28 May 2013

The Weakest Link

Spain in the Circuit of European Capital

PAH protester: "I don't fit into your law."

 An elder woman with a yard-long wooden spoon stirs a huge pan of paella bubbling over a ring of blue flame. Wine bottles pop, music pulses from the loudspeakers and the neighborhood gathers around long tables set up in the street. Today – May 18, 2013 – eleven families are celebrating their departure from the squatted building where they’ve spent the last eighteen months. The bank that owns it, Caixa Catalunya, has been forced into granting them five-year leases in other homes left empty by the crisis. This is a major victory for the Platform of People Affected by Foreclosures, known as the PAH (Plataforma de afectados por hipotecas). For the first time, they are rehousing people at a “social rent” of 150 euros per month. It’s a benchmark. The idea is to create new rights from the ground up, in defiance of rapacious economic practice and repressive legislation.

In a country with 27% unemployment, two million vacant housing units and a foreclosure rate of some five hundred per day, the PAH is a rising political force. According to recent national polls, an overwhelming majority finds it more competent to resolve the housing crisis than either of the two main parties, the conservative PP and the pseudo-socialist PSOE, whose ratings have fallen to historic lows. Here as in the rest of Southern Europe, the popping of the real-estate bubble led to a banking collapse, government bailouts, the specter of national insolvency, European rescues, a flood-tide of austerity measures and finally, a deep crisis of legitimacy affecting the entire political mainstream. How that all happened is a revealing bit of history. What happens next could change the course of the global capitalist system.

23 May 2013

Value and Politics

What is "value?" People are aware and argue about "values," in the plural, all the time. Not as many are aware of the fact that value, as such, exists, and that it is actually the deep motivating dynamic of the form of society we call capitalism.

For those interested in the question of value and how it relates to concrete politics, we post the link below. It is a transcript of a panel discussion on that topic that was recently held at the 2013 Platypus International Convention in Chicago, and in which one of the writers from Permanent Crisis participated. It provides a schematic take on some of the underlying theoretical premises of this blog, and of the politics that it is trying, however fitfully, to articulate. If that sounds edifying to you, read on!


03 May 2013

Dynamic stagnation: The most dangerous game

The crisis of neoliberalism has seemingly reached an impasse. On the one hand, predictions of another global economic collapse have repeatedly been proved wrong. Every month or two, a new danger threatens to bring everything crashing down—the US government debt-limit debacle, Italian borrowing rates, the Greek elections, Spanish borrowing rates, the slumping Chinese real estate bubble, a seemingly endless series of huge banking scandals, the botched Cyprus bailout, Italian elections. Every time, the danger passes.

Yet every month also brings predictions that the next round of indicators will finally register a real turnaround in the course of the global economy, or that the next central bank intervention will get the economy going again. The real estate market has recovered! The stock market is surging! Spanish bond rates are down! China is growing! Abenomics is a success!