Latest Developments, May 9

In the latest news and analysis…

Democratic castration
Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang argues that the imposition of austerity has turned the present into “nothing less than crunch time for democracy” in Europe:

“In particularly difficult economic times, it was even argued, we need to insulate economic policies from politics altogether. Latin American military dictatorships were justified in such terms. The recent imposition of ‘technocratic’ governments, made up of economists and bankers who have not been ‘tainted’ by politics, on Greece and Italy comes from the same intellectual stable.
What free-market economists are not telling us is that the politics they want to get rid of are none other than those of democracy itself. When they say we need to insulate economic policies from politics, they are in effect advocating the castration of democracy.”

New boss
The Guardian reports that the World Trade Organization has chosen its next head, with the selection process mirroring the rich-poor divide that has left the Doha round of trade talks stalled for years:

“Ultimately, [Roberto] Azevêdo won the backing of a majority of the WTO’s 159 members, despite a lack of support from many rich countries.
‘Had [Herminio] Blanco won – with transatlantic support behind him, plus the support of Japan and Korea – it would have looked like another rich-country stitch-up of an international [organisation] job, and that would have been very unhelpful in terms of getting progress at the WTO,’ says [the University of St Gallen’s Simon] Evenett. ‘In that sense, the outcome that we have is good for the organisation.’

He added: ‘We all wish him well, but what can he do to change negotiating positions in national capitals? The answer is not much.’ “

The Corruptors
Inter Press Service reports on some of the reactions to revelations of “bags of cash” being given by the CIA to Afghan President Hamid Karzai:

“While the United States preaches ‘good governance’ to developing countries at the United Nations, says one African diplomat, ‘it has been doing the reverse in its own political backyard’.
And good governance not only includes multi-party democracy, rule of law and a free press but also transparent and corruption-free regimes.
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), told IPS, ‘If the U.S. ever stood for good government and democracy, it does not any longer.’ ”

Tainted profits
Norway has announced it has dropped an American and a Chinese tobacco producer from the government pension fund:

“The Ministry of Finance has decided to exclude Schweitzer-Mauduit International Inc. and Huabao International Holdings Limited based on the recommendation from the Council on Ethics. In accordance with the guidelines, the decision to exclude is made public once the shares are sold.”

More bodies
The BBC reports that the death toll at the collapsed Bangladeshi garment factories, which supplied a number of Western retailers, has now risen above 800:

“Authorities are continuing to search the rubble for more bodies two weeks after the Rana Plaza building collapsed on 24 April.

Officials say about 2,500 people were injured in the collapse and that 2,437 people have been rescued.

The EU has said it is considering ‘appropriate action’ to encourage an improvement in working conditions in Bangladesh factories.”

Outsourcing lethality
Foreign Policy’s Micah Zenko writes about a particular kind of extrajudicial killing that eliminates perceived enemies of the US but “more easily masks US involvement and culpability” compared to drone strikes:

“However, if you’re concerned by the Obama administration’s targeted killing policies, don’t overlook similar attacks conducted by allies and partners who receive U.S. money, weapons, or actionable intelligence. When the United States provides other states or non-state actors with the capabilities that enable lethal operations — without which they would not happen — it bears primary responsibility for the outcome. Whatever drone strike reforms the White House offers, or if additional congressional hearings are held, they must take into account America’s troubling role in client-state targeted killings.”

Gun crazy
ProPublica reports that the majority of US states are enacting legislation that renders federal gun controls irrelevant or illegal:

“Kansas’ ‘Second Amendment Protection Act’ backs up its states’ rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: when dealing with ‘Made in Kansas’ guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas’ law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws ‘null and void’ passed by an overwhelming majority in the state house, and is headed for debate in the senate.”

Petroleum myth
The Globe and Mail reports that former US vice-president Al Gore does not buy the argument that oil is more “ethical” if produced in democratic countries:

“ ‘There’s no such thing as ethical oil,’ he said. ‘There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil.’ The remark triggered applause from a nearly full house at the Globe-sponsored event at a Ryerson University auditorium.

While noting that the U.S. needed to change to remove the demand for Canadian oil, Mr. Gore also said: ‘I had hoped that Canada would point the way toward a better path, but as yet it has not.’ ”

Latest Developments, May 3

In the latest news and analysis…

Second thoughts
Reuters reports that the US is “rethinking” its opposition to arming rebel forces in Syria:

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cautioned that giving weapons to the forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad was only one option being considered by the United States. It carries the risk of arms finding their way into the hands of anti-American extremists among the insurgents, such as the Nusra Front.
But it may be more palatable to many in the United States than direct U.S. military intervention in the conflict, such as carving out a no-fly zone or sending in troops to secure chemical weapons.”

Detainees vs drones
The Guardian reports that a former White House lawyer has said the Obama administration prefers extrajudicial killings to indefinite detention for dealing with suspected security threats:

“[Ex-White House lawyer John] Bellinger, who drafted the legal framework for targeted drone killings while working for George W Bush after 9/11, said he believed their use had increased since because Obama was unwilling to deal with the consequences of jailing suspected al-Qaida members. ‘This government has decided that instead of detaining members of al-Qaida [at Guantánamo], they are going to kill them,’ he told a conference at the Bipartisan Policy Centre.

Obama said of the camp this week: ‘It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens co-operation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.’ ”

Austerity kills
Reuters reports that a pair of academic researchers have written a new book detailing the “devastating effect” of austerity measures in the US and Europe:

“In Greece, moves like cutting HIV prevention budgets have coincided with rates of the AIDS-causing virus rising by more than 200 percent since 2011 – driven in part by increasing drug abuse in the context of a 50 percent youth unemployment rate.
Greece also experienced its first malaria outbreak in decades following budget cuts to mosquito-spraying programmes.
And more than five million Americans have lost access to healthcare during the latest recession, they argue, while in Britain, some 10,000 families have been pushed into homelessness by the government’s austerity budget.”

Baby steps
The UK has announced that its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, which comprise some of the world’s most notorious tax havens, have taken a “huge step forward” in the fight against tax evasion by agreeing to share banking information with a handful of European governments on a trial basis:

“Following the recent leadership shown by the Cayman Islands, the other Overseas Territories – Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands – have agreed to much greater levels of transparency of accounts held in those jurisdictions.

They have agreed to pilot the automatic exchange of information bilaterally with the UK and multilaterally with the G5 – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Under this agreement much greater levels of information about bank accounts will be exchanged on a multilateral basis as part of a move to a new global standard.”

Capital crimes
Trinity College’s Vijay Prashad argues last month’s deadly garment factory collapse is a symptom of a problem that extends far beyond Bangladesh:

“These Bangladesh factories are a part of the landscape of globalization that is mimicked in the factories along the US-Mexico border, in Haiti, in Sri Lanka, and in other places that opened their doors to the garment industry’s savvy use of the new manufacturing and trade order of the 1990s. Subdued countries that had neither the patriotic will to fight for their citizens nor any concern for the long-term debilitation of their social order rushed to welcome garment production. The big garment producers no longer wanted to invest in factories – they turned to sub-contractors, offering them very narrow margins for profit and thereby forcing them to run their factories like prison-houses of labour. The sub-contracting regime allowed these firms to deny any culpability for what was done by the actual owners of these small factories, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of the cheap products without having their consciences stained with the sweat and blood of the workers.”

Big Green
No Logo author Naomi Klein argues “an important target is missing” from the growing movement to pressure cities and universities to divest from polluting industries, such as oil and coal:

“One would assume that green groups would want to make absolutely sure that the money they have raised in the name of saving the planet is not being invested in the companies whose business model requires cooking said planet, and which have been sabotaging all attempts at serious climate action for more than two decades. But in some cases at least, that was a false assumption.
Maybe that shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, since some of the most powerful and wealthiest environmental organisations have long behaved as if they had a stake in the oil and gas industry. They led the climate movement down various dead ends: carbon trading, carbon offsets, natural gas as a “bridge fuel” – what these policies all held in common is that they created the illusion of progress while allowing the fossil fuel companies to keep mining, drilling and fracking with abandon. We always knew that the groups pushing hardest for these false solutions took donations from, and formed corporate partnerships with, the big emitters. But this was explained away as an attempt at constructive engagement – using the power of the market to fix market failures.
Now it turns out that some of these groups are literally part-owners of the industry causing the crisis they are purportedly trying to solve.”

6 to 1
Chicago Reader’s Steve Bogira writes that US government policies have helped widen America’s “racial gap in wealth”:

“The average wealth of white families in 2010 ($632,000) was almost six times that of Hispanic families ($110,000) and more than six times that of black families ($98,000). The median wealth figures are similarly lopsided: $124,000 for white families, $16,000 for black families, $15,000 for Hispanic families.

The recession of 2007-2009 may be largely responsible: it cut the wealth of white families by 11 percent, but it reduced the wealth of black families by 31 percent and Hispanic families by 40 percent.”

Latest Developments, April 24

UN peacekeeping

In the latest news and analysis…

Killer fashion
Reuters reports that a building that collapsed in Bangladesh – killing nearly 100 and injuring over 1,000 – contained five garment factories with links to major Western brands:

“The website of a company called New Wave, which had two factories in the building, listed 27 main buyers, including firms from Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Canada and the United States.
‘It is dreadful that leading brands and governments continue to allow garment workers to die or suffer terrible disabling injuries in unsafe factories making clothes for Western nations’ shoppers,’ Laia Blanch of the U.K. anti-poverty charity War on Want said in a statement.”

Pension-fund ethics
Reuters also reports that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is considering divesting from oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, that operate in Equatorial Guinea “where oil revenue does nothing to relieve abject poverty”:

“The fund, whose investments totalled $725 billion on Wednesday, invests Norway’s revenues from oil and gas production for future generations. Exxon Mobil was its tenth-largest equity holding at end-2012, according to its annual report.

The fund has frequently excluded companies for what it deems to be unethical behaviour based on the recommendations of its ethics council.

U.S. energy companies Marathon Oil and Hess Corp also operate fields in Equatorial Guinea. The oil fund owned 0.76 percent of Marathon Oil and 0.69 percent of Hess at the end of 2012, according to Reuters data.”

Political interference
The Independent reports that Britain’s finance minister, George Osborne, has “a secret veto over large and potentially politically sensitive fraud investigations”:

“Under a government agreement the Serious Fraud Office must get permission from the Treasury to launch any complex new inquiry which comes on top of its normal budget.
But controversially the Treasury can keep its decisions secret – potentially allowing it to veto politically sensitive fraud inquiries, either before or midway through an investigation, without public scrutiny.

[Transparency International’s Robert Barrington] said there was potentially a ‘clear conflict of interest’ in the Treasury’s role promoting economic growth and deciding whether to investigate a UK company for misdeeds in a foreign country which might damage its reputation and finances. ‘Either by design or accident you could easily get a situation where egregious corruption is simply not investigated,’ he said.”

Split jurisdictions
Mining.com reports that a Chilean court has upheld the suspension of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama project but construction is continuing on the Argentine side of the border:

“The appeals court in the northern city of Copiapo charged the Toronto-based gold miner with ‘environmental irregularities’ during construction of the world’s highest-altitude precious metals mine.
Chile’s environmental and mining ministries are on record backing suspension of work on the Andes mine. Opponents claim construction has spread dust that has settled on the nearby Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza glaciers, accelerating their retreat, and is threatening the Estrecho river, which supplies water to the Diaguita tribe living downstream.”

Drone flip-flop
Foreign Policy reports that US Senator Rand Paul, who grabbed headlines earlier this year with a 13-hour anti-drone filibuster, has caused outrage with a “perceived reversal” on the subject:

“ ‘I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on,’ Paul said. ‘If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash. I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.’
While it’s true that Paul has always made an exception for ‘imminent threats’ — a 9/11-like moment — the liquor store scenario struck many libertarians as a very low threshold for domestic drone strikes, especially considering Paul’s Senate floor remarks, which if you recall, took a more anti-drone stance. Here’s Paul on the Senate floor:
‘I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.’ ”

Above the law
Radio-Canada reports that MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, is under fire for a lack of accountability over crimes allegedly committed by its members, including a Canadian policeman who fled the country earlier this year:

“Since 2007, there have been 70 allegations of sexual assaults committed by MINUSTAH members. But not one of them has faced trial in Haiti. [Olga Benoît of Haitian Women Solidarity (SOFA)] says these cases are ‘just the tip of the iceberg.’
In a report published last August, International Crisis Group, an NGO working on preventing armed conflicts around the world, recommends that the UN sign an accord with each country participiating in a mission, to establish ‘common binding investigative norms’ in order to ‘ensure that UN peacekeepers who commit crimes answer for their actions.’
[The Haitian National Human Rights Defence Network’s Marie Rosy Auguste Ducéna] believes Canada ‘also has an obligation to see the case reach judicial authorities.’
There is a possibility of punitive action against the police officer. An investigation is under way. But if there are sanctions, the police will not divulge any information, as they say all disciplinary measures are considered internal matters that remain between officers and their employers.”

Teflon miners
The Council of Canadians’ Meera Karunananthan urges the UN human rights council to challenge Canada’s aggressive promotion of the “logic of international corporate rights”:

“The abuses by Canadian mining companies are a systemic part of an economic development policy that disregards human rights and disdains the environment. It is no coincidence that Canada is now home to 75% of the world’s mining companies, the majority operating overseas. The Canadian government has accelerated its pursuit of investment treaties in the global south to serve the interests of the extractive industry. These treaties allow companies to challenge environmental, public health or other resource-related policies that affect mining profits.
At the same time, Canada allows its corporations to benefit from a climate of impunity, offering no legal recourse for adversely impacted communities and demanding no accountability in exchange for generous public subsidies, as the EU and other jurisdictions do. These conditions have made Canada a haven for the global mining industry.”

Deep solutions
So-called geek hereric Kentaro Toyama tells Humanosphere that technology “cannot fix poverty”:

“It’s certainly tempting to think that next generation of futuristic technologies can change the world. But Toyama has seen innovative technology rendered powerless, harmful even, in settings of severe poverty. He says the problems require even deeper solutions.”

Latest Developments, January 29

In the latest news and analysis…

Sahel drones
The Wall Street Journal reports that the US and Niger have signed a military agreement paving the way for what could be the first of several new American drone bases in the region:

“The U.S. and France are moving to create an intelligence hub in Niger that could include a base, near Mali’s border, for American drones that could monitor al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali’s vast desert north, U.S. officials said.

The signing of the so-called status-of-forces agreement with Niger was a necessary precursor for American military operations there, officials said.

Other countries in the region are also seen by U.S. officials as possible hosts for drone bases.

Current and former officials said the Central Intelligence Agency or the U.S. military may be able to reach a deal in which Algeria provides a drone base in exchange for equipment and training.”

Invisible war
Al Jazeera reports that both journalists and humanitarian workers trying to gain access to the conflict zones in Mali are distraught that they have neither freedom of movement nor access to even the most basic information:

“French officials have organised no press conferences in Bamako. Their press contingent in Bamako consists of a one-man band, whose main function is to refer media queries to Paris.
The Malian army has likewise restricted media access, barring journalists and human rights organisations from areas safely in its hands such as Konna and Sevare for some days. The lack of freedom of movement has also drawn criticism from aid groups, who say people are being blocked from fleeing the conflict.
On top of the roadblocks, communications have been cut wherever operations are underway, making it impossible to independently verify what is taking place.

There are no official death tolls either for civilians or soldiers. No-one interviewed by Al Jazeera could say where prisoners of war were being held or how they were being treated.”

Closer closure
The New York Times reports that the US State Department is reassigning and not replacing the official tasked with closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay:

“The announcement that no senior official in President Obama’s second term will succeed [Daniel] Fried in working primarily on diplomatic issues pertaining to repatriating or resettling detainees appeared to signal that the administration does not currently see the closing of the prison as a realistic priority, despite repeated statements that it still intends to do so.

Mr. Fried’s special envoy post was created in 2009, shortly after Mr. Obama took office and promised to close the prison in his first year. A career diplomat, Mr. Fried traveled the world negotiating the repatriation of some 31 low-level detainees and persuading third-party countries to resettle about 40 who were cleared for release but could not be sent home because of fears of abuse.
But the outward flow of detainees slowed almost to a halt as Congress imposed restrictions on further transfers, leaving Mr. Fried with less to do.”

134 countries
The Center for American Progress’s John Norris argues that the US may be providing “military aid” to too many countries:

“In 2012 the United States delivered bilateral security assistance to 134 countries — meaning that every country on Earth had about a 75 percent chance of receiving U.S. military aid. Once you weed out places like North Korea and Vatican City, you are pretty much assured of receiving military aid no matter how large or small your country, no matter how democratic or despotic your regime, no matter how lofty or minimal your GDP.

Equally troubling, military and economic assistance are treated as quite different creatures. For economic assistance, the United States has increasingly insisted that aid recipients at least demonstrate some marginal commitment to democracy and open markets. Not so on the military side, where concerns about corruption, the rule of law, and human rights are treated as something we are too polite to ask about.”

Right to move
The Raw Story reports that former New Jersey judge turned Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano believes the US government should not have the right to restrict immigration:

“ ‘This is the natural law, a natural right,’ he added. ‘Rights come from your humanity. It doesn’t matter where your mother was when you were born.’ ”

Worked to death
The Mail and Guardian reports on the state of health of South Africa’s hundreds of thousands of current and former mine workers:

“The department of labour puts the number of former miners in Southern Africa who live with pneumoconiosis, which includes lung diseases such as asbestosis and silicosis, at nearly 500 000.

Health department figures show that the mining sector is responsible for 9 out of every ten cases of reported occupational lung diseases, and the gold mining industry has the fastest-growing TB epidemic in the world.”

Labour pains
The Financial Times reports that American tech giant Apple has found a range of workers’ rights violations, including child labour, in its supply chain:

“The California-based company, which has stepped up its auditing efforts in the past year under chief executive Tim Cook, said it had uncovered 106 ‘active cases’ of children being employed by its suppliers over the course of 2012, and 70 people who had been underage and either left or passed the age of 16 by the time of its audit.
None of those individuals is still employed by the suppliers, after Apple worked with its partners to help them spot fake identification documents or falsified records.

Overall it found that just under a quarter of its suppliers failed to comply with its labour and human rights standards, with other breaches including 11 facilities using bonded labour.”

Licence to drill
The School for International Training’s Christian Parenti argues that pressuring institutions to “divest their portfolios of fossil fuel investments” is not the best way to alter the oil industry’s behaviour:

“Some divesters say they can revoke corporations’ ‘social license to operate,’ a problematic term that emanates from the ‘corporate social responsibility’ scene and basically means ‘corporate reputation.’
Big Carbon has already lost its ‘social license’ and with no apparent effect on its real operations. Every year Gallup asks Americans how they feel about 25 leading industries. Every year oil shows up dead last as the most disliked industry in America. Last year it had a 61 percent disapproval rating.
What we need to revoke is Big Carbon’s actual, legal license to operate. Government grants that right. And the moral crisis generated by protest must crystallize as state action.”

Latest Developments, March 7

In the latest news and analysis…

Kony 2012 reaction
In response to the controversy over a viral video calling for action against Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, This is Africa’s Angelo Opi-aiya Izama argues the sins of which the film has been accused are all too common.
“Critics of Invisible Children are also likely to be critics of foreign aid and by extension the place of Western charities in the mis-education of western publics about the realities of Africa. The real danger of the game-show type ‘pornography of violence’ that Invisible Children has made so appealing also has a dangerous hold on policy types in Washington DC whose access to information and profiles of issues is as limited.
Recent examples of the impact of evangelizing NGO’s can be seen from the distortions of the Save Darfur Coalition to a recent mining ban in the DRC under the guise of saving hapless Africans. The simplicity of the “good versus evil”, where good is inevitably white/western and bad is black or African, is also reminiscent of some of the worst excesses of the colonial era interventions. These campaigns don’t just lack scholarship or nuance. They are not bothered to seek it.”

The business of nuclear weapons
Inter Press Service reports on a new study that shines light on the financial world’s links to nuclear arms and calls for a “global campaign for nuclear weapons divestment.”
“In a foreword to the report, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu Writes, ‘No one should be profiting from this terrible industry of death, which threatens us all.’
The South African peace activist has urged financial institutions to do the right thing and assist, rather than impede, efforts to eliminate the threat of radioactive incineration, pointing out that divestment was a vital part of the successful campaign to end apartheid in South Africa.
The same tactic can – and must – be employed to challenge man’s most evil creation: the nuclear bomb, he added.”

A different world
Intellectual Property Watch reports that a “collegium of scientists, philosophers and former heads of state” has issued an appeal for global governance.
“During a press conference, collegium representatives presenting the appeal described weakened international organisations unable to reach agreements or ‘imposing essential global regulations.’ They presented the concept of shared sovereignty, and called for redefined territorial jurisdictions to introduce a ‘justice system with global reach,’ and to strengthen the principle of international security, including ‘a duty toward future generations and the biosphere.’ ”

Playing with food
Wired Science reports on new evidence supporting claims that commodity speculation is driving up global food prices and increasing the risk of a dangerous bubble.
“In their ideal form, commodity markets should contain ‘70 percent commercial hedgers and 30 percent speculators. The speculators are there to provide liquidity. In the summer of 2008, it was discovered that it’s now 70 percent speculation and 30 percent commercial,’ said Michael Greenberger, former director of the [US Commodity Futures Trading Commission]’s Division of Trading and Markets. ‘Now reports are coming out that it’s 85 percent speculation and 15 percent commercial. You have markets dominated by people with no real interest in the economics of supply and demand, but who are taking advantage of bets authored by Wall Street that prices will go up.’ ”

Sarkozy’s right turn
The Guardian reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has declared there are “too many foreigners” in the country.
“The French president is already under attack by religious leaders and from within his own party for veering to the right and stoking anti-Muslim sentiment by forcing the marginal topic of halal meat into the centre of his campaign. He has now vowed to cut immigration by half and limit state benefits for legal migrants.
‘Our system of integration is working increasingly badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school,’ he said in a three-hour appearance on a TV politics debate show.”

Losing doctors
Time’s Matt McAllester writes that the funneling of doctors from poor countries to rich is not the only kind of  “brain drain” the former are facing.
“The medical brain drain from poor countries gets a fair amount of attention in international health circles, and initiatives both private and public are trying to resolve the shortage of doctors. The teaching hospital in Lusaka where Desai trained, for example, is one of 13 sub-Saharan medical schools receiving support from a United States-financed $130 million program to generate more and better graduates. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provided money to Zambia’s ministry of health to recruit and retain doctors. Western aid agencies, many financed by donors like Bill and Melinda Gates, have also hired local doctors at higher salaries. But apparent solutions can create further problems; many of the doctors hired by aid agencies are doing research. They don’t see patients. Frustrated public health officials in Zambia and other developing countries call this the ‘internal brain drain.’ ”

Post-Cold War hubris
The seeds of “the social (and antisocial) grassroots demonstrations that are mushrooming in affluent Western societies” lay in the collapse of the USSR, according to Sergei Karaganov of Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics.
“First, social inequality has grown unabated in the West over the last quarter-century, owing in part to the disappearance of the Soviet Union and, with it, the threat of expansionist communism. The specter of revolution had forced Western elites to use the power of the state to redistribute wealth and nurture the growth of loyal middle classes. But, when communism collapsed in its Eurasian heartland, the West’s rich, believing that they had nothing more to fear, pressed to roll back the welfare state, causing inequality to rise rapidly. This was tolerable as long as the overall pie was expanding, but the global financial crisis in 2008 ended that.”

No going back
University of London PhD student Aaron Peters argues against a return to “statist capitalism” as a solution to the current economic crisis.
“[Andrew] Kliman’s concern is that the ‘left’ will over time adopt an underconsumptionist position. For those passionate about ecological sustainability and not simply reducing human beings to units capable of economic maximisation this is of grave concern.
Not only are high levels of growth an undesirable goal and an utterly insufficient rubric for assessing the ‘common wealth’, it is also simply not possible to return to the annualized GDP growth of the post-war ‘golden age’.”