Thursday, February 26, 2009

the rare ava socialistus

The excitement generated by the spotting a ivory billed woodpecker, formerly thought extinct, last year should be as nothing compared to the spotting of a genuine socialist, one of whom appeared last week. Segolene Royale went to Guadaloupe, an island that, by various and sundry sleights of hand going back to the eighteenth century, is a department of France – and attended the funeral of a striker, Jacques Bino, who was assassinated during the ongoing strike for higher wages on the island. She even denounced colonialism – which, of course, in D.C. shows an intolerably soft attitude to the heroic story of the rise of the West and the need to toss 200 billion dollars per year to military contractors.

Having lived as a child in Martinique, Ségolène Royal –who chose as the title of her last book the phrase, «Femme debout», her Antilles name- presented herself “as a friend of the antillese and guyanese people.” She evoked at length the memory of the French revolution, taking a stand against “bosses enriched by the neo-colonial system.”

«If I were responsible, I guarantee you there would be a permanent minister night and day accompanying these negotiations,” between the social partners. And suggesting to François Fillon to assist in the social negotiations in Guadeloupe
In the guise of a response, the prime minister [Fillon] advised her to “keep her sang froid and to let the social parties discuss among themselves.” The patronat – the bosses – discussing, of course, with the police on their side, and the strikers, criminals all, with stones on their side. “

Well well well. The French revolution, eh? We can’t have that.

Of course, the media is now working overtime to denounce Royale for having the temerity to throw “oil on the flames” – as that favorite of the petrified rentier, Le Pen, put it. Live and learn – I thought throwing oil on the flames is when you put a bullet in some striker’s head. Apparently, however, that is business as usual.


Anonymous said...

I have a number of reservations or questions regarding Ségolène, but I'll be damned if at times she doesn't make me stand up and cheer. And be disgusted by the backlash. So she's being incendiary, for denouncing neo-colonialism, acknowledging suffering, or hearkening to the revolution. Oh, she's just shooting for a photo-op. Which of course only goes to show that for such viewpoints, politics is nothing but a photo-op. In which one can conveniently forget that this has something to do with a union strike and a union leader having a bullet put through his head. I suppose he wanted the ultimate photo op.
The CGT in Guadeloupe is asking for a wage increase of 200 euros. Goddam greedy of them! The MEDEF bosses think so. The MEDEF in France denounced Obama's proposing that there should be a limit on CEO salaries. Bad for enterprise and economy, you know. That such stuff can still be said, accepted, believed and repeated like a mantra - today - is supreme delusion.
I was barely thirteen in 91 when the Soviet Union fell apart. Since which I've had to listen to the mantra of how neo-liberal capitalism is the only way to go. Well, this particular "model" has lasted less than the Soviet Union. It is crumbling, right before our disbelieving eyes. And the managers and experts and pundits have no real grasp on what is happening. For instance, in the US a 3.8% becomes 6.2%. In Japan, their exports, the mainstay of their economy, falls by almost half.
France where Sarkozy & Co kept saying that everything was just fine, had some unemployment numbers that would indicate otherwise. I listened during the last french elections - but also before that - of how socialism and the goddam french who still held to it were stupid, silly, backward, nostalgic, out of touch with the times and reality. Well, even during the past few years, when Sarkozy had this brilliant idea of being the next Thatcher or Blair, with free market reforms to modernize and reform public and social services ( liquidate them) the unions and socialists tried to hold their ground, didn't give up the ghost. Kids from the lycees went out and made the State back down.
It is time to not just be defensive but to be offensive.


Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry, I linked to the Tetes Raides twice, The Second one was supposed to be this


Roger Gathmann said...

Amie, I didn't see your comments!
Nice moustaaki.

In James Galbraith’s book, the Predator State, he quotes a Hungarian economist from the 80s writing about soft budget constraints in the Communist economies. Many manufacturers were horribly inefficient and could not compete on the international market, and yet so central to the provision of social services that they could not be allowed to fail. Galbraith says that the same thing is true in the West. It is true on two levels. On the level of the oligarchs, the speculative economy is the heart of their power. They have long put our “representatives” in a cage, and before the state can take a step, it must consult and placate the oligarchy. But the provision of social services has long been tied in, ever more closely, with the speculative economy. From Pinochet onward, the one central success of left social movements – social insurance – has been attacked, since it was seen as a very great treasure. It was. Since the eighties, various forms of inkind benefit – 401 ks in the U.S., pension plans, etc. – have all flooded into the speculative sphere. It is this which we are now facing. In a way, the Zona is a Brechtian stage play. If you bet a thousand dollars on your being docked a certain amount of pay, and the amount you were docked was less than the thousand dollars, you win. It is a bet that you will lose, essentially. Make those bets spring up millionfold. And then, one day, someone demands money upfront to make the bet. Since you don’t have the thousand dollars (having had your pay docked) and since you can’t borrow the thousand dollars, what happens? Your bet that you will lose also loses. Even the devil wasn’t this clever in Job.