How the World Works, For Now

Transcribed from the 18 April 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

“It’s not a cabal, and there’s not some all-powerful, Machiavellian figure directing everything. It is rather a lot of institutional structures that promote an economic system which facilitates the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich world. It’s obscured and legitimated through massive amounts of ideology.”

Chuck Mertz: We are all scammed, duped, ripped off. The whole world. We’re all victims of the Racket. Here to reveal the Racket, how it works, and who’s running it, investigative journalist Matt Kennard returns to This is Hell! Good evening, Matt.

Matt Kennard: Good evening, how are you?

CM: Good! It’s great to have you back on the show. So this book, The Racket: A Rogue Reporter Versus the Masters of the Universe—this is going to be the question that everybody’s going to ask me: “Is this another one of those conspiracy theory books?” What makes this “racket” different from a conspiracy?

MK: Well, first of all this isn’t something that I’ve come across from a distance. I was part of the racket; I was a journalist with the Financial Times for two and a half years. I mean, I went to the Financial Times as a reporter with a critical mind; I wasn’t a neoliberal warmonger. But what I saw there confirmed many of the fears I had about who really runs our world.Continue Reading

It’s More Than Just FIFA

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Transcribed from the 6 June 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

“What do you do with corruption? Do you just ‘shine a bright light?’ Or do we try to delegitimize these elites? The only real solution is to get rid of these guys.”

Chuck Mertz: The FIFA scandal story is about a lot more than soccer. It’s about global corruption; it’s about the power of the elites; it’s about the sleaziest way in which poverty and conflict are exported around the globe: in other words, it is about soccer. With a perspective live from Durban, South Africa, political economist Patrick Bond wrote the TeleSur article FIFA Fraud: Africa’s corruption and Elite Silence about the scandal rocking global soccer.

For those who don’t know, seven top officials of soccer’s international governing group, FIFA, including two vice presidents, were arrested last week. They were among fourteen charged in a 47-count US indictment which alleges five corporate executives and nine FIFA officials in total accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150 million over a 24 year period.

Patrick, you write, “The last week has provided extraordinary examples of how corruption erodes the resources and morals of an entire continent, in part because villains in South Africa made alliances with wicked brothers in Switzerland, Latin America, the Caribbean, and especially the United States. We now know more about off-shore centers of both reactionary finance and corrupt corporate soccer. It’s long overdue they are exposed to a spotlight—even though those pointing that light want to leave certain features in the shadows.”Continue Reading

Resistance in Azerbaijan

AntiNote: The following article appeared on the outstanding People and Nature blog earlier this week, with link citations which we have not reproduced. Reprinted with permission.

Activists imprisoned in Azerbaijan, the house that BP built

by Gabriel Levy
7 June 2015

Demonstrators in Baku, 16 March

Demonstrators in Baku, 16 March

A protest against Azerbaijan’s crackdown on political dissent will be staged in London this Friday, 12 June, as the first European Games open in Baku.

At least 33 human rights defenders, youth movement activists, bloggers, journalists and others have been jailed in the last year in Azerbaijan, where the UK-based oil group BP is the largest foreign investor.

Campaign groups and media have been shut down, and dissidents forced to leave the country, just as economic problems have brought large numbers of Azeris out to protest.

There has been a “major escalation of government repression, pressure, and intimidation directed at NGOs, civil society activists, journalists and human rights defenders,” a resolution of the European Parliament said in September last year. Some lowlights:Continue Reading

Public-Private Partnership in Your Pocket

Transcribed from the 7 March 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We all talk about freedom, but most people can accommodate totalitarian societies. The real threat is the one that Orwell and Huxley warned about. It’s a totalitarian society that seduces you, that blinds you, that subtly frightens you with external enemies, and tells you that giving up freedom is necessary to preserve your freedom.”

Chuck Mertz: There’s a military intelligence complex that is threatening our democracy, and it will scare the hell out of you—at least it did me while I was researching for this interview. With us right now is Bob Scheer. He is the editor of Truthdig, and is the author of They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies are Destroying Democracy. Good morning, Robert.

Robert Scheer: Hi!

CM: So I got the Chicago Tribune on my doorstep this morning, and the headline was, “CIA sweeping change to focus on digital dust: massive overhaul planned to replace old divisions and emphasize cyber-espionage.”

Whenever I see these stories, they always conflate CIA espionage and Korean hackers and my ATM card and—there’s not really much about mass surveillance in there. Is cyber-security and my bank card really what the CIA is concerned about?

RS: No, it isn’t.

Continue Reading

Hungary: Social Catastrophe in the Making

AntiNote: This article first appeared in December 2014 on the Böll Foundation website, with link citations that we have not reproduced. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Social Catastrophe In the Making
by Bálint Misetics

It is not only constitutional democracy that Viktor Orbán’s regime treats as its enemy; the Hungarian government has also launched a forceful attack on the welfare state, with predictable consequences: rising poverty and social inequality. No pro-democratic political opposition movement can continue to ignore the immense state-induced suffering of millions of Hungarians; to succeed, we must learn to transgress class boundaries.

Continue Reading

Meet a Syriza Candidate: Yanis Varoufakis

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AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability.

Last Saturday, 17 January 2015, host Chuck Mertz of Chicago’s This is Hell! Radio spoke with Yanis Varoufakis, a political economist and candidate with the SYRIZA party running in this weekend’s parliamentary elections in Greece.

With the Left blogosphere tying itself in knots either celebrating or denouncing SYRIZA’s broadening political success, we at the Antidote Writers Collective—as is our habit, and since Greece is a context very close to our hearts—are still gathering ourselves and preparing a take which does neither, or both. In that spirit, we simply wish to disclaim that our publication of this interview, just as with any of the material we share, should not be interpreted as an unquestioning endorsement of the views expressed within it.

That said, we find Yanis’s statements worthy of considered attention, especially with regard to the (still) rising threat of neo-fascism in Europe. Expect much more on this topic in the near future.

Transcribed and printed with permission. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We borrowed the largest sum in human history. As an insolvent nation. On condition that we would shrink our income! That’s not austere.”

Continue Reading

Neoliberalism Eats Its Own Children

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Transcribed from the 10 January 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

 

“We have a responsibility to make power in its most oppressive forms—and in all of its forms—visible.”

Chuck Mertz: Neoliberalism has made you a disposable human being. Here to tell you how: Henry Giroux, who posted his article Authoritarianism, Class Warfare, and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies at Truthout.org this week.

Good morning, Henry.

Henry Giroux: Hi, how are you? It’s always a pleasure to be on your show.

CM: Always great to have you on.

While we were gone for the holidays, anti-austerity protests erupted in Ukraine. Several thousand rallied against austerity in front of the parliament in Kiev on December 23rd, while inside, politicians were debating slashing the state budget, cutting social and economic spending.

Your article, again, is headlined Authoritarianism, Class Warfare, and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies. But is neoliberalism under attack? Is austerity under attack? These protests haven’t stopped the tide of neoliberalism so far—is it even vulnerable to protest?

Continue Reading