Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Tommy Douglas, leader of the NDP, first socialist premier in North America, and creator of the medicare system won the Greatest Canadian contest on CBC. Actually, there were a lot of good nominations in the top 10. Terry Fox seemed to represent every Canadian, and was the sole martyr on the list. Trudeau and Pearson created modern Canada, and David Suzuki has fought to extend that vision to the world as a whole.

Anyways, here's more about Tommy: [link]

Friday, November 26, 2004

No respect for life

Recently, I received a lesson in the restricted moral vision of supposedly enlightened people.

I am beginning to think that the root cause of all this turmoil, misery, and suffering in our civilization is the basic lack of respect for life. I have encountered that this has been especially reinforced in academic circles. The idea that non-human life has any independent agency is scoffed at, and animals are not recognized for having an independent existence of their own (which makes no ecological sense, but to social scientists dwelling purely on the human and human perspectives, this is a given). Of course domestic animals have been under our thumb for thousands of years, but they are still alive and still intelligent sentient beings.

The division stems from the basic eurocentric vision that humans are to enjoy dominion over the earth. This anti-life view of laying waste to the planet and turning animals into machines has carried through all the major economic systems including capitalism and socialism (which are basically the flip-side of the same coin), without a recognition of its intrinsic evil. Academics who focus solely on the human are especially blind and malicious in their convictions as they back up their assertions by citing their concerns for human beings, as if the two were mutually exclusive (ironically, by remaining in the academe, they have removed themselves from the struggles of the day and thus do little for humanity!). It's a logical fallacy, but unfortunately one of those favoured debates in which they attempt to burn animal rights activist straw people for their alleged anti-human tendencies. What a load of crap.

Anyways, I found these views astounding. I thought we had moved on since then, and come to a more "humane" view of the world. Alas, I was wrong.

Here are some quotes from Alice Walker:

The animals of the planet are in desperate peril... Without free animal life I believe we will lose the spiritual equivalent of oxygen.

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Star Wars and Dune Allegories

Well, a return to science fiction allegories is warranted as Star Wars gets set to complete its six-part epic. It's really too bad the first two prequels were so awful as the themes they explored were profound -- and not only in terms of Anakin's move from the sweet innocent kid on Tatooine to Darth Vader, but also the politics of Republic transforming itself into an Evil Empire to counter a manufactured "Phantom Menace". The way the first movie plays out, where the rebel alliance flies its X-Wings into the Death Star to destroy it from within, and then are blasted out from their rebel bases on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back is reminiscent of 9-11 and the ensuing Afghan war. And of course, Jedi, the religious warriors at the heart of the story sounds very close to Jihad!

Found this perfect spoof pic on the web

I was thinking this before the Boondocks called it!

Another comparison of course is Dune, with its spice controlling consciousness as the sole means of interstellar space travel.

The history of the mysterious religious zealots, the Fremen and the Mahdi figure, Mua'dib are fascinating, as they lead a rebellion/jihad against the Empire. Their tactics are familiar -- first sabotage to bring all spice mining to a halt, and then eventual seizure of the spice supplies of the entire universe. Even though the Padishah Emperor is eerily called Shaddam IV, the role of his coming to Dune to fight the Fremen himself, echoes the current American quagmire in Iraq.

Perhaps the Iraqi resistance should model itself after the Fremen. Even their religion is derivative of Islam, invoking the third Mohammed in the far future and his syncretic Zensunni Wanderers' faith! Too strange!

Here's a story that dwells on this, but goes further to consider the Butlerian Jihad that destroyed the rule of machines and made all subsequent wars up close and personal.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

End of Enlightenment?

Ok, this quote has been noted in other blogs, but it bears repeating here:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

-- Unidentified aide to the President commenting to Ron Suskind in "Without a Doubt." New York Times, October 17, 2004.

So rationality is now being given up for dead. Very postmodern, isn't it? Yet Fascism has always been good at manufacturing its own realities through the advanced application of semiotics, from instilling fear of the other to mindless jingoism and identification with a symbol, leader, or flag. Moreover, the use of identity politics and the sense of victimization has been completely turned on its head since 9/11, positing the American public as an oppressed, violated group, that is now fully justified to express and act on its rage against its perceived enemy. Israel's oppression of Palestinians is justified along similar lines, perverting the experience of the Holocaust to enact a new cycle of hate and violence. Mark Levine comments on this frightening turn.

As witnessed by Karl Rove's genius at manipulating the American public, opponents of America's slide into totalitarianism must recognize that the enemy is much more dangerous and sophisticated than they had thought. We are frankly outmatched by their powerful appeal to the dark side.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Pivotal Time and the News Media

The Canadian Peace Alliance is organizing rallies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa against the Bush visit on November 30th. I think Bush has to be made unwelcome everywhere he goes. He should be chased all the way back to Crawford if need be. Eminem's song on the topic is right!

In other news, the CRTC has just allowed Fox News to come to Canada. Lest we think Canada is immune to the propaganda offensive of the right-wing media, perhaps we have to think about opposing them beyond just scrawling anti-fascist slogans on National Post newspaper boxes. It is clear that they are THE key instrument of elite rule in the US, Britain, Australia and other parts of the "Anglosphere", and have brainwashed the mass of the working class in each of these nations to consistently vote against their own interests. Hillary Clinton was actually right in pointing to the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that has local players on college campuses who have been waging a war against any form of student organizing on University Campuses for at least 20 years. Basically, their policy of corrosive cynicism, faux populism, and returning student fees back to students has demobilized and defunded student activities across North America. Without community organizations, students or anyone for that matter, cannot effectively come to an understanding of their political rights and are made that much more vulnerable to media manipulation. A state of dependency is thus created where the mind has no other alternative but to accept the views projects at them through mainstream corporate news.

The Critical Times project is a vital part of the fight back against this spreading darkness (no melodrama intended, things are really that bleak!). However, what else can we do? I've been experimenting with a web log (http://cethirien.blogspot.com) but the so-called blogger revolution is yet again reaching the same miniscule portion of the population that is paying attention, while the rest of the press and television are being swallowed one by one by the right-wing media empire. Public broadcasting thus takes on added importance, as does satire (Daily Show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes), even though they are vulnerable to the Rupert Murdochs and Sinclair Broadcastings of the world who want to take them apart or pressure them into taking on a "fair and balanced" approach a la Fox.

God, I feel like we are entering the Matrix Universe!

Clash of Civiliz... Er, what?

Samuel Huntingdon's "Clash of Civilizations" looms large today, particularly as it is being used as an excuse to wage a total global war. However, there are alternative views.

Gilbert Achcar in his "Clash of Barbarisms", explains how in every civilization, there is a sleeping barbarism which is being currently reawakened to wage this war. His thesis thus departs from Huntingdon by trying to explain the current situation in terms of the last 50 years of history. Check out the book review here: [link]

Tariq Ali cites a "Clash of Fundamentalisms" to come to a similar analysis. His strong critique of fundamentalisms on all sides, and his secular, socialist credentials harks back to a different era when political discourse worked at a much higher level. [link]

However, Huntingdon's worst offense is his return to determinism that subsumes all regional and local diversity and differences into a mega-cultural zone called civilization. It is easy to make these calls, but much less so to see the world in all its historical and spatial complexity. Bernard Lewis, another so-called expert on the Middle East goes further, and claims that Arab resentment against the US and the West is a modern form of envy against their ancient civilizational rival, rather than, let's say, about the continual betrayal, looting, killing, and tyranny thrust upon the Arab world for want of Oil.

Anyways, for what it's worth, here's a web page that discusses the piece, and lists concurrences and critiques of Huntingdon's thesis: [link]

And here of course is Said's dead on critique: [link]

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

We're sorry world!

There is hope for America yet -- thousands of courageous Americans are sticking their faces out in pictures to show the world they are not with the Evil One. [link]

Soldiers in flip-flops

This Guardian article says it all. History repeats --no Empire can hold Babylon for long before collapsing in on itself. [link]

In other news, I have redone my 1-minute short film which I will try to convert to a quicktime video for posting.

Monday, November 15, 2004

"We die with dignity and honour"

Abu Jarrah, the leader of a band of 18 Sunni and Shia Iraqi men, spoke from telephone in the heart of Fallujah to reporters on the outside. Critically wounded and fighting to the end, Jarrah represents the human face of the insurgency. Most in their twenties, tragedy befell the group as they were slaughtered systematically by the heavy shelling and sniper fire from the Americans. Now, he is dying and perhaps will never see his wife and children again, but he dies with dignity having resisted the oppressors and agressors. Very sad, but moving. [link]

Fallujah = Guernica

Fallujah stood like Helm's Deep against the massed armies of the Orcs and their allies, the wild men of Dunland. However, in real life, there was no last minute charge to save the people nor will the mainstream media do its job and cover the conflict objectively. Rather, they seem to take their marching orders from the US military that shows them what they want to see -- the cruelty and bloodthirstiness of the rebels, as opposed to the mass slaughter and use of inhuman weapons by the most powerful force in the world against an enemy that gets around in sneakers and bicycles.

Yet resistance has been sparked all over Iraq. As such, Arundhati Roy's speech on peace and justice is timely and important.

Here's some real news about what happened in Fallujah:

[Dahr Jamail in Iraq]
[BBC: First-hand reports from Fallujah]
[The Guardian: The depravity of the American military]
[The Independent: Utter Devastation]
[Fallujah Pictures]

Here's some commentaries on the media/propaganda coverage:

[Guardian: The screams that will not be heard]
[ZNET: Fallujah coverage]

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Galeano: Where the People Voted Against Fear

In Uruguay and the rest of Latin America, people are beginning to awake from history. As some of the young supporters of the Broad Front exclaimed, "let us dare to win!" May the Anglo world be eclipsed by the South!

Eduardo Galeano, one of Latin America's finest writers, proclaims the victory over fear here: [link]

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dark Tidings

There is mourning in America. It looks like Bush is back for a second term of darkness. Appropriately, I watched the zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead this afternoon, and was reminded of that prescient Bart Simpson Halloween quip, "The dead have risen, and they're voting Republican!"

Boondocks on the Elections

Talked to friends in the US. Sad, forlorn faces at work, people crying in their cubicles, "How could this happen?", "Who are these crazy people who'd vote for that damn fool?!"

I was numb myself today. The night before I reached home, badly shaken by what was about to transpire. I frankly didn't expect it. I thought there'd be some last minute salvation, some well-earned reprieve and return to sanity. I had thought Bush's reelection was not possible, as we were not ready for armageddon, nor an imperial America. Not yet at least, but it looks like history is in an accelerated time frame. At no time has one party been so dominant in the US political system that was framed with checks and balances to thwart such a dangerous accumulation of power. While Kerry was a flawed candidate, having supported the war, at least he would have restored some balance to the forces at work, keeping in check its worst excesses. Instead now, we have an administration ready to turn the clock back, turn the lights out, and return control to all those slaveholding and Indian-killing red states that voted overwhelmingly for this new Caesar. Its legions of Christian fundamentalist devotees are on the march, ready to crucify the world in their drive towards armageddon.

So I think the old Republic is dead. It's democratic institutions have withered away in the face of authoritarian populism bordering on open fascism and the money power of the corporations and media conglomerates. Fear and loathing won. Lincoln prophesied this 140 years ago when he wrote, "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. ... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." -- U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864.

This time, the American people, except for the northern and west coast states gave their full-throated allegiance to a new god-king. The die is cast and all doubt has been cast aside. The days ahead are dark and not even the twinkle of distant stars can inspire much hope.

More links...

A Dark Day in America
Bush Unbound
Wallow in Chaos and Laugh
Morning After
War against the World?

Dawn of the Dead or Second Term of Darkness

Kerry conceded. Bush won, this time with the popular vote, but did he? There is something extremely fishy about the results coming out of Florida and Ohio.

"Sauron has returned. His orcs have multiplied. His fortress of Barad-Dur is rebuilt in Mordor. He needs only this Ring to cover all the lands in a second darkness. He is seeking it, seeking it, all his thought is bent on it. The Ring yearns above all else to return to the hand of its master. They are one, the Ring and the Dark Lord. He must never find it."
-- Fellowship of the Ring

"There's no good way to spin this disaster. The zombies marched to the polls."
-- Bob Dreyfuss, Investigative Reporter

Not much more can be said from my side. The tiding are grim. The US will slide further into a cesspool of ignorance and malevolence on the part of both the administration and its people.

Here are some important reflections on the vote:

Justin Podur, Z-NET

"It looks like voters in a dozen states decided to ban gay marriage, by huge margins, deciding to ruin other people's lives with no benefit to themselves.

That means that it is time to admit something. The greatest divide in the world today is not between the US elite and its people, or the US elite and the people of the world. It is between the US people and the rest of the world. The first time around, George W Bush was not elected. When the United States planted cluster bombs all over Afghanistan, disrupted the aid effort there, killed thousands of people, and occupied the country, it could be interpreted as the actions of a rogue group who had stolen the elections and used terrorism as a pretext to wage war. When the United States invaded Iraq, killing 100,000 at the latest count, it could be argued that no one had really asked the American people about it and that the American people had been lied to. When the United States kidnapped Haiti?s president and installed a paramilitary dictatorship, it could be argued that these were the actions of an unelected group with contempt for democracy.

With this election, all of those actions have been retroactively justified by the majority of the American people.

The first time around the Bush people acted without a mandate. Today, the only constituency that could have stopped them has given them a mandate to go beyond what they have done." [link]




TomPaine.com, Monday Nov 1, 2004

"It's not even Election Day yet, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign is already down by a almost a million votes. That's because, in important states like Ohio, Florida and New Mexico, voter names have been systematically removed from the rolls and absentee ballots have been overlooked, overwhelmingly in minority areas, like Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, where Hispanic voters have a 500 percent greater chance of their vote being "spoiled." Investigative journalist Greg Palast reports on the trashing of the election." [link]

Monday, November 01, 2004

H2O on CBC

Whoah, I just finished watching the CBC mini-series H20. Pretty stark political thriller with the whole shabang -- continental integration, selling of water to the US, corporate malfeasance, IMF & World Bank maneuvering, assassination of the Prime Minister, martial law in Canada, riots in the streets, and the US takeover of Canada, all in 4 hours! It almost runs as a story I wrote in grade 8 during the original FTA campaign.

Hopefully it will be repeated. Should be a great help to the Council of Canadians who work on the issues of deep integration and water at the heart of the movie.

Here's a review and another.