Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Royal Wedding: A Global Message of Hypocrisy.

Now that it’s the day after the big hubbub I figure I should probably say something regarding the subject.  Frankly I consider the entire facade of the royal wedding sick and twisted on so many levels.  There are so many strands of hypocrisy that surround the event and the mentality I’m not really sure where to start.

This conceptualisation as a celebration of Britishness is so absolutely bizarre to me.  What is it to be British, what do the monarchy represent?

Do they represent British Imperialism, where at the peak we held a quarter of the worlds population under our dominion, were 5 times the size of the Roman Empire by population and 6 times the size by land mass?  In which our actions encouraged, enabled and enacted genocide, continuation of a caste based society, pillaging of a regions resources, instigation of a slave trade and a denial of human rights?

Is Britishness identified as our apparent failed multiculturalism and a determination that white, anglo-saxon and protestant is the best thing to be?  An inability to work together with people of other cultures and communities?

Is it fish and chips, or a curry with a pint (multi-culturalism is dead, but we’ll still appropriate their food for our enjoyment)?  Other than the fact we call them the British Monarchy what part of this entire situation am I meant to feel attached to them, other than as someone who happens to, purely by coincidence, have the privilege of being born in one of the most historically oppressive countries in the world?

Or maybe the Britishness that I’m meant to feel an overwhelming joy for is the fact we live in one of the freest democracies with one of the most powerful economies!  Where protests become the subject of police oppression.  Where an unelected Government without a mandate is destroying everything they possibly can which would support the poor, the sick, the elderly.  Where it’s considered a genuine and implausible battle for people to fight for a fairer voting system (with STV being completely thrown out the window).  Where our democratic right to choose our own head of state is replaced by a religiously justified and hereditarily chosen individual with no accountability but a great deal of power (that’d be the monarchy, by the way.)

Where people are being arrested (or threatened with arrest) for crimes that haven’t even been committed to prevent dissent [clicky] [clicky] [clicky] [clicky] [clicky].  Where people living on the route of the wedding weren’t allowed republican posters in their windows.  Where Westminster city council bans street sleeping, along with such action on a broader scale come the Olympics, to hide from the rest of the world our levels of homelessness.  Is Britishness encapsulated in our stiff upper lip and ability to weather hard, economic downturns by splashing money on the royal wedding, while people are being laid off from their jobs and having disability benefits cut?

This kind of encapsulates the entire drama surrounding the Royal wedding.  The country is entering it’s toughest test of the last 20 years, which may yet prove to be worse than life under Thatcher, yet the approach surrounding the wedding is to sweep everything under the rug and pretend to the outside world that everything is hunky dory.  We don’t have homelessness problems, we don’t have republicans, we don’t have an economic crises. [clicky]  We have bunting, and lots of it.  We have wedding dresses and military uniforms, crowds of people cheering because they love having a monarchy (though I still can’t figure out what it is about the monarchy that they like).  It reminds me of the fascist propaganda spread by Mussolini that he’d made the trains run on time.

So while our flailing economy is completely shut down for a day in a fashion much more efficient than any black bloc action will ever be.  While money is spent on cake, champagne and all sorts of other accoutrement instead of schools, the NHS, disability benefits, libraries etc.  While leaders from (and other representatives of) oppressive, autocratic regimes, responsible for torture and shooting protesters who demand democratic rights [clicky] [clicky] [clicky] are sent invites asking them to attend …

Lets all be happy that a someone we’ll never meet and never be effected by is tying the knot with someone else who we’ll never meet and never be effected by.  That these two people, living off the backs of riches garnered through imperialism, oppression and war, will never again have to want for anything in their lives irrespective of what direction the rest of the country is going in.  Let us celebrate that Britishness has achieved this climax of socioeconomic enlightenment, or rather abject ignorance on the matter.

——————————

And yes, it’s true, that Prince William didn’t ask to be born into the royal family and didn’t ask to have all this press focus and attention heaped upon him, and it’s not his fault and he probably doesn’t enjoy it.  But he could do the same as his great, great, great uncle Edward VIII and abdicated in favour of a simpler life.  He chooses to maintain the benefits of his hereditary position and therefore chooses to be subject to the criticisms of it.

So lets not say we shouldn’t care about the royal wedding having happened because it’s a very important occasion.  But lets not con ourselves into it having been good for the country, or an expression of this constructed notion of Britishness.

Why is Tesco such a big issue?

These are not my words.  They are the writings of a good friend of mine, Lee Salter.  But they offer good insight into the contradiction of Tesco providing jobs, cheap food and people shopping there because of it’s “brilliant service”.  The same very much applies to most large supermarket corporations:

Well I wrote this for a comment XXX’s wall (in response to something someone else wrote), but I might as well share it. Basically it’s an answer to the “let people choose whether to go to the supermarket or not”. Steal at will.

I think the point you’re missing is that supermarkets don’t really give people genuine choices. In the first instance, should they be faced with an uncooperative planning department, they bully, harass and (unofficially) bribe to get planning permission to build pretty much what they want, where they want. In this sense, one might suggest that protesters look to change planning law, but the chances of any government turning round to say “okay, we’ll change planning law to suit people at the expense of business” are rather minute. Additionally, local authorities are under such financial pressure, that they are loathe to say no, lest they lose out on the income generated through business rates.

Second is the mode of operation of most supermarkets – they tend to buy much of their produce from countries where there are large landholdings (often owned by big transnational corporations). Those large landholders will pressure their workers and tenants to produce for the supermarkets (whether Tesco or Sainsbury’s, Asda/Walmart or whoever else) for very low prices because it is more profitable for the landowner (rather than those working there, who generally have no choice) to export to supermarkets in bulk than to produce for local markets.

It’s not just in poor countries where this downward pressure on prices (and therefore wages) occurs (though the use of armed thugs and militia to prevent workers from organising for better wages – yes, they just kill anyone who tries to improve conditions is rather worse). It happens here too – just ask a small chicken farmer or milk farmer if you can find one – the suppliers TELL them what they’ll charge!

Finally, there are the customers. Faced with a simple economic choice, of course most people will “choose” Tescos. But this is not because of the quality of Tescos food or the “experience” of shopping there. It’s because it is cheap. Why does this appeal? Because most people are in a contradictory situation. We DO live in a wasteful, throwaway society. We are encouraged into that attitude every day in every way. At the same time, though, wages do not tend to keep up with REAL prices – so although we have to consume (lest we damage growth rates), but we can’t afford it so we borrow (ever heard of the credit crunch?!!) and/or companies work at keeping prices down (and therefore also wages down, creating a further contradiction) to enable people to continue throwing away and over-consuming. So, for example, the middle classes over-purchase rather often. This means, in order to keep up consumption patterns, we have to “over-purchase” relatively cheaply. Local shops aren’t able to offer cheaper foods because of their lack of control over the supply chain and because of economies of scale. If we take working class and poorer people who don’t necessarily over-consume, well, they just go for what is cheapest and easiest, which brings us back full circle to planning law.

I don’t blame anyone for going to Tescos – indeed, I’m not adverse to shopping in supermarkets. I’d prefer not to, but to suggest it is simply a choice is rather an oversimplification!

Her [Ayn Rand] diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.” She called him “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy,” shimmering with “immense, explicit egotism.” Rand had only one regret: “A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough.

 

How Ayn Rand Became an American Icon: The perverse allure of a damaged woman.

eeeeeeyikes.

(via bluebears)

Puts a new spin on my favorite game: Libertarian or Serial Killer?

(via itsonreserve)

“Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.”  DING DING DING, we have a philosophy.

(via scoldylox)

Ayn Rand is the worst philosopher.

(via totalprotonicreversal)

She wasn’t a philosopher. Ask any professional philosopher in the world about Ayn Rand, and they start laughing and won’t stop. She thought she was, but wishin’ won’t make it so.

(via picturesinhismind)

Everyone is a philosopher.  They’re not intrinsically good philosophers, but everyone engages in philosophy.  Ayn Rand (along with Friedman as far as I’m concerned) were hugely popular sociopaths.  Hugely popular precisely because the bull they spout on a regular basis proved very convenient for people feeling as though they’ve legitimised their own sociopathic tendencies.

Stokes Croft: “Tesco riots” and “petrol bombs”

A lot is starting to float out in the media about the riot in Stokes Croft on Thursday.  Frankly a lot of it is nonsense in so far as I’m concerned.  I have friends that live in the area and when I heard a riot had broken out I travelled down to observe what was going on and because I have friends that live in the immediate area.  I could write an account of what I saw, but I’ve already spoken to the New Statesman and the main parts have already been included in the article, so it’s simpler for me to direct you to that for a recounting of events.

For my contribution to the article one person in the comments has characterised me as “spent all night smashing up the area because he was either drunk/on ketamine/both” (I was completely sober, though quite tired, and didn’t so much as pick up a bottle to throw) and someone else said that because I’m a student I “don’t even live in the local area for much of the year.” (I grew up just outside of Bristol, I currently live in Bristol and because my parents home is so close I don’t go home on university breaks.  Stokes Croft is a favourite area of mine to go to when going to the centre).  So you can see already people are much more ready to leap to judgements and conclusions about an article themselves, and guilty of exactly the same sort of things they accuse the author of.

There are, however, two main assertions floating about that I think really need rebuking and confronting.  The first is that the police went into the squat to deal with a petrol bomb situation.  The second is that this was a riot over Tesco/squat eviction/other started and carried out by anarchists/hippies/other.

So why am I so openly willing to declare without a shadow of a doubt that I have no faith in this claim of petrol bombs being involved in the situation?

A lot of the entire concept of this story really just doesn’t add up.  From the police website statement on the issue:

Police seized a number of items –including possible petrol bombs – from the property.

And a subsequent statement to BBC News on the matter:

“believed to be”
“so you did find …” “yes”
“we’re looking at evidence forensically to confirm”

So the police themselves don’t seem able to decide whether or not they’ve found petrol bombs, found what look like petrol bombs or need to do forensic tests to prove whether or not they are, indeed petrol bombs.

Well, what exactly constitutes a petrol bomb, also known as a molotov cocktail, in the first place?  An empty bottle, some rags and some petrol or some other flammable liquid such as white spirits.  The majority of houses will have these constituent objects.  The squat was occupied by artists, so  if they had turpentine or white spirits or anything similar in their houses for cleaning brushes or thinning paints does that then legitimately make them into violent criminals just waiting to smash corporations?  Next time you’re seen walking into your house with a crate of beer do you want the police knocking on your door asking if you’ll be using the bottles to make petrol bombs?

Other things that don’t add up about this whole assertion:

I have friends that live next door to the squat and know the squatters.  This idea flabbergasted them as the squatters, at least to my friends, did not come across as the type of people who would do this.  Any time they’d been into the squat they hadn’t seen petrol bombs laying around waiting to be thrown.

The squat has been longstanding but at the moment the council want them out so that the council can impose it’s own image of how the Stokes Croft area should function.  They’d been issued with a notice of eviction for Wednesday and on Tuesday organised a party to make sure lots of people were there to be able to resist bailiffs.  The eviction never came, yet on Thursday 160 police in riot gear descend saying the squatters have petrol bombs, forcing their way in and overturning things as they go.  You can read the squatters statement here, and an anti-Tesco protester also did an interview with BBC Radio 5 to voice their own bemusement with the situation, saying “I was chatting to the security people and I discovered that two of the firms were employed by Tesco … another third company were Geordie boys and they were very tough. They said that they weren’t at liberty to disclose – it was a London firm that employed them- but as you got chatting they said that they were specialists in evicting squats along the Thames.

…  And the chap that had been describing the local people in such a derogatory way said “They’ve got petrol bombs in there” and I said, “I don’t think so!” –‘cause I’d been there over the four days and there were about four people in the building itself, and I hadn’t seen any evidence of any of that” and they reported it to the police who immediately responded with a huge over-the-top reaction.” – the linked blog has a complete transcript of the statement, a youtube clip with the whole radio interview on it and a little more information either side.  But the inference from all this is

1. Bristol Council want the squat out.

2. Bailiffs don’t go and do it themselves.

3. Working as security at the disputed Tesco are security who specialise in getting squats out. (A Tesco that locals didn’t want there but the council did. Which seems to suggest towards an institutionalised corruption, supported by this news article, whereby due to the government no longer providing money for projects councils are no encouraged to take bribes from big business.)

4. A call is made to police claiming the squat has petrol bombs they plan to use against Tesco.

This also wouldn’t be the first time police have lied about a situation to legitimise their actions.

There are other, nitty gritty bits of information about the whole situation that don’t add up.  If there was such a prevalent bomb threat from the squat, why is it they were released and able to get back into the squat within 4 hours of the initial events starting?  Police forgot to lock the doors and they weren’t meant to return, but in my experience of Avon and Somerset police from friends arrested on peaceful demonstrations, 4 hours is a very fast turn around.

Also the press statement went up very quickly, making very definite claims about what happened and who caused what.  Again, Avon and Somerset constabulary have taken days before making statements regarding public order situations – this one came out barely after the fires had died down.  This seems to tie in to the idea that they had already planned what was going to be said.

Yet on Friday Channel 4 news and the Telegraph were asserting that the Tesco had been petrol bombed.  It was not!  This is a press misrepresentation of a story which, given all the evidence, I very much believe to be a fabrication in the first place.

The second assertion, if you hadn’t gotten bored and drifted off by this point already, is that this was a riot against Tesco, or in support of the squat and it was perpetrated by anti-Tesco/pro-squat hippies/anarchists/take your pick.  That the riot is illegitimate because it was just a bunch of middle class bohemians with daddy issues.  Now I’m not going to get into an argument over whether or not the riot was legitimate, whether or not the the violence was justified for this cause or the other.  Frankly I’m not concerned about that in the specifics, what concerns me is the very flippant way a very broad group of people are being pigeon-holed and having their intentions attributed to them.

At the time of writing this it’s a Sunday on a 4 day, Easter, bank holiday weekend.  Friday was a bank holiday with no work, so Thursday was a night out on town for many people.  Stokes Croft has plenty of pubs on it, it’s a busy road in to town and many will start off with pre-drinks on Gloucester Road and make their way to the centre through Stokes Croft.

The police raid happened at 9 in the evening on this busy street.  There are reports from eye witness accounts that many people began to observe the squat eviction with interest (and who wouldn’t when there are hundreds of riot police blocking off much of a road).  The police response was overly aggressive towards by standers including shunting with shields to force them back.

Stokes Croft is an area that has a very singular character and a largely autonomist culture.  It’s also situated next door to St Paul’s and Montpelier, regions with a lot of youths and a lot of dissociation from mainstream authority.  I saw a lot of young people there who were spoiling for a fight with authority, they weren’t concerned about what else was going on.  They were enjoying the theatre of the situation.

At no point is it ever a wise idea to sit over a hundred police in riot gear, blocking off a main road to the centre, shunting drunk people around in an area that already wouldn’t be the greatest of fans of a large police presence.  Yes, the starting was in essence a squat eviction and yes, Tesco did get thoroughly smashed up.  But to infer that those were some focus of a pre-planned activism is wrong.  It was an organic process of the public being riled up the council, by corporatism, by police.  It was an expression of dissociation from government and authority.  It wasn’t a riot about this, that or the other it simple was a riot.

And notice what I said before about the “theatre of the situation” – nobody will expect Tesco to turn tail and run because of this.  Nobody expects the squat to no longer risk eviction because of this.  When it comes to the TUC march on March 26th nobody thinks the government will suddenly say “whoops, you don’t want these cuts?  Sorry, I’ll undo them.”

That’s not how it works.  Protests and demonstrations are public statements of unrest.  Riots even more so.  They’re almost a drama piece, or an art project, spontaneously created to make a statement.  They’re organic congregations of people with various purposes, intentions and problems that for a few brief hours have decided they’re going to be doing the same thing about it.  Because they’re angry, they’re frustrated and because the state and corporations are ignoring everything else they’ve had to say in the past.  It’s not about saying “oh but rioting over just one Tesco when bigger things are happening else where!” but ultimately what you’re doing is ignoring the bigger things that have happened to the participants in the riot that have led to such an intense show of much broader anger.

“Let riot be the rhyme of the unheard.”

Edit: Maybe a good article to read for a bit of background and a recount of events.  Eye-witness accounts are floating here there and everywhere so if you search about they’re sure to be found.

Time’s sycophantic 100 Most Influential List

abudai:

Instead of honoring the death of Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who single-handedly changed the landscape of Arab politics forever, who galvanized an entire region into a historical movement that will be inked into the books of schoolchildren forever, who set the hearts of youth all across the Middle East on fire, TIME chose to honor:

  • Blake Lively
  • Amy Chua
  • Justin Beiber
  • Saif Gaddafi

You hear that, Time? That’s the sound of my respect for you running itself through a paper shredder.

Bourgeois magazine congratulates bourgeois in successfully being very rich and using that money to change things without making an ethical judgement of what those things should be.  Bourgeois magazine ignores contribution to change by the proletariat, because the proletariat change things with deeds not money.  Quelle surprise?  I’m amazed BP aren’t getting a special mention, being congratulated for their ability to use money to influence governments to do shit all about the destruction they’re causing.

Hi There, I’m a poli sci and public policy student. In your opinion, do you think these areas can impact and make a positive change in the world? If so, what ways can a person studying these fields do just that? I need the motivation!

I’m a politics student but my preference is towards political philosophy over the comparative aspects of political science.  I think the ethical question of “what are the systems we’re creating, how do they really function and who do they benefit?” are of absolute importance.  Of course studying the nature of governments, as long as you keep a critical mind regarding them, can only be beneficial.  What’s more is knowing how things work improves how you can make changes.  As an anti-statist, anti-capitalist I would’ve said the best overall good you can do with that sort of a degree would be along the lines of journalism (something which interests me greatly), or perhaps finding work with charitable organisations that help people for the sake of helping people rather than for profit.

Personally, a degree is about self-development and enlightenment.  Once you’ve finished your degree, if you keep an eye out looking for a job that will suit your interests and passions, then your degree will benefit you within that regardless of what it is you choose.  Although the bare facts are important, the most important thing you’re learning along the way is critical thinking.  Good luck with your studies!

More NUS tirades

As some of you may have guessed from a recent blog post, I’m not a great fan of the NUS.  Well, I sort of got half way into an argument about it with a stranger on facebook and then went to the pub and got a little imbibed with aclohol.  when I got back to check my notifications I discovered they’d posted something which nagged my annoyance bone and got me more heated up.  Which in turn triggered a slightly heated if entire honest response that pretty much encapsulates my distaste for NUS politics.

The person I’m in discussion with is a former member of the National Union of Students National Executive Committee.  Because the NUS is ridiculously convoluted regarding what you can do and how exactly what that means is never really clear to anyone but on a regular if not aily basis these are the people voting things through, and then the National Conference is the losest thing the NUS gets to a conference.

Full conversation is here, which is on this page that may need liking before it can be seen.  I was pretty much ignoring the other comments and went for the NUS NEC, partley because I dind’t care what everyone else was saying and partly because.  Well.  This is the main response of mine, post alcohol, that I wished to she.  As I say I’ve drunk a bit so it’s maybe more a tirade than it otherwise would’ve been.  It does, however, make the criticisms I wish to make and responds to the self-righteousness amongst a lot of the NUS system that makes it exclusive rather than inclusive and elitist, ignoring calls for broader democratic participation.  Instead they trumpet about how great a democracy it already is despite it’s convoluted systems of control.

As a politics student I also have a major, major pet peeve of sanctimonious political science students.  Studying politics we look at both political philosophy and political science.  Philosophy side looks at key writers since Plato, what their ideas were, why they’re good/bad, how they compare to each other and what relevance they have in modern day.  Political science looks at comparing functional systems in a statistical sense – the science aspect looks for quantitive results to analyse instead of prosaic and rational reasoning on subjects.

Ok so my tirade:

And this is fundamentally the issue of political science as a course which by definition ignores or fails to emphasise political philosophy. What about, in broader democratic terms, the very fact that the majority of the parochial group are the working classes who feel forced out of normalised liberal democratic functions because it’s a political system designed for, propagated by and governed by the upper middle and upper classes? The fact that their inherent socialisation leads them away from participation within such functions because from the moment they’re born their parents are being stamped on, they’re being stamped on and democracy has no concern for what their needs are because they don’t have the economic power to fund an election campaign? What about anarchists and those people believe in direct democracy, people who see representative democracy as a fundamental denial and subversion of human socio-political intercourse?

For the first group involvement is futile as it will always ignore their wants and needs. And NUS and universities are no different where higher education very much is, and for a long time will remain, the domain of the economically privileged. As a system it considers the wants, needs, desires and interests of those who are already involved. Why broaden this or work to broaden this when they’re not compelled to by their already privileged electorate? They don’t understand and have never experienced the discrimination inherent within capitalism.
For the second group involvement is fundamentally corrupting of their idealogical basis because to become involved is to legitimise and place, in your own activity thereby generating a sense of personal interest, an undue importance in the self over the broader community?
If the system is institutionally corrupt then to participate in the system is to participate in, legitimise and become embroiled within the same corruption that must be fought against. Therefore the only way to deal with the system is from the outside, rather than becoming a part of, and institutionalised within, it.

However political science ignores the arguments or broader political philosophies and looks only at the comparative aspects of it. So you’ll excuse me (or not, I don’t care) if I have a somewhat derisive attitude of the approach you’re coming to the subject from. Rather than looking at the ethical, desirable and rationally justifiable aspects of it you’re boiling it down to a set of statistics and hoping they’ll bring you enlightenment.
As someone who has already been embedded within and institutionalised by the system you’ll also excuse me if I view your stance as skewed. You’ve already presupposed that the system works to the extent that you’re willing to become a participant within it, you’ve already become a participant to the extent that you’re willing to vaunt yourself into the upper echelons of it and you CLEARLY have already considered yourself better than other people for doing so. You’ve already stamped on the capacity for others to be politically participatory (by being delegate voting capacities, whereby they can’t) and derided those who see fault in the system and refused to partake of it because of that. You’ve already declared illegitimate the stance of those who view the system as illegitimate, you’ve already already been warped by the rhetoric surrounding the idea that the NUS is necessary and functional in it’s current format and you’ve already been sat there deciding the nature of my academic experience, the academic experience for thousands of others and the academic experience of countless thousands to come based on what legitimacy exactly?

So fuck your elitism when you tell me to put up and shut up. How dare you tell me what I can and cannot expect from my academic experience? How dare you tell others what they can and cannot expect from their academic experience? How dare you declare that your views are more valid than mine, how dare you declare that anyones views are more valid than others and how dare you expect me to participate in your flawed mimicry of external flawed “democratic” systems so that I can tell others how their views are less valid than mine?

Fuck student unions, fuck the NUS, fuck the national conference and fuck you.

I guess my anarchical tendencies are becoming increasingly apparent.

And people wonder why I hate NUS politics?

As UK students probably won’t be aware (because the NUS is appalling at making it’s constituents aware of any major developments that will effect them) over the past few days the NUS National Conference has been ongoing.  It’s largely a pat yourselves on the back and then fail to really make any difference sort of affair.  It helps students pretend they actually have a say in what’s going on (by probably not participating in electing somebody you probably don’t know to go and make decisions on your behalf with no basis for you to know what those decisions will end up being nor what you’d want those decisions to be).  This is how NUS decides policy for the next year and also how it’s officers are elected.  Each institution with a students union affiliated to the NUS vote for X number of delegates (I think my university voted for 10 delegates to go to it).  Anybody can stand to be a delegate and the ten people with the most votes get to go and vote on these decisions and elect the NUS President and other offices on your behalf.

There’s no real campaigning that’s done on the matter, just a brief manifesto (usually saying “I will represent all students!” goody, stupid as well as idiotic) some pictures and a vote.  For our ten delegate positions, 12 people stood and I think the most any person got in votes was 50.  My university has 30,000 students so I’ll say that again for emphasis.  The most any person got in votes was around the 50 mark.

Erm.  Democratic deficit at all anybody?

According to the wonderful world of twitter, which can tend to be fairly reliable or fairly unreliable depending on the situation, tomorrow is going to have a motion to censure (or basically mute and deny the right to talk to the conference) Mark Bergfield.

Bergfield ran for NUS President, has been a member of the NUS NEC and is one of the few people who’s in there that’s actually doing anything when it comes to organising the student body into action instead of frantically trying to get them to sit down, be quiet and calmly put their collective head on the chopping blocks.

So not only is this body fundamentally undemocratic and intellectually masturbatory, they also have no shame in trying to shut out the slightest vocal opposition to their apathetic stupidity.

Then they complain when people who don’t want to get involved sit on the sidelines moaning.  Huh!

eagleinyourmind:

Free Brad

Isn’t it very, painfully obvious as to why even after regime change (whoops … party change) the American and British governments can’t press human rights or international criminal charges against the likes of Bush and Blair?

So much is covered up and hidden over.  They want none of the stuff they’ve done to have a light shone on it.  We all know the calamitous effect media coverage over instances such as Abu-Graib and Guantanamo Bay have on popular internal support (for government as a whole not just individuals) and international relations.

If it went to trial the courts would delve deeper, get whole stories about the broader picture not just one off instances.  All those rumours about people being sent to Syria to be tortured would have names, faces and actions behind them.

It would be a disaster.  The new governments don’t want that any more than the individuals who ordered the actions to happen.  Not least because it would make it harder for them to continue doing them.

footstepsoftheprophet:

Mona Elthawy on France’s banning of face veils

I have lost A LOT of respect for Mona…

This is actually one of the few times I like a journalist, and Hebah, was just awesome! You go girl<3 And Mona, you know what? You’re wrong.

I’d like to voice my two cents on this issue because it’s something that’s going to come up quite a lot over the coming days.

To start off I’ll point out that, as an atheist, arguments regarding why it’s important from the sense of coming closer to Allah aren’t my concern.

On a personal level I do find the niqab slightly unnerving.  The only point of reference I have regarding this is when I was at work and serving a couple, the woman was in a niqab and it did make me feel slightly uneasy.  I’m happy to admit that a lot of this comes down to culture shock and quite simply not being used to interacting with people wearing niqabs.  I don’t have a problem in the slightest seeing somebody walking down the street wearing a burqa, it simply comes down to the fact that when I’m in conversation with someone I’m used to seeing their face and their expressions and don’t like not being able to.  It’s probably connected to the same reason I hate using telephones to talk to people.

That is, however, an entirely personal issue and has nothing to do with how policy should or should not determine whether or not people wear it.  This is an important distinction to know and one that I’m fully aware of.  However I didn’t want to pretend to be some multi-cultural super hero, completely at home with any situation wherever and whatever that may be.

I see the instances of societal expectation or requirement to wear the niqab to be oppressive in nature.  In a situation where you’ve been raised and everyone around you is wearing the niqab, even if you’re not being directly told “you must do this”, it would be hard not to internalise this as a norm.  The choice may technically exist, but isn’t wholly free.

The claim that the niqab is a form of liberation from misogyny may have merit in it’s function, however to my mind this approach is bowing to cultural norms and finding a way to work within them.  The fight should be to tear down damaging norms as a group rather than avoiding coming into conflict with them as an individual.

However with all that said I completely disagree with the French government’s decision to ban the burqa.  Liberation, if liberation is indeed needed which I’m sure many people would be willing to debate, must come from within and cannot be enforced on a group.  Furthermore denying people to dress (or not at all dress) how they should choose is wrong.  Mona in this video comes across as soap boxing on the issue rather than being willing to debate the aspects of it, which is highly unproductive.

Two months of Tumblr

I’d like to thank all of the people on tumblr who follow me.  I’ve been using for just over two months (gosh this already sounds like narcotics anonymous) and it’s introduced me to a fantastic range of different people with different points of view.  It’s functional on a much higher level than twitter, by merit of the fact you can actually have substance to what you say rather than trying to pack it down into just 140 characters, and much more open than facebook or livejournal, because you can see the way the ideas and memes have circulated.  You can see who’s been interested in you, who your friends are interested in and through this encounter a much wider community of people with similar interests, rather than being forever tied to your immediate friendship groups or a handful of celebrities you hope may bestow you with some epiphany.  While I had gotten into twitter as a way to keep up with uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, tumblr is much more functional at this for the above reasons.

When I first got my tumblr, two months ago as I said, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with it.  I’m still not really certain, but I do know I want to try and invest something a little deeper regarding my own thoughts and opinions on matters rather than just parroting forward the occasional thing I find interesting or important.  Although saying that every time I come to the keyboard I undergo a mini-existential crises as to whether or not what I’d planned to say is really that important, or just the pretentious whining of the privileged.  I have something of a comfort issue in spontaneously preaching my views (though absolutely no problem in confronting people on theirs. Ironic? Hypocritical? Human?)

And so this is what it comes down to; a largely purposeless ramble about nothing in particular.  A thank you to everyone I’ve interacted with and also those I follow on Tumblr.  Again a thank you to everyone that follows me on Tumblr (I’m adamantly avoiding referring to people as “my followers” in case it leads to delusions of grandeur).  I hope I’ll be able to, at least in some small way, enrich your lives just as you’ve enriched mine.

If I finish this with a question mark it makes it more noticeable and encourages people to interact with me?

 

Racist protest in Tel Aviv targets refugees and migrants

Please read the article as well as watching the video.  An excellent point is made at 3:20 – the language being used to promote X nation over Y nation is exactly the same throughout time.  Be it Mosley and Hitler inciting racial hatred against Jews, Stephen Lennon of the EDL inciting nationalist fears over a supposed “Islamification” of UK culture or these guys inciting nationalist fears over a lessoning of Jewish influence in Israel.

The questions you must ask whenever someone tells you that you’re different to someone else are:

What are those differences?

Are they really irreconcilable?

Must I really fear this group?

What would make my views more legitimate than theirs, except for the coincidental fact that they’re dear to me rather than to them?

And usually by this point (if you hadn’t realised the flaw of the nationalist arguments after the first question) you’ll understand that we’re all human.  We all want to live in peace with our friends and our loved ones.  To laugh, dance, sing and enjoy life.

The most important question to ask is: when we allow ourselves to be divided over nationalist arguments and arbitrary racial distinctions, who is it that benefits from this?

Who is losing out when we all prove that we are, to the very last heartbeat, a loving race regardless of what colour our skin is and what language we speak?

I am a citizen of the world.  My race? Human.

So exceptionally true.

I get incredibly annoyed when someone tries to differentiate themselves from their views, attitudes, politics and the way they treat strangers from the quality of the person they are.  The attitude that you’re nice to your friends and go out of your way to do things for them … well, good?  But if, when it comes to broader issues such as Islamophobia, supporting wars, not seeing a social responsibility to those at the bottom of the food chain, you have a laissez faire or negative approach.  Guess what?  You’re still a bad person.

Your private life and your public life are not distinguishable in defining the quality of your character.

That’s very true. I think I’ve just been exposed too far too many anarchists and leftists in the U.S. who don’t think about these things, but it’s very true that I was unfair in declaring this to be inherent in radical ideologies. My friend wrote a really interesting piece detailing the inaccessibility of homesteads and communal living areas in the U.S.: http://www.facebook.com/margaretlowenberg#!/note.php?note_id=10150116339165750. Unfortunately, it’s on Fb but I’ll ask if I can re-post it on here if you can”t access it.

I can’t access it, but as it’s a note they can make it openly accessible to the whole public so it should be viewable to non-friends, if they choose.  Although it probably wouldn’t hurt to post it directly onto tumblr and credit it to them if it’s of good interest 🙂

Any radical group which isn’t confronted with others outside of their own close-nit niche will tend to become insular in it’s ideology.  It’s a problematic aspect with the way they, by compulsion and sometimes necessity, function in that they’re not always and absolutely fully inclusive.  Especially with certain aspects of cultural anarchism which are more focussed on practice than theory and can have a habit of doing things without fully internalising the reasoning behind them.

Unless they have a minority representer within their midst from the beginning to force them to realise the necessity of struggles other than their immediate own, there’s the inevitable potential that they become subject to the same prejudices that are inherent within the capitalist society which we are all unavoidably a product of.  The problem occurs when they fail to realise this and deal with it and instead project these prejudices onwards.

Link

starblanketriverchild:

I can’t tell you how many times a day the question, “How can I make peace with my belief in sustainability, anarchy, and anti-capitalism when I am a disabled person who relies on petroleum-based products and the medical industry simply to survive?”. I realize that’s it’s only through class and…

Maybe I just seriously misunderstand how this reply thing on Tumblr works but it seems if I run out of space and start a new reply it just replaces the old one instead of being able to clock up a paragraph overall.  So I guess I have to reblog this and add it as a comment on top.

Revolution isn’t by necessity intrinsic to primitivism.  For example if you look at Cuba they’ve engaged in a (disjointed and not fully successful) revolution the result of which (to look at one aspect and not all others) is one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and one of the best medical education systems.  Their doctors are in high demand and exported to other Latin American countries because they’re so skilled.

The purpose of the revolution is two-fold.  Firstly to remove the hierarchal system that leads to the oppression of the masses by the few.  Secondly, and necessitated by and for the first point, to remove capital as a form which alienates people from their labour and from each other.  There is no necessity that you’re excluded from this, indeed the inverse is true: you must be included and your needs must be considered for the building of a stronger, more connected and more humane society.

How can we consider ourselves to not be alienated from each other, how can we consider ourselves to be throwing off the shackles of hierarchy?  If we allow people who, by lottery of birth or accident, are “less-abled” to not have the same opportunities as those who are “abled” then we are maintaining elitism, maintaining hierarchy and propagating the subjugation of others as second-class citizens.  If your revolutionary comrades do not comprehend this very basic principle of equality and egalitarianism they need to spend a lot of time considering what, exactly, it is that they’re fighting for.

I’m the same as I was when I was six years-old.: Being disabled in so-called radical spaces can be really unsettling.