This essay first appeared in Public Seminar.
(via Friedemann W.-W. on Flickr)
The process of European unification is undergoing a deep crisis, certainly the deepest since it started at the beginning of the 1950s. In less than a year, the EU faced two major tests — first the Greek quarrel, then the refugee crisis — that revealed its true face: a mixture of impotence, unwillingness, egoism, arrogance and cynicism. It is not a pretty spectacle. No illusions can remain about this entity that, far from embodying the federal ideal, has become an empty shell, an object of shame and deserved sarcasm. Those who still ritually proclaim its virtues are the representatives of a highly discredited political elite who seem to no longer have any culture or values. The more they assert their belief in the EU, the more they disqualify it, even in the eyes of the millions of people who have never felt any sympathy for conservatism, nationalism and xenophobia.
The recent release of the Panama Papers, the largest cache of confidential documents ever released to the media, has given people an unprecedented look into the workings of the financial dealing rooms of the world. The release, from the world's fourth largest offshore law firm Mossac Fonseca, has already implicated many of the world's leaders and lead to the resignation of Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. But, what does this tell us about the involvement of the UK economy in tax havens. In this piece Tony Norfield, author of The City: London and The Global Power of Finance, analysis the connections between the UK and tax havens.
What are the hope for a renewed Social Democracy across Europe? Who constitute the new Atlantic ruling class? How do we combat the rise of xenophobia? And what is the future of the war-torn countries across the globe? Kees van der Pijl, one of the leading Marxist political scientists, takes us through his intellectual and political development since the 1970s, as well as pointing towards the future developments for emancipatory politics in this wide-ranging interview with George Souvlis and Yulia Yurchenko (originally published by LeftEast).
What are the origins of the Nuit debout movement, and what are its political roots
It began with François Ruffin’s film Merci patron! This film tells the story of a worker sacked by LVMH [Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy], for whom Ruffin and his team managed to extract €40,000 from Bernard Arnault — one of France’s top bosses — while forcing the company to rehire him on an unlimited contract! This film is so cheering, and the source of such energy, that some of us said that we couldn’t let this dissipate — that we had to make something of it. Most importantly, we agreed that this could perhaps be a kind of spark. We thought the general situation was highly ambivalent; in many senses gloomy and despairing, but at the same time very promising — saturated in grievances, and awaiting something that might kick things off. The film was a possible catalyst for this. So we organised a meeting one evening at the end of February to debate what we could do using this film, and indeed what it was possible to do at all. Our view was that since the party-institutional game is irremediably fossilised, we needed a movement of another type, an occupation movement where people come together without any intermediary, as in the case of Occupy Wall Street and 15-M [the indignados] in Spain. We got the idea of doing a public showing of the film in Place de la République in Paris, and then to add on all sorts of other things onto that. Then came along the El Khomri bill, which provided our initiative with a powerful complement of élan and, indeed, necessity. So the slogan then became "After the demonstration, we’re not going home." And we stayed there.
This text was written for a discussion devoted to the collective volume Marx & Foucault. Lectures, usages, confrontations (eds. Christian Laval, Luca Paltrinieri and Ferhat Taylan. Paris: La Découverte, 2015), held at Paris’s Lieu-dit literary café on 28 January — and published in Contretemps. Translated by David Broder.
To this day, there have been only a few analyses of the links between Marx and Foucault. The introduction to this volume does mention some, but here we can also see how few there are. This is surprising, for these two authors count among the critical theorists who had the greatest influence in the twentieth century. It would take precise bibliometric analyses to prove it, but there can be little doubt that Marx and Foucault are the most frequently cited references in contemporary critical thought. So one first reason to welcome this book’s publication is that it fills a gap.