August 22, 2008
I’ve had a great Olympics so far. I’ve managed to avoid all but the most incidental coverage of the actual “games”; though it hasn’t been easy. I’ve refrained from getting into arguments with patriotic and even downright chauvinist Kiwis about the “funtastic” effort from “our” chaps and chapettes. I’ve even managed to catch up on some classic Star Trek thanks to Moac’s buddy who’s kindly loaned us his prize collector’s edition DVD boxed set.
But it hasn’t been so much fun for the blessed Chinese who thought they were going to get an opportunity to have their complaints heard by a sympathetic and “modernizing” regime. I read today of two grandmothers who’ve been sentenced to “re-education through labour” just for even daring to take the dictators at their word and apply for a protest permit.
The isolent cheek of these two old ladies; don’t they know what’s best for the nation is also best for them.
To top off my week of hilarity, the story of the underage Chinese gymnast is finally getting some well-deserved attention. He Kexin is a plucky young lass who serves as an object lesson to the gruntled grannies. She knows what’s best for everyone is to shut up and play along with the charade.
Ah, the scandal. Gotta love these games.
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August 16, 2008
Warning: this post contains some AO language and is not really about taxi drivers at all.
I have a lot of respect for cab drivers. Most of the time they’re really well-educated and they’re all very, very street-smart. Last night I got a ride home with Ahmad. He’s from Afghanistan and he was listening to the BBC World Service.
There were items about the conflict in Georgia and so we got to talking. It was quite funny to realise that my chat with Ahmad was the perfect dessert to my main course argument with my colleague Wayne at the Brooklyn.
Wayne and I had been talking about Russia, Georgia, gangster capitalism, transnationals and failed or failing states. Ahmad segued straight into that line of thinking off the back of the World Service reports from Georgia. Ahmad has been all over the world. He thinks the Russians are crazy and hates the American presence in his homeland. There’s a nice, balanced logic to his position and I’m instantly drawn to a stranger who’s making my journey smooth on a soggy Auckland night.
My conversations with Wayne and Ahmad led to this little tome: gangster capitalism, the looming resource wars and ‘regime change’.
What happens when you give gangsters access to new-killer weapons of mass distraction?
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January 4, 2008
China’s net video crackdown could hurt YouTube – web – Technology – smh.com.au
This piece from the Sydney Morning Herald today continues to mark the declining standard of human rights and free speech in China.
YouTube and other video-sharing websites are the latest to come under direct censorship. I particularly like this:
Video that involves national secrets, hurts the reputation of China, disrupts social stability or promotes pornography will be banned. Providers must delete and report such content.
“Those who provide internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism … and abide by the moral code of socialism,” the rules say.
What is a “moral code of socialism”? From my understanding a moral code of socialism would allow the greatest expression of human rights, including sexual freedoms; the right to free speech and criticism and freedom of assembly and distribution of political materials.
Of course there’s also capitalist morals, such as these demonstrated by a sycophantic YouTube spokestroll. The company’s interest in China is to continue to keep Google and YouTube profitable:
YouTube hopes the rules won’t cut it off from the rapidly growing number of Chinese residents with internet access, spokesman Ricardo Reyes said.
“We believe that the Chinese government fully recognizes the enormous value of online video and will not enforce the regulations in a way that could deprive the Chinese people of its benefits and potential for business and economic development, education and culture, communication, and entertainment,” Reyes said.
If you want to know what Korea’s Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, thinks of socialist morals you can read this disturbing screed.
August 23, 2007
I mentioned state capitalism in the previous post and linked to a wikipedia entry. This is a link to a more substantial theoretical explanation of what state capitalism is. I draw your attention to a couple of key paragraphs about how the Soviet Union found itself on this path.
Peter Binns: State Capitalism (1986):
“The extreme backwardness of Russia in an age of imperialism forced it to industrialise rapidly. If the revolutions in Germany and elsewhere had succeeded in the early 1920s, plenty of means of production and skilled labour could have flowed into Russia to accomplish this task. But when the perspective changed, from stressing the need to spread the revolution internationally to stressing the building of “socialism” in a single country, as was proposed by Stalin in 1924, the situation was completely reversed.
If industrialisation was to take place in Russia in isolation, this could only be by extracting huge surpluses from the peasantry and by forcing many of these peasants off the land into the mines and steel mills. The Russian bureaucracy could only retain power in so far as it could succeed in this task. It required a vast apparatus of terror to subordinate the consumption of the masses to the need of the Russian state to accumulate.
For a time Stalin tried to avoid this logic. He allied with the right wing of the Bolshevik Party, which spoke of “proceeding towards socialism at a snail’s pace”, without attacks on the peasantry. But this meant that what accumulation there was in the years 1923-28 went into the social services, education, agriculture and food, rather than into heavy industry. Little progress was made in these years towards catching up with the West”
August 23, 2007
New Zeal: S.A.P. 17 Dr Martin Hirst
This is an interesting rant from some far-right goons in GodZone, I feel like I’ve arrived on fucking Mars! Not really, as my mate Helen pointed out. It’s not a bad place at all. Just got the same quota of loony-tunes as any where else really.
If you bother to read the thread I’ve linked to you’ll see that the rampant revisionism of the right regarding Orwell is in full swing. In fact Orwell was basically a Trot. If you read Goldstein’s “The Principles of Oligarchical Collectivism” in the centre pages of Nineteen Eighty-four, you’ll clearly see that he was elucidating a theory of state capitalism.