Do not obviate the socioeconomic context of the platinum mine killings in South Africa

On 16 August, 34 workers were killed and at least 78 injured after police opened fire on striking miners at the Lonmin-owned platinum Marikana mine in South Africa. Over the years, South Africans have witnessed several instances of confrontation between police forces and striking workers. However, this bloody episode in Marikana exceeds anything seen before in the last two decades and has been deemed “the worst incident of state violence since the apartheid era”.

The day after the shootings, President Zuma announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the circumstances of the killings. Amnesty International called for a judicial oversight of the investigation. Human Rights Watch stressed out that the commission should look at the “background and underlying events leading to the violence (…) including the deaths of police at the hands of miners”. As observed by Bonita Meyersfeld, Jackie Dugard and Nikki Naylor, three leading South African human rights advocates, “underlying the question of police conduct, there is a deeper issue”. Continue reading “Do not obviate the socioeconomic context of the platinum mine killings in South Africa”

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A nearly perfect spaceship wouldn´t take you to the Moon either

In recent casual conversations with a few acquaintances of mine, I´ve been encountered with several economic arguments that could be ascribed to the Neoliberal school of thought. Nothing wrong with that, of course. In fact, I reckon that by now Neoliberalism has become the main school of thought in economics, and the policies adopted in Europe in response to the current economic crisis very much confirm that Neoliberalism has reached a golden age. I am not entirely sure about whether socioeconomic rights and a neoliberal economic model can coexist. Yet, my main concern with the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and his colleagues at the Chicago School is the way they hide their ideology behind a blanket of allegedly undisputable facts, as if economics was a natural science, like physics and chemistry, and not a social science, more like history and political theory.
Continue reading “A nearly perfect spaceship wouldn´t take you to the Moon either”

La doctrina del shock a la española

 

En el año 2007, cuando el común de los mortales todavía éramos capaces de vivir sin saber cuál era nuestra prima de riesgo, Naomi Klein publicó The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (La doctrina del shock: el auge del capitalismo del desastre). La autora sostiene en este libro que las políticas económicas neoliberales, cuyos orígenes intelectuales se encuentran en los trabajos de economistas como Milton Friedman y que fueron impulsadas por Thatcher, Reagan y otros en los años 1980, alcanzaron su éxito a través de desastres que hicieron que unas reformas inicialmente impopulares fueran finalmente asumidas por la población como un mal necesario. En su libro, Klein habla del golpe de estado de Pinochet en 1973, de la Guerra de las Malvinas en 1982, de la llamada ‘Guerra contra el terror’ desde el año 2001, del tsunami en el sudeste asiático en 2004 o del Huracán Katrina que asoló Nueva Orleáns en 2005 como catástrofes que dieron lugar a la aplicación de la doctrina del shock.

Los desastres pueden ser naturales (como un tsunami o un huracán), contrarios a nuestra voluntad (como un ataque terrorista) o cuidadosa y estratégicamente planificados (como un golpe de estado). La cuestión no es si el shock es el resultado de un acontecimiento fortuito o intencionado. Lo importante es que el shock es aprovechado por determinados grupos de interés que encuentran en él una ventana de oportunidad para materializar sus objetivos. En el 2009, en plena depresión económica, se presentó el documental que adapta el libro a la pantalla. Es muy recomendable:

La doctrina del shock nos proporciona una perspectiva interesante para analizar las políticas públicas actualmente propuestas y promovidas para, como dicen, ‘salir  de la crisis’. (Casi me da más miedo pensar dónde entraremos cuando salgamos). Continue reading “La doctrina del shock a la española”

IT ISN´T A STORM IN A TEACUP (and Part III)

What can we learn from the success of the Tea Party?

By Koldo Casla

  1. INTRODUCTION: A FASCINATED LOOK AT THE TEA PARTY
  2. TEA PARTY: MOBILISING STRUCTURES, POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES AND FRAMING PROCESSES
  3. CONCLUSION: LET’S TAKE THE TEA PARTY SERIOUSLY

 

III. CONCLUSION: LET’S TAKE THE TEA PARTY SERIOUSLY

This article shows that the emergence and relative success of the Tea Party is the result of the conjunction of powerful mobilising structures, that are not entirely new (Jacksonian populism), a set of political opportunities, some of which may last a bit longer (restricted welfare programs), and others that will probably expire soon (presidential election in November 2012), and framing processes that resonate widely in American political culture (private property, liberalism, free markets, phobia of socialism, anti-statism, etc.). Continue reading “IT ISN´T A STORM IN A TEACUP (and Part III)”

IT ISN´T A STORM IN A TEACUP (Part II)

What can we learn from the success of the Tea Party?

By Koldo Casla

  1. INTRODUCTION: A FASCINATED LOOK AT THE TEA PARTY
  2. TEA PARTY: MOBILISING STRUCTURES, POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES AND FRAMING PROCESSES
  3. CONCLUSION: LET’S TAKE THE TEA PARTY SERIOUSLY

 

II. TEA PARTY: MOBILISING STRUCTURES, POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES AND FRAMING PROCESSES

In order to understand the emergence and development of the Tea Party in the last three years or so one must pay attention to the conjunction and interaction of three sets of factors: mobilising structures, political opportunities and framing processes. Continue reading “IT ISN´T A STORM IN A TEACUP (Part II)”

IT ISN´T A STORM IN A TEACUP (Part I)

What can we learn from the success of the Tea Party?

By Koldo Casla

  1. INTRODUCTION: A FASCINATED LOOK AT THE TEA PARTY
  2. TEA PARTY: MOBILISING STRUCTURES, POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES AND FRAMING PROCESSES
  3. CONCLUSION: LET’S TAKE THE TEA PARTY SERIOUSLY

 

I.      INTRODUCTION: A FASCINATED LOOK AT THE TEA PARTY

Between September 2009 and March 2011, I spent most of my time in the US. I lived there, you might say. Only five days after my arrival, I took a plane from Cedar Rapids (Iowa) to Denver (Colorado). Back then, I was reading a thick book on the democratic transition in Spain (1975-1978, approximately). The book was written in Spanish. The man sat next to me in the plane saw it, looked at me and asked: “Italian?”. I answered, he said something else and suddenly I realised I was having a chat with him. I got quite excited: He was the first American I actually met in the US. (This was my first time in the country; I had met Americans in the past, mostly in England; I also met some Americans in Iowa City, but that happened in the context of a prearranged conference, so it doesn’t count as it lacks the required spontaneity of a random conversation). Continue reading “IT ISN´T A STORM IN A TEACUP (Part I)”

From preventive war to the global crisis

Last September was the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the 3rd anniversary of the crash of Lehman Brothers, two events that are widely seen as turning points in recent history. Last week, 7 October marked the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. I have been reluctant to take advantage of these dates to write about any of these topics. The Internet and conventional media are full of articles and comments of all sorts. What were you doing on September 11? Was the war worth it? What is the recipe to get out of the current economic mess? When will troops come back home? Should they come back at all? Will the Euro survive? How do we balance liberties and security? Should Greece be expelled from the Eurozone? Does the Eurozone have any future?… And many, many more. Enough, I thought. I was committed not to do anything that could fatten up this explosion of opinions. But one question in the back of my head made me reconsider my decision… Continue reading “From preventive war to the global crisis”