sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
I don't actually think it's World War III or the end of the world at the moment, so more ranting about the problem of balance in politics. Two positions I've taken, both in response to stupid comments by supposed centrists:

1. Trevor Noah would never invite an ISIS member onto his show to “get the other side’s perspective.” That’s why the liberal narrative of free speech is so ethically vacuous.

I don't remember the last time I encountered an ardent defender of the concept known as "free speech" who wasn't a raging racist. I'm not sure how the right managed to snatch that one out from under our noses, but like "libertarian," I don't think we're gonna get this one back. Sorry guys.

The reason why ISIS is not included in debates about free speech is because we're all sensible people and we know where that kind of discourse leads. Yeah, a certain percentage of people reading/watching/listening to an ISIS ideologue's opinion—let's be generous and say most people—are going to say, "wow, that guy's a real shithead, listen to him say shitty things, ugh." But a not-insignificant number are going to react in the opposite way—this fellow's saying something I've felt deep in my heart for a long time, and look, he's saying it publicly, it must be socially acceptable."

This is how the Alt Reich gained ascendancy. The media gave them a sympathetic narrative, stopped portraying them as fringe freaks not even worthy of an interview, reported on their hairstyles and suits, demanded that the liberal elite sympathize with their plights. (Can you imagine a similar discourse around ISIS? Even though for the average fighter—not the ideologues—there may be a much more compelling reason, such as starvation, forcing their hand?)

An ethically consistent liberal or centrist would fight as valiantly for the rights of terrorists to be heard as it does for the rights of racist white dudes to spout off hate speech, but there is no ethical consistency in liberalism or centrism.


2. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people who don't know very much about politics that the horseshoe theory has any sort of intellectual merit.

I was halfheartedly debating with a self-described centrist who was insisting that fascism could be either a right- or left-wing ideology, and that neo-liberalism was a left-wing ideology. I guess 227 years of political history, fought for and bled for by countless Very Smart People, was just not good enough for this fellow, who like so many on the internet, believes that a 15-second Google search qualifies him as a political scientist. (To be fair, I'm not even sure he did that.) The horseshoe theory is referenced commonly amongst the walking Dunning-Kruger effects that inhabit certain corners of the internet, and I'm sick to death of it.

There are, of course, common features in the extreme left and the extreme right. However, all of these commonalities can just as easily describe those in the centre (not to mention that the centre is a rightward-drifting moving target). Probably more so—anecdotally, the most authoritarian types I've encountered in meatspace described themselves as centrists. A conservative may have some moral convictions, even if I disagree with them; a centrist is merely politically and ethically avoidant. It is the perverted sense of balance that led to the above problem wherein the Alt Reich were given a platform rather than being sent scuttling back to the sewers where they belong.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
While Harper is generally known for tightly controlling the audience at his events and plugging any leaks in the media, he apparently has much less control over the bowels of his candidates.

Witness the following glorious, glorious headline:

Jerry Bance, Conservative caught peeing in mug, no longer candidate, party says

18710_10153200163976376_6199819173948746611_n

It's going to be such a rush of relief when we no longer have a Tory government.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 7.43.46 PM

The jokes continue to stream in.

Of particular note is Mulcair's response:

"This must be someone who's adept at Stephen Harper's trickle down theory of economics."
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (wall)
I'm going to talk about the photo of the dead Syrian toddler. You've been warned. I won't show the picture itself, or the other ones like it, because you've all probably seen it by now and I want people who have chosen to not see it to read this entry.

But I'm going to start with a story that I've probably told before, and probably even told on this blog, about images. The year is 1990. My country, among other countries, goes to war with Iraq. Like a good peacenik child of peacenik parents, I am opposed, and am as outspoken about the issue as a precocious 11-year-old can be, which is to say that everyone in school thinks I'm weird. I have lived my entire life in the shadow of the atom bomb, with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes ringing in my ears. I know what war does.

And yet I didn't. The images in the newspaper, on the television, were of sanitized battle, red dots and green night-vision like a video game, with nothing like the photos of the My Lai massacre to drive it home. One could be forgiven, watching the news, for thinking that smart bombs were so smart that they managed not to kill anyone at all.

As a teenager, I saw the images the news hadn't shown. Banned in Canada, the photo was of the charred corpse of an Iraqi soldier. You can Google that too. He was the enemy, a bad guy, the guys our brave soldiers had fought, and he spent last moments trying to escape a burning car, screaming in agony. This was why I'd opposed the war. I wondered, had those around me seen it, would they have opposed the war too? It's so easy to erase the identity of the enemy, of the Other, when you don't see his suffering.

As a country, we went to war meekly, unquestioningly, like we typically do. Today, I see kids watch those sanitized video game images, dream of going to war themselves. They play Call of Duty and watch drone footage of bombing and relish in the carnage. The victims, real and virtual, are not human to them.

Which brings me to Aylan Kurdi, age three.

Social media does what social media does. The leftists post about the crisis in Syria, washing up on Europe's shores. They cry out for someone to do something. Along comes a shocking photo that jolts everyone. Those previously uninvolved and unaware share it. Facebook bans the images. The discussion shifts from the tragedy to the image of the tragedy. The tone shifts. Everyone becomes a monster.

Sorry, I'll need to talk more about the image of the tragedy than about the tragedy itself. In this post, anyway. If you want to talk about ways to help, that's what the comment section is for, and I'll post any useful information I glean.

The first disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not anyone on either side of the debate.

The second disclaimer: Despite how ugly the tone has gotten online, we're all actually on the same side. Unless you voted Tory or UKIP or are secretly Donald Trump, you probably are pro-migrant justice. If you're not, please do the world a favour and DIAF.

The first strawman: No one on the pro-sharing-the-photo side is saying that anyone is a bad activist or too much of a sensitive special snowflake to look away.

The second strawman: No one actually wants to look at pictures of dead kids on their FB newsfeed, okay? No one wants to see this image. No one wants kids to die.

I managed to find the post with all of the dead kid pictures, remove the thumbnail, and share. It took me about ten minutes to decide whether I should and then figure out how to remove a thumbnail on FB's newest redesign. I personally believe these photos should be seen. I am also aware that they're horrible to look at, and I don't want to see them, and they make me cry. I don't want to trigger anyone.

I posted a second article from the photographer that included a thumbnail with a less graphic photo. That was all last night.

This morning several of my friends posted that they would unfriend anyone who posted the dead kid pictures. Okay. Several other of my friends posted the dead kid pictures. Statistically, if you're interested, 100% of the people I saw write against posting were white Canadians. All of them were parents. Many of the people who posted the photos were people I knew from migrant justice activism and a few of them are Syrian. One of the latter commented on the irony of white Westerners ignoring all the Syrian toddlers butchered by Assad, which is a fair point. Some were parents, some were not. All of the people in this discussion, on both sides, are people that I respect and whose opinions I respect.

(By this afternoon, everyone had moved on to talking about Canada's culpability; the children and their mother would be alive if the Tory government hadn't refused their application for refugee status. The social media cycle is short like that.)

For years, involved in Palestine solidarity and anti-war activism, I posted dead kid pictures, thinking that they would shock the apathetic into action. Then I stopped, because I felt it was disrespectful to the dead and their families, and because I think we get desensitized to pictures of dead bodies. I think the global reaction to the pictures of little Aylan Kurdi illustrates the importance of these images, no matter how horrible it is to look.

A few points of discussion:

Consent of the family: This is the single most important question. Until this afternoon, we didn't know whether Aylan's family wanted the photo of his corpse to be shown. Now we know. The father, who has suffered the worst a person can suffer, wants his child to be a symbol of the refugees' plight. He wants this to be seen.

The feelings of the community: How do these images represent the lives of people in the broader community? I'm not Syrian; when I posted the pictures, I was taking the lead from people more directly involved than I am.

On that note: A friend pointed out, rightly so, that we never see the bodies of dead white children. (I'm not sure if that's entirely true; we certainly did in the Sandy Hook massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing.) It's only black and brown bodies that are reduced to the moments of their deaths rather than to their lives.

The feelings of victims of trauma: The parent who's lost a child, for example, or the survivor of a war zone. That's why I don't think these photos should be forced on anyone (other than Tories, who deserved to have it shoved in their faces). LJ and Tumblr have mechanisms built in to prevent people from being triggered; FB is of course terrible at it. But this deserves consideration, of course.

Bottom line is that these images getting out has already had an impact. The atrocity stares you right in the face. It makes the Conservative politicians responsible duck for cover, at least for a few minutes. It shakes up the apathetic. Which is why I think they need to be seen. Otherwise, little Aylan is just another statistic; after all, don't brown kids always die in large numbers?

Images have power. I can't say why one has more than another—my Syrian friends have been posting horrific images of dead children for years, with little noise generated outside their community—why this one has the potential to topple governments and maybe even save lives.

This is why, personally, I can't look away.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
This link, brought to my attention via [livejournal.com profile] ed_rex, is worth a read. It's a comparison between the spending patterns of ostensibly "conservative" versus "liberal"* governments that gives lie to the popular conception of thrifty conservatives and tax-and-spend liberals.

Check out those bar graphs being essentially the same. Now, granted, there is not much difference between the Liberal Party and the CCRAP Party. We're not talking about a vast, insurmountable canyon between left and right. Stephen Harper consumes more kittens and Justin Trudeau had better hair until he cut it off, but those are social differences, not economic ones. Their economic policy was more or less the same last time I checked. If your average Canadian understood the slightest thing about economics** we could stay warm during polar vortex season with the sheer heat of all the collective anger that it would generate. But. Math is hard, let's go shopping, only we can't go shopping because the minimum wage hasn't kept up with the cost of living and the only jobs available now are minimum wage retail and food service that you were told you need to go to university if you didn't want to do all your life, and if you want them, prepare to stand in line to apply along with everyone else with a Masters degree.

Anyway.

So-called moderate Canadians love to think of themselves as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, with absolutely no clue as to why they want to be fiscally conservative. (Hint: It comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding about economics wherein the model of a private family that must budget and avoid falling into debt is expanded to somehow apply to a city, or a province, or a country, or even an entire planet. But it does not actually work that way. While no one likes the idea of wasting money, thriftiness is not necessarily a virtue when one is trying to, say, maintain highway infrastructure.)

The great lie at the heart of the austerity agenda is that it works. Tighten your belt, don't buy that big screen TV, and later on you can afford to buy a nice car. It might be tolerable to cause suffering, to siphon wealth from the poorest people to the richest, if in the end everyone benefited. (Just kidding. It wouldn't. Bear with me for a second, though.) If slashing environmental regulations and corporate tax actually created jobs, though, would we not have full employment by now? Because governments have been pursuing these policies for practically my entire lifetime, and yet the unemployment rate keeps increasing. We've "recovered" from the Great Recession but the vast majority of people I know—who are among the most privileged people—are still economically precarious. And, surprise surprise, after all that, all of the wealth has still ended up at the top. It's like someone planned it this way.

Which is basically why I want to scream every time someone promotes the myth of fiscal conservatism, because it's just not true. It's just that conservative governments waste money on different things, things that don't actually benefit anyone other than their cronies. Fiscal conservatives like to think of themselves as high-minded, tough but fair, without any sort of understanding or comprehension of the violence brought about by a cut-cut-cut mentality (or the fact that, in the end, absolutely no money is saved, and wealth is just transferred along to the elites).

One of my FB friends loves mayoral candidate John Tory. Like, loves him. Makes borderline homoerotic posts about him every day. It's weird. I see nothing in John Tory to inspire any sort of passion—he's run-of-the-mill fiscal conservative who comes off as more sensible than Ford, but that doesn't say much. You can at least get passionate about Ford, even if, as in my case, it's passionate hatred. Tory's milquetoast, but the harm that such a man can do when given power, when it comes to vital social services relied upon by the most vulnerable populations, is immeasurable. And yet he appeals to moderates because moderates have never thought about why they're moderates.

When you take the food out of the mouths of poor people, you create a cycle of poverty that, as class stratification increases, becomes impossible to escape. When you cut transit, you kill cities. When you drain the lifeblood from schools and libraries, you condemn generations to ignorance. When you gut environmental, labour, and safety regulation, you trash the earth and destroy lives. This is not a moderate position, nor is it "tough but fair." It's extremist. Brutal. Today, I woke up to a story about a fire in a seniors' home in Quebec that killed 32 people. There were no sprinklers in the home, but it still passed provincial safety inspections. They were comparing this tragedy to the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, which killed 47 people and is still under investigation. Again, cutbacks and lax regulation may have been a factor. There is actually a reason we pay taxes and have governments.

And that is the triumph of conservatism, as it's convinced most of the world (at least the bit that votes) that this constant squeeze, for no payoff for you or anyone you know, is normal. You shouldn't think about it. Be grateful if you save a few pennies in taxes, even as you earn less and spend more for everything else. There Is No Alternative.

* Scare quotes because the economic policies of every mainstream party in North America (I can't speak for other regions) is what we might have, in previous generations, considered conservative. Even the NDP's leadership, if not its rank-and-file, has swallowed the Washington Consensus Kool-Aid with the enthusiasm of a porn star in a bukkake video, despite its myriad observable failures.

** Disclaimer: Beyond having a dilettante's interest in these matters and having slogged through Volume 1 of Das Kapital, I have no background in economics.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
Having already violated Attawapiskat's sovereignty, Harper and his merry band of fucknuggets are after what little money it has left. The federal government is forcing the reserve to pay an inefficient private consultant $1,300 a day for the privilege of having Jacques Marion tell them to bend over and take it. (Incidentally, Attawapiksat told Marion where he could stick it, but they still have to pay him. Because the Prime Minister said so.)

This will come at the cost of frills like, oh educational assistants for kids with special needs.

For the record, some facts on the cost of living in Attawapiskat:

* It costs $250,000 to build a house, and only the federal government is allowed to build houses on the reserve.
* It costs $50,000-$100,000 to repair a condemned house, of which there are many.
* It costs $150 and $200 a cord for firewood, which will heat a house for about a week.
* The price of 6 apples and 4 small bottles of juice is $23.50.

Instead, the reserve's money will go to making some rich white douchenozzle even richer.

This right here is why I insist that there is no such thing as fiscal conservatism. All conservatism is socially reactionary. When conservatives talk about trimming spending, they mean stealing from a bunch of people like this:



To give that money to someone like this:



(With absolutely no savings for you, the taxpayer, by the way, because if you're anxious about slipping out of the middle class, you're so much easier to control.)

It has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility, and everything to do with reminding the First Nations that we can still screw them even harder.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
This is a theoretical discussion; the fiscal conservative, like the guild socialist, is an extinct species for all intents and purposes.

But for the purpose of argument, I hear leftists claiming that they can at least respectfully disagree with fiscal conservatives, while social conservatives are, of course, abhorrent and irrational and perhaps subsist on a diet of kittens and orphan tears.

To which I find myself responding: "Really? Really? Which of the expensive services that require, at least under our present economic system, massive public funds to sustain—roads and bike lanes, public transit, health care, education, housing, libraries, social services, environmental protection—do you care to do without? Which of these things must be cut?"

(Of course, if there were a breed of fiscal conservative that proposed deficit reduction through axing tax cuts to corporations, closing jails to all but serious, violent offenders, and drastically reducing the budget for military and police forces, I would be all for it. Apparently the sort of political mind that would endorse such a cost-effective proposal, bizarrely, is not referred to as a conservative.")
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
It's not paranoia if they really are watching you.

Hey, not that it comes as a surprise or anything. At this point I wouldn't be surprised at anything these bastards did.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
It's not paranoia if they really are watching you.

Hey, not that it comes as a surprise or anything. At this point I wouldn't be surprised at anything these bastards did.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (humping bunny)
Via [livejournal.com profile] apocalypsos: Watch Rachel Maddow try to not crack up while describing the newest conservative strategy for sticking it to Obama.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] apocalypsos: Watch Rachel Maddow try to not crack up while describing the newest conservative strategy for sticking it to Obama.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
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As soon as it comes out, I'm torrenting the hell out of this. Who's up for a mockery party?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[Error: unknown template 'video']

As soon as it comes out, I'm torrenting the hell out of this. Who's up for a mockery party?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (monocleyay)
Links of the day:

[livejournal.com profile] zerzan

(via [livejournal.com profile] anarchists.)

And you might have already seen this, but it made me laugh:

Awesome band. You should check them out. They're the wacko-right equivalent of that really bad folk music I keep ragging on -- earnest, talentless, and unintentionally funny if you don't need to sit there for an hour and listen to them.

cut for a sampling of my favourite song so far )

Photo of the week:


Photo By Dan Bergeron/Fauxreel

This lovely scene appeared in both eye and NOW this week (the eye photo was better, but I can't find it); if you can't read it, it says: "Drake, you ho, this is all your fault."

On a more serious note, Slum Tourism Toronto.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Links of the day:

[livejournal.com profile] zerzan

(via [livejournal.com profile] anarchists.)

And you might have already seen this, but it made me laugh:

Awesome band. You should check them out. They're the wacko-right equivalent of that really bad folk music I keep ragging on -- earnest, talentless, and unintentionally funny if you don't need to sit there for an hour and listen to them.

cut for a sampling of my favourite song so far )

Photo of the week:


Photo By Dan Bergeron/Fauxreel

This lovely scene appeared in both eye and NOW this week (the eye photo was better, but I can't find it); if you can't read it, it says: "Drake, you ho, this is all your fault."

On a more serious note, Slum Tourism Toronto.

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sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
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