Friday, July 17, 2015

Greece, Neoliberalism And Politics My Other Means

The Greek people took their best shot at freedom and lost; they should be commended for the attempt  

By Rob Urie

One of the challenges in writing about politics is that economics, as Marx identified, is politics by other means. 

This is occasionally made clear through ‘trade’ agreements that create explicit bridges between the two like ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) clauses that are used to grant corporate control over civil governance. 

The long-running theoretical dispute between Keynesians and market fundamentalists (neoliberals) can be placed in a political frame as economics differentiated by domestic versus foreign policy considerations. 

Vaguely Keynesian economics guided domestic U.S. policies from the end of WWII through the early 1970s even as U.S. ‘advice’ to client states more closely resembled the neoliberal policies of the present.

Friends, acquaintances and people unrelated have been writing policy prescriptions since 2008 that would have been constructive if fixing capitalism were the policy goal of the powers that be. However, as has been made abundantly clear, those deciding policy have had these prescriptions available to them and have chosen differently. Mainstream economists have felled large forests proclaiming their prescriptions to be correct when they have had no policy impact and show no signs of having any in the current epoch. And it isn’t that the policies that were implemented were randomly chosen; they fit alternative ‘models’ of explanation. If ‘reform’ economics is about economics and not out-of-favor politics, why hasn’t it had an impact?

Left out of mainstream consideration is that the best explanation of the policies of the last forty years is applied self-interest with corporate executives joining capitalists in determining state policies for their own benefit. Highly skewed economic distribution was achieved through ‘negative’ policies like reducing taxes on the rich and ‘positive’ policies like the use of quasi-state resources like banks for economic plunder. 

The millennia-old convention that lenders bear the loss when borrowers can’t repay loans has a rationale— lending is the expertise of lenders. The shift to borrower liability emerged from national accounts machinations a century ago that became official IMF policy in the 1960s to then be codified in Federal lending standards in the U.S. since the 1980s.

As metaphor for the power relations at work in the rise of global finance, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was conceived during the (Bill) Clinton administration and was implemented in the midst of the largest epoch of fraudulent lending by global bankers in world history. The increase in borrower liability for fraudulently made loans that was codified in the bill is what German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls ‘moral hazard’ when applied to the debt of the European periphery. This became the charge against the poor and vulnerable by bankers using state institutions for global plunder. The moralistic tenor of current German threats against Greece extends this perversion of liability.


A question of current relevance is: how likely is it that a preponderance of the Greek people could calculate what repayment of the Greek national debt would entail? Next: how would the Greek people adjust their collective effort, assuming that such a thing exists in relevant form, to meet the terms of repayment? The questions are nonsensical in that they aren’t posed by the Greek people, they are imposed from above. The contrived illusion that the Greek people owe any debt to the Troika is politics— it is imperialism waged under cover of ‘economics.’ What mechanism of political reach retains the nation-state frame while overriding the sovereignty it is theorized to represent? Conversely, if sovereignty can be overridden, how can the population be held accountable for ‘national’ obligations?

This paraphrased list of typical IMF ‘conditionalities’ is aggregated here:

Typical stabilization policies:

1. balance of payments deficit reductions through currency devaluation;

2. budget deficit reduction through higher taxes and lower government spending, also known as austerity;

3. restructuring foreign debts;

4. monetary policy to finance government deficits (loans from central banks);

5. raising food prices to cut the burden of subsidies;

6. raising the price of public services;

7. cutting wages;

8. reducing domestic credit.

Long-term ‘structural adjustment’ policies usually include:

1. liberalization of markets to guarantee a price mechanism;

2. privatization, or divestiture, of all or part of state-owned enterprises;

3. creating new financial institutions;

4. improving governance and fighting corruption;

5. enhancing the rights of foreign investors vis-à-vis national laws;

6. focusing economic output on direct export and resource extraction;

7. increasing the stability of investment (by supplementing foreign direct investment with the opening of domestic stock markets).

The European Currency Union was designed to preclude independent currency devaluations favoring what the economic mainstream calls ‘internal devaluation,’ the privation economics that reduces living standards in approximate order of social vulnerability. 

Otherwise, IMF ‘stabilization’ policies are austerity boilerplate, the same policies forced on ‘developing” nations by the IMF from about the 1960s to today. The ‘structural adjustment’ policies are likewise neoliberal boilerplate, Western imperialism dressed in academic garb that represents the ‘best thinking,’ as well as the political content, of establishment economics departments and ‘think tanks.’ 

The Keynesian / market fundamentalist divide largely relates to ‘stabilization’ policies. The key terms of ‘structural adjustment’ can be found in the ‘trade’ agreements currently being pushed by U.S. President Barack Obama and put forward by leading liberal economists.

‘Liberalization of markets to guarantee a price mechanism’ infers infinite fungibility, markets everywhere, all of the time for everything. This is the economic takeover of the world, the reordering of social life to serve a particular ideological conception of ‘the good.’ ‘Privatization’ means private ownership of the public realm. Banks create and allocate money meaning that Wall Street and ‘private’ investors use the public grant of money creation to further private ends. ‘Enhancing rights of foreign investors’ ties a half-century of imperialist IMF policies to the intended purpose of Barack Obama’s ‘trade’ agreements. The policies are clearly designed to affect the political takeover of nominally sovereign states through the misdirection that economics aren’t ‘political.’

It is a mistake to see the Troika’s treatment of the Greek people as either an outlier or an unintended consequence. The policies being implemented through degrees of coercion are standard IMF fare. The only ‘innovation’ being brought by the EC (European Commission) and the ECB (European Central Bank) is the pseudo-hard money of the currency union. The contention from Western liberals that the inability to devalue its currency is the overarching problem that Greece faces ties currency devaluation to austerity when the IMF doesn’t see it that way. IMF stabilization policies (above) recommend currency devaluation and austerity separately, the point being that even in cases where currency devaluation is possible austerity is still ‘recommended’ by the IMF.

The imperialist position embodied by the IMF’s structural adjustment policies is largely invisible to its proponents, and dare I say most in the West, in the first because its comes in the guise of economic prescriptions rather than explicitly political acts and secondly because it is posed as actions guided by knowledge of the natural order of the world rather than as self-interested opinions. The IMF’s policies have developed economic theories behind them— the same capitalist economics that, with the exception of a few quibbles, are the canon of Western economic liberalism. The division between ‘stabilization’ policies for the short run and ‘structural adjustment’ policies for the long run parses a temporal divide, not a conceptual one.

History Takes a Holiday

Modern Westerners don’t tend to be philosophically inclined, possibly because many of the relevant issues have been consigned by ideology to individual resolution. The premises of democracy and capitalism support local determinations (‘choices’) that lead to global indeterminacy. Paradoxically neoliberalism, as can be seen in the idea of infinite fungibility, is a theory of global determinacy posed as an accumulation of local determinations. The Germans occupied Greece militarily in WWII and through the ‘soft’ occupation of neoliberalism today are furious that total submission by the Greek people hasn’t yet been ‘self-chosen.’ The Greeks borrowed money and now they must pay it back goes the logic, never mind that the Greek people exist wholly apart from ‘the Greeks’ who borrowed the money. What more historical a process might one need to begin to gain ontological clarity?

Adding to this confusion are divergent ideas of class— historically circumscribed ‘objects’ of social ontology like ‘Black,’ ‘White,’ ‘rich’ or ‘Christian’ versus taxonomical objects set apart from history like ‘consumers,’ ‘voters’ and ‘entrepreneurs.’ When presented in context history nods heavily in the direction of the Marxist view of historical / social circumscription. Genocide wasn’t committed against the indigenous population of the U.S. as an aggregation of individuals; it was committed against a socially circumscribed ‘other’ as a totality. Kidnapped Africans forced into slavery didn’t become slaves through individual choices— slavery was an institution that relied on social power to systematically determine who was a slave and who wasn’t.

The ‘flattening’ at work in the (Platonic / Cartesian) ontology of neoliberalism poses commensurability through the willing away of history. ‘Markets’ are an envelope of commensurability where ‘prices’ act as the metric of conversion that makes commensurability possible. Infinite fungibility is the lunatic fantasy that equates a murdered child with a toaster oven with yesterday’s news through the metric of price. It is also the conceit that holds neoliberalism together. The ratio of that with a price to that without one is the vanishing point required for ‘markets’ to be more than historical artifact. Economists are quick to admit that most of what has value has no price while they busy themselves building a world where everything has a price. (Carbon credits anyone? Anyone)?

Austerity exists in history, witness the last half-century of human misery that is its product, but it isn’t ‘historical’ in the sense that it is put forward. Privation isn’t ‘austerity’ unless it is socially induced— its ‘fact’ exists in economic theory, not in its effect in the world. In a similar sense ‘Greece’ can be held accountable for debt that the Greek people had no part in accruing. 

"Austerity" no more than a pleasing platitude and code word to camouflage the largest theft and transfer of wealth from the middle classes and poor to the rich in modern history

Debt that could be wiped away with a few keystrokes from an ECB clerk is held forward as a fact of nature, the associated conditions of which condemn a generation or more of Greek people to ‘self-chosen’ subjugation that wasn’t chosen. In what sense can neoliberalism be a system of individual choice when both its central protagonists and its objects are aggregations— the Troika, ‘Greece,’ the European ‘periphery’ etc.?

In contradiction to the Americanism, re-introducing history as opposition is to remove agency from no one, it is to place it in context that can’t be willed away. Capitalists and their agents have an interest in paying you less while you have an interest in being paid more. With large corporations as the major employers in the West, ‘agency’ is socially circumscribed as the interests of labor against those of capital. The individualist argument found in ‘freedom to work’ laws supports capital in this opposition. Labor leaders working in concert with corporate managers toward corporate goals support capital and diminish the power of labor. The ‘constituent service’ that elected representatives perform has them serving the rich against the interests of everyone else when campaign contributions determine who gets and stays elected. And against the canard of ‘human nature,’ each of these oppositions emerged from social life lived historically.

The Same Old Same Old, Only New

The view that the Marxist left exists on a political spectrum fundamentally misreads the oppositional / antithetical / historical context that Marx took from Hegel. This matters because of the role that the spectrum plays in the social apologetics that surround political economy. Syriza, as ‘the Party of the Radical Left’ (its meaning in Greek), either exists in opposition to neoliberalism, as embodied in Troika policies, or it has emerged from a muddled liberal ‘spectrum’ conception that embraces a paradoxical ‘compassionate’ capitalist imperialism against the whole of history. For the uninitiated, compassion is ‘inefficient’ in capitalist theory as surely Wolfgang Schaeuble (or Charles Dickens) could explain to Mr. Tsipris.

The circumstance of Greece at present isn’t that unusual in the broader history of capitalist imperialism. German intransigence, with tinges of nationalistic loathing and racism thrown in for good measure, adds drama to this ordinary, if deeply tragic, history. A large part of the European North’s complaint against the periphery is an economic tautology as former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has repeatedly pointed out. In the aggregate trade surpluses and deficits add to zero. This is arithmetic, not complicated theory. What complicates Greece’s circumstance is debt denominated in a currency that it does not control. This is the lever that Germany holds over Greece. The only real tradeoff available to the Greek leadership is the timing of induced catastrophe— now or later.

The Greek leadership, certainly soon to have little to no representation from Syriza, will do what it will do. The broader question is: given the willful pushing forward of the neoliberal project by the U.S. and the European North, what possible good outcome is there for the rest of us? The peoples of the West face the conundrum of the Greeks by degree. The central change that neoliberalism has produced is the conscious redefinition of the realm of the political. Barack Obama’s euphemistically called ‘trade’ agreements are politics by other means. Most of his major ‘political’ accomplishments can be undone through the transfer of political power to economic interests contained in them. If you think he doesn’t understand this, revisit the structural adjustment program of the IMF provided above.

This tendency is nothing new— globalization as theories of transnational interests is the ideology of imperialism. Imperial battles over economic resources are the backstory of two World Wars and a substantial proportion of the local and regional conflicts of the last three centuries. Left unconsidered, except through largely unrelated ideology, is under what configuration of circumstances will social and environmental resolution come about? How long will the Greek people, and those from the rest of the European periphery, stand idly by and watch their circumstances decline, or more accurately be diminished, before they rebel? And the lot of the American periphery is directly related through its being so delegated by the leadership of the global North. Bankers in New York have been handed trillions in public largesse as the citizens of Detroit are squeezed by privatized water utilities. The fight is here every bit as much as it is in Athens.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Arizona Cop Arrests Naked Woman After Entering Her Home Illegally - VIDEO

The day of reckoning is coming, and sooner rather than later


An Arizona woman is planning to sue the city of Chandler after a local police officer illegally entered her home and arrested her while she was naked. Police later found the officer had no reason to enter the woman’s house.

It’s unclear exactly when the incident occurred, but it began when Chandler Police Officer Doug Rose and another cop arrived at the home of Esmeralda Rossi. 

The two wanted to speak with her after receiving a call about her arguing with her estranged husband.

When they arrived, Rossi was in the shower and her daughter answered the door.

“My daughter came to the shower and said there are two officers at the door. So I just grabbed a towel and ran to the door,” she told local ABC 15, which broke the story and obtained video footage of the incident.

At some point during her conversation with the officers, Rossi said she wanted to get her cell phone in order to record the interview. 

On leaving to retrieve it, she heard footsteps behind her and then one of the officers told her to stop or she would be arrested, Rossi alleges.

At some point during her conversation with the officers, Rossi said she wanted to get her cell phone in order to record the interview. 

On leaving to retrieve it, she heard footsteps behind her and then one of the officers told her to stop or she would be arrested, Rossi alleges.

The situation escalated when Rossi and her daughter began recording the episode anyway. Officer Rose can be heard asking Rossi if she wants to go to jail. He eventually moves in to arrest her.

“I don’t want to touch you! Don’t touch me,” Rossi can be heard saying in the video.

“You are under arrest. Please turn around and put your hands behind your back,” Rose says as he grabs her. At this point, Rossi and her daughter are yelling.

“I felt helpless. I felt violated. And honestly, I felt molested,” Rossi told ABC 15.

“The way he approached me was very aggressive and very angry. And it made me very uncomfortable.”

In the end, Rossi was not charged with a crime and police allowed her daughter to remove the handcuffs.

Cops cop a feel at Wall Street Occupy protest

At one point, the phone recording the incident drops to the floor. While nothing is visible at that point, the phone continued to catch audio of Rose addressing Rossi.

“When a cop shows up, you’re not the one in charge; I don’t care if it is your house,” he is heard saying.

Chandler police initiated a review of the incident, but Rose retired with pension before it was concluded. It found that Rose did enter Rossi’s home illegally and without probable cause. 

He also failed to mention in his police report that Rossi had been naked or that he had arrested her. No charges have been filed against Rose.

Meanwhile, Rossi is preparing to file a lawsuit against the city over the encounter. 

Her attorney, Marc Victor, called the situation “disgusting” and “barbaric.”

“Any one of us would be upset if a police officer barged into our homes without permission,” he said to ABC 15. “She had a right to be upset.”

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

WAYNE MADSEN : Countering The Neo - Cold Warriors

Obama's efforts to spark WWIII in Europe are JCS wet dreams come true  

By Wayne Madsen

Shortly, the "gruesome twosome" of U.S.-Russian relations, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and NATO Supreme Commander General Philip Breedlove, will be joined by a third neo-Cold Warrior, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the prospective Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to become the "terrible troika" of American officials clamoring for a military showdown with Moscow. 

Breedlove: Obama's psychotic doomsday frontman
During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dunford said he viewed Russia as the greatest threat to America. 

But not just any "threat." In language that could have been pulled out of a U.S. newspaper from the 1960s, Dunford testified, "If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I'd have to point to Russia," adding, "and if you look at their behavior, it's nothing short of alarming."

While Dunford’s Cold War rhetoric warmed the cockles of the hearts of leading Senate committee war hawks such as John McCain, McCain’s eyelash-batting pal Lindsey Graham – a 2016 presidential candidate – and Texas Joseph McCarthy lookalike Ted Cruz, it was not well-received at the White House or the State Department. White House Press Secretary John Earnest distanced President Obama from Dunford’s views, stating at a press conference that Dunford was expressing "his own view and [it] doesn’t necessarily reflect the . . . consensus analysis of the president’s national security team." 

State Department spokesman Mark Toner, in commenting on Dunford’s remarks, was more emphatic when stating that Secretary of State John Kerry rejected the general’s comments, "The secretary doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly»." Toner was referring to Dunford’s testimony that China was second only to Russia in posing a significant threat to the United States.

Nuland receiving the Adolph Hitler Award For Population Reduction from Ukrainian Nazis

However, it was Kerry who promoted Nuland, who is married to arch-neoconservative and Project for the New American Century (PNAC) architect Robert Kagan, to the position that placed her in charge of U.S.-Russian relations. Previously, Nuland served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press spokeswoman. And if Mrs. Clinton’s penchant for "standing by her women" is any indication, a Hillary Clinton presidency could see Nuland, who once worked for Vice President Dick Cheney, promoted to a higher-level position, including Secretary of State or National Security Adviser. Obama and Kerry can distance themselves from Dunford’s alarming comments all they want, however, it is they who have permitted individuals like Nuland, Breedlove, Dunford, and the saber-rattling Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to become major policy officials within the Obama administration.

Strangelove and Breedlove; coincidence?
Dunford and Breedlove appear to have been pulled from central casting for a remake of the 1960s Stanley Kubrick noire comedy film, "Dr. Strangelove." Dunford, who bears the problematic nickname "Fighting Joe" and has been described as a "fervent Catholic," sounds like the blusterous General Buck Turgidson, who, after a wayward B-52 continues on to Russia, against orders, to drop its nuclear payload on a missile base, tells a bewildered president, "It is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless ‘distinguishable,’ postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed." Breedlove, on the other hand, is just as much an ideologue as is the fictional General Jack Ripper, who in "Dr. Strangelove" tells his British liaison officer, "Today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought."

Dunford, Breedlove, Nuland, and Carter could very well push the United States and Russia to the brink of a hot war. Breedlove championed the creation of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VHRJTF as it is known to the acronym and abbreviation-addicts of the Pentagon. VHRJTF brings ground forces from nine NATO nations to Russia’s borders. 

The new rapid-response unit took part in the first "live fire" exercise in Poland, code-named NOBLE JUMP, since the end of the Cold War. VHRJTF also consists of U.S.-supplied drones. 

The possibility that an unmanned drone could bring about a replay of the 1960 U-2 incident, in which a manned American spy plane was shot down over Russia, this time with a drone straying into Russian airspace from one of the Baltic countries, cannot be ruled out.

Obama and Kerry were quick to distance themselves from "Fighting Joe" Dunford’s saber rattling before the Senate committee. However, if they wanted to truly reset relations with Russia, Kerry could fire Nuland, Obama could pull Dunford’s nomination, and both could ask NATO to request a new Supreme Commander. However, as President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 Farewell Address about the menace of the "military-industrial complex," Obama and Kerry are powerless to get rid of those who were placed in power by what has now become a "military-intelligence-contractor" complex.

What is even more troubling is that Breedlove, Dunford, Nuland, and Carter appear prepared to not only take on Russia and China in a new Cold War, but are willing to confront the new "anti-NATO," the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which just wrapped up its summit in Ufa, the capital of the Russian Federation’s autonomous republic of Bashkortostan. If the "gruesome twosome" of Nuland and Breedlove, soon to become the "terrible troika" after Dunford is confirmed by the Senate, have their way, NATO and the United States will not only be willing to face off militarily against SCO members China and Russia but also the new members of Pakistan and India, in addition to charter members Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Nuland never met a Nazi she didn't love

Russia has savaged the West’s attempts to isolate it and China has broken America’s attempt to establish a military containment "cordon sanitaire" around China by welcoming Belarus as a new observer nation of SCO, joining Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Iran as prospective full members of the alliance. Cambodia, Nepal, Armenia, and Azerbaijan joined the organization as dialogue partners, supplementing existing partners Sri Lanka and Turkey. Egypt, Bangladesh, and Syria are also prospective members of the organization that is a counter to the ever-expanding NATO. SCO’s geopolitical security mission, coupled with the emerging economic power of the BRICS alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, equates to a majority of the world’s population rejecting America’s military and economic dominance and NATO’s and the Pentagon’s menacing swagger. It is as if Dunford, Breedlove, and Nuland have never heard of SCO, BRICS, or the Eurasian Economic Union.

It is amazing that Dunford and Breedlove can issue challenges to their perceived enemies when Carter has announced a 40,000 troop strength cut for the U.S. Army. Instead, Carter plans to supplement NATO forces in Europe with more Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks that would be manned by a smaller number of U.S. troops. Like the Roman Empire, the United States has over-extended itself around the world. 

It is not Russia nor China that maintain troops in 150 countries around the world. That dubious distinction falls on the United States. Fighting Joe Dunford and General Breedlove can talk all they want about the Russian and Chinese "threat." But for the rest of the world, which sees SCO and BRICS as welcome foils to the plans for further NATO expansion, it is America and its policy of fostering «color revolutions» and displaying military shows of force that represent the true threats to global stability.

Wayne Madsen

Wayne Madsen
Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist, Madsen has over twenty years experience in security issues. 

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. Madsen has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club, Madsen is based and reports from Washington, D.C.



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Many researchers are focusing especially on the little-known collapse of



The Geopolitics Of The United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

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Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.



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A look back at 2011 predictions for the future in order to put events of today into perspective

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We have already discussed in the first part of this analysis how the American geography dooms whoever controls the territory to being a global power, but there are a number of other outcomes that shape what that power will be like. The first and most critical is the impact of that geography on the American mindset.



By Robert S. Finnegan

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UPDATED 01/07/2015 : New Analysis Challenges Tamiflu Efficacy; Hong Kong Corona Virus Outbreak


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The 5th Estate has just purchased a library on H5N1 "Novel" virus pandemics, there are dozens of PDF and Exel documents we feel will assist you in saving lives following intentional releases of the H5N1 and now MERS viruses; we will begin by printing those that appear to be extremely relevant here: H5N1 Kobe-Kawaoka-Ernala series continues soon with more "Smoking Gun" e-mails from Teridah Ernala to The 5th Estate . . .



By Robert S. Finnegan

On October 12, 2002 the Indonesian island of Bali experienced a terrorist attack that rocked the world. It was unquestionably well-coordinated and executed, the largest in the country's history.