Sunday, November 24, 2013

Petite village, global view

For a small village in the middle of nowhere (ie, not on the outskirts of some large metro area), Argeles-sur-mer offers a steady variety of interesting entertainment and intellectual stimulation.

Yesterday afternoon -- following a sumptuous breakfast (I cooked), leftovers lunch - because we're leaving Monday for Geneva (Donna-Lane cooked), some work time, picking up dry cleaning, ordering some custom picture frames at Annie's shop (D-L gets that blog -, and assorted other fun -- we met up with some American friends, who are sadly returning to California, at the Cinema Jaures, a small, 100-seat theatre about 50 steps from our flat.

The Cinema is having a film festival, and Saturday's offering was “Debtocracy,” an independent film which seeks to explain the causes of the Greek debt crisis and proposes solutions which are different from the 'more debt' and 'austerity' extremes offered by the government and the dominant media. ( The Greek debt crisis, in essence, is a microcosm for the financial crises going on in other nations, including and especially the US. (Don't let the stock market rise lull you into thinking things are fine - there are many warnings of a crash coming.)

The film was mostly in Greek with French subtitles, but I'm picking up enough French words to sort-of follow along.

About halfway through, there was a problem with the DVD in the projection room, so we had an impromptu intermission.

The theatre owner used the gap to introduce a gentleman named Raoul Marc Jennar, a political activist who happens to live nearby in the Pyrenees Mountain village of Mosset, about an hour west of Argeles. After growing up on a farm in France, he came of age at university in Belgium in the late 60s and early 70s, the era of Vietnam War protests and labour strife -- much the same period as me, so it was interesting to compare my American experience with his Euro view.

As a young man, he got in the middle of Belgian politics, then later spent considerable time in Cambodia, ultimately assisting that country's entry into the World Trade Organisation (and is still an advisor to their government today). 

One of his books is Treason of the Elites  in which he claims the European Union - as it has evolved - is actually opposed to what it proclaims. Its institutions are not democratic and transparent, but technocratic and opaque (sounds a lot like what Washington has become, as well). Its policies do not serve the general interest, but financial circles and business lobbies.

One topic he got into was the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership an attempted secret deal by the US and other governments which will basically enable big corporations to run the world, cost jobs in the US, undermine food safety, curtail internet freedom, raise the cost of drugs, and allow Wall Street and banks to experiment with even riskier schemes like the ones that caused the Great Recession and current world economic crisis (from which they were protected by bailouts from your tax money).

The rest of the film was never shown - instead, there was a spirited Q&A between Monsieur Jennar and citizens in the audience. Again, I didn't understand most of the dialogue, but D-L periodically whispered summaries in my ear. 

If you read French,  Monsieur Jennar's web page, blog, etc. can be found at: (The NSA has probably flagged me just for mentioning his name here, so you know his views are worth checking out.)

After the film-cum-dialogue, most of the folks ambled downstairs for drinks, chips, and nuts. The salon also featured some wonderful original artwork (Argeles, as I may have mentioned, is quite an artists' colony, a legacy that goes back to Toulouse-Lautrec and others.)

Then we hopped in Terry and Gina's rental car, and completed our international evening at a Chinese buffet.

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