Thursday, 11 August 2011


The business-woman, Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of the controversial former prime minister, the tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, was chosen by Thailand’s parliament as the country’s 28th prime minister on 5 August.

She is the first female prime minister of the country. At the age of 44, she is also the youngest female prime minister in the world. This comes after the Pheu Thai Party led by Thaksin supporters won the 3 July general elections by an absolute majority. Winning 265 out of 500 parliamentary seats, they have built alliances with smaller parties to form a 300-seat coalition. 

On paper, Yingluk’s government seems stable. It has 60 per cent support in parliament, a weakened anti-Thaksin movement and a lack of support for the military at this stage. But much of the unresolved social and economic dissatisfaction in society could trigger new conflicts. Thailand has gone through many military coups, interventions by the monarchy and the removal of prime ministers through uprisings and protests. All these changes of government have safeguarded the interests of the capitalist class while neglecting the needs of the working class and rural poor. 


Trying to control an anarchic and blind system, none of the measures taken stem the downward spiral

As their system continues to slide into its worst crisis since the 1930s, the frantic efforts of world capitalist leaders to reverse the process are farcical, contradictory and ineffective. “Is anyone in control? Is this a runaway train?” asked a presenter on a British news programme on Monday evening - the day Wall Street crashed by 6% and markets everywhere plummeted.

In a matter of weeks, more than $5 trillion has been wiped from equity market values worldwide – half of that total in the past week. The creditworthiness of the most powerful economy in the world has been questioned. Eurozone leaders are stumbling from one summit to another without being able to solve the crisis.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Capitalism uncovered

BOOK REVIEW : 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism By Ha-Joon Chang

Ha-Joon Chang exposes today’s rapacious capitalism, dominated by finance and driven by short-term profit maximisation. He provides a devastating critique of the ideology of ‘free-market’ economics. But while pointing to fundamental contradictions of the system, Chang draws back from a real alternative. LYNN WALSH reviews 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.
SINCE 1980, ULTRA-free market (or neoliberal) policies have been implemented in Britain, the US and other major capitalist economies basing themselves on the Anglo-American model. More recently, other countries, such as Germany, Sweden, etc, have turned down the same path. The basic ingredients of neoliberal policies are clear: the deregulation of markets, especially the finance sector. Cutting back the state, through privatisation of state enterprises and the public sector. Massive tax concessions to big business and the super-rich. An assault on organised labour and trade union rights. The justification for these measures is that they lead to a more efficient use of resources, with higher growth rates and, ultimately, greater prosperity for all. The reality, as Chang shows, is completely different.