Socrates: debt and the cyclical rise and fall of societies

Last week I attended a wonderful conference in the university town of Tübingen, Germany, on “Debt: The First 3500 Years,” to bring ancient historians together to discuss David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5000 Years. I was enlightened by two papers in particular. Doctoral fellow Moritz Hinsch from Berlin collected what Socrates (470-399 BC) and other Athenians wrote about debt, and the conference’s organizer, Prof. John Weisweiler, presented the new view of late imperial Rome as being still a long way from outright serfdom. The 99 Percent were squeezed, but “the economy” grew – in a way ...

The Brexit Silence

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As published on Counterpunch The media in the United States have treated the British vote against remaining in the European Union (EU) as if it is populist “Trumpism,” an inarticulate right-wing vote out of ignorance at being left behind by the neoliberal economic growth policy. The fact that Donald Trump happened to be in Scotland to promote his golf course helped frame the U.S. story that depicts the Brexit vote as a “Trump vs. Hillary” psychodrama – populist anger and resentment vs. intelligent policy. What is left out of this picture is that there is a sound logic to oppose membership in the EU. It is Nigel Farage’s slogan, “Take Back Control.” The question is, from whom? Not only from “bureaucrats,” but from ...

The Planned Obsolescence of Consumer Sovereignty

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An interview with Bonnie Faulkner's Guns n Butter show. This is Guns and Butter, April 5, 2016. Most people think of the economy as producing goods and services and paying labor to buy what it produces. But a growing part of the economy in every country has been the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, which comprises the rent and interest paid to the economy’s balance sheet of assets by debtors and rent payers. More and more money is being extracted from of the production and consumption economy to pay the FIRE sector. That’s what causes debt deflation and shrinks markets. If you pay the banks, you have less to spend on goods and services. I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and ...

US imperialism the BREXIT culprit

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How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote, TRNN, June 25, 2016. Michael Hudson argues that military interventions in the Middle East created refugee streams to Europe that were in turn used by the anti-immigrant right to stir up xenophobia GREGORY WILPERT, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Gregory Wilpert, coming to you from Quito, Ecuador. Britain's referendum in favor of leaving, or exiting, the European Union, the Brexit referendum, as the results are known, won with 52 percent of the vote on Thursday, June 23, stunning Europe's political establishment. One of the issues that has raised concern for many is that what does the Brexit mean for Britain's and Europe's economy and politics. This was one of the main topics ...

EU Bankster Contagion

An interview with Chris Hedges on Truth Dig. Chris Hedges: 2008 All Over Again Summary: Great Britain’s decision to leave the EU presages a global financial meltdown that could resemble the 1930s. Banks will demand massive bailouts. We will be forced, if the banks are bailed out again, to endure harsher austerity and a prolonged depression. Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has wiped out many bankers and global speculators. They will turn, as they did in 2008, to governments to rescue them from default. Most governments, including ours, will probably comply. Will the American public passively permit another massive bailout of the banks? Will it accept more punishing programs of austerity to pay for this bailout? ...

Timing is Everything

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Neoliberalism lowers life expectancy

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"Millions Around the World Fleeing from Neoliberal Policy", The Real News Network, June 6, 2016. Economist Michael Hudson says neoliberal policy will pressure U.S. citizens to emigrate, just as it caused millions to leave Russia, the Baltic States, and now Greece in search of a better life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfh6fk3XAQY A research team from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York estimates 875,000 deaths in the United States in year 2000 could be attributed to social factors related to poverty and income inequality. According to U.S. government statistics, 2.45 million Americans died in the same year. When compared to the Columbia research team's finding, social deprivation could account for some 36% of the total deaths in 2000. "Almost all of the British ...

The Greek Surrender

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May 22, 2016 SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It's the Real News Network, I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.  Greece's economic crisis has perhaps been eclipsed by Europe's refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, and by the forthcoming Brexit referendum. But it has not gone away.  Greece's Syriza coalition faced violence on the streets and a 3 day general strike last week that had brought much of the country to a halt. In spite of the protests the government of Alexis Tsipras pushed through legislation to amend the country's tax and pension system with the backing of 153 MPs, a measure required by the lenders in order to continue the debt negotiations. Addressing the 300 seat house, Prime Minister Alex Tsipras said we are ...