Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

against austerity

The resistance to immiseration in Europe is heating up and beginning to spread. In France, open-ended strikes are continuing, with students now joining in. Friends and comrades from Contrainfo (Athens) share this report on an occupation of the Acropolis by precarious cultural workers.

‘Beneath the Acropolis we go on strike…’

by Contrainfo
15 October 2010

Approximately 100 ministry contractual employees barricaded themselves inside the Acropolis site overnight on Wednesday, 13 October, demanding two years of back pay and permanent contracts. They padlocked the entrance gates and refused to allow in tourists. Guardians of the Acropolis site (Athens, Greece) work in behalf of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism either as civil servants (with permanent contracts) or as contractual employees (with temporal contracts). More than 400 contract-workers of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism have been working unpaid for up to 22 months. These are workers who have up to 20 years of service. The Greek government shows them the door of unemployment. Most of them will be laid off after years of flexible and underpaid work.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

brumaria on the general strike

Spain: The General Strike of September 29th

by Brumaria

On September 29th, a General Strike (Huelga general) against the Ley de Reforma Laboral — driven by Zapatero’s government and passed by the parliament — was organized by the practical entirety of labor unions and leftist organizations and parties, with unequal results.

It is necessary to search for the antecedents to said events in the profound economic crisis that Spain has suffered from during the last three years; this crisis (latent and prior to the global crisis of September 2008 involving the financial markets) is inscribed in the following parameters and events:

- Enormous growth of public works and construction of homes during the last 15 years (currently in Spain there are 3 million empty homes)
- Unstoppable increase in the number of unemployed (4 million to date)
- Economic recession, drop in consumption, and zero growth the last two years
- Exponential increase of public debt based on the search for financial resources with which to pay social loans to the unemployed

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

spectacle and austerity

Across France on Saturday (2 October), huge demos protested misery measures. But how huge, and who decides if such protests matter?

No secret: the business of capitalist news media is to market assertion, not to expose the truth about what happens. Circulating along with all the other transmitted garbage, truth rushes past, like slips of the tongue - but above all as truth about the concentration of social power congealed in every media report.

In the current coverage of resistance to austerity in Europe, what is striking is how relentlessly state and corporate news reports reduce massive, embodied contestation to mere contention - to assertion and counter-assertion about how many protesters were actually in the street.

The process is a form of castration: precisely the logic of spectacular representation Guy Debord raged against more than forty years ago. Maybe it won't be useless to recall how it works, and see how it is still operating today.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

the fightback

Three days ago (29 September), the first general strike in Spain in eight years coincided with a general call-out from the European Trade Union Confederation to protest Eurozone austerity programs. The strike, although limited in time, was evidently strong and effective, and union actions and protest demos took place in many European capitals  - including Brussels, where 100,000 workers took to the streets.

Friday, October 1, 2010

new false start

New START's Big Winners: US Nuke Complex, Pentagon, and Contractors

by Darwin Bond-Graham

(17 Sept 2010)
Passage of New START in a 14-4 vote out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is already being hailed by Democrats and arms control NGOs as a substantial victory. A floor vote for ratification is now apparently set to occur after the elections.

While ratification is by no means guaranteed, there are several clear winners already: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Aerojet General, Alliant Techsystems, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons laboratories, Y-12 nuclear labs, the Pentagon, and Bechtel Corporation.

While much noise has been made about the New START treaty's cut to the nuclear weapons stockpile, the actual required reduction in arms may be as low as 8%, or 162 warheads out of a total of thousands. Furthermore, keep in mind too that this only affects deployed strategic warheads, not "tactical" weapons, and not weapons in the "reserve" stockpile.

So why the big deal? Why are both sides fighting like mad over a treaty that really requires virtually no change to the status quo US-Russia relationship and US nuclear stockpile?