Sunday, July 24, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011



The now independent Caucasus republic of Georgia is (in)famous as the homeland of Soviet dictator Josep Stalin. Sorta like being noted as the homeland of malaria. Living down to this "fine" tradition the present government of this republic is trying to supress the independent unions of that country. The economy may change but the urge to dominate remains the same. Here's an appeal from the onl;ine labour solidarity site Labour Start for solidarity with Georgia's unionists.

Georgia: Stop attacks on trade unions - respect labour rights
An iconic example of the potential to build free unions in post-Soviet states, the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) is in serious jeopardy of being destroyed. Even as its fate hangs in the balance, the GTUC is the largest and most viable civil society organization in Georgia, with a reform-minded leadership that possesses an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the role democratic and representative trade unions play in the promotion of labour rights and democracy. Immediate action is necessary to combat the Georgian government’s concerted, intensifying efforts to dismantle the GTUC and take over the GTUC's teachers' union by violating international labour standards and actions aimed at starving it of financial resources.



Please go to this link to send the following letter to Georgian authorities.

President Mikheil Saakashvili
Office of the President of Georgia
1 M. Abdushelishvili Street
Tbilisi, Georgia 0103

Dear President Saakashvili,

I am writing to protest the continuing attacks by the Government of Georgia on the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) including the Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union of Georgia (ESFTUG). Your government, which claims to uphold democratic values, is revealing its true nature by actively and aggressively working to destroy the basic labor rights of the Georgian people. I understand that the AFL-CIO has filed a Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) petition against the Georgian government due to your lack of respect for international labour standards. I urge the Government of Georgia to take the importance of labour rights seriously and immediately stop the harassment of the GTUC and ESFTUG. Your government should begin serious negotiations with the GTUC to strengthen labour rights and particularly change the labour code to allow for real freedom of association and other labour protections. You may be assured that the international labour movement is united in this call for your government to respect their international obligations and cease these attacks on Georgian working people.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011



As this is being written the US Team at The Women's World Football Cup has advanced to playing in the finals against Japan. With each advance the significance of the team showing solidarity with other footballers in Bahrain becomes more significant. Here's an appeal from the Human Rights First organization asking you to add your voice saying that the US Team should take a stand.
Guard The Line: Stand Up for Bahraini Athletes Supporting Democracy!
By Quinn O’Keefe
Senior Associate, Human Rights Defenders

The Women’s World Cup semifinal will take place tomorrow in Germany where the U.S. women’s soccer team has already given fans reason to cheer the players’ skill, resolve and tenacity. Half a world away, the government of Bahrain has launched a brutal attack on its athletes. It has suspended over 150 athletes, coaches and referees for supporting the democracy movement and arrested several others. The Bahraini government is hoping that its crackdown will pass unnoticed. We must not allow them to succeed.

Ask the members of the U.S. women’s soccer team to use the opportunity of appearing in the World Cup semifinals to publicly take a stand in support of Bahraini pro-democracy athletes.

The good news is that many Bahraini athletes have been released. But several were tortured and humiliated while in custody including soccer player Mohammed Hubail and his brother, striker A’ala Hubail, as well as goalkeeper Ali Saeed. Mohammed was recently sentenced to two years in prison during a sham military trial. Now, he and others fear another round of detention and torture if they speak out to journalists.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team will compete on the world stage again as they play against France in the Women’s World Cup semifinals tomorrow. They’ll have every soccer fan’s attention.

Ask the members of the U.S. women’s soccer team to stand in solidarity with their fellow soccer players and denounce Bahrain’s abusive treatment of its athletes.
Please go to this link to send the following letter to the USA Women's Team at the World Cup.
Dear U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team,

We are deeply concerned about reports that Bahraini soccer team members were tortured during the country’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Mohammed Hubail, A’ala Hubail, and Ali Saeed were reportedly abused during their detainment, according to friends and relatives. Additionally, Mohammed Hubail has been sentenced to two years in prison simply because he was involved in a wave of peaceful protests.

You will have the world’s attention as you take the field for the semifinal game with France tomorrow. The Bahraini government is hoping its abusive treatment of its athletes will pass unnoticed. We ask you to stand in solidarity with your fellow footballers and publicly denounce Bahrain’s treatment of its soccer players. Athlete should not be unjustly targeted by oppressive regimes because of their public prominence.

Please join us in speaking out against the arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture of athletes and all others who have been detained for peacefully expressing their views.

Thank you,

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


I've been at this game (leftism) for over 40 years now, and I certainly have accumulated a scrapbook full of "stupid things lefties believe and do". Back in those deep dark days of my youth a lot of the smellier bullshit used to revolve around the word dialectics .This, of course, had its own secret Marxist meaning in addition to a regular definition that had nothing whatsoever to do with either Hegel or Marx.

To be "dialectic about it" the use of the language that surrounded this supposed "quick key to understanding the world" was "contradictory". It was a supposed path to understanding that might change the world, but, on the other hand, it was the occasion of nothing more than endless word games and attempts at pseudointellectual posturing. As such its acceptance which was supposedly a "plus" for changing the world made the left an object of ridicule or disgust. Exactly the opposite of what its speakers intended. I wonder what the synthesis of this quandary would be if you were to stay in this literary form ?

Back in those days , as it did in generations past "dialectics" served a number of leftist functions but was an absolute failure in what it was supposed to do. While it never led to any unexpected insights that couldn't have been seen via less complex common sense it did give its practitioners at least the illusion of superiority to those of lesser "consciousness". But that illusion provoked more hostility (and sometimes ridicule)than acceptance of the "dialectical message" because of its "superiority". Posturing has a tendency to finally be found out.

Ah but academic lefty fashions come and go, and these days it is hard to find many advocates for "dialectics" except amongst a quite aged cadre of academics. A few decades ago the fashion shifted, both in the academy and in the real world. The interests of younger radicals (once again unfortunately most represented in social science departments of universities) changed from Leninist dreams of becoming a new ruling class (though that's never how they would have put it) to issues that had more "emotional charge" if not exactly the same objective importance as "class struggle".

It is not coincidental that the final social configuration that the rebellious 60s and 70s produced offered all sorts of hitherto unknown opportunities to exercise power over others outside the realm of actual productive enterprise. "Revolution" would hardly be of benefit to this emerging caste/class who, in the end, prey on the weaknesses of various marginals in a society that produces more and more of them. Similarly a totalitarian vision of the world such as Marxist philosophy held little attraction for the "resentariat" who saw the road to power open and clear.

The new 'magical key' that replaced dialectics was "post modernism". If anything this replacement in academic fashion was even more trivial and useless than its ancestor. The trivial disguise of such commonplaces as, "nothing lasts forever and everything changes", "there is struggle in all social systems", etc. including some statements that are demonstrably false such as Marxism's belief that history in inevitably "progressive" gave way to a new set of truisms and falsehood.

The baby was named "post-modernism", and it was born in the most appropriate academic manger ie literature departments which didn't even have the tenuous connection to reality that many social sciences had. The baby was a bastard from the get-go. It espoused a "radical relativism" towards anything but its own theories and conclusions. In this it repeated the fallacy of the 'necessary being argument' for the existence of God while being blithely unaware that it was setting up an eternal mirror paradox.

But essential value or not the baby was indeed born at the right time when there was widespread "radical sympathy" for a great number of 'new causes' while at the same time the traditional leftism was saying its before death prayers. The totalitarian system of Marxism had been replaced by a vague collection of "oppressions", not all of them of equal importance. The trainers of the new segment of the ruling class arrived at their tenure, usually without any opposition that they couldn't shout down. What to do ? What to do ?

By the time that post-modernism became the dominant ideology, at least in the North American academy, pretty well everything that could be said about "oppressions" had been said already repeatedly. Now understand something about that particularly vicious, close to chimpanzee social interactions, "politics" that happens in the academy. The theory is that an academic has to continually produce original thought or investigation. By the time the "anti-ists" began to populate the departments the various oppression veins of ore had pretty well been mined out. Not such a good thing if you are trying to advance yourself in such a cutthroat situation as a social science department.

Now "dialectics" and writing about it certainly had its stylistic difficulties of which a vague abstract way of speaking was one. Still, it was a cut above the academic fashion of post-modernism. The champions of dialectics did indeed say things that were wrong and even ridiculous to those outside the magic circle. But most of what they said actually made sense. With the advent of post-modernism it became the fashion to write in a way that was both "beyond grammar" and also "beyond sense". Without the imaginary clothes of the emperor what was called "intersectionality" would have been seen as the triviality that it is. For those without an acquaintance with academic leftism (lucky you) "intersectionality" means that you collect a handful of "isms", sexism, racism, classicism (sic), etc., etc., etc. off into increasingly bizarre "oppressions" and you note that almost all individuals may be both "oppressors" or "victims" depending upon how you look at their situation.

To say that this is a trivial observation actually overstates the case. One can expand the oppressions and the isms endlessly and there is no dou7bt that leftists have already plumbed most of what is open to human imagination..."lookism" ???? The problem is that even with this tool there comes a point where there is no longer anything, true or false, to be said about the subject. A bad situation for those who wish to be published in academic journals.

Ah here's the meat of this long essay. I came across the following question on an usually sane anarchist board, "Is the idea of Kyriarchy more revealing and useful than intersectionality"?. Well, the short reply is that it is somewhat difficult to be less than zero, but it still can be achieved. Now, I had an advantage here as an ex-Catholic in that I remember the old "Kyrie eléison" which meant "Lord have mercy" in the Mass. So I go in search of the originator of this neologism. I'm not disappointed as the originator is one Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza a "feminist Catholic theologian". Work your mind around that little tidbit of information.

Now I have little doubt that Professor Fiorenza has a vast academic knowledge of the subject of Biblical studies, and she even hold many opinions that she doesn't dare voice for fear of the discipline of the Church. I also suspect, though I am not certain of this, that she is literate in ancient Greek. Since that may be the case let's get really pedantic here. The word from which this all derives is the Greek "Kyrios" for Lord. In the Catholic mass "Kyrie" is the 'vocative case' use in speaking to an individual, in this case the Lord. Now to make an English word out of this Greek and to mean it to say "rule of the Lord" you would have to use "kyrionarchy"(the possessive case). Not as snappy as the using the old Catholic vocative case for sure.

However that may be one can forgive Professor Fiorenza for using a word form that she was convinced nobody would check up on. But let's investigate the meaning of her neologism. "Kyriarchy" means, if you excuse the grammar of its originator" "Lord Rule" ie "Rule of the Lord". Fascinating isn't it that the definition of "Lord" already assumes the function of "ruling". What else do "Lords" do pray tell ? So what does 'Kyriearchy' mean ? It means "rule by those who rule". Only in the hothouse of academic leftism where connection to reality has long since been abandoned could this be said to be an "advance" on anything.

Anyways I'm sure everybody has been bored to death now, but that's as I see it.

Sunday, July 03, 2011



Coming up this Wednesday at Winnipeg's Infoshop the Mondragon, 92 Albert St.

Stop Signs Book Launch with Yves Engler
Time Wednesday, July 6 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm


Location Mondragon Bookstore & Coffee House
More Info

Stop Signs —Cars and Capitalism
on the Road to Economic,
Social and Ecological Decay— 2011 Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay

In North America, human beings have become enthralled by the automobile: A quarter of our working lives are spent paying for them; communities fight each other for the right to build more of them; our cities have been torn down, remade and planned with their needs as the... overriding concern; wars are fought to keep their fuel tanks filled; songs are written to praise them; cathedrals are built to worship them. In Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay, authors Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi argue that the automobile’s ascendancy is inextricably linked to capitalism and involved corporate malfeasance, political intrigue, backroom payoffs, media manipulation, racism, academic corruption, third world coups, secret armies, environmental destruction and war. When we challenge the domination of cars, we also challenge capitalism. An anti-car, road-trip story, Stop Signs is a unique must-read for all those who wish to escape the clutches of auto insanity.

Saturday, July 02, 2011



The 104 year old Bell Hotel which closed in August 2007 was just one other downtown flophouse, but when it closed it forced 50 people living there to scramble and find other accommodation. Well the years have passed and 5.3 million dollars has flowed under the bridge. This "heritage" minded town has kept the external facade because, after all, frontage is more important than people.

So now the reopening is celebrated with much breaking of arms as various social service bureaucrats pat themselves furiously on the back. You can guess where I'm going with this can't you ? The upgraded premises now have a toilet for every room and, guess what, several social service outlets in the building. Not unexpected and neither is the self congratulation of the bureaucrats as they talk about opening space for 42 new tenants who will be housed whether they have substance abuse problems or not. Oh goody, goody, goody you're so liberal guys !

Let's have a little look at this wonderful gift to Winnipeg's down and out. In case some people are truly mathematically "challenged" it is hard to accept that it isn't obvious that 42 is smaller than 50. That's right. $5.3 million and three years have provided exactly eight fewer places for the poor than there were before. Look at another way. I have little doubt, having grown up without same, that a private indoor toilet is a very good thing , but each of the suites cost about $126,000 each. This in a city that recently spent a goodly amount of tax money hunting down "backyard huts" that otherwise homeless people rented to escape the unwanted "help" of social service bureaucrats. I don't think I'm out of line in saying that there are large numbers of abandoned properties in this town (a lot of which would cost nothing as they are long overdue for expropriation for non-payment of taxes)that could be upgraded far faster at a fraction of the cost. Ah, but palaces for social workers to pretend to work in wouldn't be part of such deals.

There is actually a local initiative that shows a totally different way of doing things. When the infamous Occidental Hotel was morphed into the 'Red Road Lodge' there was indeed government support for putting something else in place of the booze can. Somehow I don't think it was $5.3 million. The RRL also decided to make a go of it by renting out part of the premises to various other businesses and community groups, but no, no social workers (or booze). And the residents were not summarily evicted like they were at the Bell.

Let's look at in yet another way. It's true that this little "initiative" has managed to build accommodation of 42 people at $126,000 per person. Yet it has also managed to "dehouse" eight people at a cost of $664,000 per person. What an advance !

There is, of course, no silver lining for those displaced by this project. Neither is there any sense of accomplishment (whatever the propaganda says) for the taxpayer who has been forced to cough up the millions to do less than was being done before. Who actually benefits from this ? The answer was given in a recent Winnipeg Free Press article where it was stated that "tenants at the Bell must commit to staying in touch with social service agencies". Ah huh ! The big liberal/conservative argument was whether the tenants had to be "clean" before being housed. The answers were predictable. But one thing that both leftists and conservatives agree on in this society is that people have to be controlled.

The Bell Hotel fiasco is a prime example of how NOT to help the poor ie don't throw millions at a problem where there are bureaucracies that stand to benefit financially. And peoplke ask me why I'm an anarchist.