Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harper's know-nothingism. . . . .

For those people who are surprised by Harper's recent attack on the long-form census, you probably haven't been paying attention to his personal past nor to his political tradition. The foundations of modern Toryism are rooted in the British reactions to the Revolution in France.Ever since that time conservatives have been particularly afraid of ideals and ideas.  Fearful Tories and aristocrats saw the roots of the revolution and Jacobinism in the exposure of the People to ideas of thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau. Men like William Pitt and Edmund Burke were particularly fearful that if average Englanders were exposed to too much education and too many ideas, revolution would be the inevitable outcome and chaos would ensue. The British Conservatives were already armed with an English tradition of reactionary attitudes as they displayed in the Gordon Riots in 1780 when crowds of people were whipped into a conservative frenzy of hatred and violence that left hundreds dead and wounded. Soon after the revolution in France the British Conservatives made it a central tenant of the political modus operandi to whip up fervent feelings against intellectuals and dissenters such as the great Joseph Priestley whose house and laboratory was destroyed by one such mob. Ever after the events in France many conservatives used fear of intellectualism and dissent as primary political motivation for their followers. Hitler was particularly adept at targeting intellectuals as people who corrupted and destroyed traditional (read conservative) values. Many conservatives were particularly opposed to universal education because they feared that there is nothing more dangerous than an educated working-class who would never be satisfied with their lot in life if they gained an education and a knowledge of social possibilities.

Harper is a modern personification of these kinds of attitudes. One of Harper's earliest moves as PM was to end almost all federally funded adult literacy programs. Like Mike Harris, Harper and his crew only see education as valuable when it is entirely functional, results oriented, and serves very basic needs of corporate labor demands. Any ideas, information, or education that does not conform to the simplest elements in the Conservative agenda are to be banished as unnecessary, or even dangerous. Thus if opposition members want to discuss the overall strategies or potential abuses in the war in Afghanistan they are branded as Taliban dupes. If statistics emerge that suggest that the Conservative 'tough on crime' agenda is a meaningless, politically motivated effort at gaining votes at the expense of billions, then those statistics must be 'unreliable' or even 'fabricated.' Ideals and ideas have long been the enemy of men like Harper and this is the way it will always be. If Conservatives have their way they will soon have a Fox-like television station in Canada which will promote its own brand of Canadian know-nothingism and they will fill our airwaves with ignorance and lies.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Harper, our own Iago. . . . .

Am I the only one who has noticed the similarity of our Prime Minister to Shakespeare's Iago? For those not entirely familiar with Shakespeare's Othello, a brief explanation might be in order. Othello is a General in the Venetian military and Iago is a close friend and military associate. Iago feels hard done by because Othello has failed to promote him over Cassio in the manner that he thinks appropriate to his merit. Here is the first similarity with Harper and his conservatives who feel that they have been historically misrepresented in the 'liberal' media and who think they have not received the promotion (read - majority) that their merit deserves. As an act of revenge Iago plots the down fall of both Cassio and Othello. He achieves this revenge by portraying himself as motivated by only the best of intentions and compelling others to act in ways that they would not normally act. To this end Iago gets Cassio demoted by tricking him into a drunken brawl. Iago then attempts to orchestrate Othello's downfall by creating evidence that convinces him that his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful causing Othello to murder his innocent wife.

Thus Iago attempts to gain his revenge on his advisories in the same manner that Harper as attempted to do, by creating an adversarial atmosphere of hate and paranoia.People who are actually good and want to act in accordance with their positive values, are driven by a poison atmosphere to negative acts. Iago is the force of evil in the dramatic narrative of Shakespeare's play. He is secretive, conniving, desperate, and completely absorbed by his own interest. Harper is similarly driven  by a blood-lust to destroy all those who he feels are against him and that stand in the way of his own promotion. He is taking revenge on the people of Canada and all political opponents by poisoning the entire body politic.

And the similarity between Harper and Iago is made clear by his reaction to being caught in his acts of evil. "Demand me nothing," Iago says, "What you know, you know. From this time forth I never will speak a word." Sound familiar? This is indicative of Harper and his secretive milieu. Iago and Harper are born of the same spirit and motivated by the same secretive feelings of hatred and revenge.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Someone is abusive at the RCMP!!?? How can that be . . . . ?

So it is being reported by CBC that senior RCMP officers have filed complaints regarding the behavior of Commissioner Elliot. They accuse him of being "close-mined," "verbally abusive," "arrogant and insulting."


Now if these accusations are true, can you imagine just how abusive and arrogant a guy would have to be in order to stand out as being particularly nasty within the ranks of the RCMP?? This is an institution which at its very core has nurtured  a culture of brutality, close-mindedness, corruption, and abusive behavior. Scandal after scandal concerning the RCMP's failure to act in an appropriate fashion have emerged over the past twenty years and I am sure that there are hundreds of other incidents similar to the Robert Dziekanski are out there but were never properly dealt with because they were not caught on camera. So excuse me while I laugh heartily about RCMP officers accusing someone else of being abusive and insulting.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Document leaks and Neo-Colonialism. . . .

There are already numerous condemnations of yesterday's leaks of documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, including one bizarre Liberal blogger calling for the death penalty. Of course how one feels about the leaks will largely reflect how one feels about the war. Only those with the most blind acceptance of the Western spin on the war could possibly talk about the death-penalty regarding such leaks. The Western spin is really pretty  simple and is very similar to the kinds of spin that the West has been using since the beginning of the era of colonialism with a few particulars for time and place. If you buy this story you essentially believe that the Western nations were essentially 'innocent' victims of a set of more or less crazy Muslim fundamentalists (the so-called Taliban) who, so the West would have us believe, were operating out of Afghanistan. According to this view, the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan were part of a concerted effort to undermine these Muslim organizations who have little more against Western nations than "hating our freedoms."

This view has as little to do with recent events than the "white-man's burden" of 'spreading religion and civilization to ignorant heathens' had to do with the real motivations of Western colonialism. First of all to accept the idea of an innocent West being the target or victim of an irrational radical Muslim movement is to ignore centuries of history. Whether one agrees with their reasons or not, one cannot ignore that Arabs and Muslims have much to be chagrined about when it comes to Western actions in various Muslim regions. If one payed close attention to the events immediately following the events of 911 you could discern the real political issues that were at stake. When Bin Laden was seen on video taking credit for the tragic events in NYC he gave three primary reasons for these events. These reasons were 1. the sanctions that the West used against Iraq in the 1990s which by all independent reports were responsible for literally hundreds of thousands of children. 2. The continued presence of Western military forces in Saudi Arabia, and 3. The brutality and hypocrisy with which the Palestinians have been treated by Western Nations. Regardless of one's political viewpoint, these are legitimate political concerns which, regardless of their source, need to be treated seriously. This does not justify the events of 911, but it does cast considerable doubt on the Western image of Bin Laden as nothing but a mad religious fanatic hell-bent on the destruction of the West simply because he hates modern social democracy. Furthermore, there were in fact few, or even no, genuine 'terrorist' camps in Afghanistan. Rural Pakistan was, and continues to be, the real location of most of the so-called 'terrorist' organizations about which the West professed to be concerned.

The Western nations later replaced their 'terrorist' camps arguments with talk of altruistic concerns about the people of Afghanistan. But if one takes a realistic political (that is to say 'real politik') viewpoint, one can hardly be fooled by all the spin concerning the Western motivations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And if one had been paying attention in the nineties one would know that men like Dick Cheney had long made plans for consolidating US power and influence in the Middle East and other geo-politically sensitive areas. To buy into talk of altruism or a defense of justice and democracy on the part of the West seems to me to be hopelessly naive. Though the altruistic spin is still prevalent in the days of neo-colonialism as it once was with real colonialism, it is just as specious. As with most, if not all, wars Afghanistan and Iraq are about money and power. The war in Iraq is now the most expensive war ever waged and much of the money spent has been diverted to large Western corporations. Billions of dollars of average tax-payers' money has been gathered and diverted to arms makers and dealers as well as other kinds of corporations. Other monies have been spent (largely in untraceable cash) buying support from warlords (both in Afghanistan and Iraq)  for Western interests. This support is much wider than it once was but also as shallow as the stacks of cash which will eventually run out. And despite the talk of 7% more girls going to school in Afghanistan, all the Western efforts in that country have done is to prop up a dubious government which has little or no democratic legitimacy and which continues to sponsor laws such as the death-penalty for homosexuality. While propping up the Afghan dictatorship (run by Pro-Western politicians and self-interested war-lords) the West continues to support numerous other dictatorships in the region where women have few or no legal rights and where the governments don't even go through the motions of 'democracy.' The existence of a perpetual enemy (a la  1984) which justifies not only the extension of Western power and the diversion of government funds from average people to powerful corporations, are the real motivations of these wars. If the West had really been interested in peace and the living conditions of people in the region they would have used a small portion of the monies spent in those wars and constructed a viable and prosperous Palestinian State as well as bringing greater democracy to other close Western allies.

With these issues in mind, I see the recent document leaks as part of an effort to lay bare the actions of governments engaged in a neo-colonial effort to further dominate a region where oil plays a central role in nation building. Just as anti-colonialists like Gandhi and Franz Fanon were engaged in concerted efforts to expose the real motivations of Western Colonialism, people must now engage in an effort to expose the real motivations behind the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Harper wishes the facts would shut the F*** up. . . .

Recent events regarding the census have highlighted the modus operandi of this government; to take hold of the mantle of power in order to dismantle government as a force of good for the nation and the people. A cornerstone of this dismantling  process is the effort to shut down all voices of opposition. Up until this point they have gone after individuals who have been willing to question the actions of the government, or are willing to stand up for justice and right. This means demonizing all opposition from labeling Layton a Taliban-lover to telling us that Richard Colvin is incompetent. Shutting down the voices of opposition has meant ending the Supreme Court Challenges Program and shutting down almost all adult literacy programs in the country. Like all  anti-democrats Harper and his cronies want an uneducated, uninformed voiceless population that has no viable way of challenging the power of corporations and the arbitrary use of government power.

Now with the scrapping of the long-form census, Harper is attacking the voice of Canada itself. Regardless of all the talk and all the excuses, the goal here is to shut down the facts and undermine the processes by which government is able to formulate social programs. The ultimate goal; to shut down every part of government except those areas by which it can protect corporations and divert resources from average people to the wealthy. A long term goal, no doubt, but you can bet that this is the prize they have in mind. Step one is well under way - shut down all opposition, thwart information and facts, and make people believe that the majority who clearly oppose this government somehow don't represent real democracy, as demonstrated when they told us that any attempt by  the majority to assert itself in the House was actually an attempted coup.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harper, the man of smoke and mirrors. . . . .

It is said that Matyas Rakosi, the de facto ruler of Communist Hungry between 1945 and 1956 was driven by an ambition to build a certain subway line under the streets Budapest, adding to what is one of the oldest subways systems in the world. Unfortunately for Rakosi, the subsoil under this part of the capital made that particiular underground public transit line impossible to construct. This led mister Rakosi to conclude that the 'subsoil was counter-revolutionary.'

Does this remind you of anything? Harper's attack on Statscan is motivated by the facts get in the way of his agenda. And when the facts contradict him, in great dictatorship style, Harper simply seeks to get rid of the facts.

Harper, can now join the ranks of such dignitaries as Enver Hoxha, Nicolae Ceausescu, and of course Matyas Rakosi. Petty little men who didn't let the facts get in the way. Well done!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Grand Political Question. . . . .

With few exceptions, the great moments of social progress have been inspired by, and come about because of, the work of so-called radicals who have fought against impossible odds to make the world a better place, a more just place, a place where the strong can't simply trample on the weak, and where those who are vulnerable and often helpless have a chance at a decent life. And this struggle has been waged against the conservatives of the world who, all along the way, have defended the powerful, the capitalists, and those who wield arbitrary power. You have a five day work week because of 'radicals,' you have safe workplace legislation because of 'radicals,' you have the vote because of 'radicals,' everything we treasure in social legislation as well as the great growth in social tolerance is because radicals have fought for those things. So what I am unable to determine is why so many are so eager to uphold the organizations of arbitrary power, so willing to attempt to ensure that the weak and the vulnerable stay that way, so happy to undermine the basic principles of justice.

Why are ignorant, racist jackals like, say, Pierre Poillievre eager to eliminate the long-form census, which will further erode the position of minorities and make municipal planning infinitely more difficult? Why do these bullies and thugs want to build a society in which the little people and the small 'players' have little or no voice and in which they cannot adequately struggle against the increasing power of big business and multinational corporations? Why do they pay lip-service to democracy only to clearly oppose the results of democratic processes wherein they don't like the outcomes? Why do they want a world in which the rich stay rich and the rest get screwed? What is the payoff?


Monday, July 12, 2010

Khadr and Democracy. . . . .

Once again the Harper Government has demonstrated that it is not concerned with international law and basic human rights. A Federal Court judge instructed the Government to demonstrate ways that they can make up for the fact that Mr. Khadr`s human rights were violated and the Harper gang is appealing this, demonstrating once again that they are only interested in `law and order` when the court decisions go in their favor.

And one should be appalled not just at the reaction of the Government to this issue but also at the reaction of many Canadians. Go on any one of a number of Canadian news sites and look at the comments from readers and you will see that they are overwhelmingly unconcerned that Mr. Khadr's rights have been violated, that he was a child when his alleged 'crimes' were committed, and that he has clearly been tortured, probably with the tacit consent, maybe even help, of Canadian authorities. Many people not only don't care about this, but they actively praise his incarceration and torture.

People's approval of this is, of course, the active demonstration that a disconcerting number of people really don't care about the principles of democracy and rights which our system is supposed to be based upon. They are fine with violating people's rights as long as they are Muslims, people of color, or fail to conform to the mainstream. But we either believe in basic rights or we don't; that is all there is to it. And it appears that we don't because the government and many people are just fine with the fact that Khadr and others are subject to torture and are at the behest of Mickey Mouse courts that couldn't possibly be objective.

And the great irony in all this is that if people were honest they would say that even if Khadr did what he is alleged to have done, he did nothing different than other soldiers in war do - he fought back against armed invaders. If Khadr is guilty of a crime then so is every NATO soldier in Afghanistan and all of them should be put on trial. If an foreign state invaded the US, do you really think that Americans who were not active duty members of the armed forces would simply stand around and say 'Well, I can't do anything because that  would make me an 'unlawful combatant." I think not, and every American you can find would say it would be their duty to stand up and fight even if they were not soldiers.

So decide Canadians, do you really believe in democracy, in the UN Declaration on Human Rights, in the Declaration on Child Soldiers? I think most Canadians don't care and that is why it is turned out to be so easy for Harper to Dismantle our democracy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Israel as Victim (part 2) . . .

If you blog about the Middle East you are always guaranteed to get at least a few comments by erstwhile readers who are compelled to read anything about the subject. Unfortunately most of these comments are not even worth keeping because they often consist of just rehashing the talking points of the Israeli government and fail to constitute any real analysis. Most of these people are simply historical revisionists who ignore the remarkable acts of violence and terrorism that were involved in the success of Zionist forces in the Middle East. Like the Hollywood film-makers who portrayed the success 19th century as one long massacre of 'peaceful' settlers by crazy 'Indians,' these Israeli revisionists have no interest in the real events and the theft of Palestinian lands. Rather, they are simply eager to portray Israel as victim of a bunch of crazed 'Arabs' while simultaneously ignoring the actual history of militarism and expansionism on the part of the Israeli State. So they will simply divert attention away from actual analysis and the violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by saying "Oh no, we're the victims and everyone is out to get us." But it won't wash.

I, on the other hand, will be glad to discuss the violations of human rights and the militarism on all side but Israeli supporters blindly ignore the militarism of Israel and the long and consistent expansionism of this nation.

At least the Palestinians who use violence will admit that they are actively using violence to pursue their cause.

There will be no peace until Israel as well as Palestinians want peace. But at the moment the Israeli state is as little interested in peace as the most extreme factions of the Palestinians. They hide their real aims behind an image of victim, and being considerably richer and more influential in the powerful Western  nations, the Israelis are writing (or should I say 'rewriting') history.

Israel as Victim . . . .

I saw the TV spot from the Canada-Israel Committee this morning and found it deeply depressing. Only the most dishonest kind of political spin can portray Israel as such a poor innocent victim. Here is a nation which, with the backing of the strongest Western Countries took the land of Palestine by force using the worst kinds of violence, (even against Western Nations when they thought it would be useful). They have maintained this power with billions and billions of Western dollars which has built one of the strongest military powers in history, as well as maintaining a nuclear arsenal against international treaties. But worst of all they have continued for a generation to illegally build settlements on land that is not theirs, against the will of the entire world except for the US, and this constitutes the worst kind of terrorism, because it is the intentional destruction of a people and a culture.

And after all this, the Israelis have the gall to portray themselves as victims because they know that it is an easy and effective spin. It would be like the American or Canadian governments trying to portray themselves as victims of Native groups. Own up to your active part in the conflict Israel! Leave the occupied territory, dismantle all the illegal settlements, dismantle your nuclear arsenal, help to constitute Palestine as a legitimate and prosperous state with a stake in the region's future. And then, if you have done all that and you still suffer from this supposed external hostility, you can start suggesting you are a victim.

If you'll pardon the expression - 'man-up' to your own expansionist and militaristic intentions.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Terrorist Police. . . .

I have never really bought the prevailing definition of terrorism because it seems slippery and self-interested on the part of those who generally use it. It seems to me that people who represent the establishment refer to almost anything that doesn't have state sanction and questions that establishment as 'terrorism.' At the very least people think that the realm of violence is solely legitimate when it is sanctioned by the state and all other politically motivated violence is 'terrorism.' The problem with this definition is, of course, that if a state carpet bombs a country like, say, Vietnam, that is the legitimate violence; but if people in that country defend themselves with any form of violence once their state apparatus has failed suddenly they are terrorists. Thus by the standard definition, George Washington and Nelson Mandela were both terrorists and Arthur 'Bomber' Harris and Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer were both noble soldiers. Anyone who doesn't have a problem with this should reexamine their ethical framework.

(This definition of terrorism is really about power. It is like trying distinguish between legitimate 'religions' and so-called 'cults.' Cults become religions as soon as they have a large enough following and enough money to be called a religion.)

Now, the G20 and the primary countries of that institution have long pursued policies which have knowingly caused terrible suffering, starvation, and environmental disaster. Everything from the so-called EU Common Agriculture Policy which involved food dumping in Africa to Trade Policies which have specifically aimed at maintaining the advantage over less-developed nations have resulted in continued suffering and starvation in the "third world." Meanwhile countries like the US have pursued military efforts in countries like Iraq which have resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths.

Other people define terrorism more simply  as the use of violence to gain a political end. I think this is a better, and certainly more functional definition because it does not fall victim to the dubious question of  the state having the sole legitimacy in the use of violence.

Meanwhile, democracy is slowly being eroded in our own country and elsewhere in the Western world  and our so-called leaders increasingly gain and maintain their power through the undue influence of money and an elite controlled media. And the recent events in Toronto demonstrate that they seek to further legitimize and maintain their power through indiscriminate violence perpetrated by para-military police units. These para-military units knowingly and willfully attacked peaceful, middle-class folks who did nothing but sit on the grass and calmly voice their concern over the kinds of policies that the G20 pursue. It takes little imagination to understand why they did this; to foster fear and terror among the general population and squash political dissent. Many people define terrorism as the indiscriminate use of violence to spread fear in the population to for a particular political purpose. By this definition the police units operating at Toronto were simply terrorists. Their goal was to intimidate people from questioning the legitimacy and morality of the G20, the policies they pursue, and the elites who call the shots.

I have said it before and it needs reiterating; if democracy survives and flourishes it is those that have actively opposed the G20 who will be the historical heroes and the police who will be cast in the role of historical villains much like the Swiss Grenadiers who guarded the Bastille from the Paris Peasants.