Thursday, January 22, 2009

As I am writing this there is a continued series of protests in the country of Iceland, and they have been significant enough that the riot police have had to use tear gas for the first time since protests against joining NATO in 1949. Iceland, of course, is the country hit hardest by the recent financial crisis, and the discontent with the government has united a wide spectrum of its citizens. These events follow on the rebellion in Greece last month which seems to be still simmering. In many other countries the economic hard times are coalescing with a host of other grievances to produce a rebellious mood not seen in decades.
Not that "rebellion" is anything near "revolution". Far from it in fact, despite the illusions of far too many rebels. It is a simple fact that there is no revolutionary ideal in any aspect except the broadest and most abstract feelings- rather than goals- afoot in the world today that has captured the imagination of even a significant minority in any country in the developed world. Leninism has been discredited. In some Latin American countries there is a coherent left socialism that has achieved popularity. Its own virtues, possibilities and faults are best left for another discussion. In the developed world it is indeed possible that rebellions will carry left social democratic politicians to power, but the chances of this resulting in any fundamental change are virtually zero.
But rebellions there will almost certainly be. European governments are planning crisis management for this eventuality/certainty (See Molly's Blog for further discussion). Are the present events in Iceland "significant rebellion" ? That is a matter of opinion. They may indeed overthrow the government and lead to a leftist coalition in new elections. Other countries in southern Europe have a longer tradition of militant rebellion. Other countries in eastern Europe are in economic straights that come close to those of Iceland. In China more people are suffering more grievously than anywhere in Europe. It is also possible that government attempts to stimulate the economy worldwide will lay a gigantic egg. Or maybe they will succeed.
So what is your opinion. take the poll. leave any other comments you might have on the situation as a comment here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This one is more or less for Canadians and for fun. As anyone who has visited Molly's Blog knows Steven Harper aka Sneaky Stevie is one of Molly's bĂȘtes noires. Here is your chance to voice your opinion about our Prime Minster. Please feel free to leave any other options or comments as a comment at the end of this post.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This is actually a hard question. In situations such as that unfolding in the sad land of Gaza there is always more than enough blame to go around. the question revolves around the word "MOST". Most responsible is NOT the same thing as most brutal. With a death toll of about 100/1 of Palestinians versus Israelis it is obvious who is the "most brutal". The events of today in which the Israeli army opened fire on an UN relief truck, killing at least one person have led to at least a temporary suspension of the UN relief effort in Gaza. Israel seems to have the unique ability to get away with such things. During the Lebanese invasion a few years back they destroyed an UN observation post, killing soldiers from several different countries, including Canada. There were no consequences for this action that was probably quite deliberate. The firing on the relief truck today did take place during an agreed 3 hour ceasefire. It is as hard to imagine this as a "mistake" as it is to imagine the destruction of the UN post in Lebanon as a "mistake". The idea of "craziness" as a "strategy" is an old one in human history, and its modern expression as an Israeli "tactic" has actually been expressed by the Israeli state itself. The basic idea is that you have to prove yourself to be more than a little irrational so that this sort of viciousness acts as a deterrent to your enemies or rivals. Most members of street gangs know of this tactic. For a state that possesses nuclear weapons, such as Israel, which cannot be used except in a suicidal manner projecting the image of being "out of control" is a great way to magnify the deterrent force of such weapons.
But the question is one of "responsibility" rather than brutality. Molly is not an ideologue, and she doesn't think that every Palestinian is born with a set of angel's wings either. I have added some more abstract options to this poll to give respondents something to choose from besides the two parties to the conflict. No doubt I have missed some options. Feel free to mention them as comments. "Responsibility", by the way, is also not a reliable guide to the solution of a problem. One may feel a given party to a conflict is more "responsible" than another, but one shouldn't let abstract justice determine what is a sensible solution in the real world of politics, especially when there are elements of both parties to a conflict who are legitimately crazy and not just pretending to be. As for myself I have no solution to the Arab Israeli conflict that can fit in your back pocket. I am content to muddle along, and merely make comments of common sense on it. Common sense says that Israel should stop in slaughter.
Feel free to leave your own comments about the general situation here as well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Well, I'm not living up to my ambition of "a poll a day", but It can sometimes be hard to frame good questions. It may also be for the best as I don't want to bore people. Poll number one, 'How do you describe yourself politically ?' is now closed. It seems I have a surfeit of anarchocommunists here (11), though anarchists without any other qualifier (8) weren't very far behind. Anarcho-syndicalist(4) and socialist (2) also came in with more than one vote. I will leave the poll up for a few days and then delete it as others come on line. I think that the results, with as few respondents as there were (22) gives a pretty accurate estimate of my "anarchist readership". When I repeat the question further down the line I hope to be able to draw in the majority, non-anarchist, who visit Molly's Blog.
Poll number 4, 'Who is your favourite historical anarchist ?' is obviously restricted to anarchists or those with some familiarity with same. There are still a few days left to vote in this poll. I've tried to be as comprehensive as I can with this poll, though, obviously, "Others not mentioned" could be a legitimate answer for many. I wonder what those "others" are. If you are one who replied as such hozza bout you make your suggestion plain as a comment here. So far Kropotkin is running at # 1, but there are too few votes in to say much for now.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It has been pointed out that this poll doesn't contain enough shades of opinion to cover every possible opinion. That is probably true , and I apologize for this. I'll probably repeat the question sometime in the future with a different format. What I do see from the voting so far is that those who have bothered to respond have a realistic view of the immediate prospects for such a thing. I guess that I'm not getting the "readership" from the "have a protest so big the police run away in terror and THIS is THE REVOLUTION" crowd. YES, I once saw this proposed "seriously", by a person who is old enough to know better but who promulgates such nonsense for his own peculiar reasons. A revolution ,which I think neither desirable nor likely is , by the very necessity of reality, a violent and chaotic period when old political and economic "realities" are dissolved. It necessarily involves a great amount of human tragedy. It happens without the conscious direction of "revolutionists" (those who believe in revolution in the abstract as opposed to those "revolutionaries" who actually do revolution in revolutionary times instead of pretending that rhetoric and child-like petty terrorism is "the revolution" in non-revolutionary times). In non-revolutionary times the revolutionist prepares organization that will direct a revolution to a desired goal.
My own opinion....I can see the argument for revolution as necessary to clear away historical deadwood, but I cannot agree. I stand by my gradualist prescription as the best and least costly way to achieve a libertarian society. THAT'S my vote. Neither likely NOR desirable. The first is separate from the second. The first is a matter of cold calculation. The second is a matter of moral choice. The essential point is that the organization that a gradualist such as myself proposes is not different in any way from that which a revolutionist would propose to prepare the way for a revolution. All points are exactly the same, and disagreement would only revolve around particular tactics in the here and now. It is actually possible (inevitable actually) that the "revolutionists" would hold a less intransigent line at certain times than a gradualist would. That being said the general way that a sensible revolutionist and a gradualist would organize are virtually indistinguishable.