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"Money, women and being a Jew."

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    Posted: 16 May 2011 at 7:42pm

What a Shakespearean tragedy!

Less than three weeks ago, Dominique Strauss-Kahn sat down in a Paris restaurant for an off-the-record lunch with two journalists from the daily Libération. The IMF chief outlined the three biggest personal hurdles in his relentless campaign to become president of France: "Money, women and being a Jew."

France questions itself over Dominique Strauss-Kahn's 'open secret'

Strauss-Kahn also noted that he trailed only Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on a list of 100 'global thinkers' compiled last November by Foreign Policy magazine.

Read more:

This is so surrealistic, one of the most powerful money man belonging to the chosen race has wife and children is arrested and jailed under the charges of raping a west African Guinean immigrant maid in his $3000 per night hotel room...Now sits in a solitary cell at Rikers prison...What a poetic justice!

Edited by Sign*Reader - 17 May 2011 at 10:00am
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May 17, 2011

French Leftists Should See Silver Lining

Weep Not for Strauss-Kahn



In a flood of carefully designed public opinion polls, editorials, and books bordering on idolatry, the French communications industry had already settled next year’s presidential election.  The loser would be Nicolas Sarkozy, sagging in the polls.  The winner would be Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ever on the rise. True, the French Socialist Party had not yet chosen its candidate, and Strauss-Kahn had not yet announced his candidacy, but the party nomination and the election itself were little more than formalities.  Known by his initials, like the International Monetary Fund he currently heads, DSK was the clear choice of the economic powers behind the throne, and was being vigorously sold to the public as “the most competent” candidate.

Since DSK has the luck to face a New York jury, and not the judges at the International Criminal Court, commentators are all stressing that he is, of course, innocent until proven guilty.  Well, yes.  But the scandal has already blown the upcoming presidential election campaign out of the water.

The French Socialist Party has been largely speechless at seeing its supposedly unbeatable candidate shoot himself in the foot before the race even starts.  Conspiracy theories proliferate.  Was this all a plot by Sarkozy?

But Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a minor candidate who is trying to resuscitate the tradition of social Gaullism, says that, contrary to many observers, he thinks the elimination of DSK is a stroke of luck for the left:  “Dominique Strauss-Kahn was a false good candidate for the left and I think that the right would be mistaken to rejoice.  I’ve always thought that there was a sort of phony Strauss-Kahn fad and that he was perhaps the best adversary Nicolas Sarkozy could have…”

Indeed, only a few days before the hotel room scandal broke, DSK was under fire for being photographed getting into a luxurious Porsche – not his own, as it happens, but ironically belonging to his public relations (“communication” these days) advisor. But this was only a reminder that the potential Socialist candidate is anything but a man of the people.  Strauss-Kahn’s luxurious life style is no secret, his hunger for wealth and power every bit equal to that of Sarkozy, and his womanizing reputation has spiced up Paris dinner party conversation for years.  Moreover, he has been credited with a style of womanizing that is not so much the Latin lover stereotype as “a chimpanzee in heat”, according to a young journalist who has publicly recounted how she had to fight him off tooth and nail.

But the real scandal for the Socialist Party is the one it does not even begin to recognize: that it was pinning its electoral hopes on a leading champion of global capitalism, the president of the IMF.  Whatever the outcome of the New York proceedings, the bursting DSK bubble marks the total degeneration of the Socialist Party in France, for reasons that have nothing to do with his sex life.

Thirty years ago, the wily François Mitterrand led Socialist Party politicians to an election victory they are still celebrating.  Initially allied with the French Communist Party, the better to subjugate and destroy it, Mitterrand’s Socialists started out in a blaze of reforms, ending the death penalty, nationalizing enterprises and lowering the retirement age, only to turn around a couple of years later and abandon socialist economic policies as impossible to pursue in the free market context of the European Community (now the European Union).  The Mitterrand era in reality buried socialism, or even social democracy, but the Socialist Party went on calling itself “the left”.  This no longer referred to economic policies favoring the working class but above all to moral issues such as anti-racism and all sorts of vague good intentions.

The Socialists were no longer socialist, without being anything else.

With Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the mere absence of socialism evolved into something much more vigorous: unabashed promotion of global capitalism.  After becoming Minister of the Economy, Finances and Industry in 1997, he totally reversed the early Mitterrand direction, carrying out a wave of major privatizations, turning over French telecommunications, steel, aerospace and other key industries to the whims of international finance capital. This was to be expected from the vice president of the high level "Cercle de l'Industrie", which he joined in 1994 at the invitation of Raymond Lévy, then head of the Renault auto manufacturer. In this charmed circle, dedicated to promoting the interests of industry in the European institutions, DSK hung out with the same crowd of top French capitalists whose company so delights Nicolas Sarkozy.  Indeed, it is only fair to suggest that Sarkozy chose DSK to head the IMF not only, as is constantly repeated, to keep his rival out of France, but also because the two see precisely eye to eye when it comes to international financial policy.

Consistently, DSK opposed the last Socialist Party reform intended to favor the workers, namely the reduction of the work week to 36 hours adopted in 2002.  Having written his doctoral thesis in economics on “human resources”, he has argued in favor of both a longer work week and raising the age of retirement, “now that we live a hundred years”. 

In the wake of the Porsche flap, it is a sign of the degeneration of political life that commentators were writing that DSK needed to change. The fact that he was clearly an eager champion of multinational financial capital posing as a socialist was not the problem; the problem was that it showed. He needed to do something to make himself seem more concerned with ordinary people.  Well, nobody imagined how rapidly that could be done.

There is another way in which DSK would have been a vulnerable candidate for the Socialists.  The PS has often been the party of choice for voters from immigrant communities, but this has been complicated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  All mainstream French politicians are pro-Israel, but DSK went farther than most, writing: “I consider that every Jew in the diaspora, wherever he is, and thus this holds true for France, should contribute to helping Israel.  Moreover that is why it is important for Jews to assume political responsibilities.  Not everyone in the Jewish community thinks so, but I believe it is necessary. […]  To sum it up, in my functions and in my daily life, through all my actions, I do what I can to contribute my modest stone to the construction of the land of Israel” (from the review Passages, number 35, 2007.) This sort of stuff no doubt aroused the enthusiasm of the large Jewish community in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles that elected him mayor.  But it is strange for a presidential candidate to declare that concern for a foreign country is the primary motivation of his political career.

In his comments, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan was the first public person in France to express concern for the victim.  “If the facts are proven, it is very grave, all the more in that nobody speaks of the victim.  If it had happened in France, I am not sure that the police would have dared to arrest DSK.”  Dupont-Aignan deplored the fact that France “will go on having that image of a culture of impunity for important personalities. …  The United States”, he concluded, “has a lot of faults but in such sex cases they have much less of the culture of impunity which prevails in our country.”

Many French will see the prosecution of DSK as symptomatic of American puritanism.  Certainly, this scandal will draw attention to the cultural differences between the two countries, including what it is that causes a major scandal.   Back in the summer of 2004, a huge uproar occurred in France when a young woman claimed to be the victim of a group of young blacks who attacked her on a suburban commuter train because they thought she was Jewish.  Even the President of the Republic joined the chorus of protests against the “anti-Semitic attack”.  It turned out that the young woman had invented the whole story to attract the sympathy of her family.

As the truth came out, Dominique Strauss-Kahn commented that if the incident “turns out later not to have happened as alleged, in any case there have been 20 others that did take place before.” 

This was symptomatic of a “left” that abandoned the working class, while marketing itself as uniquely concerned with moral issues such as promoting feminism and combating racism and anti-Semitism.  It would be fittingly ironic for this pretense to be exploded by the revolt of an abused African housekeeper.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. She can be reached at  [email protected]


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sign*Reader Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 May 2011 at 12:32am
Wall Street and 'aggressive sexuality'

The high stress, high risk environment on Wall Street may lead many bankers to participate in risky sexual behaviour.

My colleague Mike Whitney asks: "What are the chances that Strauss-Kahn will get a fair trial now that he's been blasted as a serial sex offender in about 3,000 articles and in all the televised news reports?"

"Do you remember any Wall Street bankers being dragged off in handcuffs when they blew up the financial system and bilked people out of trillions of dollars?" 

The answer to both questions is certainly a "no" (or a "non", if you're in France), but there is more to the connection between sex and Wall Street. Without commenting on the evidence in the Strauss-Kahn case - which has merely been asserted, not proven - I will expose a deeper context that is being largely ignored.

I call it the "testosterone factor" in The Crime of Our Time, my book about Wall Street.

Interesting, is it not, that there have been so few references to the link between the pervasiveness of salacious sex and the high-charged life of this class of "entitled", wealthy bankers - who live off of others with few rules or restraints?

There is often no news about that, or the practices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); which is often accused of "screwing over" poor and vulnerable countries with unfair structural adjustment programs

It is also strange that there have been so few references to Eliot Spitzer in the media. Spitzer, a one-time "sheriff" of Wall Street, was making a career of denouncing criminal financial practices carried out by the Bush administration when he was suddenly brought down by a sex scandal.

Strauss-Kahn had been well-known in the news as a critic of US banking practices and also as a possible socialist presidential candidate attempting to topple Sarkozy in France. On top of that, he had recently outraged officials in Washington by asserting that the Chinese economy was surpassing that of the US.

In both cases, powerful forces have strong motives to want to bring down potential reformers - by any means necessary. That is not to ignore the fact that in each case the men were - on the surface anyway - obsessed with sex and prone to illegal behaviours that put themselves and others at risk.

Highly sexualised environment

The most likely reason for their behaviour is that they both operated in a highly sexualised environment.

Also bear in mind that part of what intelligence agencies do these days when targeting people is to prepare sophisticated, psychological profiles before they act. They know that knowledge of the secret lives - and kinks - of public figures makes it easy to discredit them, and that much easier to take them down.

Remember Richard Nixon's authorised break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist looking for highly personal information?

Nothing is off-limits to those in positions of power; as people like former weapons inspector Scott Ritter learned when he became embroiled in a police sting.

And when people are highly stressed, they are more prone to making mistakes.

Sex scandals are also a staple of media exploitation with "personal morality plays" displacing political morality confrontations every time.

They are both great distractions and effective tools of character assassination - and often work better than the more violent ways to neutralise people who are considered dangerous.

That is why the FBI was so hot to discredit Dr Martin Luther King Jr with leaks of so-called wire-tapped sex tapes. In his case, this tactic failed, but unfortunately, the other eventually succeeded.

In some cases both tactics are deployed; as in the physical assassination of bin Laden and then the character assassination aimed at his supporters through the release of porn allegedly found in his "lair".

Intense sexual appetites are an almost unavoidable extension of the "culture" of an avaricious financial world. Illegal sex and Wall Street - or La Defense, Paris' financial district - have long been linked, writes Heidi Moore:

"This is all a reminder that the financial district hasn't always been gleaming skyscrapers and Starbucks."

To illustrate this, consider a passage from City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialisation of Sex, 1790-1920: "Adjacent to the Wall Street business district, prostitutes worked in saloons along Greenwich Street, taking men upstairs. In addition, immediately south of Wall Street was the Battery Tender-loin, on Whitehall Street. The Water Street area, however, remained the most significant and poorest waterfront zone of prostitution. Amid the rookeries, rat pits and dance halls, prostitutes exposed in each window to the public view plied their trade."

In the modern era, many of the street’s most macho traders are, according to David Russell who worked in the industry for two decades, known as "swinging d**ks". It is well known that the big money on Wall Street has kept a vibrant, upscale sex industry alive and well.

There has been one scandal after another. Here are a few cases cited by Moore, before Spitzer's demise:

• BP chief executive, John Browne, left both his post at the oil company and his directorship at Goldman Sachs Group last year after it was revealed that Lord Browne had lied to a court about his young male lover, whom he had met through an escort-service website.

• A group of six women sued Dresdner Kleinwort in 2006 for $1.4 billion on allegations that male executives entertained clients at strip clubs and even brought prostitutes back to the office. The case was settled out of court in 2007.

• Canadian hedge fund manager Paul Eustace, by his own admission in a deposition filed in court in 2007, lied to investors and cheated on his wife with a stripper.

• In 1987, Peter Detwiler, vice chairman of EF Hutton & Co, was, according to court testimony, instructed by his client, Tesoro Petroleum Corporation Chairman Robert V West, to hire a blond prostitute for the finance minister of Trinidad & Tobago, who had been supporting a tax issue that would have hurt Tesoro's profits.

• A woman claiming to have been Bernard Madoff's mistress published a book about their secret liaisons. His secretary said he had a fondness for massages in an article in Vanity Fair.

Another indication of the extent to which Wall Street businessmen and bankers are involved in the sex industry is that one crash is said to have brought down the sex industry almost as if it had been a fully owned subsidiary, if not an extension, of the financial services business.

Psychology behind the behaviour

To find out more, I spoke to Jonathan Albert, a psychologist practicing in Manhattan.

He told me: "I see a lot of clients in NYC who are impacted by the economic crisis. People deal with stress in many different ways. Some people exercise, some people over-eat, some use drugs and alcohol, some even sexualise those feelings."

"Sexualise?" I asked him, "How do they sexualise these feelings?"

His response was: "I've seen a lot of Wall Streeters who sexualise feelings of anxiety and stress and depression. So, for example, they might rely on adult sexual services to deal with those feelings."

Loretta Napoleoni, an Italian author, who worked on Wall Street for years, offers a provocative thesis for how the need for paid sex became part of the culture of irresponsibility.

"I can tell you that this is absolutely true because being a woman, having worked in finance 20 years ago I could tell you that even at that time - when the market was not going up so much - these guys, all they talk is sex."

She complemented her personal experience by citing a study by researchers from Oxford University.

"The study discovered that excessive amounts of testosterone, produced in a period of fantastic financial exuberance, creates a sort of confusion. It is what people in sports call 'being in the zone', which means you get in a certain situation where you feel that you will always win. That you are infallible."

I asked Dr Albert if those findings may indeed have been relevant to Spitzer or even be endemic in the industry?

His reply: "I do see this a lot in the finance industry, yes. People in positions of power often feel as if they can perhaps get away with it. There is sometimes a sense of entitlement."

"They feel entitled to take part in risky behaviour?" I pressed.

"High-risk behaviour. It's similar to what they do on a daily basis. They invest millions and millions of dollars and there is a great risk involved with that. The same is true with using the services of a prostitute. Obviously there are great health risks; their relationship is in great danger if they are using the services of a prostitute."

"A lot of people skate on the excitement, on that euphoric rush," Dr Albert asserted.

The culture of risk on Wall Street was intoxicating to many in the same way that gamblers become addicted or report a rush when they are winning.

The euphoria of life in the "fast lane" often implodes when one's luck runs out, leading to depression and family break-ups. Some of Dr Albert's clients coped with the pressure on them by behaving in even kinkier ways.

"...they just want to let loose, relax and take a very passive role in their sexual practice. So they may seek out the services of a dominatrix, where they are at the mercy of this sex worker. I've had clients who seek out services where they get whipped, cuffed, put on a leash like a dog..."

Beating others can also be part of this culture. I am not being moralistic here, but a climate of narcissism and living secret lives often desensitises its practitioners - leaving them little time to think of how their actions may affect others. This could also be linked to their lack of empathy for the people their policies impact negatively.

None of this context excuses anything that Strauss-Kahn may or may not have done, but what it does do is shine some light on a culture of aggressive sexuality that our media is often too hypocritical to investigate.

Danny Schechter elaborates on this issue in his book, The Crime of Our Time, and in a DVD extra to his documentary film Plunder - The Crime of Our Time.

Kismet Domino: Faith/Courage/Liberty/Abundance/Selfishness/Immorality/Apathy/Bondage or extinction.
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