Global politics


American politics&British politics&Global politics&Middle East14 Aug 2006 08:18 pm

Cowley Road, East Oxford

Cowley Road, East Oxford – Photo by Dood LD, originally posted on Indymedia

“When monarchs through their bloodthirsty commanders lay waste to a country, they dignify their atrocity by calling it ‘making peace'”.
– Tacitus

American politics&British politics&Global politics10 Aug 2006 01:20 pm

Yeah, I'm hotlinking from the BBC. Don't fret, they can afford the bandwidth. I am forced to pay them handsomely every year.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
– Joseph Goebbels

“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
– Joseph Goebbels

“Once a government resorts to terror against its own population to get what it wants, it must keep using terror against its own population to get what it wants. A government that terrorises its own people can never stop. If such a government ever lets the fear subside and rational thought return to the populace, that government is finished.”
– Michael Rivero

“It also gives us a very special, secret pleasure to see how unaware the people around us are of what is really happening to them.”
– Adolf Hitler

Arts&British politics&Global politics&Pop culture20 Mar 2006 09:55 pm

Hugo in mask I saw the film V for Vendetta today. I read the graphic novel yesterday.

Shoot me down, purists, but I thought the film was better.

**WARNING: CONTAINS LOTS OF SPOILERS**

If you read it in the 80s, you’ll no doubt be bleating in protest already, but I stand by my view. The original is a great and thought-provoking read, to be sure, but it is very much of its time. You don’t write a screenplay to be faithful to someone else’s vision. You write a screenplay to make a film as good as it can be. And the changes to the story made in the Wachowskis’ script were all sensible ones.

The concept of the personified central computer system ‘Fate’ might have been Orwellian and futuristic in the 80s but would have seemed dated twenty years on. The addition of references like a media-led avian flu panic only added to the sense of “Hold on a second, isn’t that a bit like… now?” The decision to swap the Old Bailey and the Houses of Parliament bombing order around was excellent. Much better sense of crescendo, visually. The decision to send V off in the tube decked in roses was brilliant. Cinematic gold, in fact.

I could’ve probably done without the thwarted Evey/V love theme, but it certainly didn’t detract from the story. The fact that Evey didn’t become V in the end was a slight shame, but the theme of continuation and tradition was still there in the dead characters’ reappearance in the masked crowd at the end. If I want, I can still harbour the idea that it was Valerie all along, despite the evidence of Hugo Weaving’s manly form.

By the end, I was thinking “This has got to be the most subversive blockbuster ever released”. And “Do ‘they’ realise what is in this film?” And “Couldn’t this be a highly polished recruiting tool for radical anarchy*?”

[*I’m not suggesting anarchy itself is a violent system, it isn’t. Send me none of your polite hate mail, dear anarchists.]

I mean, think about it. In Blair’s mean-spirited language, it certainly glamourises terrorism. It openly declares that violence is a moral and appropriate response to oppression. It shows that chaos and precarity are inevitable if state power is to be opposed, and should be embraced. It illustrates how the corporate media is the tool of the corporate-dominated state and how the mass media’s non-advertising content exists to distract and instruct according to the interests of its paymasters. (Which may account for the fact that the film has received a stack of “Oh it’s all boring and complicated, don’t bother with it” type reviews from mainstream media. Interesting.)

V for Vendetta So all in all, I’m rather blown away by it. I’d been led to believe that it would be a pale imitation of the anarchic original, when in fact the power of its 21st century impact surpassed it. I should’ve known those Wachowskis wouldn’t let me down.

Now: (i) how long do you think it’ll be before V masks/wigs are available in costume shops, and (ii) do you think the anti-demonstration legislation covering 1 km around Parliament (The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005) extends to people walking through Westminster in fancy dress?

Global politics&News media&Self&Writing20 Feb 2006 10:51 am

I spend a small fortune on books as it is, but have just found another book I ‘need’: it is Steven Poole’s Unspeak, an analysis of the slippery language used by governments, media and pressure groups.

Did you know the term “climate change” (as a replacement for the more frightening “global warming”) was invented by a coalition of oil companies led by the US and Saudi Arabia to remove the catastrophic connotations in the original term? Stands to reason, I suppose. Always good to see these things pointed out though, lest we overlook such extraordinary rendition – ha – of language.

Red planet In other news: it would seem that my newborn novel project could loosely be considered science fiction. Not just that, but according to one person, some aspects of it could even be considered a bit science fantasy. Crikey. I’ve never read any so-called science fantasy in my life, to my knowledge. How does that work then? My subconscious mind is a stranger to me, truly.

Environment&Global politics&Random life25 Sep 2005 01:50 pm

Thanks to BlondeButBright for this link:

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

Their view is that humanity should seek to die out deliberately, in order to restore some balance to the planet. They suggest this long-range goal is accomplished by opting not to reproduce.

A brief snippet:

“After we’ve seen a few hundred TV dramas where the good guy kicks the bad guy’s butt, it’s tempting to look at the real world with this same knee jerk, zero-sum mentality. We might look for an enemy to attack when championing our righteous cause, but in reality our enemy doesn’t have a butt to kick.

In the end, the real “enemies” are human greed, ignorance, and oppression. We can achieve more by promoting generosity, awareness, and freedom than we can by vainly kicking at a buttless foe.

… Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom.”

No kids, for moral reasons.

What do you think about this idea? (Have a browse through their ‘About the Movement’ page if you have a moment to spare.)

EDIT: Do you have children? Do you want children? Tell us that below too.

Soundtrack to this post: Baby Boy – Beyoncé

Activism&Environment&Global politics21 Sep 2005 06:42 pm

Just a reminder that tomorrow is World Car Free Day.

The site I’ve linked to is a European one, but my Canadian Adbusters calendar says “WORLD CAR FREE DAY” on it, and that’s good enough for me.

Anyone who gets the bus tomorrow gets a sugar-free lollipop.

(Oh hang on, that’s not right. That’s anyone under 12 who goes to the dentist.)

OK, you don’t get a lollipop, but you get to feel mildly virtuous for the day, if you’re normally a petrolhead.

Anyway, report back here if you are car-free on Thursday 22 September. That includes those without personal transport or driving licence. If anyone deserves a lollipop, YOU do.

Environment&Global politics&News media21 Sep 2005 02:13 pm

World growth will begin to slow as a result of increased oil prices” squawks the International Monetary Fund’s latest news release.

The IMF mathematical calculation is spot on. However – surprise surprise – the news coverage generated by this is missing three very important points:

1. Oil is finite. Therefore prices are inevitably going to rise as time goes on, because that’s how the free market works.

2. All resources are finite. We have only one planet, for a start. Therefore you can’t have endless economic growth. The idea is nonsensical.

3. Economic “growth” is simply a sly way of saying “increasing the gap between rich and poor”, surely? For every extra buck made by a shareholder, the world loses a little of its natural resources, or space, or air quality. And usually the parts of the world which are most impoverished financially are the parts which suffer the most degraded quality of life as well. Why do journalists paid by huge media conglomerates write about “growth” as though it’s an unequivocally good thing? (Oh wait, the clue’s in the question. Arf.)

Might I respectfully suggest that instead of firing off hysterical news releases, the IMF put their public relations staff to work promoting a new economic model based on something slightly more grown up than wishful thinking, elitism and greed?

Soundtrack to this post: Dirty Cash – The Adventures of Stevie V

Activism&Global politics06 Jul 2005 06:52 pm

Entire world screeches to terrified halt as protestors wander off somewhere on the spur of the moment.

Pfffthh.

Soundtrack to this post: Embassy Row – Pavement

Activism&Global politics05 Jul 2005 07:30 pm

If you’re heading for the G8 protests…

… be prepared for a heavy police presence, in full riot gear, enjoying the opportunity to flex armour-plated muscles.

And expect to be filmed leaving all public transport to and from Scotland.

(London protest photos courtesy of Justimage on Indymedia)

Soundtrack to this post: Showdown – Britney Spears

Activism&Africa&Global politics&Pop culture03 Jul 2005 12:51 pm

No, sorry. I can’t just leave it.

Did any of you see Madonna’s performance? Did any of you watch Geldof’s bit before that? Without vomiting your spleen into your lap?

In case you were mercifully elsewhere, here’s what happened. Bob Geldof went into a foggy rant along the lines of “DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THIS DOESN’T WORK”. Then an enormous picture of a starving Ethiopian child appeared on the screens. Then Bob says “This girl was 10 minutes from death when this shot was filmed” – leaving aside all questions of whether it would be considered appropriate to film children 10 minutes from death if they weren’t brown – and then shouts “BUT BECAUSE OF LIVE AID, SHE SURVIVED! AND HERE SHE IS NOW!”

And on walks a beautiful fully grown woman with an expensive hairdo and perfect makeup, and everyone cheers, because WE DID THAT! We saved the pretty lady! We Westerners, with our benevolent rich rock stars and kind hearts, we who were prepared to sacrifice a whole day of our lives to watch a rock concert and perhaps give a few quid out of our beer budget! We, who wear matching wristbands and are polite enough not to question the inexplicable participation of pensionable dullards like Annie Lennox, Sting, Pink Floyd and The Who, are saving lives! We are, quite frankly, heroes! Go us! Go us!

And then Madonna walks on, snogs poor Birhan Woldu – for this is she – and feigns tears of self-congratulatory joy. And grabs Birhan’s hand, and punches it triumphantly into the air. Never one to miss a front page opportunity, she does this for quite some time.

I cannot find words to do justice to the offensiveness of this spectacle.

From the parts of Live 8 which I saw, I didn’t hear a single person on any stage mention the reasons Africa is impoverished. Not one. From watching this show, you’d think that global economics pivoted on the willingness of ageing prog rockers to reform.

As ever, RedOne and Gerry neatly sum up the tragedy of Geldof and Bono co-opting the G8 protests. If it hadn’t been for this flamboyant point-missing exercise, the rumble of very real G8-based dissent seen a few months ago may have built into an epoch-defining roar.

And if that’s not a good enough motive for Blair et al to hold hands with Geldof and Bono and support their impotent efforts, I don’t know what is.

I’ll leave you with a nice quote from Robert Newman:

Q: If you could talk directly to a room full of G8 leaders, what would you say?

A: “Here are your Guatemala work visas, we will come and pick you up from the Dole/Chiquita banana plantation in a year’s time, by which point your views about capitalism may have altered enough for us to have a sensible discussion.”

Soundtrack to this post: Grasping Claw – Headset

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