Monthly Archive for December, 2010

Chavez regime to censor the internet

(Chavez with one of his more needy clients)

Venezuela’s outgoing parliament has passed laws that will punish ISPs that allow anything that Hugo Chavez does not like.

Under the new rules, providers of online contents and internet portals could be fined if images or messages appearing on their sites “disrespect public authorities, incite or promote hatred or create anxiety in the citizenry or alter public order”.

The measure was passed just days after parliament voted to give President Chavez special powers to pass laws by decree for 18 months.

BTW Chavez’s more green-minded sympathizers might like to read about his plans to build a nuclear power plant with Russian help.

It looks like the opposition is starting to get its act together. It received half the popular vote in the recent parliamentary elections although the Chavistas still have a majority of seats.

What can we do about Xmas?

Xmas reminds us of what life used to be like prior to the modern era. In the old days it was “Xmas” everyday in one way or another, when people’s lives were ruled by rituals and festivals, and our relatives had to be endured on a constant basis not just once a year. Social pressure was even greater then than now. There was no space for the individual. What you did and how you thought was totally prescribed.

By Xmas I mean the in-your-face stuff that fills the public space, physical and electronic. What Christians (or quasi Christians) do in the privacy of their own dining room or in church of course is their business. We will call that Christmas.

Oliver Cromwell and the Pilgrim Fathers banned Xmas. We can’t do that, but it would be helpful if some Christians were to denounce the whole thing as a pagan travesty, which it is, of course. George Washington had the right spirit when he crossed the Delaware River and launched a surprise attack on Hessian mercenaries while they were singing Stille Nacht (or doing something equally Xmasy) on December 25 1776.

An interesting way to spend Xmas. Washington crossing the Delaware

Continue reading ‘What can we do about Xmas?’

Help buy a satellite to bring cheap Internet to places that don’t have it yet? $150K needed.

This organisation is raising $150K from people online to start buying a satellite so they can bring cheap and free Internet to the five billion people who don’t already have it. You can donate here, and find out more about the plans here.

Climate Change: Is Nuclear Power the Answer?

Videos from the November Monthly Argument Debate, held in Melbourne, Australia. Visit the Monthly Argument website for more information about the speakers, links to relevant reading etc.

It’s also worth visiting Barry Brook’s site Brave New Climate which contains several really interesting, and informative threads in which Brook and others discussed the issues with Arthur Dent (aka Albert Langer) in the week leading up to the debate: Here are links to two of those threads: Two Nuclear-Solar Dialogues in Melbourne Next Week and Electricity Costs Exhibits

Climate Change: Is nuclear the answer? (excerpts – 8 minutes) from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

Part 1: Climate Change: Is Nuclear power the answer? from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

Part 2. Climate Change: Is Nuclear Power the Answer from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

Postone’s analysis of the malaise of the “left”

History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism by Moishe Postone (pdf 18pp)

This article is an analysis of the reasons behind the malaise of the Left which has in common some of the themes discussed at this site as well as raising some new angles

For example, the following quote outlines the superficiality of the reflexive anti-Americanism of many on the “left” in response to the 9/11 attacks:

“Let me elaborate by first turning briefly to the ways in which many liberals and progressives responded to the attack of September 11. The most general argument made was that the action, as horrible as it may have been, had to be understood as a reaction to American policies, especially in the Middle East. While it is the case that terrorist violence should be understood as political (and not simply as an irrational act), the understanding of the politics of violence expressed by such arguments is, nevertheless, utterly inadequate. Such violence is understood as a reaction of the insulted, injured, and downtrodden, not as an action. While the violence itself is not necessarily affirmed, the politics of the specific form of violence committed are rarely interrogated. Instead, the violence is explained (and at times implicitly justified) as a response. Within this schema, there is only one actor in the world: the United States.

This sort of argument focuses on the grievances of those who carry out such actions without engaging the framework of meaning within which those grievances are expressed. The actions that flow from those meanings are taken simply as expressions of anger, however unfortunate. Such arguments neither interrogate the understanding of the world that motivated this violence nor critically analyze the sort of politics implied by violence directed intentionally against civilians. Consequently, such arguments can become implicitly apologetic rather than political; they make little attempt to understand the strategic calculations involved — not so much of the bombers as of their handlers — and ignore issues of ideology. It is a serious error, for example, to interpret the felt grievances underlying a movement like al-Qaeda in narrow terms, as an immediate reaction to American policies and Israeli policies. This ignores too many other dimensions of the new jihadism. For example, when Osama bin Laden speaks of the blow inflicted on the Muslims eighty years ago, he is not referring to the founding of the state of Israel but to the abolition of the caliphate (and, hence, of the purported unity of the Muslim world) by Ataturk in 1924 — long before the United States was involved in the Middle East and before Israel was established. It is noteworthy that the vision he
expresses is more global than local, which is one of the salient features of the new jihadism, in terms of both the struggles it supports (transforming them into manifestations of a single struggle) and its driving ideology. And an important aspect of the global character of that ideology has been anti-Semitism.

Addressing anti-Semitism is crucially important when considering issues of globalization and antiglobalization, even if it can be subject to misunderstandings because of the degree to which the charge of anti-Semitism has been used as an ideology of legitimation by Israeli regimes in order to discredit all serious criticisms of Israeli policies. It is certainly possible to formulate a fundamental critique of those policies that is not anti-Semitic, and, indeed, many such critiques have been formulated. On the other hand, criticism of Israel should not blind one to the existence today of widespread and virulent anti-Semitism in the Arab/Muslim world. As I will try to elaborate, anti-Semitism poses a very determinate problem for the Left.”

Continue reading ‘Postone’s analysis of the malaise of the “left”’

debating the wars

The next Melbourne  Monthly Argument looks like being a ripper!

Topic: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Can our participation be justified?

When: Thursday December 9 at 6.30pm for 7.00pm start. Free admission. No need to book. Meals available from 6.00pm.
Where: The Function Room, The Dan O’Connell Hotel, 225 Canning Street (corner of Princes Street) Carlton. ( Melway 2B J4)

Main speakers:


Chaired by Darce Cassidy