Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Happy Birthday Reasons to be Impossible

Tony Pancake would be proud, wee Paul Mattick would discuss the fundamental contradictions at the heart of the Blog, Rosie Luxemburg would have spilled her brains with glee - one year to the day, and I'm still writing.

I don't want to waste a precious blog post on merely marking that point, I do want to continue with finding a reason par excellence to be impossible, and that fits snuggly intyo the democracy question I've been looking at here.

Ian Paisley. Oh, yes, indeedy.

Routinely the most popular politicians in Northern Ireland, always the winner of the poll for the Provinces' Euro constiutuency. Just what did they vote for?
The continent of Europe is not our Fatherland, and never can be. Our nationalities cannot be changed, for they are the creation of God. No matter what sinful man may do, God has enthroned His Son King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the King of the whole earth, and He shall reign and rule for evermore.
(Paisley'sFarewell to Europe address)

His website continues to fight out historical controversies, such as Thomas More persecuting protestant heretics in the 16th century (Here) as if they were live topics today. Indeed, he and his camp followers do see it as relevent, becuase the once and eternal anti-Christ of Romishness was responsible - rather than English internal politics, you understand.

Dingbat. You might be thinking, and these books likewise suggest this. The problem, is, though, that many Northern Irish support this dingbattery? In free and fair elections, they choose a ranting ignoramous.

Of course, what they choose is the intransigent. The defender of (possibly perceived) interests and goals, the Democratic (sic) Unionist Party which in the name of equality fosters division - after all, when they openly equate Roman Catholicism with Satanism, it becomes difficult to see how they can deal fairly and equitibly with the agents of evil upon the Earth, doesn't it?

That said, only Paisley et al. have the capacity to deliver a deal in Northern Ireland, to do a Nixon in China, no-one can outflank them, the UUP are holding a Unionist Centre, they have freedom to manoevre otehrs haven't. They have secured tribal identification and loyalty, and that is the bedrock of their power.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Democratic conservatism

Last one for a few days.

Well, like I said, democracy is highly conservative. It held Emperor Napoleon in power for 18 years, in it's own way It has actively voted for discimination against gay people in the United states, etc. etc.

Basically, it is conservative because people don't really change their minds that much, democratic changes tend to come from demographic changes, as one set of voters dies, so another set becomes more prominent in the vote.

Sure, elections do produce dramatic swings, but in first past the post (and even PR elections) a small swing can produce dramatic results when a new party enters the winner(s) take all offices of state. A slight swing of 1% can produce a 100% change in government personel.

Further, deap down many people refuse to change votes. The tories lost heavilly because many of their older voters simply stayed away and didn't vote, or because Labour voters turned up for once, thinking they could win.

Democracy is a source of strength for the status quo, it doesn't promote change, dictatorships can make vast changes because they ride roughshod over people's wishes.

The left need to understand this, and work with it. They need to udnerstand that those people who voted for Bush and Blair really did mean it, and stop the patronising excuse that they were powerless and knew not what they did. See, that way of thinking justifies the secret desire for a revolutionary dictatorship. It all links together.

I'll continue this theme, next, the relatiopnship of hegemony and democracy...

Vive L'Empereur, Blair III!

No, this isn't a Bushitler line of argument. Continuing with my digression into French political history - extremely illuminating I must say - I have been reding about Louis Napoleon - Emperor Napoleon III as he preferred to style himself.

His, curiously, as an Empire marked by managed widespread suffrage, millions had the vote beyond the small economic elite, but government power was used to try an channel the vote down lines preferred by the Emperor.

Notable, Napoleon didn't have what you may term a civil society base. He didn't depend on the army, the unions, a political party or any sort of social grouping to really hold him in power, he was the state, a state subject to occaisional confirmatory referendums. The archetypal benign dictator, really.

The similarity to Blair? Well, for starters, although he ame to power through teh Labour party, Blair has always repudiated it and it's civil affiliates as a base. He has always sought to represent 'the whole nation' thus all sections of society and none. He tries to rule presidentially, and relies on widespread support in the country - his personal popularity - to maintain himself in office.

Like Napoleon's Minister Rouhrer, most of Blair's ministers are not statesmen as such, but loyalists to his regime, preferring to keep Blair in power than strike out and forge a path of their own.

Napoleon fell because there was no basis of principle to his government - he tried to please all - it relied on information channelling to the centre, rather than on activity throughout the system. All it takes is a small misjudgement, and that popularity can wither away very swiftly, all those functionaries have no investment in the regime, they will serve the next to come along.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Worse News...

Picked this out while getting my quote from Canada, again re: the war in DRC:
1,000 a day dying in Congo, agency says

DAKAR, SENEGAL - An international aid agency says more than 1,000 civilians a day in Congo are dying from disease and malnutrition in the "deadliest crisis in the world."

The New York-based International Rescue Committee blames a six-year military conflict being fought over the country's rich gold, diamond and mineral stores for 3.8 million deaths in Africa's third-largest nation.

A Congolese boy carrying a child on his back is passed by South African UN solders on patrol, Goma, Congo. (AP photo)
Most of the deaths are easily preventable, the agency said in a report released Thursday, but the war has destroyed hospitals and other health-care institutions.

World response to the crisis in the country also known as Congo-Kinshasa has been lacking, the agency said. During 2003, Iraq received aid worth the equivalent of $138 per person, while Congo received roughly $3 per person in aid.

"The international response to the humanitarian crisis in Congo has been grossly inadequate in proportion to need," said Dr. Richard Brennan, one of the study's authors. "It's sustained compassion and political will that's lacking."

Congo's death toll remains one-third higher than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, despite peace deals signed in 2002. A transitional government was set up last year with elections scheduled for 2005.

Established at the request of Albert Einstein to help opponents of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, the IRC is a non-profit agency that assists refugees around the world.

Better news...

From Canada
The Supreme Court decision

Almost record time. Barely two months after hearing three days of arguments for and against legalizing same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Ottawa does have the exclusive jurisdiction to decide who has the right to get married in the country - but that religious groups are not obliged to perform unions against their beliefs.

"It means the same-sex marriages that have already been performed in this country are legal and must be recognized," said Mary McCarthy, a lawyer who represented some of the same-sex couples who had standing before the Supreme Court hearing.

From New Zealand
Internal affairs prepares for civil unions

The reality of the Civil Union Act's passage is hitting home for the Internal Affairs Department, which has just 4-1/2 months to ensure it is ready for couples to take the plunge.

MPs yesterday passed the Act 65-55, thereby giving legal recognition to same-sex and de facto partnerships.

Births, Deaths and Marriages registrar-general Brian Clarke said the department would be working to ensure all New Zealanders could access civil union products and services from next April 26.

That included providing licences, registration services, the appointment of civil union celebrants and registry ceremonies.

"We will ensure registrars and celebrants are appointed, registration processes and information technology processes are up and running and staff trained," Mr Clarke said in a statement.

"Over coming months we will appoint civil union celebrants. Current marriage celebrants do not automatically become civil union celebrants."

Anyone interested in becoming a civil union celebrant would have to apply and meet certain criteria, he said.

Factual information about civil unions was available from today by calling 0800 22 52 52 and on the internet,

Meanwhile, National MP Bill English again predicted controversy over the Act's accompanying legislation, the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, which deals with legal next-of-kin issues which currently are confined to spouse, or husband and wife.

That legislation was to have been dealt with at the same time as the Civil Union Bill but was held back by Parliament's justice select committee while details are finalised.

"The Civil Union Act will affect very few couples but the Relationships Bill stands to affect anyone in any kind of relationship," Mr English said in a statement.

"Under this legislation, all couples, whether or not they are even serious about their relationship, will find themselves with the same rights and obligations as a husband and wife.

"This is social engineering of a far greater degree than even the civil union legislation."

The forces of Liberalism are on the march, good to see, though odd that where, as in Yankland, direct democracy applies, people vote to allow sexual discrimination, but in Parliamentarilly sovereign states, the ruling elite can force it through., Sad, in a way, and I might come back to this theme on Saturday.

Bad News...

From SABC News
War still one of central causes of disabilities: Mbeki

December 10, 2004, 15:15

President Thabo Mbeki says war remains one of the central causes of disabilities on the African continent. He was speaking at the end of the World Blind Union's conference in Cape Town today. Delegates from 60 countries attended the event.

Mbeki says government will continue to fight for peace and stability in Africa. "War is one of the central causes of disability in Africa ... therefore we should not only have correct policies and programmes to meet the needs and aspirations of blind people and others with disabilities. We must also act vigorously to address the causes of disability," he said. Mbeki also pledged to be an ambassador for the blind in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

Meanwhile, delegates urged governments of the world to employ blind people. "The visually impaired people of Africa are blind ... but they have a vision and a life to live," said Paul Tezanou, the president of the African Union for the Blind.

And if the leading cause in Africa, which has endured one of the worst wars in History in recent memory - in the Congo - what about in other parts of the world? I reiterate the poiunt, surely it is better to fight for a world without wars, than posture for or against the wars we have now - over 851 million people (according to the UN) are starving, isn't the war on want the first war we should be fighting?