Saturday, April 28, 2012

Paralysed Dancer

Dergin Tokmak, a dancer with Cirque du Soleil, is a paralysed dancer. He has no control of his left leg, whilst having limited movement on his right leg. Despite these numerous difficulties that he is faced with, he is able to mystify everyone who watch him dance. A small paradigm of what he can do is shown here. 


Friday, April 27, 2012

Vitamin Pills can create cancer

According to a recent leading study, vitamin pills, which are used by millions of people in order to boost their health, may be harmful with the possibility of giving cancer to the consumer. Scientists claim that taking pills and capsules, for example vitamin D and calcium, do not in fact reduce the risk of cancer. Antioxidant pills, such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E may even promote the disease. 


Scientists from the U.S.A explain, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, that the consumer is mislead by the supplement manufacturers. In the United Kingdom a third of the adult population take some form of dietary supplement most days of the year, whilst the industry is worth £675 million a year. Nonetheless, we should not forget that the best way to get a full range of vitamins and minerals we are obliged to eat a healthy, balanced diet, including a wide variety of fruit and vegetables; hence we shouldn't    be consuming any supplements. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Evolution of the Moon

Although the moon has remained largely unchanged during human history, our understanding of it and how it has evolved over time has evolved dramatically. Thanks to new measurements, we have new and unprecedented views of its surface, along with new insights into how it and other rocky planets in our solar system came to look the way they do. 


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Healthiest Cuisines

According to a recent survey, conducted by American nutritionists involved in health promotions, the 10 healthiest diets were categorised. These are:
1. Greek Cuisine. It is no surprise that the Mediterranean diet has come first, which has always been considered one of the best in the world. It is rich in fibre, lentils, grains, olive oil, leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, omega-3 fatty acids, found in many fish which strengthen the immune system, reduce cancer risk, the risk for heart diseases, diabetes and other diseases associated with diet. According to a research by the University of Harvard, the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with a 25% reduction in risk of death from heart disease and some cancers. 


2. Californian Fresh. It has as its base the enjoyment of seasonal local food, which are easy to prepare. This is a healthy way of eating, being rich in nutrients. 
3. Vietnamese Cuisine. The Vietnamese cooking uses fresh herbs and spices, vegetables, seafood, and cooking techniques that use water instead of oil. The traditional cooking is not based on frying and heavy sauces but on herbs. 
4. Japanese Cuisine. Traditional Japanese cuisine is very healthy, being rich in fruits and vegetables that battle cancer, whilst preparation of the food is crucial, since it is steamed. 
5. Indian Cuisine. Considered one of the richest cuisines, reminding us of certain aromatic spices and tastes, such as ginger, red chilli and masala garam (a blend of cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander and other spices). Researches have concluded that the rates of Alzheimer's disease in India is four times smaller than in America or Europe, due to the fact that the people there eat curry on a daily basis. The tumeric, i.e. the main ingredient in curry, is believed to have anti-inflammatory and healing properties. These are now being studied at the University of California.
6. Italian Cuisine. Its ingredients are what makes it stand out, especially the tomato, olive oil, garlic, oregano, parsley and basil. Traditional Italian herbs provide vitamins A and C. Oil helps reduce cholesterol, whilst it combats diseases related to the heart. 
7. Spanish Cuisine. Many critics applaud the fact that the Spanish eat tapas, i.e small dishes for lunch. Spanish diet consists of fresh seafood, vegetables and olive oil.
8. Mexican Cuisine. Authentic Mexican Cuisine can be beneficial for the heart and for slimming. A study at the University of Utah found that in fact a Mexican diet of beans, soups and sauces based on tomato, helped in reducing breast cancer in women. Mexican Cuisine consists of foods that are digested slowly by the body, such as beans and corn.
9. South American Cuisine. Despite talking about 12 countries here, common food is found in the whole region, including the consumption of fruits and vegetables with cereals. A typical meal found in South America consists of rice and beans, creating a perfect meal rich in protein. However, many countries are famous for their large consumption of steaks, a healthier choice is the ceviche. This mixture of fresh seafood provides a variety of healthy ingredients and spices, some paradigms being coriander, hot peppers, tomato and onions. 
10. Thai Cuisine. Researchers at the University of Kasetsart, Thailand, and Japan's Kyotoalla and Kinki Universities are interested in the effect of soup on the immune system, following the observation that various cancers were lower in Thailand than in other countries. Numerous Thai spices have great benefits; ginger stimulates digestion, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, whilst lemon grass has been used as a medicine to help treat colds and abdominal problems.          

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Space facts

- The summer season on Uranus lasts 21 years, as does the winter season. 
- The sun is 330.000 times bigger than Earth. 
- The names given to the planets derive from ancient deities. 
- During a total solar eclipse the temperature on our planet can drop 6 degrees. 


- All the planets in our solar system rotate anticlockwise, except for Venus which rotates clockwise. 
- About 500 meteorites fall on Earth, however most fall in the oceans or in non-populated areas. 
- Earth orbits the sun at an average speed of 29.79 km per second. 
- Earth will gradually loose its rotation speed, which will result in the extinction of the leap year in a few million years. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Sinking of the Titanic

It has been 100 years since the Titanic tragedy, which despite its romantic and poetic stories in respects to its grandeur and size, it nonetheless was the source of a great tragedy, killing hundreds of people. However, the sinking of the greatest ship ever built was a puzzle for many, since there were various views on how it sank. The  video here answers this important question. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Science - Religion



I would like to thank my friend, Penny Symeou, for sending me this incredible story. It is worth reading!

Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son 
Student : Yes, sir. 
Professor: So, you believe in GOD ? 
Student : Absolutely, sir. 
Professor : Is GOD good ?
Student : Sure. 
Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?
Student : Yes. 
Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn't. How is this GOD good then? Hmm? (Student was silent.) 
Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?
 Student : Yes. 
Professor: Is Satan good ?
Student : No.
Professor: Where does Satan come from ?
Student : From … GOD … 
Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world? 
Student : Yes. 
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn't it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct? 
Student : Yes. Professor: So who created evil ? (Student did not answer.) 
Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they? 
Student : Yes, sir. Professor: So, who created them ? (Student had no answer.) 
Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD? 
Student : No, sir. 
Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD? 
Student : No , sir.
Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter? 
Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t. 
Professor: Yet you still believe in Him? 
Student : Yes.
Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son? 
Student : Nothing. I only have my faith. 
Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has. 



Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat? 
Professor: Yes. 
Student : And is there such a thing as cold? 
Professor: Yes. 
Student : No, sir. There isn't. (The lecture theatre became very quiet with this turn of events.) Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it. (There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theatre.) Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness? Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn't darkness? 
Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?
Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man? 
Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed. 
Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how? 
Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey? 
Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do. Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir? (The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.) 
Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavour. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher? (The class was in uproar.) Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain? (The class broke out into laughter. ) Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir? (The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)
Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son. 
Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving. 
By the way, that student was EINSTEIN.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

100 days to go until the London Olympic Games!

100 days to go until the commencement of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Everyone in the United Kingdom has witnessed the changes the Olympics have brought to its landscape, especially in Stratford, where the Olympic Complex is based. 


Due to the celebrations going on, in preparation of the Games, the slogan of these Olympic Games has been unveiled. In Beijing we had "One World, One Dream", in Athens "Welcome Home", whilst Sydney picked the slogan "Share the Spirit". London has chosen the promising "Inspire a Generation", inspiring the youth all around the world.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

‘Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality at the opposite pole’ (Marx).


Accumulation of wealth is a global phenomenon which influences all the states in the international anarchical arena. The capitalist system is the one which prevails in the modern epoch. First we need to identify these two poles which seem so diverse, meaning the division within the international scene. These are indicated by the uneven and combined development created by the capitalist system, the North and South division, the core-periphery and free trade. Also we have to take in to account how individual states act and achieve the accumulation of wealth and capital within their states and regions. Furthermore corporations are important in understanding and achieving the accumulation process of each zone.



            Capital accumulation, i.e. wealth increase and growth, is the “capitalist imperative”[1]. States are today driven by economic wealth and growth. One of Saunder’s titles is “The Growth Machine”[2]. This Growth Machine explains what capitalism is, ontologically, whilst its objective is the accumulation of profit. Capitalism needs all of the states to take part so it can function in a healthy and prosperous manner. Every policy and state relation is relevant to the accumulation of wealth by each actor. Social order and stability is needed for capital to increase. Liberalism here explains how capitalist states do not go to war between them due to the stability status and relations which are needed for the economy to prosper. This confirms how today international political actors collaborate in a Lockean world, which observes the other state as a rival but not as an enemy; the state complies because of its interests. Barkawi and Laffey identify this by accentuating that “a defining feature of world politics in the late 20th century is the decline in the frequency of warfare between industrialized states”[3]. Peace is what capitalism needs to prosper. Rivalry occurs on an economic level today not between capitalism and communism but between “capitalism and social systems represented in regional economic blocks”[4], such as the European Union, the North American bloc and the Asian Pacific bloc. Luxemburg moreover states that “competition is the driving force which keeps capitalists accumulating”[5]. However, this is not the case in non-capitalist states or between capitalist and non-capitalist actors. This is one key reason why there exists accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality in the non-capitalist world.
            The first division, which explains the diversity in the accumulation of wealth and capital and is expressed mainly by Marxism, is the uneven and combined development. This is due to the fact that the world is segregated in to regions. Since the Cold War this was primarily capitalist and non-capitalist nations, i.e. the USA and its allies and the Soviet Union, the communist bloc, on the other hand. Today one can easily observe the increase of the number of capitalist states. Nevertheless, all of these are ever changing, for example many countries in the South, which are considered Third World countries, are developing rapidly (“The other two ‘worlds’ being Western capitalism and the Soviet bloc”[6]). 
            Lenin supports that “for both uneven development and a semi starvation level of existence of the masses are fundamental and inevitable conditions and constitute premises of this mode of production”[7]. Marx analyses the uneven development by explaining that “capitalism does create and perpetuate considerable economic inequalities between the social classes, but it also raises the living standards of rich and poor alike”[8].
The unevenness needs to exist for capitalism to succeed in the developed states. Historically one can identify this uneven development when examining the continuity of imperialism in the modern era, not retaining to the same meaning that the word had in the 19th century where empires, such as the British, ruled the world. What we mean by imperialism today refers to the economic capitalist expansion and influence on a global level. Previously colonized states and regions are even today under the influence of the imperial political actors, the hegemonic powers of international politics. Iain Wallace explains, “The evolution of the capitalist world-economy was shaped by the Europeans, whose influence derived from the conjunction of economic and political interests within a few core nation-states”.[9] Capitalism was born in the West, and to be precise in England in the 18th century; with the Crystal Palace Exhibition being the first main event of this new economic system. Other regions of the world entered the capitalist ‘family’ later, giving them a disadvantage, a main paradigm being Russia.
North and South is one other key division. Today this idea is challenged due to the fact that southern states are developing or developed, surpassing even western political actors, for example Singapore and Taiwan. Brown describes, “contrary to expectations, capital has moved to (some) Southern countries”[10]. Anthony Payne believes that “the favoured bifurcation of the moment has become ‘The West versus the Rest’”[11]
            Moreover there is a core-periphery division which explains the modern unevenness of development. The core capitalist states are the industrialized nations of Europe and North America. The periphery consists of actors who belong to the rest of the world, mainly the South, where a common practice is the extraction of wealth via violence and force and where slavery, brutality and ignorance triumph. Although these differences exist, capitalist developed states and corporations depend on the underdeveloped ‘other pole’.  This system needs and requires the existence of the weaker states; it needs the non-capitalist underdeveloped actors so it can achieve its objectives. Through these latter it reduces wages and prices, increasing profit and wealth. Accumulation is best gained through “non-capitalist, non-waged, casual and/or informal economic activities that are not proletarianized”.[12]
A main reason for the uneven development is also that during some previous eras the accumulation of wealth and capital was more resourceful in hegemonic states than other countries. This is evident when we see that these hegemons acquired further accumulation of wealth; explaining what Lenin wrote, that capitalism promotes monopoly and that assembling development and wealth leads inevitably to monopoly; “capitalist monopoly exists in the general environment of commodity production and competition”[13].
 We should also take in to account that states vary politically and socially which means that their commitment towards the capitalist economic system differs. States which are liberal and democratic “contribute directly to the maintenance of a capitalist socio-economic order”[14]. Non-capitalist states do not follow the previous theory due to the fact that there exists an unstable political system that characterises these political actors.  This is also stated by social constructivists who have as a central idea the difference in identity and culture between the states. Jepperson states “cultural environments affect not only the incentives for different kinds of state behaviour but also the basic character of states-what we call state ‘identity’”[15]. Through this it is clear that material accumulation is not the only item which interests and identifies a state; although we acknowledge, especially in the modern era, the importance it has in forming politics and relations in the international arena. Culture, identity, religion, traditions and ethics are responsible for how states and its people accept and interpret capitalist, western ideas and ideals. Enforcing them is in many instances non-practical and non-realistic; that is why the west observes the political events which take place in the periphery with a critical stance.
            Today accumulation does not only refer to the states but it “involves the activity of private entrepreneurs freed from the interference of state-machineries”[16]. Giddens writes, “The accumulation process in capitalist societies rests upon the mobilization of privately owned capital and is not under the direct control of the state”[17]. This can also be reassured by Callinicos who describes how Lenin, Marx and Engels believe that, “the state is simply a tool that is used by the economically dominant to advance its interests”[18].
            Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), i.e. companies and factories which exist and employ overseas have risen in the last decade of the 20th century. Corporations have invested all around the globe, uniting the world, bringing nations and economies closer.  Even companies from China have begun making investments in other parts of the world, looking for new resources. The FDI has also the power to change locations when it wishes or when negotiations with, for example the workforce, do not favour their interests. This pressurises mostly the rich, First World countries, which have higher wages and more rights than the workers in Third World countries or non-capitalist states. This is a great paradigm which describes the accumulation unevenness between the two poles.    
  Cooperation between states is also achieved through the “‘free market policies’ which have constituted ‘global policy’”[19] during the past years, improving relations and commerce between political actors and industries from all around the world. Even Karl Marx supports Free Trade declaring: “we are for Free Trade, because by Free Trade all economical laws, with their most astounding contradictions, will act upon a larger scale, upon the territory of the whole earth”[20]. So we determine that both poles are needed to achieve this global expansion of capitalism, which spreads to new nations trying to obtain new markets, to increase its profit. With this in mind it is understandable why cooperation is needed and promoted. These policies are also encouraged through various unions, primarily in the North, such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But the existing unevenness between the two poles is a result of the absence of a central regulating authority, making a reality the anarchy of the market. The accumulation process is thus diverse within various geopolitical regions, continuing the ongoing misery and slavery within the periphery. 
The other important issue is the class differences within the states, something that is pointed out in Marx’s Manifesto between the “bourgeois and the proletarians”[21]; which also affects the international economy and where capital can increase. In economics, one identifies an “immediate conflict of interests”[22]. The larger the income for the proletarians the lower the profit is for the bourgeoisie. That is why it is in the interest of international industries to base their corporations in the Third World, where salaries are minimal and human rights nonexistent. Lenin believes that capitalism has oppressed politically and economically the majority of the people and states through a “handful of advanced countries”[23]. We identify that misery, ignorance, slavery, brutality in the Third World are acquired and tolerated by the global capitalist system to accumulate wealth and capital without taking in to account human rights, which are essential and self-evident in the modern world. The more chaotic and inhumane the environment is in the periphery the more profit is made for the core.
Capitalism has produced material goods and wealth which was never achieved by any other economic system, but it has also emphasized the differences that exist and prevail between the states. Accumulation of wealth is gained by slavery, brutality and pain of millions in the Third World who only gather misery. Incomes and quality of life have gone down in the latter regions bearing unprecedented growth to the capitalist developed liberal states. Many regions have yet to be touched by this economic system. The two poles are not only geographically apart but also economically and politically. “The endless accumulation of capital has meant the incessant widening of the real gap”[24]. The uneven accumulation of wealth between the two poles, the core and the periphery, will continue to exist and succeed as long as capitalism is the main economic system between states and between corporations. The developed countries, which accumulate most of the wealth and capital, work with, coexist and depend on the underdeveloped non-capitalist states. This relation will continue to enrich the liberal states, whilst the accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance and brutality of the periphery will continue to prevail. This means that these two conditions need to subsist for capitalism and capitalist states to continue to accumulate wealth. But there should be a way to solve the injustice with which millions of people around the world live with, so the minority can prosper. What can liberal, capitalist, western states do to promote rights, freedom and a better life to the underdeveloped regions? Should capitalism adjust itself so the periphery can develop and its people prosper? These are some key questions which should be answered by the discipline of International Relations.  


[1] Wood E., “Global Capital, National States” Historical Materialism and Globalization, (London and New York: Routledge), 2002, p. 17
[2] Saunders P., Capitalism: A Social Audit, (Open University Press, 1995), chapter 1, p. 1
[3] Barkawi Tarak and Laffey Mark, ‘The Imperial Peace: Democracy, Force and Globalization’, European Journal of Internatioanl Relations, Vol.5, no.4, 1999, p. 403
[4] Gilpin R., The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century, (Princeton and Oxford:    Princeton University Press, 2000), p.25
[5] Luxemburg Rosa, The Accumulation of Capital, (London: Routledge, 1951), p. 23
[6] Brown C. And Ainley K., Understanding International Relations,(London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 163
[7] Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1982), p. 60
[8] Gilpin R., The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century, (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2000), p.13
[9] Wallace Iain, The Global Economic System, (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990), p. 105
[10] Brown C. And Ainley K., Understanding International Relations, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 173
[11] Payne A., The Global Politics of Unequal Development, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 231
[12] Peterson, V.S., “The Reproductive Economy” in A critical rewriting of global political economy: integrating, reproductive, productive and virtual economies (London: Routledge,2003), p. 92 
[13] Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1982), p. 93
[14] Barkawi Tarak and Laffey Mark, ‘The Imperial Peace: Democracy, Force and Globalization’, European Journal of Internatioanl Relations, Vol.5, no.4, 1999, p. 408

[15] Jepperson R. et al, “Norms, identity and Culture in National Security”, Katzenstein, P. (ed.), The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics (New York, 1996), p. 33 
[16] Wallerstein Immanuel, Historical Capitalism, (London: Thetford Press Limited, 1983), p. 56
[17] Giddens Anthony, A contemporary critique of historical materialism, Vol. 1, Power, property and the state, (London: Macmillan, 1981), p. 214
[18] Callinicos A., Imperialism and Global Political Economy, (Polity, 2009), p. 70
[19] Ravenhill J., Global Political Economy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press,2005), p. 404
[20] Glyn A. Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization and Welfare, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p.77
[21] Marx Karl, The Communist Manifesto, 1848, <http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/classics/manifesto.html>
[22]Wallerstein Immanuel, Historical Capitalism, (London: Thetford Press Limited, 1983), p. 60
[23] Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1982), p. 11
[24] Wallerstein Immanuel, Historical Capitalism, (London: Thetford Press Limited, 1983), p. 72

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Apostle Andrew's Church, Loutraki

Apostle Andrew's Church in Loutraki, Southern Greece, is currently a historical monument. It is built in a cross shape, having three domes. It was constructed in the 14th century A.D, during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Ioanni Katakouzino (1341- 1354), who gave up his royal titles, becoming a monk on Mount Athos and renamed Ioasaf. 



It also has a crypt, where Saint Andrew hid whilst Roman soldiers were chasing him. Tradition states that a spider web stopped the soldiers entering the crypt, saving the Apostle, who was on his way to Patra.



Monday, April 16, 2012

Christos Anesti

"Christ is Risen" is the greeting phrase of this joyful period, after the Passions and the Resurrection of Christ, answered by the phrase "Truly he is Risen" This video here points exactly this atmosphere.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Epitafios in London

It is that time of year when we celebrate Holy Week, i.e. the Passion and the Resurrection of Christ. One of the highlights of this week, for every Orthodox Church in the world, is the Epitafios (the Tomb) which is decorated with countless flowers. Some of the Epitafios from Greek Orthodox parishes in London are depicted here.

Cathedral of All Saints 



Church of St. Anthony the Great and St. John the Baptist



Church of St. John the Baptist



Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God


Church of St. Barnabas


Church of St. Panteleimon and St. Paraskevi



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center complex was built during the Great Depression, providing much needed work for New Yorkers and also reflecting the art style popular during the time. The Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings in the centre of New York City.



The unique feature within this centre was the idea of incorporating art work throughout parking garages, as well as centralised heating.  



Rockefeller Center represents a turning point in the history of architectural sculpture, being among the last major building projects in the U.S.A. to incorporate a program of integrated public art. Some of the most photographed statues and art work in the city are located around or within this complex, including Prometheus, who brought fire to mankind, taken from Greek mythology. The other famous sculpture, located just outside the Rockefeller Center, is the Ancient Greek Titan Atlas, holding the heavens. 




At the top of the building, the visitor can witness a magnificent view of the city of New York, matched only by its counterpart, i.e. the Empire State Building.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Capitalism promotes co-operative and conflictual relationships between states


Capitalism is comparatively a new economic system which prevails globally. “The Crystal Palace exhibition was the first great party to celebrate the emergence of this new social and economic system”[1], which has since transformed life and relations between states. Why is it the predominant economic system of the world today? As Robert Gilpin explains, “capitalism distributes wealth more equally than any other known economic system”[2]. To understand this economic system we need to acknowledge three fundamental elements of capitalism which are common throughout its existence; first, capitalism refers to private property. Second, the economy and any activity around this have profit as a final aim. Third, merchandise and services are, as Gilpin accentuates, exchanged on the basis of market prices.


The state remains the core actor in international relations, even under capitalism, which exists in an anarchical system. This system is needed for capitalism to flourish. It depends on the continuation of the state and the regional economic unities, for example the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, this is also challenged in “Polanyi’s description of the separation of the economy from the society”[3], with his theory of disembedding. Through this idea Polanyi suggests that economics has the power to enforce its judgement upon politics, which ultimately means that it reduces and damages the political system.  On the contrary politics does not seize to exist, it coexists with the economy.  Callinicos describes how Marx, Engel and Lenin believe that “the state is simply a tool that is used by the economically dominant to advance its interests”[4]. Even though we encounter many theories and opinions on this matter one can see that capitalism prospers in this current system of nation states.
Capitalism, being a new structure of imperialism, requires a global political system which consists of many sovereign states.  Even Marx stresses this point by arguing that “Capital exists and can only exist as many capitals”[5].  This is why global governance will not be able to sustain the capitalist system as we know it, due to the fact that it prospers in a pluralistic geopolitical system.  Even today, where one can identify the prevalence of unions and alliances, the nation state plays a great role. One paradigm of this is the European Union, where the states play an immense part in taking political, economic and military decisions for the Union.


To understand whether capitalism promotes co-operative or conflictual relationships between states we need to empathize how globalization and capitalism coexist. To do this some theories have to be clarified, for example the uneven and combined development, the North and South division, the core and the periphery, as well as the issue of geopolitics.
The first theory, expressed mainly by Marxism, is the uneven and combined development. This is due to the fact that the world is segregated in to regions. Since the Cold War this was primarily capitalist and non-capitalist nations, meaning the USA and its allies and the Soviet Union, the communist bloc, on the other hand. Today one can see the increase of the number of capitalist states. Nevertheless, all of these are ever changing, for example many countries in the South, which are considered Third World countries, are developing rapidly (“The other two ‘worlds’ being Western capitalism and the Soviet bloc”[6]).  
Development is uneven due to variations of culture, economy, geopolitics and power, but on the other hand we observe that they coexist whilst keeping intact their individual societies. The development is uneven in the international anarchical system due to the “multiplicity of its instances”[7].  Capitalism has not yet abolished the uneven development. Trotsky writes: “Capitalism prepares and in a certain sense realises the universality and permanence of man’s development”[8]. He also points out the historical sudden expansion of interconnection, especially since the 19th century, were the external commerce and interaction prevailed. This is attributed to the existence of empires, for example the British Empire, and of the prevalence of imperialism. So now one can understand how capitalism is the continuation of the imperial past taking an imperial character in the modern epoch.  Marx analyses the uneven development by explaining that “capitalism does create and perpetuate considerable economic inequalities between the social classes, but it also raises the living standards of rich and poor alike”[9].
Moreover there is a core-periphery division which explains the modern unevenness of development. The core capitalist states are the industrialized nations of Europe and North America. The periphery consists of actors who belong to the rest of the world, mainly the South, where a common practice is the extraction of wealth via violence and force. Brown explains how the “North and South are in a structural relationship with one another”[10], meaning that there is the element of dependency, not only between capitalist states but also between capitalist and non-capitalist nations; their aspiration being the increase in production, economic wealth, geopolitical security and economic stability. Capitalism needs the weaker states; it needs the non-capitalist actors in order to achieve its objectives. Through these latter it reduces wages and price, increasing profit, which is the ultimate goal. Some paradigms that emphasize the core-periphery theory are, the fact that “the Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic performance has been dire”[11], Latin America has not seem to improve economically from the 1980’s and neither has Eastern Europe advanced. On the other hand South Asia has developed rapidly since the last decade of the 20th century. An excellent example is China. Through this rapid growth of China and India, the two most populous countries in the world, inequality and poverty have reduced. But this does not explain the inequalities within these countries, concerning wages and poverty.  


The unevenness that exists, not only in economic terms but also politically, has a purpose, the mutual value of products and labour. Capitalist states and companies rely on cheap labour, which can be mainly found in Southern nations. This has shifted the way the political and economic systems have worked during the last decades and especially after the end of the Cold War. Industries move around and take with them state interests. Even Trotsky elaborates saying that “capitalism did not just change the world: it actually changed the overall nature of historical change itself”[12].  So we see that capital and capitalism have formed world history.
Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), meaning companies and factories which exist and employ overseas have risen in the last decade of the 20th century. Corporations have invested all around the globe, uniting the world, bringing nations and economies closer.  Even companies from China have begun making investments in other parts of the world, looking for new resources. The FDI has also the power to change locations when it wishes or when negotiations with, for example the workforce, do not favour their interests. This pressurises mostly the rich, First World countries, which have higher wages and more rights than the workers in Third World countries or non-capitalist states.      
The uneven development can be explained when we see the historical process of capitalism, its expansion to new states. Many political actors entered the sphere of capitalism later than others, giving them a disadvantage. Many states, for example Britain, France, Germany, Japan, were once empires and colonial powers and have kept this in their politics and political agendas, still holding on to crucial and important political relations which have helped them during the course of time to expand not only economically and politically but also culturally. Also not all the states are capitalist. Especially in the South, the so called Third World Nations, non-capitalist regimes exist and succeed. This is a key point to the existence of the uneven development in the international anarchical system. Marx reflects on the Russian development where he argues that “the asynchronous concurrency of Russian society with its more industrialized neighbours could be of decisive significance not just for Russia, but for the course of world development as a whole”[13]. This is not a derivative of international relations in the modern era but a fact of capitalism.
North and South division is considered anachronistic, although we still see scarcely its existence. Brown describes that “contrary to expectations, capital has moved to (some) Southern countries”[14]. This archaic view has today changed due to the fact that many states in the South are not developing or underdeveloped countries but developed. Some paradigms are Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Their growth rate is even higher than capitalist North countries. Anthony Payne believes that “the favoured bifurcation of the moment has become ‘The West versus the Rest’”[15].  He also states that not even the distinction between core and periphery truly exist. However, we acknowledge many of today’s policies and politics that concern economy are driven by this exact peculiarity. Sometimes westernization has imposed itself violently, imperialistically, to the non-western world making Payne’s point pragmatic. Evidently, we observe that “globalization and westernization have had interconnections”[16] associating them to a common development.    
 The capitalist states are the core and most of the non-capitalist political actors are the periphery. This is how capitalism has worked since its birth in England. But we do understand why Payne would believe that it is between the West, which consists of hegemonic (especially after the Cold War) and imperial powers, for example the USA, UK, Germany, France, and the Rest which are no match for the above. Even though things are going to change shortly as a result of the development of new economies in the East, mainly China’s and India’s, China will soon surpass the USA which was the predominant hegemonic power of the last period of the 20th century.         
States are today driven by economic wealth and growth. One of Saunder’s titles is “The Growth Machine”[17]. This Growth Machine explains what capitalism is ontologically and its objective is the accumulation of profit. To achieve this goal it constantly needs to expand to new markets. There is an “increased openness of national economies”[18]. Free markets and the economy will establish economic interactions. This empowers primarily the industries and the international companies, leaving aside the political anarchical system. Economy will drive politics and not vice versa. 
Subsequently, it is easily identifiable up to now that capitalism does not promote conflict between states since each state has economic and political interests in many other countries and regions, whether these are capitalist or not. Cooperation predominates in the global system of our time because each state, through its companies and industries which exist abroad, has global interests. Peace is what capitalism needs to prosper. Rivalry occurs on an economic level today not between capitalism and communism but between “capitalism and social systems represented in regional economic blocks”[19], such as the European Union, the North American bloc and the Asian Pacific bloc. Another reason why we do not observe conflict between states is the demographic revolution which capitalism has introduced in a vast scale. This has political and economic repercussions. 
One can observe that, historically, capitalist states have never gone to war with each other due to the fact that they have interests not only inside their borders but also abroad. This is clarified best by liberalists. On the other hand capitalist and non-capitalist states, mainly communist, have gone to war, since their interests differ, not only politically and economically but also idealistically and culturally.   
Geopolitics plays, again, a massive role in understanding economic growth and stability. For example we have regions such as East Asia which are privileged in the international economic system, as a result of its geographical, political and economic importance for other capitalist imperial powers. One modern paradigm is the economic interdependence between the USA and China, between the first and the second economy in the world. Through this relationship China will statistically surpass, as said constantly on the news and the media, the United State’s economy.


Interests and ideologies is one chapter in Callinico’s book which expands on what states truly want. He quotes Wendt who “celebrated differentiation between three kinds of international anarchy”[20] according to how states visualize other states. Hobesian is the first, which sees the other state with no trust, as an enemy, and complies due to force. Lockean is the second which pictures the other state as a rival, but not as an enemy. The state complies because of its interests which are important. Finally is the Kantian, which visualizes the other political actor in a friendly manner and where the norms of the international order are followed and believed. Today we live in a Lockean world. This is extensively explained by social constructivism.  Relations are important to keep capital and capitalist states together.
All of the above are part of each state’s “national interests”[21] which are needed to secure the political actor. These are: survival, as nation states but also in the international anarchical scene, economic wealth and growth, sovereignty and self respect. This is the basis needed in the modern era for the state and for capitalism to thrive.
Cooperation between states is also achieved through the “‘free market policies’ which have constituted ‘global policy’”[22] during the past years, improving relations and commerce between political actors and industries from all around the world. Even Karl Marx supports Free Trade declaring: “we are for Free Trade, because by Free Trade all economical laws, with their most astounding contradictions, will act upon a larger scale, upon the territory of the whole earth”[23]. Trade has increased due to this factor, “world exports have grown faster than world production”[24] and this is the result of the increasing interaction between states in a globalized anarchical world.
The term Global is very important in understanding how capitalism truly promotes co-operative relationships between states. “Global communications, global travel, global production and global markets have all promoted and been facilitated by global money”[25], as Scholte describes. Strong currency, for instance the British pound, the US dollar, the Euro and the Japanese yen, can be used not only in the country of origin but also around the globe. Finance is not a local, regional matter but a global one. Production has an international affect not only economically but also politically. Global union under capitalism is a reality in the modern era.
Economic activities between states are driven by the national interests of each international actor. Politics is the main factor that determines the economic actions of each state. Today it is not relatively easy to identify the separation of economics and politics, since the interests of the first are the interests of the latter and vice versa. Stability in the capitalist international arena will be established by the relations on a political and economic level, between the great powers, meaning the USA, Europe, China, Japan and Russia.
Reading the above it is now clear that capitalism promotes co-operative and not conflictual relationships between states. However, it does, on the other hand, elevate tension between capitalist and non-capitalist states. Competition explains the uneven development, the North and South division, the core and the periphery and geopolitics which accentuate how capitalism has and continues to develop in the international anarchical system, where national interests and economic wealth coexist. Capitalism spreads to new nations trying to obtain new markets, to increase its profit. With this in mind it is understandable why cooperation is needed and promoted.


[1]  Saunders P., Capitalism: A Social Audit (1995), chapter 1, p. 1
[2] Gilpin R., The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century, Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2000, p.3
[3] Alvater E., and Mahnkopf B., The World Market Unbound, REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY 4/3, Berlin, Free University Berlin and School of Economic, 1997, p. 452
[4]  Callinicos A., Imperialism and Global Political Economy, 2009, p. 70
[5] ibid., p. 70
[6] Brown C. And Ainley K., Understanding International Relations, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, p. 163
[7] Rosenberg J., International Relations- The ‘Higher Bullshit’: A Reply to the Globalization Debate, p. 453
[8] ibid., p. 455
[9] Gilpin R., The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century, Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2000, p.13
[10] Brown C. And Ainley K., Understanding International Relations, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, p. 164
[11] Ravenhill J., Global Political Economy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 378
[12] Rosenberg J., International Relations- The ‘Higher Bullshit’: A Reply to the Globalization Debate, p. 456
[13] Rosenberg J., International Relations- The ‘Higher Bullshit’: A Reply to the Globalization Debate, p. 479
[14] Brown C. And Ainley K., Understanding International Relations, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, p. 173
[15] Payne A., The Global Politics of Unequal Development, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, p. 231
[16] Scholte J., Globalization: A Critical Introduction, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, p. 58
[17] Saunders P., Capitalism: A Social Audit (1995), chapter 1, p. 1
[18] Gilpin R., The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century, Princeton and Oxford,    Princeton University Press, 2000, p.25
[19] ibid., p.25
[20] Callinicos A., Imperialism and Global Political Economy, 2009, p. 93
[21] ibid., p. 98
[22] Ravenhill J., Global Political Economy, Oxford, Oxford University Press,2005, p. 404
[23] Glyn A. Caitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization and Welfare, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, p.77
[24] Glyn A. Caitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization and Welfare, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, p.96
[25] Scholte J., Globalization: A Critical Introduction, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, p. 69