The country’s two-tier economy that Merkel championed is creating more economic misery. When she leaves, will a “German Trump” be next?

How do you say, “dead woman walking” in German? Today, the answer to that question is “Angela Merkel” after the German leader announced that she would be seeking neither re-election as chancellor in 2021, nor re-election as head of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party later this year in December.

… But there’s another side to this story. However highly regarded, Chancellor Merkel has repeatedly led governments, coalition or otherwise, which championed the neoliberal dismantling of the country’s “social market economy,” especially in services. Her government also pushed and prodded the rest of the EU in a comparable direction. In Germany specifically, the end result has been the growth of a two-tiered economy, which has heightened economic insecurity, created declining living standards for much of the population, and exacerbated inequality. In other words, too little “social,” too much “market.”

Source: If Everything Is So ‘Wunderbar’ in Germany, Why Are the Voters So Unhappy?

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Extreme weather and its collateral damage are only tips of the melting iceberg, semi-metaphorically speaking. The real climatological shit hits the eco-exterminist fan when we can’t grow enough food, find enough water, and keep ourselves cool enough to survive – and when global warming combines with collapsing social and technical infrastructure to bring pandemics that  wipe out much of an increasingly thirsty, under-nourished, and over-heated human race…

Source: Climate of Class Rule:  Common(s)er Revolt or Common Ruin

Humberto DaSilva

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In 2008 the Westworld economy crashed because for Wall Street moral hazard had become a board game. After blowing the biggest bubble ever enticing the guileless with mortgages they couldn’t afford, stockbrokers sliced these loans into derivatives that sold like packaged bologna to guileless pension funds, RRSPs, mutual funds, and 401Ks. European banks bought this toilet paper

Source: What the rich need now is hate, sweet hate

 

You might not know it, but there is a major revolt happening right now in the United States.. The only way to end slavery is to stop being a slave. Hundreds of men and women in prisons in some 17 states are refusing to carry out prison labor, conducting hunger strikes or boycotting for-profit commissaries in an effort to abolish the last redoubt of legalized slavery in America. The strikers are demanding to be paid the minimum wage, the right to vote, decent living conditions, educational and vocational training and an end to the death penalty and life imprisonment.

Source: The Slaves Rebel

The Philanthropy Racket

Posted: August 27, 2018 in Corporatisation, Economy

Leymah Gbowee, Nick Kristof, Laurel Weldon, and Melinda Gates speaking at Goalkeepers 2017 in New York City. Goalkeepers is organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images.

Philanthropy is how the global elite cast themselves as do-gooders — the people destroying the world are posing as its saviors.

As Anand Giridharadas argues in his indispensable new book, Winners Take All, “There is no denying that today’s elite may be among the more socially concerned elites in history. But it is also, by the cold logic of numbers, among the most predatory.”

As wages stagnate and decline, and income and housing supports are viciously winnowed away, a new brand of philanthropic do-goodism aims to transform social relief into entrepreneurial opportunity. In big-name corporate consultancies like McKinsey, at global meeting grounds like Davos, Aspen and Doha, within the warm self-admiring glow of the Clinton Global Initiatives (CGI), the very class profiting from global inequality convenes in search of ways to ameliorate its symptoms—profitably, of course, via a stable of “disruptive” market-driven interventions in healthcare, transportation, housing and other spheres that are sold to investors as ingenious ways of hacking society.

The perverse dogma behind such initiatives is the mantra “win-win”—the notion that social reform need never entail any cost to corporate bottom lines. As one of its chief theorists, former TechCrunch reporter Greg Ferenstein explains, if you assume the public sector is fundamentally at odds with the market:

You worry about disparities in wealth. You want labor unions to protect workers from corporations. You want a smaller government to get out of the way of business. If you don’t make that assumption, and you believe that every institution needs to do well, and they all work with each other, you don’t want unions or regulation or sovereignty or any of the other things that protect people from each other.

He sums up this government-market synergy, daftly, as “Optimism.” After all, the neoliberal elite has found a remedy for the savage inequalities of the market—a suite of cosmetic social fixes that abide by market logic, such as micro-loans and school vouchers.

Giridharadas supplies a lacerating critique of this quisling rationale by virtue of knowing it firsthand; he’s a former McKinsey consultant and Aspen Institute fellow who’s done the rounds of TED talks. His insider access allows him to tease out the intellectual and moral failures of our Optimist overlords in a devastating portrait of the “network and community” and “culture and state of mind” he calls “MarketWorld”:

These elites believe and promote the idea that social change should be pursued principally through the free market and voluntary action, not public life and the law and the reform of the systems that people share in common; that it should be supervised by the winners of capitalism and their allies, and not be antagonistic to their needs; and that the biggest beneficiaries of the status quo should play a leading role in the status quo’s reform.

As Giridharadas notes, defending MarketWorld requires no end of distortions and diminutions of social thought. The social psychologist Amy Cuddy, for instance, delivered one of the most successful TED talks in history by presenting feminist activism largely as a matter of adopting tweaks to personal comportment in the workplace, such as “power postures.” Such glosses on social conflict, Giridharadas writes, “have given rise to watered-down theories of change that are personal, individual, depoliticized, respectful of the status quo and the system, and not in the least bit disruptive.” Bruno Giussani, the TED official who hosted Cuddy’s talk, concedes as much, noting he’d even coined a term for the elite evasion of social conflict: “Pinkering,” after the Harvard linguist Steven Pinker’s argument that the arc of history is bending ineluctably toward world peace.

Reporting from the last convocation of the CGI, Giridharadas quotes former President Bill Clinton’s valedictory address to this High Church of MarketWorld. “Good people, committed to creative cooperation, have almost unlimited positive impact to help people today and give our kids better tomorrows,” Clinton intoned. “This is all that does work in the modern world.” Giridharadas rightly dubs this latter claim “astonishing”—it’s redolent of Margaret Thatcher’s insistence that there was simply “no alternative” to untrammeled capitalist rule.

Giussani suggests that such Olympian narratives of elite reassurance serve to dismiss any critical perspective as backward and unenlightened: “Your problems don’t really matter compared to the past’s, and your problems are not really problems, because things are getting better.”

Asked whether all this flagrant Pinkering had contributed to the backlash of pseudo-populist anger now roiling the West, Giussani avers, “Of course that distortion contributed. I believe even that it is one of the biggest engines of it.” Nevertheless, the lead theorists of MarketWorld hope to ride out the present crisis by cleaving to their pet shibboleths more firmly than ever. The surprise “yes” vote on Brexit, for instance, prompted Clinton to observe that Brexit supporters simply “had no idea what they were doing.” As Giridharadas drily notes, “The people setting themselves the task of understanding the anger around them were precommitted to the idea that the anger had no possible basis in reason or conscious choice.”

And that, by and large, is the discursive world we continue to inhabit since the election of Trump. MarketWorld’s hireling political mouthpieces stolidly insist that all is fundamentally well in the world—that Democratic leaders are being targeted by the Trumpian forces of darkness because they’re “effective,” as Pelosi outlandishly claimed in a recent Rolling Stone interview. In point of fact, of course, the neoliberal dream of governance has been a grotesque bust, with Pelosi’s Democrats facing the lowest ebb of political influence in America since 1924. But that’s a bitter truth that will never penetrate the high-priced pageants of neoliberal self-congratulation.

Source: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/08/the-philanthropy-racket

Photo Source Qusai Al Shidi | CC BY 2.0

In May the benign-sounding Anti-Semitism Awareness Act appeared before the U.S Congress “to provide for consideration a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities.”

No big deal? Let us see.

S. 2940 is sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Scott and has four co-sponsors: Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrats Ron Wyden, Robert Casey, and Michael Bennet. The House sponsor of H.R. 5924 is Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, with 41 cosponsors, 30 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Both bills remain in committee. (The Senate passed a similar bill two years ago, but it never reached the House floor.)

Right off the bat, the legislation seems odd: under what Republican Party theory of limited government does Congress proposes definitions of words simply for consideration for educational purposes? And I thought Republicans don’t like federal involvement in education. We’ll see that the answer is steeped in irony: the stated purpose is to help education agencies to combat racial discrimination.

While the act is directed at education, the resulting law would reach beyond that realm because it would officially stigmatize as anti-Semitic any speech and activity, public and private, said to fall within the definition. Since this would at least chill the open marketplace of ideas, advocates of free speech should be concerned about the content of the definition and its revealing support material. We must not assume that merely because the definition is said to brand something anti-Semitic that it is actually anti-Semitic.

The act states that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin” (not, mind you, religion) but that “both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education have properly concluded that title VI prohibits discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups when the discrimination is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics or when the discrimination is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residence in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity” (emphasis added). Hence, those departments have managed to shoehorn religion into a statute that does not mention religion.

The proposed definition directly comes from a 2010 State Department Fact Sheet, which in turn comes, with some modification, from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) “working definition of Anti-Semitism.” The IHRA has 31 member countries, including the United States, and Israel.

Anti-Semitism, according to the IHRA “working definition,” is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This may seem less than helpful — history professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at London’s Birkbeck, University, calls it “bewilderingly imprecise — so the IHRA furnished examples (couched in conditional terms such as could and might and to be interpreted by “taking into account the overall context”). And here the problems continue. Writing in the Guardian, Feldman, says of the 11 examples: “Seven deal with criticism of Israel. Some of the points are sensible, some are not. Crucially, there is a danger that the overall effect will place the onus on Israel’s critics to demonstrate they are not antisemitic” (emphasis added). That should be of concern.

Among the possible examples of anti-Semitism quoted from the IHRA document in the State Department Fact Sheet, but with some modification, are:

+ Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews. [Emphasis added.]

+ Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.

+ Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”

+ Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

+ Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.

Two things are worth pointing out here. The phrase “the state of Israel” in first example above does not appear in the IHRA list; that version says only, “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.” The IHRA does go one to say later that “manifestations might [emphasis added] include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” but immediately cautions that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” The Fact Sheet, which, again, the legislation incorporates, adds, almost as an afterthought, “However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic” (italics in original).

Second, the last example differs from the similar IHRA example, which reads, “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” (emphasis added). I am unaware of criticism of the Fact Sheet or legislation for this key modification. A similar modification has landed the UK’s Labor Party leadership in hot water. (More below.)

As we’ll see, the inclusion of criticism of Israel in the examples is where much of the danger of this legislation lies. Indeed, Antony Lerman, former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in Britain, who traces the origin and promotion of the IHRA document to the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, both of which routinely conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, says it was designed to “equate criticisms of Israel with hatred of Jews.” Of course it was; today, being a good anti-anti-Semite, like being a good Jew, means little more than being unswervingly pro-Israel and pro-Israeli repression of Palestinians.

By way of additional background and contrast, the legislation cites a 2010 U.S. Department of Education “Dear Colleague” letter on religious bigotry to state and local educational agencies stating that they “must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment, and its effects, and prevent the harassment from recurring.” However, the legislation states that letter “did not provide guidance on current manifestations of anti-Semitism, including discriminatory anti-Semitic conduct that is couched as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist” (emphasis added). That’s right: the Education Department did not mention Israel or Zionism in its letter about combating anti-Semitism. So the authors of the legislation seek to “correct” that “shortcoming.”

The legislation goes to state that “anti-Semitism, and harassment on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics with a religious group, remains a persistent, disturbing problem in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses.”

Is that so? It doesn’t ring true. The Pew Research Center “finds that when it comes to religion, Americans generally express more positive feelings toward various religious groups [including Jews] today than they did just a few years ago. Asked to rate a variety of groups on a ‘feeling thermometer’ ranging from 0 to 100, U.S. adults give nearly all groups warmer ratings than they did in a June 2014 Pew Research Center survey.” For all age groups, atheists and Muslims rank far below Jews. (In another survey, Muslims ranked below atheists.) For Americans 30 years and up, Jews rank at or near the top, and the score has risen since 2014. For Americans 18-29, Jews rank just below top-ranking Buddhists, Catholics, and Hindus. No religious group scored more than 69 “degrees” except for, among people 65 and older, Mainline Protestants, Jews, and Catholics, who scored in the 70s. Where’s the widespread anti-Semitism?

And where’s the evidence of growing anti-Semitism on college campuses? The legislation “finds” that “students from a range of diverse backgrounds, including Jewish, Arab Muslim, and Sikh students, are being threatened, harassed, or intimidated in their schools,” but it would be interesting to see the groups broken out. One suspects the atmosphere on campus is more hostile to Arab and Muslim professors and students than to Jews. (See examples here and here.) And we cannot discount the likelihood that criticism of Israel is simply interpreted as criticism of Jews qua Jews. Indeed, the lead author of the IHRA definition, Kenneth Stern, said last year in congressional testimony that it is untrue that “antisemitism on campus is an epidemic. Far from it. There are thousands of campuses in the United States, and in very few is antisemitism – or anti-Israel animus – an issue.”

Anti-Semitism exists, of course, but it’s clearly confined to the fringes of American society…

Con’t to Source: Defining Anti-Semitism, Threatening Free Speech