On democratizing the economy through ownership


“ And democratizing the economy means challenging the most important fundamental of capitalist economics: the primacy of private ownership. In particular, private ownership of capital, of all the things — the buildings, the machines, the tools, the hardware, and the software — that we use to make other things. Without a say in how tools are used, workers themselves become passive tools. Being able to actively participate in decision-making and ownership go hand in hand. Democratizing means taking ownership ”

Michal Rozworski, ‘Democratize This’, Jacobin Magazine

On the huge ‘Car Wash’ corruption investigation


“ Brazil certainly needed to tackle corruption, which has exacerbated inequality and held back economic growth. But was Operation Car Wash worth the pain? It helped to lever the Workers’ Party out of office, and ushered in an administration that appears just as tainted, but far less willing to promote transparency and judicial independence. So many allegations are now stacked up against Temer and his allies that he will struggle to hold on to his presidency until the end of his term in 2018. Petrobras – the national champion of the Lula era – has been brought to its knees, with foreign companies allowed to control production from the new oil fields. Major companies and mainstream politicians have been utterly discredited. Voters struggle to find anyone to believe in. It is not just the establishment that is reeling, but the entire republic. In the long term, many still hope Car Wash will ultimately make Brazil a fairer, more efficient nation, run by cleaner, law-abiding politicians. But there is also a risk that the operation will shake the country’s fragile democracy to the ground and clear the way for a rightwing evangelical theocracy or a return to rule by dictators ”

The Guardian, ‘Is this the biggest corruption scandal in history?’, The Guardian

On Iran peculiar institutional system


“ So, what is Iran? It is not easy to answer this question. Simplifying one can say that Iran is a mixture of two different institutional systems, democratic and dictatorial. Since the 1979 revolution, when the US allied was expelled in Iran and the government of religious leaders led by Rohullah Khomeini, these two institutional systems clashed, trying to win over each other. So far, the more radical conservatives have prevailed, but there are some more democratic thinkers there. Iran’s two major offices today are not part of the same division: Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, is an ultra-conservative, while Hassan Rouhani, the president of the Republic, is a moderate. Even the new president will be elected on Friday with a vote that can be called democratic, although with many limitations ”

Translated from Italian.

Elena Zacchetti, ‘Is Iran a democracy or a dictatorship?’, Il Post

On dark money in politics


“ A multimillionaire City asset manager has pledged to spend up to £700,000 on ousting Labour MPs who campaigned against Brexit. Jeremy Hosking will use his money to ensure that there is as little parliamentary opposition to a hard Brexit as possible. Why should multimillionaires be allowed to try to buy political results? Allowed? That’s too soft a word. It is enabled by our pathetic, antiquated and anti-democratic rules on political spending. Hosking claims he wants to secure the sovereign future of this independent-minded democracy. But there is no greater threat to sovereignty, independence or democracy than the power money wields over our politics (…) The third issue is political funding that operates in a different sphere. It’s not illegal, it’s worse than that: there are no effective rules of any kind. This is the use of dark money that seeks not to influence elections directly, but to change the broader political landscape. Dark money is funding used, without public knowledge, by front groups (…) Why has there been no effective action on climate change? Why are we choking on air pollution? Why is the junk food industry able to exploit our children? Because governments and their agencies have rolled over and let such people make a mockery of informed consent ”

George Monbiot, ‘Dark money is pushing democracy in the UK over the edge’, The Guardian

On the FBI’s islamophobia and disruption of opposition movements


“Until recently, the FBI’s internal documents were rife with Islamophobia. In 2011, Wired reported that FBI counterterrorism agents were being taught that “mainstream Muslims” were terrorist sympathizers, that the more devout they were the more likely they were to be violent, and that Muslim Americans were essentially a population of terrorists ready at a moment’s notice to spring into action. The revelations prompted an internal purge of hundreds of documents, but as recent actions by Bureau agents have shown, it takes a lot more than eliminating such documents to change this mindset (…) The FBI is not and never has been an apolitical guardian of democracy. From its very inception, it has been an agency that mixed the responsibility of serving as a national police detective force with the relentless — and highly political — task of going after movements that seek to challenge political orthodoxy, no matter how minor (…) None of this is to say that the Bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign is all smoke and mirrors, or that we shouldn’t be disturbed by the Comey firing. Trump’s bumbling attempt to potentially shield his administration from investigation is a serious matter. We should all be outraged at his blatant arrogation of power — but let’s not give the Bureau too much credit ”

Branko Marcetic, ‘The FBI is Not your Friend’, Jacobin Magazine

On the EU’s embracement of the neoliberal model


“ All of the southern countries face the same dilemma: the European Union is configured as a major obstacle to any political, social, or economic change that challenges the neoliberal model. The true colors of the integration proposed by the European Union are revealed when any government tries to defend social rights, economic democratization, and popular sovereignty. Then it is exposed as the “Europeanness” of the ruling classes. No government is permitted to challenge neoliberal capitalism with the German state as custodian. To put it more precisely, whereas previously the fear was a military clash organized under the supervision of a US-led NATO, today the coup d’etat comes from the European Central Bank, organized by the troika and reinforced by the German state, always taking the ruling classes of the states themselves as strategic allies ”

Manolo Monereo, ‘What’s Next for Podemos?’, Jacobin Magazine

On why young democracies are often unstable and prone to authoritarianism


“ the problem of consolidating a young democracy is particularly acute in deeply divided societies where structural conditions such as poverty, the high concentration of natural resources or ethnic fragmentation may give politicians a reason to centralize economic and political power, instead to distribute it ”

Ethan B. Kapstein & Nathan Converse, The Fate of Young Democracies (Study)