Archive for the ‘Dark Mountain’ Category

Force ECB to release #TheGreekFiles

February 21, 2017

Those who support the EU, why do they continue to turn a blind eye to Greece?

Greece dared stand up and challenge the EU, for that Greece had to be destroyed.

The main route for destroying Greece was to destroy the Greek banks.

That action may have been illegal.

Deep in a vault in the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) lie #TheGreekFiles, a legal opinion about the ECB’s actions towards Greece in 2015 that could send shockwaves across Europe.

As a European taxpayer, you paid for these documents. But the ECB’s boss, ex-Goldman Sachs head Mario Draghi, says you can’t see them.

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Fabio de Masi MEP, together with a broad alliance of politicians and academics (below), have announced they will file a mass freedom of information request to the ECB to uncover #TheGreekFiles once and for all.

If Mario says no, they’ll take the campaign to the next level, and consider all options – including legal action – to make this vital information public.

Please support their request to release these  critical documents  by signing the petition calling for the release of #The GreekFiles. 

This DiEM25 petition is supported by a coalition of politicians and academics, with divergent views on the future of the EU and the Eurozone.

Here is the most recent list; check back for updates:

  • Benoît Hamon, Socialist Party candidate for the French Presidency, 2017
  • Katja Kipping, Co-Chairperson, Die Linke, Germany
  • Gesine Schwan, President, Viadrina European University and twice the SPD’s candidate for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Yanis Varoufakis, co-founder of DiEM25 and former Greek finance minister

with the support of university professors including:

  • Klaus Dörre, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena
  • James K. Galbraith, University of Texas at Austin
  • Rudolf Hickel, Bremen Universität
  • Gustav A. Horn, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung
  • Aidan Regan, University College Dublin
  • Jeffrey Sachs, University of Columbia
  • Joseph Vogl, Humboldt Universität
  • Arthur Gibson, University of Cambridge

In June 2015, the newly-elected Greek government was locked in tense negotiations with its creditors (the ‘Troika’ – the ECB, EC and IMF), doing what it had been voted in to do: renegotiate the country’s public debt, fiscal policy and reform agenda, and save its people from the hardship of the most crushing austerity programme in modern history.

The Troika knew they needed to make a drastic move to force the Greek government to capitulate. And that’s just what they did: through the ECB, they took action to force Greece’s banks to close, ultimately driving the Greek government – against its democratic mandate – to accept the country’s third ‘bailout’, together with new austerity measures and new reductions in national sovereignty.

But in their haste, their zeal to crush the Greek government’s resistance, the ECB feared their actions might be legally dubious. So they commissioned a private law firm to examine whether those decisions were legal. The legal opinion of this law firm is contained in #TheGreekFiles.

In July 2015, the German MEP Fabio De Masi asked Mario Draghi to release the legal opinion. Mario refused, hiding behind ‘attorney-client privilege’. Clearly #TheGreekFiles contain something he doesn’t want us to see.

One of the foremost experts on European Law, Professor Andreas Fischer-Lescano, examined whether the ECB was right to refuse to release #TheGreekFiles. His detailed conclusion leaves no room for doubt: the ECB has no case for withholding from MEPs and the citizens of Europe the legal opinion the ECB secured (and paid for using your money) regarding its own conduct.

But in addition to the legal imperative: in today’s Eurozone, the power of the ECB to close down a member-state’s banks violates every democratic principle. It also violates the ECB’s own aspiration, and charter obligation, to be independent and above political strategising.

We must all throw light on the lawfulness and propriety of ECB decision-making – beginning with this case – to give European democracy a chance, as well as to make the ECB less vulnerable to power politics.

Thoughts on DiEM25 UK launch

February 5, 2017

On Saturday morning 28 January 2017, at Conway Hall in Central London, long an important place for radical religious, philosophical, social and political thinking in the UK, DiEM25 held its UK organisational launch.

I have attended many interesting meetings at Conway Hall, unfortunately I was not at the UK launch of DiEM25 or at the meeting the evening before with Yanis Varoufakis.

Speakers from varied backgrounds included musician Brian Eno, Turkish author, columnist and academic Elif Şafak, from a Polish perspective Agnieszka Wiśniewska and Igor Stokfiszewski, and economics professor and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Brian Eno is wrong, 1970s and onward not a period of growth.

Post-WWII, 1950s and 1960s were when we saw unprecedented growth. When Harold Macmillan told us ‘we had never had it so good’ and Tony Benn or was it Harold Wilson talked of ‘the white heat of technology’.

Brian Eno is though correct when he says we have seen accumulation of wealth by the 1%.

Where in the 1970s the head of a UK bank had a salary of 100 times the lowest paid, now it is in excess of three hundred times.

In US, wages have flat-lined since the 1970s, even though productivity has continued upwards at the same rate as post-WWII. In part explains the rise of Donald Trump.

Technology has given us in a post-capitalist world Uber, Deliveroo and now Wheelys, serfs working for an app.

It can also give us open platform coops, open source.

In Madrid, they have developed as Open Source Decide Madrid, a public participation platform. Being Open Source, it can be adopted by other citizen-controlled Town halls.

I agree with Elif Şafak, left v right has no meaning, it has had no meaning for at least a decade.

She has come from a dictatorship, Turkey, that could equally apply to the USA under Donald Trump.

Whilst I can sympathise with DiEM25’s “radical remain” position of being “in the EU against the EU” it is now dated and can no longer apply, and must change that position.

We have Donald Trump one side and Vladimir Putin the other, we need a strong Europe. A strong Europe of independent, democratic cooperating, sovereign states. This is not the EU, it can never be the EU. To believe can democratise the EU is a pipe dream. It is a brittle structure unable to adapt. It is built into the EU DNA to be a democracy-free zone, nothing will change that.

Build links across Europe, which is what DiEM25 is doing.

Build communities at local level, open coops, collaborative commons, then seize control of local Town Halls, then network these citizen controlled Town Halls.

This can be done, Madrid, Barcelona and A Coruña in Spain, Frome in Somerset in England, are showing the way.

Yanis Varoufakis is correct, there needs to be cooperation between parties, but that is not the same as forming formal alliances.

There is something ridiculous when Labour challenge Caroline Lucas in Brighton, especially when we look at the regressive Member of Parliament Labour has in Brighton, who uses every opportunity to attack Jeremy Corbyn.

Similarly, Labour should forget Scotland, if SNP remains a progressive party, the same could apply to Wales. Focus on England.

In Stoke, Labour are likely to lose because they put forward a useless candidate. A candidate who ranks alongside Owen Smith.

There has to be massive clear out of the Labour Party. No matter how good the policies put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, they will count for nought when they are constantly undermined.

As I write, Caroline Flint granted a prime time media platform to attack Diane Abbott. And what was the sin Diane Abbott had committed? She had failed to attend the House of Commons Brexit vote. Would it have made any difference? Not one iota. It was a landslide to trigger Article 50 for UK to exit the EU.

But it is this type of infantile behaviour by Caroline Flint that turns people off politics, and loses Labour votes.

Jeremy Corbyn was wrong to tell his party how to vote on Brexit Article 50.

We are leaving the EU. The focus should now be on building a post-Brexit future. And that is for the people to decide, not politicians.

We need a Green New Deal. Investment in people, in green technologies.

For example, instead of capping energy prices, talk of nationalisation of Big Six, create community owned local energy grids. Into these local networks feed renewables guaranteed a fair price. Consumers pay a fair price. Any surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned National Grid. Any ‘profit’ ploughed back into the local network or used to fund local community projects. The Big Six would be unable to compete and would go out of business.

HS2, Heathrow Third Runway, Hinckley Point C, should all be scrapped. These are gravy trains for contractors, not job creation schemes, and as infrastructure projects offer little.

The railways should be brought back into public ownership as each franchise expires, or in the case of Southern Rail for bad performance. Ownership would be some form of cooperative structure not nationalisation.

The idea put forward by Yanis Varoufakis, a national dividend not a basic income is worth exploring.

Sweatshop fast fashion Made in Leicester

January 23, 2017

We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh… If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss. — Fashion Square Ltd

Shocking report this evening on Channel Four DispatchesUndercover: Britain’s Cheap Clotheson fast fashion sourced by leading brand names from sweatshops in Leicester – New Look, River island, Boohoo and Missguided – workers paid less than half the minimum wage.

The usual response, we did not know, if we had known we would have dealt with it.

When fast fashion forces down the price it pays, when a factory owner says he cannot produce at the price unless he pays his workers only £3 an hour, then of course these brands are culpable.

In one of the sweatshops, supplying Boohoo and Missguided, it was a potential death trap.

The brands rake in vast profits on the back of exploited workers.

The people who buy into fast fashion, wear once then throw away, are also culpable.

In addition to exploiting workers, it is damaging the environment.

It does not have to be, instead of fast fashion, zombies buying into the latest fad, we can have slow fashion, quality, sustainable production, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers and workers a fair price, clothes we value.

Though you will look long and hard to find fashion shops that support slow fashion, other  than simply pay lip service.

Two that spring to mind, The Fair Shop and Nia Boutique.

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop in Brighton, on the road leading down to the seafront from Brighton Station. Not the best location, a better location would be in North Laine.

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Nia Boutique

Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus overlooks Fig Tree Bay. A boutique in the open air, with clothes hanging from the trees, in the style would find on a Greek island. Sophia can be found hidden somewhere. It is next to Myu Coffee, one of the rare places where can obtain a half-decent coffee in Cyprus.

I am a nasty woman

January 22, 2017

Ashley Judd reciting ‘I am a nasty woman’  at Women’s March In Washington DC.

Telling the truth is a revolutionary act

January 22, 2017

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. — George Orwell

The Party told you to reject all evidence with your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. — George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

The point is that the attacks and the attempts to delegitimize this president in one day — and we’re not going to sit around and take it.  – Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff

The method for taking over the state and for it becoming a totalitarian police state, is always the same, and it’s always the identification of ‘the other’ as the enemy. In Trump’s case, it’s the Chinese, the Mexicans, and Islam – it doesn’t matter who it is. With Hitler, it was the Jews, the Communists, the Gypsies, anybody who had a physical deformity, or whatever it might be, the homosexuals – they were all lumped together. — Roger Waters

The resistance begins today. — Roger Waters

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, war is peace.

On Inauguration Day, the crowds in Washington were far fewer than for the Inauguration of Barack Obama. The anti-Trump protest, Women’s March, the next day, dwarfed that for the Trump Inauguration.

Estimates of the Women’s March put it at three times for the Trump Inauguration.  The Metro reported it carried three times as many passengers on Saturday as on Friday.

In cities across America, massive anti-Trump demonstrations.  No only in USA, across the world. There was a massive demonstration in Sydney.

But no, according to Trump the media was lying.

If Trump lies on the size of a  crowd, can we believe him on anything he says?

His White House press mouthpiece repeated the lie.  Repeated the lie and launched an unprecedented attack on the media.

When White House chief of staff threatens the media, says will not tolerate media questioning  legitimacy of the Trump presidency, this has shades of Nazi Germany.

What is he going to do, lockup up journalists as they do in Turkey, kill journalists as in  Russia?

In Mexico they have a phrase for Trump, Trump Eres Un Pendejo, Trump, you’re an arsehole.

#J20 The Other Inauguration

January 21, 2017

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. — Desmond Tutu

20 January 2016, saw Donald Trump sworn in as US President.

He has taken office with the lowest poll rating of any US President in modern times.

The day started with banner drops on bridges across the world, Build Bridges not Walls.

It was the sign of things to come.

The night before, massive protest outside Trump Tower in New York.

A sign of things to come, in Washington on Inaugural Day, the police were teargassing, using pepper spray and stun grenades on protesters.

Today in Washington, Women’s March dwarfed the crowds for Trump on Friday.

This was repeated in towns across the US, and across the world.

If Inauguration Day was Day 0, this was Day 1, this is only the beginning.

The surprise is that BBC covered, let alone put at the top of their news coverage, as usually they ignore all protests.

A system in transition, offers the opportunity for change. Trump offers that opportunity if people are prepared to rise to the challenge and seize that opportunity.

Protest now needs turning into action.  Kicking out the corrupt Democrats who lost the election, ordinary people seizing control of Town Halls, following the example of towns and cities across Spain, follow the examples of Madrid, Barcelona and A Coruña.

To invest in jobs and people, build open coops, then network those coops.

Drain the swamp

January 3, 2017

Probably one of the defining moments in the election of Donald Trump to the White House was his call to drain the swamp.

Last night,  Republicans decided to axe the Ethics Committee, in other words, far from draining the swamp, decided to increase the stench coming from the swamp.

Who but a corrupt politician would wish to axe an ethics committee?

But Donald Trump, intervened, or so the story goes.

BBC News has become a national embarrassment. They were still reporting on the news this evening that it was intervention by Donald Trump that overturned the axing of the committee.

Had the  BBC done a little research they would have found as Micheal Moore has shown, it was anything but, it was ordinary people who overturned the axing of the Ethics Committee.

Why would the BBC get it so wrong?

Expand the question, why has the BBC failed to report many of the mass protests? Where was the reporting of Blockadia, where was the reporting of the Standing Rock stand-off?

Why does The Guardian continue to run smear stories against Jeremy Corbyn, why does the BBC grant his opponents a platform?

The reason is very simple. It would never do to show that the people have power. If the people realised, they would exercise it more often.

The 1% can only lord it over the 99% because the 99% let them.

In the US, a massive resistance movement has formed, to oppose any of the bad policies of Donald Trump, in this case not Trump but the Republicans.

This resistance movement can be mobilised at a moment’s notice, as we saw last night.

First victory to the people.

Falling price of information goods

January 2, 2017

Information, if allowed, flows freely.

Classic Marxist theory, cost consists of capital, land and labour.

We now have a fourth factor, information.

Karl Marx wrote of machines whose cost was zero, that never wear out.

Information does not wear out, costs nothing to reproduce.

Feel free to listen to The Way of the Bow, share with your friends, download.

Digital music costs nothing to reproduce, e-books cost nothing to reproduce. If I listen to digital music, it does not wear out when I listen, I can share with my friends. An e-book does not wear out when I read, I can share with my friends.

I can of course share a book with my friends, but were I to, I cannot read it, it costs something to cut down the trees, make the paper, print, to distribute,  to shelve, to retail. If I share it, for example pass on through BookCrossing, the more often shared and read the more dogeared it will become. One reason why I prefer to give books away rather than share.

The price of information goods tends to zero. If you are being charged more than a pound a dollar or a euro for an e-book, you are being ripped off.

The only thing that maintains the price of a song on iTunes is the near monopoly Apple exerts.

We see this with the price of iPhones, the price maintained by near monopoly and Draconian intellectual property rights, thus Apple maintains a high profit margin, even when its share of the market falls. Helped of course by tax dodging, low wage workers at Foxconn in China and the massive subsidies from the Chinese government.

Compare the cost of an iPhone with a  phone from One Plus, eg One Plus One, One Plus Two, One Plus Three, One Plus 3T.

On leanpub and bandcamp, artists set a minimum price, sometimes zero. Those who choose to pay for a download, can pay more. Often they pay much more than the asking price.

Most jobs could be replaced by robots, were it not for the creation of what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs. The car wash replaced by half a dozen migrants with dirty rags and a bucket of water.

Below a series of charts and a video that illustrate price of information goods falling.

Thoughts of what could be for the New Year

December 31, 2016

As one year fades away and another begins, thoughts of Michel Bauwens of what could be.

Paul Mason discussing PostCapitalism

December 20, 2016

Что будет после капитализма?  — Paul Mason

What will come after capitalism? — Paul Mason

The ideal machine is one that costs nothing and lasts forever. — Karl Marx

Capitalism is an adaptive system, 50 year cycles, technological innovation commencing the next cycle.

How can we today, have technological innovation and no growth? Due to the unique behaviour of information and information goods.

With information goods, we should have abundance, instead we have artificial scarcity.

Since late 1970s, wages in US have flat-lined. Post-WWII, productivity and wages increased in step. Post-1980s they have diverged, productivity has increased, wages have not. A transfer of wealth from wage earners to owners of capital.

Who is to buy the output of increased productivity? If wages do not rise, it is financed by growing debt.

$57 trillion added to global debt since collapse of Lehman Brothers.

When the dotcom com bubble burst in 2001 global debt was 200% of GDP. Debt is now 300% of GDP.

If there is an over supply of something, its price falls. Cost of money has fallen. Interest rates have fallen. 12 trillion dollars of money worldwide now attracts negative interest rate.

When we speak of free money, we mean the money is free, ie no interest paid.

Classic Marxism, cost is the sum of land, money and labour. We now have  a fourth factor, information.

Information freely flows, information products can be reproduced infinitely at near zero cost, information does not wear out.

Information cost nothing to reproduce, does not wear out. A digital book does not wear out when I read it, I can run off copies for my friends. The same applies to digital music. It does not wear out no matter how many times I listen, I can run off many copies to my friends, I can share via the internet.

Feel free to listen to The Way of the Bow, share with your friends, download.

Information naturally flows, all that stops it flowing is Draconian intellectual property legalisation. This is not a freely functioning market, this is near monopolies using the law to control the market.

As we saw with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Draconian control ultimately fails.

Free flow of information encourages innovation.

With information products, the price tends to zero.

99p a song on iTunes. On Spotify a pittance.

Would have to sell 1500 songs on iTunes to earn minimum wage. On Spotify 1.2 million plays.

How then do we reward the creator?

On leanpub and bandcamp, artists set a minimum price. Those who choose to pay for a download, can pay more.

It is not only information goods where the price is falling to zero, also physical goods with a  high information contents. Or it would if we had a functioning market.

It is only monopolies or near monopolies, bought and paid for naked political power, that maintains the price.

Contrast the price of high performance smart phones, One Plus One, One Plus Two, One Plus Three, One Plus 3T, with equivalent phones from Samsung or Apple.

Nearly half of all jobs will be replaced by robots and automation. Many of the remaining jobs, low paid, temporary, zero hours.

We have the creation of what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs. Half a dozen immigants with dirty rags and a bucket of water replace an automatic car wash.

Peter Thiel represents all that is wrong with Silicon Valley. Serfs working for apps, transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.  No surprise he backs Donald Trump and is on his advisory panel.

Donald Trump has well documented links with the gangster capitalism Vladimir Putin heads.

When government shrinks, social spending cut, what rises is spending on surveillance, from which Silicon Valley will benefit.

Peter Thiel is reminiscent of the German industrialists who backed Adolf Hitler.

Capitalism ended in 2008. It has lost its ability to adapt.

A banking crisis led to an economic crisis, to a social crisis and now a global geo-political crisis.

TTIP is dead, CETA and TPP in final death throws.

The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. In 2017 we are likely to see the collapse of the EU. Brexit is now a side show. Italy is poised to hold a referendum on leaving the EU.

In Greece it was thought there may be a coup by the military. Democracy was destroyed by the EU.

Across the world there is now a grass roots reaction to neo-liberalism, which has led to a fall in living standards, transfer of wealth from poor to the rich, environmental destruction, global warming.

It is on the fringes we see collapse of Empire.

Blockadia represents the front line, often resembling a  war zone.

What are we do to do as capitalism collapses?

A  neo-Feudal system, oligarchs, politicians like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the rest of society reduced to serfs?

Or a cooperative system, contribution to the sharing and collaborative commons?