Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The game everyone's playing!

Originally uploaded by Colonel Flick

Friday, February 25, 2011

A revolution against neoliberalism? - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

A revolution against neoliberalism? - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Two observations about Egypt’s history as a neoliberal state are in order. First, Mubarak’s Egypt was considered to be at the forefront of instituting neoliberal policies in the Middle East (not un-coincidentally, so was Ben Ali’s Tunisia). Secondly, the reality of Egypt’s political economy during the Mubarak era was very different than the rhetoric, as was the case in every other neoliberal state from Chile to Indonesia. Political scientist Timothy Mitchell published a revealing essay about Egypt’s brand of neoliberalism in his book Rule of Experts (the chapter titled "Dreamland" — named after a housing development built by Ahmad Bahgat, one of the Mubarak cronies now discredited by the fall of the regime). The gist of Mitchell’s portrait of Egyptian neoliberalism was that while Egypt was lauded by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund as a beacon of free-market success, the standard tools for measuring economies gave a grossly inadequate picture of the Egyptian economy. In reality the unfettering of markets and agenda of privatization were applied unevenly at best.

The only people for whom Egyptian neoliberalism worked "by the book" were the most vulnerable members of society, and their experience with neoliberalism was not a pretty picture. Organised labor was fiercely suppressed. The public education and the health care systems were gutted by a combination of neglect and privatization. Much of the population suffered stagnant or falling wages relative to inflation. Official unemployment was estimated at approximately 9.4% last year (and much higher for the youth who spearheaded the January 25th Revolution), and about 20% of the population is said to live below a poverty line defined as $2 per day per person.

For the wealthy, the rules were very different. Egypt did not so much shrink its public sector, as neoliberal doctrine would have it, as it reallocated public resources for the benefit of a small and already affluent elite. Privatization provided windfalls for politically well-connected individuals who could purchase state-owned assets for much less than their market value, or monopolise rents from such diverse sources as tourism and foreign aid. Huge proportions of the profits made by companies that supplied basic construction materials like steel and cement came from government contracts, a proportion of which in turn were related to aid from foreign governments.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday Random Ten

Thee Andrews Surfers - Rip-off!!
Andrews Surfers...Go!
Rip-Off (1999)
Thee Andrews Surfers

Candi and the Strangers - Candi and The Strangers
Candi and the Strangers (2009)
Candi and the Strangers

You're So Cruel
Hard Times (2010)
The Blue Squares

Masshysteri - Vår Del Av Stan
Vår Del Av Stan
Vår Del Av Stan (2008)

UFO - Strangers in the Night
Love to Love
Strangers in the Night (1979)

The Mad Turks From Istanbul - Cafe Istanbul
Ten Things
Cafe Istanbul (1987)
The Mad Turks From Istanbul

Bram Tchaikovsky - Strange Man, Changed Man
Sarah Smiles
Strange Man, Changed Man (1979)
Bram Tchaikovsky

Neko Case & Her Boyfriends - Furnace Room Lullaby
Furnace Room Lullaby (2000)
Neko Case & Her Boyfriends

Das Bierbeben - Die Birne ist reif
FFM Punkarmee
Die Birne ist reif (2001)
Das Bierbeben

Drunk In Yr Uggs
Sorcerers of Madness (4rd Year In a Row) (2010)
Guinea Worms