Wednesday, 31 March 2010

An Eight year olds take on the BA strikes

May I be the first to say, Awwwwwwww that's just darling.

Seriously though, I am actually quite impressed with little Dylan there; he admitted his ignorance on a subject then asked someone more knowledgeable on the subject for more information. I wonder how many adults are out there right now bad mouthing Unite for having the gall to inconvenience them in some way without the faintest idea that the strike is about ensuring passengers safety.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Fatah vs Hamas

Following on from the last debate about the status of the Islamic minority in India this Doha debate is an absolute corker. I'm actually very impressed that they had the balls to get two Fatah and two Hamas big wigs to sit opposite each other after the quasi civil war they fought after Hamas became the dominant party in Gaza in the Palestinian National Authority (Palestine's de facto governing body since 1994)elections in 2006 breaking decades of Fatah dominance.

The dispute turned bloody when Fatah members in Gaza try to take back control by force effectively splitting Palestine between Hamas Gaza and Fatah West Bank. And tensions have remained high ever since as both sides have done everything in there power to oust the other in there home bases, including arrests and intimidation.

So lets watch and see how it'll all turnout.

Well the result of the vote, essentially a referendum on the Palestinian peoples confidence or lack thereof in there current leadership (which includes all parties and factions) doesn't really surprise me.

Fatah once a giant of Plaestinian politics under Yasser Arafat have now become a magnet for Palestinian discontent and anger under Mahmoud Abbas whose been accused of kowtowing to the West (Americans) and Israel, while many of his constituents are facing expulsion or worse.

Then theres Hamas. Since Hamas became the de facto leadership of Gaza they have faced extreme repressive measures from Israel (Hamas still refuse to recognise Israel or rule out armed struggle). The blockade of Gaza with the shameful support of Egypt's Dictator Hosni Mubarak. Then of course there was operation Cast Lead essentially a re run of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006 (warning contains pictures of casualties).

And in the face of all that Hamas has maintained a reputation of defiance which like in the Black communities of Apartheid South Africa is one of the few things Palestinians can take pride in that the Israeli's can't take from them.(There's a Palestinian tradition of naming your children after the prison they were incarcerated in). But there strict interpretations of Islam have ensured that the Palestinian religious minorities and large sections of the female and secular Islamic communities are alienated. And there defiance though undoubtedly noble hasn't translated into any meaningful gains on the ground, that noose on Gaza just keeps getting tighter and tighter.

With all that said it is good to see the two sides fighting with words rather then Kalashnikov's and its encouraging to hear that a final ceasefire agreement isn't to far off.

Photo source

Saturday, 27 March 2010

I remeber the Tories

I am a rather young young, so the Prime Minister whose had the most effect on my life up to now been Tony Blair. But I can still remember the last Tory government and it does not make me nostalgic.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Why its wrong to blame the Unions

With the recent furore over the BA air crews upcoming strike in the news recently,I've been hearing a lot of the usual guff about them "having too much power, or bank rolling the Labour party". And I've been hearing this for quite a few years. Just take a look at the BBC Have your say on this topic.

This has always struck me as an odd comment to make, not least because its not actually true. But lets assume it is true that the Unions in Britain have a large amount of power, why exactly shouldn't it be the case? in a democracy or at least one that actually works in the real world its is the largest faction that determines the political discourse. and what body has the largest active membership in our Nation? well its either the Anglican church and then only in England (it almost doesn't exist in the Celtic regions) or the Trade Union movement. They far outstrip the memberships of all political parties combined.

Which brings me to my second point, the Right wings stressing of the Unions support of the Labour party. In fact those of you who watched Question Time yesterday will have heard panellists Shadow health minister Andrew Lansley, and the Second rate Simon Schama David Starkey waste several minutes making and reiterating this point. To which I have to say Durr. The Labour party was set up by Trade Unions to represent British Labour. The whole point of the Labour Party is to represent the Working Class and others who were victimised by British Capital.

And another thing related to this, if a Trade Union doesn't like what the Labour party is doing and they no longer wish to be apart of it, then they can leave if they so chose, which is what the Fire Brigades Union, and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union have chosen to do.

One particular stick the Tories are fond of using when the issue of a strike comes up is to accuse Labour of putting sectional interests before the nation. In fact if I remember correctly Lansley polished that old chestnut last night. This argument in general is absurd for a number of reasons, one being where Industrial Action is concerned all sides are sectional, there is either the employee or the employer, that's the reason there's a strike because the two sides cannot reconcile there differences; therefore the Conservatives are just as guilty of "sectional favouritism". Its like how for some reason Progressive taxation policies regardless of whole minuscule are always "class war" whereas regressive taxation such as tax breaks for the rich no matter how large for some reason aren't (for further expansion on this subject please see this).

For those who would like more information on the ongoing issues surronding the Strike and BA I recommend the Blog Air Strike

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Some interesting views on Race

Colourful poem aside these are some very good points. Though I personally wouldn't mind "going for an English" once a week. Incidentally that poem at around seven minutes in reminds me of a scene in Cry Freedom were a judge is and Mr Steven Biko are having an argument, and one of the points that is raised is why Africans call themselves Black when there closer to Brown to which he replies, why don't you call yourselves pink instead of white.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Coming Insurrection

The Coming Insurrection By the Invisible Committee, or as their also known the Tarnac Nine, who are no on trial in France for charges of "creating" social upheaval by publishing this very book.

Anyway the coming Insurrection is an analysis of the recent civil and political turmoil assailing France and Greece. Though the content itself is almost exclusively focussed on France they imply that similar issues occurred in Greece as well.
The book looks at the root causes of the eruptions of violence placing great emphasis on youth dissatisfaction and alienation with mainstream politics and the stagnating Capitalist system of modern France, exacerbated by the repressive measures of the police in neglected areas.

As well as criticising the rampant individualisation and marketing culture for breaking down and eroding the social fabric that societies depend on for their cohesion and camaraderie, in favour of greater consumption of materials and products, to perpetuate capital.

Another severe criticism is modern France’s dependence on placebo’s and panacea’s in the forms of Prozac and other anti-depressants. A criticism which can be made at pretty much every industrialised Western society, just look at the enthusiasm for solving "behavioural difficulties" with Ritalin et all.

Speaking of the West, there is this little gem of a paragraph:
“Today the west is the GI who dashes into Fallujah on an M1 Abrams Tank, listening to heavy metal at top volume. It’s the tourist lost on the Mongolian plains, mocked by all, who clutches at his credit card as his only life line. It’s the CEO who swears by the game Go. It’s the young girl who looks for happiness in clothes, guys, and moisturising creams. It’s the Swiss human rights activist who travel to the four corners of the earth to show solidarity with all the world’s rebels- provided they’ve been defeated”.

The Second part of the document is a sort of call to arms with a number of helpful tips for kick starting an insurrection. Which given are current counter terrorism laws I'm afraid I won't be getting into here.Though it does cover the wide spectrum of Insurgent strategy,from methods of organisation based around the Communes (The invisible Committee are Anarchistic group), to tactics and targets to strike.

All in all a found this a short but fascinating read, it really does go into great detail in outlining what's wrong with the Capitalist Western system and contemporary French Republican culture, in a very poetic manner, though I do question the use of some of there analogies, and they don't seem to know what the word "Otaku" actually means, but now I'm nitpicking.

Oh and by the way Glenn Beck has also reviewed it here

Thursday, 11 March 2010

The power of Nightmares

The Power of nightmares by Adam Curtis is perhaps the documentary series of the 2000's. It more than any other has done more to shape my vies of the world and representative democracy.

It is of fundamental importance for anyone who is interested in trying to make sense of the Cold war, the war on Terror, International Politics, and the danger and nature of ideology.

Broken up into three parts it can be found in my side bar or here (scroll down near the bottom) I seriously can not recommend this Doc enough, the arguments compelling, the narration inspiring, its footage interesting, hell even its use of music (Brian Eno's 1970's another green world)is fantastic.

His other works are also very very good. Charlie Brooker also seems to think so, alot of the Newswipe vids I embed contain "mini-docs" by him, you'll recognise them as the parts were Charlie has to give ridiculous disclaimers like this one.

I really can not recommend this one enough folks.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Bill Maher on American Education levels

Ouch I usually try not to be swayed by Stereotypes but those statistics are pretty damning.

Clearly proof if any were needed that all modern societies should have a well funded education system.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

CSA : The Confederate States of America

I've recently been taking advantage of Amazon's special offers on boxsets on documentaries for my studies, (the world at war, Russian Revolution in Colour etc.) and while I was at it decided to get two "Alternative history" films one was It Happened Here a tale about Britain under the Nazi's, and Spike Lee's 2004 film CSA : The Confederate States of America a tale about what would have happened if the South had won the civil war.

"If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." George Bernard Shaw.

Now In the past I generally try to stay away from alt history, for a number of reasons which I'll only briefly go into here.

1) If its an academic text then it will probably have been written to deliberately provoke controversy to attract notoriety and profit.
2) There usually to convenient, most alt histories change very little especially in regards to technology e.g. what would happen if the aeroplane was developed earlier? but very really follow through with all that complex branching, e.g. if the plane became a weapon of war sooner then so would much more effective counter measures etc.

However the CSA isn't really meant to be taken seriously as a warning of how close we (America) came to Southern domination. Its more of a platform to chronicle the state of racism in America in the past and today with some exaggeration (see the vid below). Though its at its most damning when showing events in the CSA's history that happened exactly the same as they did in the real USA, the extermination of the Plains Natives or the "red skins" for example,or the use of popular novel's and plays to paint the opposite and losing side as noble and gallant but misguided in there idealism, while conveniently marginalising the role of the Blacks in the conflict, Gone with the Wind becomes Northern Wind for example.

The film also does something which is not usually acknowledged when the crime of slavery comes up for debate and study, the complicity of Black tribal leaders in the slave trade, in the CSA this continues well into the modern era and has a speech by "a Mombasa chieftain" to the International Slavery community basically thanking them for all the financial support and aid in exchange for being able to remove their own "inferior tribes" at the same time. This film criticises everyone who is complicit in racism and slavery rather then taking the easy way out and just laying it on the White Redneck southerners.

Its set up as a British documentary about the history of the CSA that after much controversy finally airs on a CSA channel, and its frequently interrupted by fake adverts for some very racist products (niggerhair cigarettes, Darkie's toothpaste, Coon Chicken Inn etc).Only to show at the end that most of them were sadly real products that were made and sold well after the Civil war and in US Northern states.

One thing I really used to hate about books and the like about discrimination is that they tended to be very one sided in depicting the white majority as the only force for driving wedges in between the community. I mean its fair to devout attention to it but to ignore inter-ethnic tensions within the migrant community makes analysis of racism pretty much pointless. I mean if we can learn one thing from the likes of Mr Guramit Singh and the BNP's decision to "open" membership to non whites is that people of all races creeds and colours can be absolute wankers.

So anyway thats my thoughts on this intriguing film, I'd say its well worth a look for fans of Satire.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Are Muslims getting a fair deal in India?

Been watching the Doha lectures recently. This one about the state of the Muslim minority in India is very interesting and not just limited to Muslims and India. You can really take them out and replace with any minority group and there position within a state and society.

India has the largest affirmative action policies in the world but even the advocates of the governments record One a Cabinet Minister freely admit that there system isn't working perfectly at present. Then of course their are warnings about the rise of the Hindu far right and there growing influence in certain sectors of Indian society. Hmmm.... remind you of anywhere?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Iron Heel

“A truer prophecy of the future than either Brave New World or the Shape of Things to come”- George Orwell.

As a brief look at my favourite books section in my profile will make clear, I really love Dystopia's, really when I read Nineteen Eighty Four I can actually see myself living in Airstrip One, or when I watch Brazil I fantastic comedy not only do I find the confused and embarrassed meandering of Sam very enjoyable but also love the little and more subtle digs at the society that he inhabits. (I especially liked the advert at the beginning for the option for customers to personalise there ducts with a range of colours, because the customer has to be satisfied personally). But there obviously as the name implies quite bleak especially toward the end.

The Iron Heel
By Jack London who also wrote the people of the abyss is a bit of an exception as its presented as an historical peace about the 1920's/30's by an historian in the far of perfect future were the Brotherhood Of Man (BOM) have united the world and solved all of societies ills.

The actual "tale" of the book tells the life story of a Petit-bourgeoisie father and daughter John and Avis Cunningham respectively and there association with proletarian hero and ardent Socialist Ernest Everhard, yes that is seriously his name,now I know language and words change with the passage of time gay being perhaps the most obvious example as is the word ejaculate (or at least I hope its meaning has actually changed) but Its implied that the name is fitting, or to quote Jonathan Auerbach who wrote the foreword to my edition "He is, after all, Ernest Everhard- no Viagra needed". Thankfully they mostly refer to him by his first name so it isn't to bad.

Anyway the actual story can be broken up into three parts, the first part is mostly about Ernests interaction with the Cunningham's and how he converts them to Socialism using logic and case studies. The second part is about Ernest and the Socialists electoral struggles in the US Senate and how the Capitalist class seriously threatened for the first time become increasingly Authoritarian and brutal culminating in the "Iron Heel" of the title. "This then is our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In the roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you Revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces".

The third and final part tells the tale of the Revolt itself against the "Oligarchy" as the Capitalist class have now become known. In the end aside from the overly optimistic timeline (the workers in Germany and the US are able to prevent a WW1 style conflict through strikes, as opposed to what really happened were pretty much all Socialists opposed it till it was officially declared then became enthusiastic supporters of it) The Iron Heel is actually a fascinating read and impressed not only Orwell but Leon Trotsky as well.

Unfortunatley some feminist might not find the depiction of the only Female character of note Avis too flattering. She is essentially a Daddies girl and even though she becomes an enthusiastic supporter of the Revolution she is kind of at the mercy of the men in her life, though to be fair this was written in June 1914 so there weren't a lot of examples of proactive female politicians so its probably just a product of Jacks times. Also some of the Syndicalist persuasion are not going to be to happy about one of the Oligarchies means of maintain power, to cut off the Socialist's from the Proletariat they privilege certain Labour Unions to the point that they create Labour caste's to maintain a steady supply of troops for there counter Revolution.

Another more disturbing phenomena is that the book has become something of a must read for the American white supremacist movement as well apparently because mr London was "anti government" this just goes to show the stupidity of white power groups "Get Ready for the rebirth of Western culture!...classic story of Revolutionary struggle...despite the commies who tried to paint London as one of there own since he opposed Capitalism" just to reiterate this "Revolutionary classic" has the revolt spurred on by a man who is actually a Card carrying Socialist, the Revolt itself is international and global and has its stated aim as the creation of a global Commonwealth of man. Mr London couldn't have been more like a "Commie" if he underwent plastic surgery to look like Karl Marx and then grew the matching beard.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Michael Foot

Today the sun has finely set on a great man. The life long defended of peace, honesty and fairness as well as a life long Plymouth Argyle supporter passed away earlier this morning aged 96.

In my brief life (both actual and political) I have always regarded Michael Foot with a great deal of respect, He seems to have been the exact opposite of all the problems we have with politicians nowadays, where they are spineless flip-flopping on contentious policies and dropping others at the first dip in the polls Foot was resolute, when he was told that Labours manifesto promise of Nuclear disarmament was becoming an easy stick for the Tories to beat them with by highlighting Soviet military expenditure, Foot responded to the effect that if the prospect of Nuclear disarmament was unpopular then it would be harder to make it popular if it was not being championed by one of the two potential governing parties.I believe when we come to rate the 1980's definitively as a decade we should come to regard the 1983 election as a real disaster not for the Labour party or Socialism but for the whole nation.

He was a founding member of CND and was a life long supporter and promoter of Nuclear Disarmament, during his leadership he even made it one of his key manifesto pledges in the 83 election campaign. Speaking of which I'm sure we all know of the "longest suicide note in history" or to give it its real name the 1983 Labour party
Election Manifesto. Ignoring perhaps the fact that the SDP essentially the Labour parties Right wing had broken off taking with them a about as much votes as Labour lost in 83, as well as the Falklands war boost to Margaret Thatcher.

Photo source
Second photo source

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Update Time

Sorry that things went a bit quite there fir awhile. I think I'd better use the coming of spring and some decent weather with a few updates.

Here we go:
You may remember this post about the arrest of the Iranian sugar workers Union members, well it appears that four of the convicted members have been released however the Unions president Ali Nejati is still in prison the IUF is once again asking for letters of solidarity to Mr Nejati in the hopes of keeping the pressure up. You can send one here.

Next up we have the Power 2010 Power pledge (of power), has finally been narrowed down to the main Five though apparently they'll still try to raise awareness on some of the other issue's. But the big Five are as follows, 1) Introduce a proportional voting system. Good good, this should help revitalise politics in this country. 2) Scrap ID cards and roll back the database state. Also very good, the Governments absurd insistence on these costly measures to appear tough on terror whilst eroding are civil liberties is really grating on my nerves.

3) Replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber. Err I'm quite indifferent on this one, I'd really rather have seen the other Second chamber proposal go through, that of a chamber drawn up via professions and such.

4) Allow only English MPs to vote on English laws. Again I can't muser up much enthusiasm for this one. England is already the most powerful constituent of the Union anyway so it seems kind of unnecessary and just another attempt to resurrect English nationalism.

5) Draw up a written constitution. Ah now this is more like it, If I'm not mistaken the UK is one of only three nations to not have a Codified constitution which leaves us at the mercy of the scruples of a large majority in the Commons, the others without a codified Constitution are Israel, and Australia I think.

And finally we have Greece, it seems that in response to the Government going ahead with there cuts, the Greek people have responded with a General strike (the second since in February alone).

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