The case of SPC Bradley Manning, held indefinitely in isolation in a Navy brig in Quantico, Virginia, is taking on ever more ridiculous proportions. Manning was arrested after it became known that he was the primary source for leaking a large amount of classified diplomatic information to the organisation Wikileaks, which then distributed this to the general public. An honest country has nothing to fear if its diplomatic efforts become known, since they will reveal the legitimate and peace-seeking nature of its dealings. The United States, on the other hand, went for a policy which is best summarized by its own expression ‘shooting the messenger’. They immediately imprisoned Manning, who had been military intelligence officer in occupied Iraq, for his actions. He has been held in isolation for 10 months, prevented from having any contact with the outside world, is kept in jail for 23 out of 24 hours, and even forbidden to work out by doing pushups in his cell, lest this embolden his spirits. It is not sufficient – the prison regime in the navy barracks has now announced that he must also sleep naked in his cell (on a bed made of a concrete slab) and even attend morning roll call in the nude.(1) Continue reading “The Manning case”
In the last article on the fake left, one of the greatest menaces to socialist politics in the West today, I criticized the hypocrisy of the Euston Manifesto clique. Now it is time to turn towards their American equivalent, the so-called Cold War liberals and the supposed ‘radical democrats’ who represent the left foot of imperialism. For several decades they have found their home at Dissent magazine and its sister paper Democratiya, which recently has merged into the former. It is worth taking a brief look at the content and outlook of these bulwarks of false leftism in America, since they are all too common among the intelligentsia in the wake of the massive expansion of militarism in the West since the days of Eisenhower-Kennedy. Moreover, it is precisely the claims to left-wing, even socialist, legitimacy that makes these tendencies of thought so dangerous; it hopelessly muddles the boundaries between genuine socialism of whatever stripe and a liberalism that is dressed up in the language of the social-democracy of old but has more in common with Noske than with Marx. It is not because of sectarianism that we must insist on the importance of differentiating an essentially liberal attitude to politics – even a ‘left liberal’ one – and socialism, but it is because sometimes a similarity of language can mask highly significant differences in the goals either group genuinely seeks and the interests they represent in practice. Continue reading “More on the Fake Left: The Chimaera of “Dissent” Magazine”
The Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS) of the reigning President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has won the regional elections held on April 9th of this year.(1) Morales is the first elected President of Bolivia to be fully Native American, despite the great majority of the Bolivian population being Aymará or Quechua. For most of its history, the country has been governed by a swift succession of military dictators, vassal oligarchs of the United States and assorted strongmen. Universal suffrage was only introduced in 1951 by the reformist MNR party, which was subsequently overthrown by a series of juntas.
Much of the conflict has revolved around the main economic products of Bolivia: its enormous tin mines (it is the world’s largest tin producer) and the coca leaves grown as export crop by the country’s many poor farmers, which forms the basis for the drug cocaine. Continue reading “Bolivian Prospects”
An important aspect of the newly emerging folk psychology, if that would be the right term, in America is the notion of a racial ladder: one which extends from ‘Asians’ at the top to ‘whites’ in the middle and ‘blacks’ at the bottom. Sometimes the argument is based on studies of IQ scores, other times the argument is based on anecdotal experiences about American colleges and universities, or about supposed Asian special aptitude for mathematics and natural sciences. These ideas are fairly widespread, and not limited purely to bar talk: even such supposedly hip ‘leftist’ magazines as Slate have contributed to it, and they are fairly prevalent at American universities too, including with the admissions departments.(1)(2) As in the Slate article, often these views are defended from accusations of racism by appealing to the fact that the folk psychology does not place whites at the top. Needless to say, this is not much of an argument, but it is commonly believed to be justified. Because of the nefarious nature of this notion, it is time to confront it with a basic understanding of statistics, which will quickly dispel most ideas of this kind. Continue reading “Races and Brains”
The mirage of ‘creating jobs’
In this time of crisis, unemployment is once again high on the public’s agenda. In the United States, even official unemployment has reached figures as high as 10%, and in many Western European countries things are not much better. Hundreds of billions in public debt have been piled up to combat this, because every politician knows that their continuance in office depends first and foremost on satisfying the constituents’ demands, and what they demand is jobs. But here as always the limits of the liberal understanding of the world show themselves immediately, namely in the way they go about defending their employment policies. Everywhere in the Western states the emphasis is on the process of ‘job creation’ by the capitalist market system. Everywhere the one criterion for a measure or bill is whether it will or will not make the market ‘create jobs’.
A recent article in Time magazine illustrates the issue quite well. Continue reading “Two Minor Notes on Job Creation and Atheist Policy”