Despite never having read a word he’d written I was fascinated by what I thought he stood for.
On n’est pas ici pour répondre a ces conneries.
Above is a translation of what Debord is said to have said at a Situationist International Meeting at the ICA in London in 1960.
This was upon being asked to explain Situationism.
He had apparently only just told the crowd that the only thing he wanted people to take away from the event was that Situationism itself didn’t really mean a thing.
The exact words he is said to have used are : “we’re not here to answer cuntish questions”
Which could equally have been translated as ‘this is pointless.’
On n’est pas ici pour répondre a ces conneries sounds far more colloquial to the French than cuntish questions sounds to English ears.
But ever since I first heard it, I have always liked the sound of cuntish questions. It’s what I originally wanted to call this website. I only backed out when I picked up on the negative reactions it sometimes causes.
As a person who sends out the occasional Freedom of Information request to the government I have some issues with boundaries and might be described by some as a person who asks difficult sometimes cuntish questions.
Given that my questions have yielded such limited results — however simply they’ve been put — I am now convinced that every question I ask contains an element of cuntishness.
But is this fair? Are my questions really cuntish or merely deemed as such by those who have something to hide?
The Spanish use the term coñazo which references female genitalia but in practice signifies unnecessary hassle.
Is all this negativity just down to patriarchy in western language?
I’m not the first person in the world to muse on the meaning of cuntishness. Is it purely Phatic or does it mask something sinister?
In France women use the word putain and pute all the time. C’est completement normale. Though the word actually means whore in French — in London it is synonymous with the words damn and fuck.
Speaking of ‘Putains’, one of my favourite French films from the 60’s and 70’s period is La Maman et La Putain starring Jean-Pierre Leaud who made several films with Francois Truffaut.
The director, Jean Eustache, like Debord, shot himself.
This is Debord’s film The Society of the Spectacle.
It was a huge influence on Koyaanisqatsi which you can watch backwards and read Debord’s name in the Credits here:
What is Debord’s legacy today?
This is a hard one for me to answer.
Debord’s wife is just as much if not a greater intellectual than him.
Alice Becker-Ho has written on linguistics and the etymology and semantics of slang and jargon.
The Tarnac case and the Invisible Committee are also part of Debord’s legacy. A left wing part Jewish anti-fascist anti capitalist anti-government group, the fact that the members are mainly if not all white and not Arab has had French Authorities nervous and overreacting for some years now.
The Film version of the Tarnac Affaire is called Le Grand Jeu
Here are some old links to books and articles about Debord:
This gave the Manchester Metro Mayor the right to divert funds away from GPs & hospitals and spend it on Social Care instead — as of April 1st this year.
George Osborne has stated he wants all UK cities to follow the same model.
John McDonnell has referred to this as ‘outsourcing the cuts’.
Campaigners are asking whether Osborne will allow Sadiq Khan the chance to do in London what the Chancellor is advocating for every other UK city.
Khan’s campaign team were asked to address this matter in November:
a. Do you believe the entire Health Budget for London should be devolved to the Mayor’s portfolio — or do you believe there are some things which should remain the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Health, DCLG, DWP or local council?
b. Please could you state which aspects of the Health Budget & Other Health-related responsibilities such as for example Land Ownership you think ought to be devolved to the Mayor, and which aspects retained by the relevant Secretary of State or local council?
Despite reminders and assurances they never responded.
The sudden flourishing of century bonds appears to be led by investors, with both Belgium and Ireland’s €100m, 100-year bonds arranged by Goldman Sachs and Nomura at the request of investors, with some suspecting the buyer is a single European insurer.
Funny how no-one knows who bought the bonds.
If you or your pension fund buy a 100 year bond for 2.3% like these Irish or Belgian Bonds then you’re heavily exposed to inflation and interest rate rises over the next 100 years.
It’s ok for large companies who can now borrow cheaply. But what about everyone else?
Maybe we should ask Larry Fink. This is taken from Robin Wigglesworth‘s piece on Negative Rates / Yields.
The swelling universe of negative yielding sovereign debt was dragging down yields globally, including in the US where negative central bank interest rates remain unlikely. That was keeping government and corporate borrowing costs subdued, but at the cost of savers and investors, Larry Fink, the head of BlackRock, recently said.
“There has been plenty of discussion about how the extended period of low interest rates has contributed to inflation in asset prices,” Mr Fink wrote in his latest annual letter to investors. “Not nearly enough attention has been paid to the toll these low rates — and now negative rates — are taking on the ability of investors to save and plan for the future.”
The following piece by Eric Platt looks at the data for negative yields and the psychology of investors looking for long term returns. There are fewer and fewer places for them to go. Either they have to lower their standards or lobby for longer bonds.
It’s by Emran Mian — Director of the neo-liberal Social Market Foundation think tank.
He makes some good points about growing up as a minority in a segregated society and what made him stop hating Jews.
Mian’s defence of liberalism sat well with me till I read that he had worked for pro-fracking former BP boss and Goldman Sachs board member Lord Browne. They remain on good terms. Mian now heads up an an organisation that lobbies for US-style NHS privatisation. .
Mian’s liberalism has gone too far!!
His journey reminds me of an offensive but funny expression I heard a teacher make at school: “One should not have to bend over backwards to accommodate homosexuals”
I had just heard about Ethereum at a UK Parliament hackathon where UK Civil Servants collaborate with coders to help improve the public’s awareness of public data.
A friendly coder / entrepreneur told me that given my interest in banking and politics I should be tracking Bitcoin — a digital cryptocurrency. I was unimpressed — why would I be interested in Bitcoin?
He then pointed out to me that underpinning the digital currency is a revolutionary technology called Blockchain. I had heard of Blockchain but I had never made any attempt to understand what it meant.
I was told Ethereum were the most innovative of the various players in the blockchain space.
When I looked them up on Youtube that night, I saw Vitalik mention Turing Completeness for the first time and since then I’ve been wondering what it all means.
There is such a thing as Stockholm Syndrome — in which one falls in love with one’s captor.
I wonder if it’s caused by a lack of or an overactive imagination — or by limited options — by scarcity of choice.
After years of exclusion, I don’t know if I will ever be able to explain how I managed to reinsert myself into society, but either way, if you’ll excuse the minor digressions, here is my humble attempt to explain the situation.
When discussing the global economy I find it hard to ignore the key role played by the European Central Bank.
The standard version of events is that Mario Draghi, ex-Goldman ECB Chief, started gobbling up €60 billion of bonds a month as of March 2015 in what became known as ECB QE.
Two years previously in Naples Draghi had told the world that he’d do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the Euro.
This love-letter to the Euro is also known as the Bazooka speech.
€10 billion of Draghi’s monthly QE bond purchases is spent on buying Covered Bonds — also known as Pfandbriefe.
Covered Bonds are supposed to be among the safest products investors can trade on bond markets. They originate in the 18th Century from the days of the Prussian Empire. When you say “Pfandbriefe” to an affluent German she or he nods knowingly and smiles.
Covered Bonds have such a good reputation among savers and investors because :
Covered Bonds can only be issued by banks
The bank requires significant collateral from its borrowers before making the long term loans that back up the covered bonds (asset encumbrance)
In the event of a borrower default, the Covered Bondholder’s claims are first-in-line
Investors are less likely to lose their money as the amount the bank lends is higher than the value of bonds it issues. (over-collateralisation)
Even if the bank goes bankrupt, the borrowers continue to pay off the Covered Bond-holders so no investor loses out. (dual recourse mechanism)
For these reasons, until now, unlike normal bank bonds, Covered Bonds have NEVER defaulted.
This Covered Bond allowed its investors to get exposure to Barclays’s growing structured finance portfolio. Barclays issued more bonds as part of their PFI Infrastructure Funds portfolio.
The amount of effort required to dig into these opaque products was more than I could afford at the time so I decided to abandon my investigations in favour of trying to make ends meet.
But upon hearing that Draghi was buying Covered Bonds in late 2014 I had to get back in the game.
Having worked for Spanish Banks in Madrid during the early days of the financial crisis, I assumed Mario Draghi was buying these Covered Bonds to plug the black holes in South European balance sheets resulting from the exposure to various housing bubbles.
In what was intended to be an act of solidarity with everyone in southern Europe but partly out of curiosity, I sent the ECB a Freedom of Information Request requesting the identities of the banks whose Covered Bonds they’d been purchasing.
That was nearly eighteen months ago now.
The ECB’s initial response to my FOI was a work of art and gave little away. Just like with the Redbridge response, my reaction was one of extreme paranoia:
The lack of a smoking gun is a sign that there is a smoking gun!
I drafted a response which I hoped people might take seriously. But I found it hard to motivate anyone to relate to the issue. When I mentioned it to financial reform campaigners in Brussels they all wished me the best of luck.
But I got the impression I was wasting their valuable time as well as my own.
By buying up all the safest investments Draghi is forcing EU pension funds and insurance companies to take more risk with their clients’s cash.
And with interest rates below rock bottom and oil prices only just recovering this is likely to lead to another financial bubble as investors are having to take more risk in order to make saving worthwhile.
No journalist or newspaper that I have come across is making a big deal out of the ECB’s secrecy.
Even the likes of Yanis Varoufakis and Paul Mason who have seen these double-standards up close don’t seem to be saying anything.
Just as UKIP campaigners have done precious little to inform UK citizens about the workings of trade law and the implications of TTIP, CETA, & TiSA and how these trade deals fit in with Brexit, WTO membership, and the implication all this has upon public services like health and education – they’ve shown even less interest in going beyond the emotional and actually explaining how the opaque ECB operates in conjunction with Brussels.
My FOI appeal is supposedly being looked at by the European Ombudsman and not the European Court of Justice — but I’m not holding my breath.
So why don’t the ECB want us to know which Covered Bonds, Government Bonds, and Corporate Bonds they’re buying?
And why don’t any journalists or politicians want us to know either?
The ECB told me they don’t want journalists and financial markets to misinterpret the revelation of the identities of the beneficiaries in such a way as might have a negative effect on the entities whose bonds they didn’t buy.
They wouldn’t even accept that the people whose bonds they bought needed the money. Just that they didn’t want anyone to speculate on the relationship between the identities of the bond issuers and anything to do with the issuers’s own strength or weakness.
How does all this affect Barclays’s two Public Sector Covered Bonds?
A good question to ask at Barclays upcoming AGM.
And now that Housing Associations have been reclassified as belonging to the Public Sector, does this mean that any Covered Bond that contains a loan to a housing association has been transformed overnight into a hybrid Public Sector Covered Bond?
For now I will content myself with emailing Treasury on Monday to find out what they know about the decision not to regulate LOBOs and Covered Bonds.
Dear Press Office,
I’m a freelance investigator whose research has been used by Private Eye, FT, Evening Standard, The Independent, and Channel 4 Dispatches.
Could you tell me whether :
1. UK regulatory agencies oversee all UK Public Sector Covered Bonds?
2. UK regulatory agencies oversee all LOBOs?
3. UK regulatory agencies reclassified as Public Sector Covered Bonds those Covered Bonds whose collateral is made up of housing association loans?
Perhaps one day I’ll summon the courage to ask Treasury what they think of RBS’s Euro-denominated Covered Bonds and whether they care if these might have found themselves in the line of fire of Mr Draghi’s Bazooka.
The last time I asked them the ECB denied this could ever happen — but I’m not sure if I really understood what they were saying.
Trump must be happy coming across as a remorselessly American buffoon — embodying America’s economic & psychological bravado & its associated insecurity.
Arthur Koestler, in his 1964 book, The Act of Creation, claims the Joker intermediates between the Artist & the Scientist.
Like the child in the Emperor’s New Clothes & Shakespeare’s Fool, Trump freely speaks truth to power.
Trump would like to be seen as the lovable rogue. The hero in a dystopian world. The only sane man left in politics.
He needs just enough of your brain & heart for just long enough to get that vote.
Trump’s stance on trade appeals to disaffected traditionally left wing voters as pointed out by Thomas Frank in this week’s Guardian.
Back in 2011 I came across Thomas Frank’s book Pity the Billionaire — about the rise of the Tea Party. It claims Obama was attacked from the left. That Tea Party populism inspired the righteousness of Che Guevara with the cash of the fossil fuel billionaire Koch brothers.
This strategy was used in Germany in the 30’s when Prescott Bush and the Dulles brothers met with and funded Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.
And it’s being attempted again in Britain today.
Billionaires pour funds into campaigns which claim to look after the interests of hardworking families.
This move by Zac Goldsmith will no doubt come as no surprise to many disabled Londoners. Goldsmith is an example of the clique of multi millionaires in the Tory who don’t just run the country – they own most of it.
And are the same people whose wealth has doubled since 2008 while the rest of us give up everything we have, individually and collectively, to facilitate this. Goldsmith and his cronies peddle the myth of ‘incentives’ and ‘fairness’ while living off public money, inherited wealth and corporate freebies. For the rest of us it’s food banks and payday lenders.
This will harm tens of thousands of disabled people. It will leave many destitute, isolated and without hope. If there is to be any possibility of change, disabled people must take action together and with others to take on this government and their austerity agenda. We must create our own spaces, tell our own story and build a future where we take our part as equals.
Richmond Aid’s CEO, Lucy Byrne has released the following statement:
Byrne would not comment on Goldsmith’s future with the charity.
Cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) come into force in April 2017.
Zac Goldsmith’s Media Team were not prepared to comment.
A parliamentary petition has been set up to reverse the cuts: