Palestine and the Blogosphere

March 5, 2008 by

I’ve been following the latest in Gaza for a couple of days now. It is truly disgusting and quite enraging. Similarly enraging though is the state of the media covering the situation, though it should come as no surprise.

The mainstream media seem to put far greater emphasis on the couple of Israeli casualties and the more than one hundred Palestinians killed are demoted to a mere footnote.

Also, they are in complete cohesion with the lie created by the U.S. that Fatah is the legitimate government of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas won the election democratically in 2006, but you can only have democracy in the Middle East if you vote the way the United States wants you to. So, Fatah, backed by the U.S., attempted a coup of Gaza and Hamas drove them out. The media portrays this as Hamas taking over Gaza from the Fatah government. It’s a blatant lie used to cover up the fact the vast majority of Palestinians support Hamas, an organisation commited to resisting Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

It is a shame that in the absence of truthful media coverage, the alternative is far too weak to make an impact. Bloggers within Palestine and Palestinian bloggers abroad are providing some decent coverage of the current situation as well as in the past. One highlight is of course, Electronic Intifada, though I am on the hunt for more.

During the Lebanon war, in Australia, tens of thousands of Muslims and Arabs came out in mass protests against the war and while inspiring, the link missing was the notable absence of non-Arab and Muslim people opposed to the war. It was unfortunetely seen as “their issue” and seen to not affect Australians. Of course, with aid going to Israel and funding being dedicated to defence more and more, it clearly was a world issue. But please point out to me if I’ve missed a chunk of the non-Arab Blogosphere, but there is a notable absence of left-wing commentary on the situation in Gaza.

Whilst I disagree with the notion that the role of socialists is to educate people, and indeed blogging is not the best place to do it, but I feel the trend within the Blogosphere over the last couple of days reflects some real life political problems with the Left and the situation in Palestine needs to be put in the centre of our minds at the moment.

The “Nitty Gritty” on Tonight’s Debate

June 4, 2007 by

* this post has been cross posted at A la Gauche

Ever wonder the origin of the phrase “nitty gritty”?

How ’bout “flippin’ a bird”?

Or “ok”?

And who hasn’t wondered about “balls to the wall”?

I don’t know how, but I somehow came across a page explaining all these phrases and more. If you have nothing better to do, check it out: www.yaelf.com/questions.shtml. I didn’t watch the debate tonight, but I have been reading about it here and there. One interesting little tidbit I came across concerned the inequity in time given to the eight candidates.

Look who the top three are: Clinton, Edwards, and Obama. This can serve as evidence piece # 353,298,424 that the MSM is as corrupt as can be. This is, for a great number of Americans, one of their only chances to see the eight candidates and form an opinion as to how to vote.  It’s almost become impossible for me to even remember being shocked at occurences like this one. From an AP story on the debate:

Clinton declined to say whether she would use military force in Darfur, saying she didn’t want to “talk about these hypotheticals.”

That just about makes me sick. She will vote to send American teenagers to Iraq to die, but she can’t say what, if anything, she would do to end the genocide in Darfur. Our inaction in regards to the slaughter going on in Darfur, is enough on its own to declare our nation morally bankrupt, without mentioning the U.S. governments inaction here at home. I think this might be the first election in which I don’t vote.

Linking online war to real war

May 24, 2007 by

For me, blogging and getting interested in politics came about the same time. My ideas and outrage at the way the world was going seemed to find an outlet in a blog that was originally meant to be a news source for my writer’s website. And as such, I have a soft spot for online activism.

The Internet is a rapidly growing medium and the media is seeing a shift in the way we read news. Slowly, the profit-hungry media corporations are losing a grip on the monopoly of news and knowledge that they hold so important to keeping the political current flowing in their direction. Blogs and independent online journalists seem to be gaining a hearing amongst those looking for alternative sources of news and increasingly, online gaming has even been tapped into by a dedicated band of activists looking to get their message heard.

One such activist is Joseph DeLappe, who has intervened into a multiplayer military simulator, America’s Army with the pseudonym ‘dead-in-iraq.’ America’s Army is an online multiplayer game funded by the U.S. Pentagon with the aim of recruiting gamers into the army to fight a war DeLappe is against.

As soon as he enters the game, he enters a command to drop his weapon and as an allusion to the cannon fodder that civilians are turned into in Iraq, he offers himself to be killed with no means of defence. Then, as the session continues, he begins to type names of the 3,500 American soldiers that have been killed in Iraq since Bush invaded on the basis of lies. He has taken screen shots and posted them to his website to record his protest.

The unique intervention manages to piss off a lot of right-wing gamers as they’re confronted with the names of people who’ve been economically drafted to die for their fucked cause. But it also confronts those who’ve been sucked into the idea that this is all just a game and sucked into going into the real deal, killing real people and risking their real life.

It’s the ability of reaching people online and making a connection to the real world that makes DeLappe’s intervention so powerful. Also, for other anti-war activists and those against the war, it’s inspiring to hear that activism can find outlets in so many creative ways and that it might inspire others to get active.

Anarchism versus Marxism

May 5, 2007 by

Although anarchism and Marxism are both socialist political theories, and they share the view that a communal, participatory, voluntary, de-centralised society is an end goal worth pursuing, they differ in many respects, and should not be confused. Of course they are far from internally homogeneous theories themselves, but I’ll leave that issue to another entry. They tend to differ more when in comes to means, rather than ends. So they both criticise capitalist economy, bourgeois society, and the liberal democratic state, and they have both looked to the working class movement to bring their respective visions into fruition. But there differences are not trivial: for example, one of the most basic distinctions between Marxism and anarchism is that Marxists generally do not have an issue with organising themselves into hierarchies, whilst anarchists cannot countenance hierarchical structure within their organisations, they must always be based on equality and pure democracy.

In this entry I will discuss (in as few words as possible) the anarchist and Marxist views on: capitalism, class, the state, history, parliamentary reform, revolution and culture. I am an anarchist so I will not promise to be impartial or objective, but merely tell it how I see it.

Capitalism

Both anarchists and Marxists criticise capitalism as a cause of alienation and exploitation. This criticism of capitalism is probably where the two theories have most in common. Consumer society, the rise of the corporation, and the military-industrial complex are all considered intensely undesirable by both theories. Capitalism, anarchists and Marxists contend, causes an ugly cheapening of human life where many people are subject to wage slavery at the hands of dictator-like CEOs and management. Wants are created in capitalism by the huge power of the corporate media, which greatly influences today’s culture. Institutions such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund (along with the UN more covertly) hold down developing nations with the hypocritical myth of globalisation and free trade, to maintain the hegemony of the world’s superpowers.

Anarchists and Marxists believe that private property, profit, interest, rent and all other tools of the capitalist class should all be abolished, and the means of production taken over by the workers. The main difference between the two theories’ analysis of capitalism is that Marxists see it as an inevitable stage in the progression towards communism, while anarchists believe that anarchism can – and should – be achieved in any society, in other words, capitalism is not a necessary stage of the development of a society.

Read the rest of this entry »

Myths of Anarchism

May 4, 2007 by

Anarchy = chaos

In common usage, the word ‘anarchy’ can have the meaning ‘chaos’ or ‘disorder’. This is not what anarchists refer to in the slightest. The word anarchy comes from the Ancient Greek root anarchos, which literally means the absence (an) of a ruler or leader (archos). This concept includes the absence of government, and, taking it further, the absence of hierarchical structure: in other words, an equal society. Anarchists believe that unquestioned and unchallenged authority is illegitimate: accepting authority just for the sake of authority, is a silly and dangerous way to organise a society.

‘The Anarchy’, a period of civil war in England in the 12th century, could have something to do with the negative connotation the word has. There is also a much more recent influence. The anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated the American President, William McKinley in 1901 and gave anarchists an even worse reputation than they already had at the time. Obviously, the powers that be do not look kindly on those who espouse anarchy, as it is a direct threat to their authority, and this has also has an influence on the common perception of the word.

 

Anarchists are unrealistic/utopian

Utopians, as I see it, believe the world can be changed to one which is flawless, and in which the ‘lion lies down with the lamb’ and such nonsense. Anarchists don’t believe that a perfect society will ever exist where there is no exploitation of any sort. What they do believe, is that anarchism will form the basis of a society which does not hold as its core principle, essentially, ‘exploit or be exploited’. We believe that exploitation can be reduced to almost negligible levels, where the only crimes committed are personal ones, crimes of passion. There will be no institutionalised crimes. We do not say that there will be no difficulty, no hard work; certainly there will be, but it will be done for the benefit of the society, shared out fairly, not for the benefit of one particular sector of society.

I do not believe anarchism is an unrealistic possibility. Although I can not deal with this in detail here, revolutions have obviously occurred in the past: the world is not static, it can change and it can change in many different directions. For anarchism to come about all it would take is a reasonably large number of people taking back their power in a number of ways (such as occupying factories and workplaces, refraining from voting, and generally dismantling hierarchical structures wherever they exist), and not necessarily all at the same time, as it can certainly be a gradual process. All we have to do is stop thinking that the world as it is, is the world as it will always be. Capitalism can (and should) have its downfall. The main reason I’m writing anything about anarchism is because I hope it will convince people to join the cause and eventually revolt, and the more people the better.


All anarchists are violent or espouse violence

I’m not sure if anyone actually believes this myth, but it certainly is one. Personally, I don’t believe that any anarchist that believes in physically hurting others is consistent. We can certainly take back what’s ours (our liberty) but we can’t take what’s not ours, which is another person’s right not to be violated in any way. We should be past thinking in ‘eye for an eye’ terms.

There is, however, the issue of property damage. Most anarchists, myself included, believe that this is legitimate if it is done carefully and furthers the cause of the reduction of exploitation and positive revolution. I don’t see how destroying property could be considered violence, except perhaps psychologically. (I am not talking about wanton destruction of people’s possessions, or smashing windows because it feels good: this is unnecessary and wasteful.) Obviously if the property can be put to the use of those who were exploited, all the better. And expropriating the expropriators (sorry if this sounds too Marxist) is perfectly justifiable. To hurt, economically, the perpetrators of injustice, as long as they know why, can be a good way to stop them from committing these injustices.

 

Anarchists don’t believe in progress/ are luddites

Some anarcho-primitivists don’t believe in technological progress, and desire to ‘turn back the clock’ to a hunter-gatherer society in a sustainable manner. Most anarchists, however, think technology is an incredibly useful tool, in the right hands. It can be used as a tool to cut the costs of labour, improve communication and generally enhance people’s lives, or it can be used by capitalists to extract more and more out of the environment and manipulate consumers for their own benefit.

Progress and change are precisely what anarchists want. It is probably the most progressive political ideology there is, in terms of what is envisioned and what must occur for it to be brought about.

Anarchists don’t believe in having possessions

In an anarchist society it is true that all production will be collectivised and therefore all property will be collective property. But this mainly refers to what would be considered ‘capital’ today, such as land, machinery, equipment etc. It is imagined that there would be no reason to restrict possessions – different people want and use different things, and as long as they were not wasting collective and scarce resources, there’s no reason why they couldn’t have these things, and others wouldn’t just be able to take them away. Once people have enough of the necessities of life (and then some) thievery would not occur, except in negligible and resolvable ways.


Anarchists are communists

Anarchism is a different political ideology and has a different historical tradition to that of communism. But nevertheless, they have many similarities. The truth is, there are many different types of anarchists. I am an anarcho-communist, so I believe that something like communism is the end goal. However, I disagree with communists in that I do not believe a communal society can be achieved through the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ (where the working class takes control of all means of production through revolution). I believe that this would simply lead to domination by the workers over the rest of society, or, more accurately, the workers would stop being workers and start being rulers. I also disagree with communists who believe that large-scale violence is the only way to revolution (such as Lenin). Anarchism also focuses more on personal liberty and freedom from all forms of coercion, while communism (especially Marxism) focuses on the activities of a particular class against another and does not have such a problem with coercion as long as its for the right reasons (i.e. they are more likely to accept states as legitimate whereas anarchists are fundamentally opposed to all states).

There are many other minor differences as well, but I will discuss these at a later time.

If anyone has any more suggestions for myths to (attempt to) debunk, please suggest them! Obviously this is not a complete list.

Please visit my site http://anarchism.tk/blog/ for more information.

Richard Adams-Blackburn – Anarcho-communist

April 30, 2007 by

I’m very glad I stumbled across your site, and pleased to be on board.

My name’s Richard, 21 from Auckland, New Zealand.  I’ve been interested in politics and have been concerned with exploitation and injustice for a rather long time, but became convinced that anarchism was the solution only a couple of years ago. A political studies paper I did at stage one at university introduced me to the famous Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin, and his thinking really struck a chord with me. I did not immediately become an anarchist, but slowly came to it after considering all other options carefully.

Now I am writing this blog  to spread the message of anti-capitalism and anti-statism, and try to convince people that an anarchic society is the answer, and not merely a pipe dream. I hope to be able to bring a positive anarchist angle to this group.

More information about me is available on the ‘about’ page of my site.

Capitalism is a Disease

April 8, 2007 by


This was the main story on CNN.com the other day:

Struggling Ford Motor Company, which posted a record $12.7 billion net loss in 2006, gave its new CEO Alan Mulally $28 million for four months on the job, according to a statement filed Thursday. The details were made public as Ford moves ahead with plans to close plants and cut more than 30,000 hourly positions in an effort to stem losses.* CNN.com

What sort of justification can be used to make this right? Thirty thousand Americans are going to be out of a job while a CEO makes $7 million a month? That strikes me as terribly immoral and obscene.

Follow that up with a case of the U.S. government doing the exact same thing:

The Department of State will not rule out paying a salary to Sam Fox, the major Swift Boat Veterans For Truth donor who was recess appointed as US Ambassador to Belgium by President George W. Bush yesterday.”That’s not something we’re allowed to get into,” Lesley Phillips, a State Department spokeswoman, told RAW STORY when asked whether or not the millionaire businessman would be paid for his services.

* RAW STORY

So, here’s what happened if you missed out. Bush knew this guy wouldn’t get approved by the Senate, so he withdrew his nomination. The Senate goes on break and what happens? Bush makes a recess appointment and gives his Swift Boat financier an ambassadorship. I find it funny which taxer-payer funded expenditures taxpayers complain about. This one, in particular, bothers me as a taxpayer.

And this fella – he’s a millionaire. But do you doubt for one second that the Bush regime is not going to pay their friend?

Blog Against War and Racism

April 3, 2007 by

It’s clear that the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the racism that surrounds it, are key issues at the moment. The majority of people in most countries, including Australia, the United States and Britain oppose the war in Iraq. The FLBU is calling on all bloggers to express this opposition by posting a picture of you holding a placard/sign expressing your opposition on your blog. Trackbacks should picked up your post but just to be sure, email me – benjamin [at] benjaminsolah [dot] com – your link and I’ll add it to a list at the bottom of this post. Include the details of your local anti-war or anti-racism rally and encourage others to take a stand against the war.

Rally details can be found at the following websites:
United States: A.N.S.W.E.R.
United Kingdom: Stop the War Coalition
Australia: Stop the War Coalition – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane

Join the bloggers who have already taken a stand against war and racism!
Benjamin Solah – Sydney, Australia

Stop the war

Far-Left linkage: Bloggers speak out against the war

March 18, 2007 by

It’s been four years since the invasion of Iraq and to mark this horrendous anniversary, there’s been rallies in major cities around the world this weekend. Of course, bloggers were there and catching the events on film. So, as part of the first ‘Far-Left linkage,’ I’ve got a selection of posts of the demonstrations from around the world.

In Sydney, a few hundred converged on Town Hall to call for the troops out as well as the release of David Hicks, an Australian locked up in Guantanamo Bay.

Washington DC played host to thousands of Christians holding a candlelight vigil outside of the White House to express their opposition to a war that was justified by Christian rhetoric.

Albuquerque was full of powerful and creative placards as around 1,000 people turned out to oppose the war.

Tens of thousands of protesters, including Cindy Sheehan turned out at the Pentagon to oppose the war.

Thousands marched in Los Angeles to compliment the rallies in other parts of the States.

Admin note: If any blogger out there has a post about the protests this weekend, let me know and I’ll see if I can add you to the links. I’ll be making this feature more regular in order to publicize the Far-Left’s presence in the Blogosphere, and also, Bloggers presence amongst the Far-Left.

Hello from the new guy…

March 16, 2007 by

I first came across the FLBU a week or so ago while browsing the internet. I’m usually read the blogs that focus more on the writing and less on shiny gizmos to distract me; the FLBU fit this profile. The site also caught my eye because of the words “far left” at the top, two words that are in the url for my own personal blog. I left a comment for Benjamin, he wrote a comment on my blog, we exchanged a few e-mails, and voila – here I am. It’s that easy, folks. So the real question is this – if you are a progressive and you enjoy writing and you’re reading this post right now – Why aren’t you writing for the FBLU as well?

My name is Shannon and I’m a public school teacher in Georgia. I’ve written on a blog called A la Gauche since 2004. Before that I created a website dedicated to exposing religious zealotry called BaptistWatch.org (although apart from the forum it is very rarely updated).

I’ve been interested in politics for as long as I remember. My first memories are actually of me being a Republican. I remember scrawling “Impeach Clinton” on one of my folders in Middle School back in 1992. Obviously I was a typical Republican – the man had only been in office for a few months. Gradually, and either despite or because of my rural surroundings, I became more and more liberal. And the shift hasn’t slowed since it started. I described myself as a Democrat for most of my college years, but began to grow disillusioned with the Democrats and with the two-party system shortly after I graduated from the University of Georgia.

Despite feeling left out, I was eager to work on a Senate campaign in 2004. I very much wanted to work in politics and what better way to get your foot in the door than by working on a Senate campaign. The problem was – we lost – miserably. I now call myself a socialist and feel even less represented than I did as a liberal Democrat.

The two-party system of government is one of the major problems in the United States, and arguably the world. To think that just two parties represent the beliefs and opinions of 300,000,000 people in the United States is ridiculous. How many Americans call themselves Republicans or Democrats because they don’t know of any other labels? After the Democrats and the Republicans, the next two most visible parties are the Libertarians and the Green Party. And what happens when they run a candidate? The MSM starts carrying stories about how they might spoil the election of one of the major party candidates. I could go on and on… And I will at some point, but not all in this one single post.

I hope to write about the failures of the two-party system, the love affair between the MSM and the government, how weak of a democracy we actually have in the United States, and the benefits of a socialist society. I’m glad to be a part of the FLBU and I hope that it continues to grow with both writers and readers. Cheers.


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