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Showing posts from August, 2021

The future of work in Europe

Every moment of transition presents its own complexities: for our class this means that further divisions are sown within it. Such is the present moment — one when different dynamics stack up and intertwine. Past, present and future On the one hand, there is the troubled exit from the pandemic crisis, still under the threat posed by the emergence of new Covid-19 variants. The pause on redundancies has come to an end in Italy. This, albeit partially, would have spared about 520,000 jobs in Italy up until now, according to Centro Einaudi’s estimates [ 25 th Annual Report on Global Economy and Italy , June 2021]. Company closures and staff reductions (in a mixture of arrogance and callousness) have marked the summer months, only to announce a difficult autumn, when the redundancy ban will be lifted also for small businesses and services. However, it is clear how uncertain the workers’ condition remains, regardless of any collective agreement signed, and how necessary it is always to

The Girls of Kabul

F**k that, we don’t have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it. This is what eleven years ago Joe Biden, an advocate of an unconditional withdrawal from Kabul, told Richard Holbrooke who feared for the Afghan women who had been pushed back into the darkness. Today, newspapers around the world are wringing their hands over the bad impression made by the liberal order and its values, and weeping crocodile tears for the girls of Kabul, who have been kicked out of schools and handed back to a dark, reactionary fanaticism. But the commander in chief of a West which claims to be an alliance for democracy has always considered freedom and human rights in Afghanistan to be myths for the deluded, not worth the lives of its soldiers. A hypocritical and impotent Europe has followed him, and today seems to fear only receiving a new wave of refugees. Let us take notes and learn this lesson. The bourgeoisie has written glorious pages, when its revolutions

Speculative Race for Charging Stations

From the series The World Car Battle If at the beginning of the 21 st century electrification had technological limits in batteries, both in terms of cost and range, these are now partly overcome, because electric cars have a range of 240-450 km, more than enough for 95% of journeys of less than 50 km. The major obstacle remains the construction of a network of charging stations and their integration with the electricity grid. The race between China, Europe, and USA UBS Evidence Lab, a team of UBS bank experts working in 55 specialised labs to provide data on investment decisions, predicts that cost parity between electric and internal combustion cars will be achieved in 2024 [ Inside EVs , October 20th 2020]. By then, the development of car electrification will be self-sustaining without government subsidies. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), in its report Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 , estimates that by 2022 carmakers will have 500 different models of electric cars availab

The Chinese Dragon Does Not Wait for American Rearmament

From the series News from the Silk Road According to The Washington Post , through the federal budget the White House has opened negotiations with the Senate that include long-term competition with China. The figures — $6 trillion, including infrastructure and family welfare plans — will vary in the negotiations, and will be centred on three directives. One demand is common to various proposals of expenditure: they must have a positive impact on the American productivity vis-à-vis China on the open fronts of industrial, energy and technological restructuring, or on the efficiency of welfare systems. In the case of welfare, the competition is also vis-à-vis Europe. Another calculation, attributed to Biden’s administration and the Democrats, is the enlargement of the electoral coalition in view of the next mid-term elections. Finally, there is a need to direct military expenditure, within the framework of a greater increase in the other items of discretionary expenditure, not absorb

Digital Monetary Weapons

On August 15 th , 1971 (50 years ago) US President Richard Nixon declared that the ‘gold window’ was closed. The era of the convertibility of the dollar to gold was over, and the system that had been agreed upon by the victors of the war at Bretton Woods in 1944 collapsed: the regime of fixed but subject to periodical reviews exchange rates had lasted a quarter of a century. Jeffrey Garten, Bill Clinton’s former Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade and managing director of the Blackstone Group and Lehman Brothers, is now a historian who has written about Nixon’s decision. He recalls that the turnaround came at a time when the amount of dollars in circulation in the world was four times the amount of gold held in reserve, inflation was rising, Washington was withdrawing troops from Vietnam, and Nixon, the month before, had announced his visit to Beijing, a historic event. In 1959, the economist Robert Triffin had explained to Congress that there were absurdities assoc

Europe’s Imperialist Climate Policy

From the series European News Climate policy is now openly the object of the imperialist contention. The EU, driven by the German acceleration, has set itself targets that impose a fast pace on continental industry: climate neutrality by 2050 and, as an intermediate step, a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. In July, the Commission presented the Fit for 55 package, which details in legislative proposals the objectives of the Green Deal formulated in 2019. A decisive decade The EU plan is initiating a major fight between the powers, the political forces and the large groups. It has set a thirty-year agenda, but the next decade will be crucial, said the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The reform will require a qualified majority in the Council and in the EU Parliament, a process that will probably take two years. The Financial Times reports that France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Latvia, Ireland and Bulgaria have already raised concerns about the

The Defeat in Afghanistan — a Watershed in the Cycle of Atlantic Decline

In crises and wars there are events which leave their mark on history because of how they make a decisive impact on the power contention, or because of how, almost like a chemical precipitate, they suddenly make deep trends that have been at work for some time coalesce. This is the case of the defeat of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan, which is taking the shape of a real watershed in the cycle of Atlantic decline. For the moment, through various comments in the international press, it is possible to consider its consequences on three levels: America’s position as a power and the connection with its internal crisis; the repercussions on Atlantic relations and Europe’s dilemmas regarding its strategic autonomy; and the relationship between the Afghan crisis and power relations in Asia, especially as regards India’s role in the Indo-Pacific strategy. Repercussions in the United States Richard Haass is the president of the CFR, the Council on Foreign Relations; despite having

Crisis of the Order and European Question

The dialectic between economic weapons and weapons of war in the crisis in the world order requires specific reflection where concerns European imperialism. Dealing with monetary weapons in their book War by Other Means , Jennifer Harris and Robert Blackwill place great emphasis on the strategic success of the European monetary federation: Through forging the eurozone, Germany has also realized its century-long quest for a pliant European market for German manufacturing. Both of these were things it had previously tried (and failed) to accomplish by force. The long quotation below is from the speech Helmut Schmidt made to the Bundesbank Council in 1978 in favour of the EMS, the European Monetary System that would lead to the euro. Classified as confidential for 30 years, the text was declassified in 2008. There emerges from it a highly political vision of the German use of the monetary weapon and of the strategic weight of a single continental market: What now concerns German pol