Sunday, 21 November 2010

Crosland Memorial lecture

This week I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Grimsby's Anthony Crosland Memorial lecture. If live in or around Grimsby and don't know what the Memorial Lecture is then I don't really blame you as this the first we've had for about five or six years and the last speaker was Roy Hattersly.

The Crosland Memorial Lecture is unsurprisingly a lecture held in honour of Grimsby MP and former Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland, and is organised by the local Labour party though attendance is open to anyone and free (they pay for it via donations), for those unfamiliar with the work of Corsland, highlights include taking Henry Kissenger to a Grimsby Town (Mariners) match instead of having a meeting with him, though to be fair to him he only held that position for a year 1976-77 and died shortly after spending quite a bit of his time in the position quite ill so there wasn't any fundamental policy breaks from his predecessors in Callaghan's and Wilson's governments.

He was however extremely active outside of the Foreign office, other posts included Secretary of state for education and science, President of the board for trade and Secretary of state for local government. In fact his most memorable quote comes from his time overseeing education "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England. And Wales and Northern Ireland" Well said Tony well said. Outside of Cabinet entirely Crosland was also very influential his book the future of Socialism written published in 1956 caused quite a stir arguing for a mixed economy and a halt to nationalisation, in fact if Crosland were still a live today he'd probably be a Social Democrat, which is funny given that the man who replaced as Foreign Secretary was David "SDP" Owen.

The speaker this year was none other then Helen Clark former Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand and current head of the UN development Programme which puts here in the top 3 positions of power for that organisation. Now I don't wish Mr Hattersly any disrespect but theres a bit of a gap between the two, Former Deputy leader of the opposition, no one times 5, then former national leader and 20th most powerful women in the world.

Her Lecture concerned the issues of International development, the problems faced the problems yet to be faced such as climate change, and the solutions and there practical effects. When it came to the eradication of poverty and the Millennium development goals she mentioned that there doing well... so long as you include China, if you take China out of the analysis then the average falls short of the goals which is to cut absolute poverty by half, absolute poverty being those who live on a dollar and a half or less, however Ghana is also doing well in this area and many African states have seen a number of concrete improvements in infrastructure and services so its not all bad in that area, though relativistic poverty is a curse all over the globe and little is being done about that.

The questions section was a bit hit and miss one person raise the issue of population growth and what can be done about it, if you've heard about the "solutions" to over population you've probably been forced to suffer through some keyboard eugenicist ranting about sterilisation or some sort of death lottery. Helen's response was both more compassionate and made more sense, give women the choice in the matter. Simple really societies were sexual education is normal, where contraceptives are available and affordable and there's no impinging social factor against there use and coupled with decent health care to reduce death by pregnancy and the population levels stabilise and the growth rate goes down there by reducing the pressure on resources.

And its true the nuclear family model is the standard family model in the northern hemisphere and it wasn't always so, my Mother was one of eleven and myself am one of Five, hell in some nations its arguably worked to well with the population growth actually becoming a negative trend.

All in all a very good talk, it'll be interesting to see who they get next year (if any one).

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Prosperity of Freedom

Today we have Real News interview regarding an investigation into the glorious success of the Western way of business and how its bringing prosperity to the people after decades of evil state planning and aide from the Soviet Union, and the years of informal black economy as warlords carved up the country and drug trafficking prospered and then the final turbulent years of Islamic fundamentalism's pure business transactions.

Or rather how the Privatisation drive in the wake of the 2001 invasion as completely and utterly failed to do any of those things. In the interview (below) reporter Jonathan S. Landrey reveals that at the Ghori cement factory, the one and only Cement factory that is still running on 50 year old Soviet made machinery, making the factory the Lada of Manufacturing I guess.

The heady cocktail of ideologically driven privatisation, reliance on connections and a small state... oh I'm sorry I meant Corrupt err developing state, thats foundations are the spiders web of over a dozen rival warlords and there power plays and influence hoarding; and its cement if you'll excuse the pun is Thousands of Western troops struggling to clean up the fallout of the previous Afghan war. Given the growing resurgence of the Taliban or rather Neo-Taliban as some have such as Antonio Giustozzi call them due to some changes in behaviour tactics and ideas, they've even started making tapes with singing, though instrumentals are of course still Harem*.

Poverty is of course a serious hindrance to the campaign for "hearts and minds" I mean lets assume that those running the show in America and the West are genuine in there desire for Afghanistan to sample the fruits of "democratic" modernity, the inability to provide concrete (sorry) prove of the superiority of "their way" over the Afghan norm then theres really no hope for achieving "Victory conditions" nor a unfurling of a mission accomplished banner that actually means something. After all the proof is in the pudding.

The rest of his findings can be found here.
* Contrary to popular belief the word Harem actually refers to a code of conduct and generally means forbidden or wrong, and is not Arabic for bigamy, or short for rich lech bragging about all the women he has bought.

Friday, 12 November 2010

We're fighting for your rights

Heres a serious post this time,I just thought that this declaration of intent by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) by Subcommandante Marcos named after a friend who was killed at a checkpoint (also known as delegate zero) deserved to be brought to greater attention.

The EZLN or Zapatistas, are Mexican resistance group operating mainly in the state of Chiapos; the most southern state in Mexico, founded in opposition to increased oppression and exploitation of the indigenous population the group has expanded to include rural peoples of all ethnicities and even has some support in more urban areas. After there uprising in 1994 was suppressed by the Mexican army they instead turned to a more defensive campaign only using armed violence against incursions into there territory. The name Zapatista comes from the famous Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata pictured left, who fought for the rural peasantry in the 1910 Revolution.

In International politics many states leaders and peoples make is to assume that what they consider to be true beneficial and rational to them is universal and anyone who actively disagrees to either be dense, insane or inherently evil. Hell the only time a Palestinian group is guaranteed dedicated news coverage nowadays is either during an Intifada when Hamas begins firing Qassams over the barricades and then you'll only here the numbers being fired repeated like a rallying cry, but strangely enough never how many of them actually kill or hit anything or the much more accurate and deadly Israeli weapons being used on the Palestinians both before and after said rocket launches, probably because that would make this big scary threat seem a lot less.... well threatening.

Fortunately for the EZLN they're somewhat better at communicating with the wider world believing that the internet has fundamentally altered the relationship between the audience and the content makers the EZLN has been very active in communicating there goals and ideas to the wider world, "the important thing is the spectacle that you make out of an event in the media, as opposed to the event itself". But there's still quite a lot of work to be done. Heres an archive of Zapatista documents translated into English quite interesting reading.

And to end on a more uplifting note why not a closing song? here is the himno zapatista the anthem of the EZLN enjoy.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A slice of Pi

This has very little to do with anything but I just couldn't let a song about Pi that can actually be listened to go unnoticed.

The version with the lyrics.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

An Avalanche in cyberspace

Hey everybody. I noticed that I've been neglecting UK news recently,in my defence I've been somewhat out of the loop on a few stories and was a bit late, I was just recently made aware of the disgusting actions of strikebreakers at the London picket lines besides many other Comrades can usually be relied upon to write about them in a much more compelling and professional way. But thats about to change you see while I'll never be as good at document the plight of women in 21st century patriarchy, wax lyrical about the works of Gramsci,or cover the latent sinophobia within the British establishment or expose the acid culture of economic lies to mask tax hoarding like some others.

But there is one area of UK politics that I think I can safely say I excel at thats right constantly yammering on about internet founded -yet increasingly encroaching on physical plain- campaign group 38degrees . Regulars -oh according the new stats features I actually have regulars now- will probably have thought that they had finally escaped these little updates seeing as I haven't talked about them for a month or two. I am now going to make up for it now as there have been several new developments.

First Murdoch, it seems that Vince Cable hasn't entirely sold his principles for ministerial kickbacks, he seems to have finally bowed to public pressure and called for an inquiry into Murdochs attempts to take complete ownership of BskyB which by its unpronounceable name reminds us is technically a merging of British Satellite Broadcasting and Sky. So good news however Murdoch is very sensitive regarding allegations that he is breaking are already impotent anti monopoly laws, and will no doubt "unleash the hounds" (heh) by which I mean corporate lobbyists to try and dilute the inquiry and any subsequent penalties if and when he or News International are found guilty of any wrong doing, so its imperative that we keep up the pressure.

Next up we have a follow up to this post on the proposed battery farms for cattle being considered in Lincolnshire, for me the one and only home county. It seems that several companies backing the scheme have well backed off due to protests and the Local councils are differing about whether or not to push thorugh so now could be the time to tip the balance. There also running a similar campaign to tighten laws on UK imports of south American agricultural produce that requires deforestation for farmland.

In other environmental news you may of heard of the ConDems plans to make a bit of cash on the side by selling off vast swathes of our green and pleasant land that middle England daily mail readers claim to love so much to private developers, and the response has been phenomenal, over 50,000 signatures in just a few weeks.

Oh and speaking of chopping there's this little campaign to get George Osborne to come clean on his personal tax records and stop using loopholes since he is after all the Chancellor of Exchequer, maybe we should just pass the hat around and see if we can hire a bounty hunter to dig through his accounts. And hand in hand with that is their campaign to crack down on tax avoiders like Vodafone. Since this man is the ConDems real number 2, you might think that any campaign against him will be fruitless, but you have to remember that this is a man so slimy that he changed his name from "Gideon" to George to appear more likeable not to mention his constant lieing about how "were all in this together", and given that the ConDems are positively riven with contradictions with the Liberals looking weaker by the day prompting further defections and electoral disaster Gideon "call me George" Osborne could be set for a fall if we make enough noise about it.

And on a general and final note it seems that 38degrees has been growing into a more professional outfit, they started raising money for campaigns efficiently, they now put up posters and billboards, they've also got rid of those automatic emails making you at least personalise them to an extent getting rid of that spam feel and appear to be making an increasing impact.

There we go its good to be back on form.

Burns photo source

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