Around the Internets

Returning after a brief (forced) hiatus (yay stomach flu) with some links to keep the Tuesday momentum going strong and keepin’ on (after the jump);

Thomas Serres on the racial/gender-based subtext to recent far-right nostalgia for France’s colonialist past:

A few weeks ago, President François Hollande finally decided to recognize the infamous episode of 17 October 1961, when the French police brutally repressed peaceful and unarmed Algerian protesters, resulting in nearly two hundred deaths. In a short and abrupt press release, Hollande paid homage to the victims of one of the most violent manifestations of colonialism in France’s metropolitan territory. This recognition was a symbolic one; the crimes and cultural abuses that occurred during the 132 years of French occupation in Algeria remain unaddressed. The current political leadership is too timid to admit to the brutality and racism that fuels colonial rule. Nevertheless, this timorous sign of repentance (i.e. apologizing for colonial crimes) inspired a remarkable reaction from the French far right.

This reaction is born of an insecurity rooted in a peculiar vision of history. For the far right, France has to defend its pride to remain relevant in a globalized world. In this vision, any recognition of colonial violence is a weakness, a renunciation of power, and a harbinger of a decline that they refuse to accept. This persistent non-repentance is also squarely located in a gender-normative vision of power relations. For them, a “real” (read white) man does not apologize, for an apology implies submission and a loss of virility. This masculinity informs the ways in which French commentators on the far right view repentance, homosexuality, and radical Islam as three inherently related phenomena. Each threatens the dominance of these aging men, who seek to protect their whiteness and virility.

Georgetown law prof (and CCR board member) David Cole outlines the key 2nd term issues for Obama relating to civil liberties — including the social consequences of America’s outrageous incarceration rate:

Because of America’s policy of “mass incarceration,” we are the world leader in per capita incarceration rates. This also means that we have very large numbers of people coming out of prison every year. One of the challenges we face as a community is how to reintegrate these individuals, so that they are less likely to re-offend. Instead of devoting resources to reintegration, we have structured the system to make it more difficult for them to reintegrate. In many states, those convicted of felonies are denied the right to vote, even after they have fully served their sentences. They are often barred from public housing, which often leaves them homeless. They cannot serve on juries. And they are ineligible for a wide range of jobs. Some restrictions on ex-convicts are surely justified, but we have imposed restrictions that go far beyond reason, and these collateral consequences in turn make it more likely that this segment of our community will commit more crime. We need to recognize that no one is as bad as the worst thing they have done, and that we owe it to ourselves to reintegrate offenders into the community–for their benefit and ours.

[...]

Right now, many states spend more money on prisons than on higher education. There’s something fundamentally perverse about a society that does that. I think the federal government can and should play a leadership role in altering the politics around crime, seeking to ensure that we have a fair criminal justice system and that we treat those convicted with a commitment to rehabilitation and community reintegration. Being the world leader in incarceration is not something that we should be proud of.

Hugo Radice on why, contra conventional columnist wisdom, the appointment of new Bank of England head Mark Carney is a victory for the 1% status quo (and thus a shit sammich for the rest of the UK):

For anyone seeking to rebuild the UK economy on a sustainable basis, with due regard for economic security and social justice, Carney’s appointment confirms our worst fears – that the UK financial services sector exists to serve not working people living in these lands, but a global super-rich determined to use the global crisis as a springboard for consolidating their wealth and power.

What the commentariat is wilfully ignoring is the true role of the City of London.  Far from being first and foremost at the service of the UK economy, it is the leading centre for global and ‘off-shore’ finance, a role it held historically before the first world war, and has regained following the 1987 ‘Big Bang’ of financial deregulation.  This explains why the ratio of total bank assets to GDP is so much higher for the UK than for any other country, and why London was the epicentre of efforts to contain the 2008 crisis. It also explains why, despite the lip-service paid by both Osborne and Balls to the goal of restoring lending to UK firms and households, their real priority is to protect the City’s global leadership, and its freedom from tiresome local regulation.  Having all the world’s major banks route so many of their transactions through London created jobs and tax revenues, without the sustained effort required by the renovation of infrastructure and by investments in education and technology. It also provides lucrative post-political careers for the present generation at Westminster (such as Tony Blair). And of course, Parliament’s continued refusal to do anything substantive about tax-dodging and money-laundering adds a good dollop of icing on the cake for London’s financiers.

The new Governor admirably fits the bill for a City of London that puts the global super-rich before the people. His educational and employment record qualifies him as a member of the global political and financial elite, alongside people like Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank and Angel Gurria at the OECD. As well as heading the FSB, Carney is also a member of the shadowy Group of 30[4], which brings together leading current and past ministers of finance, central and other bankers, and selected economists. At the same time, he can present himself as an open-minded social liberal; back home he has made positive comments on the Occupy movement, praising their desire for public debate, and this summer he was invited to speak at the convention of the Canadian Auto Workers’ union.

But do not imagine, for one moment, that Governor Carney will question the present thrust of Osborne’s austerity policies, or the very limited banking reforms proposed by the Vickers Commission, as Mervyn King has done in the last year or so.  On the contrary, it is precisely to avoid any straying in that direction that Adair Turner, director of the Financial Services Authority, and still more the Lib Dem MEP Sharon Bowles, were rejected. Carney has happily served the Tory Harper government in Canada, which since winning an absolute majority in last year’s election has been relentlessly trying to finish the task of destroying what’s left of a welfare state and a public sector.

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