terça-feira, novembro 29, 2011
(originalmente publicado aqui)
sexta-feira, novembro 25, 2011
quinta-feira, novembro 24, 2011
GILBERT (ao piano) Meu caro Ernest, de que te estás a rir?
ERNEST (erguendo o olhar) De uma história notável com que deparei agora mesmo neste volume de memórias que encontrei em cima da tua mesa.
GILBERT Que livro é esse? Ah, já sei. Ainda não o li. É bom?
ERNEST Bem, enquanto tocavas, entretive-me a folheá-lo com algum divertimento, embora, em princípio, não goste de memórias de autores modernos. São normalmente escritas por pessoas que, ou perderam por completo a memória, ou nunca fizeram nada de digno de ser lembrado, o que constitui, sem dúvida, a razão da sua popularidade, pois o público inglês sente-se imediatamente em casa quando alguma mediocridade lhe dirige a palavra.
GILBERT Sim, o público é maravilhosamente tolerante. Perdoa tudo, excepto o génio. (...)
Zooey Deschanel also met The Smiths
E The Decemberists, The Halo Benders, Franz Ferdinand, OK Go, Deftones, Emilie Autumn, Amanda Palmer, Hootie & the Blowfish, Muse, Kaia Wilson, Third Eye Blind, Kate Walsh, The Dream Academy, Josh Rouse…
sábado, novembro 19, 2011
domingo, novembro 13, 2011
Left and Right should join forces against the great euro takeover
'The moment of truth is approaching,” said David Cameron on Thursday. But what is the truth?
In the view of those who run Europe, the truth is that its single currency must be saved. In very ancient Greece, Homer tells us, the giants tried to scale Heaven by piling Mount Ossa on top of Mount Olympus, and then adding “wooded Pelion”, another mountain in those parts, on top of that. They failed, of course, and “piling Pelion on Ossa” became a by-word for reinforcing failure.
In very modern Greece (two days ago), a new prime minister was chosen. Lucas Papademos is not an elected politician. He is the former governor of the Bank of Greece, and it was part of his job a decade ago to persuade the European Union that his country had met the budget deficit criteria which would permit entry to the euro. It hadn’t, but he said it had. Greece joined. Now, partly because of this original fiction, Greece is bust. Yet the answer, strongly approved by the euro-giants, who were disgusted by the earlier suggestion of a referendum, is to pile Papademos on Papandreou.
In modern Rome, it is proposed that Mario Monti succeed Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister of Italy. Mr Monti is sometimes described as a politician, but, again, he does not sit in his country’s parliament: on Thursday, the President of Italy suddenly made him a senator-for-life. He has, however, spent nine years as a European Commissioner. His postal address is Rue de la Charité, Brussels. The euro-giants love him too.
These changes are welcomed by the powerful because they mean rule by “technocrats”. Let’s call in those clever chaps who have already proved they know how to pile Pelion on Ossa and get them to pile up several more mountains, summit upon G20 summit! Then we can reach Heaven at last!
There is, one must admit, a weird logic in this. One reason the eurozone is tottering is that markets know that its members (by which they mean Germany) could produce the mere two trillion euros required to calm things down, but are refusing to do so. The markets are goading them to see if they are serious. They, naturally, would like to prove that they are.
But what I want to shout out, like the man in the hall in an old-fashioned election meeting, is “What about the workers?” So long as the economies of Europe were on a fairly even keel, normal people did not pay much attention to the great plans to reorganise their continent. But now, as the European Commission itself admitted this week, these plans have stopped growth. They are beginning to do so not only in the eurozone, not only in near-neighbours such as Britain, but right across the world. While the trouble persists, no one knows whether to invest in production and trade. The “safe havens” of gilts outside the storm become bubbles, and therefore cease to be so safe. America and China are both making their displeasure felt.
I caught Mr Papademos saying on television that it was only by remaining in the euro that Greece could return to “financial prosperity”. True, you cannot have a sound economy without sound money. But what is emerging in this crisis, as is always characteristic of depressions, is that an obsession with the strictly financial comes into conflict with the broader economic good. Possibly, though I doubt it, Greece and other “Club Med” countries can find ways of staying in the euro. But they will do so – are already doing so – at a punitive cost to their citizens. Every country needs its central banker, but are they and their like really the men for the hour of national salvation? Aren’t they the representatives of the class that has failed?
You often hear Greens complaining about “our obsession with economic growth”. Now that citizens are beginning to lose their wage rates, their jobs, their houses, their pensions, their futures, we shall all be reminded of why that “obsession” makes sense. However badly a country such as Greece has run itself (it has, it has), however much Italy needs “structural reform” (it does, it does), however much every country south of the Rhine may be reprehensibly late-rising, unshaven, garlic-reeking and generally un‑Germanic, they cannot correct their own errors if their debt compounds and their currency is overvalued. The one size that is supposed to fit all is, in reality, the one size that fits Germany.
Our leaders keep saying how vital it is to keep the euro afloat. There can be no doubt that its sudden collapse would have terrifying consequences. But the remedy of throwing more and more troops into the valley of the shadow of financial death may be no remedy at all. The most diligent eurozone workers – and British workers, too, if we are not careful – will end up like poor Boxer in Animal Farm, nobly making every sacrifice for something that cannot be achieved.
There is surely a case here for common cause between Left and Right. Historically, the Left has gained its stature by standing up for the downtrodden. The European Union, and even more the eurozone, is the classic bankers’ ramp against which the Left always warned. Yet, probably because it hated Mrs Thatcher so much, the Left switched to supporting the euro, and thus betrayed the underdog.
The Right originally supported European integration because it would undermine trade-unionised siege economies and fend off Communism. But the euro turns out to be opposed to the competition which is the lifeblood of free markets, and gives privileged status to an alliance of bureaucrats, politicians, bankers and central bankers which then protects itself with the “too big to fail” argument. That alliance now finds perfect expression in the Frankfurt Group. As an exceptionally brave central banker, Mervyn King, said in an interview with this paper earlier in the year: “The concept of 'too big to fail’ should have no place in a market economy.” The euro is very, very big, and very nearly failed. Yes, fiscal union is an answer, of a sort, to the problems the euro has now. But it is surely not the answer that believers in markets should prefer.
Left and Right alike – Left and Right in their anti-establishment forms – should agree that this is not the time for technocrats and Frankfurters. I have a more original idea. How about a few democrats?
The truth whose moment Mr Cameron sees approaching is that since Europe has to be rebuilt, the construction must be revalidated by its component nations and their citizens.When Mrs Thatcher fought against the Delors plan for a single currency more than 20 years ago, her arguments were right, but the tide of the times was against her. Her opponents, above all Helmut Kohl, had personal prestige, and appeared to represent the triumph of a new order to replace Soviet Communism and bury the ghosts of the Second World War. Most people therefore trusted them.
Today, that trust is broken. “Credit” means belief, and belief has now collapsed financially, politically and morally. So, even in Britain, which is mercifully outside the currency, the old government line of “Trust us to sort this complicated problem out in the national interest” is a provocation not a reassurance. The national interest lies in devising a European settlement which our Government is positively eager to put to the British people in a referendum. If our Government sees this, the principles that should guide the coming, inevitable renegotiation will become clear.
quinta-feira, novembro 10, 2011
sábado, novembro 05, 2011
A minha cara-metade
Só não percebi o «independentemente»
O assunto transitou em julgado na salinha de audiências íntima da senhora jornalista. Não nutro (nem deixo de nutrir) a mais leve simpatia por Duarte Lima. Mas com este calibre de isenção, temo que o homem esteja, «independentemente do seu desfecho», mais frito que um torresmo.
sexta-feira, novembro 04, 2011
quinta-feira, novembro 03, 2011
Tão má a emenda quanto o soneto
Depois do Avante ter publicado um inenarrável artigo de opinião de um idiota chamado Jorge Messias, Jerónimo de Sousa veio a terreiro pôr água na fervura. O desagravo foi, apesar da tentativa, uma lástima. Que nos diz Jerónimo? Pois que está tudo bem: as insinuações, pressupostos e extrapolações de Jorge Messias estão correctíssimas, obedecendo a uma lógica infalível. A única salvaguarda que há a fazer, avisa Jerónimo, é não confundir os «israelitas» e o «povo judeu» com o bando dos «sionistas». Os sionistas, segundo Jerónimo, são gente maléfica, merecedora de toda e qualquer crítica. Nada têm que ver com os «israelitas» ou com o «povo judeu». Claro que não, Jerónimo. E o facto de Jorge Messias ter recorrido a um livro cuja teoria esteve na base de tanto ódio e violência em relação aos judeus (dos pogroms ao holocausto), e de achar os Protócolos dos Sábios de Sião um excelente ponto de partida para esmiuçar a urdidura global de certos vilões maléficos, é um pormenor. Só um pormenor. Sem importância, Jerónimo.