[Marxism] At Davos, guarded relief about world economy, concern about global mass protest and rise of the anti-euro right
gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 24 14:57:29 MST 2014
Interesting indeed. I subscribe to China Spectator and it too had an
article about the distribution or rather non-distribution of wealth in
Australia and saying it was a bad thing. What is the meaning of this? Is
the intelligentsia of the right getting alarmed and trying to coax their
masters into less greed? Perhaps.
But nothing will take the fingers of the rich from their hoards of wealth,
noting short of a true revolutionary upsurge. Only the specter of red
terror will allow even a modest opening to the Keynesian alternative.
What is happening it seems to me is that the bottom 20% who were rusted on
to the Social Democrats and Labour have had a gut full of over 30 years of
the most stark betrayal. They are beginning to drift and the first move is
to the far right. In Australia the party of Billionaire Clive Palmer could
also makes gains in the present set up.
Now I may be wrong, but I think none of that worries the ruling class. Not
a bit. The ruling classes will find their Hitler like sycophants among the
far right and use them. The rise of the fascists will only pull Labour and
the Social Democrats further to the right. If necessary as in Greece they
will go into government with the right.
Re the economic upsurge: I do not know enough to be sceptical, but I
seriously doubt that we are in for good economic times. If Brazil, India
and China hit any kind of wall, that will put an end to any upturn.
There are some crucial by-elections coming up in Oz, at the federal and
state (Qld) level and then there will be a series of state elections. The
ruling conservatives might lose the by-elections and that would show that
there is resistance to the politics of austerity among the working class.
Not of course that the Murdoch press will allow that conclusion to be
On Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 11:49 PM, Marv Gandall <marvgand2 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
> Populism puts global elite on alert
> By Gideon Rachman
> Financial Times
> January 21 2014
> This year’s meeting of the World Economic Forum, which begins Wednesday,
> will be the first “normal” Davos for five years. Ever since the collapse of
> Lehman Brothers, in September 2008, a sense of crisis has hovered over the
> annual event.
> The nature of the fears bothering Davos man – and woman – changed slightly
> from year to year as worries about the collapse of the global financial
> system gave way to a fear of another Great Depression, and then to more
> specific concerns about the collapse of the eurozone.
> This year, however, the clouds have thinned, the terrors have lifted – and
> genuine optimism has returned. The threat of financial collapse now seems
> reassuringly remote. The US economy is strengthening and could grow 3 per
> cent this year. A strong rebound is also under way in the UK. And both the
> eurozone and Japan will also grow this year, albeit at slower rates.
> An economic rebound has also led to a modest recovery in political
> confidence. Talk of the “decline of the west”, which has been ubiquitous in
> recent years, is less common. Instead, it is becoming fashionable to argue
> that emerging markets are due for a correction – and to highlight political
> problems in rising powers such as China, India and Brazil.
> Genuine economic and political turmoil in the Bric nations or other
> emerging markets would be a source of deep concern. But a modest
> correction, if combined with a western revival, is not enough to disturb
> the “good news” story that is likely to dominate this year’s Davos.
> But while optimism has returned for the bankers, businesspeople,
> politicians and random celebrities who like to assemble at the WEF, their
> overarching narrative about the way the world works is now more complicated
> than it was in the pre-crisis era.
> Before the financial crash, Davos was essentially a festival devoted to
> celebrating the virtues of globalisation. While anti-globalisation
> protesters were occasionally given a voice (or more often confined to the
> “Open Forum”, well away from the posh hotels), their arguments about
> inequality were seen as pretty marginal.
> In 2014, however, the sense that something is wrong with the way the
> rewards of globalisation are distributed has entered mainstream debate.
> One common trend in recent years – linking the rich economies of the west,
> with the emerging powers – has been outbreaks of large-scale social
> protest, highlighting inequality and corruption.
> The examples keep piling up: the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, the
> Indignados in Madrid, the anti-corruption protests in Delhi, the mass
> demonstrations in Brazilian cities last summer, the Gezi Park movement in
> Turkey and the rallies that followed last year’s coup in Egypt – all seem
> to demonstrate how quickly anti-establishment sentiment can be fanned in
> the age of social media.
> Since the WEF is, essentially, a gathering of the global elite, its
> delegates will be concerned by evidence that “populism” (to use a favourite
> Davos term) is on the rise.
> These worries have already been reflected in the world beyond the Swiss
> ski slopes as political leaders, operating in very different systems,
> attempt to respond to anti-elitist anger. In China, President Xi Jinping
> has launched a high-profile anti-corruption crusade and tried to restrict
> conspicuous consumption by officials. In India, the new rising political
> force is the Aam Aadmi party, whose symbol is a broom, and which has
> already swept to victory in the municipal elections in Delhi.
> In the US, even Republican politicians are talking more about inequality
> and the economic pressures on the middle class, a belated reaction to the
> fact that, in real terms, the average American family now earns less than
> it did in 1989.
> A central question for politics in the coming year is whether current
> political leaders are capable of responding effectively to this
> anti-establishment sentiment, or whether new, more radical, political
> forces will emerge.
> The elections to the European Parliament in May are likely to see a surge
> in support for “outsider” political parties, many of which are likely to
> make opposition to the EU and immigration central themes, while stressing
> the pressure on living standards of working people.
> The biggest shock could come in France where the National Front (FN), long
> regarded as a far-right party with links to fascism, may make a decisive
> breakthrough by emerging as the largest party in the European elections.
> A low turnout, a proportional voting system, the deep unpopularity of
> President François Hollande and the FN’s attempts to clean up its image
> have helped it to strengthen its appeal.
> But, whatever the extenuating circumstances, a very strong FN showing
> would still send shockwaves through the French system.
> The wider European effect will be amplified because other fringe parties,
> including the United Kingdom Independence Party in Britain and the Freedom
> Party in the Netherlands, may also top the polls in their respective
> All told, the fringes could command up to 30 per cent of the seats in the
> new European Parliament.
> The question for the European establishment will be how it adapts. Will it
> count on the likelihood that the traditional parties will bounce back, in
> more important national elections? Or would a strong populist showing in
> the European elections induce panic – leading to a radical rethink of the
> EU’s functions and policies such as free movement of people within the bloc.
> A populist political surge in Europe could also have serious economic
> effects by disturbing the fragile confidence of the markets that the
> euro-crisis is finally under control.
> Political radicalisation could also make itself felt in the US. There, the
> big political question for 2014 is whether the Republican party will take
> control of Congress after November’s midterm elections – and, if so,
> whether it will be a party that is increasingly in the grip of Tea Party
> radicals. A Republican victory and a Tea Party surge would be the nightmare
> scenario for Barack Obama, effectively hobbling him for his last two years
> in office.
> But there is a chance that the president will benefit from a more benign
> scenario, in which a strengthening economy, allied to an improvement in the
> image of his trademark healthcare reforms, ensure the Democrats keep
> control of at least one house of Congress.
> In international affairs, the major question will be whether a modest
> improvement in America’s economic fortunes will change the gathering
> impression that the US is no longer the global force it was.
> The sense that America is pulling back will be strengthened throughout the
> year, by the spectacle of the allied withdrawal from Afghanistan. Continued
> carnage in Syria and a worsening situation in Iraq – both, more likely than
> not – would bolster the impression that the greater Middle East region is
> suffering from a power vacuum, as US-led diplomacy founders and the nation
> increasingly looks inwards.
> But there is another, more positive, possibility. If Mr Obama and his team
> are able to negotiate a deal that freezes the Iranian nuclear programme –
> and eases the threat of war – the president’s emphasis on diplomacy and
> reluctance to use military force would be seen as a strength, not a
> weakness. A breakthrough with Iran would mean that the economic case for
> optimism in 2014 was also supported by positive developments in geopolitics.
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