Voices from Russia

Monday, 2 September 2013

2 September 2013. Video. Celebrate Labour on Labour Day

00 Free Market Trickle Down Economics at Work. 15.05.13

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In this Labour Day message, Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labour and subject of the upcoming documentary Inequality for All, breaks down what it’ll take for workers to get a fair share in this economy… including big profitable corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart ponying up and finally paying fair wages. McDonald’s and Walmart… pay your employees decent wages! Your typical employee is now earning 8.25 to 8.80 USD (275-293 Roubles. 8.60-9.20 CAD. 9-9.60 AUD. 6.25-6.75 Euros. 5.25-5.60 UK Pounds) an hour. Most are adults, responsible for bringing in half their family’s income. You can easily afford to pay them 15 USD (500 Roubles. 15.60 CAD. 16.40 AUD. 11.40 Euros. 9.60 UK Pounds) an hour without causing layoffs or requiring price hikes. Your shareholders and executives are doing spectacularly well.

28 August 2013

Nick Berning

Move On

http://front.moveon.org/how-workers-can-get-a-fair-shake-a-labor-day-message-from-robert-reich/#.UiTwUBttiyo

Editor’s Note:

We have to end the charade of voodoo economics brought by Margaret “Milk Snatcher” Thatcher and Slobberin’ Ronnie (and reinforced by Shrub Bush). We produce the wealth… we deserve our fair share. If that’s “Red”… so be it, I’m proud to be a Red! Those who didn’t work to produce the wealth, shouldn’t take the lion’s share… and I’m not alone in thinking that way.

BMD

Monday, 22 April 2013

Speaking Ill of the Dead

00 Margaret Thatcher caricature. 09.04.13

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Following the death of Margaret ThatcherBritain’s first and, so far, only female Prime Minister… many in Russia are still struggling to understand the polarised reaction to her death back home. On Facebook, Russian playwright Yuri Klavdiyev praised Thatcher’s achievements, writing, “Rest in peace, Comrade Thatcher. You did for your country a thousand times more than [members of the Russian Occupy movement] have done for theirs”. Yet, whilst tributes poured in from landmark figures across the world, in Britain, the song Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead from The Wizard of Oz controversially reached no. 2 on this week’s BBC Radio 1 music chart. On the day of Thatcher’s passing, the Daily Telegraph announced that, given the volume of abusive messages it had received, it was blocking all comments on any Thatcher-related article. That was besides the street parties and other impromptu celebrations.

By her own admission, Thatcher had inherited a country rendered ungovernable by the influence of the trades union movement. Her solution was stark. Thatcher chose to pick a fight with their most powerful and, in doing so, break the will of the movement as a whole. The resulting 1984-85 conflict between the government and the miners’ unions at times bordered on civil war, with British police forces accused of acting more as militia than as law enforcement. That the government won is a matter of historical record. More subjective is the question of cost. Last week, former miner Darren Vaines told the BBC, “The cut went so deep, people have never been able to forget about it”.

When she came to power in 1979, Thatcher’s monetarist government was on a collision course with a young generation radicalised by the extreme politics of the late 1970s. As the government lurched to the right, the educated liberal opposition would step to the left. Joe Strummer, poster boy of the New Left, wanted to illustrate The Clash’s Cost of Living EP with a picture of Margaret Thatcher’s face and a swastika. Alexei Sayle, firebrand of the early alternative comedy scene, joked, “In the old days, people used to be named after what they made. Carter if they made carts, Cooper if they made barrels, Thatcher if they made people sick”.

Many seized upon the Falklands War, which almost certainly saved Thatcher from an early resignation as her popularity waned, as an example of her political opportunism. To howls of popular protest, Thatcher also resisted sanctions against South Africa, branding the African National Congress a “typical terrorist organisation” and inviting apartheid-era President P W Botha on a state visit in 1984. Elsewhere, Thatcher proposed that the deposed Khmer Rouge retain their UN seat for Cambodia. Even after her removal from power, she continued to infuriate the left, calling for the release of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

Last Tuesday, former Irish Republican Army chief of staff Martin McGuinness felt obliged to urge Republican households to stop celebrating the death of the IRA’s former “Number One Target”. Republican resentment of Thatcher grew throughout the 1980s, after her refusal to consider the political status of prisoners at Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison resulted in the deaths, by hunger strike, of Parliament member Bobby Sands and nine other prisoners.

Mass unemployment, climbing since the global recession of the early ’80s, snapped at Thatcher’s heels as she led the way toward her vision of a deregulated economy. Joblessness in Britain reached record highs not seen since the Great Depression. Dramatic cuts in government spending on arts, healthcare, education, and welfare, plus the deliberate sacrifice of many of Britain’s manually-intensive staple industries on the altar of modernity, further alienated an already-disenfranchised poor. All of this, coupled with the internal machinations of Thatcher’s own Conservative Party, would force Thatcher from office in 1990 amidst yet more riots (this time against her government’s poll tax).

For Russians struggling to understand the response to Thatcher at home, it may be useful to recall the polarising reactions to her Cold War contemporary, Mikhail Gorbachyov. Thatcher’s role in the end of the Cold War is debatable. Paul Dukes, professor emeritus at the University of Aberdeen, said, “Her role in bringing the Cold War to an end was probably not as significant as she and her admirers asserted. At least, the individual contributions of Gorbachyov and Reagan were far greater”. Yet, both Gorbachyov and Thatcher, though lauded internationally, engender, at best, mixed reactions on home soil. Gorbachyov, with his surname a global byword for postwar tolerance, only polled 0.5 percent in the first round of the 1996 presidential election. In a 2011 opinion poll, 47 percent of Russians claimed “not to care about him at all”. A significant 20 percent, reported “active hostility” to the former Communist General Secretary. As Gorbachyov leads the eulogies to Thatcher, he may be watching the dramatic reactions to her death unfold in Britain with one eye fixed firmly on his own legacy.

15 April 2013

Simon Speakman

Moscow News

http://themoscownews.com/international/20130415/191442888/Speaking-ill-of-the-dead.html

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Ken Livingstone: “It’s a Tragedy Mrs Thatcher Ever Came to Power”

00 Margaret Thatcher caricature. 09.04.13

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Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was a fierce critic of Mrs Thatcher when she was in power. The British media gave him the moniker “Red Ken” for his socialist beliefs during her tenure. Thatcher viewed the Greater London Council, of which Livingstone was leader, as a political threat and a waste of money. In 1986, Thatcher’s government abolished the GLC, putting Livingstone out of a job.

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There are two things to say about Mrs Thatcher. Unlike most politicians, who’re spineless, who never want to actually lead, and who wait to see where public opinion’s going, she had beliefs that almost no one in her cabinet actually shared at the time she became the leader of the Tory Conservative Party. However, she ignored them, she drove ahead, and she made the changes that she believed that Britain needed… you have to respect that. I can’t think of any other modern Prime Minister with that degree of self-confidence and courage in their beliefs.

The tragedy for Britain is that almost everything she believed in was wrong, and almost all the problems that assail us today are the legacy of her neoliberal economics… the high unemployment, the collapse of our manufacturing industry. She inherited a nation that had some problems, but she made them infinitely worse… she deregulated the banking industry, she decided to write off our industry, she wouldn’t build good homes for ordinary people to rent, and she’s left a terrible legacy that’ll take a generation to clear up.

She did terrible things, such as abolishing the Greater London Council because she didn’t agree with it; it was the first real rolling back of democracy in a hundred years of British history. It’s very hard to think of anyone in a modern democracy who’d do something like that. The US President always has state governors and mayors critical of their policy, it’d never occur to them to do away with them. That meant terrible problems for London; we had a decade-and-a-half with no leadership. We actually proposed that we should stop discriminating against black people and against homosexuals; we recognised that women had equal rights… hardly insane, but just a bit ahead of its time.

Clearly, [the state funeral] isn’t right. The only politician of my lifetime that had a state funeral was Winston Churchill, who was a decisive force in the defeat of Adolf Hitler. If we’re to think about anyone today, it should be those whose lives she destroyed. We used to have a sound manufacturing industry; she wiped it out. Look at people’s lives… our suicide rates have gone up since the financial crisis; the bankers abused all the freedom that she gave them. We had a country used to virtually full employment before she got in… ever since, we’ve had people and whole communities just written off.

Overwhelmingly, it’s a tragedy Mrs Thatcher ever came to power. I respect the courage of her convictions and the way she led; the tragedy is she led us in the wrong direction.

9 April 2013

Ken Livingstone

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_04_09/Its-a-tragedy-Mrs-Thatcher-ever-came-to-power-Ken-Livingstone-211/

Saturday, 19 May 2012

19 May 2012. A Little Something from RTÉ on Maggie Thatcher… and How the Queen Mum Reacted to Her “Reforms”

In this super cartoon by Martin Rowson from Tribune, Gordon Brown‘s attempting to repair a monument to Margaret Thatcher with plaster. The statue is beyond repair, however, and it seems a hopeless task. An inscription on the base of the monument reads “She Vanquished The Miners And Brought Freedom And Prosperity” (oh, the irony!). A dog cocks its leg and urinates on the step, whilst a chav in a hoodie smokes a joint. The meaning seems clear enough… Mrs Thatcher‘s legacy lies in ruins, despite Gordon Brown’s futile attempts to preserve it. It’s the end of Neoliberal “conservative” laissez-faire capitalism as we know it.

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Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The Gospel according to St Matthew 19.23-24

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A friend sent me a quote from an RTÉ show (no, I ‘m sorry, I don’t have a URL or video link):

According to leaks from the Royal Household Staff, more than once, The Queen and Thatcher had vociferous “discussions” on the PM‘s conservative “reform” policies. Her Majesty… who together with the Queen Mother had political memory and experience reaching back into the 19th Century… sternly argued for strong Trades Unions and social welfare benefits. The Queen Mum especially feared a return to the blight and poverty that these two movements had successfully stemmed. Both queens remembered the poverty of the pre-War time, especially that of the Welsh miners and Scottish urban dwellers. Furthermore, the Queen absolutely felt it was such poverty and exploitation that wrenched Ireland out of the UK and led so many Irish to repudiate the United Kingdom. The secession, in both queens’ opinion, would never have occurred if the necessary political and social reforms had been implemented. But Thatcher’s ideological precursors had scuttled that. And the high price was paid.

If Thatcher’s policies took hold it would be only years, maybe decades, the Queen said, before poverty and unemployment would haunt the land, virulent nationalisms would fester (including in England), and Scotland and Wales, too, would rise against the Union. She was right. Thatcher once howled, “That woman! Thank God, she isn’t allowed the vote. Why, she’d vote Socialist Labour! I just know it! Disgusting!”

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You can have rightwing punks such as Dropout Scott Walker and Miss Maggie… or you can have human beings like the Queen Mum. I’m certain that had he lived on, St Nikolai Aleksandrovich would’ve agreed with Her Highness… NOT Saggy Maggie. After all, he was a ROYAL (and a good example of the breed)… not a grubby counting-house mercantile sort (don’t forget, Saggy Maggie’s father ran a VERY modest grocery shop… it’s the source of her money-grubbing and philistine habits, to be sure). Orthodox people should know that St Aleksei Toth blessed his parishioners to join the Wobblies. So, on two grounds, all decent people should reject the godless nostrums of the Republican Party… firstly, it’s wrong to take bread from the workers and stuff it in the boodle bags of the oligarchs, as the Queen Mum observed. Secondly, it’s right to for working people to band together and fight for their rights, as St Aleksei recognised through his blessing.

God is NOT the Protector and Benefactor of the Wealthy… don’t forget, Our Lord Christ CHOSE to be incarnate in the family of a carpenter… NOT in a lawyer’s family… NOT in a priest’s family… NOT in a landowner’s family… NOT in a merchant’s family… do ponder that. I seem to remember something about a camel and an eye of a needle…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Saturday 19 May 2012

Albany NY

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