December 9, 2009

Jared Diamond and the ‘green’ capitalists

Posted in Ecology, Trade tagged , , , , at 00:23 by Matthijs Krul

Well-known anthropologist and popular science writer Jared Diamond has written an opinion article in the New York Times in which he praises various large multinationals for adopting a supposedly more ‘green’ way of operating, since their profit incentive forces them to do so.(1) He is particularly lavish in his praise for the Chevron oil group, which is or was active in oil projects in New Guinea, the region Diamond is professionally specialized in. He has written about their activities in New Guinea before in his book Collapse, where he also lauded their supposed efforts to improve the environment.(2) Read the rest of this entry »

December 4, 2009

The Red and the Green II: Judgment at København

Posted in Ecology, Politics tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 22:48 by Matthijs Krul

There seems to be a general sentiment among those segments of the global population committed to the preservation and survival of the environment we live in that the coming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in København, to be held between 7 and 18 December 2009, will be decisive. At this conference it will have to be decided whether the political leaders of the world are capable of undertaking serious and coordinated efforts to combat the environmental impact of capitalist industrialization, or whether they will by force of competition on the political and economic planes once again let down the needs and aspirations of the world’s population, human and nonhuman. The Kyoto Protocol, a moderate and very tempered attempt to bind the leading industrial and industrializing nations to a reduction in the output of greenhouse gases, has failed as the United States refuses to in any way curb its potential capital accumulation, even if this is for the benefit of the survival of the planet as we know it. At the same time, there is much acrimony between major industrializing states such as India and China and the Western nations, where the latter want the former to bear much of the burden of their polluting industrial output, whereas the former quite rightly point out that the Western nations never cared about it during their phase of Industrial Revolution and that they have consciously exported much of their own industry to those nations in the first place. Not only is the Third World now exploited by the First, it is also being made to pay for the privilege in ecological terms. Read the rest of this entry »

December 3, 2009

The Fall of the House of Dubai

Posted in Middle East, Trade tagged , , , , at 22:44 by Matthijs Krul

The great capitalist dystopia of Dubai, a huge speculation bubble in paradisical tourist islands and business skyscrapers built on the slave-labor of South Asian migrant workers, is on the verge of collapse. Even though it is located in one of the driest and hottest parts of the world, its developer-king, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, saw a bright future for the place as the great playground of modern cosmopolitan capital. Indeed he presented himself and the whole project as a capitalist variation on the ‘enlightened kingdom’ of the old concept of the philosopher-king: none of those pesky things like regulations and taxes, or even good taste, could stand in the way of capitalist development here. In Dubai, anything would and should be possible on a larger and more commercial scale than ever before seen. Read the rest of this entry »

December 1, 2009

Swiss minaret ban sign of worrying xenophobia

Posted in Europe, Politics, Religion tagged , , , at 23:44 by Matthijs Krul

The Swiss Confederation by referendum has decided, with a 57.5% majority, to constitutionally ban the use of minarets in the country. 22 of the 26 cantons also voted in favor of the proposition, making it legal.(1) The use or definition of minarets is not specifically defined, making the application of the provision unclear, and moreover there are only 4 mosques with minarets in the country to begin with. It is therefore obvious that the minaret itself here functions not as an architectural eyesore, which indeed it need not be given the excellent traditions of Islamic religious architecture, but as a proxy for the presence of muslims in Switzerland. Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the Minister of Justice of the Confederation, attempted to explain the result of the referendum as “not a vote against Islam, but a vote directed against fundamentalist utterances”.(2) The preposterousness of this claim is obvious, given that a minaret, although a vehicle of utterances, is not itself an utterance. Nor does it make much sense to call a tower a ‘fundament’, whether conceptually or from an engineer’s perspective.

The ludicrousness of the proposition aside, it is yet another step in a worrying pan-European trend to directly attack the muslim minorities in their respective countries. Read the rest of this entry »

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