Wednesday, January 21, 2009
George Bush leaves the White House with his tail between his legs and with the proud reputation of becoming one of the most despised Presidents in US history. He leaves behind 2 wars, a declining chaotic economy and a demoralized people grasping for some meaning in political life. George has sucked the spiritual and political juice out of 'the most powerful nation on earth' (a disputable notion depending on how one sees power) while claiming to be guided and strengthened by his faith in God.
Sometimes in history there is a synthesis and conversion of happenings that facilitate radical change. In some ways we would not have Obama without George Bush as we would not have Kevin Rudd without a John Howard (not that i would dare compare CEO Kevin Rudd with inspiring leader Obama).
Bush and Howard so damaged the political and spiritual underpinnings of both nations leaving a moral and ethical vacuum that could easily be filled by, in Australia's case any half decent individual, and in the US case a truly inspirational leader.
One cannot miss the great historical occasion of a person of colour becoming President, however this can be overstated. Sure, Obama is the culmination of many years of civil rights struggle and he has become the realisation of a dream for many, but he also now represents a particular social class and a life of some opportunity.
One cannot take away from him his personal struggle and his impoverished beginnings but one also needs to be careful in claiming that he represents all coloured people in the US, and that his rise creates, in some mystical way, a pathway for others.
Certainly he is an inspiration and will give hope to many in the US that "Yes We Can" but in the end he is a product of the "Empire" and its political system.
We will all breath easier knowing that their is a man of courage and integrity that serves as the "Commander in Chief" of the United States. We can at least be confident that there will be some brake on the military machine of the Empire so willingly unleashed by George W. Bush.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Anna Funder on Courage
Anna Funder shot to international prominence with the publication of her 2003 book Stasiland, about the East German secret police, and the attempts of some brave citizens to resist their oppressors. Now working on a novel, the author has taken time out to write and deliver the final of the 2008 PEN International Voices lecture series. Her essay is about Courage.
Anna Funder trained as a lawyer before turning to writing. Stasiland won the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction in 2004. She is currently working on her first novel.
The duration of this video is 80'03".
This video is presented in conjunction with ABC Fora, a great source of talks and debates online.
To view the video go to:
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The world financial system is in chaos as governments seek to control the damage. There are as many economic projections as there are economists and many honest economist admit they had no idea that this crisis was coming and no idea what will happen in the future.
Economics grew out of the Enlightenment period when it was believed (and indeed is still proposed by many) that every thing can be understood if we analyse it enough! There is a belief that universal explanations can be found for all scientific and human phenomena through disciplined research.
The problem with this idea is that world conspires against such theories by becoming more and more complex, fragmented and unpredictable.
It is clear that the unregulated financial markets have become more and more complex and uncontrollable and are really underwritten by human emotion not some rational system as claimed.
It is the complexity of technologies offering instantaneous and simultaneous transactions from as many points on the globe as there are stars in the sky combined with the real human emotion of fear that makes the global financial market so hard to understand and to control.
Rationalities founded in the optimism of the Enlightenment that look to universal explanations will be inadequate in identifying these crises and their cause.
In the end we have to live in an exciting world of unpredictability, complexity and fragmentation and manage risk as best we can without the comfort of the Enlightenment promise of understanding, managing and exploiting everything.
For a proposal for a new Economy read David Korten article "Beyond the Bailout:Agenda for a New Economy" http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=3050
Click the image to enlarge
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The police officer, who at the time of Mulrunji's death, had a duty of care towards his prisioner and whose actions were hidden from view, escapes any condemnation either of the law or of his professional body.
There is an interesting parallel here that should not escape us.
While Wotton's anger at what he perceived as another injustice in the long and painful history of this island was exposed on the media's cameras no such privileged was in the offing for Mulrunji who died behind the thick walls of the police institutional mechanisms.
Some actions, it seems, are protected by institutional processes and go unseen and unpunished, while other spontaneous and less calculated actions are exposed for all to see and become yet another manifestation of neglect and political disregard for one group of Australians over many years.
All actors here, both Indigenous and Police are victims of an unfortunate history both on this island and in Australia as a whole, however there is a clear difference of power between these actors - a power that often results in the death of the less powerful while in the control of the "authorities".
While policing institutions appear to be free from recrimination and while those that are supposed to serve the community act in such ways against the most marginalized, these undercurrents of injustice will not abate.
Palm Island is a microcosm of the relationships that often exists between the marginalized and the policing authorities and the imbalances of power produced by our social processes.
(Of interest http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/drop-charges-against-lex-wotton-melbourne-speakout )and http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1965120.htm