“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth glancing at”, wrote Oscar Wilde, “for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And when humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”
Italy faces a wave of devastating International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed austerity as European leaders struggle to contain the spreading debt crisis by disenfranchising their own citizens. On November 4, at the end of the G20 meeting in Cannes, the President of the EU Commission Jose Barroso announced that “Italy has asked on its initiative to the IMF to monitor its commitment to fiscal and economic reforms”.
Strong>The Short Goodbye: A Skewed History of the Last Boom and the Next Bust By Elisabeth Wynhausen Melbourne University Publishing, 2011 219 pages, $29.99 (pb) From writing stories about workers being sacked during the 2009 global financial crisis, Elisabeth Wynhausen, a journalist at Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian, got a taste of the real thing when she was handed a pink slip of her own.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams led a dramatic walkout from the Dublin parliament (Dail) on November 2. The protest was over the coalition government’s decision to hand over more than €700 million to an unknown private investor in the failed Anglo Irish Bank. Finance minister Michael Noonan admitted in the Dail there was no legal obligation to refund the bond investment, which was not covered by the former government’s bank guarantee. With the government refusing a debate on the matter, Adams led the walkout of Sinn Fein and United Left Alliance parliamentarians.
In the space of barely more than a weekend, the deal that was supposed contain the euro crisis has unravelled entirely. The call for a referendum on the so-called rescue package by Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, later retracted under huge pressure, merely capped its rapid unravelling. The prospect that the European Unions’ principal victims could be asked their opinion of the policies inflicted on them provoked near-hysteria in respectable quarters. EU leaders, Greek politicians, and the financial markets united to denounce the threat of an unseemly democratic intrusion.
On October 18, about 200 students held a “Save Political Economy” demonstration at the University of Sydney, organised by the Political Economy Students Society (EcopSoc). The university administration is considering abolishing political economy as a separate department. The department was established in the 1970s after a big campaign of protests and occupations by students and staff who wanted economics courses that taught a wide range of theories — not just the right-wing orthodoxy.
What stance should the European left take towards the euro and its galloping crisis? This issue, which began as a theoretical discussion among radical economists in late 2009, has increasingly acquired practical political urgency: left parties are being challenged to define their position in the face of rising popular resentment at governments forking out billions in taxpayer euros to bail-out banks and indebted “Club Med” countries.
A blog of those that support the Occupy Wall Street protests, that began in New York in September and have since spread to hundreds of US cities, hosts a series of personal testimonies from ordinary people across the United States. It indicates the source of the deep anger at the corporate elite that have become rich off their suffering. A selection are published below. * * *
There is a sharp reality disconnect in the Black community. On the one hand, the Black population continues to support the first African American president, Barack Obama, by more than 90%. Yet the plight of the Black communities is at its worst condition in three decades. Official unemployment is over 16% ― twice that of whites and iabout 30% for young African Americans. Black household income is in decline and the lowest of the five major ethnic groups. Poverty is at the highest levels in 30 years.
Speaking in Rome on September 15, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, Italian executive board member of the European Central Bank (ECB), said of the design of the euro: “The assumption was made ― largely theoretical ― that there would be no crises.” Oh, indeed. And now with Europe and the world showing every sign of dipping into a recession that will further stress Euope's common currency, what is to be done?