The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'socialism'
Newspapers in France recently published a letter sent by a US tyre company CEO to the Socialist government's industry minister, telling the French where to stick their union-coddled workers:
"Do you think we're stupid?" Taylor wrote to Montebourg in the letter, which was made public on Wednesday. "I've visited this factory several times. The French workers are paid high wages but only work three hours. They have one hour for their lunch, they talk for three hours and they work for three hours. I said this directly to their union leaders; they replied that's the way it is in France.
"Titan is going to buy Chinese or Indian tyres, pay less than €1 an hour to workers and export all the tyres that France needs," Taylor boasted. "In five years, Michelin won't be producing tyres in France. You can keep your so-called workers. Titan is not interested in the factory in North Amiens,"Perhaps the only thing that can save France, from a certain neoliberal point of view, is a General Pinochet of its own, a libertarian strongman who can crush the unions, smash the Left and introduce the radical shock therapy France needs to race China and the US' “right-to-work” states to the oh-so-profitable bottom.
More seriously: if it's that much cheaper to produce tyres in China or India and ship them across the world, does it make sense to pay French workers French wages (or wages which cover French living expenses, anyway) to do the same locally?
The Graun's Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Tony Blair's new sinecure as an advisor to JP Morgan:
And although Blair has been praised by the self-styled "very rightwing" historian Andrew Roberts for destroying socialism, that also misses the point. Blair never really understood the undoubted failures of state socialism, he just hated the Labour party. He has never intellectually grasped the case for the competitive market economy, he just loves the rich.
WIRED has a photo gallery of Soviet video games; these were arcade machines, sometimes inspired by American or Japanese ones, manufactured in the Soviet Union (often at military manufacturing facilities; presumably because civilian electronics manufacturers in the USSR weren't up to scratch). They often were more primitive than western counterparts (some feature mechanical score counters and lack controls that western equivalents had), cost 15 kopecks per game (not enough for most Soviet youth to be able to play more than a game a week), and thematically avoided the zapping-space-aliens themes of the capitalist world, instead combining a sort of earnest socialist benignness (there were Russian folk games adapted for the arcade, games simulating socially worthy occupations such as firefighting), with the odd bit of ideologically-sound militarism (sinking Nazi submarines during the Great Patriotic War, and shooting down enemy fighters (presumably of a capitalist persuasion, though the article didn't say)). Interestingly enough, a common feature of all the games was the lack of a high score table; the idea of such an individualistic, competitive feature was, for obvious reasons, frowned upon.
Compared to western games, they looked a bit shabby and lacklustre. So as soon as Communism collapsed and Nintendos and PCs started flooding in, they pretty much disappeared. Most were destroyed, though a few survived; and now, four collectors in Moscow are finding and restoring these machines, for display in a Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, which they have set up in a bomb shelter under a university dormitory.
(via Boing Boing)
US discount store chain Target has withdrawn a line of CD cases with Che Guevara's image, after
the Cuban government sued for copyright violation socialists protested at the commercialisation of his image critics protested at the glorification of an architect of totalitarianism:
"What next? Hitler backpacks? Pol Pot cookware? Pinochet pantyhose?" wrote Investor's Business Daily in an editorial earlier this month, citing the Guevara case as a model of "tyrant-chic".
China amends its constitution to protect private property, formally abandoning socialism in favour of an authoritarian form of free-market capitalism. So far, there has been no announcement of any name change for the increasingly inaccurately-named Communist Party, which will continue to maintain an iron grip on the nation's political life and public discourse.
But it is stalemated on even these modest political reforms, leaving modern China an increasingly prosperous private economy ruled by a dictatorship. In this it resembles General Pinochet's Chile, South Korea under military rule - or Taiwan before it moved to democracy in the 1980s.
A somewhat vague look at Cybersyn, an experimental communications network used by the Allende socialist government in Chile to more efficiently manage a command economy. It sounds something like what the Internet would have been like had it been invented by Soviet scientists out of a Ken Macleod novel.
There's a Slashdot discussion about this (undoubtedly due to devolve into a Godwin-invoking flamewar at any time), in which one poster mentioned that the network was so designed to prevent centralisation of information and prevent it being used as the backbone of a totalitarian state; the idealistic British engineer who designed it made sure of that. Interesting that the Guardian article never mentions that; could it be that the writer is an old-guard leftist, of the sort sometimes found writing for the Guardian, who would perish the thought that such a worthy socialist experiment could have possibly been at risk of turning into an Orwellian dystopia?
If you were a neo-Trotskyist libertarian, you would probably have to be a Scottish science-fiction author. And now you'd have a blog here. And his commentary is as sharp as his novels.
America: a country where ridiculous proportions of the population believe they were created by god, abducted by aliens, and attacked by Iraq. Also where some people believe that someone who burns a paper drawing of a US flag is as good as asking to be crushed under a bulldozer. It's not just the Right. Every political persuasion in the US contains many more stupid people than it or its equivalent does in Europe. On the Left Bank of the Seine you see poststructuralists smoking, flirting, and eating veal. Poststructuralism in America gave us La-La Land liberal toytown totalitarianism. French Maoism gave us Sartre and Althusser. American Maoism gave us Klonsky and Avakian. (I could go on.)
Eric Raymond has written a smug Libertarian critique of Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod, rooted in the fundamental notion of the total bankrupcy of socialism and indeed the undeniable supremacy of the Free Market. No Ayn Rand quotes though. And here's Charles Stross' rebuttal.
(IMHO, the Randian/Propertarian argument of the supremacy of the Free Market is somewhat naïve, for the reasons Charlie describes (markets are good for some things but not all); the recent fashion of defining everything as being, in its basic sense, a market is rather daft. OTOH, I don't think the future belongs to any variant of Marxism (which was, after all, constrained by its 19th-century backgrounds).)
And then there's the "Cowboys vs. Eurotrash" subtext that usually emerges in the whole recurring argument, with predominantly American Libertarians making smug digs at the bankrupcy and impending collapse of Eurosocialism (usually coming down to how the ultimate oracle of the Market has shown that Big Macs and Britney Spears are inherently superior to baguettes and Johnny Hallyday, and any argument to the contrary is just the elitism of sore losers in the global cultural marketplace), and left-leaning Europeans pointing at rampant obesity, firearm deaths and other aspects of the Ugly American stereotype in response.
An interesting (if somewhat old) interview with Ken MacLeod where he talks about his books and the political/social systems speculated on therein:
I think a lot of people who are libertarians now are just libertarians because the stock market is going up, frankly. As long as the market is booming, they'll be pro-market. If there was another depression or something like that, they'd probably change their tune pretty damn quick.
(from the archives of a mailing list, from about a year ago.)