, its dark aspects and, less than anywhere else, it balances the organised creative influence of the growth of public productive forces. The abnormally growing bureaucratic apparatus of the state, as a result of the emancipation of serfs and the development of the kulak system in all of its aspects and forms, increasingly paralyses the productive forces of the village. The tolling peasantry is forced to a large degree to seek help either in subsidiary enterprises or hired labour, and receives from all of its labour an earning that corresponds to the lowest wage earning of an industrial worker. This factor also limits and undermines the domestic market of industry, which in addition suffers from shortages of foreign markets. Surplus population and the capitalist surplus labour force progressively increase, which, because of the competition, lowers the living standards of the city proletariat. The labour movement is forced to develop in conditions of an autocratic regime based on the all-embracing police protection and suppression of individual and public initiative. The class of great industrialists and merchants, more reactionary than everywhere else, depends increasingly on the support of autocracy against the proletariat, and against the toiling masses of the village. In the interest of self-preservation the autocracy has intensified the oppression of the subjugated nationalities of Imperial Russia, has paralysed their spiritual renaissance, has imposed national, racial, and religious antagonism in order to cloud the understanding of socio-political interests of the toiling masses. The existence of autocracy represents an irreconcilable and progressively intensifying contradiction with all of the economic, socio-political and cultural growth of the country. As a reliable ally and pillar of the most exploiting and parasitic classes in Russia, beyond its frontiers Russian autocracy is also one of the main bulwarks of reaction and a great danger to the cause of the freedom struggle of the working parties of other countries. Its overthrow should be the immediate and immediate objective of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, not only as the first indispensable condition for the solution of the social problem in Russia, but also as a major factor of international progress.

The burden of the struggle with autocracy, irrespective of the liberal-democratic opposition, which primarily includes middle class elements of the educated society," falls on the proletariat, the toiling peasantry, and the revolutionary-socialist intellig' entsia. The immediate task of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which assumes the leading role in this struggle, is to broaden and deepen the social and property changes to pave the way thereby for the overthrow of autocracy.

To realise fully its programme, namely the expropriation of capitalist property and the reorganisation of production and of the entire social system on socialist foundations, it is essential that there be a complete victory of the working class, organised by the Socialist Revolutionary Party, and, in case of need, that there be established a temporary revolutionary dictatorship.

So long as the organised working class, as the revolutionary minority, can exert only partial influence on the change of the social system and legislation, the Socialist Revolutionary Party must see to it that the working class is not blinded by its partial gains and does not lose sight of its ultimate goal; that by its revolutionary struggle the proletariat would seek in this period such changes that would develop and strengthen its solidarity and ability to fight for freedom, would help to elevate its intellectual and cultural needs, and would strengthen its fighting position and eliminate barriers that hinder its organisation.

Since the process of the transformation of Russia is led by non-socialist forces, the Socialist Revolutionary Party, on the basis of the above principles will advocate, defend, and seek by its revolutionary struggle the following reforms:

  • In the Realm of Politics and Legislation The establishment of a democratic republic with broad autonomy for oblasts and communes, both urban and rural; increased acceptance of federal principles in relations between various nationalities; granting them unconditional right to self-determination; direct, secret, equal, and universal right to vote for every citizen above twenty years of age regardless of sex, religion, or national origin; proportional representation; direct popular legislation (referenda and initiatives); election, removability at all times, and accountability of all officials; complete freedom of conscience, speech, press, meetings, strikes, and unions; complete and general civil equality; inviolability of the individual and home; complete separation of the church from the state and declaration that religion is a private affair for every individual; introduction of a compulsory, general public education at government expense; equality of languages; free justice; abolition of permanent armies and their replacement by a people's militia.
  • In the Realm of National Economy
    1. In the matter of labour legislation the Socialist Revolutionary Party sets as its aim the safeguarding of spiritual and material forces of the working class and increasing its capability of further struggle to whose goals should be subordinated all expedient, direct, local, and professional interests of the diverse working strata. In this sphere the Party will advocate: a reduction of the working time in order to relieve surplus labour; establishment of a legal maximum of working time based on norms determined by health conditions (an eight-hour working norm for most branches of industry as soon as possible, and lower norms for work which is dangerous or harmful to health ); establishment of a minimum wage in agreement between administration and labour unions; complete government insurance (for accident, unemployment, sickness, old age, and so on), administered by the insured at the expense of the state and employers; legislative protection of labour in all branches of industry and trade, in accordance with the health conditions supervised by factory inspection commissions elected by workers (normal working conditions, hygienic conditions of buildings; prohibition of work for youngsters below sixteen years of age, limitation of work for youngsters, prohibition of female and child labour in some branches of industry and during specified periods, adequate and uninterrupted Sunday rest, and so forth); professional organisation of workers and their increased participation in determining internal rules in industrial enterprises.
    2. In matters of agricultural policy and land relations, the Socialist Revolutionary Party sets its task to be, in the interests of socialism and the struggle against the bourgeois property system, the utilisation of the communal as well as the labour views, the traditions and way of life of Russian peasants and especially their views on land as the public property of all the toilers. Consequently, the Party will support socialisation of all privately owned lands; that is, their transfer from private property of individual owners to public domain and administration by democratically organised communes and territorial associations of communes on the basis of equalised utilisation. Should this basic demand of the agrarian minimum programme not be realised at once as a revolutionary measure, the Socialist Revolutionary Party in its future agrarian policy will be guided by consideration of a possible realisation of this demand in its entirety, advocating such related measures as: broadening of the rights of communes and their territorial associations in expropriating privately owned lands; confiscation of lands belonging to monasteries, princes, ministers, and so forth, and their transfer, together with state properties, to communes, in order that they would have an adequate amount, and also for the needs of resettlement and redistribution; limiting of payments for the use of land to the amount of clear profit from the farm (less gross revenue of the cost of production and normal remuneration for labour); reimbursement for improvements on land when it is transferred from one user to another; conversion of rent through a special tax into a source of revenue for the communes and self-governing institutions.
    3. In matters of financial policy the Party will agitate for the introduction of a progressive tax on income and inheritance, and for complete freedom from taxation of small incomes below an established norm; it will agitate for the elimination of indirect taxes (except luxury taxes), protective duties, all other taxes that burden labour.
    4. In matters of municipal and land economy, the Party will support the development of all kinds of public services, land agronomy organisation, communalisation of water supply, education, ways and means of communication, and so forth; will support the granting of broad powers to urban and rural communes to tax immovable property as well as the right to confiscate it if this be necessary to improve the living standards of the toiling population; will support communal and zemstvo as well as governmental policy aimed at helping the development of co-operatives on solid democratic foundation.
    5. With respect to various measures aimed at nationalisation of one or another sectors of the national economy within the framework of a bourgeois state, the Socialist Revolutionary Party will support these measures, provided they are accompanied by a democratisation of the political system, by a change in social forces, and that the very nature of these measures themselves would provide sufficient guarantee against increased dependence of the working class on ruling bureaucracy. In general the Socialist Revolutionary Party warns the working class against "state socialism," which is partly a system of half measures for the strengthening of the working class . . . and partly a peculiar type of state capitalism that concentrates various branches of production and trade in the hands of the ruling bureaucracy for their financial and political aims.<

The Socialist Revolutionary Party, in commencing its direct revolutionary struggle with autocracy, agitates for the calling of the Zemskii Sobor {National Assembly} freely elected by the people regardless of sex, social status, nationality, or religion, to liquidate the autocratic regime and to reform all present systems. The Party will support its programme of reform in the National Assembly and it will also try to realise it directly during the revolutionary period.

September 15 2011

What Vaclav Havel Didn't Bargain For: Central Europe's Loss Of Interest In Ideas - The Economy, Stupid | thesmartset.com - 2011-09-13 |

"The artistic and literary scene that flourished paradoxically under censorship and repression has died off. ... The people of Central Europe traded in ideas for groceries and for not being beaten to death by the police.
 

Source: www.artsjournal.com, via ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News


----------------------------------------

quotation by oAnth:



[...]


Twenty years after the Velvet Revolution, Havel gave a public speech in which he assessed the current state of the free Czech Republic. “On the one hand everything is getting better — a new generation of mobile phones is being released every week,” he said. “But in order to make use of them, you need to follow new instructions. So you end up reading instruction manuals instead of books and in your free time you watch TV where handsome tanned guys scream from advertisements about how happy they are to have new swimming trunks... The new consumer society is accomplished by a growing number of people who do not create anything of value.”

The artistic and literary scene that flourished paradoxically under censorship and repression has died off. The public intellectual is, for the most part, no longer invited to the most important parties. Anna Porter writes, “Now that everyone can publish what they want, what is the role of the intellectuals?” and she can’t find an answer. It’s no longer the police state that’s attacking the intelligentsia — it’s disinterest and boredom. It’s distraction. It’s a trade off. And it’s one that we should be able to acknowledge and be allowed to mourn. When the historian Timothy Garton Ash visited Poland in the 1980s, he admitted to an envy for the environment there. “Here is a place where people care, passionately, about ideas.” The people of Central Europe traded in ideas for groceries and for not being beaten to death by the police. No one could possibly blame them, but at the same time, Havel and the other leaders had no sense of the true cost of democracy.

[...]

As F. S. Michaels writes in Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything, “When you’re inside a master story at a particular time in history, you tend to accept its definition of reality. You unconsciously believe and act on certain things, and disbelieve and fail to act on other things... Over time, the monoculture evolves into a nearly invisible foundation that structures and shapes our lives, giving us our sense of how the world works.”

[...]


Michaels’s book has its faults. Her summations of how the world once work — meant to both show how much we’ve devoted to this economic story today and remind us that things can be different — are tinged with the hue that colors Ostalgie: the backward-looking amnesia that infects those Central Europeans who have decided things were so much better under communism, or, if you’re in the right country, under the Habsburgs. “Back in the 1950s, the relationship between employees and their companies involved commitment and reciprocity; workers were committed to the job in return for wages and promotions, and the company was committed to its workers in return for their hard work and loyalty.” Well, maybe. But admittance to the wider workforce was restricted at best. Such a point is like looking back on the days of incredibly low unemployment in communist Poland... without mentioning that if anyone protested for safer working conditions, the police might just shoot him in the head. Every monoculture will have its downsides, and trading one for another will always lead to unexpected deficits. But maybe if we acknowledge that the economic story looks like it’s coming to an unhappy ending of environmental degradation, widespread poverty, and hunger as resources become scarce, we can see what we might get in return.

Leaving the economic monoculture, particularly now that it’s a worldwide system, is not going to be any less of a dramatic act than Havel’s Velvet Revolution. Michaels makes a strong case that this story is stripping us of our environment, our creativity, and our personal happiness. We are, for the most part, bogged down in the daily struggle for survival, too worried about losing our fragile position within a corporation to envision an entirely different way of being. It’s going to take another Havel, someone who can see the world for what it is and find a better story to tell.

=============================

oAnth:

 

The problem with thatkind of books is quite obviously, that they describe rather well the status quo, but don't give sufficient answers by lack of an adequate analysis of the socio-economic impact into the cultural and academic sphere, which is causing the observed depletion.

 


Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

August 23 2011

Il y a vingt ans en URSS

Le coup de force des 18-21 août 1991 à Moscou, « tentative désespérée » de sauver l'URSS d'une dislocation inévitable, a précisément dégagé la voie à cette implosion et à la « thérapie de choc » ultralibérale des partisans de Boris Eltsine. Comment expliquer cet effet aussi « contre-productif » de l'aventure ? (...) / Russie, URSS, Communisme, Histoire, Libéralisme, Privatisation - La valise diplomatique

-------------------------------------------
// oAnth

Other entries to the 20th anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union on soup.io - oAnth - you find here

August 22 2011

August 20 2011

02mydafsoup-01

3sat.Mediathek - Video: Ende einer Supermacht - Der Putsch gegen Gorbatschow (19/08/11)

Ende einer Supermacht - Der Putsch gegen Gorbatschow

Die Welt hält am 19. August 1991 den Atem an: Panzer in Moskau. Kommunistische Hardliner haben Gorbatschow an seinem Urlaubsort festgesetzt. Der Westen befürchtet die Wiedergeburt des Kalten Kriegs.


Other entries to the 20th anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union on soup.io - oAnth - you find here


02mydafsoup-01
Other entries to the 20th anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union on soup.io - oAnth - you find here

August 19 2011

Russia: Bloggers Remember 20th Anniversary of August Coup

On August 19, 2011, Russians commemorate 20 years since the “August Putsch,” (August Coup) a failed coup d'etat conducted by a number of KGB officers and military units who were opposed to Gorbachev's reform program and decentralisation of power to the Soviet republics. Citizens took to the streets to defend the White House, the then-residence of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation, against the coup.

The Russian blogosphere - divided as usual - has been discussing the 20th anniversary of the Coup, an event which has numerous contesting interpretations. Will bloggers succeed in transferring the hope for democracy and freedom felt by the defenders of the government to the younger generation?

Boris yeltsin, in front of the white house, moscow, 19 august 1991. photo: itar-tass, wikipedia

Boris Yeltsin, in front of the White House, Moscow, 19 August 1991. Photo: ITAR-TASS, Wikipedia

Betrayal or democratic victory?

Detailed diaries of the Coup period have been shared online by oleg_kozyrev [ru], yustas [ru] (Sergey Yushenkov, whose father actively defended the White House), babushkinskaya [ru], hasid [ru], Adele Kalinichenko [ru] at ej.ru, and others.

Mikhail Gorbachov, former president of the USSR, gave a detailed interview at Echo.msk.ru [ru].

Boris Akunin, a famous writer, recollected [ru]:

Это один из самых важных моментов в моей жизни. Впервые, в тридцатипятилетнем возрасте, я понял, что живу дома, что это моя страна.
[…]
Августовские события 1991 года – единственное, за что наше поколение может себя уважать.
Больше, увы, пока хвастать нечем.

This was one of the most important moments in my life. For the first time, when I was 35, I understood that's my home, that's my country.
[…]
The August events of 1991 - they are the only thing our generation can be respectful of.
So far, alas, there's nothing [else] to be proud of.

At the same time, there were also those who supported [ru] the conspirators:

21 августа мне стало ясно, что мою страну захватили враги, в Кремле измена и надо уходить в партизаны. […] казалось, кроме нас троих измену в Кремле и вражескую оккупацию Родины никто не заметил.

On August 21 [the end of the Coup and the victory of pro-democracy forces] it became clear to me, that my country was conquered by the enemies, there's a betrayal in the Kremlin, and I should go guerrilla. […] It seemed, that except the three of us, no one had noticed the betrayal in the Kremlin and the enemy occupation of our Motherland.

Despite supporting the idea of the Coup, conservative user ros_sea_ru wrote [ru] he was proud to be with the people against the KGB, even the people ‘were wrong at that time.'

Blogger Hasid, wrote [ru] that 1991 was probably the only time, when Russia had a national idea:

Россия должна стать частью европейского пространства (не только в географическом, но и культурном, правовом и т.д. смыслах). […] В 1991 году эта идея была, её большинство вслух не могло сформулировать из-за многовековой атрофии голосовых связок, но внутри она жила. Что вот сейчас откроют границы, люстрируют вохру и туземных служителей колониальной фактории. Независимый суд, многопартийная система, ну и прочий базовый набор добродетелей белых людей.

[the idea was that] Russia should be the part of the European space (not only in terms of geography, but also culture, law, and other spheres). […] In 1991 there was this idea, but the majority couldn't formulate it due to many centuries of our vocal ligament atrophy, but inside this idea was alive. The idea that now the borders will be opened, the military guards and all officials of our colonial factory will be lustrated. Independent court system, multi-party system, and the following basic set of all proper virtues of ‘the white people.'

Generation gap - Important threat for the blogosphere

Russian bloggers from different political clusters of the blogosphere reflect on the August 1991 events almost every year, comparing the dramatic events with the contemporary political situation (see Global Voices reports from 2006 and 2007).

The reflections and recollections change from year to year, as does the overall discourse on the event. A survey [ru], conducted by the Levada Center since 1994, indicates that the perception of the Coup has significantly changed from a ‘routine power struggle episode' (the dominant interpretation in the 1990s) to a historical point ‘that had dramatic consequences for the country and its people' (see illustration below).

Reactions to august coup in russia, 1994-2011. source: levada.ru, illustration: alexey sidorenko

Reactions to August Coup in Russia, 1994-2011. Source: Levada.ru, Illustration: Alexey Sidorenko

At the same time, it is only the educated and more professional minority (7-10 percent of the population) that supports the ‘democratic' version of the event; interestingly, this percentage was not that different in the 1990s - before the Internet was widely introduced.

The interpretation of the August Coup is also age-dependent. While for those bloggers who personally remember the events (and some of them were among the actual defenders of the White House), the failure of the coup was something to be proud of, it is likely that younger bloggers completely miss its historical importance.

Oleg Kozyrev mocked [ru] the contemporary ‘mythical' narrative of the August Coup actively pushed by propagandists, like Nikolay Starikov, one of the main ideologists of the pro-Kremlin ‘Nashi' youth movement (see his interpretation here [ru]):

Заботящиеся о стране патриоты из КГБ хотели спасти ее от развала. […] Именно поэтому в Москву ввели войска […]Но тут вмешались США. Они наняли Ельцина погубить СССР. […]Ельцин окружил Белый дом людьми, которых все три дня путча он постоянно обманывал.А потому путч как-то закончился и Ельцин захватил власть.Демократы тут же все разворовали и страна, буквально купавшаяся в роскоши до 1991 года вмиг опустела и обнищала.

KGB patriots that cared about the country wanted to save it from collapse. […] This is why they brought military forces to Moscow […] But then the United States intervened. They hired Yeltsin to destroy the USSR. […] Yeltsin surrounded the White House with the people whom he constantly fooled. And this is why the coup somehow ended and Yeltsin took the power. The democrats had immediately stolen everything and the country that was leading a life of luxury [e.g. see some pics of the 1991 situation here] in a moment became empty and poor.

Whatever discourse dominates online, some of the conspirators' ideas from 1991 are evident in 2011, as Andrey Malgin sadly noted [ru]:

Из Постановления № 1 Государственного комитета по чрезвычайному положению в СССР (19 августа 1991 г.):
4. Приостановить деятельность политических партий, общественных организаций и массовых движений.
[…]
8. Установить контроль над средствами массовой информации…

From the Decree No.1 of Government Committee of the Extraordinary Situation (GKChP) in USSR (August 19, 1991):
4. Stop the activity of political parties, civil society organizations, and mass movements.
[…]
8. Take control over the mass media…

August 18 2011

02mydafsoup-01
[...]

In the West, the failure of the putsch is still considered to be the heroic victory of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian people over the last guard of the Soviet evil empire in the West. And there is no question that the coup touched off the peaceful collapse of one of the most heavily armed superpowers in the history of the world.  It also signalled the end of the Cold War and a period of US hyperpower status. But triumph of good over evil?  Well...

The Russian people certainly do not think so. A recent poll in Russia by the Levada center (July 15-19, 2011) reveals that an increasing number of Russians now view the failure of the August coup as "tragic news having disastrous consequences for the country." (up to 39% from 36% last year). The majority of others surveyed saw the coup as simply "a struggle for power at the highest levels of Russian government." Only 10% see the news as a victory for democratic revolution. 

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Putsch, how should we understand these poll numbers?  Would the coup plotters have instigated the same reforms as Yeltsin and the other republic leaders?  Would they have spared Russia and the other Soviet republics the hyperflation and turmoil of the 1990s?

[...]


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You find other entries in occasion of the 20th anniversary from the End of the Soviet Union on, here.
Putin Watcher: 20 Years Since the Fatal Blow to the Soviet Union | 2011-08-16
Reposted bycheg00 cheg00
02mydafsoup-01

August 17 2011

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