Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So long!

Hello everybody,

This is not a farewell, because I´ll be around and we´ll see each other next year, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. You can call it “advice”, if you prefer. They are just some ideas to make you think about the kind of people you want to become: 

- Don´t stop asking questions: it´s the best way to learn. 

- Be curious, not nosy. 

- Be critical. Don´t believe everything people tell you. Look for the answers to your doubts and come to your own conclusions. 

- Give a hand to the people who need it, cooperate, be supportive. No one can survive alone and the progress of mankind has always been achieved uniting efforts.

- Don´t forget that you are human, not numbers. Don´t let anyone treat you as if you were only figures on a sheet of paper. As for the marks, they´re only figures too. What will remain is what you learnt, not what the administration wrote on your school report. 

- Reason and words are your best weapons. Use them anytime. Violence and revenge never bring anything else but more pain and suffering. Remember that all the wars we studied ended with peace treaties, with people obliged to sit down, talk and reach agreements. 

- Respect the others if you want to earn their respect. 

- Open your mind, judge people for what they do, not for who they are or where they come from. Forget about prejudices. We, citizens of the world, all belong to the same species and share more than we could imagine. Borders, nations and “races” are human inventions to divide us and justify the supremacy of the minorities over the great majority.

- Don´t keep silence before injustice. Listen to the others, but speak out loud when you think you´re right. Following the herd may seem more comfortable sometimes, but you will feel better if you don´t betray your principles. 

- Don´t forget about the past: use it to build a better future. 

- Have a good life and share with others everything you can do to make the world a better place to live in. 

And above all, don´t be another brick in the wall. 

I would like to end with two classical quotes I always bear in mind: 

Dare to know! 

Be the change you want to see in the world!

Mónica´s wishes

    Happy summer holidays to all :)

Mauthausen forced labour camp

Today in Social Sciences we have seen our exams about Alphonse XIII, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. After that Paqui has said that we have to give her the 4º of ESO book and if we want we can take the 3º ESO book for us. Today some classmates have done the make-up exam because they failed the first one.

After that Paqui has said that she is going to put us a video about 8 spanish survivors that were confined in Mauthausen, a forced labour camp, not an extermination one, in Austria. In this concentration camp there were 140,000 people, 7,000 spanish, and we the camp was destroyed only there were 2,100 survivors.

In this video we could see the experiences in this force labour camp of 8 spanish people ( nowadays only 2 of the 8 men are still alive, they are Manuel Alfonso and Ramón Milá, because the documentary was filmed more or less in 2000). This 8 men told some experiences (good and bad ones) about their time there. Some interesting things that impressed me were the photos, and when one of the men said that he lived near the electric fence, and he could listen to the electricity passing along the fence, and he said “is the death that is passing”. This people received only 1,000 calories and the normal rate for a person during a day is 3,000 calories. They ate for example turnips potatoes, slice of bread, sausage… The people in Mauthausen had to wake up very early and they went to a granite quarry to work there. Some people died there because of their tiredness, and other ones for example were killed by throwing them from a cliff. The people from the video also talk about their clothes. In this clothes they have an special symbol to recognized them, for example the Spanish ones had an S inside a triangle, that means in German “Rot Spanier”, that in English means “Red Spanish”.
Near the Mauthausen camp there was the Gusen, this was a Kommando were they took the people to kill them. In this camp they received only half of food, and they didn’t have any clothes. 
In Hartheim Castle there were the gas chamber, but they use a lot the crematorium.

One thing that had shocked me was that one of these men, Joan de Diego had only 4 fingers in one hand!
All this things were horrible! I like the documentary because you learn a lot, but is too sad and shocking for me… I also like the aria of Puccini's Tosca: E lucevan le stelle, ( one of my favourite) that appeared in this video.
Then the bell rang and Paqui said that if we like this documentary, and she has collected the make-up exams.

We have learned one new word: to broadcast- emitir.

Sorry for the delay, but that's musicians life!

Bye bye

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mauthausen, the duty of remembering

As Enrique didn´t write the journal, I´m going to include some information about what we saw in class yesterday. The documentary is called El deber de recordar (The duty of remembering) and it was produced by a La 2 TV program called Línea 900 in 2000. It tells the story of 8 Spanish fighters against Franco and Hitler, who were confined in Mauthausen concentration camp during World War 2. The survivors who appeared in the documentary were Francesc Comellas, Antoni Roig, Joan de Diego, Francisco Batiste, Josep Egea, Mariano Constante, Manuel Alfonso and Ramón Milà. Only Manuel Alfonso and Ramón Milà are still alive. The documentary explains about the hard conditions the prisoners had to put up with, the countless ways of killing the Nazis used and how the survivors managed to remain alive until the camp release on the 5th May 1945. It´s a story of horror and humiliation, but also tells about resistance and solidarity, values no one should forget. 

Here you have the complete documentary:

This is a map of all the forced labour and extermination camps the Nazis created in Germany and the territories they occupied: 


And these are some links to learn more about Mauthausen: 

- Information about the structure of the camp and pictures on

- Information about Mauthausen in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

- Brief story of Mauthausen on the Holocaust Research Project:

- Photographs of the life and death at Mauthausen:

- Mauthausen Concentration Camp official website:

- Report about three of the last Spanish Mauthausen survivors, appeared on El País some weeks ago:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

WW2 animated maps

At Manuel´s request, here you have some links to learn about the different operation theatres of WW2: 

- This is a link to the presentation we saw last week in class. It was made by the Combat Studies Institute, a section of the United States Army Combined Arms Center, located in Fort Leavenworth (Kansas). On this link you can find the battle maps of the European and Pacific Theaters: 

- And this link belongs to the UK National Archives. Every animated map includes an audio explanation of the military operations on each theatre: 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Hello everybody!
Today we have taken the exam about The Restoration under Alphonse XIII, The USA crisis and the Great Drepression, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
The structure of the exam was the following:
In the first exercise we had to choose one of the two big crisis of the Restoration under Alphonse XIII. Here we had to choose between explaining the crisis of the "Tragic Week (24th - 2nd August 1909) or the 1917 crisis, the year of the triple protest in Spain (military, opposition politicians and unions' protests). We had to explain the consequences of the crises as well. I have explained the first crisis, the Tragic Week.
The second exercise consisted on choosing four of several concepts that Paqui gave us. I don't remember all of them, but I have chosen Nuremberg Laws, Disaster of Annual, Night of the Broken Glass and Padlock Law. 
The third exercise was about the 1929 crisis in the USA and the Great Depression. Here we had to explain the causes, the development and the decisions made to solve this crisis. I was not sure if I had to explain all the decisions made in the "New Deal" by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Paqui has told me to explain them. 
The fourth exercise was about Italian Fascism. Paqui has asked us how the Fascists took power, how they imposed their totalitarian dictatorship, and the main features of their totalitarianism. 
And finally, the fifth exercise was about Nazism in Germany. Almost all the students of the class have had problems to understand this exercise. I suppose this is because we were nervous. Paqui has told us not to explain everything!! She says it is not the way to do things. She has told us that we only had to explain the ideology of the NSDAP, how the Nazis took power and what they did to achieve their purposes. I think finally we all have understood it and have done it in the right way. 
As some people have needed more time to finish the exam, we have stayed with Paqui during some minutes of the Math's lesson. It was not a problem because the people of the class were reviewing for the resit exam. 
Paqui has told us that she is sending us our marks this evening so, we'll know our results today! 

P. S. It has been our last European Sections exam... This is very sad :( But that's life. I think we have all learnt a lot this year. Don't you think so?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday, 13th of June.

The symbol of the NSDAP

Today in Social Sciences, today was the last day before the exam of unit 8: The interwar period. So we have dedicated this class principally to correct ours schemes about the Nazi Germany. We have used the PowerPoint presentation of Paqui to correct ours schemes.

We have started saying that the Nazi Germany had similar characteristics to the Fascist Italy. After, Paqui has remembered us that the Nazi party (the NSDAP) had to principal paramilitary groups: the SA or Assault Sections and the SS or Security Sections. Next to this, Paqui has asked for silence, She have said that when She is speaking we have to stay in silence.

The next section of the scheme was how the Nazi party reached power. Before start this section, Paqui has asked for silence again. This section has started with the Beer Hall Putsch, that was a planed Coup d' État in a beer hall in Munich. All the political authorities were celebrating a meeting. The plan failed because the army didn't joint the Nazis. Fourteen Nazis and their principal leaders were arrested. Hitler was sentenced to 5 years in jail, but he only stayed 8 months. In this time, we wrote the "Mein Kampf" (translated: My war), this book is consider the bible of Nazism. Actually, this book is forbidden is Germany. After this, the NSDAP results on the elections were not very good (you can find a summary of the elections on the slide 26 in the PowerPoint presentation of this unit). In January 1933, Hitler was promoted to prime minister. Hitler's first government included 3 Nazis out of 11 minister. Hitler call new elections for the 5th of march of 1933. The Nazis committed arson against the Reichstag (parliament) and they accused the communists. The government declared an emergency decree restricting liberties. Many of the communists were arrested and sent to the concentration camps.

On the 5th of March of 1933, the Nazis won the elections using intimidation and violence against the opposition with the 43% of the votes. They got the absolute majority. Hitler demanded absolute powers in the Reichstag. The Gestapo (secret police) was created and in July the NSDAP was the only legal party. The persecution against the Jews started immediately. On the 10th of March of 1933, the Nazis burnt books considered against Germany: Einstein (Jew), Marx (Jew), Hemingway, Proust, Heinrich and Thomas Mann. The members of the opposition parties started to work in concentration camps, commanded by the SS.

The Night of the long Knives was developed between June and Jule of 1934. Hitler eliminated the opposition inside his party, Ernst Röhm, leader of the SA, and other prominent Nazis were killed.

When President Hindenburg died in August of 1934, Hitler concentrated the post of chancellor and president and the Army swore fealty to him. He was proclaimed "Führer" (guide, leader) of the Germans and proclaimed the 3rd Reich (Empire).

The Nazis excluded the Jews for Germany nationality. In the Night of broken glass (9th November 1938), the Nazis attacked the synagogues and Jewish shops all around Germany. 90 Jews killed and more than 30,000 Jews were arrested to the concentration camps. There were a massive emigration of the Jews to other countries.

In March 1936, they started revising Versailles sanctions of WWI. In this moment, Paqui has said that we are disrespectful because we are speaking when she is also speaking.

Hitler claimed Sudetenland, a Czechoslovakian territory inhabited by 3 millions of German speakers. The main European powers accorded to cede Sudetenland to Germany with the promise that Hitler stop his territorial demands. The European powers saw Hitler as a powerful ally against Stalin. But Hitler didn't keep his promise. The Nazis started to occupied Czechoslovakia and Hitler signed secretly an agreement with the URSS to part Poland in two. Hitler wanted to neutralize the URSS in the invasion of Poland and Stalin wanted to gain time to be ready for the next war against the Nazis.

The 1st of September of 1939, the Nazis started the invasion of Poland using Thunder War: combined attack of artillery and air attacks (Poland was occupied in four weeks). The 3rd of September of 1939, the United Kingdom and France declared war to Germany. And the 17th of September of 1939, the Soviet Union occupied the Eastern part of Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Next to this part of the class, Paqui has shown as another PowerPoint presentation with a slides of the expansion of the terriotories that Germany occupied during this period.

In this moment, the bell has rung and Paqui has said to us that study to pass the exam.

Well, this is all we have done is this class. Good luck for tomorrow. Juan Carlos

Monday, June 11, 2012

Swastikas all around the world

As we have studied today, the swastika is a very old symbol the Nazis used as an Arian and anti-semitic emblem. Before the Nazis started using this symbol, swastikas had been used in many places as a symbol of health and good luck, as well as to represent the idea of the eternal return or continuous flow. The oldest known swastikas belong to Prehistory and the Bronze Age. Some Germanic  tribes wore swastika amulets to keep bad spirits away.

Here you have an example of swastikas used to decorate a Greek Kantharos (780 B.C.): 

This is an example of swastikas found in Spain. It´s located in the Roman villa of La Olmeda in Palencia, built in the 4th century

The relation between the swastikas and anti-semitism was established in the 19th century. When many swastikas were discovered in the ruins of ancient Troy in Turkey and also next to the Oder River in Germany, a French philologist called Emile Burnouf stated that the swastika was a symbol rejected by the Jews, because it didn´t appear in places where they used to live. This idea is false, because swastikas can be found almost everywhere, but this relation between swastikas and anti- semitism extended. 

Before the Nazis, different nationalist associations in Germany used swastikas, such as the Teutonic Order and Thule Society and it was also the symbol chosen by the DAP (German Workers´Party), where Hitler inflitrated as an informant for the army. When the Nazis designed the NSDAP flag, they included the swastika on it.  They chose the red colour (meaning the social part of their movement), the white (which is related to their nationalism) and the swastika, which symbolized the struggle of the Arian man. Hitler preferred the left-facing swastika, which has been  related to decadence and death, but he identified it with a whirlwind and a solar symbol. 

The German Socialist Party (SPD) created a paramilitary group called the Iron Front to oppose the Nazis and they also designed a symbol to easily cover or cross out the Nazi swastikas. Their emblem consisted of three arrows pointing south-west and  their meaning was union, activity and discipline. 

Emblem of the Iron Front

Anti-NSDAP rally of the Iron Front in Berlin 1932

The swastika is forbidden in Germany at present. The German government tried to extend the prohibition to all the European Union in 2005, but this proposition was rejected by some EU members. In Asia swastikas are very common, because they are related to different religions: Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Here you have an example of swastika on a Korean temple: 

Monday, 11th June

Today in Social Sciences, we have asked Paqui what said the inspector about us. She has told us that he was really happy, but at the same time he was angry because next year things are going to be totally different.
Afterwards, Laura and Ana have asked Paqui if the features of Restoration are going to be included in the exam. Paqui has answered that we have to study all the things, because we should know that things. Then, we have continued with the unit, and we have reviewed some things about Fascism. The slogans that show how the Fascists transformed Italy into a Totalitarism, are the following:
-“All within the State, none outside the State, none against the State”
-“Mussolini is always right”.
-“Believe, obey, fight”
- “Either with us or against us”
Paqui has explained us that the unions were replaced by “corporations”. Corporations are sort of unions which included workers and patrons to “solve” labour conflicts.
Mussolini was called the Duce which means the leader, the guide, he had all the power and there was cult for Mussolini´s personality. Propaganda was used to glorify Mussolini. We have learnt what the Lateran pact was: It was an agreement signed by Mussolini and the Pope which meant the creation of the Vatican City as a State inside Italy and solved the conflict between Italy and the Pope. The State intervened in economy with public works, subsidized enterprises…
The Fascist foreign policy was aggressive. Mussolini wanted to restore the splendour of the Roman Empire and started some wars to conquer territories: occupation of Ethiopia in 1935 and Albania in 1939. He also took part in the Spanish Civil War, supporting the rebels, sending more than 70,000 soldiers and weapons.
We have written a new word about this topic in the glossary: Autarky= Autarquía.The main objective was to achieve self-sufficiency, increasing internal production and reducing imports.
We have started the third point of the unit: Nazi Germany. We have started to check the scheme that we had for homework about it. Germany was a democratic republic, Weimar Republic, which had many problems after WW1. The leaders had to face the hard conditions of the Versailles Treaty, a strong economic crisis, unemployment, poverty, hyperinflation ( prices increased a lot), the loss of the value of the mark in 1923 and attempts at revolution and coups d´Etat. Nazism appeared and the main leader was Hitler. We have been talking about Hitler: he fought in WW1, where he became a corporal. Before WW1, he was an art student. He decided to go to the School of art in Vienna but he was rejected,so the lived like a tramp. After the war, the army hired him as an informant and sent him to report on an extreme right party (German Worker´s  Party), he became one of the leaders. In 1920, “National Socialist German Worker´s Party” was created. It had a similar ideology to Italian Fascism. It had three specific ideas: Anti- Semitism (hate for the Jews), superiority of the Arian race and they needed vital space. The party of Hitler had two paramilitary groups:
We have benn talking about the meaming of the Nazi´s symbol, the swastika is a type of sail.
Next day we are going to finish the scheme.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Some images to better understand Fascist Italy

Here you have some photographs, propaganda posters and cartoons about Italian Fascism. With them you will be able to learn some of the main characteristisc of the Italian totalitarian State: constant use of propaganda, cult of Mussolini´s personality, aggressive foreign policy, attempt of rebuilding the Roman Empire

One of the most meaningful Fascist slogans

Believe, obey, fight

One single heart, one single will, one single decision

A wall with the slogan "Mussolini is always right"

Electoral propaganda posters  at Palazzo Braschi, Mussolini´s political headquarters. The first image belongs to 1929 and the second one to 1934. The Fascist Party was the only allowed, but there were plebiscites to confirm Mussolini´s leadership from time to time.

Dictators (politicians in general) love children

This cartoon criticised the use of poison gas in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. 

Mussolini as the Emperor of Africa

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bailed out?

Today the Eurogroup (the Ministers of Economy and Finance of the countries that use the Euro as currency) has announced an economic loan of up to 100,000 million € to the Spanish government, so that the Spanish financial system can "clean" the huge debts the banks have since the crash of the real estate bubble in 2008. The loan will be at low interest rate and will arrive in Spain through the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) and the ESM (European Stability Mechanism), emergency institutions created to help the EU countries with financial problems. The Spanish FROB (Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring) will receive the funds and lend them at very low interest rate to the banks which need to "recapitalize" and the Spanish government will be the final responsible for this help and the use the banks give to the money. But is this a bailout? Is this something similar to what happened to Greece, Ireland and Portugal?

- The bailouts provided to Greece, Ireland and Portugal were mainly focused on reducing the State debts and included a lot of instructions to do it: reduction of the retirement pensions and civil servants´ salaries, increase of the VAT and other taxes, dismissals of public workers...

- The amount of money Spain is going to receive is similar to the bailouts received by Greece, Ireland and Portugal: 
  • Greece received 110,000 million € in May 2010 and 109,000 additional million € in July 2011. 
  • Ireland received 85,000 million € in November 2010
  • Portugal got 87,000 million € in May 2011.

- Apparently, the bailout to Spain doesn´t include additional conditions for the Spanish government, because the economic help has been presented as an injection of capital to the banks in trouble. It seems that the Eurogroup has decided to test a different solution for Spain, the 4th economy of the Eurozone and considered to be "too big to fail". The Eurogroup might have decided changing strategy and lending money to the banks directly and not to the country. This means that the banks would be the ones to fulfill the conditions imposed by the Eurogroup, not the Spanish government. 

We should wait some days to realize the real implications of this bailout they don´t want to define as such. But if we look back, we´ll see that when the economic crisis started in 2007 and the USA banks had problems in 2008, the Federal Reserve bailed them out with 700,000 million dollars. The USA started its recovery first. The European Union decided to follow a different way: austerity and deficit control above all. This policy has brought a lot of cuts, the biggest attack to the Welfare State up to date, hundreds of thousands of unemployed... As we can see, the people who are in charge of the governments don´t want to learn from the past. Or maybe they forget about the parts of history that don´t fit with their plans?

Eurogroup statement on Spain:

And here you have a complete report about Spain´s situation prepared by the BBC website. It includes graphs and a questions and answers´section:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday, 6th of June

Today in Social Sciences, the inspector has been with us. He has come to see how we do the class. He has told us that he was very interested to know about us. Paqui has made the lesson as always, but we haven't been as always, we have been so much quieter. 
We have started the lesson checking the scheme that the other day Paqui send to us to do for homework. It was about the Fascist Italy and we had to divide it in trhee parts. 
The first one was about Italy after WW1, more than 700,000 Italians had died, destroyed industries, the State had debts, prices increased.. Italians considered they weren't recompensed and there were political instability. Peasants occupied lands and workers controlled factories. The bourgeois supported extremist groups to avoid revolution. 
The second part was about Mussolini. He was a former socialist who created a paramilitary group called Blackshirts (1919). Violence were use to confront workers, break strikes.. In 1921, he transformed into a political party, National Fascist Party: they defended prisate property, a strong State an aggresive foreign policy and use of violence. Supported by: bourgeoise, big landowners, industrialist, the Church and king 
Victor Emanuel III. 
The last part was about, how the fascists reached power and their totalitarian State. In October 1922, Blackshirts of all Italy and he used violence to demand power. The king appointed Mussolini as prime minister and in 1924 were the elections won by the Fascist Party. In the authoritarian regime, Matteotli, a socialist deputy, denounce this and was killed. All the opposition forces retired. The totalarian State, Mussolini became duce, political parties were forbidden, opposition was persecuted, unions substitued by corporations, the State controlled social life and autorchic economic policy. 
Paqui has showed us some slogan about Mussolini, they were the following:

  1. "All within the State, none outside the State, none gone the State"
  2. "Mussolini is always right"
  3. "Believe, obey, fight"
  4. "Either with us against us"
We have learnt so many words today, as always. For example:
  • Reward: recompensa
  • The Two Red Years: Bienio rojo
  • Seizure: ocupación
  • Fertile ground: campo abandonado
  • Corporal: cabo
  • Storm troops: fuerzas de choque
  • Bundle of sticks: haz de palos
At the end of the class, Paqui has wanted to show our projects from these years to the inspector. We have seen "Tanto, Monta's" video and we have been singing. The inspector has said us that congratulations for our work. 

Presentation about Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany

Here you have the presentation we´ve used today to study Italian fascism. We´ll use it too to study Nazi Germany next week. If you need it, have a look on it to complete your notes. Remember to summarize the content about Nazi Germany for Monday!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The New Deal alphabet soup of agencies and laws

AAA, SEC, PWA, NIRA, SSA, TVA and so on. During the 1930s Franklin Delano Roosevelt´s federal government created a lot of national agencies to carry out the New Deal programs. Over 30 new agencies were created to put federal programs in practice. Here you have some cartoons about the New Deal remedies: 

Roosevelt: "Of course we may try to change remedies if we don´t get results"

Roosevelt to Uncle Sam on 1933 Christmas´ Eve: "Uncle, I´m surely expecting something!"

All these agencies and programs were abbreviated with the use of several acronyms and were known as the Alphabet Soup. On this cartoon we can see that even Albert Einstein had difficulties to understand this letter soup: 

Einstein to Roosevelt: "It´s very perplexing. Relativity is so simple by comparison!"

On this link you have a list of the most used New Deal Acronyms: 

And here you have some more information about the Top Ten New Deal Programs: 

Many of the agencies created during the New Deal years still exist. Here you have a report about them: 

The New Deal programs mobilized 64,000 million dollars, reduced poverty and created a lot of jobs, but some groups in the USA considered Roosevelt´s programs as a step forward towards centrally planned economy  and socialism and went to the Supreme Court of Justice to oppose these this programs. This cartoon reflects this opinion: 

On the right in the background we can observe Stalin saying "How red the sunrise is getting!".
On the left in the foreground we can read the interpretation the critics made of the New Deal spending program. 

And this is another cartoon where Roosevelt denied that his program was revolutionary:

The Supreme Court of Justice declared some of the New Deal laws unconstitutional. Here you have a list of them and the reasons why they were considered to be unconstitutional: 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Roaring crisis

Just in case you want to sing ;)

And here you have the original song: American idiot, by Green Day

Something more about Keynes

Henry Morgenthau (on the left) and John Maynard Keynes (on the right) at the Bretton Woods Conference

John Maynard Keynes is one of the most influential world economists, together with Adam Smith (considered to be the father of economic liberalism) and Karl Marx (theorist of Scientific Socialism). Keynes´s  ideas had an important role in the solution of the 30s Great Depression and the foundation of the so called Golden Age of Capitalism, which extended from the end of WW2 and the beginning of the 1970s decade. 

Keynes was a British economist who studied in Cambridge and belonged to the Bloomsbury group, a heterogenous group of intellectuals who lived, studied and worked together at the beginning of the 20th century. He had a lot of personal interests and worked as an investor and businessman. He opposed to WW1 from pacifism, but collaborated with the British government during the war and was sent to the Conference of Paris as financial representative for the Treasury. He resigned due to his disagreement with the ideas of revenge against Germany and the war reparations imposed to them (40,000 million dollars). His book The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) warned about the impossibility of paying these war reparations (2,000 million dollars per year) and the danger of reducing Germany to servitude. He considered that the hard conditions imposed to Germany would be very negative for the future. Here you have two excerpts of his book

The policy of reducing Germany to servitude for a generation, of degrading the lives of millions of human beings, and of depriving a whole nation of happiness, should be abhorrent and detestable.... Nations are not authorised, by religion or by natural morals, to visit on the children of their enemies the misdoings of parents or of rulers.... 

The Treaty includes no provisions for the economic rehabilitation of Europe - nothing to make the defeated Central Empires into good neighbours, nothing to stabilise the new States of Europe, nothing to reclaim Russia... The Council of Four paid no attention to these issues, being preoccupied with others - Clemenceau to crush the economic life of his enemy, Lloyd George to bring home something that would pass muster for a week, the President to do nothing that was not just and right.

Keynes, John Maynard (1919) The Economic Consequences of Peace

His main ideas were explained on his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,  written in 1936. Due to this book Keynes is considered to be the father of macroeconomics. He wrote a smaller book called Essays in persuasion, where he explained his ideas in a simpler way. These are the most important ideas he developed: 

- He described the mechanism of crises, as it had been observed in 1929: prosperity is characterized by  investing euphoria and speculation, there is a credit expansion, which leads to overproduction. Those who got credits can´t give them back and crisis starts. The consequence is credit contraction and this leads to recession

- Keynes also talked about animals spirits, the human impulses which can´t be explained rationally and produce economic fluctuations, for example consumer confidence in some products or a reduction of consumption which can´t be explained rationally. 

- His most important contribution was the idea of the need for a State intervention when there is a macroeconomic void. The State has to intervene in order to correct the problems individuals can´t solve on their own and heal the system. The State intervention he defended didn´t mean ending with capitalism, but strengthening it to make it work better and more efficiently. Keynes didn´t think that the State had to own the means of production (as the Socialists said). The role of the State had to be the one of a regulator, to avoid risk and do what the individuals were not doing, to stimulate economy when it was depressed, in order to recover full employment. That means that the State has to act as an economic agent when the circumstances demand it. Keynes also defended the existence of institutions to control credit and money and collect economic data, so that the State could be ready to intervene when it was necessary. 

- Another important idea was that times of prosperity and economic growth  are the best moment to reduce deficit. If you do it during recession , you will make things worse. 

- Although Keynes wrote a lot of pages of economic theory, he was a pragmatist and considered economics as a practical and instrumental science, whose main objective is providing people with all they needed to live better and have more time to do other things. 

- Keynes also warned about the danger of overestimating the importance of economics. This could mean putting economic problems over other people´s needs. He was not an orthodox, but a flexible thinker, ready to prove other solutions if what was being done didn´t work. 

Keynes participated in Bretton Woods Conference, the meeting called to design the international economic system after WW2. He defended the idea of creating an International Clearing Union (a World Central Bank) to lend money to the countries in crisis and help them rebalance their accounts. He also proposed the creation of an international currency, the bancor. His ideas were rejected and the USA government imposed its opinion. 

As we have studied, Keynes´s ideas were very important to solve the crisis of the 30s and basic for the foundation of the Welfare States as an alternative to non-regulated economic liberalism and Stalinism. Keynes´s influence was decisive for more than 30 years. When a new crisis started in the 1970s decade, his prescriptions were forgotten and neo-liberal economists focused their interest on controlling inflation and public deficit. The recent recession has revived Keynes´s ideas and some of the most influential current economists, such as Nobel Prize Winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, define themselves as Neo- Keynesian.  

Here you have two curious videos about a theoretical combat between John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Von Hayek (defender of the free market and the non intervention of the State in economy): 

The main part of this post is based on Joaquín Estefanía´s book La economía del miedo, edited by Galaxia Gutenberg-Círculo de Lectores in 2011. 

Monday, 4th June 2012.

Today in Social Sciences at the beginning of the class Paqui has asked for silence two or three times because we were speaking a lot. Then we have been in silence so we have started the class.

Paqui has explained us the proposals that were to solve the crisis with the help of the Power Point. The proposals were two: invest in public works to generate job and stimulation of production and consumption. Then Silvia has checked the exercise 5 that we had to finish cheking. Afterwards we have copied a small scheme about the New Deal. Paqui has also explained us about the decisions that were taken to reactivate economy that were various such as subsidies for farmers to destroy their stocks and recover prices, minimum prices to fight deflation and creation of the Public Works Administration to build big infraestructures with public money and create jobs.

Afterwards Paqui has explained the changed that the Social Legislation suffered, such as the Social Security Act, to give pensions and assistance for retired workers and disabled or abolition of child labour. There were also a lot of reforms in the Financial Legislation, like a banking reform to avoid another bankrupt and the creation of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) to supervise the stocks market, Paqui has also explained it.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission headquarters 
Afterwards Paqui has explained us about the Three R Program or the New Deal., with a chart of different tasks to reactive economy. The Three R meaned Reform, Relief and Recovery and it included the creation of a big amount of federal agencies and public programs, known as the Alphabet Soup of Laws, due to the number of new acronyms created (AAA, PWA, WPA SEC, etc). Paqui has also explained us that some of the decisions taken were declared as unconstitucional by the Supreme Courts of Justice. Anyway these decisions created more workers, more demand, more consumption and more production of products. To finish with this, Paqui has showed us a graphic about the evolution of the unemployment people in the USA. The crisis didn't finished until the outbreak of WWII.

So at the end of the class we have started with the second point of the unit: Fascist Italy. Paqui has told us for homework to read pages 63 and 64 and summarize them following the next points:

  • Italy after WWI
  • Who Mussolini was and paramilitary and political groups he created and their way of acting and ideology.
  • How the fascists reached power and how they transformed Italy in a totalitarian state.

At the end of the class Paqui has given a song called "Roaring Depression" based on the song "American Idiot" by Green Day. Nice song!

That's all for today!!