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Archive for the ‘the Left’ Category

Who’s watching the watchers?

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 28, 2013

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FBI surveillance activities, CIA spying and drone programs, NSA PRISM and XKEYSCORE programs. And that’s just the stuff we know about. Since 9/11, state surveillance has been ramped up, to the point where even dyed-in-the-wool national security apologists are worried that we might be a tad closer to a police state.

Old school Republicans and Democrats believe that if the government wants to listen in on their phone calls, or read their emails, in order to keep their asses from being blown off, fine by them. The state doesn’t care if they’re cheating on their spouse or sharing juicy gossip about their neighbors. They just want to be secure. The Left, and self-styled libertarians, are freaked out that, with each revelation and leak, we’re one step closer to losing our freedoms, and one step closer to fascism, or communism, depending on your ideological bent. They’re fond of quoting Benjamin Franklin who said: “Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

A halfway decent, ongoing PBS program covering many of these issues is Frontline’s Top Secret America.

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Posted in CIA, Democrats & Republicans, FBI, libertarians, National Security State, NSA, the Left | Leave a Comment »

Medea’s response to being pied

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 2, 2007

Medea’s response to being pied can be read here.

I find some of her statement, in particular the pop psychological stuff about the people who pied her being resentful and angry and not having the love of family and friends, to be a bit disingenuous. It’s a common ploy for defenders of the status quo to reduce youthful rebelliousness to a matter of hating one’s parents. Revolutionary socialism is thus dismissed as problems with authority that stem from the revolutionary’s family of origin, a smug Freudian put down that could apply to Medea as well as to those who pied her.

In turn, this is part of a broader critique of psychology and psychiatry as mechanisms to help fucked-up people fit into an even more fucked-up society. That’s the subject for a book, not a post. For the moment, I want to note that Medea’s dichotomy between resentment and anger on the one hand, and love and empowerment on the other hand, is extremely simplistic, and not very useful.

Or, to quote Johnny Lydon from the PiL song “Rise:” “Anger is an energy.”

Posted in anarchism, anarchists, Bakers Without Borders, black bloc, Code Pink, Global Exchange, Medea Benjamin, politics, revolutionary, socialism, the Left | 1 Comment »

The problem with progressives #1

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 19, 2007

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Why is it that progressives think that the best person to rally the troops and lead them to victory is the guy who lost the last time around?

Beyondchron.com in the Bay Area is a mind-numbing example of this problem, with hopeful stories about momentum building for Al Gore to enter the presidential race and the potential for Matt Gonzalez to reunify the SF Left by running for mayor against Gavin Newsom.

Excuse me, but isn’t winning the point? And didn’t these guys demonstrate an inability to do so? In Europe, when the leader of a political party presides over the defeat of his party, frequently the leader steps down and lets someone else have a go at it. Something to consider.

Posted in Al Gore, Bay Area, Chris Daly, Gavin Newsom, life, Matt Gonzalez, Mayoral election, politics, presidential election, progressives, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, the Left | 1 Comment »

All the news that fits

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 12, 2007

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What? No front page story on Paris Hilton’s latest travail?

Well, it is the Guardian Weekly after all. I just wanted to highlight a few items in this week’s edition (June 8-14 2007, Vol. 176 No 25).

— Jean-Jacques Bozonnet has a fascinating story on the Italian state. (“Torrent of criticism has Italian politicians fearing implosion”) Apparently, the Italian political apparatus is ten times the size of its neighboring European countries. A local business leader is quoted as saying: “The cost of political representation is equal to that of France, Germany, the UK and Spain together. The party system alone costs taxpayers 200m euro a year, compared with 73m euro in France.”

— A day in the life of an anonymous private security contractor in Iraq entitled “It’s the wild west: we’re a taxi service with guns.”

— A reprint from the Washington Post by Steven Pearlstein entitled “US middle class doing just fine.” I think I’ll run down a copy of the study in question as it flies in the face of most things I’ve experienced about the American economy.

— “Danger: upheaval down under,” an opinion piece by Will Hutton of the Observer, details striking parallels between the political climate in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, with an emphasis on the state of the social-democratic Left. Here’s two salient quotes: “One answer is being provide by a nascent Australian progressive think-tank, Per Capita. The left has to invest in people, design markets so that companies deliver public-interest outcomes, extend the polluter-pays principle to every form of economic activity where private companies do not pay for the damage they generate and start to develop a story about promoting individual wellbeing. It is a fine wish-list, and the ambition can hardly be faulted. The question remains: how?” And there’s Hutton’s concluding paragraph: “It is not that the right has a better or even good answer to the questions of our times. It is that the modern left, unless it is prepared to say something concrete about how it wants the economy to look in the future and takes steps to shape it, has little to say either. And if it’s the incumbent government, the consequences is staring it in the face.”

— A whole secti0n on the “G8 and the world.” It asks the rhetorical question: “Developed nations’ leaders have promised to give poorer states a better deal. Are they delivering?” The answer is, no.

— A cyberpunk flavored story about how RFID tags are being used to help make sense out of the baffling confusion that is Tokyo. (“Tagging Tokyo’s streets” by Michael Fitzpatrick) “The city with no street names.”

— A well-deserved savaging of Don DeLillo’s latest novel which I think applies to most of the man’s pretentious oeuvre. (“An inevitable DeLillo, an unoriginal DeLillo” by Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post)

It’s still probably on the newsstands, in case you’re interested.

Posted in Australia, Britain, Don DeLillo, G8, Guardian Weekly, Iraq, Italian politics, Italy, life, New Zealand, news, Paris Hilton, private security contractors, RFID, the Left, The Observer, Tokyo, Washington Post | Leave a Comment »