Archive for the 'Denmark' Category

15
May
13

News Today

The Communist Scientist is not of those who preach one way and act another: in other words, I do, in fact, take the bus to work every day. This exposes me to what the Danish Transport Authority thinks are the most relevant Danish news (looped over a couple of minutes: they wouldn’t want you to learn too much). So, let’s see:

1 France’s GNP has gone down 0.2% over last year.
Of course, Danish GNP has gone down 0.3% in the same period. But that is irrelevant: France has an actual socialist government, and had the cheek of proposing an increase in the taxation of millionaires (of course, nothing came of it). They just have to be lambasted, the bloody frogs.

2 The Danish government is going to abolish public access to official documents, which, in any case, was reserved to journalists. The official excuse is that not enough people use it. The access rules uncovered pretty much every scandal in Denmark in the past 20 years; no party mentioned anything about their abolition before the election.

3 The Rockwool Foundation has found out that the “activation” of the unemployed doesn’t reduce uneployment.
Solid piece of research, which has finally determined that educating the unemployed while reducing the total amount of jobs available does not actually increase the total amount of jobs available. Rockwool, of course, implies that the money thus employed would be more rationally used in reducing taxes to Rockwool, something they sorely need in order to keep on moving their production to Eastern Europe.

4 “Experts” are predicting that the Danish candidate will be “in the top rankings” of the Eurovision Song Contest. And if you wonder “What the heck is that”, dear readers, you are not alone: this yearly competition pitting 39 European countries against each other to try and produce the most senseless, amateurish pop is of no interest to almost anybody outside of Denmark, which happened to win it twice (in 56 years), tickling the local people’s obsession for international recognition.

Danes, you who don’t enjoy meaningless conservative rants and inane chatter about entertainers, get used to it: from today on, it’s all you get. From now on, the Fourth Power does not live here any longer: enjoy the music, and have some cheap Cabernet in its memory.

04
May
13

More Capitalist Sincerity

As pointed out before, even the most callous lackeys of capitalism can sometimes be candidly sincere.

Case in point, Bjarne Corydon, one of those social democrats who were elected by a population tired of cuts and “austerity” and who immediately allied themselves with the right wing to continue doing just that. This particular treacherous scumbag has become finance minister, and is one of the main responsibles for the “growth plan”, a fancy name for the usual policy of decreasing taxes for the richest, increasing them on flats, firing as many public employees as possible and eliminating welfare; with new elections in sight, Danish unemployment up about 15% from the introduction of the plan, and a wave of strikes brooding, he admits that we shouldn’t actually expect any growth from the growth plan. At least until the next elections, after which, it goes without saying, he will stop caring because Hell will freeze over before he is allowed to hold another minister position.

02
May
13

Happy Belated May 1

May 1

Happy comrades celebrating May 1, unlike the present writer


In Denmark, May 1 is not really the workers’ day. On May 1 most workers, including the present writer, work: while the least-paid blue collars are actually free, when it comes to the even slightly-better-paid ones, being away from one’s desk on the date is considered High Treason against capitalism, a sign that the absentee is bent on subversion. Such a subversive individual is purged from the ranks of those actually earning a living as quickly as possible. As a consequence, very few among those employed in the private sector in Denmark dare take holidays on May 1; in fact, at least two of my colleagues came back from their holidays for the occasion. I worked almost ten hours, together with another cryptocommunist, and had no time to write a post. I wish all comrades a Happy May 1 now: I wish I could have been at the yearly marches but, perhaps, I do not belong: those who participate, nowadays, are the true proletarians: people with menial state jobs, the growing mass of the unemployed, unqualified manual labourers, and the retired: in other words, those who, in Denmark, have troubles making it to the end of the month (and here is how thankful they are to the prime minister they voted, and who betrayed them). The others are in their offices, under threat of joining their ranks: you’ve got to love the freedom capitalism gives us.

24
Mar
13

The Phone Not Taken–and a Modest Proposal

Something everybody should do once in a while is taking a free day in the middle of the week. The people one meets belong to two main categories: those who have no work, and therefore very little money, and those who have too much money, and therefore need not work. It is the world neoliberalism would have: one of absolute disparities. Retired people, bled dry by Danish prices and property taxes, walk slowly around in old clothes, looking at shop windows; meanwhile, trophy wives in mink furs happily hop from hairdressers to peddlers of foie gras sandwiches, concept furniture, ethnic trinkets, designer clothes and lamps.
Businesses are divided too: there’s the normal and the Frederiksberg type (Frederiksberg is a low-taxation enclave in the middle of Copenhagen where the urban rich tend to live; it has the highest density of this kind of businesses, but they can be found in every fancy area of Denmark). Normal shops struggle to stay open, in central Copenhagen, trying to offset rentals starting from 3000 € a month by selling cheap crap for quick cash some 10 hours a day. Frederiksberg Shops are owned and fully paid for by rich people, and used not so much as a source of income but as a means to claim that they, too, work, and are therefore not akin to the disgusting crowd of the unemployed. They can easily be recognized, aside from the bizarre quality of their wares, by their extremely short opening times. I have seen some open three hours a day three days a week, and hold months-long holidays every year. There is hardly a chance of ever seeing one of them open when I am not at work, namely, after 7 pm and during the week-end.

I had, therefore, never seen this particular shop (which, indeed, is in the heart of Frederiksberg) open before:

POP phones in Frederiksberg

Excess Chinese-made crap


It sells discount designer items–something that, in plain English, translates to “Overpriced, but no longer enormously so, items” (note the price drop from 349 to 100 DKK). Inside, the shop was mostly full of lampshades, but the window showcased piles of old-style telephone receivers for mobile phones. These are, objectively, a good idea: they are a lot more ergonomic than naked mobiles, and they reduce the risk of brain tumours by several orders of magnitude. I was about to buy one when I saw the usual “Made in China” tag. That changed my mind: it is time somebody takes a stand. A stand against underpaid labour, against non-existent environmental regulations, against state-sponsored strike-breaking. It is time, in particular, that communists distance themselves from the Chinese gang that still insists in calling itself a communist party. This is not, however a particularly communist concept: for once, I am asking people to transcend party lines, and to think instead of the bottom line: their employment, and the future of the planet. I would like to have August 8 as Do Not Buy Chinese Day. Details will follow. But spread the word in the meanwhile.

16
Jun
12

Local News, Local Idiots

Nothing much happens in Denmark. The Danish news, which, on TV, run an agonizing length, are sometimes so desperate they end up mentioning things that happen everywhere but don’t usually attract media attention: more people become unemployed, the new reform reduces taxes for the rich  and increases them for the poor, and psychiatric patients are overdosed to death.

These days, however, with Chinese president Hu Jintao visiting the country, the Danish media is in a monomaniacal frenzy: and, together with the endless descriptions of galas, dresses and idle nobility, have come two more irritating pieces, which those Readers who are acquainted with the local language can read directly:

To the idiotic minister’s partial justification, it must be said that she doesn’t just believe that Danish respect for human rights (with the partial exception, mind, of those of the unemployed, the poor and the mentally ill) will just soak through Hu’s skin: she has apparently talked to “members of the Chinese delegation” about the one-child policy and, well, they didn’t change subject. Or hit her.

Even assuming the Chinese members weren’t just smiling politely and staring at Auken’s often-prominently-displayed cleavage, how relevant is the one-child policy to the issue of human rights in China? The answer is, hardly at all. Hu himself violates the policy (he has two children), as does premier Wen Jiabao, along with the majority of the Politburo Standing Committee. The decision of not supporting more than one child per family is no worse a human right “violation” than not supporting any, which most African countries do, or not supporting indigent adults, which Denmark does more and more. Yes, local administrators in China have sometimes committed excesses in enforcing the policy. But, at least, the one-child policy is meant to save China from overpopulation; Denmark, funnelling more and more of the state budget into supporting and promoting motherhood is moving the opposite direction, and could really learn, for once, something from it.

In any case, no: chatting with a Chinese courtier about how one likes children will not stop people filing petitions from being thrown in a basement in Beijing. It will not free Tibet. It will not stop organ harvesting of prisoners. It will not stop the People’s Liberation Army from being called to act upon anyone talking about labour or environment issues. It will not take down the Great Firewall of China. It will do nothing but prove once again that European socialist parties can’t do anything but chat, and then brag about having chatted: if it weren’t sad, it would still be abysmally embarrassing.

Update (25/6/2012): we now have an artist’s impression of Hu Jintao upon hearing Auken’s opinion about human rights in China