Saturday, June 15, 2002
Is the US slipping into dictatorship? I think we're already there. Or rather, we're in an even worse state where we feel
free but are, in fact, powerless. As an example, we think we are fine as long as our first amendment right to free speech is protected. We point to all the discussions on the Net and say "we're OK as long as we can say what we want." But I ask you, is the point of the first Amendment to give us the right to vent? No, the Founding Fathers worried about the freedom of speech because it was the key to subverting a corrupt government. But in this day and age, no matter what you say, you can't subvert the government. Only mass media can accomplish the reach one needs to have real change, and when mass media is owned by the same corporations that own the politicians, what is your right to free speech worth? You can say all you want family and friends but you're powerless because it won't make a lick of difference. So are you really free?
This system is scary because it works. No one feels unfree, so there's no will to change. One of Soviet Union's downfalls was that its repression was open. It motivated the people to act for change, even as they risked their lives. In the US, it is absurd to fight for freedom, because, what freedom are you fighting for? The freedom to keep the businessmen from giving money to politicians? Why, that violates their
first amendment rights, you must be some sort of a communist!
If our right to, say, free speech is taken away, the only difference it will have is that we'll stop wasting air (or bandwidth) making clever, astute, scholarly, genius remarks that don't make a lick of difference.
The right to bear arms is no means to revolt, either. At best you get to kill a soldier or an ATF agent, which won't stop the government (what do they care if you take the life of one of their agents?) I support the 2nd amendment because I would like to be able to defend my home if I ever end up living in the country, but I am under no illusion that it will stop the proverbial King of England from taking away my rights.
There are plenty of people now making good points with their pamphlets and websites, but does that have a chance of reaching even one percent of the population? The anti-war movement would never happen now the way it did in the 60's, because the message was broadcasted in a large part by music. Nowdays, you'd be hardpressed to find a teenager whose musical selections aren't crafted by the MTV, who listens to more than top 15 on the radio. MTV and radiostations are owned by subsidiaries of the same corporations that own our leadership. So that's another avenue that's closed. Sure, the Punk scene are pretty political, but again, what can they do against the momentum of what LBJ (was it?) called the great silent majority?
In fact, civil rights and anti-war were the recent-most examples of political change for a reason. The 1960's were the last decade where you can argue that television wasn't end-all be-all, where most voters were swayed by more than soundbytes.
Yes, we have a lot more means to distribute information now, but who's listening? How many people, would you estimate, know more about the world than their 10 o'clock news tell them - if they even care to watch that at all. I would say that 5% is an optimistic figure. To bring it in perspective, 5% is the amount of people nationwide who voted for Nader - absolutely insignificant and insufficient to bring about any change.
So... we don't have the weapons to fight the power outright, and we don't have a population base who gives a crap about political action. The only way to get them to care is for the government to go too far into outright oppression. If people start dissapearing off the street, never to be seen again, then people will start careing. Otherwise, people have only two expectations of the government: keep us safe, and keep us wealthy. And amazingly enough, when the government fails to keep us safe, a la 9/11, we rally around the flag and voice our support! And when the economy takes a downturn, somehow we don't mind the government injecting our tax-money into industries which own the politicians.
And all of that is out in the open and strictly constitutional. Doesn't infringe on any of our sacred rights. And yet, I ask you again - how much freedom for political change do we have?
Mr Powell's call for “civilised standards” to be observed in Chechnya was perhaps a good, if utopian-sounding, start. But, to borrow a favourite phrase from his predecessor, Madeleine Albright, he should not hesitate to “tell it like it is” if those standards continue to be so flagrantly violated.
"Human Rights" is a language tool like "Democracy," that the government and the media use against our enemies. Don't have to go far for an example: for all the leveling of anti-Democracy and Human Rights abuses against Castro, he's no worse than Batista, against whom we used no such language (even though he suspended elections.) But Batista was a friend to our buiness interests and we had no reason to raise concerns about him. Castro is not, so all of a sudden we're VERY concerned about those poor unfortunate Cubans he's oppressing (in fact, we try to put them out of their misery with our half a century of suffocating embargo.)
We have no beef with Russia. In fact, they are being very nice to us with their open markets and cheap resources export. We have no reason to condemn them because we have nothing to gain by making our people dislike them.
As for what's going on in Chechnya, it's really fucked up. The war has gotten out of control. On one side, it's being fought by the kind of people we've met in Afghanistan and Palestine - those who seem to care more about fighting and killing the enemy than they do about securing some benefit for the people in whose name they claim to act. The Russian millitary, on the other end, is said to be acting on its own too, and that Putin wouldn't be able to stop it if he tried. I remember seeing a press conference with a Russian reporter on CSPAN, who doesn't feel safe returning to Russia anymore because of her work detailing how the Russian millitary is out of control. The higher ranks keep the war going to perpetuate their relevance, and some of the lower ranks are fighting a revenge war - too many of their buddies have been kidnapped, tortured, and killed. I think Chechnya is in anarchy, a la Apocalypse Now.
So I don't think there's any US condemnation of Russia on the way. Even if the US was interested in making a sincere condemnation for no political gain, who would it address it to?
The Geo-Political Role of Soccer?
If you paint soccer as a means of compensating your national shortcomings, then why would the US to care? The last time we cared about international sports was during the Cold War, when it mattered whether we'd get more Gold than the Russians. Those days are gone, and the US is simply too far beyond the reach of our competitors as an actual country that soccer outcomes can make or break our image. If we ever beat the UK at the Cup, would anyone cheer that we "stuffed [our] former masters and feel more powerful as a result"
like people gushed when Senegal beat France?
I love soccer, it's the only of the big field games that I enjoy (no "football" or baseball) - but you won't make me believe America needs to increase its Freudian phallus by beating some third world nation at a game. You will never sell the game to Americans with that approach.
Our penis is titanium-plated and nuclear-tipped, we don't need soccer balls.
I seem to be having problems keeping it up! This blog, that is. Is anyone willing to donate use of webshost/FTP?
Friday, June 14, 2002
I've gotten some negative comments in response to my kind words about Fidel Castro.
What's so good about a communist tyrant, people asked. Well, I'll tell you.
To understand Fidel, you need to understand the government that preceded him. Batista was loved by America not because of his human rights record and love of Democracy, but because he was fully owned by us and allowed American interests free access to Cuba's resources, regardless of the value for the population. The people, apparently, disagreed with America's assessment of what made a good leader, for Fidel's revolution was a popular one.
The Americans saw Cuban Communism as more than mere political humiliation. They (we) feared that Communism's success in Cuba would encourage much of Latin America to take the same route. Our business and political interests lay elsewhere, so we had to either subvert Communism in Cuba or make life so miserable that no one else would want to try it. It wasn't our concern for the Cuban people that prompted Kennedy’s numerous attempts to assassinate Castro.
The people of Cuba are poor, it is true. But I would hesitate to blame it on Communism and/or Fidel, given that Cuba has been under blockade for nearly half a century. And still, Cuba fares much better in aspects like infant mortality rates than does the rest of Latin America (most of which has given itself to our influence, and where has it gotten them?)
Mainly, I admire Fidel for the kind of a man he is. The deck is stacked against him, being only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, and yet he has persevered in his dignity and authority even as the former Soviet Union, a much bigger and better geographically situated country, has fallen apart to become little more than a third world nation, ripe for exploitation by the West.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Hypothetically, you might ask me (as a followup to the previous post)
Why are some countries third-world, and why are these not the Western countries?
The answer to your (well, mine) question is infinitely complex and very simple at the same time. The complex answers involve analysis of climates, political situation, religious conditions, type of government, etc. The simple answer is this:
For several centuries now, the white people (or, more percisely, the western people) have had a monopoly of wealth and power. Presumably, people did NOT starve in Asia, Africa, and Latin America prior to the colonial age. Since, our presence/influence has changed those regions forever. One way or another, our influence has rendered the traditional lives of these people impossible. We expect them, now, to adapt to the modern world and become successful players in it. But it's a game in which we have centuries of experience, and where the decks are stacked in our favour. We keep saying that the third world would be better off if only they went Free-Market. What we mean, though, is that we'd have access to resources of those countries, if they went Free-Market. What Free-Market means to us is that whoever owns what we want has the right to sell it to us, and the other 99.9% of the population can starve for all we care, unless they learn to compete with us Westerners. Compete in what, exactly? Automotive production? Millitary technology exports? By the time those countries muster the industry to be a relavant player in the world arena, the people would starve to death a million times.
So that's why those non-whites are hungry.
MY SOLUTION TO WORLD HUNGER
Check this out. American farmers and food prcessors overproduce. We can take advantage of that.
Let the government collect the surpluss food in exchange for some tax incentive. Whatever doesn't sell, let the government have it.
Have the government guarantee
to the said food growers and processors that the donated product will not end up in regions that are already American markets - so they don't have to worry about providing competitions to themselves.
Distribute the food to the world's needy. As per above paragraph, we have to control where exactly the food goes, because if American business find that their donated produce ends up hurting their bottom line by giving people a choice between FREE American food and paid-for American food, they'll not participate.
This is one form of governmental subsidy of domestic Industries I can support.
Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
--- Julias Caesar