Posts tagged politics

Still on this subject, here’s an appropriate comic by Chainsawsuit. (via Inky)

And regarding the fact the US are discussing an online censorship bill, which according to the proposals would be enforced by and on request of private corporation: that would settle once and for all the debate on whether ‘Democracy’ is just a televised gameshow in the United States, but despite that I believe such a thing would instantly backfire economically, and the shareholders in too many companies not in the entertainment business can’t have that. So maybe the bill won’t pass — but still, just the fact such a proposal is under consideration means the idea won’t go away easily, and from the point of view of the rest of the world, having these kinds of laws is what defines a corrupt banana republic of the kind seen in 80s action movies.

Take it from someone who lives in a country that for most of the time resembles one of those places.

It is impotent rage and despair masked as a display of force; it is envy masked as triumphant carnival.

Slavoj Žižek: Shoplifters of the World Unite

Still on the subject of last month’s London riots (and beyond), Slavoj Zizek bests my ability to articulate a few (hopefully) nuanced thoughs. His indictment is complete: conservatives blind to the fact the riots were themselves a conservative outburst, leftists too vain to recognize impotence and too eager to opt in on to any popular outbursts without discrimination; and a particular insight about both sides’ lack of ‘world’, which I read as the refusal to acknowledge nuance, complexity, and the staggering fact that there are seven thousand million people around. Perhaps an good example of this — and as picking on the right-wing would be too easy — is the typical leftist blind and uncompromising refusal of nuclear energy, as if the option was between nuclear and nothing — it is obviously, a complex choice between nuclear and other equally harmful sources, as even a similar megawattage of ‘sustainable’ sources such as wind or solar is arguably ecologically harmful (and even if people in their little community believe they need no such amounts of energy, perhaps their 7000 million meat-eating, Benz-craving neighbours disagree, and what to do then?).

Again, a very recommended and uncompromising read.

Endgame

The Null Device has some interesting thoughts on last week’s London ‘riots’. I think Andrew’s analysis nails it: the wave of stealing and violence may have started as a legitimate protest against a killing by the police, but very soon became an excuse for random looting and violence, and in a way the endgame of ‘Third Way’ neoliberalism — consumers who wouldn’t afford it otherwise stealing the bling (plasma TVs, iPhones, Timberlands) they were taught to want, excercising their ‘freedom’ to “claim back their taxes”, as a looter said in an interview (and as the post is right to point out just reeks of Tea Party rhetoric). All in all, an appaling sequence of events in which people excused themselves with far-right populist utterances, and I’m glad to see that, believing in the news, no exceptions are being made and looters are being tried as the ordinary criminals they acted like.

What I find painful is how yet again a vast number of so-called Leftists seem completely unable to tell their friends from their enemies, and seem to endorse actions motivated by ideas in the opposite ideological end. This “enemy of our enemy” cannot be our friend!, and I find it disgusting when people post dismissive slogans like “bankers are the real looters” as if two wrongs made things right. One can almost imagine certain kinds of leftist cheerleaders being sympathetic for thugs in brown shirts and combat boots smashing the windows of McDonalds restaurants: if we are for anyone or anything against globalization, high finance, etc., where does one draw the line after all? The Left should understand once and for all that there are bad things (such as banks) and there are worse things (like fascism gaining mainstream currency); and self-described leftists should stop feeling so damn pleased about themselves: advertising a sense of moral superiority plugs right into the neoliberal way of thinking.

Looters were no indignados fed up with the corruption and the inherent self-destructivity of capitalism in a globalized world where full employment is no longer possible. The protesters were not like those camped out in southern Europe or Israel. These crave for a Future in which they are able to live as they please, free from the bondage of insecurity — a Future in which they even can even choose to lead ‘boring’ lives like raising a family. The ‘freedom of choice’ offered by neoliberals (i.e. the “competitiveness” between products, say Android or iOS, or Pepsi or Coca-Cola) are completely irrelevant in comparison, even ridiculous. And yet in London there were no misérables stealing bread. Instead they stole bling, and took the opportunity to act on their prejudices, burning down GLBT bookstores, a warehouse full of indie music, and another of antique furniture. Looters were stormtroopers, destroying what they didn’t like: A Clockwork Orange rather than V for Vendetta. And thanks to them, we now have mainsteam talk of Chinese-style Internet censorship in Europe while governments from Lybia to Iran run away with the West’s hypocrisy and stage mock demonstrations in support of those ‘freedom fighters’ with brand-new Nikes. Are these the friends we Socialists* want?

Just to reiterate: the enemy of my enemy is quite often not my friend. Let’s be clear.


* The correct word for American readers is ‘Liberals’. Of course, ‘liberal’ completely changes meaning across the Atlantic, so my own use of ‘neoliberal’ or ‘liberal’ in the post should be interpreted as ‘conservative’ by those in North America. The mind boggles.

Misc. links May 31st - June 12th

What is College good for? I’ve recently had a student ask a somewhat more brutal form of the question the author mulls about — “Why do we have to learn this?” (‘this’ being, by the way, a short tutorial on sound recording in the context of a Multimedia Lab course with a very high amount of audiovisuals in its syllabus) — and found myself unable to provide an answer. I always figured someone who goes to college has a interest in learning stuff, no questions asked (much less when the ‘stuff’ is a downright obvious part of what you commited yourself to study for three years).

In the United States, the advertising industry says the middle class is over.

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman on the ‘rule by rentiers’. No better example than the recent Portuguese election, in which the media (owned by people with a vested interest in the privatizations-to-come) conspired not only to utter demonize the outgoing PM — the only way to ensure a ‘stable’ government by the right, given the overall perceived mediocrity of the right-wing leader and new PM, Pedro Passos Coelho —, but also to present the IMF’s prescriptions as palatable and inevitable (and a good 80% voted pro-IMF, fucking A!). And of course, not content until the country descends (or, as the media would put it, ‘ascends’) into a kind of feudal post-democratic ‘Berlusconianism’, pundits now call for a new ‘modern’ Constitution, stripped of such ‘nagging aspects’ as electoral and labour regulations, then freely available to the MPs and the lobbies to change as they please. And it seems people will gladly take it, as envious dreams of bling are the true opium of the masses. (via Boing Boing)

On a lighter note, about one year ago two players fought a three-day, eleven-hour battle in the Wimbledon lawn. The fifth set of the match ended 70-68.

±’s EGO SUM PANIS VIVUS, shot March 23rd 2011, the day the Portuguese PM resigned.

A little context: amidst the uproar about further austerity measures, someone at the Finance Ministry thought a consumer tax cut (from 23% to 6%) on golf equipment would be just what our economy needed. It’d turn out to be one of the last Moments of Zen from our government.

However, given that for all practical purposes our capital moved to somewhere between Paris and Berlin, I don’t believe the coming elections will do us any good. The outgoing PS douches will most probably be replaced by PSD douches, a single letter difference that contains all the golden parachutes paragovernmental workers will get when shown the exit door, all the dodgy deals and comissions that will get renegotiated.

And we’ll probably get the IMF’s ‘help’ in the end anyway. And just look how great that worked for the Greek and the Irish. I guess I’ll start stockpiling ramen noodles