A few things of note that have happened recently…
Make peace, not war in Mali
The Stop the War Coalition are h0lding a huge event in London in February to protest the just-started Mali bombing campaign by NATO as well as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan and the jingoistic imperial empire in general. Find out more at http://www.tenyearson.org.uk/. Just to note, I’m no fan of George Galloway.
Aaron Schwartz dies
Aaron Schwartz (co-founder of Reddit and inventor of RSS) committed suicide. Find out more about why in Democracy Now’s coverage. Matt Stoller in an excellent article on Schwartz states the following:
As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako - who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.
I also found some of the comments on Matt’s piece quite insightful. pws says:
The reason why revolutions in places like Tunisia end up failing is because the patient, pulsating spider pulling the strands of a web that spreads all over the world will eventually turn its baleful gaze on them and undo them. The creature currently in the White House is just as bad as all of the human spiders who preceded him, and likely the ones who follow after him.
Activists need to think, “I’m living in 1984, how can I fight the system,” it’s naive to think anyone, anywhere in the world is living in anything other than a corrupt police state (except maybe for a few places that have escaped notice while the Empire is temporarily busy elsewhere. They’re on the list though, never doubt it, just waiting their turn).
And a thought regarding building a support network for people to combat such allegations in future:
How might a couple or a few million concerned and aware average-quality people form a mutual defense and support network which could assist and support the few high-quality people when those people are pressured and persecuted either into prison or obscurity or into committing suicide?
Assuming the Ruling Class is perfecting new methods of plausibly-deniable assassination such as carefully driving selected people to suicide . . . how does a support-and-respect group help those people to be pressure-resistant and suicide-proof?
The idea of a support network reminds me of the Daemon in the book of the same name by Daniel Suarez: A collection of software programs which exist on the internet that then direct and shape a series of events in the physical world in order to construct a more equitable, just and democratic society. Members of the daemon’s network are called “Darknet” operatives. Operatives, when in trouble, can call upon other operatives within the network to mobilize to their defence. Members can rate each other for a transaction and people thus have rating scores and track records, visible to everybody else, ensuring that one’s reputation amongst the community is more important that one’s power or wealth. Of course, the book is about much more than this and overall contains an excellent discussion of the problems and flaws facing us in the world today, as well as being an excellent techno-thriller. I highly recommend it (especially for the tech lovers amongst you) as well as its sequel, Freedom.
Another day in India and another gang rape. The conservatives blame victims, i.e. women get raped because they either dress provocatively and fail to take into account how horny men are. The liberals blame the lack of effective legal deterrents, a corrupt police force, the traditional patriarchal society and a “male-cossetting” culture for holding back a woman’s right to dress and be the way she wants without being threatened or assaulted. Some folks think protest is going to change things but I think rape culture is endemic in India. There are many young middle-class, progressive Indian men who obviously stand on the side of women wanting justice and liberty. But there are plenty of men in India who simply don’t care, because they’ve always had the upper hand with this issue.
Plus the fact that most Indians have the mentality of a donkey. They simply do as they’re told, generation to generation…
Beta (son), study hard and get a good job in a big company, preferably MNC (multi-national corporation), and then get married to a girl from a nice family and have children. Don’t confront the sarkar (government) or argue with police. Just pay them the bribe and move on. Hire naukars (servants) to make your life easier. Remember, Bhagvan (god) has made you rich and worthwhile and them poor and worthless so just pay them something to keep their mouths fed. And be sure to tell everybody how amazing India is as a country because we have nuclear weapons and Mahabharata and Gandhi. But don’t be friends with Pakistanis.