March 06, 2012

The Great Depression

From Wikipedia
This article is about the severe worldwide economic downturn in the 1930s.
migrant mother

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century.

In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how far the world's economy can decline. The depression originated in the U.S., starting with the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929 and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). From there, it quickly spread to almost every country in the world.

The Great Depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%.

Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60%. Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as cash cropping, mining and logging suffered the most.
Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. In many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the start of World War II.

How it began
Crowd gathering at Wall St after the 1929 crash .
Economic historians usually attribute the start of the Great Depression to the sudden devastating collapse of US stock market prices on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday; some dispute this conclusion, and see the stock crash as a symptom, rather than a cause, of the Great Depression.

Karl Marx saw recession and depression as unavoidable under free-market capitalism as there are no restrictions on accumulations of capital other than the market itself. In the Marxist view, capitalism tends to create unbalanced accumulations of wealth, leading to over-accumulations of capital which inevitably lead to a crisis. This especially sharp bust is a regular feature of the boom and bust pattern of what Marxists term "chaotic" capitalist development. It is a tenet of many Marxists groupings that such crises are inevitable and will be increasingly severe until the contradictions inherent in the mismatch between the mode of production and the development of productive forces reach the final point of failure. At which point, the crisis period encourages intensified class conflict and forces societal change.
Current theories may be broadly classified into two main points of view and several heterodox points of view. First, there are demand-driven theories, most importantly Keynesian economics, but also including those who point to the breakdown of international trade, and Institutional economists who point to underconsumption and over-investment (causing an economic bubble), malfeasance by bankers and industrialists, or incompetence by government officials.
The consensus among demand-driven theories is that a large-scale loss of confidence led to a sudden reduction in consumption and investment spending. Once panic and deflation set in, many people believed they could avoid further losses by keeping clear of the markets. Holding money became profitable as prices dropped lower and a given amount of money bought ever more goods, exacerbating the drop in demand.
Secondly, there are the monetarists, who believe that the Great Depression started as an ordinary recession, but that significant policy mistakes by monetary authorities (especially the Federal Reserve), caused a shrinking of the money supply which greatly exacerbated the economic situation, causing a recession to descend into the Great Depression. Related to this explanation are those who point to debt deflation causing those who borrow to owe ever more in real terms.


Power farming displaces tenants from the land in the western dry cotton area. Childress County, Texas, 1938.
Two economists of the 1920s, Waddill Catchings and William Trufant Foster, popularized a theory that influenced many policy makers. It held the economy produced more than it consumed, because the consumers did not have enough income. Thus the unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920s caused the Great Depression.
Bonnie and Clyde  (*)
According to this view, the root cause of the Great Depression was a global over-investment in heavy industry capacity compared to wages and earnings from independent businesses, such as farms. The solution was the government must pump money into consumers' pockets. That is, it must redistribute purchasing power, maintain the industrial base, but re-inflate prices and wages to force as much of the inflationary increase in purchasing power into consumer spending. The economy was overbuilt, and new factories were not needed. Foster and Catchings recommended federal and state governments start large construction projects, a program followed by Hoover and Roosevelt.

(*) During the Depression bankers became so unpopular that bank robbers such as Bonnie and Clyde became folk heroes.

World War II and recovery

The common view among economic historians is that the Great Depression ended with the advent of World War II. Many economists believe that government spending on the war caused or at least accelerated recovery from the Great Depression, though some consider that it did not play a very large role in the recovery. It did help in reducing unemployment.

The rearmament policies leading up to World War II helped stimulate the economies of Europe in 1937–39. By 1937, unemployment in Britain had fallen to 1.5 million. The mobilization of manpower following the outbreak of war in 1939 ended unemployment.

America's entry into the war in 1941 finally eliminated the last effects from the Great Depression and brought the U.S. unemployment rate down below 10%. In the U.S., massive war spending doubled economic growth rates, either masking the effects of the Depression or essentially ending the Depression. Businessmen ignored the mounting national debt and heavy new taxes, redoubling their efforts for greater output to take advantage of generous government contracts.

full article here

February 23, 2012

We are all Greek!

Daniel Cohn-Bendit (May 68)  about Greece's financial woes
(English subtitles)

Manolis Glezos being attacked by the police

Helena Smith in Athens, Tuesday 2 August 2011
Manolis Glezos, renowned for his act of defiance 70 years ago, is now a force in Greece's civil disobedience movement - read further

war crime reparations to the Greek people!


Greek battle for World War ll Nazi war crime reparations

-- a BBC video -- here

Germany Should Pay its Long-overdue Obligations to Greece

We petition the German government to honor its long-overdue obligations to Greece by repaying the forcibly obtained occupation loan (κατοχικό δάνειο), and by paying war reparations proportional to the material damages, atrocities and plundering committed by the Germans during World War II.

sign the petition HERE

February 22, 2012

Quotes opinion

"Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization" 

- Winston Churchill

I've chosen this sentence because i think it is one of the biggest problems in our society. 
When some political figure or important/rich person do something wrong, nothing happens. But when a regular person does the same thing, different procedures are adopted. Maybe the rich only have to pay some amount of money, get a good lawyer. For them there're no further problems, while the others will spend, like, 3 years in jail.

The problem in our society is discrimination, the difference with which people are treated.

February 21, 2012

Movie Review: Persepolis

With the beginning of the 2nd term of the English class we initiated a theme that is quite interesting for those who admire everything that is related to Democracy.
There is no better explanation for the democracy’s definition than the actual images that our world provides us every single day.
So in order to better understand this thing called democracy our English teacher presented us a movie (quite incredible I must say), Persepolis.
When I heard that we were going to see a movie that tells us the story of the revolution that happened in Iran in the 80’s my first thought was “I cannot believe that we’re going to see such a boring “documentary””! How wrong I was .
I enjoyed watching that movie because it is just a different way of seeing what happened during a revolution I had no idea about.
The best part of this documentary/movie is that it’s an animated film which is very catchy and easy to understand.

But leaving all this behind we must point out some very serious actions that were made after the movie was released.
For example many Protesters attacked a TV station over the film Persepolis because according to them the movie insulted Islam: “The protesters are angered by fantasy scenes in which God is shown talking to a young girl.”
To be honest I’m very happy that the directors of this particularl movie had the courage to create something like this, something that can explain what happened and what was suffered because of this terrible repression.
Overall I think that Persepolis is a very good documentary/movie and Iwas glad that our teacher showed us something of this size.

So thank you Ana Lima.

February 20, 2012

Democracy quotation

«The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.»
Mahatma Gandhi
To better understand this quotation we need to “dig deeper” in the democracy’s history, we need to know what exactly democracy meant back then in the beginning of this called “Democracy era”.
According to the definition, democracy is a political system in which all the members of the society have an equal share of formal political power ( for example every citizen has the right to vote and thus participate in all the political decisions).
However nowadays we face a completely different democracy where all the citizens are being blinded by the higher property corporation. According to Keith Olbermann, democracy is being controlled by the economical power.
What Mahatma Gandhi said was a very deep and philosophical quotation because as we all know very few of us have the moral value to respect others' opinion. Politicians, for example, as soon as they reach their goals they forget about every single man that saw in them a “light at the end of the tunnel”.
Mahatma Gandhi was completely and absolutely right when he said that democracy does not consist of mechanical things. Democracy is something that comes from within the person’s heart and personality because only then democracy becomes something pure and truthful.
And that’s why democracy can only function when the person’s heart is changed for the better, you have to want it in order to have something beautiful and functional for all the society.

February 09, 2012

Scheduling oral works - 2nd Term

everybody please complete this post! - AL

Milton - theme: the Iceland example
André G. - February 23rd ("Bilderberg")
Inês - March 16th -- theme:
Ellie - March 6th, Tuesday --theme: ''May of 68''
André C. -
Doinita - March 20th, Tuesday ("Illuminati")
Francisco -
João -
Mónica -
Ruben -
Tiago -

February 06, 2012

Movie Review Persepolis

Persepolis is a movie about a girl’s relationship with her country. Through the movie, we see how the extremely severe and rigid political measures of Iran's government influenced so many lives (Marjane Satrapi’s included) and how the same people handled them.

One of the aspects that I found very interesting about this film was the relationship of Marjane with the different members of her family, especially the one involving her Uncle Anouche. This one defined a great part of her personality when she grew up.That relationship also introduced Marjane to Marxism and made her understand the importance of fighting for what you think its right instead of just going with the flow.

In the end, Persepolis tells the recent History of Iran, while also showing us a heartfelt coming-of-age story.

February 05, 2012

Film review // Persepolis

I've missed the first 30 minutes of this film, but still, I've liked it. It is a very interesting critic to the reality of conservative Islamic countries which don't respect Human rights, but specially women's rights. Marjane, the unconformist protagonist in this story, passes through a lot of conlicts in her life like having to move to another country and being discriminated there because of her origins, which have nothing to do with who she really is.

With this film, I could only question myself, why the hell don't those women go away from those oppressive countries? This doesn't make sense...

Arab spring

Just a good site with a very good presentation about my oral work "arab spring"

hope you like it

comentary about Persepolis

I think that the film was very interesting because it shows us another reality besides ours.
Marjane went through several problems like the death of her uncle, her friends, the prohibition of the way she could or couldn't dress and how hard it was to live by herself in a different country.
In my opinion, it was also good for the increase of our general knowledge and to foster the discussion of different points of view about several themes.

February 04, 2012

commentary about the movie: Persepolis

The most interesting aspect of the film is that it is fun while exciting. Marjane can tell us of the history of her country in a funny way. In the film we see the difficulties she has to face for being a very nonconformist girl who does not accept everything people say. Her parents decide to send her to Europe so that she doesn't have to suffer the consequences of her way of being .
Marjane wants to learn as much as possible about politics, revolutions, and everything else with her friends, both Iranian and Austrian and refuses all forms of social control, in her adolescence and as an adult, when she finds herself incapable of returning to her homeland, as much of a 'foreigner' there as abroad.

los indignados. Spain

"We are concerned and outraged at the political, economic and social development that we see around us. Through the corruption of politicians, businessmen, bankers ... the helplessness of the ordinary citizen," says the manifesto that called for the mobilization".  These are the reasons why there have been so many demonstrations in Spain and most of the world in recent years.

Usually it is young people who feel outraged, but now with the support of some old people as well. These people all have something in common, they protest because they are discontent with the situation of the country, and demonstrations are a way to show their displeasure.

watch this video about cities in China that are completely empty. images from google earth

China: Ciudades Fantasma - same video (Spanish version) as the one posted here before and previously discussed in class ..not much of a contribution, is it, Ruben? ..

Famous quotes on democracy

"Without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure."
Ronald Reagan
See, this is the problem in the U.S. and the entire world, religion should not be linked with politics. If democracy is God's job, how can someone explain that democracy has not arrived to every country by now? God is not responsible for the strength of democracy, people are, and some of you may think that God guides us but he doesn't control us, because if he did there would be no religions. He would just make us believe in him. Anyway, the equal treatment for every people in the world depends on us and not on some entity that has never even showed up  here...

Film Review // Land of plenty

The film "Land of Plenty" from the director Wim Wenders is based on an ambiguous issue, the United States from Bush era, and I say ambiguous because it is an interesting issue to dissect, the American paranoia about terrorism and the attack to those who fit the "terrorist stereotype", but the way that this director (or maybe the script writer) treated this made the film a little bit boring at some point.

It touches a very sensitive point, religion. The United States are ruled by "the words of God", presidents have to pledge allegiance with the right hand on a Bible and they even have written "In God we trust" in every money bill, so they are apparently a very religious country. And this film shows that contradiction on American society, the Christian Fundamentalism. Christians pretend to show that they love their next but at some point in the Bible is written something like - Those who work on Saturday should be killed - but this is something I just heard, I don't have time to read that best-seller.

Anyway, in conclusion, this film shows that, although Americans preach love and compassion for their next, they are very sellective and don't have second thoughts when they see someone who "looks" like a terrorist and misjudge him immediately.