Alle Beiträge von Stephan Best

“Ein Sturm zieht auf” – EU-Handelskammer warnt vor China-“Decoupling” (german-foreign-policy.com)

Newsletter –

(Eigener Bericht) – Die European Chamber of Commerce in China dringt auf energische Schritte zur Verhinderung einer ökonomischen Abkopplung („Decoupling“) der Volksrepublik vom Westen. Wie es in einer Studie heißt, die die Handelskammer gemeinsam mit dem Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics) aus Berlin erstellt sowie vergangene Woche vorgelegt hat, droht das von Washington mit stets neuen Sanktionen forcierte „Decoupling“ Unternehmen aus der EU empfindliche Verluste zuzufügen: Sie könnten sich schon bald vor die Entscheidung gestellt sehen, sich entweder vom hochprofitablen chinesischen Markt zurückziehen oder ihre Produkte aufwendig in zweierlei Ausführung herstellen zu müssen, eine für den Westen, eine für China. Beides wäre mit herben Einbußen verbunden. Im Kampf gegen das Decoupling hat die EU noch kurz vor dem Ende der deutschen Ratspräsidentschaft ein Investitionsabkommen mit China geschlossen, das nächstes Jahr in Kraft treten soll; es kommt vor allem deutschen Firmen zugute. Für diese stellt das Chinageschäft in der Coronakrise einen Rettungsanker dar.

Weiterlesen
https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/news/detail/8489/

Die Folgen des Übergangs vom Industrie zum Finanzkapitalismus

Die Folgen des Übergangs vom Industrie- zum Finanzkapitalismus

7. Januar 2021

Michael HUDSON und Pepe ESCOBAR haben letzten Monat an der Henry George School of Social Science einen harten Blick auf Miete und Rent-Seeking geworfen.

Das Nobelkaufhaus Saks Fifth Avenue hat vor einer Black-Lives-Matter-Demonstration in New York private Sicherheitskräfte, Zäune und Stacheldraht aufgestellt, 7. Juni. 2020. (Anthony Quintano, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Michael Hudson: Nun, ich fühle mich geehrt, hier in der gleichen Show mit Pepe zu sein und über unser gemeinsames Anliegen zu sprechen. Und ich denke, man muss das ganze Thema so einrahmen, dass China auf dem Vormarsch ist und der Westen das Ende der ganzen 75-jährigen Expansion erreicht hat, die er seit 1945 hatte.

Es gab also die Illusion, dass Amerika wegen der Konkurrenz aus China de-industrialisiert wird. Und die Realität ist, dass es keine Möglichkeit gibt, dass Amerika reindustrialisiert und seine Exportmärkte zurückgewinnt, mit der Art und Weise, wie es heute organisiert, finanziert und privatisiert ist, und wenn es China nicht gäbe. Der “Rust Belt” würde immer noch vor sich hin rosten. Die amerikanische Industrie wäre immer noch nicht in der Lage, im Ausland zu konkurrieren, einfach weil die Kostenstruktur in den Vereinigten Staaten so hoch ist.

Michael Hudson. (Wikimedia Commons)

Der Wohlstand wird hier nicht mehr durch Industrialisierung gemacht. Er wird finanziell erwirtschaftet, hauptsächlich durch Kapitalgewinne. Steigende Preise für Immobilien oder für Aktien und für Anleihen.  In den letzten neun Monaten, seit das Coronavirus hierher kam, wuchs das oberste 1 Prozent der US-Wirtschaft um 1 Billion Dollar. Es war ein Glücksfall für das eine Prozent. Der Aktienmarkt ist weit oben, der Anleihenmarkt ist oben, der Immobilienmarkt ist oben, während der Rest der Wirtschaft nach unten geht. Trotz der Zölle, die Trump auf chinesische Importe erhoben hat, steigt der Handel mit China, weil wir einfach keine Materialien produzieren.

Amerika stellt seine Schuhe nicht selbst her. Es stellt keine Schrauben und Muttern oder Verbindungselemente her, es stellt keine industriellen Dinge mehr her, denn wenn man mit einem Industrieunternehmen Geld verdienen will, dann kauft man das Unternehmen und verkauft es, nicht um Kredite zu vergeben, um die Produktion des Unternehmens zu steigern. New York City, wo ich lebe, war früher eine Industriestadt, und die Industriegebäude, die Handelsgebäude wurden alle zu hochpreisigen Immobilien gentrifiziert, und das Ergebnis ist, dass die Amerikaner so viel Geld für Bildung, Miete, medizinische Versorgung zahlen müssen, dass sie, selbst wenn sie alle ihre physischen Bedürfnisse, ihre Nahrung, ihre Kleidung, alle Waren und Dienstleistungen umsonst bekämen, immer noch nicht mit ausländischen Arbeitskräften konkurrieren könnten, wegen all der Kosten, die sie zahlen müssen, die man im Wesentlichen als Mietwucher bezeichnet. (…)

Michael Hudson ist ein amerikanischer Professor für Wirtschaftswissenschaften an der Universität von Missouri Kansas City und ein Forscher am Levy Economics Institute am Bard College. Er ist ein ehemaliger Wall-Street-Analyst, politischer Berater, Kommentator und Journalist. Er bezeichnet sich selbst als einen klassischen Ökonomen. Michael ist der Autor von J is for Junk Economics, Killing the Host, The Bubble and Beyond, Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire, Trade Development and Foreign Debt und The Myth of Aid, um nur einige zu nennen. Seine Bücher wurden ins Japanische, Chinesische, Deutsche, Spanische und Russische übersetzt veröffentlicht.

Pepe Escobar, geboren in Brasilien, ist Korrespondent und Chefredakteur der Asia Times und Kolumnist für Consortium News und Strategic Culture in Moskau. Seit Mitte der 1980er Jahre hat er als Auslandskorrespondent in London, Paris, Mailand, Los Angeles, Singapur und Bangkok gelebt und gearbeitet. Er hat ausgiebig über Pakistan, Afghanistan, Zentralasien bis hin zu China, Iran, Irak und den weiteren Nahen Osten berichtet. Pepe ist der Autor von Globalistan – Wie sich die globalisierte Welt in einen flüssigen Krieg auflöst; Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad during the Surge. Er war mitwirkender Redakteur bei The Empire and The Crescent und Tutto in Vendita in Italien,. Seine letzten beiden Bücher sind Empire of Chaos und 2030. Pepe ist auch mit der in Paris ansässigen European Academy of Geopolitics verbunden. Wenn er nicht auf Reisen ist, lebt er zwischen Paris und Bangkok.

The Consequences of Moving from Industrial to Financial Capitalism

The Consequences of Moving from Industrial to Financial Capitalism

January 7, 2021

Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar last month took a hard look at rent and rent-seeking at the Henry George School of Social Science.

High-ended retailer Saks Fifth Avenue added private security, fencing and barbed wire ahead of a Black Lives Matter protest in New York, June 7. 2020. (Anthony Quintano, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Michael Hudson: Well, I’m honored to be here on the same show with Pepe and discuss our mutual concern. And I think you have to frame the whole issue that China is thriving, and the West has reached the end of the whole 75-year expansion it had since 1945.

So, there was an illusion that America is de-industrializing because of competition from China. And the reality is there is no way that America can re-industrialize and regain its export markets with the way that it’s organized today, financialized and privatized and if China didn’t exist. You’d still have the Rust Belt rusting out. You’d still have American industry not being able to compete abroad simply because the cost structure is so high in the United States. (…)

Chris Hedges: The Empire is Not Done with Julian Assange

https://consortiumnews.com/2021/01/04/chris-hedges-the-empire-is-not-done-with-julian-assange/
original: https://scheerpost.com/2021/01/04/chris-hedges-the-empire-is-not-done-with-julian-assange/
Chris Hedges: The Empire is Not Done with Julian Assange
January 4, 2021
As is clear from the memoir of one of his attorneys, Michael Ratner, the ends have always justified the means for those demanding the WikiLeaks‘ publisher’s global persecution.
Shortly after WikiLeaks released the “Iraq War Logs” in October 2010, which documented numerous U.S. war crimes — including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the “Collateral Murder” video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians who had approached too closely to U.S. checkpoints — the towering civil rights attorneys Michael Ratner and Len Weinglass, who had defended Daniel Ellsberg in
the Pentagon Papers case, met Julian Assange in a studio apartment in Central London, according to Ratner’s newly released memoir Moving the Bar. (…)

Assange Extradition Ruling Is a Relief, But it Isn’t Justice

https://consortiumnews.com/2021/01/04/assange-extradition-ruling-is-a-relief-but-it-isnt-justice/

Assange Extradition Ruling Is a Relief, But it Isn’t Justice

January 4, 2021 

Caitlin Johnstone says the judge supported virtually every U.S. prosecutorial argument, no matter how absurd and Orwellian.

British Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled against U.S.  extradition for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but not for the reasons she should have.

Baraitser’s frightening ruling supported virtually every U.S.  prosecutorial argument that was made during the extradition trial, no matter how absurd and Orwellian. This includes quoting from a long-discredited CNN report alleging without evidence that Assange made the embassy a “command post” for election interference, saying the right to free speech does not give anyone “unfettered discretion” to disclose any document they wish, dismissing arguments from the defense that U.K. law prohibits extradition for political offenses, parroting the false claim that Assange’s attempt to help protect his source Chelsea Manning while she was exfiltrating documents she already had access to was not normal journalistic behavior, saying U.S.  intelligence might have had legitimate reasons to spy on Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, and claiming Assange’s rights would be protected by the U.S.  legal system if he were extradited.

“Judge is just repeating the U.S.  case, including its most dubious claims, in Assange case,” tweeted activist John Rees during the proceedings.

In the end, though, Baraitser ruled against extradition. Not because the U.S.  government has no business extraditing an Australian journalist from the U.K. for exposing its war crimes. Not because allowing the extradition and prosecution of journalists under the Espionage Act poses a direct threat to press freedoms worldwide. Not to prevent a global chilling effect on natsec investigative journalism into the behaviors of the largest power structures on our planet. No, Baraitser ultimately ruled against extradition because Assange would be too high a suicide risk in America’s draconian prison system.

Assange is still not free, and he is not out of the woods. The U.S.  government has said it will appeal the decision, and Baraitser has the legal authority to keep Assange locked in Belmarsh Prison until that appeals process has been carried through all the way to its end. Discussions on bail and release will resume on Wednesday, and Assange will remain imprisoned in Belmarsh at least until that time. Due to Assange’s bail offense which resulted from taking political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012, it’s very possible that bail will be denied and he will remain imprisoned throughout the U.S.  government appeal.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Australian trade union to which Assange belongs as a journalist, has released a statement on the ruling which outlines the situation nicely.

“Today’s court ruling is a huge relief for Julian, his partner and family, his legal team and his supporters around the world,” said MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom. “Julian has suffered a 10-year ordeal for trying to bring information of public interest to the light of day, and it has had an immense impact on his mental and physical health.”

“But we are dismayed that the judge showed no concern for press freedom in any of her comments today, and effectively accepted the U.S.  arguments that journalists can be prosecuted for exposing war crimes and other government secrets, and for protecting their sources,” Strom added. “The stories for which he was being prosecuted were published by WikiLeaks a decade ago and revealed war crimes and other shameful actions by the United States government. They were clearly in the public interest. The case against Assange has always been politically motivated with the intent of curtailing free speech, criminalisingjournalism and sending a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished if they step out of line.”

Indeed, the ruling today was a huge relief for Assange, his family, and for all his supporters around the world. But it wasn’t justice.

“It’s good to hear that court has ruled against the extradition of Julian Assange but I am wary of the fact it’s on mental health grounds,” AP’s Joana Ramiro commented on the ruling. “It’s a rather feeble precedent against the extradition of whistleblowers and/or in defence of the free press. Democracy needs better than that.”

“This wasn’t a victory for press freedom,” tweeted journalist Glenn Greenwald. “Quite the contrary: the judge made clear she believed there are grounds to prosecute Assange in connection with the 2010 publication. It was, instead, an indictment of the insanely oppressive U.S.  prison system for security ‘threats’.”

It is good that Baraitser ultimately ruled against extradition, but her ruling also supported the entirety of the U.S.  government’s prosecutorial narrative that would allow for extradition of journalists under the Espionage Act in the future. The ruling is a significant step toward freedom for Julian Assange, but it changes nothing as far as global imperialist tyranny is concerned.

So, the appropriate response at this time is a sigh of relief, but not celebration. The Assange case has never been about just one man; the greater part of the battle, the one we are all fighting, continues unabated.

That said, the message of the empire here was essentially “We totally coulda extradited you if we wanted, but you’re too crazy,” which sounds a lot like the international diplomacy equivalent of “I could kick your ass but you’re not worth it.” It’s a way of backing down while still saving face and appearing to be a threat. But everyone looking on can see that backing down is still backing down.

I think it’s a safe bet that if this case hadn’t had such intense scrutiny on it from all over the world, we would have heard a different ruling today. The empire did what it could to try and intimidate journalists with the possibility of prison for exposing its malfeasance, but in the end, it backed down.

I’m not going to take that as a sign that we’ve won the war, or even the battle. But it is a sign that our punches are landing. And that we’ve got a fighting chance here.

WissenschaftlerInnen fordern europäische Strategie zur raschen und nachhaltigen Reduktion der COVID-19-Fallzahlen

https://www.containcovid-pan.eu/
This statement was originally published in The Lancet on 18 December 2020. Translated versions are available: (…).The reference version is the English one published in The Lancet. Translations are provided for your convenience. Thank you to our volunteer translators. — Your language is not
available? Contact us to provide a translation.


WissenschaftlerInnen fordern europäische Strategie zur raschen
und nachhaltigen Reduktion der COVID-19-Fallzahlen

Authors: Viola Priesemann, Melanie Brinkmann, Sandra Ciesek, Sarah Cuschieri, Thomas Czypionka, Giulia Giordano, Deepti Gurdasani, Claudia Hanson, Niel Hens, Emil Iftekhar, Michelle Kelly-Irving, Peter Klimek, Mirjam Kretzschmar, Andreas Peichl, Matjaž Perc, Francesco Sannino, Eva Schernhammer, Alexander Schmidt, Anthony Staines, Ewa Szczurek


In allen Ländern Europas führt die COVID-19 Pandemie zu vermehrten Todesfällen, belastet die Gesellschaften, ihre Gesundheitssysteme und beeinträchtigt ihre Volkswirtschaften.
Bislang haben die Regierungen in Europa keine gemeinsame Vision für den Umgang mit der COVID-19-Pandemie entwickelt. Es liegt überwältigende wissenschaftliche Evidenz dafür vor, dass nicht nur für die öffentliche Gesundheit, sondern auch für die Gesellschaften und Volkswirtschaften niedrige COVID-19 Fallzahlen von großem Nutzen sind. Auch wenn Impfstoffe helfen werden, das Virus unter Kontrolle zu bringen, ist damit nicht vor Ende 2021 zu rechnen. Wenn wir nicht jetzt entschlossen handeln, ist mit weiteren Infektionswellen zu rechnen, und als Konsequenz mit weiteren Schäden für Gesundheit, Gesellschaft,
Arbeitsplätze und Betriebe. Angesichts offener Grenzen kann jedoch kein Land allein die Infektionszahlen niedrig halten, daher sind gerade gemeinsame Ziele und gemeinsames Handeln essentiell. Wir fordern daher eine starke, koordinierte europäische Antwort mit klar definierten mittel- und langfristigen Zielen. (…)

Der vollständige Aufruf findet sich hier:

No Escape from Our Techno-Feudal World

4 December 2020 

No Escape from Our Techno-Feudal World

By Pepe EscobarPinnull

This article was originally published on Asia Times.

The political economy of the Digital Age remains virtually terra incognita. In Techno-Feudalism, published three months ago in France (no English translation yet), Cedric Durand, an economist at the Sorbonne, provides a crucial, global public service as he sifts through the new Matrix that controls all our lives.

Durand places the Digital Age in the larger context of the historical evolution of capitalism to show how the Washington consensus ended up metastasized into the Silicon Valley consensus. In a delightful twist, he brands the new grove as the “Californian ideology”.

We’re far away from Jefferson Airplane and the Beach Boys; it’s more like Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” on steroids, complete with IMF-style “structural reforms” emphasizing “flexibilization” of work and outright marketization/financialization of everyday life.

The Digital Age was crucially associated with right-wing ideology from the very start. The incubation was provided by the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF), active from 1993 to 2010 and conveniently funded, among others, by Microsoft, At&T, Disney, Sony, Oracle, Google and Yahoo.

In 1994, PFF held a ground-breaking conference in Atlanta that eventually led to a seminal Magna Carta: literally, Cyberspace and the American Dream: a Magna Carta for the Knowledge Era, published in 1996, during the first Clinton term.

Not by accident the magazine Wired was founded, just like PFF, in 1993, instantly becoming the house organ of the “Californian ideology”.

Among the authors of the Magna Carta we find futurist Alvin “Future Shock” Toffler and Reagan’s former scientific counselor George Keyworth. Before anyone else, they were already conceptualizing how “cyberspace is a bioelectronic environment which is literally universal”. Their Magna Carta was the privileged road map to explore the new frontier.

Those Randian heroes

Also not by accident the intellectual guru of the new frontier was Ayn Rand and her quite primitive dichotomy between “pioneers” and the mob. Rand declared that egotism is good, altruism is evil, and empathy is irrational.

When it comes to the new property rights of the new Eldorado, all power should be exercised by the Silicon Valley “pioneers”, a Narcissus bunch in love with their mirror image as superior Randian heroes. In the name of innovation they should be allowed to destroy any established rules, in a Schumpeterian “creative destruction” rampage.

That has led to our current environment, where Google, Facebook, Uber and co. can overstep any legal framework, imposing their innovations like a fait accompli.

Durand goes to the heart of the matter when it comes to the true nature of “digital domination”: US leadership was never achieved because of spontaneous market forces.

On the contrary. The history of Silicon Valley is absolutely dependent on state intervention – especially via the industrial-military complex and the aero-spatial complex. 

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The Ames Research Center, one of NASA’s top labs, is in Mountain View. Stanford was always awarded juicy military research contracts. During WWII, Hewlett Packard, for instance, was flourishing thanks to their electronics being used to manufacture radars. Throughout the 1960s, the US military bought the bulk of the still infant semiconductor production.

The Rise of Data Capitala 2016 MIT Technological Review report produced “in partnership” with Oracle, showed how digital networks open access to a new, virgin underground brimming with resources: “Those that arrive first and take control obtain the resources they’re seeking” – in the form of data.

So everything from video-surveillance images and electronic banking to DNA samples and supermarket tickets implies some form of territorial appropriation. Here we see in all its glory the extractivist logic inbuilt in the development of Big Data.

Durand gives us the example of Android to illustrate the extractivist logic in action. Google made Android free for all smartphones so it would acquire a strategic market position, beating the Apple ecosystem and thus becoming the default internet entry point for virtually the whole planet. That’s how a de facto, immensely valuable,  online real estate empire is built.

The key point is that whatever the original business – Google, Amazon, Uber – strategies of conquering cyberspace all point to the same target: take control of “spaces of observation and capture” of data.

About the Chinese credit system…

Durand offers a finely balanced analysis of the Chinese credit system – a public/private hybrid system launched in 2013 during the 3rdplenum of the 18th Congress of the CCP, under the motto “to value sincerity and punish insincerity”.

For the State Council, the supreme government authority in China, what really mattered was to encourage behavior deemed responsible in the financial, economic and socio-political spheres, and sanction what is not. It’s all about trust. Beijing defines it as “a method of perfecting the socialist market economy system that improves social governance”.

The Chinese term – shehui xinyong – is totally lost in translation in the West. Way more complex than “social credit”, it’s more about  “trustworthiness”, in the sense of integrity. Instead of the pedestrian Western accusations of being an Orwellian system, priorities include the fight against fraud and corruption at the national, regional and local levels, violations of environmental rules, disrespect of food security norms.

Cybernetic management of social life is being seriously discussed in China since the 1980s. In fact, since the 1940s, as we see in Mao’s Little Red Book. It could be seen as inspired by the Maoist principle of “mass lines”, as in “start with the masses to come back to the masses: to amass the ideas of the masses (which are dispersed, non-systematic), concentrate them (in general ideas and systematic), then come back to the masses to diffuse and explain them, make sure the masses assimilate them and translate them into action, and verify in the action of the masses the pertinence of these ideas”.

Durand’s analysis goes one step beyond Soshana Zuboff’s

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism when he finally reaches the core of his thesis, showing how digital platforms become “fiefdoms”: they live out of, and profit from, their vast “digital territory” peopled with data even as they lock in power over their services, which are deemed indispensable.

And just as in feudalism, fiefdoms dominate territory by attaching serfs. Masters made their living profiting from the social power derived from the exploitation of their domain, and that implied unlimited power over the serfs.

It all spells out total concentration. Silicon Valley stalwart Peter Thiel has always stressed the target of the digital entrepreneur is exactly to bypass competition. As quoted in Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World, Thiel declared, “Capitalism and competition are antagonistic. Competition is for losers.”

So now we are facing not a mere clash between Silicon Valley capitalism and finance capital, but actually a new mode of production:

a turbo-capitalist survival as rentier capitalism, where Silicon giants take the place of estates, and also the State. That is the “techno-feudal” option, as defined by Durand.

Blake meets Burroughs

Durand’s book is extremely relevant to show how the theoretical and political critique of the Digital Age is still rarified. There is no precise cartography of all those dodgy circuits of revenue extraction. No analysis of how do they profit from the financial casino – especially mega investment funds that facilitate hyper-concentration. Or how do they profit from the hardcore exploitation of workers in the gig economy.

The total concentration of the digital glebe is leading to a scenario, as Durand recalls, already dreamed up by Stuart Mill, where every land in a country belonged to a single master. Our generalized dependency on the digital masters seems to be “the cannibal future of liberalism in the age of algorithms”.

Is there a possible way out? The temptation is to go radical – a Blake/Burroughs crossover. We have to expand our scope of comprehension – and stop confusing the map (as shown in the Magna Carta) with the territory (our perception).

William Blake, in his proto-psychedelic visions, was all about liberation and subordination – depicting an authoritarian deity imposing conformity via a sort of source code of mass influence. Looks like a proto-analysis of the Digital Age.

William Burroughs conceptualized Control – an array of manipulations including mass media (he would be horrified by social media). To break down Control, we must be able to hack into and disrupt its core programs. Burroughs showed how all forms of Control must be rejected – and defeated: “Authority figures are seen for what they are:  dead empty masks manipulated by computers”.

Here’s our future: hackers or slaves.

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Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Credits to the owner of the featured imageThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Pepe Escobar, Global Research, 2020