Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Bailout in Exchange for Wage and Benefit Reductions

A bailout in exchange for wage and benefit reductions, especially retirees' pensions and health care benefits -- that's the ruling-class program for auto workers . . . and all other workers, union or non-union, in the primary labor market in the United States. 

Even while the ruling class deviates from the neoliberal orthodoxy in monetary and fiscal policies, lowering interest rates, monetizing debt, and creating temporary jobs and extending temporary benefits in an attempt to stimulate the economy, it continues to push to structurally transform labor in its neoliberal image (the strongest weapon of neoliberalism is its ability to pit the workers in the primary labor market -- the public sector and oligopolistic industries -- against workers who are excluded from it to begin with, weakening the former even while extending thin new benefits to the latter to maintain the neoliberal hegemonic bloc, at which Brazil's Lula and Turkey's AKP for instance are expert).  That is what the ruling class did to workers in Japan, increasing poverty and aggravating inequality.

Needless to say, making labor more precarious is a recipe for prolonging rather than exiting deflationary stagnation, no matter how much fiscal and monetary stimuli the government applies at the same time.  The crisis doesn't automatically bring an end to neoliberalism.  It's up to the working class to end it, or else the economy won't even recover.

Right to Food, "180 in favour to 1 against (United States)"

Why did the USG vote against the right to food at the United Nations, braving the embarrassment of standing literally alone against women and children? "After the vote, the representative of the United States said he was unable to support the text because he believed the attainment of the right to adequate food was a goal that should be realized progressively" (emphasis added, Sixty-third General Assembly, Third Committee, "Approves 8 Resolutions for General Assembly Adoption; Right to Food, Mercenaries, Combating Religious Defamation Among Issues," 24 November 2008)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Statement by Iranian Bloggers on Hossein Derakhshan

Statement by Iranian Bloggers on Hossein Derakhshan

We, the undersigned, view the circumstances surrounding the Iranian authorities' arrest of Hossein Derakhshan aka Hoder, one of the most prominent Iranian bloggers, as extremely worrying.  Derakhshan's disappearance, detention at an unknown location, lack of access to his family and attorneys, and the authorities' failure to provide clear information about his potential charges is a source of concern for us.

The Iranian blogging community is one of the largest and most vibrant in the world.  From ordinary citizens to the President, a diverse and large number of Iranians are engaged in blogging.  These bloggers encompass a wide spectrum of views and perspectives, and they play a vital role in open discussions of social, cultural and political affairs.

Unfortunately, in recent years, numerous websites and blogs have been routinely blocked by the authorities, and some bloggers have been harassed or detained.  Derakhshan's detention is but the latest episode in this ongoing saga and is being viewed as an attempt to silence and intimidate the blogging community as a whole.

Derakhshan's own position regarding a number of prisoners of conscience in Iran has been a source of contention among the blogging community and has caused many to distance themselves from him.  This, however, doesn't change the fact that the freedom of expression is sacred for all not just the ones with whom we agree.

We therefore categorically condemn the circumstances surrounding Derakhshan's arrest and detention and demand his immediate release.

Signed, in alphabetical order:

Arash Abadpour
Niki Akhavan
Hossein Bagher Zadeh
Sanam Dolatshahi
Mehdi Jami
Jahanshah Javid
Abdee Kalantari
Sheema Kalbasi
Nazli Kamvari
Nazy Kaviani
Peyvand Khorsandi
Nikahang Kowsar
Omid Memarian
Pedram Moallemian
Ali Moayedian
Ebrahim Nabavi
Masoome Naseri
Shahrnush Parsipur
Khodadad Rezakhani
Leva Zand

This statement first appeared in Pedram Moallemian's blog on 18 December 2008.  The links to the text of the statement are added for informational purposes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Shoes Heard round the World

Some commentators say that a defiant use of shoes is an Arab thing, and others say that it's a Muslim thing, but the idea has an undeniable universal appeal, and it might ecumenically catch on across cultures and religions.

As the POTUS spoke nonsense into the void,
His final insult to Iraqis unfurled,
There the embattled journalist stood,
And fired the shoes heard round the world.

Muntadar al-Zeidi's shoes are the Lexington and Concord of creative anti-imperialist resistance in the age of YouTube.

Goodbye Iraq

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Azar 16

"In fact, Azar 16 became a useful gauge for measuring the regime's unpopularity and, conversely, the opposition's strength among the young intelligentsia." -- Ervand Abrahamian, Iran between Two Revolutions