Earlier this year, in January,we analysed how NGOs in collaboration with the Italian government had been shipping migrants from the Libyan shores to Italy and how it later evolved into the exploitation of migrants on the Italian farms and in the prostitution business in collusion with organized crime.
The first data available for the beginning of 2017 show that the business is booming even further: a 57% increase compared to the first months of 2016, which goes up to 81% for the whole winter period,while the percentage of those transported by the NGOs ships has gone from 5% to 40% of the total in 2016, which becomes more than half in the last months of the year.NGOs are de facto replacing smugglers in the Mediterranean. Continue reading
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it. (Karl Marx)
The Frankfurt school united Marx and Freud to become the most influential thinkers of the 20th century left. (The Guardian)
Marx had a dream. A dream of changing the capitalist society. With this dream he managed to inspire hundreds and thousands of intellectuals. Some of those intellectuals formulated their own proposals of implementing Marxian dream in real life. One of such proposals that turned out to be most attractive at the turn of the century was communism. After WWII, however, it became obvious that Marxism practised in communist countries not only failed to transform societies after the desired Marxist fashion but also suffered an economic defeat, whereas in western countries capitalism seemed to be thriving and the affluence placated the working class. Latter day Marxists came to the realisation that workers no longer made the revolutionary force in modern western societies and began looking for a new proletariat. The dream of creating a brave new world with a new awareness was still waiting to come true.
It was just 2011 when the Finnish government, one of Greece’s many creditors, demanded that Athens put one of its national symbols, the Parthenon, as collateral for the rescue loans package.
Fast forward to 2015: while the European Union leaders humiliate the Greek democracy by imposing even harsher austerity measures than the ones previously rejected in a referendum, even despite the fact that the IMF admitted having miscalculated the Keynesian multiplier for Greece and thus completely underestimated the catastrophic consequences of austerity,Finland is no longer part of the group of “virtuous countries”: unlike Greece, its public finances are fine, however the sources of its economic strength, tech colossus Nokia is in a deep crisis,unable to keep up in innovation with its competitors, Apple and Samsung. The once national pride of the Finns, accounting at its peak for 20% of the Finnish exports,will end up being overtaken by foreigners (Microsoft). To worsen the conditions of the Finish economy, the EU leaders opted for a trade war against one of Finland’s main trade partners, its neighbor Russia, over the Ukraine crisis. Continue reading
Almost 1000 years ago, Turkish tribes started settling in Anatolia, beginning the formation of the Turkish state. How did it happen? Many jump to quick conclusions and simplify the matter pointing to the Byzantine defeat at Manzikert in 1071. The reality is different: in the aftermath of the battle, Emperor Romanos Diogenes reached a peace agreement under which the Turkish Seljuk sultan was handsomely rewarded with money while the Byzantine Empire did not suffer territorial loss.
The Byzantine elite in Constantinople, however, decided to unseat Romanos and not to adhere to the agreement. In the subsequent squabble over the throne, one of the competing factions would hire a relative of the Turkish sultan, Suleiman to increase its chances to seize the throne. As the Byzantine elite rushed to Constantinople, Suleiman was left with his troops to control one of the biggest Byzantine cities of Anatolia, Nicaea. The resulting Sultanate of Rum, the first presence of the Turkish people in Anatolia, was born not by conquest, but by the shortsightedness of the Byzantine ruling class. Continue reading
“There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling.”These are the words of David Stockman, a former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director, who insists that a market bloodbath is imminent as the debt ceiling holiday will have been finished by March 15, 2017.
“We will have a government shutdown,” said Stockman to CNBC. “It is totally unexpected, unpriced in by Wall Street, [and] it will spook everybody.“March 15 is also the day of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting during which a rate hike decision is expected to be taken; the Dutch election is slated for the same day. Will it be the beginning of the great financial turmoil? Continue reading
Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) was an Italian engineer, philosopher, economist, sociologist and political scientist, famous, among other things, for his theories about “the elites”.
In his theory of the “circulation of the elites” he argues that social mobility is fundamental for the peaceful continuity of social order: as long as the elite is open to the influx of capable elements from the lower classes, the system is able to rise up to the challenges it faces. When the elites shut themselves off and do not assimilate exceptional individuals from the lower social strata, an imbalance is created that can result in a violent overthrow of the ruling class by a new one capable of governing.
Drawing on that theory we argue that democratic systems have evolved in a way that an overthrow of the elite can happen without violence, but by democratic vote. Lack of social mobility, says Pareto, results in an elite detached from the daily challenges of the common man and a sense of disenfranchisement of the voters.
The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the European Union, which came into force on 1 January 2016, was about to help the East European economy to recover; however, the results after the first year fell far short of Ukraine’s expectations. The former Soviet Republic lost €2.2 billion more than it lost in 2015 on trade with the EU. While imports from the EU have surged, exports have merely grown.
As Polish media reports, the European Union has flooded Ukraine with goods,which is contrary to the aim of the free trade agreement: the document assumed the asymmetric openness of the markets in Ukraine’s favour. Continue reading
After Viktor Orban’s Hungary, the second European Union state took an aim at George Soros and his funds, accusing him of organizing anti-government protests and attempts at destabilizing the country. The head of the ruling party and a former Romania’s prime minister Liviu Dragnea, known for his independent national economic policy, called the leaders of the recent massive street protests as “agents of George Soros.”
While some believe that “bad” governments from Eastern Europe (from Poland to Macedonia) use Soros’s Open Society Foundation and his broad contacts as a scapegoat in order to avoid the responsibility for their own weak political results, chief communications officer of the Open Society Foundation, Laura Silber, does not try to conceal their engagement. Continue reading