link roundup

Nicholas Shaxson explores the mostly-empty, most expensive residential address in London, One Hyde Park, and how things came to be this way in London:

Hollingsworth notes in Londongrad that the oligarchs he studies became rich “not by creating new wealth but rather by insider political intrigue and exploiting the weakness of the rule of law.” Arkady Gaydamak, a Russian-Israeli oilman and financier, explained his elite view of accumulating wealth to me in 2005. “With all the regulations, the taxation, the legislation about working conditions, there is no way to make money,” he said. “It is only in countries like Russia, during the period of redistribution of wealth—and it is not yet finished—when you can get a result. . . . How can you make $50 million in France today? How?”

Russia’s former privatization czar Anatoly Chubais put it less delicately: “They steal and steal. They are stealing absolutely everything.”

London real-estate agents confirm that these commodity plutocrats dethroned the financiers some time before the financial crisis hit. “I can’t remember the last time I sold a property to a banker,” says Stephen Lindsay, of the real-estate agency Savills. “It’s been hard for anyone to compete with the Russians, the Kazakhs. They are all in oil, gas—that is what they do. Construction—all that kind of stuff.”

Even the Arab money has taken a backseat to the new buyers, says Hersham. “The wealth of the ex-Soviets is incredible,” he says. “Unless you are talking about [Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd] Blankfein or [Stephen Schwarzman], the head of Blackstone, or the head of one of the very big banks, there is no driver from the City of London at these levels anymore.”

Greg Palast was on the Chavez beat, and now circles back around for Vice in order to explain why the Comandante was considered so evil.

John Pilger writes quite a good old-man-rant entitled “The New Propaganda is Liberal. The New Slavery is Digital.”  Old man salute, John! From a young woman…

Today’s “message” of grotesque inequality, social injustice and war is the propaganda of liberal democracies. By any measure of human behaviour, this is extremism. When Hugo Chavez challenged it, he was abused in bad faith; and his successor will be subverted by the same zealots of the American Enterprise Institute, Harvard’s Kennedy School and the “human rights” organisations that have appropriated American liberalism and underpin its propaganda. The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism.” He wrote, “All is normality on display. For [Nazi] goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work [in the White House], planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Whereas a generation ago, dissent and biting satire were allowed in the “mainstream,” today their counterfeits are acceptable and a fake moral zeitgeist rules. “Identity” is all, mutating feminism and declaring class obsolete. Just as collateral damage covers for mass murder, “austerity” has become an acceptable lie. Beneath the veneer of consumerism, a quarter of Greater Manchester is reported to be living in “extreme poverty.”

One response to “link roundup

  1. cool pilger piece, i will begrudgingly join you in old man salute. re: his phrasing of austerity as the acceptable lie. so hey girrrrl, i would love to read what you think about this hilarious/tragic fuck up in cyprus banking/austerity policy from over the weekend. i watched dickheads like aaron ross sorkin and WSJ idiots talk about it like it was Normal Human Behavior for over an hour last night. how insane was that shit? along with the completely weird subtext of all the Russian money that’s involved and how it’s been hoarded/gambled in the last 20 yrs. it almost appeared like the last, coolest, soviet prank on history to expose capitalism as being dumb as hell. i almost wished they could have gotten it through their congress just so heads could literally start rolling. – Sarah

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