empty shelves in Virgin Megastore at the Champs-Elysées in Paris
Marx's work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of labor and its relation to capital. Over 150 years ago Carly Marx pointed out "Human beings are the producers and consumers - money is only a medium of exchange". Human resource management is a factor, which Capitalist Economic Planners must take into consideration, to improve Economic planning. So how does this work in todays "socialist" France?
This example is easy to understand because it is a modern industry. It is about the Virgin Megastore at 52-60 avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris. The buildings owner was the French insurer "Groupama" who sold the 2 000 m² luxury building 2012 to Qatar's cash-rich Gulf sovereign wealth fund. Yes, you're right, Qatar, this is the sheikdom that is funding rag-tag freedom-fighter-terrorists & al Quaida in Libya, Syria and elsewhere. They don't know a thing about what Carly Marx tried to make us understand.
In 2001 a French financial group bought the Virgin Megastore from Richard Branson who realized that Internet will bring down the traditional music business. In December 2007 Butler Capital Partners announced their intention to mount a majority takeover of the French arm of Virgin from Lagardère. This deal was finalized in February 2008.According to the Lagardère 2007 report, 80% of the Virgin stores was to be sold by Lagardère Services at a value of €76.4 million, and 20% would be kept. Prior to this sale 51% of VirginMega, France's number 2 music download website, was transferred to the Virgin Stores company (sold to Butler), and the remaining 49% was kept by Lagardère. Then in January 2013, Virgin Megastore France filed for bankruptcy. You simply do not need a shop at the Champs-Elysée to sell downloads on Internet.
However all the 180 Employees never ever played a role in this casino business-style. Instead to demand a say, the employees were inspired to demand such a abstruse thing like bringing "culture" to the Champs-Elysees. Well French people are romantic and generous, so for them its not perfectly clear that it is easier to win retirees in rual France for "culture" rather the Chinese tourists on the Champs-Elysées.
"No closure, yes culture," th poor employees where chanting. 80% of staff were on strike, occupied the entire mega store. Of course the call to action was launched by all the unions (CFTC, CFE-CGC, CGT, FO and SUD). On December 19, the Owners of Virgin Megastore, Butler Capital Partners, presented a draft of the termination of the lease of the building at the Champs-Elysees store because the new Qatari owners demanded 2 millioon €uro per year. These new owners, "investors", from sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, "bought the building to do something, we do not know what," and at the EC "it was understood that the store would close, but no one knows nothing about the employees, nothing about the social aspect, "said a FO delegate.
"If shareholders are smart and know how to turn employees, there are things to do, to modernize"a CGT delegate said. If he would have come forward With ideas it could have help. But t generate 2 millions lease is not a peanut. So the employees occupied the building and left as good citizens they are the decision to the court. And the court said now they have to move out after it became official: the Virgin stores are now in liquidation. This announcement came from the Commercial Court of Paris.
This did not come as a surprise to employees of Virgin after the Commercial Court of Paris had already rejected two takeover bids on June 10. According to French law employees have the right to satisfy their claims out of the assets of their employers. Now they are unemployed. This investment Qatar style which brings us back to the per-revolutionary period of feudal France. So the former employees will eat cake instead baguette.
here are some photos...
What Londoners or Parisians would say if their mayor would decide to use the city park in the center of their cities to build another “shopping paradise” and then integrate this facility into his retail chain? And then, what would the people say if they find out that the contract for the construction for this new "consume-palace" was going to the son of the president or chancellor . About 9 month ago I asked myself if Turks are dreaming of a new Ottoman Empire. Since the events on the Taksim square its clear: not the Turkish people, only Erdogan's AKP are dreaming. Their dreams undermine the hopes for Turkey to become an ideal Islamic model for the Muslim world. Erdogan's Syria policy is contra-productive and leading the way that Turkey is becoming the prey of the Gulf monarchies to be swallowed up by their ruthlessness.
This is precisely the case in Istanbul: The mayor of Istanbul wants the "Gezi" park for his private business, just another shopping center which he will then integrate into his already huge retail chain. To give this project a bit an "cultural" outfit a reproduced version of old barracks from the Ottoman period converted into luxury apartments to be sold as residential space for upper middle-class investors, - Erdogan's voters.
Because of this autocratic - neo-liberal "client system" hundreds of thousands of people in Istanbul left their displeasure run free by occupying the Taksim Square. Additionally, the fact that the majority of people in Turkey oppose this so called "logistical support" for al Nursra and al Qaeda terrorists in Syria by Erdogan's government. Many are concerned with Erdogan's attempts to replace the parliamentary system by a presidential system. His term is ending 2015, but he often says he would like to continue “lead” the AKP and the government. All this factors had contributed to the great participation of the opposition in the recent weeks. So it should not come as a surprise that almost 100 journalists had been silenced with imprisonment for “supporting terrorism”.
There is always a reason to visit the book-store Shakespeare & Company in the centre of Paris, but today Alice introduced her latest opus: "Collateral Damage".
Its a book about a timeless theme, the Vietnam war and about all that what comes that war. Its a a "good ole" war, a traditional one from the past, without drones, with cemeteries full of heroes. How come that heroes are actually always ending up on cemeteries?
Since NATO lead war against Yugoslavia we talk about "Humanitarian War". Today behind every soldier is a psychiatrist to save him from mental harm. And we are willing to go for war for Human Rights what we justify as "the responsibility to protect" like its a story from Orwell. So, I thourght its a good idea to look back to the times of Vietnam, so I went Alice's reading of her book.
The book is split into 3 episodes:
1968: Getting Out — When Toby Woodruff is drafted, he tries to find a middle ground between “going in” and “getting out” of the war and nearly loses his life.
1982: If I Should Stay — A Thanksgiving celebration brings out the tensions in the Percy family as they all try to put the 1960s and the war behind them.
1993: Leaving Vietnam — When Vietnam begins to reopen to the West, Sarah Shepherd has a chance to see the world as her brother Walter last glimpsed it.
I wonder how a book in thirty years will be written about Americas longest war, this 12 years ongoing war in Afghanistan. Alice Boatwright's characters of the Vietnam war are as wounded as any soldier suffering from PTSD and struggling with psychic pain like today’s veterans from Astan and Iraq. But while the Afghan mess of today is visible ending into another surrender to the reality on the ground by the world famous self appointed "policemen" the Vietnam Vets have had to manage their survival in a quite ignorant society while today the Facebook generation is faster helping to come over with adventures in remote countries. A book about the errors of Iraq and AfPak, the war chosen to legitimize defence spending without the need of a real enemy, will certainly not be about people but about the fading hegemony of a fading "superpower" That's why Alice's book might be the better choice for those who want to understand that not the human is bad, that its the war which makes humans bad.
Alice's book is titled "Collateral Damage':
Alice K Boatwright
Standing Stone Books, 2012
ISBN: 0983617244, 9780983617242
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