Archive for June 14, 2009

Apart from it being Euro-centric (although it speaks out against Euro-centrism), this manifesto puts its finger with high precision on the causes for the many emergencies we are confronted by: the financial, economic, climate, social, food and energy crises  as well as the ongoing wars are by and large products of a rapacious and obscene capitalist model of society. These highly volatile dangerous situations are  sign posts at a crossroad where we either can choose to continue to support exploitation, oppression and patriarchy or swing into immediate remedial action. Eric Toussaint’s and Damien Millet’s manifesto describes this alternative way as an “ecologically viable, socialist and feminist project rooted in the realities of the 21st century”.

Eradicate Capitalism and All Forms of Oppression

by Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet

The partisans of capitalism, and among them, prominently, the EU leaders, have lost all credibility. For years now they have trampled on the rights of peoples while not wavering when it came to making decisions directly opposed to their advertised principles in order to bail out major banks.

European government parties could have acted differently and nationalised the banks, thus retrieving the cost of the bailout on the patrimony of major shareholders and CEOs. The public credit instrument that would have resulted could finance socially useful and environment-friendly projects while guaranteeing individual savings. The crisis has brought back onto the agenda proposals that had been swept aside during the long neoliberal night such as a radical reduction of working time (with creation of jobs and no loss of pay) or indexation of wages and social benefits on the cost of living. Europe needs new financial discipline: company ledgers have to be opened to external and internal auditing (through the trade unions among others), all financial products must be regulated, and it must be forbidden for companies to have assets in any tax haven. Major means of production, trade, finance, communication and other services must be transferred to the public sphere and taken away from capitalists’ control. Access to public goods must be systematically promoted.

In a political perspective, European citizens must retrieve the political power that has been taken away from them. The populations who were able to have their say on the Constitutional Treaty turned it down, but leaders ignored their votes without a second thought. Meanwhile Venezuela , Ecuador and Bolivia show us the way. There, citizens elected a Constituant Assembly in order to draw up a new draft Constitution, which is to be discussed with social movements and sanctioned by referenda. In these three countries voters can now revoke any elected representative mid-mandate, whereas no European Constitution mentions any such highly democratic mechanism.

The countries of Europe must stop plundering the natural resources and know-how of the South. They must increase official development aid, which ought to be called ‘contribution to reparations’ by way of repairing the historical, social and environmental damage they brought about. Europe must cancel Third World Debt and implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in all its dimensions, including article 13, the right to freedom of movement and residence. Europe must turn away from nuclear power and dismantle all nuclear weapons currently on its territory. Europe must leave NATO and withdraw its troops from all territories under military occupation. Europe must close down all US military bases on its territory. All EU member countries must grant complete independence to populations they still wield colonial power over (the ‘French’ and ‘Dutch’ Antilles, British overseas territories, New Caledonia , Reunion Island …). Europe must rescind all partnership agreements with Israel and see to it that the rights of the Palestinian people be at long last respected.

Capitalism has drawn humankind down into a deep multidimensional crisis: it affects the financial sector, the economy, the climate, food and energy supplies, not to mention wars and the arms race. The patriarchal system perpetuates the oppression of women in all areas of life. As asserted at the Women’s Assembly at the World Social Forum in Belem on 1 February 2009 : We are not interested in palliative answers based on market logic in response to these crises ; this can only lead to perpetuation of the same system. We need to move forward in building alternatives if we are to oppose the capitalist and patriarchal system that oppresses and exploits us. |1|

We also support the declaration of indigenous peoples adopted at Belem : The capitalist development model, a model that is Eurocentric, sexist and racist, is in absolute crisis, and is leading us to the greatest social and environmental crisis in the history of humankind. Structural unemployment is aggravated by the financial, economic, energy and production crisis, along with social exclusion, sexist and racist violence and religious fanaticism. That there should be so many simultaneous crises, and so deep, forebodes an authentic crisis of civilization, a crisis of “capitalist and modern development” that endangers all forms of life. But there are those who continue to dream of improving this model and refuse to acknowledge that what is in crisis is capitalism, Euro-centrism, with its model of a State destined for one culturally homogeneous nationality, western positive rights, developmentalism and the commodification of life. |2|

Capitalism, patriarchy, and all forms of oppression will not disappear of their own accord: only the conscious and deliberate actions of men and women can yield another system whose goals would be to guarantee indivisible human rights and to protect the environment. We must free our minds of the tragic Stalinist caricature of communism, do away with capitalism, and invent an ecologically viable, socialist and feminist project rooted in the realities of the 21st century.


  1. In the Declaration of the Women’s Assembly

Translated fron the French by Christine Pagnoulle in collaboration with Vicki Briault  Originally published in French by the CADTM.

Global Research Articles by Eric Toussaint
Global Research Articles by Damien Millet
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… and much more – a long list of articles on current political topics by Global Research. I like GR because its critical perspective shines a torchlight onto the otherwise pretty meaningless and superficial news coverage of the mainstream press. The articles listed below were posted between the 2nd and 12th of June 2009.

And if you like any of the articles, please support Global Research as they rely on the financial support of their readers.

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I hate crowds

Posted: June 14, 2009 in humour


Well, I don’t actually (most of the time), but I’m sure my mate Harry can relate to the placard carrier’s assumed sentiment. Unlike him/her though, Harry would strictly abide by his conviction and not turn up to this gathering – which is a pity, coz it leaves the crowd and life at large bare of such discernable touches of humour ;).

Brooklyn street/gallery artist Ellis Gallagher aka © Ellis G. takes us on a personal ride through his creative process and the defining moment that led him to his signature style of shadow-based outlines.

It’s a nice concept to focus on shadows, which we generally filter out in our way of seeing, and also on time: the things that existed in the same place before we were there (eg the shadows and/or objects of the night before). The artistic end product is not aesthetically complex, but it certainly is an attention stopper, a re-orienting point in our habitual ways of perception.

The video has a few hints of another, this time cultural habit: the omnipresence of the market. In this case it’s its art part, with street art morphing into its opposite: gallery art. But at least in Ellis G.’s case it can’t always be the simple copy/paste job that so many street artists go for when transferring their works onto canvas or gallery walls; hard to demount a street light and move it into a gallery. Its easier though with the objects Ellis often takes to the stage of his productions, like milk crates and bikes.

And they and their shadows do look different in a gallery setting. Being stripped of the rawness and real life character of street reality, the object and its aesthetically manipulated shadow have become colder, more abstract, arty, sophisticated. Rather than adding vibrancy to daily life, they are transformed into decorative objects with market value, to be transferred into the mansions of hip Wall Street bankers whose money never runs out and who know something about being cold. Money rips the soul out of life and therefore the artist who sells his.

This video doesn’t show yet the full extend of this life-expiring process – go to Urban Prankster to see the updated, slicker 2009 marketing version of this clip that seems to parallel the journey from street art to gallery fame. Tellingly, in that newer version the nice 120 seconds spot on respect, graffiti and street art closing with peace has vanished. Pity.

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Vintage signage

Posted: June 14, 2009 in creativity


I haven’t seen them for yonks: enamel signs. In Germany I’m sure all road signs were made that way, but what’ really stood out were small advertising signs, and that would have been even more the case in the heartland of capitalism, the United States of America. I’m absolutely no fan of the brainwashing lies used by the advertising industry, but in hindsight the message delivery of those ad signs looks quite benign and romantic compared to the brutally subtle manipulation unleashed on us today via the electronic media. SmashingMagazine, from which these 2 examples were taken, has collected 60 of these vintage signage pieces and also gives a brief background on them:

In the U.S., most outdoor signs made between 1890 and and 1950 were constructed of a base of heavy rolled iron, which was die cut into the desired shape, then coated with layers of colored powdered glass and fired in a kiln. This process made them durable and weather-resistant. Signs made this way were known as porcelain enamel signs or simply enamel signs.

Porcelain enamel signs originated in Germany and were imported into the U.S. They quickly became a staple of outdoor advertising across the country. Around 1900, designers experimented with bold colors and graphics on the signs and they were used to advertise everything from cigarettes and beer to farm equipment and tires. Early designs were stenciled, but American designers switched to silkscreens and started using a steel base instead of iron. Later, when porcelain enamel became too costly, tin bases were used instead of steel.

Now it is difficult to find antique porcelain enamel signs in excellent condition. Collectors pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for each addition to their collections. Many of the signs were vandalized, discarded due to etching or crazing in the finish or melted down for the metal during World War II. After the war, the signs were too expensive to manufacture, so we are left with only the dazzling pieces that remain from the era.

Signs were later made of tin and other materials and painted with enamel paint. More of these types of signs remain, but they are often rusted, scratched and distressed. After WWII, “enamel” signs were simply enamel paint on a metal, usually tin, base.

There is a huge market for vintage signs and collectors must be wary of distressed reproductions. Often vintage signs are stamped with the date they were manufactured, while other times research and knowledge about antique signs may be required to discern a real antique from a knockoff.


Check out SmashingMagazine for 58 more vintage signs.

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