Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Chilean Earthquake and the Rightie Moonbats

Disasters like these seem to bring out all the haters and bigots. I got these choice comments (and this is only a small sample) from the CBC comments section, which supposedly has a more liberal audience. One can only wonder what is being emailed in the right wing media.

What is a 'Chilean-Canadian' and how do I sign up to receive benefits from two countries, but only pay taxes to one? I'm being ripped off.

Classic right winger, full of envy. God help anyone who gets a little more than they do, but billionaires, no problem!

I wonder if Hugo Chavez will help out his South American friends......ya, right.

Just can't let an event like this go by without slandering their favorite American propaganda created bete noir. (Who in fact is sending aid.)

* It's all because of Global warming!!!!!!We're all gonna DIE!!!!!! Al Gore and Suzuki better save us

* Global warming is causing this.

There were many like these. Infantile attempts at sarcasm as a way of denying global climate change.

I think your commie buddies take care of this one. The lefties has been pretty useless up to now....

Any stick with which to beat the left

And Canada won't care because Chile isn't French.

Why let an opportunity pass and not attack Quebec? Classic Anglo-Canadian anti-French racism.

Chile's government has expressed nothing but contempt for America, yet America is one of the first nations to offer aid.

Cow like ignorance combined with a boot-licking attitude toward the Empire.

* Another international tragedy so by protocol let's open the refugee floodgates to anyone and everyone across Chile. In fact lets pass out Canadian passports worldwide to citizens of the developing world just in case an event happens again

* Oh here we go "again" with the "Aid Agencies" milking our wallets, lathering on lots of "developed world" guilt to get us to support the victims of Chile "

* Okay Haiti, put your begging bowl away, it's Chile's turn.

Xenophobia combined with selfishness and a total lack of understanding of the nature and causes of underdevelopment.

For a comparison of the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti and some important information missing from the corporate media see this article by Jose Antonio Gutierrez D.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Harriett Nahanee

Why Canonize People We Never Noticed?
Thoughts on the Harriett Nahanee Cult

by Kevin Annett,

Harriett Nahanee of the Pacheedaht Nation died three years ago this week.

You can't listen to a youthful "activist" in Canadian radical - indigenous circles these days without hearing at some point an obligatory reference made to "warrior and elder" Harriett Nahanee, who, although largely ignored by the same activists while she was alive, has suddenly gained a quasi-mystical status in their minds.

Idolizing a stranger is usually the most handy way to dismiss who they actually were and what they were fighting for, and that certainly fits Harriett and her treatment by trendy activists.

I knew Harriett Nahanee for over a decade until her judicial murder, and together we made public the first eyewitness account - hers - of a murder of a child in a United Church Indian residential school: little Maisie Shaw, who was kicked to her death by Rev. Alfred Caldwell in 1946, right in front of ten year old Harriett.

Harriett's post-humous fans never mention this little fact in all their hosannas to her, but to expose Maisie's murder and similar killings of countless children in Christian Indian residential schools was Harriett's purpose in life: something she kept saying, time and again, to the handful of people who would come to our rallies and public meetings from 1995 to January of 2007, just weeks before her death, when I last met her outside the church we were picketing.

The real Harriett Nahanee was ornery, filled with rage, and apt to turn on you if you disagreed with her. She often said that she hated whites and wouldn't work with them, since she didn't trust them. She loathed sharing the spotlight with anyone, because she was consumed with her purpose, like a prophet. And over and over, she spoke out about Maisie's murder and called for the United Church of Canada to be brought to justice.

For years, nobody listened to us, including all the activist groups who claim to own her now. And even today, when it's safer to talk about massive deaths in residential schools now that the Globe and Mail has given official sanction to the issue, the same activists will never mention Maisie Shaw and Harriett Nahanee in the same breath. Indeed, the residential school murders, like Harriett, now seem to be history.

To dismiss the real Harriett and what she was fighting for in this manner is to defame and dishonor her. And the fact that a cloak of misinformation has been imposed on Harriett and her efforts to expose residential school murders is not accidental, since she was killed just a month before the opening of the campaign by our network that would eventually force an "apology" and national exposure regarding the residential schools genocide.

Harriett Nahanee, being aboriginal and an eyewitness to a residential school murder, was not intended to survive to give credence to that campaign. And her relationship with me, which caused the first Tribunal into Canadian residential schools in 1998 and the eventual success of our work, has also faced a deliberate misinformation campaign by the very churches and state that stood to lose by our exposure of their crimes.

The undercover operative who destroyed our 1998 tribunal, Jim Craven, likes to speak on the internet about how I "dishonored" Harriett, including by not attending her funeral, not mentioning, of course, that I was out of the country when it happened. What he's also not mentioning is the letter that Harriett gave me that last time I saw her, that describes the smear campaign started against me by Craven, and how he asked her to be part of it.

So the present falsified image of Harriett Nahanee so espoused by her erstwhile acolytes, as an aboriginal warrior who blockaded roads but whose witness to murder and hatred of the churches is censored out of her activism, is something generated by the very government and churches that killed her. Once again, the capacity of the state to guide and control supposed radical movements with its own version of reality has blinded a new generation of militants to the truth.

Harriett would mourn the fact that, last Sunday, only eight of us stood outside a downtown church with a banner "All the Children Need a Proper Burial", after we had emailed over five hundred people about our action. It's the same place, Christ Church Anglican, where I saw her for the last time. I remember she smiled at me that day, and said how I was the only white man she'd met who cared enough about dead Indian children to protest about them, year after after.

"That will never change" she said sadly. Then she smiled again and said,

"So fuck them all".

I agree with Harriett, and I'll be outside Christ Church cathedral again this Sunday, with a few others. And Harriett Nahanee.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Food Sovereignty in Europe

A good article on the movement toward food sovereignty in Europe

The growing impossibility of a dignified livelihood in the European countryside has provoked a widespread and active social response on the part of Europeans unwilling to sacrifice their society and environment to corporate greed. Farmers’ unions, environmental organizations, consumers’ groups, fair trade organizations, and economic solidarity networks, among many others, have begun to work throughout Europe to denounce the impact of the EU’s agricultural policies and call for alternatives.

Article continues at

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Colin Ward 1924 – 2010

Robert Anton Wilson, Murray Bookchin have left us, now Colin Ward has gone too. Colin was one of the great popularizers of anarchism in the English speaking work. His review, "Anarchy", which he published from 1961 to 1970, brought anarchist thinking out of its ghetto, applying anarchist ideas in a whole range of areas like education, urbanism, culture. And in doing so many people became acquainted with anarchism, who otherwise would not have.

He sought the "anarchism of daily life", showing how in so many instances we act freely and with mutual aid, being anarchists without even knowing it. Colin also showed us "the path not taken" by social democracy when it instituted state-run social services. According to him, the existing self-managed systems of mutual aid should have been extended rather than replaced by state bureaucratic institutions.

The following is an article taken from A-Infos about Colin Ward

Ward was the most practical radical I've ever read: Rather than sketching out utopian blueprints of a society without a state, he searched for empirical examples of everyday people organizing to solve their own problems. Once he started looking, he found that voluntary, non-authoritarian cooperation was everywhere. Utopia, he wrote in his 1973 book Anarchy in Action, is "already here, apart from a few little, local difficulties like exploitation, war, dictatorship and starvation." ---- Because he took his ideals seriously, Ward butted heads regularly with both the conventional left and the conventional right. In the '80s and early '90s, his column for New Statesman & Society was peppered with examples of the Tory government failing to live up to its rhetoric of liberty and decentralized power. At the same time, he was harshly critical of the social democratic left. In one of his most famous passages, he pointed out that

When we compare the Victorian antecedents of our public institutions with the organs of working-class mutual aid in the same period the very names speak volumes. On the one side the Workhouse, the Poor Law Infirmary, the National Society for the Education of the Poor in Accordance with the Principles of the Established Church; and, on the other, the Friendly Society, the Sick Club, the Cooperative Society, the Trade Union. One represents the tradition of fraternal and autonomous association springing up from below, the other that of authoritarian institutions directed from above.

As Stuart White notes in his tribute to Ward, the writer was

a formidable and dedicated opponent of what is often understood as the Fabian tradition. This comes across very clearly in his work on housing where he was always highly critical of state-heavy efforts, led by middle-class housing professionals, to provide housing for the working-classes. In this context, he argued for the alternative left tradition of cooperative self-help in the form of tenant cooperatives, self-build projects and squatting. He pointed repeatedly to the illogicality of local governments - often Labour-controlled - who would rather destroy unused council housing stock than allow it to be occupied by squatters.

These squatters, to be clear, were not self-righteous trustafarians seizing a private home while the owner took a holiday. They were ordinary families finding uses for resources the state had left fallow. Such self-organization was a longtime theme in Ward's work. Quoting White again: "Much to the consternation of the [postwar] Labour government, many thousands of working-class people responded to acute housing shortage by taking over and adapting disused military bases. While his comrades in the anarchist movement struggled to see the point, Colin saw this as an example of what he would later call 'anarchy in action': direct and cooperative self-help." Ward's interest in the institutions that people build from below took him to areas that radical writers rarely touched: He wrote appreciative histories and sociologies of holiday camps, allotment gardens, amateur music-making, even the street culture of urban children.

Ward had an eye for the creativity of ordinary people and the ways we use that inventive energy to transform our environments. He didn't have trouble imagining a society immersed in liberty and spontaneous order, because he knew that liberty and spontaneous order were what sustained society in the first place, even if they sometimes had to take a stunted form.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Anti-Olympics Demonstration and the Black Bloc.

I have never cared much for the Black Bloc, but the amount of hypocrisy about the "violence" of breaking a couple of bank windows this Saturday in the demonstration against the Olympics corporate welfare fest has almost made me sympathetic.

Tactical differences and criticism are legitimate. There are ethical and utilitarian aspects to any tactical choice and the BB's can be questioned about these. However, the bulk of hostility wafting their way has little to do with arguments about tactics. Many of the red-faced and bellowing crowd (1) simply hate "protesters" period and use the BB as an excuse to spout venom at any public critic of the system.

Those who rant about violence would be comical in the extremity of their hypocrisy if it wasn't just plain sad that people could be so blind and so deluded. A newspaper box was thrown through a bank window – you would think it the atrocity of the decade. Thirty million children die each year from malnutrition and bad water. If a few broken windows makes these folks apoplectic, how do they deal with this violence? How about the trillion dollars a year squandered on military foolishness while those same kids drop dead? Shouldn't that peeve these clowns enough to heat up the comments sections of the on-line forums?

So far I have seen accusations of cowardice against the BB's and at the same time calls for vigilante action against them (and also generic "protesters.") 20 unarmed, unprotected people take on hundreds of armed, body armoured riot cops. They may be nuts but cowards they ain't! The accusation of cowardice is actually psychological projection on the part of the right-wingers. What is a right-winger but someone filled with a host of irrational fears – of protesters, trade unions, feminists, environmentalists, peace activists, socialists, communists etc., all raised into towering bogey-men causing the poor little right-winger to practically piss himself in terror? A fair fight to a right-winger is a thousand to one – the lynch mob so let's drop all talk of cowardice.

I have actually heard it all before. Back in the 1960's we student radicals were attacked in similar terms. "Public opinion" turned apoplectic when the Yippies arrived on the scene and went off the Hate Mongers Richter Scale when a bunch of street kids destroyed a train load of brand new automobiles during the Blaine Invasion. (And you morons get your shorts in a knot over a couple of windows?)

The BB made me think of other violence that I witnessed during that time. I was in Berkeley in May of 1970 when Nixon invaded Cambodia. The students held a night demo and molotov cocktails were hurled at the ROTC building setting it on fire. Around the same time students in Santa Barbara burned the local Bank of America to the ground.

Now let's move away from the right-wing moonbat element and turn to one aspect of the tactical criticism of the BB. The notion that their actions will "turn people against the movement." No one other than right-wing fanatics reduces the movements of the 1960-70s to the most extreme or violent aspect of those movements. People are actually a lot smarter than that. Debate on the BB will have to move to other areas other than this, but that would have to be another time...

1. I got this image from living in Quebec. This is how most Quebecois see Anglo Canadians.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Col. Russell Williams – a possible psychopath?

Col. Russell Williams arrest for being a possible serial killer/rapist has riled things up quite a bit. No one is saying that having one sociopath in charge of a military base means that all military personnel are suspect or should be treated with contempt. This is a fantasy created by the media to stir up right-wing sentiment in this country as one part of a long-term agenda to undermine Canadian progressive sentiment. This is similar to that other right-wing myth perpetuated in the US, that Vietnam War protesters spat on soldiers. (1)

Be that as it may, there are a number of important aspects to this case that are not mentioned:

It is a well known fact that psychopaths, due to their desire to dominate and harm other people are attracted to hierarchical, authoritarian organizations like the military, police, prison guards, corporate bureaucracies and reform school staff. Indeed, depending upon their level of aggression and intelligence, they will try to worm their way into any organization that allows them to have some unchecked power over other people. Once again, I must point out that the majority of people in these organizations are not pathological. These latter are a minority, but they do much damage.

Their damage is made worse by two factors. One is that the intelligent sociopath is a master in imitating normal healthy people and charming them into thinking he is something special. Their associates always say "Why he was like one of us. He seemed so normal." The other factor is tribalism. All organizations protect their own, and this is even more so in an authoritarian organization. Members will go into denial mode when faced with suspicious activity and whistle-blowers will be persecuted.

The central aspect of sociopathic behaviour is lack of empathy. Thus, the pathological will be attracted to organizations in which empathy is regarded of little importance. Corporations exist to make a profit, and to hell with the employees, the environment and the community if they get in the way of that goal. If you are in the military you are forced to go out and kill people you don't know and who have never done anything to you. Part of being a police officer is brutalizing demonstrators if you are told to do so. This organizational pathology is compounded by propaganda that dehumanizes "the other" in the eyes of those who work for those organizations. Thus the enemies are "gooks" or "sand monkeys" , the workers are "little people who don't matter", the demonstrators are "commies" – not, note well, other human beings little different from me.

Thus the normal police person, executive, soldier etc., is forced into a schizophrenic situation – being decent, but from time to time having to act like a monster. But the sociopath revels in these displays of domination, degradation and cruelty, and is attracted to these organizations for that reason.

Williams is proof that all hierarchical organizations ought to have better screening processes. But the real way to help eliminate the problem of sociopaths in power would be to eliminate the sociopathic aspects of these organizations to begin with.

1. It never happened, and war resistors would have been insane to do so, since soldiers were a major part of the resistance to the war. Where stories emerge – like the recent "throwing marbles at horses" fantasy (see my story 23/11/09) – running so contrary to the means and goals of protest movements, you can be assured: 1. they are media fabrications 2. the work of government agent-provocateurs. 3. actions of a lunatic unconnected with the organizers.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Boxed In By Neoliberalism

Systems that are inflexible and thus incapable of positive change do one of two things. They collapse like Rome or the USSR or have revolutions like Bourbon France or Tsarist Russia.

For a system to reform, there must be viable political alternatives and such options must get an intelligent hearing in the media. The US political system has reduced the political spectrum to a fraction – the centre-right/far-right. All other views are marginalized, have no media access and no hope of gaining seats in Congress. The extra-parliamentary option is also restricted by repression. The time-dishonored tradition is to use the courts to persecute radicals, the secret police to disrupt organizations, and when all else fails, vigilante terror.

While ideologically rooted in reactionary European ideologues like Mises and Hayek, neoliberalism is really an American product. They have exported the US "narrow spectrum democracy" to the rest of the world. Labour and the Conservatives are now political Bobsey Twins. French, Spanish, German Social democracy embraced neoliberal policies, opting for being the "kinder face" of corporatist inhumanity. Here in Canada, there is constant pressure from self-styled pundits that the NDP has to jetison its "old fashioned" relationship with labour and what little remains of its traditional social democracy should be tossed in the ash can.

The parliamentary systems, unlike the US form of government, are not fully closed systems. New parties can gain seats and thus influence policy. Opposition is not considered treason and opposition parties have an important role to play. Nor is the media always so subservient, nor do Europeans and Canadians have to worry about "night riders."

But this does not mean that countries with greater political flexibility are off the hook. As mentioned in my previous article " Restoring Our Social Democratic Past", what has to be changed just to get us back to a 1970's quality of life – let alone something better - is almost impossible to do outside of having a revolution. And this isn't half of it. As before mentioned, I was only referring to the 1970's and not the enormous Triple Crises we now face. Dealing effectively with the global economic crisis, peak oil, and climate change seem way beyond the capacity of any present party or government, or for that matter, any party or government in the foreseeable future.

Such an obvious thing as peak oil, parties and states should be preparing us for a life with a lot less petroleum dependency, but in fact they are doing nothing. They can't, since they are beholden to auto/petroleum/agribusiness interests.

But if Canada and Europe are boxed in by the brutal legacies of neoliberalism and the Triple Crises, all the more so, the USA. The Americans have these problems plus a political system that will allow no attempts at rectification. Will the US go the way of the USSR?

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