“We Are All Charlie” – but is that story so simple?

Jan Oberg - Life • Peace & PhotoGraphics

Eleven points as a reflection on the terror in Paris and – not the least – the reactions to it*:

1. What was this an attack on?
Was that attack an attack on freedom of speech as such, on democracy, even on the whole Western culture and lifestyle, as was maintained throughout? Or was it, more limited, a revenge directed at one weekly magazine for what some perceive as blasphemy?

2. Is freedom of expression practised or curtailed for various reasons?
How real is that freedom in the West? Just a couple of days before the Paris massacre PEN in the U.S. published a report – Global Chilling – finding that about 75% of writers report that they are influenced by the NSA listening and abstain from taking up certain subjects or perspectives? Self-censorship, in other words. Finally, most of the political leaders marching in Paris on Sunday January 11…

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The Wreck of the Plaza

In an epoch characterized by disequilibria political and economic, none has been more perplexing than the inability to match means with ends. Everywhere, violent eruptions find no demand or objective around which to cohere, while struggles for the most minor of reforms burn with revolutionary intensity. Either the means overrrun their ends, or they find no end at all. In Turkey and Brazil, demonstrations over a change in the price of transit, or the development of a city park, provoke violent conflicts of an almost insurrectionary intensity. In France, teenagers barricade their schools against the withdrawal of a pension that is as yet fifty years off. Any pretext, any provocation can become the adventitious occasion for mobilization of antagonism that finds no outlet, no name or program. Do we suppose that French kids are really concerned about what will happen to them once they are ready to retire? Does any…

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Iceland, People Building a Revolution

Pots, Pans and Other Solutions

Synopsis

In Iceland, the first European country to wake up to an economic crash, people became aware that they could and should intervene in society and started demanding more democratic participation.
The payment of bank debts by citizens went to referendum. The government was forced to create a Council to write a new constitution: a citizens’ group – without politicians, lawyers or university professors – who opened the discussion process to everybody and managed to approve by consensus a draft proposal.

In Iceland, many citizens are now organized in associations and have substantial proposals for a society where everyone can participate.

Let’s meet the Icelanders that the media refuse to talk about.

This documentary was idealized, conceived and produced by Miguel Marques, Yolanda Rienderhoff,  Pedro Bruno Carreira and LIGHTS ON(E). We had no sponsors whatsoever.

If you liked it and you have the means, feel free “to pay your ticket”. You can make a bank transfer of 1 to 5 euros to:

International Bank Account Number: PT50 0035 0549 0005 4403 9005 4

Portuguese Account Number: 0035 0549 0005 4403…

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Labor as caring for other people

David Graeber expands on his immensely popular The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs in this interview for Salon.com.

When I talk about bullshit jobs, I mean, the kind of jobs that even those who work them feel do not really need to exist. A lot of them are made-up middle management, you know, I’m the “East Coast strategic vision coordinator” for some big firm, which basically means you spend all your time at meetings or forming teams that then send reports to one another. Or someone who works in an industry that they feel doesn’t need to exist, like most of the corporate lawyers I know, or telemarketers, or lobbyists…. Just think of when you walk into a hospital, how half the employees never seem to do anything for sick people, but are just filling out insurance forms and sending information to each other. Some of that work obviously does need to be done, but for the most part, everyone working there knows what really needs to get done and that the remaining 90 percent of what they do is bullshit. And then think about the ancillary workers that support people doing the bullshit jobs: here’s an office where people basically translate German formatted paperwork into British formatted paperwork or some such, and there has to be a whole infrastructure of receptionists, janitors, security guards, computer maintenance people, which are kind of second-order bullshit jobs, they’re actually doing something, but they’re doing it to support people who are doing nothing.

On the one hand, there’s this ideological imperative to validate work as virtue in itself. Which is constantly being reinforced by the larger society. On the other hand, there’s the reality that most work is obviously stupid, degrading, unnecessary, and the feeling that it is best avoided whenever possible. But it makes it very difficult to organize, as workers, against work.

The full interview here:

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/01/help_us_thomas_piketty_the_1s_sick_and_twisted_new_scheme/

Globalization’s Game of Thrones, Part 2: Managing the Wealth of the World’s Dynasties

Andrew Gavin Marshall

Globalization’s Game of Thrones, Part 2: Managing the Wealth of the World’s Dynasties

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By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

27 May 2014

In part 1 of this series (“Globalization’s Game of Thrones”) I examined the concept of corporate and financial dynasties holding significant power in the modern world. In this, part 2 of the series, I examine the realities of the ‘wealth management’ industry in being responsible for handling the wealth and investments of the world’s richest families, and the role of a unique institution dedicated to protecting and propagating dynastic wealth: the family office.

A Family Affair

In 2010, Forbes – a major financial publication which publishes an annual list of the world’s richest people – noted that the richest of the richest 400 Americans were members of prominent corporate and financial dynasties, with six of the top ten wealthiest Americans being heirs to prominent fortunes, as opposed…

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