crisis of capitalism

General strike rocks Athens

A general strike in Athens turned violent Sept. 26 as a demonstration of some 50,000 outside of Parliament ended with black-clad youth throwing rocks and petrol bombs at riot police guarding the building, who responded with tear-gas. Police charged the protesters, chasing them through Syntagma Square in front of the parliament building as helicopters swooped in overhead. The one-day strike is the first union–led action since a conservative government came to power in June. Rail services and most public transportation have been halted by the action, which was called by the two biggest union federations,  the General Confederation of Greek workers (GSEE) and the Union of Civil Servants (ADEDY), and also supported by the Greek Communist Party (KKE). Protesters oppose planned spending cuts of $15 billion, which are being mandated by the "troika" of Greece's foreign lenders—the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Protesters marching on parliament chanted "We won't submit to the troika " and "EU, IMF Out!" KKE militants occupied the Parthenon, hanging huge banners from its walls reading "PEOPLES OF EUROPE RISE UP." (EkathimeriniSky News, The Guardian, BBC News, Sept. 26; EurActiv, Sept. 24)

Police fire on Occupy Madrid

Spanish police in Madrid fired rubber bullets and baton-charged "indignado" protesters holding an "Occupy Congress" action against a new round of announced austerity measures the night of Sept. 25. The clashes broke out as protesters tried to tear down barriers blocking access to the parliament building, where legislators were voting to approve the austerity package. Spanish media reported that at least 20 people arrested and more than a dozen injured. Cleared from the gates of the parliament building, the protesters retreated to nearby Plaza de Neptuno, which they continued to hold for hours, yelling "Shame!" and "Resign!" toward the parliament chambers.

Pacific FTAs advance amid Sino-Japanese tensions

It was pretty surreal to hear Leon Panetta warning of an actual war between China and Japan, arriving in Tokyo just as the two Asian powers are facing off over contested islands in the East China Sea. What made it so incongruous is that despite the obvious lingering enmities from World War II (which for China really started in 1937, or maybe even 1931), in the current world conflict that we call World War 4, warfare is explicitly portrayed even by Pentagon planners as an instrument of globalization—bringing the light of "free markets" and "integration" to benighted regions of the globe that continue to resist their lures. Warfare is now "asymmetrical," posing a single superpower and its allies against "terrorists" and insurgents, or at the very most against "rogue states." The old paradigm of war between rival capitalist powers has seemed pretty irrelevant for the past generation. In the Cold War with the Russians, the superpowers manipulated proxy forces while the US aimed for strategic encirclement of the rival power. In the New Cold War with China that is now emerging, the US again seeks strategic encirclement, and while there aren't any proxy wars being waged (no contemporary equivalent of Vietnam or Angola or Nicaragua), Japanese and South Koreans should beware of their governments being entangled in Washington's containment strategy—as Panetta's own comments acknowledge, games of brinkmanship can get out of control. And, as we noted, even as he made his warning, he was in Japan to inaugurate a new anti-missile radar system, ostensibly designed to defend against North Korea, but certain to be perceived in Beijing as a part of the encirclement strategy...

Occupy Wall Street: one year later

On Sept. 17, the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, some 180 were arrested in Lower Manhattan trying to, once again, occupy Wall Street. As usual, the famous street was cordoned off behind police barricades, with only ID-carrying employees allowed through, so most of the "occupations" were actually on the surrounding blocks. Even converging before dawn was insufficient to avoid this fate. With protesters scattered in clusters throughout the area it was difficult to judge numbers, but mainstream sources (WSJ, Reuters, Al Jazeera) put it at a probably low-balled 1,000. Reporter Colin Moynihan in the New York Times has a video feed from the scene which shows some of the predictable instances of police thuggery, including a rather futile effort to bar journalists from filming the man-handling of protesters. Other such images are online at Gothamist

The Republicans are the party of white supremacy: deal with it

Global domination and corporate power are obviously inextricably linked to white supremacy, and certainly the prior two rose along with the last. But the three no longer form the seamless unity they did even a generation ago. This is what those on the left who repeat like a mantra that there is "no difference" between Romney and Obama don't seem to get. We have pointed out before Mitt Romney's use of coded messages to play to the racist vote while still maintaining  a veil (however diaphanous) of plausible deniability. Among his supporters at the GOP convention in Tampa last month, the veil was sometimes not there at all. Note this enlightening litany from the Washington Post, Aug. 29:

Global anarchists return to Swiss birthplace of Anarchist International

Hundreds of anarchists from all over the world gathered Aug. 8-12 in the town of Saint-Imier in the Jura region of Switzerland to mark the 140th anniversary of a congress which saw the anarchists break with the workers' movement dominated by Karl Marx. The International Anarchism Gathering called for public protests and strikes to oppose austerity measures imposed in response to the European debt crisis. "Capitalism goes from crisis to crisis, so this is an opportunity for us," said Aristides Pedraza, one of the event organizers.

Evo Morales: Maya calendar portends end of Coca-Cola... and capitalism

The government of President Evo Morales announced July 17 that it will invite heads of state and indigenous leaders from around the world to Bolivia on Dec. 21, South America's summer solstice, believing that this day will mark "the end" of capitalism and Coca-Cola, and the beginning of a time "of love" and a "culture of life." Exterior Minister David Choquehuanca, who made the announcement, said the date was chosen because it marks the "end of the Maya calendar," and a ceremony will be held, to be presided over by Morales, on the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca. Choquehuanca elaborated: "December 21 of 2012 marks the end of egoism, of division. December 21 will be the end of Coca-Cola, and the beginning of mocochinchi." He added that on this day, "the planets will line up after 26,000 years," but rather than meaning the end of the world it will mean "the end of hatred and the beginning of love." (MinutoUno, Buenos Aires, July 17)

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