Palestinian comedians in Gaza have released the above video spoofing the viral “Epic Split” Volvo advertisement that features Belgian martial artist and action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme (the original ad is below if you haven’t seen it).
By Stephen Gowans, What’s Left
Reading Paul Krugman’s New York Times column today, A Permanent Slump?, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the IMF, Larry Summers and Paul Krugman, had belatedly discovered an idea that Paul Sweezy, a Marxist economist who died in 2004, had elaborated on decades ago, namely that stagnation is the normal state of contemporary capitalist economies.
By Stephen Gowans, what’s left
It seemed almost inevitable that on the new day Western newspapers were filled with encomia to the recently deceased South African national liberation hero Nelson Mandela that another southern African hero of national liberation, Robert Mugabe, should be vilified. “Nearly 90, Mugabe still driving Zimbabwe’s economy into the ground,” complained Geoffrey York of Canada’s Globe and Mail.
The case of Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s spiral of corruption and governmental ineptitude after Apartheid formally ended is an excellent example of the limits of revolutionary action and social reconstruction within the permitted economic, military and media boundaries of US-led imperialism. At the moment there’s a lot more heat than light—mawkish heat at that and torrents of crocodile tears—obscuring the process of properly assessing the role and legacy of Mandela, as his figure is instantly canonized by the establishment, especially the liberals, into an apostle of “peace” in the same manner they posthumously transmogrified the legacy of Martin Luther King into a mere symbol lacking true revolutionary content. The evaluations below seek to restore the proper focus. Mandela was a hero but he also made huge mistakes, including what seems now a Faustian bargain with the global status quo. Mandela seemed to walk away from earlier pronouncements (and promises) of setting a course toward socialism. Perhaps this is all the South African situation allowed, given the balance of forces, nationally and internationally, but his embrace of free market capitalism was a wound and a mistake his nation is still paying for.—P. Greanville
Besides the essays in this dossier, please see also: The Mandela Years in Power
We wish to thank Counterpunch for this simply superb piece.
The death of Nelson Mandela, at age 95 on 5 December 2013, brings genuine sadness. As his health deteriorated over the past six months, many asked the more durable question: how did he change South Africa? Given how unsatisfactory life is for so many in society, the follow-up question is, how much room was there for Mandela to maneuver? South Africa now lurches from crisis to crisis, and so many of us are tempted to remember the Mandela years – especially the first democratic government – as fundamentally different from the crony-capitalist, corruption-riddled, brutally-securitised, eco-destructive and anti-egalitarian regime we suffer now. But were the seeds of our present political weeds sown earlier?
Talk about a no-brainer!
The $2.5-trillion Social Security Trust Fund, which current workers, including the much-maligned Baby Boom generation, have been bulking up with our 6.2% payroll tax and the 6.2% that our employers have to pay, is slated to be exhausted by 2036-8. Unless more money is injected into the system to cover the tsunami of retirees born between 1946 and 1964, the program, if it were just running on current payroll taxes, would only be able to cover 75% of promised benefits to current retirees.
The PISA scores are out and American students are ranking pretty low. All who follow the corporate line are up in arms and blaming our educational system. For once they are right. Although American students have never scored high in these international tests, it only goes to show that the billions upon billions of dollars spent the last dozen years on testing, testing, testing, curriculum writing by non-teachers, privatization, charter schools, etc. have failed in their mission to remake our public school system for the better. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are abject failures, except for those who profited off all the snake oil that has been peddled by both parties.
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
I stopped having those “oh shit” moments about state and corporate surveillance of me a few years ago. In fact, while finding the whole thing somewhat amusing, I mostly think it’s a rabbit hole that organizers fall into that distracts us from focusing on the real problems of economic and ecological injustice perpetrated by these security firm’s clients.
Special Materials——Please Distribute Widely
When you pass on our materials you finally strike a blow against the media chicanery and the brainwash that keeps our compatriots in thrall to the corporate state. If you have liberated your mind, and are reading this, help to free up others.
The story is now part of climate history. Yesterday, as climate talks degraded into a sideshow for the coal industry, more than 800 conference participants walked out. Wearing T-shirts adorned with the word, Volveremos (We will return), the activists handed in their registration badges and abandoned the United Nations Climate Change Summit. The conference is sliding into its last day like a baseball player who doesn’t realize he was tagged out at third base. But what difference does it make?