Wake up

Blood on the head of the Syrian child

Humiliation of desperate human beings

Corpses adrift in the grieving seas

Are the new European collective crimes

This time

We don’t have a Hitler or a Stalin to blame

This time

It’s you, it’s me.

image

 Tony Martin-Woods. 2015

Photo by Russell Watkins/Department for International Development. Published under Open Government Licence v1.0

UK Response to Refugee Crisis

Prime Minister,

This is dramatic.
Refugees can’t wait.

Mr Murdoch,

People die in lorries
and crossing the sea.

Her Majesty, Chancellor,

Let’s pull our weight
to end this misery and hell!

We understand, darling,

We will talk to our partners in Europe,
cause nothing can be done without them.
We will be tough with human trafficking,
and reclaim sovereignty on Calais.
We may even have to bomb ISIS,
…Tony Blair will get all the blame!

And for those who flee from war,
equipment, water and food
should be sent, in due course,

But we’ll do things properly:
We’ll connect with the nation,
capturing the imagination
of every decent mind and soul.

Let the public jump
off our glorious cliffs
with hand-made parachutes
and Mickey Mouse full kits.

Let them fly to the jungle,
to run a triathlon,
in the scorching heat,
wearing a fur coat
(a plastic one, I mean).

White nose Johnny
will sing a love song
in 5 different languages,
naked,
in the North Pole.

Oh,
and Chris Evans can auction
a red gorgeous Ferrari
on a BBC show.

Bidders will flock!

…A new foreign policy?
Forget it, you fool!

…Don’t tax the rich,
they could leave us soon.

…New approach to fair trade?
We are UK PLC, dude.

…More migrants on our soil?
We can send them to the moon!

…What do you mean by “solidarity”?
Charity will just do!

Originally published in www.poesiaindignada.com with the title of “Solidarity”. Modified on 29/08/15

Copyright © 2014-2015. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved

Crecimiento sin empleo

El capitalismo se caracteriza por sus crisis cíclicas: crecimiento del PIB, recesión y vuelta a crecer.

Sin embargo, en la versión contemporánea del capitalismo se produce un fenómeno muy preocupante: las mal llamadas “recuperaciones” del crecimiento no vienen acompañadas de una recuperación de los niveles de empleo (jobless recovery).

Clayton Christensen, prestigioso catedrático de Administración de Empresas de la Escuela de Negocios Universidad de Harvard, nos explica por qué en este video (está en inglés pero es muy claro y didáctico). Yo os ofrezco, debajo del vídeo, un resumen del principal argumento de Christensen con una interpretación y conclusión propias.

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Las “inversiones empoderadoras” (en innovaciones que llevan a nuevos productos y a crecimiento), y las “inversiones sostenedoras”, las que simplemente mejoran los productos existentes y que también generan algo de empleo, están últimamente en retroceso en nuestra economía global.

¿Por qué?

El capital inversor en los últimos 10 años se está dirigiendo, salvo en unos pocos sectores, mayoritariamente a las innovaciones para la eficiencia. Estas “inversiones para la eficiencia” no crean nuevos productos ni los mejoran para el consumidor, sino que persiguen al abaratamiento de procesos y otros costes, lo cual conlleva una reducción del empleo.

Aunque estas “inversiones para la eficiencia” liberan capital que bien podría redirigirse a “inversiones empoderadoras”, esto no sucede así en la práctica hoy día. Ello se debe a otro fenómeno llamado la “financiarización” del capitalismo, es decir, la exigencia de que la obtención de rendimiento financiero seguro sea el principal criterio rector de toda la actividad empresarial en la producción de bienes y servicios.

Nos puede parecer lógico y obvio que la maximización del rendimiento sea importante, no lo dudo, pero no puede continuar siendo el principio máximo ordenador de la actividad empresarial. De hecho, las etapas de esplendor económico del Siglo XX se caracterizaron por “inversiones empoderadoras” e “inversiones sostenedoras”.

Entonces, ¿Cómo conseguir que las empresas cambien de forma de actuar?

¿Montamos cursillos de formación gratis para contables y directores de empresa? ¿Exigimos más regulaciones prohibiendo cosas? ¿Damos incentivos fiscales a las “inversiones empoderadoras”, lo cual tiene un coste para el contribuyente y supone una forma de subsidio? ¿Obligamos a las empresas a repartir el trabajo y que trabajemos menos por el mismo dinero?

Para llevar a cabo un intento mínimamente serio de controlar a las empresas sin coartar la libertad individual, que es sagrada, harían falta campañas educativas y de concienciación, toneladas de regulaciones, millones de funcionarios, billones de horas de reuniones para legislar y aplicar esa legislación, y es dudoso que funcionara. Como dicen en mi tierra, “mucho follón, pa ná”.

Entonces, amigo ¿Quién le pone el cascabel al gato?

Es imposible hacerlo. El capitalismo, que de joven fue rebelde, es un viejo ciego y sordo, pero muy listo y exigente. Por eso continúa perfeccionándose mientras camina victorioso hacia su propio desastre.

Realmente, la única forma de superar sin más dolor la crisis global del capitalismo es montar nuestras propias empresas, en forma de cooperativa o de propiedad común pública, y recuperar, sin acritud y de forma democrática, la soberanía sobre los bancos centrales, para así poder hacer las cosas como pensamos que se deben hacer, por el futuro de nuestras familias y el bien de nuestros pueblos. Pero de eso hablaremos otro día.

€uroscam, a real eye-opener

€uroscam is a fascinating documentary based on new research carried out by Ricard Vergés on the European origins of the Housing and Construction Bubble in Spain.

Vergés lost his job for uncovering some of the business, professional and political practices leading to the socially painful and relatively distinct Spanish version of the Global Crisis.

The director of this documentary, Guillermo Cruz, combines an inquisitive retrospective narrative of events in Spain and Germany with interviews with well known academics, politicians, business men, journalists and activists.

Inevitably, €uroscam features (although not as a interviewees) people like Rodrigo Rato, former Director of  the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Rato, who was also Spain’s Economics Minister during the Conservative Governments of 1996-2004 is now facing charges of tax evasion and money laundering.

€uroscam questions the legitimacy of the Spanish Public Debt contracted as a result of the almost deterministic negligence of the Spanish and European political and corporate elites, responsible for the plight of millions of Spaniards.

The video has subtitles English and lasts a bit more than an hour.

#anuncomfortabledocumentary

Our Chinese Crisis

I saw the U.S. chief editor of the FT, Gillian Tett, last night on Channel 4 talking about this new-not-so-new crisis in China. I have to confess that her self-righteousness made me sick. I guess it comes with the job (hers and mine).

It is very sad to see all these clever, educated and eloquent people, the cheerleaders of global capitalism who did not foresee the big financial crisis in the U.S. and Europe, the myrmidons who turn a blind eye to financial and political incompetence when it suits their masters, demanding that the Chinese Government completely deregulate access to financial markets and stop “bureaucratic” intervention (whilst snarling their upper lip).

We had deregulation and re-regulation in the USA and the UK and the whole thing crashed anyway.

So, what’s a fair diagnosis for the Chinese Crisis?

Well, it is a structural fault of global dimensions: the Social Structures of Accumulation that come with this phase of Global Capitalism are collapsing and there is little we can do to prevent this from happening. Conventional regulation and deregulation can only slow down the collapse in some places or for some people, but nothing else. (If you want to know more about Social Structures of Accumulation, there is plenty of academic and non-academic readings and videos about it).

Is there anything else that can be done?

Capitalism is self-destructive, so Hopefully it will take care of itself. However, there is no room for complacency: Our Governments should alleviate the pain caused to people across the world, with our solidarity. We can engage as individuals in rebuilding, culturally, politically and economically, our own communities. We can help others to do the same.

But what is wrong with capitalism? It would be easier to answer this question by explaining what capitalism is and what is good about it:

Capitalism is a combination of values, social relationships, practices, institutions and legally binding rules enshrined in national and international laws, that has enabled a few people in the world to extract and abuse for their own benefit the economic resources of the majority.

Capitalism is based on the supremacy of human predatory self-interest, disregarding most other aspects of human nature, and it is supported by cultural domination. Contrary to what many people believe, capitalism does not respect individual freedom or private property as a universal human rights.

Capitalism cannot work well at the same time in all places across the world because it relies on inequality. The wealth of someone is the destitution of someone else somewhere else in the world.

The good thing about capitalism: If you are lucky enough to be born in the countries whose States have been supportive of the economic interest of their “industrialists”, mainly in North-America and Europe in the last two centuries, then you may be able to benefit, as a worker, as an independent professional/trader or even as a non-producing individual, from the economic surplus that flows around you, but only by virtue of the “Welfare State”, a sort of deal between business, common people, cultural elites and politicians for all of us to have a decent life without causing trouble to each other.

Unfortunately, the “Welfare State”, comprising socio-economic rights, in the workplace and beyond, and public services, is being dismantled in the places in the world where once worked, and will not take off in most places in the rest of the world because of the lack of resources in those places. The inherent inequalities of the capitalism have become more acute at this stage are there are no signs that this will change.

Is this an apocalyptic vision?

Sort of. But I am confident that there are a lot of talented people across the world working on alternative forms of co-operative economy and on peaceful sustainability. There are also many other people promoting political and cultural movements that will Enable our transition to a different form of global society. Crucially, human ingenuity is on our side. All the technological inventions, scientific discoveries and social advancements of the last century were the work of common people like you and me, either a) people who were paid a salary for their intellectual and physical efforts, very often working in publicly funded institutions or b) self-employed people who had to fight their way as individuals in a network of corporate (capitalist) interests.

So, there is a future, of course, but you won’t read about it in the FT.