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A FOCUS ON THE FORCES CHANGING OUR WORLD

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Spain Bans Cash

The Daily Bell

Spain Bans Cash Transactions Over 2,500 Euros … Spain has outlawed the use of cash in business transactions in excess 2,500 euros in order to crack down on the black market and tax evaders. The motivations behind the push for digital currencies is exposed as Spain heads down the road of the Greeks in combating their sovereign debtcrisis. As the government scrambles for every tax dollar it can get its hands on, even though they already gave every Spaniard $23,000 Euros in debt last year alone (approximately $32,500), they are now banning all large cash business transactions. Why? So they can track the transactions and make sure that people and business are paying taxes. Being able to track the transactions is also aimed to combat the growing black market in Spain. – Alexander Higgins’ blog

Dominant Social Theme: This cash has gotta go. It’s evil.

Free-Market Analysis: They are not even making a pretense anymore that the West is run via market economies. As we have long predicted, the phony “sovereign debt” crisis in Europe is being used to justify all sorts ofauthoritarian measures.

It is government pols that gladly borrowed what European banks threw at them. And somehow the upshot earlier this week is that Spanish citizens now lose the right to conduct many transactions in cash.

Spectactularly, the reports such as this one, excerpted above, don’t even both to hide the real point. The Spanish government wants to ensure that it can “track transactions and make sure that people and businesses are paying taxes.”

Of course, anyone who has visited Spain of late knows that the tax burden in Spain is onerous indeed, and is one reason that the truculent tribes that have co-existed uneasily with Madrid are again beginning to beat the drums of secession.

The taxes that the central government levies on small businesses especially are verging on punitive. But there are no apologies. The official position is one of unflinching demands.

It is surely part of a larger meme having to do with a “cashless” society. Just recently the UK Telegraph asked “Is mobile the way we’ll all be paying?” The answer, as can be expected, was a qualified yes, but issued in the predictable upbeat way.

The cashless society has been a much-mooted concept ever since consumer credit cards were widely introduced in the 1950s. Now it seems that “mobile money” is the new gold rush. The term – used to describe the way the mobile phone is used to pay for goods – yields no fewer than 126 million results on a Google search … 

Market research firm Yankee Group believes that global mobile transactions will become a $1trillion market by 2015. While Berg Insight says there will be 894m worldwide users of mobile banking by the same year. Peter Ayliffe, chief executive of Visa Europe, who sits on the Monitise board, believes 50pc of all Visa transactions in Europe will be on a mobile device by 2020.

The top men are beginning to issue their predictions. The march to a cashless society has begun. Perhaps we owe Spain a debt of gratitude for revealing the REAL reason for a cashless society. It makes tax collecting so much easier.

But this is only part of the story. Taxes are certainly to be paid … but the RESULTS of tax payments and the government expenditures they give rise to are seemingly more questionable every day.

In Spain this is certainly evident. The REAL problem that Spain faces as its depression spirals out of control is the infrastructure that politicos built over the past decade. Every small town has bike paths, outdoor parks and other unnecessary public venues that will soon prove, well … unsupportable.

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Filed under News Spain cashless society EU Chile Argentina World Government

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"The Rose Of Fire Has Returned"

CRIMETHINC

In May 2011, tens of thousands occupied plazas throughout Spain in a protest movement that prefigured similar occupations around the world, including the Occupy movement in the United States. On March 29, 2012, a nationwide general strike erupted into massive street-fighting in Barcelona, as participants wrested control of the streets from riot police. How did this come to pass, and what can it tell us about what will follow the occupation movements outside Spain?

Here, our Barcelona correspondent provides extensive background on the riots of March 29, tracing the trajectory from the plaza occupations to the general strike, and explores the questions that have arisen as anarchists face new opportunities and challenges.

The History

“La rosa de foc ha tornat!” This was the expression of excitement on many people’s lips during the general strike throughout Spain on March 29, 2012. While the unions estimated an impressive 77% turnout, it was the fires blackening the skies over Barcelona that everyone talked about.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, when more anarchist attentats and bombings were carried out in Barcelona than in any other two countries combined and dozens of churches and police stations were burned to the ground, the city was affectionately known as la rosa de foc, “the rose of fire.” The period of“revolutionary gymnastics” in the ’20s and ’30s foregrounded the city as a laboratory of subversion for anarchist struggles worldwide, a role that was taken further with the revolution of July 1936. The struggle of Catalan maquis—guerrillas—during the Franco years was the precursor to the guerrilla struggles that blossomed in Europe and Latin America in the ’60s and ’70s; in some cases, it was the vector along which experience and materials were directly passed on. But this history has largely been lost, thanks to the rupture imposed by fascism and democracy, and Barcelona lost its significance on the revolutionary stage.

With the backing of the democratic powers, forty years of dictatorship and repression effectively suppressed the anarchist movement in Catalunya and the rest of the Spanish state. A great deal of pro-anarchist sentiment remained, but this was dissipated when the rebounding social revolution was sidetracked by the transition to democracy in the 1970s. Hundreds of thousands of people were taking the street, hoping to pick up the torch that had been dropped in ’36, but the government played its cards well, the returning CNT played its cards poorly, and democracy carried the day. Since then, the city has been tamed, if not outright pacified, and the rose of fire forgotten.

Fierce neighborhood struggles continued into the ’80s, but these were largely limited to marginalized immigrant[1] neighborhoods and they were calmed by the political and economic integration—or bulldozing—of the slums and shantytowns that gave them birth. In the ’90s, there were several intense squatter and antifascist riots, but the media successfully spun these as isolated phenomena. In the ’00s, social control and pacification made great leaps forward. A new police force trained in democratic policing tactics, the mossos d’escuadra, were introduced along with an insistent public campaign of civic behavior ordinances; in time, the riot disappeared along with street-fighting know-how, the use of Molotov cocktails, and the practice of resisting evictions. The police became untouchable: they only had to charge—or simply draw their batons—to send people scattering.

A combative spirit was still widespread, at least among anarchists, some squatters, and a part of the Catalan independentistes,[2] but the tools needed to express it were lost. In 2007, when police tried to win undisputed control of the streets once and for all by kettling and shutting down any non-permitted protest, the so-calledantisistema[3] halted this by seeking broader alliances, returning to the streets, and emphasizing the contradiction between the State’s attempted power grab and its democratic narrative. This persistence achieved some results, but no one could figure out how to go back on the offensive.

When the economic crisis eroded the public welfare that had guaranteed the social peace, many more people besides the couple thousand antisistema began to take action. Neighborhood assemblies formed, pushed forward by well-meaning reformists, indepes, or closet libertarians, and attracting a few Trotskyists and similar types. The anarchist CNT and the anarcho-reformist CGT, kept in shape by minor labor struggles in a supermarket chain and among the bus drivers, geared up for a battle more worthy of their history.[4] The indepes, irked by years of irrelevance despite strong public support for independence from Spain and reenergized by the emergence of a new political party that has not yet entered government to betray them, also made ready for a new offensive. And the black bloc anarchists, finally ready to take the initiative after years of action-repression-prisoner support, moved from the limited field of clandestine action, antisocial propaganda, and self-organization within autonomous ghettos to a more porous terrain on which the skills they had honed could have greater effects.

Barcelona General Strike, September 29, 2010

The general strike of September 29, 2010 was called by the major unions (CCOO andUGT) along with the smaller unions like the CNT and CGT. But a large part of the organizing was also carried out by neighborhood assemblies, non-union anarchists, indepes, and others. On a national level, it was a success from the union standpoint, achieving majority participation despite being the first general strike in eight years. In Barcelona, it was also a success from an insurrectionary standpoint, precipitating an intense riot in which attacks on agents of government and capitalism generalized. The rioting was largely spontaneous, carried out by many more people than the usual suspects, and reached a scale and intensity not seen since at least the la Cine Princesa riots in 1996.[5] A large number of arrests with serious charges and an intense campaign of demonization via the media conditioned future actions and attitudes. Nonetheless, September 2010 left diverse actors with more strength and social backing.

Banco Español “discredited” after the general strike of 2010

CCOO and UGT immediately went to the negotiating table and traded in a large part of that backing for the privilege of signing on to the Socialist government’s pension reform. Both unions were in true form. UGT had been a major force in hampering proletarian struggles in the ’20s and ’30s; they were the mass organization that gave the paltry number of Stalinists in 1936 the cover they needed to sabotage the revolution. CCOO (Comisiones Obreras, Workers’ Commissions) is the institutionalization of the libertarian communist Workers’ Autonomy movement of the ’70s. When the fascists who became the Popular Party were looking for leftists to invite into government to help them forestall revolution by putting on a democratic mask, they found their men in the CCOO and the newly reformed Socialist Party (PSOE).

On the other side of things, the CGT (a split from the CNT) and the two CNTs(another split) got over their age-old enmity and started working more closely. Squatter and black bloc anarchists also started working together with CNT anarchists or joining the neighborhood assemblies and working with indepes, closet libertarians, and community activists. Widespread isolation, as much the result of a shared social condition as of any particular choices, began to melt away.

In January 2011, these latter groups decided to organize another general strike without the two major unions. Most people regard this second strike as a failure on account of the low level of participation. This frames the purpose of a strike through the quantitative, organizational mentality of a union. The historical significance of the January strike was to demonstrate that CCOO and UGT were losing their hold. It showed that those operating from a more insurrectionary logic could seize the initiative, cause a significant disruption, and communicate radical ideas if they were willing to work beyond narrow affinities and address the immediate concerns of livelihood usually monopolized by reformist discourses. This discovery is at the heart of two tensions that recur throughout the history of the events of March 29. These tensions have to do with how the principle of affinity changes its behavior between times of isolation and times of coalescence; and how immediate concerns are frequently paired with reformist methods, and idealist concerns with revolutionary, methods, creating a false polarization. This will be explored further in the final section.

After January 27, 2011, the next significant date was May Day, when the anticapitalist protest comprised of black bloc anarchists, the CNT, and many indepes marched from Gràcia to the rich neighborhood of Sarrià, where they smashed a hundred banks and luxury stores before police managed to disperse them. May Day 2011 demonstrated the strength of this new encounter between previously segregated sectors of antisistema. People still did not have the power to withstand the police, nor had they regained street-fighting know-how, but they did manage to go on the attack. For years before 2011, black bloc anarchists in Barcelona had been trying to regain May Day as a combative holiday, failing every time despite creative and varied attempts, while the CNT anarchists had been content with peaceful marches commemorating a waning history. The success in 2011 was an important breakthrough. It also revealed a fear that anti-capitalist violence against the rich would resonate widely, as the media suppressed most news or imagery of the protest.bus drivers, geared up for a battle more worthy of their history.[6]

On the other hand, criticisms by some fellow protestors demonstrated that these new relationships would be lost if the hooded ones used heterogeneous, multitudinous spaces instrumentally as a mute and convenient terrain apt for wreaking havoc and nothing else. The specific criticisms were not pacifist, nor were they coming from people who were displeased by the smashing up of a rich neighborhood. They had more to do with who bore the brunt of the repression, who held the line against the police, and who carried out the smashing; or with sticking to joint objectives, or sharing information so others wouldn’t be unprepared for a confrontational situation. Nonetheless, after years of dealing with a broad public rejection of their violence, the more insurrectionary of the antisistema were predisposed to ignore these criticisms.

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Filed under News Anarchy Anarchism Revolution Spain May Day Resistance

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Spain Will Exit The Eurozone First—This Year

In the LiraSPG Scenario “When The Euro Breaks”, I discussed what would happen to the euro and the eurozone when those countries—unable to continue under their massive debt burdens—began exiting the European monetary union. 

One of the assumptions I made was that one of the smaller nations of the eurozone would leave the monetary union first, thereby encouraging one of the bigger nations to follow their example and leave as well. I postulated that the small country would likely be Greece, and that the large country would probably be Spain. 

From this exodus, I analyzed what would happen to the euro vis-à-vis gold and the rest of the world’s currencies—namely, that the euro would suffer a staggered loss of value against commodities and other currencies: An initial drop-and-recovery when the smaller nation exited the eurozone, followed by a sustained drop when the big nation exited the monetary union. 

The Scenario was written and published on the LiraSPG site in May 2011. 

Since then, I have changed my mind: I no longer think that a small country will exit the eurozone first, followed by one of the bigger countries. 

I now think that Spain will exit the eurozone first—precipitously and without warning—and that the impact on the euro will be much more sudden and dramatic than I had earlier thought. 

In this SPG Supplement, I will explain my thinking. First I will discuss the general European situation; then the Greek debacle, and how the European leadership has lost sight of what salvaging Greece was supposed to be about; then the current Spanish situation, how it is unsustainable, and how the new Fajoy government’s only escape—politically and economically—is to default and then exit the eurozone. 

Plus Ça Change, Plus C’est La Même Chose

There has nominally been major changes in the European political situation since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008—which in fact have proven to be minor: To wit, the Italian, Spanish, Irish, Portuguese and Greek governments have been replaced by the opposition, and the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy looks like it will fall in this coming May’s elections. Of the replacement governments, the Italian, Greek and Portuguese are dominated by “technocrats”—that is, austerity hawks that will genuflect to Brussels’ and Frankfurt’s desire for the debtor countries to pay every last pfennig back to the bond holders. 

Excuse me, did I say “pfennig”? I meant “euro cent”. 

I can prove quite easily that the political “change” has been totally cosmetic because the economic prescriptions remain the same: On the one hand, austerity for the smaller countries (Greece, Portugal, Ireland), coupled with surreptitious bank bailouts by the European Central Bank (ECB) via Long Term Refinancing Operations (LTRO). 

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Filed under News Commentary Financial crisis Greece Eurozone Spain Europe Germany IMF

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Peace activists in failed bid to swarm NATO HQ

SOURCE

Police arrest some of 500 peace activists from more than 10 European countries

Hundreds of peace activists on Sunday tried in vain to break into the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Brussels, with 483 of them arrested by police.

The demonstration, organised by the Belgian association Action for Peace two months before a NATO summit in Chicago, was called to protest the alliance’s intervention in Afghanistan and Libya, and nuclear arming.

"No demonstrator was able to enter NATO headquarters," spokesman for Brussels police, Christian De Coninck, told AFP. “We detained 483 people for questioning and all of them should be free in the evening.”

De Coninck said no one was hurt and no damage was reported.

Demonstrators crossed fields and sought to climb over fences leading to the NATO compound, but were stopped by a large police presence, some on horseback, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

"We neither want the anti-missile shield, nor intervention by NATO in Libya or Afghanistan, nor nuclear bombs that are illegal in our country," said Benoit Calvi, a spokesman for Action for Peace.

Demonstrators shouted “No more NATO”, “We want peace now” and “NATO Game Over”.

"A military alliance that intervenes all over the world and has nuclear weapons is a threat to world peace," said Action for Peace.

Some “500 to 600 policemen” were deployed to counter the demonstration, a policeman said.

Demonstrators, most of them in their twenties, were from Belgium but also arrived from Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey.

Those stopped by the police were made to sit in lines with their hands tied behind their back.

In March 2008, about 1,000 peace activists had mounted a similar operation to mark the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. At the time police detained 450 people.

A year later, another attempt to storm NATO headquarters on the 60th anniversary of the military alliance ended with the arrest of 442 people.

Filed under News Chicago NATO Summit Arrests Protest Activism Occupy Police State Free Speech War Arrest Belgium Britain Finland France Germany Spain Sweden Turkey OTAN

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Does International Law Shelter States from Accountability?

by Sharon Weill

 Regrettably, states’ power to protect themselves and to ensure impunity has continued to grow in recent years. This paper discusses two recent examples of this political trend: the far-reaching reaction to Judge Baltasar Garzon’s legal decision not to apply the 1977 Spanish Amnesty Law to crimes against humanity committed during the Franco regime, and the recent International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on state immunity according to which a state is immune from jurisdiction before foreign national courts, even in cases involving civil responsibility for international crimes. It also briefly notes relevant legal developments in the European Court of Human Rights and the US Supreme Court. 

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Filed under News Commentary Geopolitics International War War Crimes Accountability International Law Spain United States Europe International Court of Justice Obama

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