Jacobin

https://jacobinmag.com

  • “They Don’t Think Our Lives Matter as Much as Theirs”
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/04/chicago-amazon-warehouse-walkout-coronavirus-pandemic

    On Monday night, workers at a Chicago Amazon warehouse joined a nationwide wave of walkouts over what they say is management’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic. One of the action’s organizers spoke to Jacobin about it. On Monday, workers at JFK8, an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, walked off the job over the company’s allegedly inadequate response to cases of coronavirus among the warehouse workers. “How many confirmed cases ? Ten !” they chanted outside the facility. That (...)

    #Amazon #conditions #COVID-19 #lutte #santé #travail

    ##santé

  • Jeff Bezos Shouldn’t Be a Billionaire, Much Less a Trillionaire
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/05/jeff-bezos-trillionaire-amazon-billionaire

    Jeff Bezos is reportedly on pace to be the world’s first trillionaire. That’s a grotesque indictment of our society — and the only way to change it is to organize Amazon workers to wrest back the extraordinary power and wealth that Bezos is hoarding. Jeff Bezos may become the world’s first trillionaire. The Amazon founder’s net worth grew by an average of 34 percent over the last five years, and according to a recent analysis, he is on track to reach trillionaire status by 2026. The nauseating (...)

    #Google #Airbnb #Amazon #Uber #bénéfices #chômage #conditions #COVID-19 #licenciement #lutte #pauvreté #santé (...)

    ##pauvreté ##santé ##travail

  • Emmanuel Macron’s Weak Pandemic Response Is a Bad Omen for His Promises on Climate Action
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/05/emmanuel-macron-covid-coronavirus-environment-climate-change

    The strict quarantine to slow the spread of the virus is rubbing salt into the wounds of a France that has recently experienced an exceptionally long period of social unrest. From the start of the gilets jaunes uprising almost a year and a half ago to the mass movement against a proposed pension reform, France’s streets have seen huge mobilizations, with the question of climate change and solidarity at the core of those popular movements.

    The parallels that can already be drawn between the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis will be crucial for approaching climate politics going forward. Central to this comparison are the blatant inequalities in terms of who is most affected and the call for broad restructuring of economies and societies. Moreover, in this comparison, we can find the material bases for reimagining political responses to both COVID-19 and the climate crisis.

    It seems reasonable to believe that Emmanuel Macron had planned to focus the last portion of his five-year term on climate and environmental concerns, in what can be understood as the third step in his reelection strategy:

    Accelerate the process of desegregating the rigidity of the French social system and labor law. Liberalize the economy and ensure that social security is reduced to a safety net while creating an economic environment favorable to investors, in what the economic orthodoxy would call a “modernization” effort.
    Construct an image of himself as a European leader and visionary, profiting from the unwillingness of Angela Merkel and Germany to take up this role.
    Turn to issues of environment and climate change to consolidate the “progressive” and even planetary aspects of this visionary profile, thus ensuring he would be viewed as responsive to the “progressive” wing of his electoral coalition.

    This April 11 the convention — brought together via video conference — produced a list of fifty proposals to the government. While this list has not yet been made public, enough of the text has been leaked to reveal that, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the proposals are already outdated. Some of the proposals do go in the right direction — “building renovations, limitation of urban expansion, support for biking options in urban and rural areas, etc.” — but as a whole, they are tainted with the sort of “sustainable development thinking” dear to the United Nations and other international institutions. This approach was already clearly insufficient before the current crisis, and the convention’s proposals are now that much further from responding to the clarion call for massive social change brought forward by the pandemic.

    Upon analyzing the crisis and its possible consequences, it seems that perceptions of risk, collective danger, and preparedness will remain unsettled among the general public, at least for a while. For people in power, giving the impression that everything will be done in the same way, and at the same scale, that it was before could prove a poor strategy, risking them to be perceived as out of touch. And this seems to be something that Macron has acknowledged and understood. This is why he has declared himself opening the door to “outside the box” thinking, claiming that he “feels the profound need to reinvent something new.”

    If Macron is sincere about the need for change, we must ask if this will translate into a moratorium on investment by French companies in fossil fuels, particularly those gas-related investments responsible for half the increase in CO2 emissions since 2012. In a time when the price of oil has dramatically plummeted — reaching even the nonsensical depths of negative value — will there be a redefinition of the fossil-fuel sector, organized by the state and involving concrete support for workers?

    Bailing out the fossil fuel or aviation industries without restructuring them, reskilling their workers, and reframing their management would represent a total denial of the climate emergency — and, indeed, of the essence of what it is to “govern” the crisis.

    Les subventions à Air France et Renault sont de mauvais signes !

  • Why Social Distancing “Doesn’t Apply” to Germany’s Migrant Farmworkers
    #Covid-19#Allemagne#travail#agriculture#migrant#migration
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/05/romanian-migrant-farmworkers-germany-european-union-coronavirus

    The German state emphasizes the need for social distancing — except for the Romanian migrants working in its farms. The EU’s neoliberal order has deepened the continent’s labor market inequalities, making a mockery of the rhetoric of European solidarity.

  • Elon Musk’s New Baby’s Name Is Actually Less Absurd Than His Anti-Democratic, Quasi-Eugenicist Views
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/5/elon-musk-grimes-baby-population-democracy

    Elon Musk, America’s most online billionaire, recently took a break from spreading coronavirus misinformation and crashing his company’s market value on Twitter to be with his girlfriend, Canadian pop singer Grimes, for the birth of their new baby. But the pair wasn’t content to just enjoy their newborn bliss.

    Musk set off a Twitter and media frenzy when he announced they were calling the baby X Æ A-12 Musk, sparking a debate among cult followers and confused people everywhere about the meaning of the cryptic phrase. Grimes cleared up some of the questions when she tweeted that X stood for the “unknown variable”; Æ for her “elven spelling” of Ai, meaning love or artificial intelligence; and A-12 for a Lockheed stealth aircraft designed for the CIA and code-named Archangel. She explained that it’s the couple’s favorite aircraft because it’s “Great in battle, but non-violent,” even though it played an important role in gathering intel on North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

    Musk has since appeared to confirm the child’s name is pronounced X Ash A-12 (if it’s even legal), but it should come as no surprise that an uber-wealthy, super-online couple would go out of their way to pick a moniker designed to garner maximum publicity with seemingly little regard for how it will affect their child. (...)

    Musk has long basked in the media glow, his profile and mystique having largely been built up by a press that for years uncritically parroted his outlandish visions of the future. Despite styling himself an innovator, Musk is little more than the hype man for his companies — someone who’s only made progress thanks to massive public funds, public-sector innovations, and the work of those below him.

    (...)

    But the story of X Æ A-12 goes beyond the child’s name. While this is Grimes’s first child, it’s Musk’s seventh — and like many others in his strata of society, he has some repellent views on parenthood, population, and the worth of others.

    Musk has been open in the past about his concern that “smart” people aren’t reproducing quickly enough. Speaking to Ashlee Vance for his 2015 biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Musk observed that “wealth, education, and being secular are all indicative of a low birth rate,” but that “if each successive generation of smart people has fewer kids, that’s probably bad.” He clarified that he doesn’t want other people to stop having kids; he simply wants “smart” people to have more. But it’s more than a little disturbing to hear a man whose family amassed wealth in apartheid South Africa (Musk’s father was part-owner of an emerald mine) expressing a quasi-eugenic concern that those he deems superior are being further outnumbered by those he deems inferior.

    Musk’s views are not out of step with other tech leaders.

    #eugénisme #bêtise #grand_homme #polygynie #méritocratie

  • The Solution to the Coronavirus Recession Is a Global Green New Deal
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/04/coronavirus-global-green-new-deal-south-postcolonial

    o understand the challenges facing the nations of the Global South as they grapple with COVID-19 and its fallout, we must understand the colonial and postcolonial strictures standing in their way.

    While the Global South achieved political independence with the end of colonialism, the West continued to exert control over its former colonies. Rather than directly running other nations, Western countries used what former Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah called “neocolonial domination” to get their way through political and economic means.

    The figure below lends credence to Nkrumah’s claims: the average North-South gap in per-capita income has grown, not shrunk, since the 1960 United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which affirmed the right of all people to self-determination and proclaimed that colonialism should be brought to a speedy and unconditional end. Global inequality is now so high that the global Gini coefficient, which measures the level of inequality across the world, is about the same as South Africa’s — one of the most unequal societies on the planet.

    #global_green_new_deal #écologie #covid_19

  • Privacy Versus Health Is a False Trade-Off
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/4/privacy-health-surveillance-coronavirus-pandemic-technology

    As tech firms team up with governments to fight the coronavirus pandemic, we’re being asked to accept a trade-off between our digital privacy and our health. It’s a false choice : we can achieve the public health benefits of data without accepting abusive and illicit surveillance. As the world scrambles to stop the coronavirus pandemic, governments and technology companies have begun exploring new partnerships to track the spread of COVID-19 and target preventative interventions. Emerging (...)

    #TraceTogether #contactTracing #santé #COVID-19 #BigData #technologisme #géolocalisation #biopolitique #GPS #smartphone #Bluetooth #Zoom #WhatsApp #Facebook #Palantir #NYPD #Google #DeepMind #Clearview #Apple (...)

    ##santé ##Alphabet

  • Workers Are More Valuable Than CEOs
    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/03/coronavirus-low-wage-workers-front-lines-grocery-store

    Low-wage workers are on the front line in the battle against coronavirus. While many workers have started telecommuting — and many others have unfortunately been laid off — low-wage workers are busy cleaning our streets, making sure we have enough to eat, and, of course, nursing us back to health if we get COVID-19. Despite being linchpins of a functional society, these workers are often treated as expendable or dismissed as “unskilled.” But over the past few weeks, we’ve seen just how irreplaceable they are.

    #travail #ligne_de_front #coronavirus #riches_planqués

    • Bernie Sanders faces sexism allegations amid dispute with Elizabeth Warren - The Washington Post
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/01/14/sanders-warren-debate

      Sanders’s first attempt to run for president was marred by his aggressive supporters, dubbed the Bernie Bros, who harassed his political opponents and journalists online. Their actions spurred allegations of sexism that have never abated and deepened resentment about Sanders’s challenge to Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state whom supporters described as the most qualified candidate in history.

      It was also later alleged that his 2016 campaign fostered a hostile work environment for women, with several coming forward to allege that they were paid less than their male counterparts and subjected to sexual harassment and poor treatment, the New York Times reported last year. Sanders apologized to the women, promising to “do better.” But when asked whether he knew about the complaints, he responded, “I was a little bit busy running around the country.”

      “It is not good enough for someone to say: ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” Sanders said. “No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies.”

      Many critics would argue Warren is that kind of woman. The two political rivals have been longtime allies and friends, who started their campaigns for the 2020 Democratic nomination with a pact to remain civil. That truce began to fray this weekend, when Politico revealed Sanders’s campaign had given volunteer canvassers a script portraying Warren as appealing only to “highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what.”

    • @antonin : Les principales et premières accusations de sexisme viennent de Clinton. J’aurais tendance à considérer que ça rend le truc immédiatement indigent.

      La mode de l’« identity politics » est tout de même dangereuse ici, et comme on dit en américain « c’est un jeu qui se joue à deux ». Ou en l’occurence au moins à 3. Pete Buttigieg, lui, est gay, et ça n’a pas raté : l’attaquer pendant la campagne, serait donc s’attaquer au premier « candidat ouvertement gay ». Comme confronter Waren, ce serait sexiste. Mais les deux, en jouant à ça, s’exposent tout autant à l’accusation d’attaquer le premier candidat juif en position de remporter la présidentielle américaine (l’équipe Sanders n’a semble-t-il pas joué à ça, mais ça leur pend au nez, et Twitter n’a pas vraiment attendu l’autorisation du candidat pour faire la remarque que c’est un jeu dangereux).

      Autre aspect, à mon avis plus important : ces accusations sont colportées, en premier lieu, par des médias qui détestent tout autant Waren que Sanders. Le déchaînement « centriste » est extrêmement visible. Maintenant que Biden semble s’effondrer, et que Waren est très en retard, ils ont parié sur Buttigieg (mais ça n’est pas très prometteur, même si Le Monde titre triomphalement sur sa « victoire » après un premier caucus grotesque). Et maintenant sur Michael Bloomberg et ses milliards. Mais en général, tous ces commentateurs du supposé « sexisme » des Bernie Bros ne souhaiteraient de toute façon pas que Waren l’emporte sur un candidat mâle centriste et néolibéral.

      L’équipe Sanders, en revanche, met en avant différents aspects « positifs » de sa campagne sur ce point :
      https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/479848-sanders-faces-lingering-questions-about-appeal-to-women-voters

    • Note : l’autre aspect du thème « Bernie bros » était le fait que les électeurs noirs ne votaient pas pour lui. Aspect qui est démonté dans cet article de Jacobin.

      Avec cet aspect désormais du « ce petit jeu se joue à deux » : attaquer désormais Sanders, c’est aussi attaquer le candidat le plus populaire parmi l’électorat « non-blanc ».

      The Quiet Death of the “White Bernie Bro” Attack
      https://jacobinmag.com/2019/08/bernie-sanders-white-bernie-bro-race-2020-democratic-primary-pew-poll

      By January of this year, it had already become clear that enthusiasm for another Sanders run was remarkably inflected by race — with comparatively strong support coming from black voters. And Friday, a poll from Pew confirms the trend: only 49% of Sanders supporters are white, compared with 56% of Biden voters, 59% of Harris voters, and a remarkable 71% of Warren voters.

  • How Mindfulness Morphed from Ancient Spiritual Practice to Big Business
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/12/corporate-mindfulness-ron-purser-interview

    The roots of mindfulness as a spiritual practice go back thousands of years. But today, corporations like Facebook and Google are using it as a technique to extract more productivity and more profits from workers.

    #méditation #happiness_management

  • Building a Bolivia for the Next Generation
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/bolivia-election-adriana-salvatierra-mas-evo-morales

    A leader within the Columna Sur militant youth movement, Adriana has become a leading voice in the fight for gender equality and the eradication of murderous violence against women (so-called femicides). She has also strongly promoted socialist planning as a model of economic growth, and ahead of Sunday’s presidential election she has fiercely criticized neoliberal challengers to Morales, such as the former president Carlos Mesa and the emerging right-wing candidate from Santa Cruz, Óscar Ortiz.

    Denis Rogatyuk sat down with Adriana to discuss the socialist government’s record, her own role in the change process — including a spell as acting president — and the challenges that will follow Sunday’s election.

    Interview avant le #coup_d'État en #Bolivie.

  • Public Monopolies Are a Good Thing
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/monopoly-public-schools-warren-education-plan

    On peut trouver des arguments valables contre cet argument contre les monopoles privés et pour les monopoles publiques. C’est quand même un bon modèle pour construire des arguments du même type.

    Trust-busting liberalism starts from the premise that competitive markets generally serve the public good better than any alternative. If you’re the sort of person who calls yourself a capitalist to your bones and you see an area where markets are manifestly not serving the public good, your first instinct is not to endorse public ownership but to find a way to make that part of the market more competitive.

    This instinct is so powerful that it’s applied in all sorts of areas where it makes no sense. For example, we’re seeing more and more calls (from trust-busting liberals and even from social democrats who should know better) to break up Twitter and Facebook, even though the nature of the services severely limits how much they can be broken up without losing their functionality.

    Simply separating Facebook from Messenger and Instagram, for instance, still leaves Mark Zuckerberg with extraordinary control over the flow of information. Really breaking up Facebook would mean having to keep track of which of your friends were on which mini-Facebook. Nationalizing the social media giants would solve the same problems more efficiently and also have the advantage of extending the First Amendment to social media.

    #libéralisme #monopoles

  • On Foreign Policy, Bernie Stands Alone
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/foreign-policy-bernie-sanders-elizabeth-warren-2020-presidential-campaig

    Throughout her speeches and writings on foreign policy, #Warren makes it abundantly clear that she wants to “protect American interests first and foremost.” Similar to all post–Cold War US presidents, she is dedicated to preserving US “global leadership,” a euphemism for empire that became popular in the Vietnam War’s wake. Her “Foreign Policy for All” is, in essence, a foreign policy for all Americans that takes the nation-state as the natural subject of politics and history.

    #Sanders, in contrast, adopts an explicitly global understanding of the United States’ world role. For him, the purpose of US foreign policy is not to reaffirm US “leadership,” but to create “a global community in which people have the decent jobs, food, clean water, education, health care and housing they need.” In a radical departure from the nationalist rhetoric of Warren — and American politics generally — Sanders emphasizes his desire “to reconceptualize a global order based on human solidarity, an order that recognizes that every person on this planet shares a common humanity.” Where Warren’s campaign says she will “stand up for the American economy, fight to protect American workers, and defend American values,” Sanders’s campaign states that “he will change the terms of the global economy to lift up workers everywhere, reversing the race to the bottom” that compels “American workers to compete with desperate workers in Vietnam who make less than a dollar an hour and migrant computer workers in Malaysia who are working as modern-day slaves.” As this suggests, Sanders, unlike Warren, is a globalist in the best sense of the term.

    #candidats #potus #etats-unis

  • Making Portugal’s Break With Austerity Real
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/portugal-elections-economy-socialist-party-left-bloc-francisco-louca

    Dans cet entretiens on apprend comment le parti communiste et la gauche non-dogmatique ont réussi à cobtraindre les socialistes de droite à accepter une série de mesures qui ont soulagé le sort des pauvres tout en permttant de relancer l’économie portugaise

    An interview with Francisco Louçã

    As Portugal heads to the polls this Sunday, the Socialist government boasts of its success in breaking the country out of austerity. Yet as the Left Bloc’s Francisco Louçã tells Jacobin, the current low-investment growth model is unsustainable — and fundamental questions around debt restructuring and the Eurozone architecture remain to be answered.

    Interview by David Broder

    For many on the European center-left, Portugal stands as proof that it is possible to break out of austerity without any need for a “populist” offensive against Brussels. For the Guardian, Portugal today stands as “Europe’s beacon of social democracy”; for the New Stateman, it is “Europe’s socialist success story.” Since 2015 the Socialist-led government has been acclaimed for its role in escaping the sovereign debt crisis, returning Portugal to growth even while taking poverty-reduction measures.

    The government is especially notable for its parliamentary majority, dependent on the external support of both the Left Bloc and the Communists. Yet if Portuguese right-wingers deem Costa “in hock to the extreme left,” his government can also be seen as a rejuvenation of mainstream social democracy. Where other austerity-hit countries have seen a rise of Eurosceptic or otherwise populist forces, polls for Sunday’s vote suggest a strengthening of the Socialists’ position, outstripping even their success in the 2015 contest.

    Yet for all the triumphalism surrounding the center-left’s record in office, the difference between Portugal and other PIIGS countries is, at best, relative. Without doubt, since the harshest period of austerity in the early 2010s Portugal has gained some economic breathing space — putting an end to the cycle of falling wages, lower consumption, tax rises, and rising debt. Aided by Europe’s emergence from the worst moment of crisis, Portugal has also seen a return to economic growth.

    However, the particular forms this takes is also storing up long-term problems. In particular, the government has slashed investment — in 2016 it even recorded negative levels of public investment, where the depreciation in state assets outstripped spending. This is what Mickaël Correia called the “dark side of Portugal’s economic success story” — a historic tightening of the purse strings, in which even the return to growth has added to the economic weight of property speculation, tourism, and precarious employment.

    Since 2015 the Left Bloc has offered external support for Costa’s administration, while also trying to exert leverage over it on such issues as precarious contracts and rises in the minimum wage. Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Left Bloc cofounder and economist Francisco Louçã spoke to Jacobin’s David Broder about the government’s record in combating austerity, the limits imposed by the Eurozone architecture, and the radical left’s attempts to push more profound structural change.

    In the period of the sovereign debt crisis, Portugal’s governments have been presented by European institutions as a counterexample to Syriza. In particular, looking at the Socialist government in office since 2015, Antonio Costa has emphasized his fiscal credibility as well as his bid to alleviate the effects of the crisis. This has also drawn the Socialists (PS) praise from the international center-left, as a party that regenerated itself while also remaining solidly pro-European. Is it right to say that this has been a “model student” of the EU?

    Portugal was, indeed, presented as a counterexample to Syriza’s government during the first years of the austerity program, when the Greek government first tried to resist the economic and social policy imposed by (German finance minister) Wolfgang Schäuble and (chancellor) Angela Merkel — and then capitulated — while at the same time the center-right government in Lisbon fully complied with austerity.

    But when the PS leader Antonio Costa took office as prime minister at the end of 2015, the austerity program led by the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) was no longer a so-called legal rule, since the official troika intervention was over. From that moment, the strategy of the new government — conditioned by the written agreements with the left parties — made the opposite choice and dismantled some of the austerity decisions.

    For instance, the minimum wage was raised by 20 percent, despite pressure from the European authorities not to do this, claiming that it would generate unemployment; in reality, unemployment fell from 13 to 6 percent, according to official figures. So, this was not a “model student” for the European authorities.

    In an interview for Jacobin before the 2015 election, you expressed doubts that a new government could manage the country for four years under EU pressure, without a restructuring of the debt, given the effects of the fiscal straitjacket in suppressing investment and job creation. Indeed, over the last four years, public investment has been so low that it has barely kept pace with the depreciation of state assets. Yet there is some growth, primarily driven by tourism and property speculation. What kind of rebalancing of the Portuguese economy does this imply, to whose advantage — and how sustainable is it?

    Yes, by the end of 2015 everyone was under the impression that not only would the European authorities try to oppose the government’s policy (as they did), but also that the straitjacket would impose too much restraint. But the political conditions for such pressure became very difficult. In 2016, the European Commission even discussed the possibility of imposing sanctions, since in the last year under the previous government (2015) there had been a 0.3 percent deviation in the deficit-to-GDP ratio.

    The decision not to proceed won out by only one vote — but such a move would have been impossible, since it was too scandalous (France had never met the same criteria, which Portugal risked being sanctioned for transgressing) and, after the disaster imposed on Greece, having another troubling situation could have been damaging for the official European discourse.

    Moreover, the international conditions became more favorable for the peripheral countries, with the low oil price and a slight expansion of European imports. Combined with the expansion of aggregate demand, given the rises in wages and pensions, this favored some growth. Exports also expanded — and not only tourism.

    In this period, public debt was not restructured, but the very low, even negative, interest rates for medium-term debt emissions substantially reduced Portugal’s burden of payments. Although this remains a structural fragility, and any recession or speculative attack will mean more debt — or more political pressure, using the debt as a lever — this has not been the case over the last four years. I believe, as before, that this is not a sustainable economy in the long term and that a debt restructuring must, indeed, be imposed. But for the Left to advance from such a reflection to the actual ability to deliver on it, it first needs to achieve the necessary balance of forces.

    In the 2015 general election the Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda) enjoyed a big jump, from 5.2 to 10.2 percent of the vote. It then offered its external support to the PS government, as did the Communist Party (PCP), though neither participated directly in the cabinet. If this afforded you some leverage over the government, can we really say the questions of restructuring the debt, the euro, and public investment have become more central to Portuguese public debate over the last four years?

    No, the euro is barely discussed today, and the question of the public debt has become a marginal topic of political debate. This is because interest rates are negative; the ECB (European Central Bank) quantitative easing program has absorbed one-third of the new debt issued, and therefore some of the current stock of debt is being replaced by very cheap debt.

    In 2018 the PS government agreed to sign a detailed report with the Left Bloc, prepared by a technical group, which proposed a reduction of 52 billion euros in the current institutionalized debt stock. This was a restructuring to be imposed on the ECB and European Funds. But then this was rebuffed by the PS.

    There was some controversy earlier this year when Marisa Matias said that the Left Bloc had never supported Portugal leaving the euro, though in the past its spokesperson Catarina Martins has suggested it should at least prepare for this eventuality. Looking at the wider European left, even initiatives like the “conferences for the Plan B” have not produced any single project for reforming or breaking up the euro. Has the window of opportunity for the left-wing challenge to the euro architecture passed?

    I don’t see any controversy, here, but perhaps you are referring to a couple of articles published in the right-wing press on the issue. There is no contradiction: the Left Bloc’s official documents do not propose leaving the euro, but they state very clearly that if in any circumstances new austerity measures are imposed for the sake of the euro, or by the European authorities, then leaving must be an option.

    That is exactly what both Marisa and Catarina repeated, and that is also why the Left Bloc proposes rejecting the Budget Treaty and leaving the Banking Union. My personal view is somewhat different: I prefer to immediately present a plan for leaving the euro. Indeed, I published such a plan in a book A Solução Novo Escudo, (The Solution – a New Escudo) with my colleague João Ferreira do Amaral.

    But you are right — the European initiatives challenging austerity were not strong enough, or persistent enough, to attack the architecture of the euro. Moreover, Europe’s left-wing parties have, in general, weakened rather than become stronger these last few years. There is today no convergence and no European instrument of effective cooperation among popular and left-wing parties and movements.

    As you note in a recent column, sporadic injections of liquidity seem ill-equipped to promote a general economic recovery, and indeed this is also an instrument little-vulnerable to democratic control. You claim, the alternative instead lies in boosting internal demand through wage rises. So, what can be done to strengthen workers’ bargaining power? Looking at disputes like the labor law or recent strikes by nurses, how would you assess the Socialists’ record in this regard, and how far has the Left Bloc been able to exert leverage to support these actions?

    There was a recovery of wages and pensions, as many tax rises were eliminated, the minimum wage was increased as well as the majority of pensions. Other important measures were also taken which acted like an indirect wage rise: for instance, a social electricity price (with reduced bills for families on low incomes), much cheaper public transport tickets, free books for all students until the age of eighteen, and social protection for children. This was the result of the Left’s leverage over the government.

    Conversely, the conflict over the labor law has been one of the crucial differences between the government and the left parties over the last couple of months. As we speak, the most important rule within this law — the extension of an “experimental period” in workers’ contracts, covering their first six months of their employment — is being examined by the Constitutional Court.

    Looking at this Sunday’s election, what would be a good result for the Left Bloc — and what conditions would you place on supporting a Socialist government, if it doesn’t win a majority?

    The PS will be the largest party, but it probably won’t have a majority in Parliament. There is strong evidence that the PS will try to avoid any sort of negotiation with the Left. Indeed, its electoral campaign has been bitterly directed against the Left Bloc, indeed much more so than against the main right-wing party (the Social-Democrats, PSD). It is also notable that the PS campaign hasn’t been directed against the Communists. They will likely lose some ground, but at least the PS government can consider them a nonthreatening partner.

    For the Left Bloc, a good result would be to secure a larger popular and electoral influence than it achieved in 2015 and to prevent an absolute majority for the PS. That would provide the best scenario for fighting for a fresh rise in the minimum wage and in pensions, to propose concrete measures for a housing program and the national health system, a new wave of public investment in urban transport in order to reduce emissions, and the nationalization of the Post Office, for instance. It is, however, quite implausible that the PS would agree to negotiate these measures, and still less to apply them.

    #Portugal #politique #sicial-démocrates #gauche #élections #austérité #keynesianisme

  • Only the Poor Die Young
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/09/poverty-life-expectancy-inequality-health-outcomes-capitalism

    A new report confirms what we already knew: the rich live longer than the poor. The study looked at people in the United States who were in their fifties in 1991, and found that three-quarters of the richest among them are still alive today, compared to less than half of the poorest.

    This isn’t really news, though it’s good to firm up the stats.