Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lenin in a bag

My friends went to Hungary:

Who'd a thunk Lenny was into that sort of ewotic encounter...

Juliet Bravo, Juliet Bravo...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

For workers' councils?

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Concerning the question as to why Noske was given relatively free hand in Kiel
Kuhl: I cannot understand this, this has always been a puzzle to me: Noske came, to strangle the revolution. (Popp: yes but he did not manage.), but why is he then elected chairman of the soldier's council?

Popp: Who was the soldier's council, they hardly knew one another. This were not necessarily politically oriented people. I also made a mistake that time, there was a soldier whom I knew personally. I called him and he was also elected. That was the biggest lunacy ever happened, that was a gruesome man. We hardly knew one another. There was no talking about it. I don't even know how many soldier's councils were established that time. There in that corner they elected one, another one there, another one there. The real soldier's councils, well structured, they came into being after I had organized for it. These were wild stories.

Kuhl: Did you try to prevent Noske being elected?

Popp: Why that? I could not exclude the SPD! Listen! You try just being one and the others are ten, you want to exclude those ten? How would you do that?

Kuhl: One could try at least.

Popp: No, that is raising, man alive!
Interview with Lothar Popp.

Without comment - save - no - no comment.

Random Stuff

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First, here is a pointless though I think interesting historical comparison.

The Land Acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.

The Scale of Iran to America.

I just thought the comparison was interesting. Analytical value zero - but illustrative both of the vast scale of the purchase (much more than I originally thought, enough to indicate it significance to American history in the way in which Jefferson banjaxed the constitution - strict constructionist indeed).

Likewise, randomly, you might note the election counter at the top of the page now. Interestingly, it shows just how close the race to control congress is - almsot a dead heat. In reality, though, the known independence of congresspersons (particularly senators) doesn't reveal just how the balance really lies - I suppose only complex analyses of voting patterns does that. It reality, those two parties are one party. The appearance that bush has dominated throuh super majorities is illusory - certainly, much of the power derives from congressional committees which are formally taken by winners overall - but an insurgent party could refuse to play such games and force everything to the floor of the house, make the dominant party have to fight to exercise their slim majhority (that's how things will probably work here in the next Parliament). Bi-partisanship is the dominance of the single capitalist US party.

Enough of the ramble already, get to work.

Hatptip: Billmon

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Engels on Islam

Good old Marxist internet archie houses this not by Engels
[Note by Engels: A peculiar antithesis to this was the religious risings in the Mohammedan world, particularly in Africa. Islam is a religion adapted to Orientals, especially Arabs, i.e., on one hand to townsmen engaged in trade and industry, on the other to nomadic Bedouins. Therein lies, however, the embryo of a periodically recurring collision. The townspeople grow rich, luxurious and lax in the observation of the "law." The Bedouins, poor and hence of strict morals, contemplate with envy and covetousness these riches and pleasures. Then they unite under a prophet, a Mahdi, to chastise the apostates and restore the observation of the ritual and the true faith and to appropriate in recompense the treasures of the renegades. In a hundred years they are naturally in the same position as the renegades were: a new purge of the faith is required, a new Mahdi arises and the game starts again from the beginning. That is what happened from the conquest campaigns of the African Almoravids and Almohads in Spain to the last Mahdi of Khartoum who so successfully thwarted the English. It happened in the same way or similarly with the risings in Persia and other Mohammedan countries. All these movements are clothed in religion but they have their source in economic causes; and yet, even when they are victorious, they allow the old economic conditions to persist untouched. So the old situation remains unchanged and the collision recurs periodically. In the popular risings of the Christian West, on the contrary, the religious disguise is only a flag and a mask for attacks on an economic order which is becoming antiquated. This is finally overthrown, a new one arises and the world progresses.]

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Vote Republican and die

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I got some books at work, wrapped in the 12th September Philadelphia Enquirer - it had an interesting map of life expectancy in the US, which, on close examination gives the clear message - vote Republican and die. At least, die ten years younger. Almost every area that strongly supported bush had a significantly lower life expectancy (mostly the dreaded south). The article is online, sadly the mapo isn't: Here: ... low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley die four years sooner than their northern neighbors.

Related to this is the interesting article from Electoral vote which looks at Gerymandering in the US - check out the article and teh horrific maps here - also, see this list here which shows the victory margins (often stupendous, and sometimes unopposed) in Congressional contests.

Clearly, such obvious gerrymandering throws big questions over claims to democracy - albeit modified, apparnetly by one correspondent, by the claim that some of these bizarre districts are attempts to protect african-american voters' representation under the voting rights act. Victories in the high eighties, sometimes even nineties indicates a corrupt electoral practice, eitehr through gerrymandering or simply through making the barrier to entering the contest so high as to deprive electors of a meaningful choice.

More clearly still, electors whose votes can be taken for granted are less likely to have their interests looked after.

Update: Follow the US Senate race here Click for

Friday, September 08, 2006

Chariot racing

William Morris, I think, once described political parties as being like two carriages travelling in the same direction, splattering each other with mud.

Apt, and timeless. In the Byzantine Empire supporters of cahriot racing teams amounted to political parties. No need for pretend great ideological division, simply factionalising among the ins and outs, a way of identifying supporters and leaders together, and of organising patronage. Of course, games were a part of the public sphere, a time when the body politic met in the same physical space as their ruler, and could organise as a mass voice, so the association of sporting alliance with political is not as hairbrained as it might seem to us moderns.

Of course, there would be no fundamental ideological difference, but a network of patronage. Such networks would seek to encourage rewarding loyalty and discouraging defection. Luck and happenstance and a little judgement would dictate who would decide to join the ins or the outs (depending on how likely it was though you'd oust the ins and get rewards ffor being an out).

Take the issue of Blair, of course, that is about ins and outs, and especially as since Blair has held onto such a stable cabinet for so long (it only really started to turn over in the past two years, really). So all the out labour MP's see a chance of getting into ministries by defecting to Brown, or being loyal to him.

Of course, at the heart of this model is the Emporer, the supreme owner of inship and benefactor magistrate extraordinaire. This turmoil is the price and consequence of leadership - mark you wwell, fair reader, that it is all so unnecessary. Who really needs Emporers? Who needs a walk on part in a crowded mob scene?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Rigged election