Thursday, 29 March 2012

Defining modern dictatorship and its overthrow

In the December of 2001, the severe macroeconomic financial crisis in Argentina eventually forced President Fernando de la Rúa, who was implementing severe IMF-directed cuts to public spending and taxes rises onto the majority Argentines, out of office. The civil unrest surrounding the presidential palace was so severe, it required the president to unceremoniously leave his post via helicopter, in frightened exile of the nation's wrath, disgust and revolt. The cause of the crisis itself essentially lay in the ethically dubious priorities of Argentina's prior governments. Prior President Carlos Menem granted large tax cuts to corporations who lobbied in his favour, creating a massive budget shortfall and inflation. Like the current IMF-demanded technocracies implementing austerity's social devastation and stratification in Southern Europe, the de la Rúa administration acted on the unelected auspecies of IMF dictact to implement the neoliberal preservation of corporate monopoly. Argentines themselves rejected this directly, with intellectual resentment.

The Egyptian revolution of 2011 is mostly covered and discussed in the media with a one-dimensional lack of context. The basic perception is that Egyptians found the bravery to take to the streets against the Mubarak dictatorship, and it was eventually overthrown with the support of western powers. But the conditions involved are much more awkwardly condemning and nuanced than this. As Noam Chomsky documents:  "Mubarak’s neoliberal programs since the early 80s have created wast wealth in small sectors and have engendered a huge corruption, severely harming a large majority of population. As inequality soared, all of this was, not surprisingly, accompanied by increasingly brutal repression of workers and others who sought elementary rights. But, virtually up to the moment of outburst of Arab spring, the World bank and IMF were issuing glowing reports on the remarkable achievement of such a system and Egypt’s economic and political managers." 

We can judge that the majority of those involved in the anti-government protest movements in Egypt were generally unideological in their motives. They were mainly reacting in sociological rage and desperation to the injustice and despair imposed upon them for decades by Hosni Mubarak's neoliberalism, and its privatizations, social stratification and suppression of the rights of workers. It received approval and support from many western corporations, governments and arms companies for these reasons, support of which was only withdrawn when the position of the Mubarak regime became entirely untenable on an accountably political, but not moral level.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A thought on the death of David Foster Wallace

A seemingly common phenomena is that of great minds dealing with profound despair and disenchantment. Wittgenstein, Van Gogh, Camus, Woof, Hemingway etc. There can be no doubt that it must permeate any clinically occurring depression more deeply. The striving frustration and self-appointed tribulation relative to ambition and thoughtfulness so sadly overwhelmed DFW to the point of being clearly unable to deal with it.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Secular faith

I am compelled by the ideal expressed in Alain de Botton's new book, Religion for Atheists. His official website gives this summary of its sentiments: suggests that rather than mocking religions, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from them – because they're packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies. Blending deep respect with total impiety". 

Arguably, as I argue, religious devotion as a collective existence embodies  a malevolence just as equally. 

One of the most universally common religious apologetics, is that without religious doctrine, civilization would descend into social and moral decay. Though of course, some of religious fundamentalists argue that this is already the case, using the example of civil rights for women and homosexuals upheld by so many modern institutions.  

I am of the position that specifically stealing, choosing or cherry-picking from disparate religious beliefs refutes the facile notion of a moral dependence on dogmatic devotion, and affirms the inherentness and necessity of a universal moral standing. 

It is the morality, intellect and ethical standing of  natural humanism that can revere Jesus of Nazareth's Sermon on the Mount, while viewing the abominable cruelty, barbarism, stupidity, racism and atrocities of the primitive New Testament with disgust. That can respect the Torah's outline on responsibly treating other human beings well, but can condemn the misogyny and blood sacrifice within all the Abrahamic texts. It is easier for modern fundamentalists from these traditions to advocate segregation based upon homophobia, hatred of women and dissent from all of their bigoted and infantile ideas. Justifications of slavery descends in the western world from the godly orders of the scriptural sections. The same that advocate gang rape and forced prostitution of disobedient women, and execution for anyone who touches the skin of a pig, eats shellfish, chooses to work on a Sunday, or plants two different kinds of crops in the same field. 

Just as we have established the philosophical principles of logic and rationality from thinkers who lived in societies where majorities had a conviction to polytheistic worship,  we can lucidly derive our basic human morality from writings in the whole of history, while discarding and ignoring that we know to be disgusting and moronic. We should easily promote a message that advocates a positive form of abandonment: the kind we've always depended upon to advance our condition with. But the forces of delusional fundamentalism continue to regress us in many respects.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Western hypocrisy

Are western countries the international upholders of democracy and human rights?


Of course, we should condemn the unspeakable atrocities committed by the Assad regime in Syria, and the vetoes by the Russian and Chinese ambassadors, adverting diplomatic action by the United Nations against them. We should condemn the supply of arms to the Assad dictatorship by Russian and Chinese arms companies, with the former directly sponsored by Vladimir Putin's government.

Based upon the same moral reasoning, we should condemn the United States's United Nations vetoes of dozens of violations of international law committed by the State of Israel since 1972. The crimes humanity, genocide and apartheid perpetrated against the Palestinian people by the Israeli security forces are easily on par with the Syrian government's in terms of barbarity and inhumanity. The number killed over these certainly eclipses on the level of statistics. Of course, we should have no sympathy with the Islamist theocracy in Iran, and should stand with the efforts of the continual pro-democracy movement within the country. But it remarkable for nations such as the United States, with enough nuclear weapons to destroy all life on earth numerous times over, and the State of Israel with 300, to impose sanctions and manufacture war propaganda against Iran for the possibility of the Iranian government manufacturing one or two.

We should condemn the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, subsidizing the supplying arms to the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, primarily directed by the vested interests of oil companies and the international military industrial-complex. The international crimes inflicted by King Abdullah and King Hamad's regimes are on par with those committed by Assad's Syria, Gaddafi's Libya and Ahmadinejad's Iran. But of course, the west remains silent when these slaughters and abominations occur. But this is not forgetting the long-term western support for Mubarak's Egypt; support that was only withdrawn until its position became untenable in the newly conscious eyes of the world. The Bahraini regime in particular continues to enjoy support from organizations such as the Metropolitan Police, with its former Assistant Commissioner John Yates (recently testifying to the Leveson Inquiry on the Met's corruption in cooperation with Rupert Murdoch's News International)  advising the government on the tactics used to brutally crush its Arab Spring protest movement, such as the kettling used against student protesters in Britain in late 2010. And the police force of Oakland, California, which learned methods of violence and surveillance from the Bahraini security forces to use in its combat assault against the peaceful Occupy Oakland protest movement.

There is no consistent western support for democracy and human rights anywhere in the world. It fluxes between contempt or reactionary posturing according to the ideology or elite vested interests at stake. Whereas us in support of humanity's universal moral, ethical and intellectual values, defined in documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, will stand in solidarity with the international efforts against all forms of tyranny, injustice and totalitarianism: at home and abroad.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The internet and the loss of nostalgia

I was recently listening to an interview with the actor Bruce Dern, who noted how the lives and personas of those within the film industry are diametrically different to those finding fame in the modern age. It is necessary to be reclusive in many aspects of living for them to retain some degree of mystique. All is very transparently open and dissected.

Those films and artists, such as in The Artist, finding success at this year's Oscars have all worked in films that appear to hearken to earlier and romanticized periods of time. Cinema is in many ways far greater than it was in years. As an art form I judge it to be discovering something of a respectful Renaissance, at least compared to say the homogeneous mediocrity of most popular music.

Remember Myspace? I somewhat surreally have a romanticism for the time it wasn't an incomprehensible abomination.  Of course, it always was you may say.

Consider the upload of Neil Young's debut of "Heart of Gold" on The Johnny Cash Show in 1971:

It was uploaded six years ago. Six years ago!

The internet and its mediums are very much new. In many ways they are tearing down tyrannies and the haze of obscurantism in its ideal of openness in human communication. But also, this comes with human responsibilities and affections that we have yet to wholly consider and adapt ourselves to.