Fall of Europe will be a short video documenting the economic history of the European Union (and the Eurozone in particular) from 1995 to 2011. It will be an animated infographic showing the developement of four indicators of country performances:
Balance of Payment
Data will be from EUROSTAT (that’s why I’m starting of from 1995 ) and the animation (as in other cases) will be completely in Blender. I’ll collect links to all articles, as well as the final video, .blend file and related materials in the home page for Fall of Europe on this blog. As a sneak peek, here goes the first test render of the 3D map of the European Union as it is today. Click on it if, for whatever reason, you want to download it.
The base 3d Map of the European Union as of March, 2013
Esiste una élite auto-contenuta e impermeabile che co-ordina la propria attività, la quale prospera quasi esclusivamente in base a sussidi pubblici e a una regolamentazione rigida del mercato che impedisce la libera concorrenza. Non sono le ‘caste politiche’, ma l’intellighenzia del capitale, di cui la classe dirigente è solo l’interfaccia con la classe lavoratrice, poco più di uno strumento. Questa élite predica onestamente la meritocrazia e il libero mercato: e il loro bispensiero è reso possibile e del tutto non problematico dalle entità emergenti di cui sono parte – le organizzazioni note sotto il nome collettivo di corporation. Lo storify che segue è una selezione di articoli che esplorano l’argomento – nel caso foste curiosi.
The military is a bad thing. However you sell it, data show that armed forces today are almost exclusively used against the people they’re supposed to defend; and military cadres are, more often than not, one of the primary threats to whoever’s in charge.
War is a bad thing – any way you put it – and hardly justifiable in terms of benefits for all. Even when you try and fit the adage that ‘war is justifiable only to avoid a worse war’, it’s still very hard to say when this would be the case. Yet the menace of an aggression from outside makes it possible to pseudo-democracies to arm themselves without raising doubts or social tensions, build a credible deterrent to takeover from below and at the same time keep the military warm and comfortable. And loyal.
So it’s no wonder that so much effort (and successful, at that), is put into making war, and weapons, an acceptable option. The strategy is so transparent that beats me how most people buy it – or when they sense the propaganda, they fall to it or just go the length of dismissing it as obvious and innocuous. Anyway.
How much this rhetoric is successful can be gauged by the effectiveness with which it sold the stockpiling of nuclear weapons – weapons with such a devastating potential that their primary use is the very threat of their deployment. Although the global reserves are considerably smaller today than in the heyday of the Cold War, their continued existence is justified on the basis of threaths of the same sort from ‘elsewhere’. These claims are reinforced with an intensity and an effort (also in terms of non military spending) which is only proportional to the extent to which they defy logic.
Consider how the supposed ‘enemy’ seems to be your best ally in this game. A good example is the 200$ billion and 30 years old US missile defense program: it is useless and costly, but also helping Putin distract Russians from his totalitarian drive by picturing Russia as a nation under siege.
Or think of the blatant absurdity of those with the most powerful arsenals who advocate militarization more intensely, against all the evidence – often immediately available to the most casual listener – that the aggressor is not, indeed, the other. The accepted mainstream narrative of the Cuban missile crisis of 1961 is that of an USSR threatening the world with nuclear confrontation (with no apparent contextual reason), being averted by a brilliant and peace-loving Kennedy. Few know – or would even accept, despite evidence available at the time and published since, that it was the other way round. But, at least, the USSR was a credible nuclear power: instead, the way this same tack was followed with Saddam Hussein at its time and Mahmud Ahmadinejad today, portraying them as immediate dangers for the American people is close to ridicule.
Orwell has masterfully described the role of a perpetual military emergency in softening the resistance of populations to intrusion and control. We have for a long time basked in the comfort of being the ‘free world’, whereas the Orwellian dystopia was a representation of life in the Soviet Union or anyway totalitarian regimes, and a warning for dangers that were remote on this side of the Iron Curtain. While we were still thinking this was the matter for intellectual speculation, with the so-called War on Terror we have seen that very strategy unfold before our eyes and become the backbone of society itself in a few months, and with the weakest of oppositions. Since the inception of the Millennium, governments have developed a new taste for the use of paranoia, so for example the UK one wants to extend its surveillance powers despite receding threats, and new, and subtle strategies are being developed to ensnare citizens into acceptance: you are innocent, right? We’ll monitor you so you can prove it. And the tech to take advantage of these opportunities is more advanced and widespread than you might think.
Hypertechnological warfare is a comparatively recent feat, but it is helping solve another propaganda problem: the fact that, no matter how well you have justified your aggression to another state, when you send in soldiers to carry out your ‘humanitarian intervention’, some ungrateful residents shoot back, and people are hit. I mean, your people, the good guys. Some come back in coffins, which is good because you can fold them in your flag and arrange them neatly for mourning. But many more come on wheelchairs and very visible prosthetics. And after a while those at home may begin to wonder. The US is always ahead of the curve in this matters, and is addressing them in two ways.
This rhetoric is today the justification for a big lot of things – and it’s not just passive surveillance, it’s human rights that are at stake: any critical voice can be silenced as that of a potential terrorist. We know about Russia and the Berlusconi fixation with ‘reforming justice’, but you can go for a more chic example with Ethiopia, or consider another unjustifiable Noble Prize for Peace, the one awarded to Europe, despite its daily crimes.
But the dangers of militarization do not end here. In an age of raising class struggle, with the added weight of government control in the attempt of stabilizing the economy, this kind of pressure can backfire. Badly.
So, do you still feel you’ve escaped the End of the World?
Yesterday I went to see 007: Skyfall, and found it to be a very nice flick. Really, I’m ready to accept all the absurdity that goes with a James Bond adventure, and I loved all the action and thrill while suspending, with no remorse, the tendency to evaluate what I was seeing in terms of realism. So I had a very entertaining two hours and a half. BUT I was also, in the background of my brain, thinking of compiling an exemplification of how the movie industry is constantly educating audiences on how to conform to a general attitude of militant submission to capital – in order to expose to the unaware the mass of propaganda we are subject to on a daily basis.
What follows is a huge spoiler, so I have to ask those among my five readers who have not yet seen the movie, and who intend to, to stop here – do it, and (if still interested) come back afterwards.
The whole propaganda thing is nothing specific of 007 in general and Skyfall in particular – and, possibly, I guess that a good share of the authors are not even much aware that they’re filling their work with pro-capitalist assumptions. But in this case I found a tastily circular argument that, if anyone notices, backfires badly. I have no idea if this is a subtle, and in case very British, irony game of the scriptwriters that managed to slip this into the story – in which case I’ll have to devote more thinking to it because they’d be getting very good at captivating unaware audiences.
Anyway, here’s what I mean: M, who is very central to the story this time, is interrogated by a very inquisitive nondescript minister of the British government, who questions the very need for an MI6 after a particularly nasty security breach which resulted in the death of (if I remember correctly) six agents. M delivers the manifesto for government propaganda that we should expect her to deliver at this point, which is the excuse for a lot of post Cold War spy stories, and looks with a bit of nostalgia to the us-vs-them scenario while pointing out that today’s world is much more complicated because ‘the enemy is everywhere, and has no face’ (quoted from memory, probably unaccurately). M watches intently her questioner and closes her speech by asking her: ‘Do you feel secure?‘. She’s talking to all of us who should acknowledge that she’s right, accept on this basis the rhetoric of defense, of a secret war in the name of our safety, and thank M and all those she represents, for their sacrifice.
As to underline her words and prove her right, Silva, the bad guy of the day, breaks into the hearing room, wreaking havoc to it in a shower of bullets. It all would work fine, except that Silva’s there because of M having abandoned him years earlier to imprisonment and torture in China, in exchange for other agents and a ‘peaceful transition‘ of Hong Kong from the UK to the People’s Republic – therefore, technically, dear M, the danger you need public funding to protect ourselves from, si no-one else but YOU. That should have given Lady Minister the final ground on which to cancel MI6 outright, I guess, rather than marking the beginning of the new Bond.
Or, as I said, it is only fitting that it all begins with a deliberate refusal to think.