It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than this: Wall Street mega banks crash the U.S. financial system in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of financial industry workers lose their jobs. Then, beginning late last year, a rash of suspicious deaths start to occur among current and former bank employees. Next we learn that four of the Wall Street mega banks likely hold over $680 billion face amount of life insurance on their workers, payable to the banks, not the families. We ask their Federal regulator for the details of this life insurance under a Freedom of Information Act request and we’re told the information constitutes “trade secrets.”
The scope and impact of these mini-revolts were rarely anticipated either by participants or by observers. They emerged from the previously unrecognized thoughts and feelings of millions of people. All were colored not just by immediate grievances but by concern about the future well-being and prospects for working people in general.
One can’t help when watching the latest news stories and shake one’s head in both amazement, as well as disgust. Whether it’s the latest political blunder or snafu, all the way through to some of the worlds largest corporations. One thing becomes crystal clear: Most “Intellectuals” can only remain looking smart if the world is calm, or a current business cycle is booming.
For once the tide turns and decisive action is needed during the turbulence: the dumbest choice of people to deal with an evolving crisis are “intellectuals.”
The problem with these people in key positions of power (both politically as well as business) is they know how to navigate internal office politics, they understand the how, when, and where of backstabbing. They can turn the hard work of others into their own as to curry favor as well as promotions. But what they can’t do is the actual thing needed most: the actual doing.
Writer and critic Mark Fisher caused a stir recently with his article Good For Nothing in Occupied Times, where he wrote searingly about the experience of depression in our neoliberal capitalist age. Anindya Bhattacharyya spoke to him about the politics of mental health, magical voluntarism and how to struggle against this.
I remember a few years ago turning on the television and watching Deal or No Deal for the first time. It took me a little while to work out what was going on – my sanity somehow putting up resistance to the grim realisation that this was a game of pure luck decked out in all manner of supernatural garbage. I was unsurprised to later hear about the Cosmic ordering wish cult that the show’s host Noel Edmonds peddles.
Deal or No Deal throws randomly selected amounts of money at randomly selected people. Yet the entire message the show insists…
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“If you are not at all concerned with the world but only with your personal salvation, following certain beliefs and superstitions, following gurus, then I am afraid it will be impossible for you and the speaker to communicate with each other… We are not concerned at all with private personal salvation but we are concerned, earnestly, seriously, with what the human mind has become, what humanity is facing. We are concerned as human beings, human beings who are not labelled with any nationality. We are concerned at looking at this world and what a human being living in this world has to do, what is his role?”
In this post, we’re trying something new. Below, we present an almost line-by-line annotation of yesterday’s New York Times story on US and Yemeni military operations in Yemen. Among other things, the following is intended to identify legal implications of the news being reported, the significance of some of the revelations, and paths for further investigative reporting.
At no time in my recollection has the word “recovering” been used to describe an economy five years after a recession was declared over. Perhaps the term was borrowed from “recovering” alcoholic which I understand is a forever state. Either the government is lying about a recovery or something has radically changed in terms of the economy. Both are likely. The current “recovery” does not conform to other recoveries. After five years, history suggests we may be close to the next recession, not still “recovering” from the previous one. However, history is not economics. It may repeat or rhyme, but it doesn’t rule. [..]
There has been no real economic recovery. What has occurred is a pretend recovery. The pretend is not limited to this recent cycle. It has been going on for many years. In a sense, what we now have and have had for the last decade or more is a pretend economy. Government interventions have been the driving force in this pretend economy. Government has no incentive to not have a real recovery. It would prefer one, but that is no longer possible as a result of an accumulation of distortions that have built up over decades. A pretend economy is the next best thing. Interventions cover up reality (for awhile) but they also add to the economic distortions and damage.