May 2011

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On Democracy

Picture: Darryn van der Walt Richard Pithouse - Elections can be of critical importance but they’re not always all that they’re cracked up to be. No one who has lived under a dictatorship or entrenched corruption would ever dismiss the right to vote in a free and fair election as trivial. Elections like, for instance, the one that brought Adolf Hitler to power in Germany in 1932, can be decisive political events. But while Emma Goldman’s famous observation that “If voting changed anything, they'd make it...

Spanish Youth Rise Up: Protests against Austerity Measures

Video Austerity measures in Spain have brought tens of thousands of youth out onto the streets in protest. In an emulation of Egypt's Tahrir square demonstration, thousands of young Spaniards have set up camp in Puerta del Sol, the central square in Madrid where spontaneous protests began a week ago. Demonstrations are also taking place in other parts of Spain. Demonstrators say they will stay there at least until the country's upcoming local elections. The Spanish government is implementing...

Chomsky: When Did America Completely Jettison the Rule of Law?

Picture: truthout.org Noam Chomsky - After the assassination of bin Laden I received such a deluge of requests for comment that I was unable to respond individually, and on May 4 and later I sent an unedited form response instead, not intending for it to be posted, and expecting to write it up more fully and carefully later on. But it was posted, then circulated. That was followed but a deluge of reactions from all over the world. It is far from a scientific sample of course, but nevertheless, the tendencies may be of some...

Risking It all on Walmart's Retail Model

Picture: Brave New Films Khadija Sharife - If recent media reports are correct, Walmart, both the world's largest private employer and its largest company, has threatened to pull out of the R16.5 billion merger with Massmart if the South African government insists on imposing conditions to protect local manufacturers. According to Massmart’s CEO, “It would be disruptive of the competition process championed under the Competition Act to impose local procurement targets on one retailer to the exclusion of its...

The Chinese Model

Video China's economic success has attracted much attention and curiosity about the drivers behind its steady growth. Orvell Schell, Director of the Centre on US-China Relations, describes the Chinese economy as a curious hybrid between certain highly “marketized” sections of the economy and state control. There are big enterprises still owned and controlled by the government, but which operate more or less by market rules. Nevertheless, the state has a great deal more control ability....

Weep Not for Strauss-Kahn

Picture: Parti socialiste Diana Johnstone - French Leftists Should See Silver Lining In a flood of carefully designed public opinion polls, editorials, and books bordering on idolatry, the French communications industry had already settled next year’s presidential election. The loser would be Nicolas Sarkozy, sagging in the polls. The winner would be Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ever on the rise. True, the French Socialist Party had not yet chosen its candidate, and Strauss-Kahn had not yet announced his candidacy, but the party...