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Daily Archives: 12/01/2011


By John Pilger.

From the award-winning director of The War on Democracy comes John Pilger’s latest work, The War You Don’t See. This hard-hitting exposé and scrutinizes the effects of the media during wartime, asking what is the role of the media in rapacious wars.

When symbols are separated from facts and the facts don’t matter, could the media be accused of conspiring to play down the carnage and of using ‘embedded journalism’ to amplify the lies? This documentary unveils the war you don’t see and allows you to make up your own mind.

(Workers Solidarity Movement) A mass wave of riots by ordinary people against the government have swept Tunisia for the last three weeks under a near-total media blackout in the West. We look at what’s been happening and why it’s being kept off our TV screens.

On Saturday December 18th, the Tunisian police stopped Mohamed Bouaziz, an unemployed university graduate, and seized the hand cart of fruit and vegetables he had been selling to support himself and his family. Enraged by the injustice and despairing of any escape from destitution and starvation in Tunisia’s impoverished economy, increasingly ravaged by rising food prices, the young man set fire to himself in protest, outside the town hall in Sidi Bouzid, 200km south-west of the capital Tunis. The young man was later to die in hospital.

Angered by the incident, several hundred local youth, equally suffering from unemployment and repression from the police and state of Tunisia’s corrupt dictatorial regime, gathered to protest the incident. Local police responded with tear gas and violence. Since that time, mass rioting and violent clashes with the police have swept the country for the last three weeks. In Kesserine, another inland town, far from the tourist industry of the coastal region, the death toll estimated by local doctors and hospital staff has exceeded 50 over the last weekend alone.

But the savagery of the virtual civil war that has broken out between the people of Tunisia, from unemployed youth, school and university students, trade unionists, artists, intellectuals and even lawyers, against the corrupt cabal around dictator in all but name, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, may as well not be happening as far as the TV news schedules of RTE, the BBC or the rest of Western media. Commentators at Al Jazeera and other Arab language media have bitterly pointed out the hypocrisy of Western media that splashed the Iranian Green movement’s resistance to Ahmedi Nejad’s stealing of the last elections all over the nightly TV broadcasts, but is now censoring the biggest story in the Arab world today. Could this be because the Ben Ali regime is a “friend of the West”? The wall of silence imposed by our “fearlessly independent and even-handed” media speaks volumes.

Meanwhile in the Arab world, from Egypt to Syria, ordinary watchers and bloggers are seized with enthusiasm for what they are calling the Tunisian Intifada. The experience of being squeezed between corrupt, dictatorial and repressive regimes and rising food prices is common to most people in the region. Even though the Tunisian government has closed opposition newspapers and arrested and tortured journalists who dare cover the struggle, coverage is still passing out through Twitter (follow #sidibouzid ), although Facebook has fallen over itself to help the Ben Ali regime (and its CIA backers) by taking down the pages of any journalists or ordinary Tunisians covering the story.

The initifada is still carrying on, yesterday it reached the suburbs of the capital Tunis, and troops were deployed on the streets for the first time. Ben Ali has belatedly tried to signal changes by sacking his interior minister and promising that he will start a programme to create 300,000 jobs in the next two years. But members of his family have been reported as fleeing the country.

Victory and liberty for Tunisian workers! Down with the Ben Ali dictatorship!

(bbc.co.uk) A Mexican activist who led protests against the unsolved killings of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez has herself been murdered. Susana Chavez was found strangled and with one hand cut off in Ciudad Juarez last week, but has only now been identified. Ms Chavez tried to draw attention to the killing of mainly poor women in the border town in the 1990s. Read more…

(libcom.org) The 1,200 striking workers at Europe’s biggest food manufacturing plant, the Heinz factory in Kitt Green of Wigan, suffered the first defeat in their ongoing struggle against the management and owners of the company, as the senior stewards decided to call off the 24 hour strike that was planned for Wednesday January 4th. The workers had been planning to strike for the fourth time over management’s sub par offer of pay conditions, including the removal of the performance related bonus and restrictions on overtime. Read more…

(infoshop) Tuesday, January 11 2011 @ 04:14 PM UTC Contributed by: WorkerFreedom

A new front is opening in the struggle between Greece’s Socialist government and its beleaguered subjects as public and private transport users co-ordinate mass sabotage in the face of spiralling prices.

On January 8th angry public transport users sealed ticket machines and refused en masse to ride buses, trains or underground services as part of a nationwide protest against ticket price increases of up to 180%.

The hikes come at the same time as a raft of painful government changes kick in for the new year including the killing off of public subsidies for transport, tax hikes, job cuts and rising utility prices.

Incomes are also falling as part of a catastrophic 5% shrinking of the economy, a situation which EU-imposed austerity measures has done few favours for in recent months.

Activists are planning to follow up on the action on January 9th with a mass campaign of non-payment and blockades against the privately-owned national road tolls network, which has been given the go-ahead to hike prices in 2011, ostensibly to pay for infrastructure improvements.

The popular campaign to end the road tolls system has led to around a third of all drivers on Greek roads regularly refusing outright to pay the tolls, which organisers say have amounted to little more than extortion with almost no improvements being made to the network.

In a statement released today, http://stopcartel.org noted: “The roads are the people’s property, constructed with the money of the taxpayers over the years and therefore nobody has the right to demand payment for their use.”

The government has responded to the possibility of disruption by threatening arrests and the imposition of heavy fines or even imprisonment, which http://stopcartel.org argues would violate the country’s constitution.

(Angry News From Around The World) Tuesday, 11 January 2011 El Watan

Three deaths among the protesters, more than 800 wounded, including 763 policemen and over 1,100 arrests. Among the detained include many minors. That is the conclusion of the heavy and gruesome popular protest movement that is devastating, since 5 January, about twenty wilayas.
Anticipating a possible challenge to the official toll, Daho Ould Kablia, the Minister of Interior and Local Government, took the lead and already refuted any figures which might be provided by independent organizations.
“Regarding the number of dead and wounded, all other information peddled by foreign media or Algerian is false and alarmist and that it should give no credit,” had struck the minister in an interview yesterday the state news agency, APS.
Maitre Mustapha Bouchachi said that apart from the balance sheet released by the government, the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) does not have any other figures. “We know there were many arrests. Yesterday and the day before yesterday, many young protestors were brought before the courts. But for now, we could not obtain enough information, or access to records of youths arrested, let alone state the grounds for prosecution. ” Saturday night on Canal Algeria, the Minister of Interior instructed the young demonstrators violently, authors of “criminal acts”. The next day, Daho Ould Kablia on a false paternalistic and sympathetic tone, repeats the same about reducing the protest movement and protesters, considered to be marginal. Mobs that are, according to Mr. Ould Kablia that “the most radical youth (…)”.

Reposted from:
http://sysiphus-angrynewsfromaroundtheworld.blogspot.com/2011/01/
el-watan-10-january-2011-three-deaths.html

(c4ss.org) It’s pretty much standard for the chattering classes — both liberal and conservative — to refer to something called “our free market system,” also known as “free market capitalism.”  To the extent that the right-wingers at Fox and CNBC or on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal advocate some purer form of “free markets” in contrast to the existing economy, what they mean is essentially the present model of corporate capitalism without the regulatory or welfare state.

But the form taken by the existing capitalist system that we live under owes precious little to free markets.  From its beginnings in the late Middle Ages, it has been shaped by massive and ceaseless intervention and enforcement of privilege — much of it breathtakingly brutal — by the state.  To adapt a phrase from Orwell, the past has been a boot stamping on a human face.

The state played a central role in creating the defining characteristic of capitalism as we know it:  the wage system.  Had free markets been allowed to develop peacefully, with the peasant majorities remaining in control of their land and with free access to the means of subsistence, labor markets would likely have taken a much different form.  Employers would have had to compete with the possibility of self-employment, available to the vast majority of the population.  But thanks to Enclosures and similar land expropriations over a period of several centuries, the majority of the population was turned into a landless proletariat totally dependant on wage labor for its subsistence.

As if this weren’t enough, the British state imposed totalitarian social controls on the working class in the early days of the Industrial Revolution to reduce the bargaining power of labor.  The Laws of Settlement, for example, acted as a sort of internal passport system, forbidding workers to leave their parish of birth in search of better terms of employment without permission.  The Poor Law authorities then came to the rescue of employers in the underpopulated industrial North, by auctioning off laborers — cheaply — from the parish workhouses of London.

Over a period of several centuries the European powers brought most of the Earth under their subjection and imposed similar land expropriations and social controls on the peoples of the Third World, and looted the mineral resources and raw materials of most of the world.

A wide range of thinkers, from the free market anarchist Lysander Spooner to the Marxist Immanuel Wallerstein, have pointed out historic capitalism’s continuities with feudalism.  Capitalism, as a historic system of political economy, was really just an outgrowth of feudalism with markets grafted in and allowed to operate in the interstices to a limited extent.

The state also played a central role in the rise of corporate capitalism from the late 19th century on.  The railroad land grants created a single national market in the U.S., externalizing the costs of long-distance distribution on the taxpayer, and led to industrial firms and markets far larger than would otherwise have existed.  Patent law and assorted regulations passed during the Progressive Era served to cartelize markets under the control of a handful of oligopoly firms.

In the twentieth century, the state played a growing role in absorbing the surplus output of overbuilt industry or guaranteeing an overseas market for it.  The leading industrial sectors were state creations:  the automobile-highway complex, civil aviation, the miliitary-industrial complex and outgrowths like miniaturized electronics and industrial automation.

The neoliberal economy of the past twenty years is overwhelmingly dependent on the draconian enforcement of “intellectual property” law.  The dominant sectors in the corporate global economy — software, entertainment, biotech, pharma, agribusiness, electronics — are all almost entirely dependent for their profits either on “intellectual property” or direct subsidies from the state.  The central function of the U.S. national security state since WWII has been to make the world safe for corporate power through the overthrow of unfriendly governments.

Both the statist right and the statist left, for their own reasons, equate the “free market” to corporate capitalism, and promote the myth that corporate capitalism as we know it is what would naturally have emerged from a free market absent state intervention to prevent it.  The statist right want to defend the legitimacy of big business, and the statist left want to make you think you need them to defend you against big business.

But the exact opposite is true.  Big business has been a creature of the state from the beginning.  And genuinely free markets would operate as dynamite at the foundations of corporate power.

And that’s exactly what those of us on the free market left want to do.

by Kevin Carson

Original article: http://c4ss.org/content/3202

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