January 25, 2006

 

Hasta luego

Stephen Harper is forming a minority Conservative government in Canada, and I am leaving the country!

Those two things aren't actually related to each other, though. I am off to Cuba for a week of R&R and maybe a slightly improved understanding of that country. I hope to have something interesting to report when I get back to the Frozen North.

When I saw this picture, I assumed it was from Stephen Harper's election campaign. But it turns out that the boy he is shaking hands with is his own son!


January 21, 2006

 

Fortress Canada

For the second time in about a year, Canadians will be off to the polls on January 23 to elect a new government. The main actors include:

Prime Minister Paul Martin, the leader of the Liberal Party, a man who, throughout his long political career, has never wavered from his belief that politics is about money, that people are about money, and that money is about money and more money…

Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party, a neo-con ideologue who is presumably a politician only because he wasn’t exciting enough to be an economics professor. He thinks the entire universe can be reduced to neo-conservative economic formulas…

Jack Layton, PhD, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Canada’s social democratic party, a man for all seasons who can be just as comfortable behind a university lectern as on a campaign bus/plane. He is a man who has a solution to every social problem, except the class divide. In fact, he doesn’t seem to concede the existence of capitalist oppression and the class struggle – very odd for a “socialist”…

Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Canada’s separatist party with social-democratic tendencies that have been drowned out by its mantra that Quebeckers are a “peepole”, presumably with no class distinctions or class-specific interests…

Jim Harris, the leader of the Green Party, possibly the most insidious of the lot, because, while in fact merely a fringe pro-capitalist libertarian clique, the party pretends to be focused on the environment. Its motto should be “The environment – hey, why didn’t we think of this sooner?” The party has never won a seat in Parliament, but it keeps hoping…

Only the first four leaders were allowed to participate in the two debates that were held over the last couple of months. Despite the horrors that have been visited by the American empire on humanity, human rights, international law, and civil rights in the last few years, there was no mention of foreign policy in the debates, at least as far as I can recall. The alienation of the party leaders from their own society’s real nature has translated itself into an alienation from the world at large. It is as if they deliberately refuse to mention anything that has remotely to do with foreign policy, including immigration, for fear that any mention of foreign conflicts (and their class roots) may awaken the sleeping genie of domestic class conflict…

It has become almost a custom for progressive Canadians, who would rather vote for the NDP, to vote “strategically” for the Liberal Party, so as to keep Stephen Harper safely away from the reins of power. I have a feeling, though, that we may see the demise of that idea in this election. I think people have finally realized that Liberal and Conservative policies are two sides of the same coin, and that it is time to try something different. This will, I hope, help the NDP.

My other posts on related topics:
Unity, progress, and purpose
Today we are all Palestinians

January 20, 2006

 

January 18, 2006

 

An "animal"?

Do cats experience headaches? A couple of weeks ago, my brother's cat had her annual shots and checkup. For two or three days afterwards, she acted a bit peculiarly, even for her. She didn't appear ill exactly, as she had all her usual energy, still able to jump on top of counters and bookcases and cause all the normal troubles that cats are wont to cause. And yet... There was something different about her behaviour. She would sit in one spot for long periods and not make any kind of movement, not even so much as to turn her head. It reminded me of the time when I myself had a headache for several days after some vaccinations. I have little doubt she was having a headache, too.

We are very unfair to animals. And that is, of course, putting it mildly, considering that things like factory farming go on in our world. Ancient religious superstitions have made us insensitive to the fact that all fauna (and even flora), from the lowliest bacteria up to the highest primates, are our long-lost cousins in this world. Conservatives love to talk about values, but I wonder what possible value there could be in holding on to millennia-old superstitions at the expense of truth and humanity.

Meanwhile... my experience with this particular cat over several years has convinced me that she experiences the entire gamut of "human" feelings and emotions in one way or another. And now I find out that she gets headaches, too!



Misha's sit-in protest against salads. A political animal, that's what she is.


January 15, 2006

 

Truth as a higher degree of deception

One of the problems with politically progressive people is that, themselves being decent people, they often misinterpret the real meaning of what the other side says, because they are unable to comprehend just how indecent and structurally corrupt the other side is. Hence progressives naively tend to give credit to the other side where credit is not due, because they cannot see that what looks and sounds good is not necessarily good in reality. In brief, they often fail to perceive the actual quality of what is right in front of their eyes. By the way, by “the other side” I don’t just mean conservatives. To me, most “moderate” liberals are also an integral part of "the other" camp -- they are the "good cops" to the conservatives' "bad cops," so to speak.

For instance, American progressives are generally unable to see what lies behind the recent statements and opinion pieces by columnists and liberal politicians that call on the American people to resurrect their good nature and reject the evil that has overtaken their government’s behaviour in the last few years. To the progressives, it all sounds like "a good thing," because it sounds like an atonement, and a return to what they have always been told are “the real values” of America, whatever those may be.

I have little doubt, though, that the US journalists and liberal politicians who write the said articles and make the speeches were just as aware of the nature and methods of their government in 2001 as they are today -- not to speak of the rest of the last 60 years. That nature and those methods (irrespective of which party happens to be in government) have not changed. What has changed is that, for the first time, those facts are common knowledge, threatening the legitimacy of both government as such and the media. That is the reason I view those types of articles or statements as amounting to an extreme form of damage control (to protect the interests of both the journalists and the government).

The mass media's real "job,” unbeknownst to the general public, is and has always been to protect the status quo, that is, to protect the interests of the governing classes. What currently threatens their legitimacy (and that of the ruling classes) is not that they have not been doing their job in the last few years, but rather that the public has begun to realize that the real function of the mass media (and the government) is to work against the public interest. This growing realization is a terrifying prospect for the ruling classes. Hence they would do anything, including lamenting their own personal and individual "failures," to prevent such a ruinous outcome for the system.

To restate the matter, there has not been any failure as such. In the last few years, the mass media and the government have been doing exactly what they were designed to do within the context of the capitalist system. The lamentations are meant to keep people from realizing this fundamental fact.

By the way, Bush’s recent confessions about his “failures” fall into the same category, as they are meant to deflect attention from the anxieties of the extreme right end of the political spectrum regarding the declining legitimacy of the system as a whole. Apologies by a man who has never apologized for anything are proof that something much more fundamental than his presidency is in jeopardy. For instance, Bush’s overt criminality has helped raise the world’s consciousness of what “freedom” and “human rights” in the vocabulary of US governments are about. Both terms in fact mean unimpeded hegemony of capital.

Of course, any opposition to Bush's crimes is welcome. Still, I think we should be cautious about the source and the reasons for the opposition.

My other posts on related topics:
Myth and Myth-take (with Update)
McCain's License to Torture?
What do you care?
Commandress in Chief
Opportunism, thy name is Dubya!

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