zaterdag 7 juli 2012

The Neoliberal Religion 43

The Western Welfare State: Its Rise and Demise and the Soviet Bloc

One of the most striking socio-economic features of the past two decades is the reversal of the previous half-century of welfare legislation in Europe and North America . Unprecedented cuts in social services, severance pay, public employment, pensions, health programs, educational stipends, vacation time, and job security are matched by increases in tuition, regressive taxation, and the age of retirement as well as increased inequalities, job insecurity and workplace speed-up.
The demise of the ‘welfare state’ demolishes the idea put forth by orthodox economists, who argued that the ‘maturation’ of capitalism, its ‘advanced state’, high technology and sophisticated services, would be accompanied by greater welfare and higher income/standard of living. While it is true that ‘services and technology’ have multiplied, the economic sector has become even more polarized, between low paid retail clerks and super rich stock brokers and financiers. The computerization of the economy has led to electronic bookkeeping, cost controls and the rapid movements of speculative funds in search of maximum profit while at the same time ushering in brutal budgetary reductions for social programs.
The ‘Great Reversal’ appears to be a long-term, large-scale process centered in the dominant capitalist countries of Western Europe and North America and in the former Communist states of Eastern Europe . It behooves us to examine the systemic causes that transcend the particular idiosyncrasies of each nation.
The Origins of the Great Reversal
There are two lines of inquiry which need to be elucidated in order to come to terms with the demise of the welfare state and the massive decline of living standards. One line of analysis examines the profound change in the international environment: We have moved from a competitive bi-polar system, based on a rivalry between the collectivist – welfare states of the Eastern bloc and the capitalist states of Europe and North America to an international system monopolized by competing capitalist states.
A second line of inquiry directs us to examine the changes in the internal social relations of the capitalist states: namely the shift from intense class struggles to long-term class collaboration, as the organizing principle in the relation between labor and capital.
The main proposition informing this essay is that the emergence of the welfare state was a historical outcome of a period when there were high levels of competition between collectivist welfarism and capitalism and when class-struggle oriented trade unions and social movements had ascendancy over class-collaborationist organizations.
Clearly the two processes are inter-related: As the collectivist states implemented greater welfare provisions for their citizens, trade unions and social movements in the West had social incentives and positive examples to motivate their members and challenge capitalists to match the welfare legislation in the collectivist bloc.
The Origins and Development of the Western Welfare State
Immediately following the defeat of fascist-capitalist regimes with the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and its political allies in Eastern Europe embarked on a massive program of reconstruction, recovery, economic growth and the consolidation of power, based on far-reaching socio-economic welfare reforms. The great fear among Western capitalist regimes was that the working class in the West would “follow” the Soviet example or, at a minimum, support parties and actions which would undermine capitalist recovery. Given the political discredit of many Western capitalists because of their collaboration with the Nazis or their belated, weak opposition to the fascist version of capitalism, they could not resort to the highly repressive methods of the past. Instead, the Western capitalist classes applied a two-fold strategy to counter the Soviet collectivist-welfare reforms: Selective repression of the domestic Communist and radical Left and welfare concessions to secure the loyalty of the Social and Christian Democratic trade unions and parties.
With economic recovery and post-war growth, the political, ideological and economic competition intensified: The Soviet bloc introduced wide-ranging reforms, including full employment, guaranteed job security, universal health care, free higher education, one month paid vacation leave, full pay pensions, free summer camps and vacation resorts for worker families and prolonged paid maternity leave. They emphasized the importance of social welfare over individual consumption. The capitalist West was under pressure to approximate the welfare offerings from the East, while expanding individual consumption based on cheap credit and installment payments made possible by their more advanced economies. From the mid 1940’s to the mid 1970’s the West competed with the Soviet bloc with two goals in mind: To retain workers loyalties in the West while isolating the militant sectors of the trade unions and to entice the workers of the East with promises of comparable welfare programs and greater individual consumption.
Despite the advances in social welfare programs, East and West, there were major worker protests in East Europe : These focused on national independence, authoritarian paternalistic tutelage of trade unions and insufficient access to private consumer goods. In the West, there were major worker-student upheavals in France and Italy demanding an end of capitalist dominance in the workplace and social life. Popular opposition to imperialist wars ( Indo-China , Algeria , etc.), the authoritarian features of the capitalist state (racism) and the concentration of wealth was widespread.
In other words, the new struggles in the East and West were premised on the consolidation of the welfare state and the expansion of popular political and social power over the state and productive process.
The continuing competition between collectivist and capitalist welfare systems ensured that there would be no roll-back of the reforms thus far achieved. However, the defeats of the popular rebellions of the sixties and seventies ensured that no further advances in social welfare would take place. More importantly a social ‘deadlock’ developed between the ruling classes and the workers in both blocs leading to stagnation of the economies, bureaucratization of the trade unions and demands by the capitalist classes for a dynamic, new leadership, capable of challenging the collectivist bloc and systematically dismantling the welfare state.
The Process of Reversal: From Reagan-Thatcher to Gorbachev
The great illusion, which gripped the masses of the collectivist-welfare bloc, was the notion that the Western promise of mass consumerism could be combined with the advanced welfare programs that they had long taken for granted. The political signals from the West however were moving in the opposite direction. With the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, the capitalists regained full control over the social agenda, dealing mortal blows to what remained of trade union militancy and launching a full scale arms race with the Soviet Union in order to bankrupt its economy. In addition, ‘welfarism’ in the East was thoroughly undermined by an emerging class of upwardly mobile, educated elites who teamed up with kleptocrats, neo-liberals, budding gangsters and anyone else who professed ‘Western values’. They received political and material support from Western foundations, Western intelligence agencies, the Vatican (especially in Poland ), European Social Democratic parties and the US AFL-CIO while, on the fringes, an ideological veneer was provided by the self-described ‘anti-Stalinist’ leftists in the West.
The entire Soviet bloc welfare program had been built from the top-down and, as a result, did not have a class-conscious, politicized, independent and militant class organization to defend it from the full-scale assault launched by the gangster-kleptocratic-clerical-neo-liberal-‘anti-Stalinist’ bloc. Likewise in the West, the entire social welfare program was tied to European Social Democratic parties, the US Democratic Party and a trade union hierarchy lacking both class consciousness and any interest in class struggle. Their main concern, as union bureaucrats was reduced to collecting members’ dues, maintaining internal organizational power over their fiefdoms and their own personal enrichment.
The collapse of the Soviet bloc was precipitated by the Gorbachev regime’s unprecedented handover of the allied states of the Warsaw Pact to the NATO powers .The local communist officials were quickly recycled as neo-liberal proxies and pro-western surrogates. They quickly proceeded to launch a full-scale assault on public ownership of property and dismantling the basic protective labor legislation and job security, which had been an inherent part of collectivist management-labor relations.
With a few noteworthy exceptions, the entire formal framework of collectivist-welfarism was crushed. Soon after came mass disillusion among the Eastern bloc workers as their ‘anti-Stalinist’ western-oriented trade unions presented them with massive lay-offs. The vast majority of the militant Gdansk shipyard workers, affiliated to Poland’s ‘Solidarity’ Movement were fired and reduced to chasing odd jobs, while their wildly feted ‘leaders’, long-time recipients of material support from Western intelligence agencies and trade unions, moved on to become prosperous politicians, editors and businesspeople.
The Western trade unions and the ‘anti-Stalinist’ Left (Social Democrats , Trotskyists and every sect and intellectual current in between), did yeoman service in not only ending the collectivist system (under the slogan: ‘Anything is better than Stalinism’) but of ending the welfare state for scores of millions of workers, pensioners and their families.
Once the collectivist-welfare state was destroyed, the Western capitalist class no longer needed to compete in matching social welfare concessions. The Great Rollback moved into full gear.
For the next two decades, Western regimes, Liberal, Conservative and Social Democratic, each in their turn, sliced off welfare legislation: Pensions were cut and retirement age was extended as they instituted the doctrine of ‘work ‘til you drop’. Job security disappeared, work place protections were eliminated, severance pay was cut and the firing of workers was simplified, while capital mobility flourished.
Neo-liberal globalization exploited the vast reservoirs of qualified low-paid labor from the former collectivist countries. The ‘anti-Stalinist’ workers inherited the worst of all worlds: They lost the social welfare net of the East and failed to secure the individual consumption levels and prosperity of the West. German capital exploited cheaper Polish and Czech labor, while Czech politicos privatized highly sophisticated state industries and social services, increasing the costs and restricting access to what services remained.
In the name of ‘competitiveness’ Western capital de-industrialized and relocated vast industries successfully with virtual no resistance from the bureaucratized ‘anti-Stalinist’ trade unions. No longer competing with the collectivists over who has the better welfare system, Western capitalists now competed among themselves over who had the lowest labor costs and social expenditures, the most lax environmental and workplace protection and the easiest and cheapest laws for firing employees and hiring contingent workers.
The entire army of impotent ‘anti-Stalinist’ leftists, comfortably established in the universities, brayed till they were hoarse against the ‘neo-liberal offensive’ and the ‘need for an anti-capitalist strategy’, without the tiniest reflection over how they had contributed to undermining the very welfare state that had educated, fed and employed the workers.
Labor Militancy: North and South
Welfare programs in Western Europe and North America were especially hit by the loss of a competing social system in the East, by the influx and impact of cheap labor from the East and because their own trade unions had become adjuncts of the neo-liberal Socialist, Labor and Democratic Parties.
In contrast, in the South, in particular in Latin America and, to a lesser degree, in Asia , anti-welfare neo-liberalism lasted only for a decade. In Latin America neo-liberalism soon came under intensive pressure, as a new wave of class militancy erupted and regained some of the lost ground. By the end of the first decade of the new century – labor in Latin America was increasing its share of national income, social expenditures were increasing and the welfare state was in the process of re-gaining momentum in direct contrast to what was occurring in Western Europe and North America .
Social revolts and powerful popular movements led to left and center-left regimes and policies in Latin America . A powerful series of national struggles overthrew neo-liberal regimes. A growing wave of worker and peasant protests in China led to 10% to 30% wage increases in the industrial belts and moves to restore the health and public educational system. Facing a new grassroots, worker-based socio-cultural revolt, the Chinese state and business elite hastily promoted social welfare legislation at a time when Southern European nations like Greece , Spain , Portugal and Italy were in the process of firing workers and slashing salaries, reducing minimum wages, increasing retirement age and cutting social expenditures.
The capitalist regimes of the West no longer faced competition from the rival welfare systems of the Eastern bloc since all have embraced the ethos of ‘the less the better’: Lower social expenditures meant bigger subsidies for business, greater budgets to launch imperial wars and to establish the massive ‘homeland security’ police state apparatus. Lower taxes on capital led to greater profits.
Western Left and Liberal intellectuals played a vital role in obfuscating the important positive role which Soviet welfarism had in pressuring the capitalist regimes of the West to follow their lead. Instead, during the decades following the death of Stalin and as Soviet society evolved toward a hybrid system of authoritarian welfarism, these intellectuals continued to refer to these regimes as ‘Stalinist’, obscuring the principle source of legitimacy among their citizens – their advanced welfare system. The same intellectuals would claim that the ‘Stalinist system’ was an obstacle to socialism and turned the workers against its positive aspects as a welfare state, by their exclusive focus on the past ‘Gulag’. They argued that the ‘demise of Stalinism’ would provide a great opening for ‘democratic revolutionary socialism’. In reality, the fall of collectivist-welfarism led to the catastrophic destruction of the welfare state in both the East and West and the ascendancy of the most virulent forms of primitive neo-liberal capitalism. This, in turn, led to the further shrinking of the trade union movement and spurred the ‘right-turn’ of the Social-Democratic and Labor Parties via the ‘New Labor’ and ‘Third Way ” ideologies.
The ‘anti-Stalinist’ Left intellectuals have never engaged in any serious reflection regarding their own role in bringing down the collective welfare state nor have they assumed any responsibility for the devastating socio-economic consequences in both the East and West. Furthermore the same intellectuals have had no reservations in this ‘post-Soviet era’ in supporting (‘critically’ of course) the British Labor Party, the French Socialist Party, the Clinton-Obama Democratic Party and other ‘lesser evils’ which practice neo-liberalism. They supported the utter destruction of Yugoslavia and US-led colonial wars in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia . Not a few ‘anti-Stalinist’ intellectuals in England and France will have clinked champagne glasses with the generals, bankers and oil elites over NATO’s bloody invasion and devastation of Libya – Africa’s only welfare state.
The ‘anti-Stalinist’ left intellectuals, now well-ensconced in privileged university positions in London , Paris , New York and Los Angeles have not been personally affected by the roll-back of the Western welfare programs. They adamantly refuse to recognize the constructive role that the competing Soviet welfare programs played in forcing the West to ‘keep up’ in a kind of ‘social welfare race’ by providing benefits for its working class. Instead, they argue (in their academic forums) that greater ‘workers militancy’ (hardly possible with a bureaucratized and shrinking trade union membership) and bigger and more frequent ‘socialist scholars’ forums’ (where they can present their own radical analyses … to each other) will eventually restore the welfare system. In fact, historic levels of regression, insofar as welfare legislation is concerned, continue unabated. There is an inverse (and perverse) relation between the academic prominence of the ‘anti-Stalinist’ Left and the demise of welfare state policies. And still the ‘anti-Stalinist’ intellectuals wonder about the shift to far-right demagogic populism among the hard-pressed working class!
If we examine and compare the relative influence of the ‘anti-Stalinist’ intellectuals in the making of the welfare state to the impact of the competing collectivist welfare system of the Eastern bloc, the evidence is overwhelmingly clear: Western welfare systems were far more influenced by their systemic competitors than by the pious critiques of the marginal ‘anti-Stalinist’ academics. ‘Anti-Stalinist’ metaphysics have blinded a whole generation of intellectuals to the complex interplay and advantages of a competitive international system where rivals bid up welfare measures to legitimate their own rule and undermine their adversaries. The reality of world power politics led the ‘anti-Stalinist’ Left to become a pawn in the struggle of Western capitalists to contain welfare costs and establish the launch pad for a neo-liberal counter-revolution. The deep structures of capitalism were the primary beneficiaries of anti-Stalinism.
The demise of the legal order of the collectivist states has led to the most egregious forms of predator-gangster capitalism in the former USSR and Warsaw Pact nations. Contrary to the delusions of the ‘anti-Stalinist’ Left, no ‘post-Stalinist’ socialist democracy has emerged anywhere. The key operatives in overthrowing the collectivist-welfare state and benefiting from the power vacuum have been the billionaire oligarchs, who pillaged Russia and the East, the multi-billion dollar drug and white slave cartel kingpins, who turned hundreds of thousands of jobless factory workers and their children in the Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Hungary, Kosova, Romania and elsewhere into alcoholics, prostitutes and drug addicts.
Demographically, the biggest losers from the overthrow of the collectivist-welfare system have been woman workers: They lost their jobs, their maternity leave, child care and legal protections. They suffered from an epidemic of domestic violence under the fists of their unemployed and drunken spouses. The rates of maternal and infant deaths soared from a faltering public health system. The working class women of the East suffered an unprecedented loss of material status and legal rights. This has led to the greatest demographic decline in post-war history – plummeting birth rates, soaring death rates and generalized hopelessness. In the West, the feminist ‘anti-Stalinists’ have ignored their own complicity in the enslavement and degradation of their ‘sisters’ in the East. (They were too busy feting the likes of Vaclav Havel).
Of course, the ‘anti-Stalinist’ intellectuals will claim that the outcomes that they had envisioned are a far cry from what evolved and they will refuse to assume any responsibility for the real consequences of their actions, complicity and the illusions they created. Their outrageous claim ‘that anything is better than Stalinism’ rings hollow in the great chasm containing a lost generation of Eastern bloc workers and families. They need to start counting up the multi-million strong army of unemployed throughout the East, the millions of TB and HIV-ravaged victims in Russia and Eastern Europe (where neither TB nor HIV posed a threat before the ‘break-up’), the mangled lives of millions of young women trapped in the brothels of Tel Aviv, Pristina, Bucharest, Hamburg, Barcelona, Amman, Tangiers, and Brooklyn …..
The single biggest blow to the welfare programs as we knew them, which were developed during the four decades from 1940’s to the 1980’s, was the end of the rivalry between the Soviet bloc and Western Europe and North America . Despite the authoritarian nature of the Eastern bloc and the imperial character of the West, both sought legitimacy and political advantage by securing the loyalty of the mass of workers via tangible social-economic concessions.
Today, in the face of the neo-liberal ‘roll back’, the major labor struggles revolve around defending the remnants of the welfare state, the skeletal remains of an earlier period. At present there are very few prospects of any return to competing international welfare systems, unless one were to look at a few progressive countries, like Venezuela, which have instituted a series of health, educational and labor reforms financed by their nationalized petroleum sector.
One of the paradoxes of the history of welfarism in Eastern Europe can be found in the fact that the major ongoing labor struggles (in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and other countries, which had overthrown their collectivist regimes, involve a defense of the pension, retirement, public health, employment, educational and other welfare policies – the ‘Stalinist’ leftovers. In other words, while Western intellectuals still boast of their triumphs over Stalinism, the real existing workers in the East are engaged in day-to-day militant struggles to retain and regain the positive welfare features of those maligned states. Nowhere is this more evident than in China and Russia , where privatizations have meant a loss of employment and, in the case of China , the brutal loss of public health benefits. Today workers’ families with serious illnesses are ruined by the costs of privatized medical care.
In the current world ‘anti-Stalinism’ is a metaphor for a failed generation on the margins of mass politics. They have been overtaken by a virulent neo-liberalism, which borrowed their pejorative language (Blair and Bush also were ‘anti-Stalinists’) in the course of demolishing the welfare state. Today the mass impetus for the reconstruction of a welfare state is found in those countries, which have lost or are in the process of losing their entire social safety net - like Greece , Portugal , Spain and Italy- and in those Latin American countries, where popular upheavals, based on class struggles linked to national liberation movements, are on the rise.
The new mass struggles for welfarism make few direct references to the earlier collectivist experiences and even less to the empty discourse of the ‘anti-Stalinist’ Left. The latter are stuck in a stale and irrelevant time warp. What is abundantly clear, however, is that the welfare, labor and social programs, which were gained and lost, in the aftermath of the demise of the Soviet bloc, have returned as strategic objectives motivating present and future workers struggles.
What needs to be further explored is the relation between the rise of the vast police state apparatuses in the West and the decline and dismantling of their respective welfare states: The growth of ‘Homeland Security’ and the ‘War on Terror’ parallels the decline of Social Security, public health programs and the great drop in living standards for hundreds of millions.

James Petras is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by James Petras'

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Glenn Greenwald: How America's Surveillance State Breeds Conformity and Fear

Once the government is able to monitor everything we do and say, we will be unable to fight back.
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Editor's note: The following is a transcript of a speech delivered by Glenn Greenwald at this month's Socialism 2012 conference, on the massive growth of government and corporate surveillance and their chilling effects on Americans' rights. 
Last year was my maiden trip to the Socialism 2012 world. I started off by standing up and saying -- I was actually surprised by this, pleasantly surprised, because I didn’t know what to expect -- how amazingly inspirational I actually found this conference to be. The energy of activism and the sophisticated level of the conversation and the commitment that people displayed and the diversity of the attendees, really is unlike any other conference. And so when I was asked back this year, I was super excited to come back and accept. Not only because of that, but also because the conference organizers asked if I could speak about challenging the Surveillance State.
The reason that I was so eager to come and do that is because I really think that this topic is central to all of the other activism that’s being discussed here this weekend.
The Surveillance State hovers over any attacks that meaningfully challenge state-appropriated power. It doesn’t just hover over it. It impedes it, it deters it and kills it.  That’s its intent. It does that by design.
And so, understanding what the Surveillance State, how it operates -- most importantly, figuring out how to challenge it and undermine it, and subvert it -- really is, I think, an absolute prerequisite to any sort of meaningful activism, to developing strategies and tactics for how to challenge state and corporate power.
To begin this discussion, I want to begin with a little story that I think is illustrative and significant in lots of ways.
The story begins in the mid-1970s when there were scandals that were erupting, arising out of the Watergate investigation in the Nixon administration and/or scandals surrounding the fact that, as it turned out, the Nixon administration and various law enforcement officials in the federal government were misusing their eavesdropping powers. They were listening in on people who were political opponents, they were doing so purely out of political self-interest, having nothing to do with legal factors or the business of the nation, and this created a scandal, and unlike today, a scandal 40 years ago in the mid-1970s resulted in at least some relatively significant reactions.
In particular, a committee was formed in the Congress and the Senate, and it was headed by someone named Frank Church, who was a Democratic Party of the United States senator from Idaho who had been, in the Senate, at this time, for 20 years as one of the most widely regarded senators, and was chosen because of that. And he led this investigation into these eavesdropping abuses and tried to get into the scandal. One of the things that he discovered was that these eavesdropping abuses were radically more pervasive and egregious than anything that had been known at the start of the investigation. 
It was by no means confined to the Nixon administration. In fact, it went all the way back to the 1920s, when the government first began developing the detective audio capability to eavesdrop on American citizens and heightened as the power heightened through the 1940s, when WWII would justify it; into the '50s when the Cold War did, and the 1960s when the social unrest justified surveillance. What Senator Church found was that literally every single administration under both Democratic and Republican presidents had seriously abused this power.

And not in isolated ways, but systematically. This committee documented all the ways in which that was true, and the realization quickly emerged that, allowing government officials to eavesdrop on other people, on citizens, without constraints or oversight, to do so in the dark, is a power that gives so much authority and leverage to those in power that it is virtually impossible for human beings to resist abusing that power.  That’s how potent of a power it is.
But the second thing that he realized beyond just the general realization that this power had been systematically abused was that, there was an agency that was at the heart of this abuse, and it was the National Security Agency. And what was really amazing about the National Security Agency was that it had been formed 20 years ago back in 1949 by President Truman, and it was formed as part of the Defense Department. It was so covert that literally, for two decades, almost nobody in the government even knew that it existed, let alone knew what it did. Including key senators like Frank Church.
And part of his investigation -- and actually, it was a fairly radical investigation, fairly aggressive even looking at it through cynical eyes and realizing that the ultimate impact wasn’t particularly grand, but the investigation itself was pretty impressive -- and he forced his way into the National Security Agency and found out as much as he possibly could about it.
And after the investigation concluded, he issued all sorts of warnings about the Surveillance State and how it was emerging, and the urgency of only allowing government officials to eavesdrop on citizens, that they have all kinds of layers of oversight in the courts and Congress, but he issued a specific warning about the National Security Agency that is really remarkable in terms of what he said. And this is what he said -- and you can find this anywhere online, in the New York Times, everywhere -- he said, as part of a written report, and in an interview:
The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. 
He continued,
There would be no place to hide. If a dictator takes over the United States, the NSA could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.
Now, there are several things that I find extraordinary about that statement. For one, the language that he uses. I mean, this is not somebody who is a speaker at the Socialism conference 2012. This was literally one of the people who was the most established institutional figures in American politics. I mean, he was in the liberal way of the Democratic Party but very much, he was mainstream for many years [ ... ] And here he is warning the country of the dangers, not just of the U.S. government but specifically about the National Security Agency using words like “dictator” and “total tyranny” and warning of the way in which this power can be abused such that, essentially it would be irreversible. That once the government is able to monitor everything we do and everything we say, there’s no way to fight back because fighting back requires doing it away from their prying eyes.
And if you look now, 30 years later to where we are, not only would you never, ever hear a U.S. senator stand up and insinuate that the National Security State poses this great danger or use words like “tyranny” and “dictators” to describe the United States the way that Frank Church did only 30 years ago. Now it’s virtually a religious obligation to talk about the National Security State and its close cousin, the Surveillance State, with nothing short of veneration.
Just a few weeks ago, Chris Hayes, who’s an MSNBC host on the weekends, used the opportunity of Memorial Day to express this view in this very tortured, careful and pre-apologetic way that maybe it’s the case that not every single person who has ever served as an American soldier or enlisted in the American military is a hero. Maybe we can think about them in ways short of that. And this incredible controversy erupted, condemnation poured down on him from Democrats and conservatives, liberals and the like, and he was forced in multiple venues in the course of the next week to issue one, increasingly sheepish apology after the next. That’s how radically our discourse has changed, so that you cannot talk about the National Security State or the Surveillance State in these kinds of nefarious terms, the way that Frank Church, who probably knew more about it, did just a few decades ago.
The second remarkable aspect of that story, of that quote to me, is that the outcome of that investigation was a series of laws that were grounded in the principle that, as I said earlier, that we cannot allow government officials to eavesdrop on American citizens or in any way to engage in surveillance without all kinds of oversights and checks. The most illustrative of which was the FISA law, which said that no government official can eavesdrop on the occasion without first going through a court and proving to a court that we’re actually doing something wrong and getting the court permission before they can eavesdrop.'

vrijdag 6 juli 2012

De NRC van Derk Sauer 9

'Sonja heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "De NRC van Derk Sauer 6" achtergelaten: 


Het SP blad Tribune in 2007: "‘Wat vind je van het anti-EU-standpunt van de SP?’, vroeg Volkskrant Magazine een week of wat geleden aan prominent partijlid Derk Sauer."

Harry van Bommel in 2007: "In het hotel lees ik ‘s avonds de Moscow Times die wordt uitgegeven door onze partijgenoot Derk Sauer."

Harry van Bommel in 2008: "Eén van onze gesprekspartners is SP-lid en uitgever van de Moscow Times Derk Sauer."

Harry van Bommel in 2008: "Aan het eind van de dag zal mijn partijgenoot Derk Sauereen inleiding geven en ik kijk daar naar uit."

Januari 2010: Derk Sauer koopt samen met een investeringsmaatschappij NRC Handelsblad en van PCM Uitgevers.

Maart 2010, Derk Sauer in Vrij Nederland: "Maar al ben ik nog steeds SP-lid..."

Rob Wijnberg op "Twee telefoontjes [naar...?] waren genoeg om erachter te komen dat ... sinds 1989 ... is Sauer SP-lid af."

Harry van Bommel op 5 oktober 2011: "Derk Sauer ... is al ruim 20 jaar geen lid meer van de SP."

Het SP blad Tribune in februari 2012: "...omdat media-ondernemer en SP-lid Derk Sauer aandeelhouder van NRC is."

De kans dat Sauer SP-minister gaat worden in een eventueel kabinet is nihil. Hij zal dan 1. onder de Balkenende-norm vallen, dus dat zal hij al rampzalig vinden, en 2. hij moet ook nog verplicht minstens de helft van zijn salaris in de partijkas storten. Tenminste, als de SP die principes niet ook al gaat verkwanselen voor de macht, en "baantjesjagers" opeens welkom zijn in de partij.' 

Ik heb van het leven geleerd dat je nooit nooit moet zeggen. You ain't seen nothing yet!

De Macht van Geld

Sjuul van Dissel heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "De NRC van Derk Sauer 8" achtergelaten: 

Er is ook een Nederlandse vertaling die voor een ouwe bouwvakker als ik gemakkelijker is te lezen [eigenlijk überhaupt te lezen]. Bouwvakkers zal je niet gauw onder je lezers aantreffen Stan, hooguit ex-bouwvakkers, maar toch. Voor de liefhebbers, scroll even naar boven voor de herkomst, en de aanleiding voor deze vertaling staat in het voorwoord van de vertaler 

Robert Scheer 4

Lees over de moeder van alle misdaden:

Crime of the Century

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Posted on Jul 6, 2012
AP/Mark Lennihan

Forget Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Ken Lay—they were mere amateurs in financial crime. The current Libor interest rate scandal, involving hundreds of trillions in international derivatives trade, shows how the really big boys play. And these guys will most likely not do the time because their kind rewrites the law before committing the crime.
Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined. The scandal over Libor—short for London interbank offered rate—has resulted in a huge fine for Barclays Bank and threatens to ensnare some of the world’s top financers. It reveals that behind the world’s financial edifice lies a reeking cesspool of unprecedented corruption. The modern-day robber barons pillage with a destructive abandon totally unfettered by law or conscience and on a scale that is almost impossible to comprehend.
How to explain a $450 million settlement for one bank whose defense, in a plea bargain worked out with regulators in London and Washington, is that every institution in their elite financial circle was doing it? Not just Barclays but JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and others are now being investigated on suspicion of manipulating the Libor rate, so critical to a $700 trillion derivatives market.
Caught as the proverbial deer in the headlights, Barclays Chairman Robert E. Diamond Jr. resigned this week and offered a plaintive defense to the British Parliament that he learned only recently that his bank was manipulating the index on which so large a part of international trade is based. That is plausible only if we assume he was paid $10 million a year to be deliberately ignorant. The Wall Street Journal had exposed this scandal fully four years ago but his bank continued to participate in it nonetheless. 
“Study Casts Doubt on Key Rate” was the headline on the May 29, 2008, investigative report, which concluded: “Major banks are contributing to the erratic behavior of a crucial global lending benchmark, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows.” Even then, according to the report, it was known that the Libor rate was being manipulated “to act as if the banking system was doing better than it was at critical junctures in the financial crisis.”

Fast-forward four years to Diamond’s testimony before Parliament this week in which the CEO claimed his recent discovery of a pattern of interest manipulation by Barclays had made him “physically sick.” Who was to blame? According to the executive, subordinates acting behind his back. 

The American-born banker, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Britain, is well versed in financial chicanery, having started by putting together derivatives packages at Credit Suisse First Boston back in 1996. He was compelled under parliamentary questioning Wednesday to admit that “I can’t sit here and say no one in the industry [knew] about the problems with Libor. There was an issue out there and it should have been dealt with more broadly.”
He couldn’t deny widespread chicanery within his bank because, as in the collapse of Enron a decade ago, investigators had uncovered an email record of market manipulation so glaring that if the top executives were unaware, it was because they didn’t want to know. 
As The New York Times editorialized: “The evidence, cited by the Justice Department—which Barclays agreed is ‘true and accurate’—is damning. ‘Always happy to help,’ one employee wrote in an email after being asked to submit false information. ‘If you know how to keep a secret, I’ll bring you in on it,’ wrote a Barclays trader to a trader at another bank, referring to their strategies for mutual gain. If that’s not conspiracy and price-fixing, what is?”
The U.S. Justice Department made a deal with Barclays, and although it may prosecute some individuals in the scam, it agreed not to go after the bank itself. “Such an agreement makes sense only if that cooperation will allow prosecutors to nail other banks that have been involved in setting the rates, including potential cases against Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC ... ,” the Times editorial said.
Both Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase were reported by The Wall Street Journal years ago to be suspected of rigging the Libor interest rate. The leaders of those banks, despite such media exposure, clearly remained confident enough to continue on their merry way.
The sad reality is that they will probably get away with it. The world of high finance is by design as obscure and opaque as the bankers and their political surrogates can make it, and even this most recent crack in their defense of deception will soon be made to go away.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”

Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more'

De NRC van Derk Sauer 8

'Anoniem heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "De NRC van Derk Sauer 7" achtergelaten:             Is er nog iemand die Graaimans en zijn charmante vrouw serieus neemt in Nederland?' 

Mijn antwoord is: Jawel, een groot deel van mijn collega's. Money Talks. Dat weet Derk Sauer als geen ander, want hij heeft Karl Marx gelezen:

'The Power of Money

[40] If man’s feelings, passions, etc., are not merely anthropological phenomena in the (narrower) sense, but truly ontological [41] affirmations of being (of nature), and if they are only really affirmed because their object exists for them as a sensual object, then it is clear that:
1. They have by no means merely one mode of affirmation, but rather that the distinct character of their existence, of their life, is constituted by the distinct mode of their affirmation. In what manner the object exists for them, is the characteristic mode of their gratification.
2. Wherever the sensuous affirmation is the direct annulment of the object in its independent form (as in eating, drinking, working up of the object, etc.), this is the affirmation of the object.
3. Insofar as man, and hence also his feeling, etc., is human, the affirmation of the object by another is likewise his own gratification.
4. Only through developed industry – i.e., through the medium of private property – does the ontological essence of human passion come into being, in its totality as well as in its humanity; the science of man is therefore itself a product of man’s own practical activity.
5. The meaning of private property – apart from its estrangement – is the existence of essential objects for man, both as objects of enjoyment and as objects of activity.
By possessing the property of buying everything, by possessing the property of appropriating all objects, money is thus the object of eminent possession. The universality of its property is the omnipotence of its being. It is therefore regarded as an omnipotent being. Money is the procurer between man’s need and the object, between his life and his means of life. But that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of other people for me. For me it is the other person.
“What, man! confound it, hands and feet
And head and backside, all are yours!
And what we take while life is sweet,
Is that to be declared not ours?
“Six stallions, say, I can afford,
Is not their strength my property?
I tear along, a sporting lord,
As if their legs belonged to me.”
Goethe: Faust (Mephistopheles)
Shakespeare in Timon of Athens:
“Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold?
No, Gods, I am no idle votarist! ...
Thus much of this will make black white, foul fair,
Wrong right, base noble, old young, coward valiant.
... Why, this
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides,
Pluck stout men’s pillows from below their heads:
This yellow slave
Will knit and break religions, bless the accursed;
Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves
And give them title, knee and approbation
With senators on the bench: This is it
That makes the wappen’d widow wed again;
She, whom the spital-house and ulcerous sores
Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and spices
To the April day again. Come, damned earth,
Thou common whore of mankind, that put’st odds
Among the rout of nations.”
And also later:
“O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce
‘Twixt natural son and sire! thou bright defiler
Of Hymen’s purest bed! thou valiant Mars!
Thou ever young, fresh, loved and delicate wooer
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian’s lap! Thou visible God! 
That solder’st close impossibilities,
And makest them kiss! That speak’st with every tongue,
||XLII| To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Think, thy slave man rebels, and by thy virtue
Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
May have the world in empire!”
Shakespeare excellently depicts the real nature of money. To understand him, let us begin, first of all, by expounding the passage from Goethe.
That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who has [In the manuscript: ‘is’. – Ed.] power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?
If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, connecting me with nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties? Is it not, therefore, also the universal agent of separation? It is the coin that really separates as well as the real binding agent – the [...] [One word in the manuscript cannot be deciphered. – Ed.] chemical power of society.
Shakespeare stresses especially two properties of money:
1. It is the visible divinity – the transformation of all human and natural properties into their contraries, the universal confounding and distorting of things: impossibilities are soldered together by it.
2. It is the common whore, the common procurer of people and nations.
The distorting and confounding of all human and natural qualities, the fraternisation of impossibilities – the divine power of money – lies in its character as men’s estranged, alienating and self-disposing species-nature. Money is the alienated ability of mankind.
That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not – turns it, that is, into its contrary.
If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or desired existence into their sensuous, actual existence – from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, [money] is the truly creative power.
No doubt the demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the [others],||XLIII| and which therefore remains even for me unreal and objectless. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my wish, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between that which exists within me merely as an idea and the idea which exists as a real object outside of me.
If I have no money for travel, I have no need – that is, no real and realisable need – to travel. If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study – that is, no effective, no true vocation. On the other hand, if I have really no vocation for study but have the will and the money for it, I have an effective vocation for it.Money as the external, universal medium and faculty (not springing from man as man or from human society as society) for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image, transforms the real essential powers of man and nature into what are merely abstract notions and therefore imperfections and tormenting chimeras, just as it transforms real imperfections and chimeras – essential powers which are really impotent, which exist only in the imagination of the individual – into real powers and faculties. In the light of this characteristic alone, money is thus the general distorting of individualities which turns them into their opposite and confers contradictory attributes upon their attributes.
Money, then, appears as this distorting power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy.
Since money, as the existing and active concept of value, confounds and confuses all things, it is the general confounding and confusing of all things – the world upside-down – the confounding and confusing of all natural and human qualities.
He who can buy bravery is brave, though he be a coward. As money is not exchanged for any one specific quality, for any one specific thing, or for any particular human essential power, but for the entire objective world of man and nature, from the standpoint of its possessor it therefore serves to exchange every quality for every other, even contradictory, quality and object: it is the fraternisation of impossibilities. It makes contradictions embrace.
Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc. If you want to enjoy art, you must be an artistically cultivated person; if you want to exercise influence over other people, you must be a person with a stimulating and encouraging effect on other people. Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life. If you love without evoking love in return – that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a beloved one, then your love is impotent – a misfortune.|XLIII||'