Thursday 26 April 2012

Green Left proud to be to the left of fascists in the Netherlands

Saturday suddenly it ended: the fascist one man party (calling itself Party for Freedom) withdrew its support of the Dutch minority government.

There are no obvious reasons for this withdrawal and I am very surprised by the way the news is presented by the BBC for example. The government did not collapse because of "the euro", neither because of the openly professed xenophobia, islamophobia nor its latent homophobia and antisemitism. It just collapsed. The main reason may be that the one man making up a whole party representing 1/6th of the electorate would be forced to disclose his paymasters soon. We can only guess who they might be and where they are.

Protester: Freedom to be
beaten by Wilders' Supporter? 
And it was becoming clear that Wilders was not able to keep the nitwits who represent his "party" in parliament at a national level, in provinces and in some communities at bay. He cannot control them all at once and still be in charge of government. One of them, a former police officer, who is proud of beating up leftwing demonstrators (hence the illustration) and thinks it would be good if more of them would be shot on sight, left the "party" the other day to start one for himself. That is the way the extreme right always worked in the Netherlands: Huge Egos not fitting in with The Leader (thank God..).

Is the end of this fascist-supported coalition a reason to be cheerful...? Very eager to take the fascists' place is a seemingly broader coalition of the so-called GreenLeft, "liberals" and "ChristiansUnion". I am not going to explain the latter category, it is an incredibly Dutch "Christian" party.

GreenLeft is neither Green nor Left. It is the product of a merger between pacifist socialists, communists and christian radicals who decided to die in each others' arms after the collapse of Real Existing Socialism in 1990. The end is near now they have decided they are "liberals" and will be supporting the "Christian Democrats" and conservatives in their class war against the (working or non-working) poor. Good riddance apart from the damage they can inflict on us before their inevitable electoral collapse in the autumn.

To be continued...

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Obedience: The Root of Evil

A Great article here by Revd Nemu using Stanley Milgrim's classic experiment to reflect on the meaning of evil and how it relates to our inclination to obey authority.

Nemu writes:

It is not the people in the multitude which are evil, nor the following, but the deed. The word ‘evil’ suggests serial killers and souls that are blacker than the inside of a wolf’s gullet, but ‘evil’ is more complex in Hebrew. 

Nemu uses the game of chess as a metaphor of a game of chess to describe how power is and can be played out. This reminds me of something I read years ago in Lyotard's 'Post-modernism' (or whatever it was called!): "If there are no rules, there is no game".

And while you're browsing have a look at Revd Nemu's blog too.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Tolstoy as a pedagogue

You are lucky when you can read Dutch - here is a page on a site, completely dedicated to Tolstoy as a pedagogue. There is one title in English and one in Russian and it is very much a work in progress so if you cannot read most of it quite likely there will be books on it you can read in the near future.

Monday 16 April 2012

Occupy Academia!

From 3rd to 5th of September the second Anarchist Studies Network (ASN) conference will take place at Loughborough University. 

With an even greater number of 'streams' of discussion going on it shows that, despite the reputation and misuse of the term, 'anarchist', the field continues to push at boundaries of thought and action, not least in relation to religion. 

The first ASN conference was held at the same venue in September 2008. I think there were about 400 people at the final plenary debate: a tense exchange on the relative merits of academia and activism that one person compared to "the fourth century debate on whether Jesus was fully human or fully divine". 

It was as a result of the 2008 conference that ASIRA (Anarchists and Students Interested in Religious Anarchism) was born and the resulting publication, never likely to break records, surprised us all by requiring a re-print in paperback. 

Alex, who convened in 2008 and will again this year writes of the upcoming conferences religious stream, "‘No Master But God’? Exploring the Compatibility of Anarchism and Religion": 

"Anarchism and religion have long had an uneasy relationship. On the one hand, many anarchists insist that religion is fundamentally incompatible with anarchism, recalling that anarchism calls for ‘no gods, no masters’, ... On the other, some religious/spiritual radicals insist that their religious/spiritual tradition cannot but lead to a rejection of the state..." 

But there are plenty of other areas of discussion to get stuck into on this three day conference, from ontological and bodily anarchy to protest and revolution. The current list of seminar streams is available here

If you're interested in politics and how they relate to real life I can't think of an event this year that I would more thoroughly recommend than this one. 

Subsidies available where appropriate: see website

Friday 6 April 2012

Veterans for Peace UK launches on Easter Monday

Veterans for Peace UK - Our Stories, Our Aims, Our Actions.
Celebrate the launch of Veterans for Peace UK.
Easter Monday 09 April 2012 1400hrs (2pm)
Come and hear veterans speak the truth about war.

Michael Lyons - Royal Navy Veteran
After reading WikiLeaks’ Afghan War Diaries (that Bradley Manning is charged with disclosing), Michael refused to deploy to Afghanistan and was sentenced to seven months in Colchester Military Prison.
Gerry Condon - US Army Veteran
Refused deployment to the war in Vietnam, went underground in Europe and Canada. Gerry is a prominent organiser for Veterans for Peace and the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Matthew Horne - British Infantry Veteran
Matthew served in Iraq with the Scots Guards and spent over 100 consecutive nights on the ground at Occupy London.
Ben Griffin - SAS Veteran
Ben left the Army after refusing to continue serving in Iraq; he is the founder of Veterans for Peace UK.
Jim Radford - WW2 D-Day Veteran
A celebrated folk singer, Jim has been involved in veteran’s peace groups since the days of Ex-Services CND.

FREE ENTRY - ALL WELCOME (Donations appreciated).
Location - Giuseppe Conlon Hall, 49 Mattison Road, London, N4 1BG.
Transport – Tube - Piccadilly Line - Manor House.
Bus - 29, 341, 141 - Mattison Road Bus Stop.
Timings - 1400hrs - Arrive from 2pm.
1500hrs - Launch of Veterans for Peace UK with speakers / music.
1700/1900hrs - Party BYO drink and some food to share.

For more information / RSVP
Phone - Ben 07866 559 312
Email - veteransforpeaceuk AT

Ben Griffin Matthew Horne, Michael Lyons outside the U.S. Embassy in Solidarity with Bradley Manning (3 mins 30 secs)

Jim Radford singing "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (5 mins)

Sunday 1 April 2012

What then is to be done?

Sometimes, as by a flash of light, you realize that the obvious is not the obvious.
Even if you know this at an intellectual level you have to cope with the obvious that is not obvious at all because - it looks obvious.

Today I was shaken by this story - nothing particularly very new about it. I will come back to it after this:

The other day I read an inside story from the public transport company (a telling word) in the town I live in, my personal commitment to this "company" is expressed by my avatar.
The story is funny and sad at the same time because the teller of the story, who worked for one-and-a-half year with this "company", makes it clear she is completely indoctrinated with the story that the company is not about transporting people from one place to another.
The municipal transport company is about making profit. Therefore it is no longer called municipal transport company but MTC, without article, please!

If transporting people is not the goal of a public transport service anymore, why bother to keep it at all?
If making a profit is the goal of
caring for the elderly who cannot take care of themselves anymore,
of healing people who are ill,
of preventing diseases,
of locking up people who somehow are deemed worthy of being locked up,
of policing the streets,
of educating the young and the adult and the old -

why at all bother to keep up these former "services"?

Because they were never meant to be profitable.
Because "profit" as well as "competition" are social constructs, figments of an imagination that has totally derailed from humanity, humaneness - however you want to name it.
Maybe co-operation and mutual aid are too. I do not think so, but you may call it a matter of opinion. That is what the ideologues of profit and competition will say in return if you say this. They will insist that profit and competiton are "facts of life" and they are proven right every day and all the time because they impose their order.

As Choccy, the blogger whose piece I mention above, writes, school will not be handed over to the profitmakers directly. There will be unctuous stories about charity and bringing out the best in the pupils etcetera.
Look at this one, calling itself "christian" as if they still needed to bother.
The Golden Award Winners are lined up. ONLY ONE CAN WIN. Just like on the telly.

Whereas education - especially since that is etymologically the meaning of the word: leading someone out [of ignorance] - should be about learning what "profit" actually is, who gets it, who loses from it (you, the pupil, your parents, Society) and that there are alternatives.

These are not new insights, I know.
This is just to write down my tolstoyan moment of urgency: What then is to be done?