In January, cryptocurrency Bitcoin dropped from a high of US$19,850 to US$6000. It has since risen to a more stable value of about US$10,000, but the wild ride of Bitcoin is a dangerous development in capitalism that should make us wary.

In Tokyo on January 24, 11 Pacific Rim countries including Australia reached an agreement to sign a revived Trans-Pacific Partnership (rebranded the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP).

The huge free trade deal almost fell into oblivion last year when US President Donald Trump pulled his country out, citing concerns for the loss of US jobs.

Gilbert Achcar, a socialist writer who has long followed the Arab world, says the current Tunisian revolt, with protests against spending cuts and austerity breaking out across the country this month, was a “foreseeable” continuation of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

Archar spoke to Calian Mace and Hala Kodmani in a January 14 interview first published in French daily Liberation. The version below is reprinted from International Viewpoint.


OK, it’s (almost) official. The zombie Trans-Pacific Partnership, widely criticised as a huge, undemocratic corporate power grab, has been restored to life

What’s the latest move and is it irreversible?

Anyone who had the pleasure of hearing Jon Faine’s dismemberment of the gig economy, as represented by the hapless Brent Thomas, Head of Public Policy at Airbnb ANZ, on ABC Radio last year will never forget it.  

It was excruciating. You could hear the air going out of poor old Brent when Faine pressed him on how much tax Airbnb actually pays in Australia, and pressed him and pressed him. 

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of cities and towns throughout Iran since December 28 in militant protests against the theocratic regime that has ruled the country since the 1979 revolution. 

That revolution overthrew a pro-Western monarchy. But while the working class was its driving force, and trade unions and socialist organisations played a decisive role, it was hijacked by the Shia religious establishment. The new regime was as brutal and committed to capitalism as the overthrown monarchy — although with a foreign policy generally hostile to the West.

In Harare, Bulawayo and smaller Zimbabwean cities, hundreds of thousands of citizens joyfully took to the streets on Saturday, November 18, approving a Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) military semi-coup that resolves a long-simmering faction fight within the ruling party and ends the extraordinary career of Robert Mugabe at the age of 93.

In public debate “the thin end of the wedge” — the notion that once made, any penetration of the status quo will inevitably be followed by something greater — is an idiom invoked almost exclusively in the negative. It is an insufferable refrain of the perpetually fearful, the racist, the homophobic, the xenophobic, the Islamophobic, and the climate change-phobic.

It is one of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s favourite lines.

Workers in Venezuela are demonstrating what is possible when workers and communities take over the means of production.

Faced with a company shutdown and mass sacking, workers at the former Brahma beer factory in Barquisimeto, Lara state, occupied the factory in 2013. Today, the company is owned by the community, run by workers and geared towards meeting the need of local farmers and residents.

Last week a conceptual barrier carefully constructed by South Africa’s elites since 2015 was suddenly cracked at the University of the Witwatersrand Great Hall, by two of the country’s leading economic personalities: Pravin Gordhan, who served as a pro-business finance minister for seven years until being sacked in March, and super-consultant Iraj Abedian, who in 1996 co-authored the country’s post-apartheid structural adjustment programme. Two more solid bourgeois representatives would be hard to find.


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